opinion

HOME OFFICE

May 10, 2020

In times of Covid-19 and ECQ or even GCQ, many of us are lucky working at home. For me it’s a double-edged sword. I love to stay at my home office - on the other side, I miss my teaching and meeting people. Working at home - does this productivity come naturally, or can you learn it?     For some, working from home is a gift – a remarkable opportunity to focus and be hyper-productive, all the while finding time to play with the dogs and even exercise in short pants. For others – well, the transition isn’t quite as seamless. Some find all they’ve done with their eight hours is answer two or three emails, dream about a having a drink or discover their ‘cheese hour’.     It’s true, what British writer Meredith Turits said:  some people simply have dispositions and personality traits that enable them to better adjust to the new world of remote work than others. However, it’s not so black and white. You’re not necessarily destined to be good or bad at working remotely – some may just have to put in more effort than others.     Procrastination is never easier than when your superior isn’t looking over your shoulder. As long as the status light on your communication app is green, it’s easy to rush to the fridge and try to get something to eat or drink, or get into a YouTube hole, with no one any the wiser.     If it feels easier to procrastinate at home than in the office, it is for most: tele work is a “weak situation” with murkier expectations about behavior, says Timothy Pychyl, associate psychology professor at Carleton University in Ontario. In contrast, he points to a common situation: “In an elevator, we all typically ‘act elevator’, for example avoid eye contact with others, and keep our distance as [much as] possible …. The office is more of a strong situation with expectations for many things such as dress codes, arrival and departure times [and] time spent on or off task.” Weaker cues and lower accountability may make procrastination more likely at home.     And without the strong situation of an office, it’s quite a bit easier to dismiss unpleasant tasks and meetings with not very much welcome people. . When there’s a task on your plate you don’t want to dive into, or you’re banging your head against a wall with a tech problem, you’re testing your ‘frustration tolerance’, says Pychyl. Those who have a lower frustration tolerance are much more likely to procrastinate – they’re the people who get up from their desk and find a distraction.     I don’t know how you my dear readers “survive” these times. Anyway, my very best wishes at the end: stay safe and healthy.                 +++     Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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RESTLESSNESS

May 4, 2020

Very often - sometimes too often! - the thought is back! Especially nowadays, while experiencing ECQ and staying in our own four walls. ... If we wake up in the morning (or even many times in the middle of the night), the thought is back. Sometimes, the thought will not let us sleep. The “act of thinking”, the “reflection”, the “opinion” or the “serious consideration”, no matter, how we describe it - our memory and conscience is always with us as a permanent companion.     We brood over unsettled problem. Sometimes, we bear unfair treatments, arrogance, ignorance, incompetent know-it-all-betters, and unbearable oddballs, who inexorable love to make our life a hell while living themselves a disorderly life.     We would not like to be distracted, but we’re toying with some good ideas how we could throw overboard all that “human garbage”. What will come next is a matter of conjecture.     Of course, I’ve got my ideas, but I’m not a mind reader. Too many trains of thought make us thoughtless and absent-minded -  especially in difficult and important daily life situations.     Does waiting and/or sleeping solve our problems? Or is it just again in time? Our life’s central idea should not be, that while waiting, time solves all our problems. Thoughts should intensify, condense and deepen plans follow by actions.     It’s good and helpful to carry thoughts in us all the time. Incomprehensible, or better unfinished thoughts, no matter whether positive or negative, should be slept on, before tiredness outstrips us with supersonic speed.     Sometimes, we feel that our thoughts and ideas can’t be fulfilled with life. Where the heart is willing, it will find a thousand ways; but where the heart is weak, it will find a thousands excuses. If doubts begin to take roots, we should rouse from pink-tinted idealism or wear down and annihilate nightmares and erase and wipe out such thoughts and ideas.     If our thoughts are good and have the chance to be fulfilled in action, especially if “the other side” is prepared and willing to step on to such a bridge of life, we might get a support and words of encouragement.     And, if not? No action?     Maybe it is God’s will to keep and protect us from a careless, rash, disadvantageous and uneasy action. Every new day gives us new inexhaustible possibilities to survive, to bear trials and to start a new beginning. We overlook and fail to notice many chances in lie through our sluggishness and laziness while thinking and dreaming of unequaled and unfulfilled ideas.     My dear readers: as always stay safe.             +++     Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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A MISTAKEN BELIEF

April 12, 2020

A mistaken belief accompanies each and every one of us daily. Incorrect decisions and wrong doings are part of our daily life. It is almost a ridiculous fact that man wants to know certain truths about mundane things. But really he seems least interested in even mundane truths as can be read many times in newspapers or other media. There seem to be too much rash judgments, and the readers absorb these and make these their own. A fatal attraction! This is sometimes referred to as journalistic mentality wherein accusations are generously made without proof. Evolution started this trend, when scientists stated for example that man evolved from the apes, without proof. The only proof they had was the missing link, and if I am not mistaken, it's still a missing proof until now. To look for proofs is a mental activity, which is no longer a common thing nowadays, because it takes really time, effort and is too serious to think about. Yet in Christian education, thinking right is very important.That's why Philosophy is important in Christian life. To avoid error in thinking, the rules of right reasoning must be studied and mastered. It is really totally neglected in today's modern education? Thinking is actually an enjoyable activity but when one is pressured to get a good job for one's sustenance, then the other more mundane become attractive. After all, great thinkers many time do not get (good?) jobs... . Spiritual writers like the British Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) noticed that mankind had stopped thinking even two centuries ago. That was during his age. Man probably stopped thinking even earlier. He has ceased many times to search for the truth. It's easier to listen to gossip and believe in it. What a sign of weak minds! Too often are we blind to the truth and as a consequence we easily believe in lies we only have to like it. Too bad, if people always like to close their eyes and ears especially while experiencing the delusion of error.   +++   Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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Perfectionism

March 23, 2020

Many of us believe perfectionism is a positive. You may count me in. More often than I’d like to admit, something seemingly inconsequential will cause the same feeling to rear its head again. Something as small as accidentally squashing the makeup, I was bringing my first girlfriend’s family for Christmas can tumble around in my mind for several days, accompanied by occasional voices like “How stupid!” and “You should have known better”.  Falling short of a bigger goal, even when I know achieving it would be near-impossible, can temporarily flatten me. When a former agent told me that she knew I was going to write a book someday but that the particular idea I’d pitched her didn’t suit the market, I felt deflated in a gut-punching way that went beyond disappointment. The negative drowned out the positive. “You’re never going to write a book,” my internal voice said. “You’re not good enough.” That voice didn’t care that this directly contradicted what the agent actually said. And, up to now, I didn't finish my first book, yet... It's already 2020... . That’s the thing about perfectionism. It takes no prisoners. If I’ve struggled with perfectionism, I’m far from alone. The tendency starts young – and it’s becoming more common. Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill’s recent meta-analysis of rates of perfectionism from 1989 to 2016, the first study to compare perfectionism across generations, found significant increases among more recent undergraduates in the US, UK and Canada. In other words, the average college student last year was much more likely to have perfectionistic tendencies than a student in the 1990's or early 2000's. “As many as two in five kids and adolescents are perfectionists,” says Katie, who researches child development and perfectionism at West Virginia University. “We’re starting to talk about how it’s heading toward an epidemic and public health issue.” The rise in perfectionism doesn’t mean each generation is becoming more accomplished. It means we’re getting sicker, sadder and even undermining our own potential. Here is another great example: a perfectionist, French Claude Monet often destroyed his paintings in a temper while saying, ‘My life has been nothing but a failure'. Perfectionism, after all, is an ultimately self-defeating way to move through the world. It is built on an excruciating irony: making, and admitting, mistakes is a necessary part of growing and learning and being human. It also makes you better at your career and relationships and life in general. By avoiding mistakes at any cost, a perfectionist can make it harder to reach their own lofty goals. But the drawback of perfectionism isn’t just that it holds you back from being your most successful, productive self. Perfectionistic tendencies have been linked to a laundry list of clinical issues: depression and anxiety (even in children), self-harm, social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, hoarding, dyspepsia, chronic headaches, and, most damning of all, even early mortality and suicide. “It’s something that cuts across everything, in terms of psychological problems,” says Sarah Egan, a senior research fellow at the Curtin University in Perth who specializes in perfectionism, eating disorders and anxiety. Culturally, I learned, we often see perfectionism as a positive. Even saying you have perfectionistically tendencies can come off as a coy compliment to yourself; it’s practically a stock answer to the “What’s your worst trait?” question in job interviews. (Past employers, now you know! I wasn’t just being cute). It is difficult to tell who is motivated and conscientious and who is a perfectionist. In my daily teaching in Davao , I met the student who works hard and gets a poor mark. If she/her tells herself: “I’m disappointed, but it’s okay; I’m still a good person overall,” that’s healthy. If the message is: “I’m a failure. I’m not good enough,” that’s perfectionism. That inner voice criticizes different things for different people – work, relationships, tidiness, fitness. My own tendencies may differ greatly from somebody else’s. It can take someone who knows me well to pick up on them. (When I messaged one of my friends I was writing this story, he immediately sent back a long line of laughing emojis). Perfectionists can make smooth sailing into a storm, a brief ill wind into a category-five hurricane. At the very least, they perceive it that way. And, because the ironies never end, the behaviors perfectionists adapt ultimately, actually, do make them more likely to fail. Thinking of perfectionism, makes me think of my own childhood peppered with avoiding (or starting and quitting) almost every sport there was. If I wasn’t adept at something almost from the get-go, I didn’t want to continue – especially if there was an audience watching. In fact, multiple studies have found a correlation between perfectionism and performance anxiety even in children as young as 10.   Mental health problems aren’t just caused by perfectionism; some of these problems can lead to perfectionism, too. One recent study, for example, found that over a one-year period, college students who had social anxiety were more likely to become perfectionists – but not vice versa.   In many ways, poorer health outcomes for perfectionists aren’t that surprising. “Perfectionists are pretty much awash with stress. Even when it’s not stressful, they’ll typically find a way to make it stressful,” says Gordon Flett, who has studied perfectionism for more than 30 years and whose assessment scale developed with Paul Hewitt is considered a gold standard. Plus, he says, if your perfectionism finds an outlet in, say, workaholism, it’s unlikely you’ll take many breaks to relax – which we now know both our bodies and brains require for healthy functioning.   After all, many of us live in societies where the first question when you meet someone is what you do for a living. Where we are so literally valued for the quality and extent of our accomplishments that those achievements often correlate, directly, to our ability to pay rent or put food on the table. Where complete strangers weigh these on-paper values to determine everything from whether we can rent that flat or buy that car or receive that loan. Where we then signal our access to those resources with our appearance – these shoes, that physique – and other people weigh that, in turn, to see if we’re the right person for a job interview or dinner invitation.   Fear of failure is getting magnified in other ways, too. Take social media: make a mistake today and your fear that it might be broadcast, even globally, is hardly irrational. At the same time, all of those glossy feeds reinforce unrealistic standards.   In my opinion, and I am not alone with it, it’s the idea that you don’t have to be perfect to be lovable or to be loved. It’s a work in progress. And,  what I’ve noticed too, is that, each time I’m able to replace criticizing and perfecting with compassion, I feel not only less stressed, but freer. Apparently, that’s not unusual.   +++   Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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OUR LIMITED TIME ON EARTH

February 17, 2020

Most of us tend to think of time as linear, absolute and constantly “running out” – but is that really true? And how can we change our perceptions to feel better about its passing? While becoming 66 already, I use think about my age. Yes, it's only a number. I know.  “Time” is the most frequently used noun in the English language. We all know what it feels like as time passes. Our present becomes the past as soon as it’s happened; today soon turns into yesterday. If you live in a temperate climate, each year you see the seasons come and go. And as we reach adulthood and beyond, we become increasingly aware of the years flashing by.   While keep on thinking about age and its consequences, I came along with Claudia Hammond, author of Time Warped: Unlocking The Secrets Of Time Perception. She wrote that although neuro-scientists have been unable to locate a single clock in brain that is responsible for detecting time passing, humans are surprisingly good at it. If someone tells us they’re arriving in five minutes, we have a rough idea of when to start to look out for them. We have a sense of the weeks and months passing by. As a result, most of us would say that how time functions is fairly obvious: it passes, at a consistent and measurable rate, in a specific direction – from past to future. Of course, the human perspective of time may not be exclusively biological, but rather shaped by our culture and era. The Amondawa tribe in the Amazon, for example, has no word for “time” – which some say means they don’t have a notion of time as a framework in which events occur. (There are debates over whether this is purely a linguistic argument, or whether they really do perceive time differently.) Meanwhile, it’s hard to know with scientific precision how people conceived of time in the past, as experiments in time perception have only been conducted for the last 150 years. Physics tells a different story. However much time feels like something that flows in one direction, some scientists beg to differ. In the last century, my very favored Albert Einstein’s discoveries exploded our concepts of time. He showed us that time is created by things; it wasn’t there waiting for those things to act within it. He demonstrated that time is relative, moving more slowly if an object is moving fast. Events don’t happen in a set order. There isn’t a single universal “now”, in the sense that Newtonian physics would have it. It is true that many events in the Universe can be put into sequential order – but time is not always segmented neatly into the past, the present and the future. Some physical equations work in either direction. Here, I strongly agree with Claudia Hammond. One aspect of time perception many of us share is how we think of our own past: as a kind of giant video library, an archive we can dip into to retrieve records of events in our lives. But psychologists have demonstrated that autobiographical memory is not like that at all. Most of us forget far more than we remember, sometimes forgetting events happened at all, despite others’ insistence that we were there. On occasion even the reminder does nothing to jog our memories. Several years ago, I started writing my biography. With Beethoven under palms. The great German composer and me under palms. Wow.  Meanwhile, I found out: as we lay down memories, we alter them to make sense of what’s happened. Every time we recall a memory, we reconstruct the events in our mind and even change them to fit in with any new information that might have come to light. And it’s much easier than you might think to convince people that they have had experiences which never happened. The psychologist Elisabeth Loftus has done decades of research on this, persuading people they remember kissing a giant green frog or that they once met Bugs Bunny in Disneyland (as he’s a Warner Bros character, so this can’t have happened). Even recounting an anecdote to our friends can mean our memory of that story goes back into the library slightly altered. So we shouldn’t curse our memories when they let us down. They’re made to be changeable, in order that we can take millions of fragments of memories from different times of our lives and recombine them to give us endless imaginative possibilities for the future. Thank you very much Claudia Hammond. I changed my opinion when it comes to time. My limited time on earth. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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CAN YOU STILL ...

February 17, 2020

... ROAR WITH LAUGHTER? "If I only knew how!" A friend of mine contacted me yesterday after watching the news and read his daily paper. Another said, "This is hardly the time to do so." Understandable, if I consider his very personal situation. Anyway, it seems we have no more time and no reason for laughter. That can wait until tomorrow, or better until the day after tomorrow. Anticipation is better... . Sure, the today's new really don't allow us even to smile... . But keep in mind: our enemies laugh up their sleeves, and most of the time we miss to recognize the fortune still smiling at us. But hold on: he who laughs last laughs longest. Remember? American neurologist Henri Rubenstein says, laughter lowers high blood pressure while aiding digestion and fostering sleep. Well, give me even a simple smile and believe in what  experts say: "Good humor can help the gravely or terminally ill to hear their ordeal". Of course, if we look around us these days, we might really don't roar with laughter or split our sides laughing. Or even more then this! Have you heard about the incident at the Danish Imperial Theater in Copenhagen/Denmark sometime during the 1980's, when a spectator dropped dead of heart attack while watching the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" starring John Cheese of my favorite Great Britain's Monty Python Comedy Team? Sure, a heart attack is indeed not funny, and honestly, I still love to watch this movie on VHS. Well, even if we think we don't have reasons to laugh,we should try to express mirth spontaneously, and we should try to be merry or gay. We still have reasons to start with the softest form of audible laughter - the vocalized smile. This is what I learned and experienced from the first moment on while travelling in Asia since 1978, and being an expat living in the Philippines since 1999 for good. Keep smiling - even you are overloaded with huge problems. Experts also say,  good humor works because it helps people feel easier in mind. The French psychotherapist Sylvie Tenenbaum stressed, that, in her patients, laughter often signals the dawning of a wholesome awakening to reality. Gallow humor might be dubious in the eyes of others. But try to sing out loud, try to cry, but try to laugh! As a devote Christian,  I do love reading the bible. Ecclessiastes 3:1-4 say: "There is a time for everything ... a time to be born and a time to die ,,, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh!" Worth to think about it - even in times like now! +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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