mellow, more mellow, marshmallow

We’ve heard the wise saying, “good things come to those who wait”. Based on the Marshmallow Experiment, self control and delayed gratification is an important character building tool for success. This Stanford experiment performed in the late 1970’s, a few researchers brought some children together where they presented to each children a marshmallow.

They would ask the child if they waited 15 minutes, they would get another marshmallow at the end. Similar research has been done since then and the results have been similar if not the same. Those children that waited, had self discipline and a sense of delayed self gratification. The ratio in all of these researches were that 2 out of 3 children would eat the marshmallow right away. One out of three children would wait for the second one. After a decade later, the different group of researchers would go back to the same group of children and perform the same test and see where they were at in life. The group of children who waited were successful in life and still practiced self disciplined and delayed gratification. Whereas the ones who did not wait were not as successful.

Those children that waited, had self discipline and a sense of self gratification.

In the Columbia test, Dr. Joaquin takes note that the kids who were at the age of 4 years already understood delayed gratification. They smelled it, played with up for close to 14 minutes and then ate parts of the candy thus still failed the experiment. From all the research done past and present, if one prolongs an action or a decision, there is a better reward or outcome. One might say that by holding out for long term gain is an investment. Therefore by choosing to have self control or control oneself’s actions is the opposite of impulsive action. Impulsive actions or reactions is very often subjective with clouded judgement and result in more likely negative outcomes. Controlling your emotions requires self awareness and self discipline, a benefit and could save yourself unnecessary pain or creating additional problems for yourself or those you care about.

Each decision we make can affect someone positively or negatively whether you see it today or for a long term outcome. Looking for long lasting results will take some sacrifice, waiting 15 minutes or a few years possibly, but if it’s well worth it, the reward will be great. For those who failed in the Marshmallow experiment, I honestly believe that even they can succeed in life once they realise what it takes. One needs to be convinced and believe, that delayed gratification is well worth it. It doesn’t mean failure won’t exist but believe that a greater reward exists. It comes down to taking control of yourself and self awareness, realising those decisions could yield a better outcome.

Leaving The Shire. And the burrow.

Located in the hilly land of Central Earth, Sebastian greets many visitors from near and far in his practice for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Many loved his cozy cavelike practice. Soon this burrow will not be suitable anymore to equally welcome the various creatures on the island: the Lan, the Kwai and the Fong …

“From January 2018 Sebastian will welcome you in his new office in Lan Kwai Fong.
The new place will feature even more space, even higher ceilings, even more daylight and even more seating choices. Just like your smartphone – lots of features are not necessary, but become quickly hard to renounce.”

In order to provide you with brighter and broader service Sebastian will move to a new office space – only a few meters away from the old address. The new address will also be in downtown Lan Kwai Fong, but closer to the MTR and Queen’s Road Central:

Unit 1302
13/F Tak Woo House
1-3 Wo On Lane
Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Hong Kong

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With the best services for mental health in mind, this place is designed to reduce stress and increase emotional balance. As usual Sebastian welcomes individuals and couples who want to work on their mental well-being and their relationships. People from around the world, who aspire to better cope with life and at work or who want to overcome anger, sadness, depression and anxiety.

Like a bird’s nest, the new practice is a protected and homey area – high up in the branches of Hong Kong’s architecture, with space for more dynamic techniques and approaches to couples counselling and more room for individual development.

Job snobbery – is success materialistic?

Author and philosopher, Alain De Botton’s Ted Talk on A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy Of Success, believes that today’s society has reached a critical point in where our careers dominate our lives so much that we have created more stress and anxiety than ever before and must be acknowledged. He gives a witty anecdotal talk, highlighting a few ideas of what causes this anxiety and that we may have very well become culturally consumed with the ‘god of success’. 

The first thought is job snobbery, the mentality that your job defines who you are to those around you. If we walk into a social gathering, the first thing one generally yet naturally ask is “what do you do”? Alluding to – what is your status? what brand do you work for? Depending on what you are doing, you have a well phrased out answer as you will be sized up, judged instantly based on what you say about your career.

De Botton continues on this line of thinking and touches on materialism. Simply that one attaining success means also showing off what you have, like a hot new red Ferrari. He quickly dismisses that those who place success in material consumption as merely an outlet for satisfying or rewarding themselves for an emotional need, possibly fill an emptiness inside of themselves, making themselves feel more valued or “loved”. The media nowadays portrays that if anyone has a real cool idea, you can be successful. The issue with that is, Alain observes, if everyone believed they can equally achieve their dream of ultimate success, low self esteem will exist alongside.

Platforms like Kickstarter an online business website, creates an opportunity to sell your idea or even yourself and gets people to back you so you can essentially get famous and rich, and quickly thus fulfil your dream. Because of how we are informed that you can do anything, this “equal opportunity” can be misconstrued and give a warped sense of motivation and drive for success. Because of this sense of equality it can also bring an unhealthy attitude like envy which of course is not a positive motivator at all long term. 

It is also possible that your initial intentions of wanting to be successful were genuine. It’s in our nature to genuinely want to achieve, improve or build and desire more and explore. There is natural and definitely healthy creativity in all of us. True success, designed by your own hand is worth much more, a well worth price to pay even if you fail, that you really did your best. Your idea could be just as crazy but as you understand that you leave this world one day being true to yourself with no regrets influencing those around you. You would exemplify ethical, loyalty, nobility, equaling true success.

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Experience vs. Memory – How your mind trims your happiness

By Linnea Gannon

The Riddle of experience is based on two selves, the experiencing self and the remembering self. To make a clear distinction between the two selves the experience/present self is preset in our conscious life but does not store all information we process; as we cannot remember every moment of our lives. Instead we remember significant or memorable moment due to the Remembering self. The remembering’s self though not seemingly continually present keeps score of our life with specific memories stored. This is collated to create our life story.

The experiencing and remembering self work together as Mr Kahneman shows in this Ted talk with diagrams that depict patients’ real time experience versus what they remember after a procedure. 

Patient A had two spikes of pain but Patient B had more recorded pain over time. Patient B had the most amount of experienced pain, however patient A had a more painful remembering self as the last register of pain for Patient A was higher than that of patient B. The remembering self is more complex than the experiencing self as it tells the story of our life and it makes our decisions. While we look back to make decisions we also have to look to our future to our ‘anticipated memory’.

The two selves, due to their complexity are hindered by three cognitive traps. Firstly the human reluctance to understand the complexity of happiness; it is the over usage/simplification of words like happiness that have led to the term being un-descriptive and needing a more complex word to explain happiness. Secondly is our confusion between experience and memory of our two selves. The experience self is being happy with what you are doing in life, but the memory self is questioning if you are happy with your life? These are two distinct questions that are easily confused for asking one in the same thing. There is a low correlation between happiness for the two selves they must be distinguished separately. Thirdly is the focusing illusion; we distorted a situation so both the experience and remembering self are not given representative information to form a clear emotion on the experience or later the memory.

A further strength of this argument for the two selves being divergent is that Mr. Kahneman explained through the Gallup Survey how happiness for the remembering self could vary due to income. Where as the experiencing self there is a “flat line” suggesting that money does not have a great effect on ‘happiness’ to the experience self compare to the remembering self.” He says “Money does not buy you experience happiness but lack of money certainly buys you misery. “

The riddle of experience vs. memory

Pop Stress

What if someone told you that stress is a good thing? Stress can build your self esteem, and sharpen your character and make you successful. Over the years in her practice as a health psychologist , Kelly McGonigal has promoted that stress is an enemy to be fought against in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Today, ten years later, in her milestone TedGlobal Talk on How to Make Stress Your Friend, Kelly admits that she was completely wrong all this time.

She realised that one’s belief that if stress is a good thing, it changes your physical and mental state thus allowing you to live longer. How is that possible? During a 8 year research in the U.S. following a group of 30,000 people on how they deal with stress including death from stress, 182,000 people had died prematurely not from stress but from the belief that stress was bad for you. That study also showed that one group of people who chose to believe stress was positive, tests showed their heart vessels would reflect a state that emanated joy and courage.

“TAKE AWAYS: First, change your mindset in order to experience stress as your body’s way to prepare you for the challenge. Second, help and care for others in order to manage the risk of death due to stress.”

Furthermore, though you often encounter your adrenaline running high under stress, your body also releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. With both your adrenalin and oxytocin running not only would you be elevating your life’s perspective, taking on a different path, you want to do anything and everything in your power to achieve the best and stress becomes a more pleasant and enjoyable experience. Choosing to understand and accept stress as a friend rather than a foe will change your approach to everyone in your life and in everything you do. You would then welcome any thing that came your way as an opportunity, exert a new found excitement of new possibilities and take you to live a life of success, whatever that may mean to you.

Kelly also refers to another study which found that major crisis events have no significant impact on the risk of death due to stress for people who are involved in activities around caring and helping others. Once again we seem to find evidence that self-awareness of body and mind and the subsequent change of mental and physical strategies within ourselves – applying kindness and compassion amongst others – are key to well-being and longevity.

Tropical Depression

Inside the airport express you still felt refreshed und summery – motivated again to attack work, restart your workout routine and reanimate your social life. Then the disenchantment hit you. The moment you stepped outdoors, the heat and humidity coated you like a heavy fur. Pollution levels at 10 “very high” colour the sky yellow. Here we call it “haze”. The jackhammers in your street remind you that you better be vibrant. Everything in your apartment is hot. Hot glasses, hot plates hot walls. Hot water comes out of your tap no matter which way. And when the cockroaches fly … Wondering why you feel a bit low? A bit much low maybe? 

“Hot town, summer in the city, back of neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity, doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk hotter than a match head …”

    Summer in the City by The Lovin’ Spoonful – John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian, Steve Boone. 1966

    Coming back to the city after a vacation or a longer break is a challenge for most people I know and I work with. And quite a few develop a depressed mood and bring it up with me as they see this getting in the way of their well-being and performance.

    One of the main reasons we can give for the shock of re-entry is the sudden and extreme change of climate for most who come back from other continents. Heat and humidity are hard to deal with when you found yourself cycling through Hyde Park with a fleece on or had a pint under a mushroom heater on Pony Island just a day before. Of course coming back from leisurely activities, fresh air and your own holiday swing to find yourself back at work and duty does not help your mood. Neither do commuting and rushing for lunch. The downward trend of your sentiment often amplified by the accelerated pace of this place. It’s likely some of your favourite eateries, bars and shops are gone and replaced or under construction.

    But then again one more aspect is often overlooked: The emotional baggage that you have brought back with you. It did not show up as weight at the checkin counter, but surely can weigh heavy on you now that you have unpacked and washed all the other dirty laundry. Maybe you come back from a family visit, an alumni gathering or just met some friends or even strangers. It is likely that you have witnessed age and ageing including your’s. It is likely that you had time to reflect on life or were forced to do so by places, people and situations. It is also likely that each time you travel you gain more insight, more maturity and more perspective – not always in a good way.

    Your emotional baggage of sadness and grief, anger and frustration as well as self-pity and apprehension reacts inevitably with this fragrant and sultry Mos Eisley like chemicals. Tropical depression gets you when you suppress the above and try to move on without processing, acceptance and integrity.