Strategic Discomfort 🌵

This week was a break from routine. As you know, I migrated my newsletter to Substack. Substack saves me the effort on formatting and compiling. In other great news, Mindfulness Index is now available on Google News. I have also removed subscription pop-ups from my website and tweaked the homepage. If you have thoughts about how I should re-design my website, let me know. A new look and enhanced navigation is already in the works 😊.

I have also been getting my hands dirty on computer vision algorithms. I am trying to solve a practical problem. Synchronising work and family calendars. I’d like to be able to take a picture of one through my phone and update the other one automatically! I will issue an update shortly.

Now onto the mindfulness learnings! Enjoy.

Strategic Discomfort 👨✈

In 2013, the federal aviation administration (FAA) concluded in a report that there was an endemic reliance on automation when it came to flying. For instance, a pilot suggested that on a flight from London to New York, he only had to physically touch the flight controls only 7 times. According FAA, pilots were losing basic flying skills and posing a major safety issue as a result, attributing some crashes on basic piloting errors.

In horse racing, the best of horses deteriorate their A-game, when they play against inferior competition, regardless of whether they win the immediate encounter. Presumably, if horses train against the best of the best, they will push their own limits.

As a general mental model, too much comfort reduces peak performance. On the other hand, strategic discomfort springs us into action and improves performance. In day-to-day life, simply writing down your pending tasks will make you feel disconcerted until you prioritise and take action.

(Credit: Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb)

3 secrets I learnt about sleep & stress from Andrew Huberman

Andrew Huberman is an American neuroscientist at Stanford. He has made numerous contributions to the field. For practical purposes, he’s a voice of authority when it comes to neuroscience of sleep, stress and many other related topics.

  1. Optic flow calms down circuits that are responsible for stress. “Optic flow” is basically the movement of objects past our retina. For instance, objects passing us by when we go for a walk in the morning. In simple words, walking is a brilliant way to destress. Ah, we know that already but for me, knowing the “why” makes it incredibly sticky as a habit. #Keepwalking.
  2. Most physical effort on our part is associated with release of Adrenaline in our body. When the effort is extended, these levels sometimes hit a peak and we reach a quit point (one might say, that’s it, I need to rest now). Dopamine on the other hand, the feeling good hormone, resets our ability to be in effort. Lot of people don’t know this but, Dopamine is actually what Adrenaline is made up of. This is why we need rest and relaxation. Joy and pleasure provide chemicals for effort!
  3. Don’t place too much stress on number of hours of sleep, consistency of your routine is more important. This determines quality of our sleep. When we see a bright source of light 2 hours prior to our sleeping hour, our circadian rhythm shifts forward, and you sleep late and wake up late. If we see a bright source of light really early in the morning, circadian rhythm shifts backward, making you feel sleepy earlier than usual. Why is this important? Because we fret a lot over sleep but rarely think about consistency.

(Source: Lex Fridman Podcast, and other Stanford publication linked in the post)

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By Abhi Shah

Hi, I’m Abhi. After living many years in London, me and my family re-located back to India in the summer of 2017. I spend most of my time working with a high performing team at Barclays in Pune, India and the rest with my son Anik! I have spent half of my career in commercial product roles and half in technology. I have also spent over 9 years living outside India, and have traveled to over 27 countries. Visit the Bio section of this website to learn more about me.

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