James Marshall Hendrix was an intensely complicated individual by all accounts. This unique man was comprised in equal parts of musical virtuoso, pacifist, voodoo high priest, lover, and drug addict. He lived life fast and hard… spending most of his adult days in an altered state of consciousness due to some sort of extrinsic stimulant. For better or worse, the psychedelic neptunian sounds he came to be known for creating on his electric guitar permanently altered the course of the blues and rock music genres. Love him or hate him, Jimi Hendrix is one of a few who will be remembered for their absolute mastery of a chosen craft. The kind of mastery that ends up transcending the craft itself. Continue reading Life lessons from Jimi Hendrix
Chances are that if you live an active lifestyle which involves high impact sports (running, soccer, basketball, fighting, etc) for a long enough period, you’ll have knee problems at some point. I’m a soccer player who also happens to be a mixed martial arts student and yup… you guessed it, I’ve had my fair share of knee issues. Same thing applies to the runners, dancers, and basketball players that are in my inner circle of friends. All that being said, even people who don’t partake in high impact sports aren’t immune to knee problems.
At this point, you may be wondering why the human knee is so vulnerable to injury. Well I think the answer to that question lies in understanding the structure of the human knee joint. The human knee is mostly held together by tendons and ligaments which you can think of as thick fibrous bands of tissue, as well as some cushioning in the form of cartilage. While these ligaments, tendons and cartilage are usually pretty strong in their own right, they don’t have the same level of structural integrity that bones do for instance. As a result, if enough force is applied to the knee at just the right angle, a tendon, ligament, and/or some cartilage could tear.
When we think about the structure of the human knee, it may seem a bit silly that such an important joint would be held together by mainly ligaments and tendons. Seriously though… why didn’t the creator just cast each of our knees in solid bone so that we never hurt them? Well a legitimate argument could be made that the knee joint is so designed because it has to somehow be strong enough to carry each individual’s body weight while at the same time maintaining enough flexibility to allow either of us to abruptly change direction should we find ourselves in the the way of an onrushing vehicle. In short, we give a little in the way of knee stability in order to gain knee flexibility which ends up being more evolutionarily favorable. Continue reading How to relieve knee pain
A large number of us grew up playing some sort of sport in our youth and many of us still follow our favorite teams, living vicariously through them till present day. Thinking objectively, one may assume that society would view activities which involve a bunch of grown men chasing a ball around for over an hour while trash talking the hell out of each as a rather pointless exercise. In actuality though, a large swath of us continue to open our physical and digital wallets to watch sporting spectacles of all kinds either through the “idiot box” or in person. The next natural question to ask then, is why do we engage in this seeming act of folly? Well, my answer to that rhetorical question is that our affinity for sporting spectacles cannot really be understood from a logical point of view because the pull of sporting spectacles as a whole is much more emotional than logical. Continue reading Sports and society
Growing up, the modus operandi was generally the same – there was one major life axis to which I gave all my attention while largely ignoring all others. In primary school, it was all about getting the best grades and generally performing with distinction at school. In secondary school, it was all about improving my soccer game every time I set foot on a pitch. At the college level, it was all about getting those degrees and equipping myself with the best qualifications I could. In general, this M.O. worked pretty well up until I hit graduate school… that was when everything changed. Continue reading How to multitask effectively
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was a superstar sculptor, painter, and architect who strides the history of art like a Colossus. He was an outsider who created works of such beauty and on such a grand scale that it is still very difficult to believe that they were produced by a mere mortal. He claimed he was divinely inspired, yet he stole from Popes, fought his rivals, and struggled with his own demons. By all accounts, Michelangelo was a tempestuous genius who would let nothing stand in the way of his quest for eternal fame and riches untold. Continue reading Life lessons from Michelangelo
Last time I asked google, I was told that creativity is commonly defined as the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. These were the kinds of definitions of creativity that many people of my generation and background grew up hearing and reading about. These sorts of statements in addition to the aloof facial expression implicit in Picasso’s signature smirk made us think of creativity as some mystical sacred process that only a preordained few could perform… It also perhaps made us think that only artistic people were creative. In sum, the overwhelming notion of creativity that I was exposed to as a child made it pretty clear that creativity was simply out of reach for mere mortals like us and as young children who knew no better, many of us quietly accepted our fate and got on with our lives. Continue reading Thoughts on creativity
So you have this great big presentation coming up, or an interview for your dream job, or an important dance show/recital that might help propel you to the next level of your career, and you are nervous as all hell. We’ve all been there with the nerves thing and the funny thing is that although we logically know that being nervous will not at all help our chances of success, we still get nervous. Some of us feel nervousness so intensely that we get uncontrollable tremors, vomit, and become paralyzed in some severe cases. Just in case you were wondering, everyone gets nervous. So please don’t feel like a wuss if you tend to get really nervous. You might be surprised to hear that even the guy who is widely considered as one of the greatest male tennis players of all time of all time – Roger Federer – said he still got nervous right before matches 10+ years after he played his first professional match. Continue reading Nerves… how to deal with them
As a kid growing up in Nigeria, many of us had roughly the same idea about our future working lives drilled into our heads – “you need to become a professional like an accountant, an engineer, or a medical doctor so that you can make enough money to care for yourself and those around you”. I can’t speak to your own unique circumstances, but I can say for sure that this was my reality growing up. To be clear, I don’t blame any of those people who tried to direct me or the children of my day down the conventional route of earning a living because truth be told, it makes a ton of logical sense. After all, it is probably a lot easier to find a decently high paying job as a medical doctor than it would be to find a job as an independent fashion designer. Continue reading Finding what you love…
Let’s face it, a lot of us struggle with maintaining the ideal body weight that our skeletal frames require for optimal functionality. To be blunt, many of us in my native Nigeria and my adopted home – The United States of America – are overweight. In a majority of cases, the reason why a fair bit of us are overweight boils down to a love of food, and honestly, it isn’t hard to see why because food is fantastic. In addition to being the primary source from which we humans get necessary nutrition, it is also often pleasurable to eat food provided it was prepared by a halfway decent chef. Taking that into consideration, the love of food is actually a good thing. Can you imagine what it would be like if we hated food but needed it to survive? Life would probably be pretty miserable in my humble opinion. Continue reading How to curb your appetite
Everyday, each one of us is surrounded by a cesspool of germs. It is true that the amount of germs we come in contact with is often related to the cleanliness of our immediate environments. That being said, we can’t completely reduce our interactions with germs to absolute zero. Germs come in many different forms… some of them are bacterial, some of them are fungal, and some of them are viral. No, no, no, not viral as in “viral video”, but viral as in the germ is a virus. I had a good chuckle typing that last sentence by the way… couldn’t resist! Continue reading How to strengthen your immune system
Eventually taking things for granted seems like an inevitable part of human nature. We’ve all done it, we all do it, and we’ll all probably do it again sometime in the near future. You know how you were all excited to get that brand new piano you’d been eyeing for a while, only to quickly tire of it in just a few months? Or perhaps you started taking your wonderful significant other for granted after 2+ years together. Maybe you no longer feel fortunate to have your job and the associated income it provides, or you’ve grown lethargic towards the delicious pancakes your roommate makes every Sunday morning for breakfast. Suffice it to say that I think almost all of us have experienced the emotion of boredom in one form or the other, at some point in our lives. Continue reading Bored? This might be why…
On one fateful 2013 autumn evening, I was racing down the pool in a butterfly stroke frenzy when one of my wisdom teeth started to ache. As I climbed out of the pool, I could feel it throbbing and was now in considerable pain. I waited a while to see if the pain would subside, but I ultimately ended up having to take some Advil right before bed to stem the pain. The first thing I did when I woke up the next morning was to schedule an emergency appointment with my local dentist that same day. I got to the dentist’s office around noon and merely fifteen minutes into the appointment, he said: “you’re gonna need a root canal… this cavity is too deep for me to cover up with porcelain”. Thankfully, he cleaned out the cavity which helped relieve the pain and scheduled an appointment for me with a trusted endodontist (root canal dentist). Continue reading Watch your mouth!… Strategies to protect your teeth
No matter how loving or profound a relationship between two people might be, there will inevitably be a difference in opinion and/or values at some point. These differences in opinion can lead to relatively minor things like silly little arguments between you and the other that you eventually joke about, or they can lead to large scale bouts of all out war which culminate in divorce, nasty legal battles, and so on. While there are some select few who seem to have a repeat pattern of damaging their relationships because of a naturally querulous streak, it is often the case that many people with a history of broken relationships are perfectly good natured. You might be thinking… “Damn that makes no sense… what gives?” I know exactly what you mean and for the record, I agree with you. I think the key to this mystery is to understand and accept that there is a difference between being a terrible person and being a perfectly good person who just happens to be terrible at relating to others. Continue reading In the shoes of another…
While thinking about this topic, I realized that although I had a pretty good implicit understanding of what the word “value” meant, I couldn’t clearly express it in words… so I went looking. According to “Lord Google”, the word value can be defined as the “regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something”. Continue reading Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Value
If you’re like me, you grew up being told how important it was/is to eat your vegetables. If you were also as annoyingly inquisitive as I was as a kid, you probably demanded to know why it was so important the thousand odd times that topic came up each year. If we’re being honest, most of our parents probably gave us passable answers to this question as kids but since our youthful brains were still too underdeveloped to really grasp what those answers meant, most of us ignored this piece of wisdom. Continue reading You are what you eat… wait, is that really true?
Almost all of us know the lifestyle habits that are in our best interest to adopt for a better chance at living longer and more fulfilled lives. For example, the average well adjusted adult unequivocally knows that if he/she regularly exercises and takes their vitamins, he/she will probably become a much more productive member of our society. If you’ve been paying attention, you’d have noticed that even though pretty much all of us know the life affirming habits we should be practicing on a daily basis for a better life, very few of us actually follow through. Even though we are probably pretty different from one another, i’m assuming you have human blood coursing through your veins and probably know exactly what I mean. As I typed that last sentence, I got really curious about your take on why we don’t get around to doing things we should but since you aren’t physically here to tell me what you think, I’ll just share my own thoughts on that question with you. Now then, here it goes… Continue reading Thoughts on prioritization
At certain points in life, many of us find ourselves in positions where we “have to” do things we don’t entirely want to do. When faced with such circumstances, we engage in procrastination as a passive aggressive response to being in this less than desirable position. Have you ever thought deeply about procrastination? I’d venture to guess that if you have thought deeply about this human tendency, you’ve become borderline amused by how silly it is. Let’s unpack that last statement… So you find yourself having to do something you don’t want to do. You know that the sooner you get doing, the sooner you can cross that annoying item off your to-do list. Moreover, you also know that the more you procrastinate, the more stress you will eventually feel as the due date for said task approaches. All that considered, you somehow still keep putting off the task until you’re under the proverbial gun, with a side order of intense stress. Yep… I’m with you… this pattern of behavior doesn’t make much logical sense. Let’s delve a bit deeper to understand why many of us tend to get caught up in this vicious cycle. Continue reading How to avoid procrastination
Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Michael Faraday, Martha Graham, Marie Curie, James Marshall Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and John Clayton Mayer. The brilliant works of these luminaries often transcend culture, race, and time, leaving many of us rapt in awe. How did Martha Graham so thoroughly master dance to the point where she could create her own genre? During his illustrious career, how did Floyd Mayweather Jr seemingly sense impending punches and skillfully slip out of the way well before his opponents could land them? How does John Mayer effortlessly slide around the guitar, belting melodies from every corner of the instrument almost as if it were part of his body? How did Michelangelo manage to capture the very essence of life in the divinely sculpted statue of King David. Are these amazing shows of brilliance a result of some God given talent, or just plain old fashioned hard work? Short answer – extreme skill is almost always a combination of talent and a special type of hard work. For the more detailed answer, keep reading. Continue reading Is genius a product of talent or effort?
The question of life’s purpose is one that most serious minded human beings above the age of 28 have probably asked themselves multiple times. Why was I born? What am I supposed to do with my life? Who made the universe and the marvelous structure behind it? Is there a God? If there is a God, does HE or SHE give a damn about me? What happens to my consciousness when I die? These questions are timeless, yet there seems to be no consensus on an answer. Perhaps we are all here to get married, start families, be good workers, and live happily ever after. Perhaps striving to be fundamentally good angelic people who never lie, cheat, or hurt anyone is the point of it all. Or perhaps more cynically, our purpose is to simply play our minuscule part on the grand scheme of evolution before we die off and get replaced by more competent versions of ourselves (our children). Maybe there is no purpose to it all and this game of life is just one giant cosmic joke which serves as comic relief to the creator who observes our relatively insignificant squabbles and emotional dramas from a cold distance. To be honest, I don’t think anyone unequivocally knows what the purpose of life is but having devoted a lot of thought and research to this topic, I am going to state my case on what I think an essential part of it is. At this point, I’m wondering if you’ll agree with me or freak out but I guess that’s the whole point of having my fingers fly around the keyboard as I type this. OK I’ll stop all the “meta chatter” now… let’s get to work. Continue reading Why the “bleep” are we here?
At certain points in our adult lives, many of us go through personal transformations that can change us to the very core of our being. Although the end results of such transformations can be wonderful and awe inspiring to behold, the actual process of transformation can be very uncomfortable. The discomfort that often comes with profound personal change is probably a big reason why many of us avoid it even when it becomes evident that it is necessary for further growth. Continue reading The 5 stages of personal transformation
We all want power. If you don’t believe me, take a closer look around you and if you’re honest, you will spot a litany of people (including yourself) angling for power. Most people balk when asked to consider their own innate hunger for power partly because we have been raised to think a desire for power is bad, and partly because almost none of us fully understand all the subtle backhanded ways in which we vie for power. Remember that one time you withheld sex from your spouse because he didn’t do something you wanted?… or that time your two year old son threw a tantrum over a toy he couldn’t have?… or that time your co-worker tried to take credit for the work you did? Yep… you guessed it. All of these are examples in which people of all ages, shapes, gender, and sizes, are angling for power in subtle and manipulative ways. Like it or not, the innately human desire for power is here to stay. It is probably better to accept it as part of human nature rather than waste valuable time complaining about it. Continue reading Power… stop giving yours away. Own it.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Those words by the great master of relativity still ring true till this very day. Many if not all of our academic institutions run on logic and reason, emphasizing that way of thinking almost to the exclusion of all others. To be fair, logical reasoning has helped us accomplish a great deal. A lot of the infrastructure (such as the transportation and communication systems) that we have built and refined over many decades were implemented using a heavy dose of logical reasoning. As we saw the benefits that our logical reasoning powers brought to our world, we came to see logic as far superior to intuition. Almost to the point now where most of us either don’t know what intuition is, or scoff at it as “new age bollocks”. Continue reading The magic of intuition
It is fundamentally true that we humans are social animals. None of us get through life without having to interact with other people. Although the advent of the internet and other creature comforts in our modern world have somewhat lessened the importance of social intelligence, it is still in each of our best interests to at least develop the rudiments of this basic life skill to get by in this world. Continue reading The 7 deadly realities
If you are older than 20, and haven’t spent your entire life isolated on some island in the middle of nowhere, chances are that you have first hand experience with toxic people. You know… the types that seem to drain your energy and zest for life when you’re around them for too long. These types of people are all around us in many forms… co-workers, bosses, girlfriends, boyfriends, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, cousins, TV personalities and so on. Although all toxic people seem to share some common characteristics, my journey through life has taught me that toxic people can fall into certain broad but distinct categories. Below are some examples of the categories of toxic people. Please feel free to mention any other types that I might have left out in the comments section if the mood takes you. Continue reading How to deal with toxic people
Of all the types of mental anguish that we humans work so hard to avoid, few are bigger or more persistent than the fear of death. The thought that you and I will someday cease to exist is simultaneously humbling and terrifying. The thought of death is humbling because we realize that while our loved ones may mourn us for a short period after we pass on, life will eventually go on just fine with or without either of us. The thought of death is also petrifying because it could come without warning and there is no playbook that tells any of us how the end will come before it does. Life can end peacefully in one’s sleep after a long well lived life full of love, accomplishments, and relative comfort, or it can end violently right after the pain of a serious car accident, a gunshot wound to the chest, or multiple rounds of chemotherapy and the devastating effect it can have on the body’s biochemistry. Regardless of how death comes to each of us, one thing is for sure… it will eventually visit each and every last one of us. Continue reading Death – The Ultimate Equalizer
Many of us are constantly bombarded with messages from our environment that encourage us to exercise regularly in order to stay physically fit. Truth be told, it is in each of our best interests to stay physically fit because doing so increases the chances of maintaining high quality health well into old age. So if exercise is so good for us, why then do so few of us actually do it? Well I think the reason for this particular example of a misalignment between what is good for us and what we actually do is threefold. First, many of us don’t exercise because we don’t have the time to. For example, there are many amazing single moms and dads out there that just can’t find the time to go to the gym for an hour each day in the midst of their busy schedules. Second, many of us don’t exercise because to be honest, exercise can be painful if done effectively and we humans hate pain. Third, some of us avoid exercise because it can lead to injury if done improperly which in turn can significantly hinder other parts of our lives. This last one is especially true when you’re in your 30’s and beyond because the injuries get much more serious and debilitating at that stage of life. Continue reading Practical tips to avoid athletic injury
We humans depend heavily on our physical senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc) in order to get by in this physical world. Without the power afforded to us by our physical senses, we’d all probably be involved in too many accidents which result in serious life threatening injuries on far too regular a basis. Can you imagine life without the ability to see or hear anything? In ancient times, a person with neither the ability to see nor hear would have made easy lunch for the neighborhood sabertooth tiger or wolf. In modern times, a person who can neither see nor hear would in all likelihood be killed or seriously injured by some sort of moving vehicle if they ever ventured outside the home without another person to help them. Now that last point might be reduced in severity as we move into the future where most of our moving vehicles will get fitted with proximity sensors and automatic brakes, but for now, that is the reality. Continue reading Are our senses designed to fool us?
Most of us humans are social creatures who tend to form groups and cliques with others who share similar interests. Perhaps this tendency is wired into our DNA at birth, or perhaps it is due to the fact that most of us are born into families populated with people who look like we do. As we grow up in our respective families, we subconsciously absorb our parents’ values (good and bad) because at that stage of our lives, most of us are still too young to independently make up our own minds. In the first few years of our lives, many of us grow up seeing everyone in our biological family as part of “us”, and everyone outside the biological family as “them”. As such, we can be drawn into an “us-them” mindset from near the very beginning. Perhaps this subtle mental shift in the way we perceive the world becomes even more pronounced when we make the transition to the more socially diverse setting of early school. All of a sudden, there are all sorts of people who neither think the way we were raised to think, nor share the same values that we do. When we are confronted with this reality, most of us usually react in one of two ways. Some of us become intrigued by the fact that there are actually people who aren’t like us and become eager to learn from them. For others, the ingrained fear of the unknown kicks in, prompting a bit of defensiveness. Continue reading The silliness of racial bigotry
Almost all of us have been embittered by some event or the other in our lives… in truth, very few of us if any make it out of this world without the emotional scars to show for it. Although life is a wonderfully precious gift, it can also be a very difficult experience if we are to be completely honest. We’ve all had painful experiences that have made us sad, angry, depressed, ashamed, frustrated, and so on. As we all probably know (perhaps a bit too well), there isn’t anything especially pleasant about any of the above emotions. Worse still, these emotions can linger for extended periods of time, eventually altering the very fabric of who we are in a negative way unless we are careful. You may have seen several examples in your own life of people who started out as really sweet souls until they were subjected to constant bullying or years of abuse which forced them to undergo the plutonic metamorphosis from sweet soul to an individual with the cold heart of a well seasoned assassin. Continue reading The importance of gratitude
Since the dawn of human consciousness, the need to survive has remained perhaps the most fundamental of all human instincts. To put this another way, we humans are naturally impelled to do whatever it takes to survive regardless of the personal or environmental cost. To improve our chances of survival, we’ve become the ultimate opportunists; capitalizing on our ability to bend the utility of the resources around us to meet our needs. As an example, our ancestors converted sharp stones into cutting tools such as primitive spears and knives, eventually using those same tools to kill animals for food. At some point in our progression as a species, it occurred to us that the skin from the animals we killed for “lunch” could be used as clothing to keep us from freezing to death. This sort of flexible and practical use of the resources around us remains an integral part of human behavior till this very day. As a matter of fact, it is a major reason why we are still sitting pretty as the kings and queens of this beautiful third rock from the sun. Continue reading The most important resource we have is…
None of us really had a say in whether or not our parents fell in love or how many siblings they ended up giving us. As a result, some of us get stuck with one or two really annoying siblings that we have to deal with for the remainder of our natural lives. It doesn’t require much mental effort to imagine how difficult it must be to live with an irritating sibling absent the power to permanently distance yourself from his or her antics. While it can be an unfortunate reality that none of us get to choose our biological families, we each have total and utter control over who we allow into our inner circle of friends. To some, the idea of carefully selecting your group of close friends may seem a little cocky but if you live long enough, experience will teach you that it is something you must absolutely do. Truth be told… If you allow too many negative people into your life, they’ll eventually harm or destroy you in some way or another. The world is already difficult enough so please take the time to carefully select the highest quality friends that you can find as they will continue to help you grow and prosper throughout your life’s journey. Continue reading The very best of friends are…
Brief philosophical take on the origins of money…
For us humans, the need to survive continues to persist at the summit of all our needs. To effectively survive in our world, we require things of value such as food, clothing, and shelter. Although there are some notable exceptions that could/can do it all (such as Leonardo Da Vinci), most people – like the individual cells of the human body – are specialized. Since many of us are specialized in our area of expertise, it is so often the case that we must frequently depend on each other to survive. In this way, our human race is reminiscent of a giant human body with each human representing a single cell. Think about it for a second… your brain cells depend on your heart cells to force the beating heart to send them the rich supply of blood they need to function properly because they (your brain cells) cannot do it themselves. In much the same way that our brain cells depend on our heart cells for adequate blood supply to function, we frequently depend on the expertise and resources of the people around us to survive.
In order to gain access to the expertise of those around us, we very often must give them something they value in return. Ages ago, humans would trade goods and services for other goods and services in what was known as the “trade by barter” system. The problem with this system is that there was no standard unit of trade. I mean who is to say whether or not giving you seven loaves of freshly baked bread is fair payment for one of your goats? The other problem with this system must have been the difficulty of physically carrying around the wares that people were willing to exchange for other valuable things they desired. To circumvent all of this annoyance and inconvenience, we eventually created currency in the form of coins made from precious metals such as gold and silver and used them as a medium of exchange. As time elapsed, our currency morphed from metallic coins into many different forms… from elaborately printed paper notes, to the current digital form that magically appears in many of our online bank account interfaces on the 1st and 15th of every month. Continue reading Maintaining a healthy cash flow in life
The relationship between man and machine has been a very fruitful one for our species mainly because it has empowered us to transcend many of our limitations. I remember coming across a Scientific American study a while ago that nicely illustrated how well humans have been empowered by our technology. The study measured the efficiency of locomotion for various animal species on the planet. In that study, the condor was found to be most efficient… using the least amount of energy to travel one kilometer. Comparatively, we humans came in with a rather abysmal showing somewhere way down the list… not exactly the most flattering result for the supposed crown of creation. However, when some brilliant person at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for humans on bicycles, we blew the condor away, climbing to the very top of the “efficiency of locomotion” charts. Thinking deeper, we start to realize that in an analogous way, our technology has served as a metaphorical bicycle for our limited physical and mental abilities. For example, the advent of the internal combustion engine and the automobile has reduced what would have been a multiple month long journey 100 years ago to one of just mere hours as I type this. Also, the next time you open up a spreadsheet on your computer to do some quick calculations at work, think about how much longer that would have taken if you had to use a slide rule or an abacus. It is likely that the same task would have required a ton more effort and probably taken 10 to 100 times longer if you had to do it in say the 1930’s when computers didn’t exist. These kinds of miraculous time savings have allowed us to be more productive while simultaneously conserving more mental cycles to devote to things at the higher echelons of mental function. Continue reading Speculations on the impending era of artificial intelligence
Many of us have been to at least one concert where an amazing guitarist dazzled us. How can his hands move so fast? How can she play so beautifully without even looking at the instrument? How did he know that melody would harmonize so well with the rest of the band? We ask these questions completely awestruck… struggling to understand how a very normal looking human being can be so proficient at something that seems so alien as their fingers fly all over the guitar fretboard at warp speed. After taking in such a musical spectacle, many of us become inspired to learn how to play the guitar. We may even go as far as to order a guitar and perhaps a few books to begin our journey to guitar virtuoso. We happily receive the guitar and the books when they finally arrive at our doorsteps, filled with excitement at the prospect of eventually mastering the guitar. After a month or two of practice, reality sets in… you realize that you suck at it. You realize that making the guitar sound as melodically beautiful as that amazing lady on stage did a couple of months ago isn’t as easy as it looks. As if all that wasn’t enough, your fingers hurt like crazy and might even bleed because you haven’t yet built up the calluses to endure the constant stress that playing places on the tips of your fingers. Some of us give up because we figure we just don’t have the magical talent that good guitarists must have. What is going on here? Where does the truth lie? Are people who can play the guitar just born with supernatural abilities, or are their otherworldly skills developed through relentless and tenacious application to their craft? Can “regular” folks ever improve on their guitar playing, or are each of us permanently confined to musical mediocrity for the rest of our lives? Well ladies and gentlemen, if I may, let me invite you to follow me on this literary journey in search of the truth. Continue reading 9 tips to guitar mastery
The merriam-webster dictionary defines knowledge as: “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association”. The same dictionary also defines power as: “the ability to act or produce an effect”.
Whether we human beings want to admit it or not, all of us are power hungry to varying extents. The preceding statement might not be politically correct, but it is the blatant truth. The natural desire for power is nothing to be ashamed of because it is a very fundamental part of human nature. If we look closely, we find that our thirst for power is readily apparent at almost every level of human development. For example “terrible twos” cry, scream, and throw tantrums in a bid to bend the actions of their parents to their will. Little girls love the absolute control they have over their dolls and dollhouses. Teenage boys love the measure of control they wield over the video games or musical instruments they might have mastered. Company CEOs love the control they have over the vision and employees of their respective companies. The general theme with power is as follows – those who have it will in many cases do whatever it takes to keep it, while those who do not yet have power will either try all sorts of things to get it for themselves, or spend an eternity complaining about their lack of power. This has always been and will continue to be the way of the world simply because something very fundamental to our base nature cannot stand the feeling of powerlessness. As a result of this dynamic, the subject of gaining power has sustained a remarkably high level of interest in our collective human consciousness. We humans always want to know the answer to the following simple question… How do I get more power? Continue reading Knowledge is power… wait, is that really true?
Youth is a truly remarkable gift that most of us do not fully appreciate until we’ve moved past it. The vigor and vitality that comes with youth has allowed some of our fellow humans to achieve amazing physical and intellectual feats. Think of Sir Isaac Newton developing Calculus at age 26, Albert Einstein propounding his general theory of relativity by age 35, or a 23 year old Usain Bolt running a ridiculously fast 100m dash (in 9.58 seconds) at the 2009 track and field world championships. Also among the myriad of amazing “perks” that come with youth is having a quick metabolism. Ever notice how children can generally eat pretty much anything without putting on much weight if at all? Or how young boys in their teens and early twenties seem to get ravenously hungry every 2 hours? Well, the reason behind this dynamic is because young people need plenty of food to fuel growth, as well as to maintain normal bodily function. After the age of about 20 (when most of us stop growing in height), the average person only needs a fraction of that food intake to maintain normal bodily function. In addition to needing less food, the quality of the food you eat as you grow older should be relatively high if you are to maintain good health. In the ideal case, each person would adjust their diet to one rich in fruits, green vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds as they enter their 30s and 40s. Continue reading How to lose weight effectively
Being allowed in this space is like being let into my brother’s room to try on all his shirts and see all his guy stuff… too much fun… and in many ways, sacred. So here it goes…
To break: “to separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain”.
Have you ever broken? I remember being young enough to think that everything would be fine. And I could have everything just as I knew it should be. I remember planning with certainty and knowing what should be, and ought to be, right. Now, not so much. I have been broken. First by the sheer realization… that people had to work for money, and that money is the currency of life. I was broken yet again by death. A death that came suddenly and insanely. From nowhere, it came in a manner that knocked the breath out of me and still does on the 10th of December every year. That death still has the capacity to make we wonder “Why?… How?… Am I dreaming?… Did she really exist?” It’s a long story, but we’ll leave that for another blog visit. Continue reading Being broken
All of us who work at a job or provide some sort of service for a living have at one point in time or another been required to give a public speech or presentation to our peers and/or bosses. Perhaps it was an academic presentation we had to give at school, a progress report on a project at work, or a training session in which we were tasked with passing on our knowledge on a particular subject matter to others. No matter what your field of expertise is, chances are that you will be called upon at some point in your career to communicate effectively to other human beings. Further, it is likely that the people with whom you will need to effectively communicate your ideas won’t have accumulated the same level of knowledge that you have in your field of specialization. This usually means that you will need to communicate your ideas in a way that is eminently understandable for relative novices. In other words, you will have to distill your years of knowledge down into “plain english” for your audience to get the most benefit. This is what the best public speakers instinctively know, and are able to pull off time and time again. If you look closely at the very best presentations or keynote speeches, you will often find that you need only a rudimentary understanding of the subject matter to actually gain some very valuable insight from them and this is neither a coincidence nor an accident. On the contrary, you can be sure that whenever you’ve witnessed one of these sorts of presentations, a ton of work has gone into crafting them. For the remainder of this article, we will refer to such presentations as Powerfully Effective Presentations or “PEPs” for short. Continue reading How to give a great public speech
Most well adjusted human beings will agree that war is fundamentally destructive to any civilized society. Some wars (like the american civil war) were necessary to extinguish evil in its purest form, while some wars (like Saddam Hussein’s irrational campaign against Kuwait) serve as unfortunate examples of a senseless loss of too many lives at the whim of an idiotic egomaniac with too much power. Regardless of its root cause, war often forces a fundamental change in the world at large as its reverberations are felt far beyond the borders of the countries in which it is fought. A good example of this is how the destruction caused by the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the world to realize that the threat of nuclear war had to be minimized because its potential for destruction was so great. Wars take a heavy toll on the infrastructure of the countries in which they are fought, and perhaps an even heavier toll on the psyche of the people that are touched by its many battles. Although war can bring many hardships and difficulties, it can also serve many fundamentally important purposes. It is strange to think of it that way, but if you are able to take a sufficiently removed emotional distance, you will see that war also has its “upside”. For example, war can indirectly serve as a very effective way to check population growth, ensuring that the surviving factions of humanity don’t eventually all starve to death as a result of having too many mouths to feed. War can also serve as a very powerful means of re-setting counterproductive ways of thinking that have spread through a given society or group of people. For example, the american civil war served as a big “reset button” that ultimately and forcefully altered the mindset amongst 19th century tobacco and cotton plantation owners in Northern America. Although it remains amongst the bloodiest and most gory of all wars fought by man, the american civil war served the essential purpose of permanently altering the mindset that promoted the evil of slavery. Continue reading The holiest of all wars
Full disclosure: I am Nigerian.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a land blessed with a lot of natural and human resources alike. This geographical marvel of a country is situated on the western coast of the african continent – the birthplace of man. The climate is tropical with two major seasons: the wet season (from about June to September) and the dry season (from about October to May). Over 300 ethnic groups and 3 major traditional languages – Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa – exist in the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Although each Nigerian has his or her own traditional language (I personally speak Igbo), the “lingua franca” in Nigeria is the english language because we were colonized by the British a few centuries ago. After years of struggle, we eventually gained our independence from British colonial rule on the 1st day of October 1960. Since then, we have grown to become the 8th most populous country in the world with 176 million citizens, while consistently placing amongst the top 20 crude oil producing countries in the world. In addition to the plentiful deposits of “black gold” (crude oil) that we have in our country, there is also a rich agricultural sector in Nigeria which produces tons of nutritious organic food for its populace and beyond. As a marker of our continued growth as a country, the Nigerian economy as of 2016 is the largest economy in the entire african continent. Continue reading Nigeria: West Africa’s sleeping giant
History is littered with great civilizations that have each permanently changed the course of human culture in mostly positive ways. The following civilizations come to mind as prime examples that have had a profound impact on the world: Florence during the 15th century Italian renaissance, the scientific movement in England from the 17th to the 19th century, the east coast of the United States of America during the industrial revolution, and silicon valley California during the computer technology industry boom. Each of these special civilizations have contributed beautiful marvels of scientific and artistic achievement to the world that have left their indelible mark on the human race. These awe inspiring discoveries and creations often fundamentally alter the way we think and/or conduct a certain aspect of our lives. Each one of these great civilizations was spurred on by a handful of exceptionally brilliant and charismatic people. In the Italian renaissance, it was Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo Da Vinci. During the scientific movement in England, it was the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday. During the industrial revolution in the United States of America, it was Nikola Tesla, Thomas Alva Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford that dragged our collective consciousness forward and into the future. Andy Grove, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg have all played key roles in making computerized technology a lot more accessible to the lot of us during this current computer industry boom that we find ourselves in. The question that one cannot help but ponder when considering human accomplishment on this scale is the following: what part of our human psychology acts as the catalyst for the significant contributions that these great people and their respective civilizations have made to our society as a whole? Continue reading The beauty of human emotion
An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear or rupture is a very serious injury that commonly occurs during sports like soccer and basketball in which rapid changes in the speed of human movement, and abrupt changes in direction are common. A ruptured ACL won’t heal on its own because of the relative lack of direct blood supply to this important ligament in the human body. As a result, an ACL rupture almost always requires reconstructive surgery to facilitate complete healing and a return to full athletic activity. Surgery is always serious business, and detail oriented preparation for it will ease the distress that can come with it. For this reason I recommend reading this article more than once before you go anywhere near your surgeon’s knife. I am fairly confident that you will gain some bit of wisdom from this article that will make surgery and its aftermath easier for you. The information in this article could also be easily applied to help others who are about to go through ACL reconstruction. For example, a doting mother could read this article and use the information contained in it to help her son or daughter get through ACL reconstruction with as little extra fuss as possible. The surgery is already painful enough… so it is advisable to do all in your power to alleviate as many potential added difficulties as possible. How do I know that these suggestions will be of use to you or someone you know who is preparing for ACL surgery? Well because I wish someone had told me all this before I went under the knife for my own ACL reconstruction surgery in early 2012. Continue reading How to prepare for ACL surgery
Since the invention of language, people have frequently used the qualities of inanimate objects to describe some of the most desirable human traits. “As good as gold”, “as solid as a rock’, “as tough as nails”, and in the words of famed ESPN SportsCenter™ anchor – Stuart Scott (may the good Lord rest his soul) – “as cool as the other side of the pillow”. These are a few examples of the general trend which uses the characteristics of inanimate objects as metaphors for desirable characteristics that we humans would like to embody. While all the above stated character traits are very desirable, it doesn’t take long to realize that attempting to embody the characteristics of any single one of the objects mentioned above is insufficient to live a fully balanced life as a human being. It is true that it is good to be as physically tough as nails if you are a martial artist who finds him or herself in a caged octagon opposite another person whose sole purpose in life for the next 25 minutes is to cause you as much pain as possible. However, that same physical toughness won’t really help you when it is time to have your first awkward conversation about sexual intercourse with your 13 year old son or daughter. Always being as “good as gold” could actually get you killed in the ghettos of Southside Queens, or fired in the corporate world… one must know when to be “bad” in order to survive in such tough environments. The above logic and rationale therefore begs the following question: is there any single inanimate thing or object that possess all the characteristics one can embody to aid growth in almost every area of life? I have pondered this question for many years and have picked the minds of some of the most philosophically brilliant people I know in search of an answer. As fate would have it, the best answer I could find to this riddle came from spending a Saturday afternoon watching video clips of Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on YouTube. Allow me to share what I have settled on as a solution to this riddle after many years of thought, intellectual discourse with others who have gained my respect, and a Saturday afternoon spent watching video clips of icons in the martial arts. Continue reading Be formless, shapeless… be like water
Many ancient warrior cultures such as the Spartans and Aztecs worshipped strength as the ultimate virtue that any human could aspire to. The surface reason for this is readily apparent because unlike in our modern times, physical combat was the accepted method for settling disputes back then. It follows therefore, that the more physically strong or battle hardened you were in those times, the more successful your life became because your strength furnished you with the ability to fend off rivals who threatened your eminence or position in life. Being a strong individual or empire in those days also gave you the resources required to snatch the property and possessions of other people and/or city states in order to fulfil the primal desire to expand reach and power. As important as it was to show strength in those ancient times, it was perhaps even more important to avoid a show of weakness as that could literally mean certain death. For example, a show of weakness in battle could mean the difference between leaving the battlefield with your life and limbs intact, or taking a lethal bronze sword through the jaw as your lack of confidence would arm your opponent with the requisite boldness to strike with deadly intentions. All of this might sound very barbaric to those of us living in the modern world today but society was much more blatantly ruthless and machiavellian back then. The fact that our world and the people that inhabit it have now become much more refined, begs the following question: is the need for strength now a thing of bygone eras? In the much more physically and socially forgiving environments that we all now live in, is the need for strength still just as important? Continue reading In search of the ultimate virtue…
My first real look at Steve Jobs the person was during the Stanford University commencement address he gave in 2005 while I was still a graduate student there. That day I saw a very different man from the annoyingly brash young entrepreneur that was the protagonist of many emotionally messy stories in silicon valley folklore. He seemed to have become considerably tempered by wisdom and mellowed by the passage of time. The well delivered speech he gave that day was replete with unadulterated truth and nuggets of wisdom. He spoke about triumph, love, and loss with a raw purity that could have only been forged from equally raw real life experiences. Oddly, he simultaneously possessed a surprising level of humility as well as the confidence of a man who founded and served as the CEO of the most valuable technology company in the entire world. It was natural to wonder about the nature of the various experiences that had so thoroughly transformed the man from an acid dropping college dropout into one of the most powerful men in the world. Continue reading Life’s Lessons from Steve Jobs
We humans are social creatures who very often rely on one another to survive. We as a species have quickly learned that we are much stronger in groups than as isolated entities which in turn has prompted us to adopt a “herd mentality” as our modus operandi. This has been true since the dawn of time when we once relied on one another to yell out audible warning signals indicating the presence of an onrushing predator so that others in our tribe could scamper away in time to preserve their lives. Being part of a community also allows us to benefit from the talents and abilities of others that we may not inherently possess. As an example from ancient times, the physically strong men in a given tribe would protect the women from dangerous animals and men from rival tribes in return for the women keeping a home and rearing their children. We have carried this practical exchange of valuable goods and services into our modern world as well. As a contemporary example, I didn’t create the MacBook Pro that I am using to type this article, but I am able to enjoy its benefits thanks to the bevy of intelligent Engineers and Designers at Apple headquarters, in return for a stack of cash. As we’ve gained more control over our environment, what started as a practical reliance on our fellow man has slowly morphed into a mixture of practical and emotional dependence on each other. We no longer need to worry too much about fundamental things like avoiding the neighborhood sabretooth tiger, and have started to obsessively worry about how much we are liked by the people around us. Many of us have become heavily emotionally dependent on our social interactions with people close to us… in some cases, overtly so. The degree to which each person depends on an emotional interaction with another person is roughly governed by where they emotionally place on the introvert – extrovert spectrum. Continue reading A Loner’s manifesto: Blessed are the introverted
The frenetic pace of life in our ultra busy modern world leaves a lot of us overworked and overstressed as we race alongside each other in the never ending financial rat race. Most of us go right from the college “frying pan” into the working world “fire”, joining the struggle for economic and social status that ends up consuming a lion share of our lives. For most of us, the dream is to eventually escape from the rat race and live comfortably with a spouse/partner assuming one has been blessed with a relationship that stands up well to father time. So many of us practically give our lives to the working world in the hope that we will one day have saved up enough money to live out the rest of our days in a reasonable state of comfort. On the surface, this sounds like an OK trade… give a sizeable chunk of time and energy to a good company of your choice, and you won’t have to worry about living expenses when you decide it is time to retire. Continue reading 10 Strategies for Maintaining your health
Fear has been an integral part of the human emotional experience and psyche since the dawn of time. Every human being alive intimately understands the sensation of fear because it is literally wired into our DNA, and all of us have almost certainly felt it at one point or another. It is the emotion that makes your heart skip a beat when your mind registers a threat to your physical integrity. Fear can make your stomach churn, make you sweat profusely, and make your voice quiver unnecessarily as your heart beats faster than required. Fear can also temporarily paralyze a person and strip the brightest and most capable people of all confidence and verve. One of America’s greatest presidents – Franklin Delano Roosevelt – thoroughly understood how debilitating fear could be and this prompted him to famously tell the American public during one of his speeches that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Right… if fear is so bad, why has the process of evolution allowed it to linger ever so strongly in our human minds? Why haven’t those of us who feel fear (pretty much all of us) been ruthlessly eradicated by the unforgiving process of natural selection? Continue reading Transcending your Fears
At times, I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head saying “Chuba you can’t leave the table until you finish your vegetables”. And like you (probably), I resented it. I hated vegetables because they were either terribly bitter, or didn’t taste like anything. I couldn’t understand why an otherwise wonderful human being would often torture me by insisting I eat the very things she knew I didn’t like. As I grew older, I noticed that many doctors and naturopaths in the healing community also spoke of the virtues of vegetables. We’ve all heard the rallying cries: “Eat your vegetables regularly because they are good for you”. “You should have nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day”. “Each person requires 9 cups of green vegetables each day to stay healthy”. Although people continually point out the many health benefits of vegetables as a strong reason to consume them regularly, very few seem to be able to precisely explain why they are so good for you. This perceived weakness in the pro-vegetable consuming argument was what I used for several years to convince myself that the whole “eat your vegetables” rhetoric was just a load of bollocks concocted by sadistic adults who took offense to the freedom young people enjoy. So on and on I went, feeding my body whatever the heck I wanted for many years until I came to my senses just shy of my 30th birthday. Continue reading The Green Smoothie – Gimmicky Green Sludge? or Human Rocket Fuel?
Judeo Christian philosophy espouses the idea of an omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) being who created the world in seven days. This supreme being goes by many names: “The Lord of Hosts”, “The Almighty Father”, “Jehovah”, “Adonai”, or simply, “God”. According to Christianity HE or SHE is immune to the passage of time, knows each and every one of us by name, knows the number of hairs on each of our heads, watches each of us carefully throughout life, and responds to our individual prayers. Further, the glory of God can supposedly be felt through the awe inspiring depth and diversity of the organic and inorganic world. God himself/herself is said to permeate the wonder that is the plant and animal kingdom, the most dazzling gems we’ve discovered, and even the stupendous vastness of the outer reaches of our universe. In some circles, God is also assumed responsible for the direct creation of the crown jewel of our planet… the very first human beings. This notion of a divine spirit being directly responsible for the creation of human beings has remained a timeless source of conflict between the schools of christianity and the natural sciences. Continue reading God vs Darwin
According to the age old saying, “Ignorance is bliss”. This implies that we can hope to stay blissfully happy if we remain ignorant of life’s inevitable pitfalls… or so the saying would want to make us believe. To be honest it sounds correct on the surface. After all, when you don’t know how ruthless and unfair the world can be, you are in effect shielded from the mental torment that such knowledge brings. When you don’t know how hard becoming a surgeon or mastering a musical instrument really is, you are more apt to paint a pleasurable vision of these accomplishments with a naive disregard for the intense hard work and drudgery these disciplines require over extended periods of time. When you don’t know how hard it is to love the same person for 30+ years, you are more likely to fetishize the idea of holy matrimony. On the other side of the coin, knowledge of a potentially negative outcome can make us fearful and skittish. For instance, fighters who have previously been knocked out in a combat sport become less likely to take the calculated risks needed for victory in future battles. People who have been fired from previous jobs refrain from asserting themselves at the next one for fear of repeating the same fate. Athletes returning from a serious injury sustained in their competitive sport of choice often lose the verve that once made them unstoppable. At first glance all these points seem to validate the “ignorance is bliss” cliche… but is this really true? Does the saying – ignorance is bliss – really stand up to intensely thoughtful scrutiny on a deeper level? Continue reading Is ignorance really bliss?
We all intuitively know when we have experienced a display of exceptional skill because it stirs up emotions in us that words cannot quite capture. It is the feeling that causes you to shake your head in disbelief at Stephen Curry’s accuracy from 3-point range on a basketball court. It’s the emotions you feel when a soulful guitar solo leaves you in tears. It is the excitement that forces you to dance when you hear Alicia Keys belt out the chorus to “Empire State of Mind” from her famed vocal chords. Words cannot describe these feelings because exceptional skill predates language in our human culture. Before the invention of language or the existence of insanely skilled musicians, writers, and athletes, our ancestors were insanely skilled hunters and navigators who could deftly weave their way through the rich African jungle and strategically plan the efficient killing of prey. Master’s of their respective domains seem to possess skill that is otherworldly and beyond the average person’s grasp. This apparent unattainability of mastery is further heightened by the fact that there are so few masters in history who really stand out. These masters form a shining line through the annals of time: Galileo, Leo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Michael Faraday, Benjamin Franklin, Martha Graham, Marie Curie, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Steven Paul Jobs, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and John Mayer amongst others. The otherworldly skill these masters possess seduces us into repeatedly asking certain questions. How does exceptional skill come about? Are their brains just different from that of the average person? Are these people just born geniuses? Can anyone become a genius? Do I have what it takes to be like that or should I just accept my lot in life and stop fooling myself? Well my friends, I invite you to follow me on this literary journey as I attempt to explain where exceptional skill comes from. Continue reading How to get really good at (fill in the blank)