brain

Pay as much as you want?

Pay as much as you want?

April 28, 2020
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It’s funny how the (or at least my) brain works. An event or two flashed before my eyes last night, scrolling my social media feed, and they used the Pay as much as you want-, Donation based-, or phrased differently Pay as much as you think it’s worth-strategy.

Upon waking, my brain told me there are two, or possibly three, rationals for using this strategy:

  1. It’s a truly generous move, one where the organizer wants everyone to be able to come, to experience, to participate, regardless of their financial means.
  2. It’s a chicken move, evoked as a way to skirt one’s own responsibility. Not wanting to, being able to, feeling comfortable with (or whatever reason there might be subconsciously) actually putting a price on one’s services. Not knowing what it might be worth to others it is so easy to simply let the others decide. But what does that tell you about your own belief in your product/service? How much do you value you?
  3. A combination of the two where there is a genuine desire to be open for all, and yet getting away with it… One way to avoid this is to do Donation based with an added indication of what is going rate.

What do you see with these strategies, that I don’t?

Anyway.
That’s how my brain works.
How does your work?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Tankespjärn. Say what?

March 18, 2020
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Tankespjärn.
It’s a Swedish word, but not an official one. You will not find it in any thesaurus, but rather it’s a word that utilizes one of the most fun aspects of the Swedish language, namely the ability to merge any (?!) two words into one.

Tankespjärn consists of two words.
Tanke which means thought.
Spjärn which means… to resist, to brace against, to use as a starting point upwards/onwards. Sort of. There actually isn’t any one translation that accurately describes what I mean with the word spjärn in this context.

This is what it sounds like (click on the word): tankespjärn

As a word-mashup, tankespjärn – for me – points to those moments where you hear or see or learn about something, and your face scrunches up, and you go Huh? because what you just heard, saw or learned simply doesn’t fit within the framework of your current understanding of reality.  And whenever I describe it, my hands fly up towards my face and I twist them in opposite directions as if I am wringing water out of a large towel held between my hands. Only, that imaginary towel is my brain or something…

In a sense, it’s about providing you with an opportunity to step into a new perspective, a new way to understand the world, somewhat like a door opener. Which is an apt analogy because once that door is opened… I can choose to enter. Or to close it again. To step away from the possibility, or to step into it. (But it sure is hard to forget about that door, leading to something; a something which, once it’s been revealed, even if I chose to let the door slam shut without entering will always be there, like the tiniest little pebble in your shoe, impossible to ignore.)

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The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (book 5 of 12)

May 26, 2019
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in Tip
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Haruki Murakami. 
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Mesmerising, surreal, this really is the work of a true original the blurb from The Times reads on the cover. And in all honesty, I don’t know that I have much more to add to that. Mesmerising. Yes. Surreal. Extremely! The work of a true original. Heck yes. It’s another one of these reading experiences where I cannot wrap my head around what would make someone be able to write like this, to actually put what has been put on paper, down on paper.

Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity evaporates. Guts have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like an amusing friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own – with whatever guts you can muster. 

Did I like it?
Yes. And no.

I mean… Yes. This is such an awesome book. But it is a book that demands my attention as a reader. My full attention at that. So, quick reader that I am, these 600 pages or so took me more or less 6 weeks to finish (which for me is a long time. Remember, last year I read 101 books, this year I am aiming at 75. If all books I wanted to read demanded as much from me, I would fail miserably in reaching my target.). A dozen pages or so at a time. Not much more. Sometimes less. (And yes, of course, I’ve been reading a few other books during this period, as per my usual habit. I am a parallel-reader, not a serial one. But regardless!)

And in a sense… this sentence points to my ambivalence as a reader:
The majority of people dismiss those things that lie beyond the bounds of their own understanding as absurd and not worth thinking about. 

This book is, at times, so far beyond the bounds of my understanding, it would be easy for me to dismiss it as absurd. Or plain strange. Not worth the effort. But it is! Truly. Like the back cover blurb from Independent of Sunday reads: How does Murakami manage to make poetry while writing of contemporary life and emotions? I am weak-kneed with admiration.

So am I. Murakami has a brain that I’d love to be able to “look inside”, to see how the connections are made, what type of leaps of the imagination that are necessary to spin this story… it’s so far from the way my brain works (or so it seems). But then again, that might just be another of the things I’ve come to know about myself, that isn’t anything but a belief, after all:
To know one’s own state is not a simple matter. One cannot look directly at one’s own face with one’s own eyes, for example. One has no choice but to look at one’s reflection in the mirror. Through experience, we come to believe that the image is correct, but it is just a belief. 


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow (book 25 of 26)

December 16, 2018
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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is not an easy read. It’s not an impossibly hard read either. But sure, it’s not a book one breezes through in a day or two, at least not me. And yet, that’s almost what I made myself do, as I had my Sunday deadline, and had only gotten about 20% of the book read earlier in the week.

“You think with your body, not only with your brain.”

Kahneman won the Nobel prize of Economics in 2002 for the discovery he writes about in Thinking, Fast and Slow, describing the two different sets of “systems” in our brains, causing us to think fast (most of the time) and slow (as little as possible, from what I gather) when (fairly) appropriate.

“‘Risk’ does not exist ‘out there’, independent of our minds and culture, waiting to be measured. Human beings have invented the concept of ‘risk’ to help them understand and cope with the dangers and uncertainties of life. Although these dangers are real, there is no such thing as ‘real risk’ or ‘objective risk’.” – Paul Slovic

When I posted a blurb on Facebook about having 40% of reading left in this book, I got a comment from a friend stating “Haha. The book that most people never finish. Me included.” and I completely understand. I admit, that this is one of those books that I would have stopped reading was it not for my reading challenge. The first part is super-interesting, but parts of part two, three and four are a bit heavy, I have to say.

“To think clearly about the future, we need to clean up the language that we use in labeling the beliefs we had in the past.”

I had no problem finding lots of passages from the book to share, and there are plenty more where these came from. But still, unless you are really nerdy about the brain and behavior, I bet you can find a great video on You Tube explaining the concepts of Kahneman in 10-15 minutes or so. (Just did a quick search on YT. Yes. You can. Better bet than picking up a copy of the actual book.)

“Optimism is normal, but some fortunate people are more optimistic than the rest of us. If you are genetically endowed with an optimistic bias, you hardly need to be told that you are a lucky person – you already feel fortunate. An optimistic attitude is largely inherited, and it is part of a general disposition for well-being, which may also include a preference for seeing the bright side of everything. If you were allowed one wish for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism. Optimists are normally cheerful and happy, and therefore popular; they are resilient in adapting to failures and hardships, their chances of clinical depression are reduced, their immune system is stronger, they take better care of their health, they feel healthier than others and are in fact likely to live longer.”

The part about optimism I find really interesting because based on the experience I have of living life as Helena, I’ve changed from being a pessimist to becoming an optimist. I even have a hard time spending time with die-hard pessimists nowadays… So I don’t know about the genetic disposition? Or perhaps, that’s just one way of being a fortunate optimist, the other is by intentionally deciding to become one?

“Some experimenters have reported that an angry face ‘pops out’ of a crowd of happy faces, but a single happy face does not stand out in an angry crowd. The brains of humans and other animals contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news.”

Given the way we (modern human beings) live our life, I dare say being aware of this negativity bias is a really good idea, also because of the focusing illusion: “Any aspect of life to which attention is directed will loom large in a global evaluation. This is the essence of the focusing illusion, which can be described in a single sentence: Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.”

Or the way I usually express it: we get more of that which we focus on. So be mindful of what you think about!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Advent Calendar 10 – Close your eyes

December 10, 2018
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I blogged about the heightened sensations I experience when I close my eyes, in September 2013. Since then, I close my eyes more and more. When I sing with my choir, when I listen to a podcast, when I do my daily morning exercise or put a freshly-picked raspberry from the garden in my mouth. When I take a shower, dance to a favorite song, hug someone. Meeting life with closed eyes increases my awareness of the present moment (which is what life is. A moment of Now, replaced by a new moment of Now, and so on…).

Funnily enough, the other day I listened to a lecture on “The brain – what everyone should know” by Anna Tebelius Bodin, and she chocked me when she informed me that the brain receives 11 million inputs… per second! A ridiculous amount of inputs, and 10 million of these come from the eyes. (Valid for me as a seeing person. Someone who lacks eye sight have compensated and receives a larger part of their inputs from the other senses.) So when I close my eyes, it’s no wonder that the inputs from other senses get more attention.

I don’t know why, really, but in some instances, it is easier for me to say YES with my eyes closed. With eyes open, it’s easier for the brain to get engaged, to rationally think, to let my intellectual abilities be acting gate keeper. With eyes closed, the rest of me, my body and spirit, have a greater chance to be in on the decision.

Like my stints of digital sabbat makes me more grateful to be “back on my devices”, when I close my eyes, I experience more. Or perhaps just different?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 10 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 3 – Letting my body sing with joy

December 3, 2018
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The importance of being in physical motion isn’t new to anyone reading this. Of this I am so sure I’d be willing to bet money. However – many of us (including me!) aren’t in motion even close to the amount we need, to do our bit to ensure wellbeing in all ways, physical as well as mental and spiritual. Because they are connected, as we as human beings are an integrated system, not a body separated from our mind.

I don’t have a car anymore (not since 2014), and live in Malmö in Sweden, which is a city well attuned to riding bikes as well as walking and with a fairly ok-functioning public transportation system. As I don’t need a car to get to work, being without a car works just peachy for me. And if I need one, I have friends who are wonderful, as they let me borrow theirs if possible. And if that fails, there’s always Sunfleet carpool.

If possible, I do use my bike, so this morning, when I had a walk n talk at a park in the center of town, I rode my bike there and back. All in all this means I have gotten two hours of movement in my body, and my body loves it. But not just my body – it’s the perfect “cure” for ensuring mental movement as well. As Anna Tebelius Bodin told me and the others at a seminar last week, just by standing up, our human brains are alerted. They wake up, going “What’s up? I am ready for what ever may come!”. Our brains were evolved to our current functionality approximately 40 000 years ago, when human beings were in almost constant movement, at least 17-18 000 steps per day. So when these ancestors of ours finally did sit down, their brains were allowed to take a rest. So the way us modern humans live and work today, with many if not most of us, being practically immobile for hours upon hours, sitting in front of a computer screen, or a lecture for that matter, we are not giving our brains an optimal setting to ensure learning. Because just by sitting down, the brain has already entered rest mode.

In the spring of 2017, my body all of a sudden started to tell me it wasn’t satisfied with “just” walking and biking any more. It told me to start to jog. Me, jog? Well… if the body tells me so, who am I to disagree, right? So I started to jog, slowly, and set a goal for myself this year of jogging at least every week. Which I have done, except for weeks when I’ve had a cold, but then I do two jogs the next week to compensate.

Come spring of 2018, my body whispered more and more, that it wanted about 10-20 kilometers of movement a day. So I’ve listened. Letting my body sing with joy at being able to move, at wanting to move, of being used the way it is meant to be used – for movement. That makes me feel great!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 3 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Into my head…

October 21, 2016
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At the moment, I find that it’s easy for me to fall into my head. To try to work things out, reason with myself (and others), make sense of stuff using logic. And that’s not the place for me at the moment. The stuff that’s on my mind, isn’t stuff to work out using logic.

Now. I have a spectacular brain, it works like a charm, and for many things it’s the best friend I’ve got. It serves me well, and I am grateful for it. But there are times when it’s not the go-to-place to work things out. And now is such a time.

I was reminded *again* today that I fall into the trap of trying to think my way out of a conundrum. And it simply doesn’t work. Not for this conundrum at least.

doors withinSo. I sit here.

Tired after a day with a lot of back-and-forth between head and heart, and yet, oddly pleased with my day.

I’ve cried. Oh how I have cried.
I’ve hurt. Oh how I have hurt.

But more than anything, I’ve seen new things.

The joy of discovering what’s on the inside reverberates loudly within, as I sit here, reflecting on the activities of the day.

A door within has opened, a door I never knew existed. And as with most doors, there’s probably some tears and hurt inside it.
But I don’t fear that. I think…. *There goes my head again…*

Feeling lost, not having spotted this door, not knowing of its existence, but having this sense that there’s something just out of sight, out of reach. That’s where the pain lies. Now that the door has revealed itself… I experience more curiosity than anything else. A bit of apprehension though, to be fair, because at the moment, right now, I lack the energy for a first walk-about inside this new chamber. So I won’t even take a peek. Instead, I will listen to my yawning body, and retire for the night. There’s plenty of time to go walk-about tomorrow!

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