Month: June 2021

How You Feel When Talking to Certain People

It’s funny how I never noticed this before, but it feels different when I talk to different people. When I say it out loud, it sounds completely obvious, and yet, I wasn’t really aware of it until just a few hours ago.

For some people, I feel like I can speak my mind, but not my emotions. For others, it’s the opposite and I can show a lot of emotions, but not the things I’m really thinking about.

When I talk to certain people, I feel like the conversation can feel rather tense and restricted, despite how friendly the other person is acting. In some cases, I might even have to feign friendliness just to not appear rude. In other cases, I’m actively looking for ways to get out of the conversation.

Some people are a joy to talk to, and even though there might not be much to talk about, you just enjoy being with them. Others might be less joyous to talk to, even though there are countless topics you could talk about or intellectually debate on for hours on end.

If you take the time to categorize the people you interact with based on how you feel when talking to them, it’s surprisingly easy to filter out who you should be spending more time with, though it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Either way, I shall be paying more attention to how I feel the next time I interact with others instead of just the contents of the conversation.

Lessons From Playing Really Bad Chess

I started playing really bad chess a while ago and noticed something interesting.

Whenever I tried to attack aggressively or force the AI to trade pieces, things usually end up badly for me, even if I’m attacking with an overwhelming advantage. At first, I thought it’s because of my lack of chess experience (it’s probably is) but after a while, I realized what it is. It’s because when I attack, I’m giving the AI the opportunity to strengthen its defense. Over time, it gets harder and harder to check.

Unless you attack with a sure-fire way of checkmating, you’re only helping your opponent strengthen their defense while you scatter your attacking pieces all over the board. What happens after your attack ends? Your opponent will be in a good position to counterattack, especially considering how scattered your pieces are after your overly aggressive attacks.

So, I started playing a bit more defensively. It turns out, building up your pieces and preparing them BEFORE you start checking your opponent, that really helps.

The opposite is also true, if you’re being aggressively attacked, stay calm and focus on defending. Unless your opponent already knows how to checkmate (in which case, you’ve already lost), the attacks will end eventually. And once it’s over, it’ll be your turn to attack. Except, don’t. Don’t be greedy, don’t get caught up in the moment, don’t just blindly attack. Prepare first, strengthen your position, and attack only when you’re ready.

Are You Fixing the Problem or the Symptom?

There was this story I heard a while ago, I believe it was from a TED talk somewhere, and it goes something like this:

Three friends were out taking a stroll by the bridge when one of them noticed several babies floating down the river.

Shocked by what they saw, the first friend started panicking and yelling for help. The second friend quickly took action and jumped down the bridge to save the babies one by one.

Seeing this, the first friend started to calm down and joins the second friend in rescuing the babies. But for every baby they saved, another one comes floating by. Meanwhile, the third friend decides to runs away.

“Where are you going? Don’t you see there are babies to be saved?” shouted the first friend.

“I’m following the river upstream to see who’s dumping all these babies into the river!” replied the third friend.

From a TED talk somewhere…

Sometimes, when we’re facing a problem, it’s all too easy to try and fix only the symptoms. It’s highly visible and you can get a lot of credit for it. Your house is on fire? Don’t worry, the firefighters are on the way! Another house on fire? More firefighters to the rescue!

But that’s not the problem, the real problem might be because the entire neighborhood has faulty electric wiring. Or it might be because it’s the hot and dry season and lots of houses keep flammable materials out in the open. Or maybe all the kids like playing with magnifying glasses in their backyard. Who knows? But you won’t know until you go upstream and investigate what the problem is.