From Josh Spector’s article on “The 3 Minutes it Takes to Read This Will Improve your Conversations Forever”. You can read the entire article here.

Ask about specifics, not generalizations.

Questions about specifics lead people to give you answers that are not generic.

Example: Don’t ask, “What was fun about your trip?” Instead, drill down and ask, “What was the single most fun moment of the trip?”

Ask about reactions.

Frame questions around a person’s reactions to experiences in their life — what surprised them, challenged them, or changed their viewpoint.

Example: Don’t ask, “What’s it like to be a doctor?” Instead, ask “What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about being a doctor?”

It’s well worth an hour of your time to watch the video below about three compassionate Canadian physicians who are speaking about the harms of lockdowns, including the scientific evidence regarding these harms.

Over a hundred scientific papers and other articles, are mentioned during the talk and links to all of the references can be found here.

Harms caused by lockdowns:

Lockdowns has increased domestic violence, closed businesses and schools, laid off workers, restricted travel, threatened the security of low-income families, and saddled governments with massive debt

Poverty and food insecurity

  • Worldwide, around 150 million people will fall into extreme poverty by 2021, according to the World Bank (read more here).
  • About 86 million children may fall into poverty, according to UNICEF (read more here).
  • An additional 690,000 people in Britain have fallen into poverty since lockdown began, despite unprecedented government help (read more here).
  • In Canada, 1 out of 5 families have difficulty in meeting financial needs during the pandemic (read more here).
  • More than one million more women and children globally, especially in low and middle-income countries, could die as pandemic diverts health services (read more here)
  • COVID-related restrictions is linked to 10,000 child deaths per month and more than 550,000 additional children each month are suffering from wasting in food insecure countries (read more here)
  • Number of undernourished individuals may increase from 690 to 822 million people (WHO – Oct 2020)
  • In the US, between 9 and 14 percent of parents report their children did not have enough to eat because they could not afford food (source)
  • In March 2020 alone, food banks gave out 20 percent more food than in an average month (source)

Financial stress

  • Between March 25 and April 10 in the US, “nearly one-third of adults (31.0 percent) reported that their families could not pay the rent, mortgage, or utility bills, were food insecure, or went without medical care because of the cost.” (read more here)
  • In the US, between March 25 and April 10, 41.5% of nonelderly adults reported having lost jobs, reduced work hours, or less income because of Covid-19 (read more here).

Unemployment

  • In the US, the unemployment rate increased to 14.7% in April 2020. This is the highest rate of increase (10.3%) and largest month over month increase in history of available data (since 1948) (source)
  • In the US, in March, 39% of people living with a household income of $40,000 and below reported a job loss (source)
  • Mothers of children aged 12 and younger lost 2.2 million jobs between February and August (12% drop), while fathers of small children lost 870,000 jobs (4% drop) in the US (source)
  • One out of four women who were surveyed reported their job loss was due to lack of childcare, twice the rate of men surveyed (source)

Education

  • Worldwide, about 24 million children may drop out of school next year as a result of the lockdown’s economic impact (UN – Oct 2020)
  • According to a JAMA article, a decrease in life expectancy by 5.53 million years of life is found to occur for US children due to the closing of US primary schools (read more here).

Other health issues are being ignored

  • In the UK, at the 10-week mark of the lockdown, 2.1 million people in the UK were waiting for breast, cervical, or bowel cancer screening (source)
  • Cancer specialists are worried the drop in cancer diagnoses due to missed cancer screening during lockdowns means cases are going undetected and untreated (read more here)
  • “Mortality rates for Alzheimer disease/dementia increased twice, between weeks ending March 21 and April 11 and between weeks ending June 6 and July 25” (JAMA Oct 2020).
  • Compared with a historical baseline, UK nursing homes and hospices saw an increase in the number of deaths between February and June, 2020, associated with acute coronary syndrome (a 41% increase), stroke (a 39% increase), and heart failure (a 25% increase) (Wu et al. 2021)

Mental health

  • Mental health among our children is deteriorating (read more here)
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts among youth has increased during lockdown periods (read more here)
  • The US had over 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period (source).
  • During late June 2020, 40% of US adults reported to be struggling with mental health or substance abuse (source).
  • Of US adults surveyed, 10.7% had thoughts of suicide compared to 4.3% in 2018 (source).
  • In the US, reported symptoms of anxiety were three times higher than they were in Q2 2019 and reported symptoms of depression were four times higher than they were in Q2 2019 (source).
  • In the US, August 2020 showed that of individuals aged 18-24, 25.5% considered suicide (source).
  • Seven in ten 18-23 year olds in the US reported to have experienced symptoms of depression between August 4 to 26 (source)
  • In late June, 13% of survey respondents in the US said they had started or increased substance use to cope with the pandemic (source).
  • In the US, synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths increased 38.4% in the 12-month period leading up to June 2019 compared with the 12-month period leading up to May 2020 (source).
  • More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality (source).
  • From January 2020 to March 2020, 19,416 people died from drug overdoses, which is 3,000 more than in 2019 of the same quarter (source)

Crime

  • In the US, between June and August 2020 homicides increased 53% and aggravated assaults increased 14% compared to the same period in 2019 (source)

Food and Hospitality

  • In the US, 1 in 3 restaurants are expected to close (source)
  • In the US, the restaurant industry is set to lose $240 billion in revenue and 8 million employees in 2020 (source)

Long-term lockdowns aren’t effective

There is no relationship between lockdowns and virus control. You can read the 30 scientific papers summarized here that have found that lockdowns are not effective at preventing virus control.

  • In an analysis involving 50 countries, Chaudry et al. found that rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people (Lancet – Aug 2020)
  • In an analysis involving 10 countries, they didn’t find significant benefits of mandatory stay at home orders and business closures on case growth (Bendavid et al. 2020)

“…. mysticism is when you don’t have intellectual certainty about stuff, but experimentally you do believe in things,
like beauty and mystery and the universe as a force for good.
You move beyond the dualism of good and evil to a more unified whole, a sense that everything belongs.”
– Jedidiah Jenkins, To Shake the Sleeping Self

By Mark Manson:

Step 1: The 20/80 Principle

  • The 80/20 Principle states that 80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action. For example, in time management, businesses often found that 20% of their time created 80% of their productivity, and that 20% of their employees created 80% of the value.

    Step 2: Get Feedback
  • Nailing anything in life requires a lot of trial and error and getting feedback from people. Coaches. Tutors. Teachers. The guy across the fence. You won’t know if you’re any good at something unless someone besides yourself tells you.

    Step 3: Practice
  • When you look at the people who have mastered anything throughout history, the most glaringly obvious commonality is that they simply worked their asses off more than most people, and for longer than most people. Practice makes perfect.

Basically, put your 10,000 hours in.

By Kurt Vonnegut:

“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”

I enjoyed reading this article about working with Steve Jobs called Persuading the Unpersaudable by Adam Grant. It has some good tips with dealing with overconfident and unpersuadable leaders.

A few tips from the article:

  • The first barrier to changing someone’s view is arrogance. We’ve all encountered leaders who are overconfident: They don’t know what they don’t know. If you call out their ignorance directly, they may get defensive. A better approach is to let them recognize the gaps in their own understanding.
  • Research shows that asking questions instead of giving answers can overcome people’s defensiveness. You’re not telling your boss what to think or do; you’re giving her some control over the conversation and inviting her to share her thoughts. Questions like “What if?” and “Could we?” spark creativity by making people curious about what’s possible.
  • Narcissistic leaders believe they’re superior and special, and they don’t take kindly to being told they’re wrong. But with careful framing, you can coax them toward acknowledging that they’re flawed and fallible.
  • Narcissistic leaders believe they’re superior and special, and they don’t take kindly to being told they’re wrong. But with careful framing, you can coax them toward acknowledging that they’re flawed and fallible.

I love this!

From Jana Roemer, Astrologer:

“We are in the midst of a paradigm shift.

Last year’s deconstruction is evolving into this year’s innovation.

This week’s Astro signals the first of three Saturn Uranus Conjunctions on Wednesday (next two are in June + December). Imagine the extraordinary & abrupt change that comes with just the right movements of two tectonic plates… the pressure builds and builds and then, in a flash moment, transforms landscapes. With Saturn + Uranus coming together, it holds this same potential in the realm of land ownership, money, technology power heads vs community strength, societal structures & how we understand our human form. But the thing is, we don’t really know when or how that will take shape, because it’s Uranus. Unexpected. Sudden. Unconventional. Innovation.”

This is a timely article to read on Valentine’s Day, “The Type of Love that Makes People Happiest” by Arthur C. Brooks.

An excerpt below:

“The important thing for well-being is relationship satisfaction, and that depends on what psychologists call “companionate love”—love based less on passionate highs and lows and more on stable affection, mutual understanding, and commitment.”

And also this…

“The deep friendship of companionate love should not be exclusive, however. In 2007, researchers at the University of Michigan found that married people aged 22 to 79 who said they had at least two close friends—meaning at least one besides their spouse—had higher levels of life satisfaction and self-esteem and lower levels of depression than spouses who did not have close friends outside their marriage. In other words, long-term companionate love might be necessary, but isn’t sufficient for happiness.”

This resonates.

I have been following Leo Babauta at Zen Habits for years now and I try very hard to follow his advice re: “Practice 1” (see below), and when I do, it really makes a difference in my day.

Practice 1: Win the Day

“Instead of starting the day with a list of tasks to get done … what if we identified 1-3 things that would make this day an absolute victory, if we were to do them? 

So the practice is to start the day with a simple entry in your notebook or on a simple text document: what could I do to make this day a victory? I like to title it, “Win the Day: Saturday Feb. 6” (or whatever date it is, obviously), then I list 2-3 potential victories. (For today , writing this blog post is one of mine!) 

I have other tasks and meetings on my list, obviously, but these are the 2-3 I focus on. Sometimes it’s just one. If I can get that single task done, or those 2-3 tasks, done, it will be a big victory for my goals for this month or year, or for my mission. Or it would just feel fantastic! 

I keep this list front and center, and refer back to it multiple times a day. It helps bring me back to what I want to accomplish. And then I look back on it at the end of the day (more on this in the next section), and celebrate what I can. Sometimes I don’t get them all done, which is not a cause for disappointment but for learning. But most days I do at least 1-2 of them, and any progress is a huge cause for celebration.”

Find out what practices 2 and 3 are here.

***

I also find this ties in nicely with David Cain’s Raptitude article about how to set yourself up for success to complete a challenging task tomorrow (instead of never), which you can read here.

***

And I also really like what David Cain says below about how all big projects are really just a series of simpler tasks, once you break it down.

“Work is always done in pieces, and you never know quite what any of it looks like until it is happening. As David Allen says: you can’t “do” a project, you can only do actions, and projects are nothing but actions. Even huge projects are made up only of sketches, phone calls, brushstrokes, application forms, little circles made with a polishing cloth, and other tiny, eminently doable actions.”

***

Other blog posts about this subject:

  • David Cain’s article, How to do the things you keep avoiding, here.
  • Leo Babauta’s Creating Impact When You’re Overwhelmed here.

This is a great article by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits.

An excerpt below:

“He focused his powers on moving the rocks that made up one particular hill. Doing less, he was able to actually make an impact. But it was the wrong hill — there wasn’t much meaningful accomplished from moving that hill. 

Through trial and error, talking to people, and sitting in contemplation … he decided he know what impact he wanted to make on the world. Move this one particular mountain, to help millions of people who were suffering. 

Moving the mountain seemed impossible, so he almost just gave up at the beginning. But he decided to completely commit himself to this mission, out of love for those suffering people. He got up every morning, and focused his powers on moving what he could in this mountain. 

Day after day, he focused on this impact. Productivity wasn’t the point — he wasn’t just trying to move a lot of rock. The impact was the point — less rock moved, but with purpose and focus.”

Deeply understanding that two things can be true at the same time is gonna free so many people. – @TheNapMinistry

More wisdom from Jana Roemer:

“Life dramatically changes when you begin to really understand polarity teachings: Two opposite feelings are born of the same root.

Once you can traverse that polarity, you can learn from your wise inner elder.

We only grieve so hard because of how much we love.

We value patience because we know the frustration of impatience.

We appreciate serenity of calm because we know the storm of agitation.

We experience the freedom of forgiveness because we know the shackles of resentment.

None of these feelings are wrong.

Each one is an expression of our humanness.

It comes down to your relationship with each & how you either let it in or resist its presence.”

.

Honestly, I love everything that Jana Roemer, Astrologer, shares:

“The most rebellious act we can do right now is to completely unplug from all the noise of the world. All the directives. All the neon lights flashing notes of how you should behave.

The most radical act you can do right now is to unapologetically step into your own unique embodiment. To become everything you long to be but the world told you you shouldn’t.

The most rebellious act you can do right now is envision a world that isn’t this one. A world you are free. A utopian world. A world radically different than the one today.

On this Aquarius New Moon, open & activate your heart to the heart of humanity in such a way that you feel how your radically unique expression is the exact expression the world needs at this time.

Open & activate your heart so fully that it explodes out in every direction and the ego doesn’t stand a chance at getting in the way.

As the heart rises, the mind bows to the directive that it shares. And that’s where you meet the Source of all & access the supraconsciousness.

You already know.

It’s time to do things a little differently now.”

“Dear Body, you are the true companion of my life, the vessel of my wonder, the holder of my felt intrinsic wisdom, the container of my sacred Self.” – Judith Lasater

Read the entire “Sweet Body” poem here.

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