Often Wrong, Never In Doubt

Get Results: often wrong never in doubt
Get Results: often wrong never in doubt

The quote “Often wrong, never in doubt” is often used in the context that you have to be confident in yourself and not doubt yourself even though you may be wrong. Doing something and failing is far worse than doubting yourself and therefore not even trying.

An alternative view can be taken from this statement, the meaning I took from it when I first heard it, was that it refers to over-confidence in some belief that could very well be wrong. It’s the delusion of certainty without actually having the full facts.

I see this as a major problem, rather than something to draw inspiration from. Sure we have to take risks in pursuit of dreams sometimes, but we should always strive to have the full facts and not follow things on a whim.

Beliefs shape behaviour and at the extremes, people are willing to die or kill in pursuit of their beliefs, As a society, we really don’t want beliefs being built on such shaky ground.

Question yourself, where have your strongest held beliefs come from? Can you back them with evidence? Are they built on truths?

I’ve done this myself, and many of my beliefs, held for many years are built from assumptions, inferences and from the testimony of other people, often people I considered experts and authority figures. Very few have come from my own research, from facts and backed by hard evidence.

I’ve learned to test and check as much as possible, and take everything else with some level of scientism.

Relying on the testimony of others seems like a good strategy, it makes sense, after all we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we can stand on the shoulders of giants and make use of their knowledge. If you want to learn about wealth creation, learn from someone who has built wealth, if you want to learn about health, learn from someone who has achieved great health and fitness.

However be wary of authority figures manipulating you for their own ends.  We’ve all seen scandals and cover-ups from banks, politicians, businesses and trusted individuals who turned out to be lying and misleading for their own ends. I take the view, the bigger they are the less we can afford to trust them. Mainly because financial pressures change people, the more they have the more they fear losing what they have. This makes them do things they might not have done before.

I am now very cautious of anyone who is certain of being in the right, knowing the truth, and who are subsequently certain that this or that will happen in the future, but have no real evidence or data to back that opinion up. If they are unwilling to at least, listen to an alternative view, I tend to run a mile. Their beliefs are out of control, and it’s likely to end in tears for somebody.

So what should you do if someone tells you something?

In a  recent study from Northwestern University psychologist David Rapp  outlines several ways to avoid falling into the misinformation trap:

  1. Critically evaluate information right away. That may help prevent your brain from storing the wrong information. “You want to avoid encoding those potentially problematic memories,” Rapp said.
  2. Consider the source. People are more likely to use inaccurate information from a credible source than from an unreliable source, according to Rapp’s previous research.
  3. Beware of “truthy” falsehoods. “When the truth is mixed with inaccurate statements, people are persuaded, fooled and less evaluative, which prevents them from noticing and rejecting the inaccurate ideas,” Rapp said.

I would add a couple of other things to this list. First, whoever is telling you, ask yourself, what’s in it for them? What’s their angle, have they anything to gain for telling you what they’re telling you? Even if you can’t answer these questions, be skeptical.

Finally I would add one last thing, ask them, how do you know? where’s the evidence? If their answer is something like, they’ve heard from a friend, or from unnamed source, take it with a  pinch of salt. If they’ve got first hand experience of it, then take note, but again refer to the previous point of questioning their motives.

So in conclusion, we should be very cautious about our beliefs and those of others. Question everything, don’t just take things at face value. Beliefs are dangerous, particularly when you hold them with conviction, and have little insight into where they really come from. Social conditioning is very effective at indoctrinating people into doing what’s best for society or for a particular cause. This is not always the best for individuals.

For instance, parents often push us to play safe and not take unnecessary risks because of their social conditioning and fears instilled in them by their parents. They are just as socially conditioned and as blind to their conditioning as we are. It’s kind of like the blind leading the blind. They love you and care for you and want you to be safe, so they project their fears onto you, and so the cycle goes on through you and your children.

We might grow up with the belief that we should always PLAY IT SAFE, when we’d be better taking calculated risks at certain times or WORK ON OUR WEAKNESSES, when we’d be better doubling down on our strengths.

Question your beliefs and subsequently your opinions and views, and don’t be one of those people who are often wrong, never in doubt.

The Art Of Learning

Get Results: learn with pleasure and remember
Get Results: learn with pleasure and remember

Learning any new skill can be a very intimidating prospect, to begin with, we’re likely to clumsily fumble around like a baby learning to walk, often falling on our asses, but over time, with enough perseverance, we’re all capable of metaphorically rising elegantly to our feet and not just walking, but running, dancing and jumping, and some people, with practice, can somersault and land back on their feet with great style.

In these modern times, with technology driving the business landscape to change so rapidly, there is a greater requirement for individuals to also be able to change rapidly, to be able to learn and develop new skills, and be open to new challenges and demands.

The ability to learn rapidly is going to be increasingly necessary if individuals are going to thrive.

So learning quickly is going to be a must, moving forwards. So the question is, how can we learn and master new skills fast?

Tim Ferriss has developed a learning framework he calls  DiSSS, which is an acronym for Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing and Stakes.

1. Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units we should be starting with?
2. Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should we focus on for 80% or more of the outcome we want?
3. Sequencing: In what order should we learn the blocks?
4. Stakes: How do we set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee we follow the program?

We’re looking to break a skill down to it’s most important components.

I find it easier to imagine starting a new project from scratch, and walk through it, step by step, noting down each requirement as  I go.

I have recently put some of the teachings, found on this website, into practice for myself, while learning Python programming. Things like, finding reliable sources of accurate information by using role models, mentors and mastermind teams, and finding out the methods, relationships, systems and habits they use  for success. You can find more about these things on other articles on the site, so I won’t go into depth here, but as part of the learning process I also looked to deconstruct the skill of programming into it’s essential ingredients. This is what I came up with..

Essential elements of programming

  1. Understand the syntax for Python code, so that it does what I need it to do.
  2. Develop the ability to break a problem down, so that I can use Python code to address or solve it. After all code is written to solve problems, some of which are complex and some of which are more straight forward.
  3. Following on from number 2, being able to spot problems to begin with is also a skill that can be developed, not everyone has enough empathy for others to be able to stand in their shoes and see how they see any given situation. Good coders either solve problems they, themselves experience and need fixing or they empathise for other people.

These were my major findings when it came to DECONSTRUCTING Python, these being the top level concepts that I needed to learn about and develop. They constitute the 20% that needs learning to achieve 80% of the results, in my opinion, as Tim Ferriss advocates in his DiSSS framework.

In terms of number 1, understanding the syntax of Python, there were/is countless websites and YouTube videos devoted to the subject. The most time consuming part of it was finding reliable ones that made it easy for a newbie like me to understand.

Some of the tutorials mixed mathematical principles and coding together, which for me, made it rather confusing, as I needed  to brush up on maths I hadn’t used for years, such as Algebra. I eventually found the tutorials that linked the new concepts I needed to learn about Python programming to things I already understood, and this made the learning process much easier.

The list of important syntax included:

  • Commenting on your code
  • Variables
  • Mathematical operations
  • Logical Operations
  • Conditionals such as if, elif and else statements which effect a programs flow
  • Loops – for, while loops particularly
  • Built in library
  • External library and use of modules
  • Data types – strings/ integers/ floats/ booleans/ lists/ tuples/ dictionaries
  • Dealing with errors and exceptions
  • Functions
  • Classes

I practiced code examples, repeating time and time again, until I could recall the code without any prompting and completely from memory.

I practiced the code, broke it apart, removed some of it to see what happened, moved the order around to see what difference it made. I changed it so that I knew what each part did and why.

I progressed by making a few small apps for myself, such as one that just did a simple “to do list”, another that converted currencies, sizes, weights. I did one that helped in the decision making process, another that evaluated moods and so on. Through this practicing and the subsequent trial and error, I gained a better appreciation for what could be done using Python.

I went on forums and groups and tried to spot the problems in other people’s code and solve them. Some forums and groups had challenges that I tried.

Through this I not only improved my coding skills, I developed my problem solving skills and ability to use code effectively to provide real solutions, this also realised number 3 in Tim’s framework criteria, SEQUENCING. I didn’t set out to learn code before sharpening my problem-solving skills, it just intuitively happened that way.

My programming skills are still a work-in-progress but I’m getting better all the time, through purposeful practice, and challenging myself.

I’m 50 years old, and coding with Python is a completely new experience for me, but I’m enjoying the learning process which means I don’t really have to bother with the final criteria of Tim’s framework, STAKES, the shear joy of doing it is enough to keep me going, mixed in with the fact that it’s giving me new skills and a greater knowledge of the new technical world we are facing. With knowledge comes power as they say, but equally with knowledge comes less fear, fear of the unknown.

For more about learning click here.

Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Absolutely Corrupts

Get Results: power corrupts
Get Results: power corrupts

“Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts.”

It’s an interesting statement but is it accurate?

If you think about human nature we all have a tendency to gravitate towards inflating our sense of self, and avoiding situations that devalue it.

Evidence of this is all around us in everyday life. Arguments are engaged in to uphold ones sense of self. For instance, think about the reasons why you last argued, were you protecting something important to you? Something you’d invested yourself in. When you prefix “my…” to anything, such as“my idea”, “my thoughts”, “my opinion”, “my possessions”, “my kids” you make it part of your self-worth.

The mind believes, the more you HAVE the more you ARE, but the flip side of having more and being more, is that you also have more to lose.

When individuals gain more money, more power, more stature, it becomes more difficult to face loosing it, and so self interest and self preservation become even more important.

Those in power have more to lose by rocking the boat, by fighting again the very system they are benefiting from, so what do they do, they fight to preserve the status quo, because it serves them and after all, we are all designed to protect ourselves, it’s our survival instinct doing it’s job.

If you understand this trait of human nature, you come to realise that anyone in power is open to corruption, and is not going to drive through change that could potentially put them at risk.

You can’t defy human nature, we are what we are, but you can manage it, so that society is better for it, and so that those in power, serve society rather than themselves.

So how do we, the ordinary people, deal with the fact that people are self serving and power only increases this instinct?

Well, we start to actually hold politicians, businesses and powerful individuals to account, we make sure they deliver on the promises they benefited on the back of, and if they don’t they should know they have a great deal to lose.

Appreciate Your Now

Get Results: life is never not now
Get Results: life is never not now

I was recently talking to someone who was struggling to come to terms with a friend of hers leaving to join the army. The back story is that her best friend of 17 years had been living with an ex for 6 months due to financial constraints, and as a way out had decided to join the army and leave for 4 years with possible deployment oversees.

Apparently she would never have done this if she wasn’t stuck in this bad living situation, but has now become excited at the prospect of new beginnings.

The person I was talking to, let’s call her Elaine for the purposes of this post, was feeling angry and sad about her friend leaving, especially because she’d be leaving to potentially be part of a conflict and could find herself in great danger.

Although Elaine was being outwardly supportive of her friend, she was dreading her departure, and the thought of potentially losing their close friendship and had a lot of anger which was directed at her friends ex for putting her in this situation.

Elaine had a couple serious “are you sure?” conversations with her friend who had indicated that she was sure of her decision, and it being what she wanted.

If Elaine’s friend stays she will continue to work at her solid full time job, and will only have to keep living with her ex for another two months.

I told her the bottom line was she should let go of her attachment to their friendship and accept the situation as is, which involves both letting go, and surrendering to the present reality.

She shouldn’t resist the feelings she has. Instead examine her fear of loss by looking into it.

Bringing awareness to her story telling, by asking how much of it is speculation driven by fear, which is all of it, in reality. I told Elaine to be aware of this, and the fact that none of these thoughts are real, they are story telling embellishments out of control.

The truth is her friend is happy to go, so she should be happy for her. None of us know what the future holds, her friend could stay and get hit by a bus, and then Elaine would be thinking she should have let her friend go into the army after all, instead of talking her out of it. You can make stories up to either back her friends departure or for staying.

I advised Elaine to let go of the fear that is telling her that her friend is safer here rather than there. It’s her friends journey and she needs to go where she needs to go. We all have our own journey to travel.

We are all protective of those we love, we want them to be safe and secure, and when they are not with us we believe the danger is greater or that we may be left without them. This is of course a possibility, but we can drive ourselves crazy by running with these stories.

Loss is indeed part of life, all things are transient. Change is continuous and wishing for it not to be, does little to change the reality.

We should be grateful for the blessings we have, as they are happening, for the relationships, the places and the things we get to experience, in the moment we experience them. Instead of being completely absorbed by wanting, and chasing after more or better in the future, which many of us do, and are preoccupied with doing, only to realising what we had, but didn’t truly appreciate when we had them to enjoy. Nothing lasts forever, everything has it’s time and is subject to change, continually.

Accept the fact that change is part of life, be grateful for your blessings right now, and get used to the idea that the future is uncertain, but focus much more on the opportunities it can present, rather than the danger, and  risk that it may or may not pose.

The best solution is not to over think, but instead feel life in the moment it unfolds, in the present moment. Thinking is imagination, speculation, with no foundation in reality. It’s the creative story teller inside you, driven by fear. Love is now, fear is focused in the future. Appreciate all you have now. It’s fine to work towards a future goal, but prioritise NOW, and all that is in your now, because it might not be there tomorrow.

For more about spirituality click here.

For more about gratitude click here.

Enlightenment: Freeing Yourself From Thought

Get Results: Alan Watts Enlightenment quote
Get Results: Alan Watts Enlightenment quote

ENLIGHTENMENT comes from separation of AWARENESS and I INVESTED THOUGHT, particularly rigid thought forms such as BELIEFS. This realisation brings space to all situations, a gap to observe thought, but not be inside and part of thought.

It is impossible to go back fully to old thought habits once this shift takes place.

Thereafter the difficulty is dealiing with a society that is largely blind to this perspective and that continues to struggle along unconsciously, WANTING, ATTACHING and SEPARATING from it’s environment, seemingly insanely fighting over scarce resources, and desperately trying to be something different, better or somewhere else.

But that feeling too gets easier when you let go of EXPECTATIONS which after all are just thoughts.

It’s easy to forget, or fall asleep in some lazy moments and you risk becoming once again reactionary to your thinking, this is where some discipline and effort may be required.

It’s also tempting to try to over complicate enlightenment, because it seems too easy a process, to remove pain and suffering, but it is this easy if you remove your sense of self from your thoughts.

See the importance of the moments as they unfold, keep from wishing for the next moment to come or dwelling on your past.

Feel connected to and one with life itself.

Allow joy to flow into what you do, or at least accept the things you can’t enjoy as you do them.

Enthuse with all that is, right and wrong, front and back, up and down, black and white, for everything has it’s place, in the rich tapestry of life.

LIFE is about experiencing the good and bad moments, riding them like a wave, rather than fighting with all your might against them, being in those moments as experiencing energy, and following your bliss, wherever it takes you.

Find out more about spirituality and wellbeing here.

They’re Fooling You, Start Living The Life You Want

Get Results: focus on making a life
Get Results: focus on making a life

It’s time to wake up to the big lie.

If you only do what you truly love for a fraction of your waking life, because you have bills to pay, and other obligations, what kind of life are you really living? I mean seriously think about this for a moment.

Cutting costs is as good as earning extra income. Drop the excess to focus on the things that really matter to you.

Happiness doesn’t come from possessions, or having more stuff, because once you have them, and once the novelty wears off, it becomes part of the norm and you will tend to look towards the next new or better thing.

Marketers and the businesses behind them want to feed you the narrative that having more will make you happier, will enrich your life, and they do this because it serves them, not you.

WANTING is conditioned into us, and HAVING is the dream, but this is a lie.

Instead focus on BEING. experience life, get out of your head and into the experiential reality of life. Serve your soul, by enjoying the experience of people, places and pursuits that excite you and that bring you joy or should I say, you enthuse joy into doing.

Figure out a way to pay the bills you have to pay, the necessities, minus any unnecessary excess, while doing the things that allow you to BE true to yourself. This is the way you should be defining success or lack of.

Get Results: wheres you path taking you
Get Results: wheres you path taking you

It’s time to change perspective, to re-evaluate your financials, and live a life that truly engages you.

 

 

Learning To Code – Acquiring Knowledge And Developing A Skill

Get Results: coding
Get Results: coding

As part of my own journey of self improvement, and the subsequent creation of this website, I’ve worked at putting many of the sites teachings into practice. It’s made a huge difference to my business, my relationships and my general outlook on life.

As part of this process, I’ve opened myself up to doing new things. One of these new things has been learning to code.

Historically I’ve convinced myself that I’m not the type of person to be a coder, and have failed to be able to get into it. I now realise this to be a coping strategy and an attempt to not have to take responsibility. Kind of saying to myself “If god hasn’t designed me to be a coder, I guess he knows best”. This allows me to psychologically move on to something else.

However, I’m now a little wiser and certainly more self aware, I can admit I’ve been closing myself off to the challenge.

I’m now open to the challenge and the surprising thing is, I’ve really enjoyed studying it. There is so much to learn it can be overwhelming, but also really exciting, with regards to the headroom for learning and the future possibilities for coding.

The key skill to programming is the ability to solve problems. I like solving problems, as well as helping people, so coding is a good fit for me personally as it aligns with my core purpose.

So where to begin? After doing some initial research, and asking a couple of programmer friends of mine (who have subsequently become mentors), I came to the conclusion Python would be a good starting point. I like the idea of data mining , deep learning, AI etc and Python ticks many of these boxes. It’s also a high level programming language, which means it operates at a higher conceptual level, and this really appeals to me.

I realised that web based applications would also be possible, but figured learning more about JavaScript and PHP would be worth investigating. I was informed by one of my mentors that it’s relatively easy to pick up a second language once you have one under your belt, and this has subsequently proved to be the case.

I scoured the internet, particular Youtube to find easy to follow tutorials. Not having anything of a coding background, I found some of the terminology rather difficult to come to terms with, but  with plenty of patience and determination, I’ve been able to power through these challenges.

I figured it best to learn the basic building blocks of the language, which I’ve detailed below, this isn’t designed to be a comprehensive list, but to give you an idea of what is involved in the learning process. It also helps me crystalise my learning, because I’m a firm believer than if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Hopefully you have gained some insight from my experience, and don’t shy away from learning new skills, I’m 50 years old and prepared to learn a completely new skill set at my age. It’s never too late.

The important thing to remember is not to get overwhelmed, or try to run before you can walk. Be patient, understand the fundamentals well, before progressing. Play with and enjoy the learning experience for it’s own sake, and not for what you will gain at the end. It’s about the journey, not just the destination.

If you’re not particularly interested in coding, you don’t need to read this post any further.

Learning the fundamentals of Python

I’m not going into the details of installing Python, there are many resources online detailing the exact process, other than saying you input  your code into Idle, which comes along with the Python installation.

“#” is a comment, it’s not part of the code, but allows you to add important notes to help readability and explain what you’re trying to do on each bit of code.

Variables

A variable is simply a pointer to something in memory.

Python variables do not need explicit declaration to reserve memory space. The declaration happens automatically when you assign a value to a variable. The equal sign (=) is used to assign values to variables.

The syntax is such that the operand to the left of the = operator is the name of the variable and the operand to the right of the = operator is the value stored in the variable.

So “myVariable” in the example below is the variable name, it should have no spaces and not start with numbers. variable names can only include a-z, A-Z, _, and 0-9. Other special characters are not permitted.

myVariable = "Hello World"

# this is a comment, and not part of the code. If you want to print the result to the screen do the following..
print(myVariable)
another_name = "Hello World" 
print(another_name)

Both the above examples print out “Hello World” to the screen. The variable name can be anything you want it to be, but make sure it’s descriptive enough so you and anyone else can understand the code at a later date.

Values can include strings (including sentences) which appear inside “”, numbers (including integers, floats, complex number) , lists which appear inside [], tuples () or directories {}, and we’ll cover these data types later. Here are a few examples

randomNumber = 400 
print(randomNum)
randomList = ["money", 43, "red", "UB40"]
print(randomList)
randomTuple = ("money", 43, "red", "UB40")
print(randomTuple)

Functions

A function is a block of reusable code that is used to perform a single, related action. Functions are convenient for reusing, without having to write the code out again and again later in a program.

The syntax for functions can be seen below; start with “def” and are followed by the function name (you choose what) and parentheses  ( ).

The code block within every function starts with a colon : and is indented. The indentation is very important, it will not work otherwise. Indenting code is done by pressing space bar 4 times on new line.

The bottom line below “calls” the function.

def bitcoin_to_sterling(btc):
    amount = btc * 3714.76
    print(amount)
bitcoin_to_sterling(10) #this line calls the function

# this function replaces btc with 10 which is multiplied by 3714.76 = 37147.6
def greet_user(username):
# Display a simple greeting
    print("Hello, " + username.title() + "!")
greet_user('mike') #this line calls the function

# this function prints out "Hello Mike"

Conditionals : if – elif -else

Conditional statements are common among programming languages and they are used to perform actions or calculations based on whether a condition is evaluated as true or false. If then else statements or conditional expressions are essential features of programming languages and they make programs more useful to users.

x = 14 
y = 14
z = 5

if x < y:
    print("X is less than Y")
elif y < x:
    print("Y is less than X")
elif z > x:
    print("Z is greater than X")
else:
    print("Y and X are the same and Z is less")

# prints out "Y and X are the same and Z is less"

Loops

A loop is a programming construct that enables repetitive processing of a sequence of statements. Python provides two types of loops to its users: the “for loop” and the “while loop”. The “for” and “while” loops are interation statements that allow a block of code (the body of the loop) to be repeated a number of times.

# WHILE loop example
condition = 1 # variable
while condition < 10:
    print(condition)
    condition += 1 # just keeps adding 1 until condition is met up to 10 but not including 10
# FOR loop example 
colours = ["red","blue","green","yellow","orange"] # this is a list

# this is for actual FOR loop
for colour in colours:
    print(colour)

Lists

We’ve used a list in the previous example for loops

A list is a data type that can be used to store any type and number of variables and information. You can manipulate lists, adding, removing, sorting, deleting contents.

# FOR loop example 2 - manipulating the original list

colours = ["red","blue","green","yellow","orange"] # this is a list

# add to end of list
colours.append("pink")

# replace an item on list
colours[0] = "pink"

# insert into list
colours.insert(1, "pink")

# delete from list
del colours[0]
colours.remove("pink")

# sort list
colours.sort()

# reverse list
colours.reverse()

# this is the actual FOR loop
for colour in colours: 
    print(colour)

Tuples

Tuples are fixed size in nature whereas lists are dynamic. In other words, a Tuple is immutable whereas a list is mutable. You can’t add elements to a tuple. Tuples have no append or extend method.

A Tuple is created by placing all the items (elements) inside a parentheses (), separated by comma. The parentheses are optional but is a good practice to write it.

A Tuple can have any number of items and they may be of different types (integer, float, list, string etc.).

tup1 = ('physics', 'chemistry', 1997, 2000)
tup2 = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 )
print(tup1)
print(tup2)

Directory

A directory is like a list but instead of looking up an index to access values, you’ll be using a unique key, which can be a number, string, or tuple. Directory values can be anything but the keys must be an immutable data type. A colon separates a key from its value and all are enclosed in curly braces. Here is the directory structure:

 d={key_1:a, key_2:2, key_3:ab}

menu = {"spam":12.50,"carbonara":20, "salad":15}
print(menu)
print(len(menu)) # 3

Classes and object-orientated programming

Python is an object-oriented programming language, as it manipulates and works with data structures called objects. Objects can be anything that could be named in Python, such as  integers, functions, floats, strings, classes, methods etc. All these objects have equal status in Python. They can be used anywhere an object is required.

You can assign them to variables, lists or directories. They can also be passed as arguments. Every Python object is a class. A class is simply a way of organising, managing and creating objects with the same attributes and methods.

class Employees(object):
   def __init__(self,name,rate,hours):
   self.name = name
   self.rate = rate
   self.hours = hours

staff = Employees("Wayne",20,8)
supervisor = Employees("Dwight",35,8)
manager = Employees("Melinda",100,8)

print(staff.name, staff.rate, staff.hours)
print(supervisor.name, supervisor.rate, supervisor.hours)
print(manager.name, manager.rate, manager.hours)

Opening, Reading and Closing text files

One thing you’re likely to need to do with Python, is manipulate external files, below is some code for  opening, reading and closing text files.

There are many libraries you can call upon to add functionality to your Pyhton code, such as NLTK, which help you deal with other file types, such as HTML (webpages), word documents, PDF files, electronic books etc.

# open and read from text file
f = open("test.txt")
#print(f.read())
# create and save text file
with open("list_created.txt", "w") as output:
 output.write(f.read())
# reading file
f = open("start_days.txt")
print(f.read())
# writing file
title = "Days of the Week\n"
days_file = open("start_days.txt", "r")
weekDays = days_file.read()
new_days = open("new_file.txt", "w")

new_days.write(title)
print(title)

new_days.write(weekDays)
print(weekDays)
# closing file
days_file.close()
new_days.close()
#changing external variables (string/interger combination) from a text file into a
#directory by defining key and value
mydict = dict((k, int(v))
for k, v in (e.split(' = ')
for e in days.split(',')))

Below is a fun little program, I’ve made, putting some of the code learned above, into practice. It interacts with a user, and asks them to input a number guess into IDLE. It’s only basic stuff, but it’s a start, and practice makes perfect.

The inspiration for making this little game came from reading an article about a coder who was asked to do a program that asked a user to guess a predefined number between 1 and 100, and printed out onto the screen after each guess, whether the guess was under  or over the target number.

magicNumber = 20
number = ""

while number != magicNumber:
    answer = input("Pick a number between 1 and 100 ")
    number = int(answer) 

if number > magicNumber:
    print("Too high")
elif number < magicNumber:
    print("Too low")
else:
    print("Well done, you've got it right!")

Doing this little program tweaked my interest in the concept of interacting with a user, so I’ve spent some time learning Javascript as a results, because I am able to interact with website visitors more readily using Javascript. I’ll be posting something in the future to detail my experience with this web based language.

Here is a rather more complex program, which I’ve since rewritten in Javascript.

print("first get a piece of paper, right down two choices for a particular decision you have to make. Under each right down 3 attributes that are important in the decision. Think about the most important to least important. Now lets begin")
define1 = input("Define your first option as suscinctly as possible ")
feature1 = input("define an attribute that is important in this choice ")
weight1 = input("weight it's importance 1-5 , five being more important ")
weightone = int(weight1)
listing1 = input("how important is this attribute compared to other attributes. If it's the most important score it 5, if it's the second most important 4 and so on (least 1-5 most) ")
listingone = int(listing1)
result1 = weightone * listingone
print(define1)
print(feature1)
print(result1)

feature2 = input("define an attribute that is important in the choice ")
weight2 = input("weight it's importance 1-5 , five being more important ")
weighttwo = int(weight2)
listing2 = input("how important is this attribute compared to other attributes. If it's the most important score it 5, if it's the second most important 4 and so on (least 1-5 most) ")
listingtwo = int(listing2)
result2 = weighttwo * listingtwo
print(define1)
print(feature2)
print(result2)

feature3 = input("define an attribute that is important in the choice ")
weight3 = input("weight it's importance 1-5 , five being more important ")
weightthree = int(weight3)
listing3 = input("how important is this attribute compared to other attributes. If it's the most important score it 5, if it's the second most important 4 and so on (least 1-5 most) ")
listingthree = int(listing3)
result3 = weightthree * listingthree
print(define1)
print(feature3)
print(result3)

if result1 > result2 and result1 > result3:
    print("The most imporant attibute is " + feature1)

elif result2 > result1 and result2 > result3:
    print("The most imporant attibute is " + feature1)

elif result3 > result1 and result3 > result2:
    print("The most imporant attibute is " + feature3)

else:
    print("No winner")


define2 = input("Define your second option as suscinctly as possible ")
print("The attribute has already been defined as " + feature1)
weight4 = input("weight it's importance 1-5 , five being more important ")
weightfour = int(weight4)
listing4 = input("how important is this attribute compared to other attributes. If it's the most important score it 5, if it's the second most important 4 and so on (least 1-5 most) ")
listingfour = int(listing4)
result4 = weightfour * listingfour
print(define2)
print(feature1)
print(result4)

print("The attribute has already been defined as " + feature2)
weight5 = input("weight it's importance 1-5 , five being more important ")
weightfive = int(weight5)
listing5 = input("how important is this attribute compared to other attributes. If it's the most important score it 5, if it's the second most important 4 and so on (least 1-5 most) ")
listingfive = int(listing5)
result5 = weightfive * listingfive
print(define2)
print(feature2)
print(result5)

print("The attribute has already been defined as " + feature3)
weight6 = input("weight it's importance 1-5 , five being more important ")
weightsix = int(weight6)
listing6 = input("how important is this attribute compared to other attributes. If it's the most important score it 5, if it's the second most important 4 and so on (least 1-5 most)")
listingsix = int(listing6)
result6 = weightsix * listingsix
print(define2)
print(feature3)
print(result6)

if result4 > result5 and result4 > result6:
    print("The most imporant attibute is " + feature1)

elif result5 > result4 and result5 > result6:
    print("The most imporant attibute is " + feature2)

elif result6 > result4 and result6 > result5:
    print("The most imporant attibute is " + feature3)

else:
    print("No winner")

calculation1 = result1 + result2 + result3
calculation2 = result3 + result4 + result6

if calculation1 > calculation2:
    print("Of the two choices, the one that got the best score, based on your answers was " + define1)

elif calculation1 < calculation2:
    print("Of the two choices, the one that got the best score, based on your answers was " + define2)
else:
    print("There was no overall winner")

Check out my little random quote program, when you get onto it just click the button to reveal the next quote, which will stay visible for 10 seconds and disappear, just click the button again to reveal another quote. Keep the page bookmarked as I’ll be continually adding new quotes to it.

Removing Suffering In The Modern Age

Get Results: pain we create is avoidable
Get Results: pain we create is avoidable

I recently came across a question in a discussion group, which went..

“Attachments and expectations are the main reason for suffering and disappointment, It’s easy to say let go of attachments but how in ‘real’ life can we be without attachments and emotions, I mean not everybody can leave our loved ones in the midnight and go to a forest and just meditate under a tree, come on lets be practical, so my question is how to be like Buddha in this modern age?”

This is an interesting question, and one I’ve contemplated myself many times. The question misses something though. There is another element that is required for suffering to take place. As well as EXPECTATIONS and ATTACHMENTS you need PERCEPTION OF REALITY. These are all elements of what is known in spirituality circles as “THE PAIN GAP”, otherwise known as the EQUATION OF EMOTIONS. If we can change our perceptions, which are conditioned into us by the society we grow up in, we can break the pain gap. Our perceptions come from our beliefs and values, which are built on assumptions and inferences rather than facts and evidence. If you don’t believe me, question yourself about your own beliefs and values, where are they from, what are they based on?

As well as dealing with our perceptions of reality, we can work on reducing or removing our EXPECTATIONS for any given situation, whilst reducing or removing our ATTACHMENTS.

Rather than holding any EXPECTATIONS, we should instead embrace a sense of appreciation. Nothing in life is promised, so being grateful is a much healthy psychological position to take.

ATTACHMENTS are, by their very nature, impermanent. The life that you live, the house that you live in, the car that you drive, the relationships that you share, are all destined to end one day. Accepting this fact, while enjoying them while they last is much more pain free than refusing to accept the reality of the situation. Surrendering to WHAT IS, is the sensible thing to do.

If any one of these elements is resolved, PERCEPTION OF REALITY, EXPECTATIONS, or ATTACHMENTS, we can reduce or remove the pain gap (otherwise known as the equation of emotion), which will reduce or remove suffering from our lives.

However ultimately we should aim to do as Thrangu Rinpoche advises in Pointing Out the Dharmakaya.

“We cannot get rid of suffering by saying, “I will not suffer.” We cannot eliminate attachment by saying, “I will not be attached to anything,” nor eliminate aggression by saying, “I will never become angry.” Yet, we do want to get rid of suffering and the disturbing emotions that are the immediate cause of suffering.

The only way to eliminate suffering is to actually recognize the experience of a self as a misconception, which we do by proving directly to ourselves that there is no such personal self. We must actually realize this. Once we do, then automatically the misconception of a self and our fixation on that self will disappear. Only by directly experiencing selflessness can we end the process of confused projection.”

For more about spirituality, check out our spirituality guide, and a number of spirituality posts.

Fulfilment Is Not Beyond Achievement

Get Results: achievement and fulfilment
Get Results: achievement and fulfilment

In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to get swept along with the emotion of circumstance. Sometimes there may be good days, other times, bad. Debts might be piling up in one corner of life, relationship problems in another, an upcoming holiday to look forward to elsewhere, which gives us a sense of hope.

We might feel we are finally getting somewhere, only to find the next moment pulls us back a dozen steps, like a frustrating game of snakes and ladders.

Society has conditioned us to be restless, we have been taught to strive for more if we want to be more. We are shown what could be, if we work hard enough and do what needs to be done, particularly in the accumulation of wealth and status.

If we’re lucky to climb a few rungs towards success, we might feel some sense of achievement, at least for a short while, but underneath it all there is usually a sense of “is this it?”

Well the pursuit of achievement is a fools errand, if you’re looking for fulfilment. You see achievement is conditional, it depends on something outside of yourself happening. Fulfilment is not at the end of this road, you will never find it beyond achievement or success, it’s somewhere else entirely, it’s inside you.

Jim Carrey, wearing his philosophy hat said “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

Something I discovered a while ago was to learn to look at life through fresh eyes, to strip away all the BS, and focus on the really important things, the things that matter, and what are they you may ask? Well a truly enlightened person would say, there isn’t anything that really matters, because everything you can engage or interact with is part of “form” which is by it’s very nature, fleeting and impermanent.

The house you live in, might be legally owned by you, but in reality, it’s not yours, it will pass to someone else at some point in the future, whether you like it or not. Same with the car in the driveway, and all of your possessions.

Even the relationships you currently enjoy, will pass over one day.

You can accumulate all the wealth in the world, a billion dollars if you like, but one day, that too will be gone from your possession, you can’t take it from this life. You can’t take any form beyond death.

In reality, you own nothing of form, and that shouldn’t really be a troubling thought, because, form doesn’t matter, in the great scheme of things, it just isn’t important. It’s within the realms of achievement.

So if achievement and the pursuit of form is a fools errand, what should we be focused on, what should we spend our attention on, where will we find fulfilment?

Well, EVERYTHING ELSE, is the answer, and what is everything else, when you take away FORM, which is the physical world? Eckhart Tolle would answer… THE FORMLESS. The formless that allows form to be, after all, without space, the planets could not orbit, without the observer of form, form could not be.

Space, the formless is not something you can see or touch, that is the problem for many, they only believe what they can see, touch and prove, everything else is seen as fantasy.

At the same time, we are happy to be completely controlled, directed and driven by THOUGHT, we “think” more than we do anything else. We incessantly talk to ourselves in our heads, reliving past glories, re-running past arguments, projecting future scenarios, telling ourselves stories of this and that. We use thoughts to work things out, to make sense of things, and to find answers. Yet thoughts can’t be touched or seen in the material world, yet they exist without doubt. But thought are not formless in the sense that, we should be focusing our attention on them, in fact, we should be spending less time than we do in thought, particularly emotionally driven thought that we invest in, with our sense of self.

We should use thought, and not be used by it. It’s a kind of form focused formless ability that we have, but it’s not who we are. Thought is in fact a barrier to finding who or what we really are. Take BELIEFS, which are really just rigid thought patterns; we hold onto them, defend them, fight for them, even kill for them. They are our beliefs and they matter to us. In reality most beliefs are built on assumptions and inferences, rather than evidence and fact. Go through your beliefs, write them down, then ask yourself where they come from, what are they based on? Show me the evidence of your convictions.

Beyond THOUGHT and beyond FORM is where we should be focusing attention, it’s the space and formless that flows through us, and everything else in the world, this is where fulfilment can be found, it’s in us, everyone of us. We are connected by the space between objects, between planets. It weaves its way through and around all form, allowing all form to be, we are that space, we exist in it, we are part of it, we experience it through CONSCIOUSNESS, which is attention in the moment. You can find it when you rise above thought and above form or at least the thought of form.

From consciousness, you can enjoy form, play with form, appreciate form, but are not burdened by being tethered to it.

From consciousness you can use thought to navigate the world of form, but are not used by it. There is a big difference.

In the realm of consciousness, fear does not exist, because fear is part of thought, and part of form. If the real you is formless, what have you got to fear?

So in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to get swept along with the emotion of circumstance. Sometimes there may be good days, other times, bad. Debts might be piling up in one corner of life, relationship problems in another, an upcoming holiday to look forward to elsewhere, which gives us a sense of hope. But none of that really matters does it?

For more about spirituality, check out our spirituality guide, and other posts about spirituality.

 

Warning: Beliefs, Opinions and Convictions Are Present

Get Results: Never ASSUME
Get Results: Never ASSUME

I Grew up thinking strong beliefs and convictions were a sign of strength, but having become more spiritual over recent years I’m more aligned to the school of thought that thinks belief systems are more of a hindrance than a help.

We shape our sense-of-self through our beliefs. They become part of us and how we see ourselves in the world.

We have a tendency to look for confirmation of our own beliefs and any opinions that flow from them. Confirmation is designed to uphold our sense-of-self. We may even go as far as to defend our beliefs with our very own live’s. How many have died to defend their belief systems, history is littered with examples.

Surely we would be better advised to do as science does, and formulate a hypothesis which we then try to disprove. This approach frees us from beliefs supported by nothing more than assumptions and inferences and ensures we only believe things backed by actual evidence and facts.

What beliefs do you hold with any kind of conviction, and what evidence supports them? Is it a belief built from the testimony of experts? If so, what evidence supports what the expert is telling you, and has this evidence been interpreted without personal bias and preference by the expert that promotes it? You may find much of what you believe or have heard from others to be made up of a great deal of inference and assumption, on your part and theirs.

So what can you believe? Even personal past experiences can be unreliable. For instance memories can be mistaken, if you could meet yourself at different ages memories would likely to be different in each of yourselves at different ages.

When we experience an event we use all our senses woven together with our internal model of the world to make up that experience and as the memory gets older it becomes less vivid, and subsequent events can supersede it and affect how we feel about it.

It’s even possible to implant completely false memories, if plausible enough. In a past experiment, a participant was told they had been lost in a mall as a child, and after the passing of some time, more and more detail began to creep into the false memory. The participant embellished the false memory, because as humans we are very imaginative storytellers, and we are all capable of doing this.

Our memory of the past is not a faithful record, it’s a reconstruction, a mythology. Our memories are not particularly reliable because they don’t just record what happens, they allows us to simulate what is coming next. It is a narrative that links the past with the future, so that we can work out what we need to do tomorrow.

Also past experience doesn’t necessarily predict the future. People’s behaviour is greatly influenced by their environment and circumstances far more than we give credit for, and we’re not always privy to the underlying context of other people’s behaviour, we may just be witness to the resulting actions. We then build a narrative around this behaviour which says more about what’s going on inside us, rather than anything else. We kind of project our thoughts on to what others are doing and believe this to be the other person’s truth.

So maybe we should all be more skeptical about our own beliefs and opinions, and those of other people as well, I’ve learned to do what the wise man does and question everything, and believe nothing at face value because this actually leaves us more open to alternative ideas, methods of thinking and doing as well as different approaches to living life. We also become more tolerant and empathetic as a result.

You might think the opposite would be true, that skepticism closes you off to new ideas, when in fact holding rigid beliefs does that far more effectively. When you have a fixed mental position, you will reject anything that counters that position, because your sense-of-self depends on it.

Don’t invest anything of yourself into ideas, beliefs and opinions, stay clear of convictions and be open to provable evidence and facts, and even then be wary of any possible misinterpretation of these.

Remember what the famous quote says; “The more I know the more I realise how little I actually know.”