What is creativity to you?

Lifestyle, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science

When you hear the word “creativity”, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Is it thinking differently? Or is it creating something brand new that the world has never seen before? Well, there is a tiny bit of truth in both questions.

Each individual possesses creativity, and — you may have noticed yourself — it helps us in every aspect of our lives. It can be anything from cooking, drawing, dancing with different moves (in case you’ve got bored with the old ones),  or even decision-making about buying a new car (should I get a black one or a white one?), or clothes since you’ve probably noticed that it got worn out or looks shabby.

Creativity is not only working on special projects at work that require you to quit spending time with family or watch sports games on TV (especially during NBA season it’s difficult to do anything else but be glued to TV, believe me). It is opening your mind to doing things differently, or THINK differently. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to compare yourself to others. It only means you compare yourself to the old self that wasn’t the person you are today.

Social-Media-e1518208936600.pngIn 2018 social media is part of everyone who has access to the Internet. Being part of social community allows us to spread the word to each other about ourselves, or about what happens beyond our personal lives. We also like hearing rumors related to superstars and then change the plot of what has really happened to, for example, Lindsey Lohan on a Friday night at one of the bars in LA. Different people tell different stories (Lindsey knows her story better, I’m sure). This story-telling has already been embedded into our worldview, and we don’t seem to want to change any of that. Why? Because every time we read or watch news, it becomes novelty and will always remain so as long as news reporters or writers keep pushing on themselves to give everyone something to talk about in a new, creative way.

creativity.jpegIn science (yes, science also has a lot of creativity if you didn’t know) it comes to finding better approaches to discovering mysteries of the Universe and its components that involve mathematics, physics, biology and other fields which define our existence in many ways. There is a great quote that describes this concept: “Many men, many minds” — it means every human being interprets the world from their perspective, and it will never be the same. We can agree on multiple aspects, but we all see them just like one sees a half-full glass and another person looks at a half-empty glass placed on a table.

Unfortunately, creativity is not supported enough nowadays. Many parents think that if their kids do not start building rockets or doing extraordinary things at the age of 3, they’re not a future Einstein and thus can go easy on schooling. If only those parents knew how crucial their contribution would be when their children were within the age range of 3-5 years. It has been scientifically proven that a 5-year-old can process information at the speed that he will never reach again in his life after he becomes older as the ability to process information gradually decreases with age (if not supported or trained in the course of years, it can lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s). At that age a child memorizes much-much better (no wonder a kid can remember an episode when you took a candy from him when he was just 4 or 5 y.o.). Therefore, parents and already grown-ups need to take a better look at their children’s abilities and their own as well! These abilities can be improved and, in the long run, you may even hear “thank you” from you kid or your future self.

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 5.27.30 AM.pngStepping aside from the genius of Einstein, the notion of creativity is quite often seen as independence of thought and willingness to seek new perspectives and take risks when the time comes. People also believe it’s a way to perceive new relationships or make new connections. Is it the right way to look at creativity? Again, this is a controversial belief and cannot be pointed out as wrong whichever way you look at it. We will have to accept each other’s opinions for the sake of the society.

On the other hand, this human ability is important on many levels and is good resource in, e.g., economic development or can be of a tremendous help in educational environment. It must be encouraged in every individual, and once the seeds of creativity have been planted, one day the harvest will become abundant.

Does the Pomodoro Technique work?

Lifehack, Lifestyle, Psychology

In the previous century, Time Management wasn’t widespread as much as it is today. Every successful person knows how valuable time is and how they should control it. Today, if you want to be successful at your job, you will have to possess the following: self-organization, motivation, devotion, goal-orientation and desire to learn. As we know, all that is possible but time consuming. How can we acquire such skills?

First of all, there is a technique called Pomodoro Technique. You might have never heard of it, but, believe it or not, it is one of the best methods to keep you focused. Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980s by an Italian named Francesco Cirillo. It is a 25-minute method which is separated by short breaks. Why Pomodoro? Because it pertains to an italian word for the kitchen-timer which is “tomato” in English.


Professor of Engeneering at Oakland University Barbara Oakley highly recommends this method for college students and everybody else who need their time to be spent wisely. In case you want to know more about how it works, you might want to read her book “Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential” where she describes the Pomodoro Technique in detailes.

In my own experience, I achieved amazing results using this technique. I would accomplish so much by the end of the day only by sticking to the timer. I couldn’t believe it! When you think of it, it is only 25 minutes — break — another 25 minutes — and then a longer break. In such a way you can do everything you have planned for the day. The main idea of this technique is to eliminate possible distructions like cell phone, TV, Internet etc.

There is no doubt that some tasks require more time than the other ones. So what? Give yourself first 25 minutes and you will see how many more pomodoros you will need for a certain task in the course of the day. It might be even better if you alternate the biggest task with the smaller ones. Thus your brain won’t get tired of doing the same thing for a few hours, because your brain loses concentration dramatically after 20-25 minutes of being in focused mode.  It is also very important to take breaks after each session. Otherwise you won’t be able to concentrate later on.

As an approach, you might want to give yourself a reward spending a couple of pomodoros on your favorite activities in order to get used to self-orgaization. It depends on how many tasks you have for the day. Try to do what you need first and then start with something you want to do.

Besides the book, I also recommend the course called “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects” which you can find on Coursera (you will see the link below). This course is all about strategies and ways to learn and remember what you learn, and it is conducted by the same professor of Engeneering Barbara Oakley. I find it informative and useful. I hope you will, too!

The link to the course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

Inspired by the article: http://bigthink.com/videos/learn-how-to-learn-better-with-the-pomodoro-technique

Written by Snizhana Pashuk.


Team work — bigger accomplishments?

Celebrities & Entertainment News, Lifestyle, Psychology

Nowadays motivation plays a big role in making people achieve their goals. If there is no motivation, there are no accomplishments. What can keep you motivated and where do you get motivation from?

In childhood, your parents and school teachers try to instill motivation in you, saying that if you learn this and that, it will help you become successful in the future. Is it true? Yes. For the most part, you realize that you want to have a well-paid job, beautiful house, dog (or cat) and live happily ever after. The only thing is, you cannot do it right away. Even if you hear that life is short, it really isn’t. You have a lot of things to consider and make decisions on your own.

On the Internet you can find different kinds of information on how to stay focused and motivated, and you also want to keep your kids motivated. But what if they have already found a way to do it? Do they play or watch any sports games? In this case I am talking about basketball. If you say “yes”, then the following information is for you.

Every day you can hear: “Oh my God, this basketball player is amazing. How does he do it? Those three-point shots are unbelievable!” Children and most young people look up to celebrities, because they want to be the same. What else can motivate you better than someone who has experience and great outcome of the attempts they made? No doubt kids and adults as well get all excited watching all sorts of games and interviews with who they admire, and this could be a big plus for the ones who need to find determination.

The stars of this article are “Golden State Warriors” players.

Why them, you might ask. Well, they are famous for the values they have been taught by their head coach Steve Kerr. The team players know how to enjoy the games they play, they are careful in their moves and – what’s most important – they trust each other.

Jason Marsh, Greater Good Editor, writes that the team possesses such values as mindfulness, joy, compassion and competition.

GSW have their own program on how to behave during the game. They have to stay focused not to lose the contact with their teammates and be able to watch the rivals’ moves. Being focused is essential in our life. We can’t accomplish anything without being focused (unless you don’t care about the result). In school, children need to be focused to catch up with all the subjects they have in the curriculum and not let anxiety take over them during the test, for example.

Besides focusing, success in basketball requires team cooperation. That is one of the main skills for a basketball team to build. The Warriors know exactly what It means. They play together, they see each other’s strong and weak sides. Therefore the players can cover one another in diffrent situations that occur during the game; and when the time for success comes, they celebrate together.

Schools try to make children cooperate, but it doesn’t always work. Kids are either shy or inconfident, or they just do not trust each other. As the result, they won’t do any projects together. Teachers have to make sure that the environment in the classroom is appropriate for cooperation. To create good environment, there should be more communication among children, and in case the teacher has noticed some sort of misunderstanding, he should look for a compromise. From time to time it would be helpful to point out kids’ idols and what they did to develop certain skills or habits. This could make children take the first step and not be afraid of any hurdle that they may encounter.

Young people and adults struggle no less than children. They lose motivation and self-confidence once they make mistakes or get in trouble for making them. Mistakes are part of learning and meeting goals. If you don’t make mistakes, you do nothing. At least it shows you have tried. Now you can try one more time, but making the same mistake means you didn’t learn anything from the last one. Give yourself some time to think about it and change the strategy.

Golden State Warriors are a great example of hard work and patience. If you work on these two aspects, you will get to where you would like to be.

Author: Snizhana Pashuk

Based on the linked article:  https://tinyurl.com/yc7wm9sh

The domino effect: How to make a chain of good habits



Even the tiniest good habit leads to good changes. Use it to your benefit and change your life with the domino effect.

True story

All human actions are connected. Let’s consider the story of Jennifer Lee Dukes. Within 20 years since college graduation, she would never make her bed, except for when she had visitors. At one point, Jennifer decided to change everything and make her bed for four days in a row. It seemed to be a usual thing, but in the morning of the fourth day, not only she makes her bed, but also picks up a sock and neatly sorts out the clothes scattered all over the bedroom. Then she heads to the kitchen, takes all the dirty dishes out of the sink and puts them in the dishwasher. She cleans the dish cabinet and places a decorative pig in the midst of the table. “Once I made the bed, it led to a chain reaction of accomplished projects in the house. I felt adult. I was a happy adult person with the bed made, clean sink, cabinet without trash in it and a piggy on the table. I felt like a woman who managed to get away from the chaos of household chores. Jennifer underwent the domino effect.

The domino effect

The domino effect claims that every change follows a row of other changes as a chain reaction. It is the same as when a row of dominos falls.

In 2012, scientists of East-Western University performed an experiment in which they learned that when people spend less time on a sedentary relaxation, they consume less fat. The participants of the experiment were not asked to eat less fat food on purpose, but their nutrition developed itself naturally. They stopped spending much time in front of the TV and overeating. One habit formed another one like a domino pushes the next one.

You might notice such regularities in your life, too. From my personal experience, if I stick to the habit to go to the gym, it’s easier for me to focus on work and have a good sleep. Even though I didn’t intend to change anything.

Nevertheless, the domino effect influences bad habits as well. You can see that constant using of a cell phone follows a habit to check notifications from social media and thus to scroll the newsfeed. So you waste at least 20 minutes of your time.

You will never be able to change only one habit. All our habits are related to each other. If you change one of them, another one might do, too. There are two reasons for the domino effect to appear. As the majority of our habits and chores are connected, your choice in one sphere of life can lead to unexpected outcomes in the other ones. The domino effect is based on the main principles of human behavior. These are adherence and consistency. This phenomenon is explained in the book of Robert Cialdini about human behavior “The Psychology of Persuasion”. If a person carries even a small idea, they will bring it to life, because it coincides with the image that they keep in their heads.

At the beginning of this article, when Jennifer Lee Dukes starts making her bed every day, she comes to realize that she is a person who keeps her house neat and clean. In a few days she gets used to the new image of herself and starts doing other chores in the house. The domino effect is interesting because of its side effects. Not only it builds new habits, it also affects personal beliefs. After each fall of dominos, you think differently about yourself and so create new habits.

Rules of the domino effect

You can initiate the domino effect yourself. What you need to do is to follow three rules. Start with the action that motivates you. Even if it’s a small one, the main thing for you is consistency. Besides bringing joy to yourself, you will see who you can become. It doesn’t matter which domino is the first to fall when the rest of them does the same. Don’t lose your pace and set the next task right away. Let the impulse of the first completed goal give you incentive to the next action. Taking such a step, you come closer to your new image. If you doubt, break a big task into a few small ones. When you are about to build a new habit, try to make it easy to do. The main idea of the domino effect is the progress, not the aftermath. Just try to keep the pace. Let the process repeat, and a domino will push the next one.

There are a few methods to make dominos fall. Focus on the habit you like, and may the effect of its completion start a chain reaction for the rest of your life.

Author: Lera Merzlyakova

Translated from Russian by Snizhana Pashuk.

Source: https://lifehacker.ru/2017/01/23/domino-effect/