In order to fully understand what's going on around us and optimize our lives, I believe that it is essential to have a basic understanding of some principles of physics. Get to know how things really work. Instead of learning by trial and error, if you have some knowledge or understanding of how events might actually turn out, you can probably make better decisions.
I think I see the point.. but what exactly are you talking about? Let's say, for example, you bump into a lamp and it begins to topple over. Your tendency would be to grab it any way you can and save it from crashing to the floor. So you grab the lower portion of the lamp because that is the part that is moving the slowest. (assuming that it is simply falling over by pivoting about a point at the base of the lamp) But the lamp is too heavy and you don't can't generate enough torque in your wrist in time and you only end up lifting the base of the lamp from the table and hurting your wrist in the process.
Had you been able to apply the simple principle of leverage at the moment you took action, you may have realized that a much smaller amount of force would be required to stop the lamp if you tried to catch it by a point further away from the pivot. The image above depicts a "second class lever" which means that essentially the closer you apply force to the pivot point, the more force is required; and the further away you are, the less is required.
There are limitless of scenarios where you can observe the principles of leverage. IE: golf, faucet knobs, eating utensils, your forearm, pushups... etc.
There is enough information on Levers and Leverage out there, that I don't need to get into an entire lesson, I just want to make you aware of how knowing and applying these principles can benefit your life. Do some research on your own at the links below.
This one is a white paper on leverage as it applies to biomechanics:
Let me know if this makes sense; was it helpful? Is there a situation you can think of where you may have used physical leverage to your benefit in everyday life and not realized it? Is there a situation where, looking back, you could have used leverage to your advantage, and didn't?
The evolution and eventual civilization of human-kind is greatly attributed to the presence of communication between beings. As our communication techniques improve, we become more civilized and able to appropriately deal with various situations and hardships through many forms of communication. Besides the number of words in any given language, there are multitudes of gestures, sounds and expressions that help us to communicate without speaking. In order to have a successful society, and for people to work together, there must be good communication.
In addition to being an engineer, I'm also a musician. I've been writing songs for a few years now, but I've never played for anyone except immediate family and friends. I've been posturing myself and refining my tunes for a while to get them to a point where I'd be comfortable doing a show. I can't say that I'm quite to the "comfortable spot" yet, and playing the guitar doesn't really get top priority, always competing with work, martial arts, other side projects, blogging... etc.
A friend of mine is a professional theatrical performer and he recently offered for me to open up for his new show in 6 weeks! Despite my apprehension and unpreparedness, I finally decided that I had to heed my father's advice, "Grab for all the Gusto" and just commit to the show.
Grab for all the Gusto in life.
By committing myself to doing this and basically backing myself into a corner, I'll be forcing my priorities. Playing a show is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and despite my uncertainty, now that I have a deadline to meet I will be focusing on this new task.
I've used this technique before, I'll call it "over-commitment", with good success. When I was first getting into website development, in speaking with new clients I would commit myself to preparing things that were not part of my skill set. By committing this to clients, I was in fact committing to myself to learn whatever necessary skills were required.
What is your experience with forcing yourself to learn something? Have you intentionally over-committed in order to expedite the natural learning curve?
I am a big advocate of "effective focus", as it has been referred to at ZenHabits.com. I believe the difference between CAN and CAN'T is largely a factor of how much focus is effectively given to a certain task.
In high school some friends of mine had a band and were looking for a trombonist. A trombone conveniently came available through a friend and I was pretty excited about a potential opportunity for me to join the band, but I’d never touched a trombone before. “Have no fear!” I told myself. I took the trombone home and spent every spare minute learning about the instrument. Not just how to play it, but more.. I learned the construction of it, the adjustments available, how many different ways it could be held, where its center of gravity was.. etc. When learning to play it, I was in a private place (my back yard) with zero distractions, where I could listen to the sound of the instrument and feel it’s reactions to my breath and that was it.
Three weeks later I attended my first band practice, and after one more week I played my first show. I stayed with the band for another 6 years and had a lot of fun. I dedicate that to two things in particular: Confidence in myself, and the ability to focus.
Winter is now in full swing and, at least where I live, the ice torments the roads with its icy chaos. Drivers begin to slow down as they become less and less confident with their driving in these hazardous conditions and lack of confidence is not something that you should allow yourself to have; not ever.
Confidence is the knowledge that you are fully able to do that which you attempt. The way I see it, lack of confidence can be overcome by knowing yourself. Know your limits and abilities and you will never see your confidence wane. If indeed you do notice yourself with a lack of confidence (driving a car in the snow or otherwise) learn from this and tell yourself, "I need to take this opportunity to learn my limits and abilities to increase my confidence during this task." This article is particularly about driving in the winter weather but can be applied across all disciplines.
When I was learning to drive a car, growing up in Maine, my father would take me to an empty parking lot during a big snow storm and allow me to drive around and get a feel for the car. Understand that when driving in the winter, you WILL hit ice, and your tires WILL spin. Trying to avoid slipping the car or spinning the tires is pointless. You will slip and slide so in order to be confident while doing so, you must know how to do it.
Allow yourself to discover how your car reacts in different situations. Learn how fast you can accelerate. Observe how much traction you get while braking. Spin the car out of control in an open parking lot, or any other controlled environment and then attempt to regain control. Use trial and error to figure out which way and how much to turn the wheel in order to regain control during any given amount of drift you may be experiencing.
Other important bits of information are the physical extents of the body of your car. Know exactly how big your car is and test your limits until you are able to easily judge where your bumpers are from the driver's seat. This will help to avoid ambiguities like "I'm not sure if I'm going to brake in time to avoid that other car so I will tense up and close my eyes and hope for the best."
If you'd like, feel free to share your winter driving story.