(#368) Fake, Illegitimate Or Incomplete Information?

June 11, 2017

Just because you find a lot of information does not mean
you have found accurate or credible information

If, as famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows,” then can we say the same for a person who claims one source of information as the fount of all legitimacy and contrary accounts to be illegitimate or “fake”? Has she stopped discerning because she “knows” what is legitimate and what is fake?

More than five years ago, I shot a quick video (see below) outlining four basic considerations when considering information to address an issue or task?

  1. What information do you need for the task at hand?
  2. Where will you find that information?
  3. How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy and legitimacy?
  4. How will you organize and use the information for your audience?

Can we grow as individuals if we filter what we read, hear, and see through one source (or a number of like-minded sources)?  Are we motivated to grow–or just “be right” even in the face of confounding information?

Do we care?

A friend shared two stories this week.  I doubt they are apocryphal.

  • A neighbor asked my friend where she got her news. My friend rattled off a list of seven or eight sources. Out of hand, the neighbor dismissed the entire list as thoroughly “illegitimate.” When asked what her source of information was, the neighbor mentioned one source. Just one source. It was, according to her, legitimate. End of story. (See numbers two and three, above.)
  • My friend has found the same situation in her college classroom.  No matter the topic,  two camps emerge. Diametrically opposed. Refusing to listen and discuss with the other. Each considering their source(s) of information legitimate and the others’ suspect at the least and fake at the worst.

Is this a sign of intellectual laziness? A lack of critical thinking? Or is this sort of thing nothing new—just magnified because everyone can have a social media platform where we surround ourselves with “likes” and “shares” and then block opposing viewpoints?  (I still remember my mother often warning me (more than fifty years ago) not to speak about politics or religion.) It does seem like today’s volume, as well as the personal vitriol, has been cranked up considerably.

I offered a suggestion to my friend.

  1. Pick two sources of news that generally disagree on issues and stances.
  2. Find one current news story on which both of these sources present a similar account of the issue or event.
  3. Print both stories without any attribution (nothing that would identify the sources).
  4. Ask your friend (or students) to identify the “illegitimate source” based solely on the content presented. If both stories are drawing the same conclusion then how can the argument hold that a particular source is always illegitimate?

Perhaps you could do it as well to at least start a rational conversation. Start with common ground and move from there.


Video recommendation for the week.

Just because you find information does not mean you have credible information.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.



For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#343) Reflect, Remove, And Replace: Focus On The Space

December 18, 2016

All of us have experienced times when one or more of the
slices, sectors, segments, or spaces of our lives no longer seem to serve us.

All of us are multi-dimensional beings.  One wellbeing model divides our lives into six dimensions. When one dimension goes off the rails, it affects the others.

6-dimensions

Or you could label the dimensions as follows:

Six Fs (Steve Piscitelli)

Model Two: Six Fs (Steve Piscitelli)

The two models do have overlap.  Each slice of the Six Fs model actually holds the six dimensions from Model One. For instance, within the family dimension of our lives we can find social relationships, emotional needs, physical demands, occupational expectations, intellectual stimulation, and spiritual engagement.  And so on for each of the other dimensions.

Regardless of the model you subscribe to, the reality remains that all of us have experienced times when one or more of the slices, sectors, segments, or spaces of our lives just do not seem to be working any longer. Something no longer serves us, no longer sustains our wellbeing. Once aware of the culprit, we then go about attempting to remove it.  But, what do we do once we have completed that surgery?

Once we identify what no longer nourishes us (and might even be debilitating us), we need to consider what to bring in as a replacement?

Or more simply: Once we make space in a particular dimension of life, what can we fill that space with that will nourish and serve us? What can we add to our lives that will help us lead (more of) a life of meaning, purpose, and virtue?

Or maybe, once we make the space, it might be beneficial to leave the space be for the time being. Not fill it for the sake of filling it.  Be mindful about what we focus on.  Reflect on the space. Just be.

As you look toward 2017, maybe you can use this strategy of removing, replacing, and reflecting as you consider your personal goals.  For instance, using my Six Fs Model above:

  • Fitness
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your fitness (physical or emotional)? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes you?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself?
  • Friends
    • What/Who is no longer serving you well when it comes to your friends? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes you? This does not have to mean you are walking away from your friends! (It could.) Or you could identify a habit you have that is no longer sustaining your social circle.
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new habit or social relationship can you build that will serve and nourish those around you and yourself?
Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

  • Family
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your family relationships? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes you? This does not have to mean you are walking away from your family! You could identify a habit you have that is no longer serving your family unit.
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself and your family unit?
  • Function
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your purpose? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes your purpose—who you are? What have you been doing that denies who you are?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself?
  • Finances
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your financial picture? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes your financial security? What have you been doing that jeopardizes your financial future?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish your financial future?
  •  Faith
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your spirituality? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer spiritually serves and nourishes you?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself?

Be mindful of the spaces in your life. All the slices make a whole you.


Video recommendation for the week:

Listen to davidji discuss what he calls The Five Realms. He provides a brief explanation of each and then provides a few examples of how to identify where we might be able to free up some space.


NOTE: Next week I will publish and post my annual Blogger’s Retrospective. Give it a look as I list all of the year’s posts along with the top five posts from 2016 and my top five from the inception of the blog in 2010.

Make it an inspiring week, a wonderful holiday season, and H.T.R.B. as needed.  I will see you in 2017.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#339) Learning From The Low Vibrations

November 20, 2016

At times, we find ourselves caught up in the low-vibrations of negativity and defeatism.
Draw on the strength within, around, and above.

Nine words. As I read my editor’s comments and reread my entire manuscript, nine of my words jumped from the page.

This particular part of my soon-to-be-released book about teaching, learning, and resilience, encourages readers to reflect on their personal and/or professional journey and think of:

  1. The challenges (and maybe even hardships) they have encountered, experienced, and endured.
  2. Their mistakes, miscues, and meanderings.
  3. Their accomplishments, achievements, and attainments.
Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Regardless of your particular calling, take a moment today and do the same for yourself. Your journey holds power.  At times, we find ourselves caught up in the low-vibrations of negativity and defeatism. Some of that comes from those around us; some originates within ourselves. We make mistakes, lose direction, and maybe, worse yet, abandon hope for our dreams.  We doubt our movement forward.

A friend of mine shared her insight about those low vibrations: they can cause a lot of unwanted and non-productive noise in our lives. If we let them. The first step out of that noise is to do what my friend did—become aware of the noise and its source.  Then, do something to eliminate (or, at least muffle) the noise.

Milton Berle reportedly said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  Well, in your case, if the path ahead is not clear, maybe it’s time to create the path.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

As you consider your week ahead and your movement forward on your continuous (and eventful) journey, ask yourself what you can learn from all of those moments you have encountered, experienced, and endured. You may feel like you have accumulated more mistakes, miscues, and meanderings than you would like to remember. All encounters (the low vibrations included), however, have helped make you who you are. And have contributed to your accomplishments, achievements, and attainments.

All of us have so much within ourselves to move to our next level. Whatever and wherever that may be. Draw on the strength within, around, and above.


Video/song recommendation for the week:

Josh Groban and “You Raise Me Up.”


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#335) Politics, Anxiety And A Few Coping Strategies

October 23, 2016

How and with whom can you share love and goodness this week?

In a recent survey by the American Psychological Association 52% of respondents identified the 2016 presidential election as “a very or somewhat significant source of stress” in their lives.  Stress and strain typically accompany everyday life and its pressures. Nothing new about that. It has been around since our ancestors hunted saber tooth tigers.

But this election cycle seems to have people wound a little tighter than usual. Anxiety appears to be heightened. Politics aside, what can we learn, for our own emotional well-being, from the 2016 election? As the Chinese character below indicates, crisis (perceived or real) can be a time of opportunity.

[Source unknown]

[Source unknown]

Robinson Meyer, in an article in The Atlantic, turned to clinicians and asked their advice about strategies to combat election-induced anxieties. First, he found that most of this political anxiety did not qualify as clinical anxiety–the sort that requires a visit to a therapist. None-the-less, the anxiety could not just be waived away with the flick of a hand or a shrug of the shoulder.  A few of the coping strategies Meyer summarized included:

  • Self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up about feeling concerned. Identify, accept, and attempt to understand the feelings.
  • Consider the outcome (Productive worry). Meyer repeats an oft-stated axiom that we are wired to worry. (Again, kind of like our ancestral cave people who always had an eye over their collective shoulders for lurking danger.) We attempt to identify threats and prepare for them. This can lead to adaptive behavior that helps us function in a positive and proactive manner.  We take appropriate action. The flip side is unproductive worry. This is when we cannot turn off the thought process. We obsess. We ruminate. We can’t find an “off-switch.”  We can’t sleep. We end up in an unending loop of catastrophizing. This may be a sign to seek professional help.
  • Focus on the now. Or as Meyer states, focus on the immediacy of something you are doing to get you away from the election worry cycle. Meditation. Yard work. Yoga. Music. Journaling. The day I wrote this post, I went for an early afternoon swim at the gym. While focusing on the immediacy of my stroke, breathing, and turns, the world outside of the pool was far away.
  • Talk about your worries. Tap into your support network. Get your fears out. Listen to yourself talk about them. Sort through them. See self-compassion above.

Eileen Crawford, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor headquartered in Celebration, Florida, reminded me that “the root of anxiety is fear of loss of control over events or people around us.” Below (an excerpt from her blog post soon after the Pulse shooting in Orlando of July 2016), you will find a few of her suggested strategies:

“…. It is especially important to seek out and grow the good and set boundaries and limits around your exposure to the bad. Here are three things you can do:

  • Turn off the T.V. and put down your cell phone. Be mindful of the inundation of news coverage coming from all directions. Find out what you need to know, and then take a break – as long and as often as you need to.
  • Increase time spent on pursuits that relax and rejuvenate you. Your mind and heart need a break – give them one.
  • Spend time with people you love, trust and enjoy. Show them your appreciation and gratitude, and share times with them that affirm life. 

When the world becomes nonsensical, lifting each other up with love and goodness is all that makes sense.”

Consider her urging to establish and communicate clear boundaries and limits.  Review yours and make sure you and those around you understand them. Don’t torture yourself with an endless barrage of news (cable, network, social media, colleagues, family) that continually distresses you.

As for love and goodness, how and with whom can you share love and goodness this week? You never know whom you will help.  It could even be yourself.


Video recommendation for the week:

Blow up the TV and throw away the papers? Maybe singer-songwriter John Prine had an anxiety-reducing strategy figured out years ago.  Time to go back and give a listen.    A personal side note:  The lead guitar in this clip is Jason Wilbur. I had the wonderful opportunity a few years back to participate in a guitar training session with him and then listen to his mastery later that evening in a concert here at the beach. He graciously posed with me that evening.

Jason Wilbur and Steve Piscitelli

Jason Wilbur and Steve Piscitelli


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#323) Who Sets Your Agenda?

July 31, 2016

Why let someone else interrupt
my thought process and mindset
with what they see as something
I “need” to know “right now”
from the “world out there”?

Every cardio machine in our local gym has the ubiquitous television monitor attached to it. And every morning you will find members dutifully burning off calories, building stamina, and getting their daily agenda (in part or in full) set for them.

Maybe you know people for whom, after awakening each morning, the first exercise they get is to grab the remote and click on the morning “news.”  This assumes, of course, that they had not fallen asleep with the last thing they heard coming from the agenda of someone else’s mouth.  Perhaps they suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I don’t know.

A study from more than forty years ago found

In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news* story and its position….

Arvind Balaraman@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Arvind Balaraman@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

[The above * added by me.  According to dictionary.com, “news” is defined as “the presentation of a report on recent or new events in a newspaper or other periodical or on radio or television.” Perhaps we should address whether the “news” is really “news.”  Other than a change in name or location, for instance, does the general presentation of the “news” change?  Look at most programming and you have some semblance of this order: “Breaking News Alert” followed by “story about death” followed by “story about destruction” followed by “story about weather catastrophe” followed by “story about crash during rush hour” followed by “story about economic calamity” followed by….

Doesn’t really sound “newsy” to me.]

It would be simplistic to state that the “news” tells us how to think.  It may not be much of a stretch, however, to say that the “news” does direct what we think about–if we allow it.  And it’s not just the network or cable news. If I were to wake up and immediately go to my social media feed, I stand the chance of my “friends” setting my agenda for the day.

The late Jim Rohn (speaker, author, trainer) said that you are the “average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Who we hang with matters.  Matters in terms of good/poor physical health, optimistic/pessimistic outlook, hopeful/fearful about the future, and loving/hating others.  These people can, if we let them, set our agenda for the day.  They will “contribute” soon enough during the day. I make the argument to give yourself some time to think, reflect, set YOUR course, and then invite them onto YOUR agenda. Maybe create a JOMO movement (Joy Of Missing Out!).

Years ago, I decided that I would take more control of setting my daily agenda. Not just the to-do list but my mindset as well.  I don’t wish to start my day with someone squawking at me from the TV or screaming through my earbuds.  I seldom read the newspaper with my morning coffee. There will be time enough to get to my email. I am fortunate to live in a loving relationship (rather than a conflict-habituated one) that starts the day with pleasantries rather than an argument.

I still get my “news”—but remain discerning (and hopefully critical) about my sources (looking for various views).

I have eliminated just about all “news” alerts on my devices. Among the few exceptions: baseball, local weather and airline texts when I travel.  Why let someone else interrupt my thought process and mindset with what they see as something I “need” to know “right now” from the “world out there”?

Video recommendation of the week. And since it’s “news” I think I already know the categories of the most recent “Breaking News Alert!”

Yes, of course, if there is an emergency situation, I can tune it.  But if every moment of every day is an “emergency” then we might need to redefine emergency.

Even if your start time is only fifteen or thirty minutes (or five or ten) before the world starts calling you, why not take control of that little time to set your intentions for the day? Their intentions will come calling soon enough.

“Breaking News Alert!”- Start your day intentionally and make it a great one.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcast (about ex-offenders and resilience).  You can find my podcast series at The Growth and Resilience Network (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts).

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

 


(#318) Bigger, Shinier, Newer Not Necessarily Better

June 26, 2016

Maybe I can help start a small movement for change
in the big box.

Until March of this year, I belonged to a small, unobtrusive, not fancy, neighborhood beach gym. For eighteen years. Like Cheers, everyone knew your name. A few years ago, some members opted to join the new big box gym a half mile up the road.  I never saw the attraction.  Always thought a twenty pound barbell was a twenty pound barbell no matter the room in which I lifted.

Then our quaint, friendly and welcoming gym closed. Most of the membership, including my wife and me, ended up at the big box gym.  I’ve been a member now for three months. You know what, a twenty pound barbell is still a twenty pound barbell.  And there is not nearly, pound for pound, the camaraderie like we had at the smaller facility. Yes, it does take time to build but “the feel” is not there. The same soul and connection does not exist.

Bigger, shinier, and newer is not necessarily better.

Image: StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a blog post last week, Seth Godin reminded us “it’s worth taking a moment to think about whether bigger is the point.  Maybe better is?”

Bigger may be able to provide more of whatever the product and service is. And it may provide a cheaper price. But bigger often doesn’t equate to having soul and connection.

I started thinking of other examples.

The cozy pizza joint down the road;

The locally-owned bookstore around the corner;

Big publishing houses vs. self-publishing;

A two-attorney start-up firm vs. a huge multi-layer law firm.

Big does not have to—and many times does not—equate with negatives. There are positives for sure. And at times big can help small.  Take American Express (big) supporting and promoting Small Business Saturday.

Video recommendation of the week.

But sometimes the bigness gets in the way of authentic relationships.  Sometimes, as Tom Petty sings, “the boys upstairs they just don’t understand anymore.”

Back to my new gym.  Rather than merely yearning for the past, I’ve taken on a personal mission of reaching out to employees who work in the big box. Like we did in our smaller gym, I learn their names, always say hello, and ask a genuine question or two about them.

Maybe I can help start a small movement in the big box. May you can as well.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at The Growth and Resilience Network (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#304) Random Thoughts On Overload, Gratitude And Connectedness

March 20, 2016

But wouldn’t it be a shame if we create such unforgiving filters
that the positive, the joy and the connections never make it through?

Overload.  We hear a lot about information overload. People bemoan social media as a culprit of over stimulation, time wasting, and a privacy invasion. As if we have no control over what we click and view. How much of the overload is self-imposed?  Or have we simply lost the ability or the desire to engage our filters? If we aren’t in touch then, “OMG! FOMO!”

Gratitude.  This past week I celebrated my birthday with the help of my wife, friends, former students, and colleagues across the nation. I was reminded of the gratitude I have for all of these people who have entered my life at many junctures over the past six decades—and who have decided to stay in touch. Yes, some of them may have simply hit a pre=populated “Happy birthday!” message. Nonetheless, they still took the time to hold a positive thought on my behalf. I am grateful for that.

Years ago, I would have received cards in my mailbox, phone calls, and perhaps lunch or dinner with those close by.  The physical cards I receive have dwindled to a small few. Phone calls still come in. But the biggest change comes by way of social media.

Image: pisitphoto@FreeDigitalPhots.com

Image: pisitphoto@FreeDigitalPhots.com

Connectedness.  A few friends dug deep into their treasure trove of old photos and posted old (as in 40+ years ago) of me. A student from more than 30 years ago posted an in-action-classroom photo of me (shot unbeknownst to me in the days when cameras were named Minolta rather than Android).  All were a hoot. A flood of memories came back. We laughed. And more comments were posted. It was fun and added to the happiness of the day.

Clay Shirky’s book Cognitive Surplus (2010) pointed out that one of the great takeaways of social media is that the “motivation to share is the driver; technology is just the enabler.” So often social media is equated with egomaniacal posts, rants, or out-and-out ugliness.  We can lose sight of the power of social media to connect and create positive consequences.

Some studies have shown that social media can help shut-ins achieve a sense of connectedness that they might not have otherwise enjoyed.  Recent research looking at “happy brains” points out that

“Humans have a negativity bias, a tendency to focus on threats.
But this research suggests that people may be able to compensate for it….”

In a small way, the couple hundred or so posts and “likes” I received during my birthday may very well have helped my amygdala to continue searching for the positive, uplifting events and people in my life.

The naysayers of social media will grouse about such postings. Yes, there may be possible downsides. You have to create the filters you are comfortable with. But wouldn’t it be a shame if we create such unforgiving filters that the positive, the joy and the connections never make it through?

Video recommendation of the week: Clay Shirky asks us to consider if we suffer from information overload or filter failure.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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