Sunday, January 24, 2010

If it were easy ....

Again a busy full week. A couple of days related to my Dad’s care; a day working on the building; time at the dentist having a crown installed. and preparing for and being part of a great afternoon (visiting and a pot luck supper) with Linda’s family on Saturday. We had 8 (of 9) of her brothers and sisters (and many of the “in-laws” along with several nieces, & nephews, a “grand” niece and the first “great-grand” nephew (hard to believe but Linda’s younger sister became a great-grandmother last April). There were for a total of 24 here for at least part of the afternoon.

As I was preparing to write about my efforts to “Get cracking”, I was considering (again) exactly what it was I was trying to accomplish in this “Breaking the cognitive egg” exercise.

There are actually 2 parts to this.

One has to do with “preventative measures” to offset the normal and natural decline in our reasoning and thinking powers as we age – and yes -- while I don’t think of myself that way I am now an official “card carrying” member of those that the Government of Canada considers old!!) (Actually I still believe in my definition of old – it’s someone who is at least 20 years older than I am :):) )

This idea of "keeping the brain sharp" is really the point of the article I referred to in Cracking the cognitive egg which I posted January 2 as the start of this series.

The second part has to do with the things mentioned in my last post – breaking bad habits such as "An (obsessive) need for approval - habits that limit and in some cases are destructive to my relationships.

For now I’m pursuing the idea that the same techniques that help with retaining cognitive skills may be helpful in breaking these habits – in the sense that changing habits requires breaking “well-trodden paths in our synapses” (see the goal outlined in the “Cracking the cognitive egg” article. )

As a starting point in this process, I had decided to identify the hypotheses that I am undertaking to prove (or disprove). And as I was starting to think about that I realized that it was important to be clear about the foundational “world views” that I have – "What are the things that I take as given's?"

Rene Descartes the famous French philospher and mathematician summarized his basic presuppositions in the statement "Cogito ergo sum" (translated into English as 'I think, therefore I am' ; or 'I am thinking, therefore I exist').

My presuppositions will both shape and limit my thinking— and they need to be understood both by myself and my readers before there can really be an understanding of what I am saying.

This leads me to remember one of my favorite sayings

“There are things that are easy (or hard) to do and there are things that are simple (or complex) to understand”

This leads to 4 possibilities – things that are simple to understand and easy to do; things that are simple to understand and hard to do; things that are complex but easy to do and things that are both complex and hard to do”

And this lead me to thinking that the answer to my question from last week about “Why is it so hard to get started?” is “If it was easy, I’d already be done”

And that lead to looking up some “easy quotes” which I’ve listed below.

Next time - I’ll begin the process of making the complex more simple and the hard easier. For now do you have any favorites from these quotes?

There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult. Warren Buffett

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Ronald Reagan

Don't just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it. Jim Rohn

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. John F. Kennedy

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottage princes' palaces. William Shakespeare

There is always an easy solution to every problem - neat, plausible, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

Thinking is easy, action is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Good questions outrank easy answers. Paul Samuelson

All things are difficult before they are easy. Thomas Fuller

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. …. Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy …. Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step Lao Tzu

Faith makes all things possible... love makes all things easy. Dwight L. Moody

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. Confucius

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Mother Teresa

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. Nelson Mandela

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy. Aristotle

Evil is easy, and has infinite forms. Blaise Pascal

Now don't say you can't swear off drinking; it's easy. I've done it a thousand times. W. C. Fields

To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas. Leo Burnett

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Marianne Williamson

It's easy to fool the eye but it's hard to fool the heart. Al Pacino

To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult. Plutarch

There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy. Albert Ellis

To disbelieve is easy; to scoff is simple; to have faith is harder. Louis L'Amour

It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy. Marie Curie

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. Galileo Galilei

There is nothing so easy to learn as experience and nothing so hard to apply. ….Advice is like castor oil, easy enough to give but dreadful uneasy to take. Josh Billings

Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult. George Eliot

What is easy is seldom excellent. Samuel Johnson

Only entropy comes easy. Anton Chekhov

Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. Edgar Degas

Philosophy finds it an easy matter to vanquish past and future evils, but the present are commonly too hard for it. Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy. Saadi

Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build too. Henrik Ibsen

It wasn't until late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say "I don't know." W. Somerset Maugham

A wise man thinks what is easy is difficult. A fool often fails because he thinks what is difficult is easy John Churton Collins

So am I making the easy – hard – am I making the simple complex? -- -- Time will tell.

God Bless

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