The 90/10 Principle.

I’m beginning to like my job more, because I often end up applying the principles in my own life and this gives me cheap thrills sometimes.

One of it is called the 90/10 principle. 90+10=100. We cannot control the 10% that happens to us (e.g. people scolding you, leaving you, or you failing a test) but we can always manage how we react to it.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. When you really can’t take it anymore, I believe that it’s ok to let loose sometimes and give yourself a break- if the best scenario is to breathe in and out to calm yourself down, but you just don’t have the patience to do that, punching a wall is still a good alternative (compared to punching someone). The key is to try something different, and it doesn’t need to be the ‘best’ option. It’s important to remember that sometimes we lose battles- but that doesn’t mean we lost the war.

That IS a way of managing how we react to it- we acknowledge our feelings, and we allow ourselves a break and perhaps this will aid in preparing us for something like this the next time it happens.

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Magic happens outside of our comfort zones.

It’s close to the end of September- I guess it’s finally time to wake up and get shit done.

I was looking at my previous post, and I’m in awe of how much things have changed since then, within the span of 3 weeks. I feel much happier recently. Perhaps it is because of the ClassPass + random weekly exercises that fed me ‘natural highs’, or perhaps the empty feeling that has been lingering in me for the past year seems to be gone- being replaced with positive, energised vibes. Even when I felt sad, it wasn’t the empty kind- it was the kind that I knew I could handle- I’m not sure how to put it into words.

I find that songs really do play a huge part in motivating me as well- listening to ‘We Are One’ (Lion King 2 soundtrack) and ‘This is Me’ (The Greatest Showman soundtrack) really perks me up and keeps me going.

I expect October to be a tough month, and that it won’t be easy, but I believe that I am more than capable to handle it ūüôā

Most importantly, I realise that learning is a lifelong journey and it’s always so cool how we’re always learning new things and even better when we can apply it successfully ūüôā

Drifting apart

I’ve about 15 minutes before I reach my MRT stop, so I’m gonna pen down some thoughts.

I realise I don’t really have that constant BFF, or even good friends, from when I was young till now. I’ve always wondered, is it because

  1. As we go to the next phase of life, we change and thus outgrow the friendship (since we’re on different paths) and drift apart OR
  2. Our friendship was solely based on convenience and not compatible values OR
  3. We were never true to ourselves, and attracted the people to our “fake” selves.

It sucks when you don’t connect with your friends anymore- especially when they’ve been your friends for a long time. However, I don’t think you need to “cut ties” as per say immediately. Is this friendship worth saving? How does the other person feel? It takes two to clap. You could move them into a ‘lower’ priority of friendship- instead of meeting them once every week, meet once a month, or even once a year.

Hmmm, at least for me, my friendships have been constantly changing and sometimes I do wonder if it’s me or if it’s just life, because I really do envy those whose friends’ values align with theirs and are still best buds since young. But love cannot be forced, including friendship. Sometimes your friend outgrows you and move on, and sometimes it’s the other way round. When friendships become an obligation, it’s a big warning sign. I’ve learn to not take it personal, and I hope others won’t too. After all, like what the Adventure Time finale song “Time Adventure” said- you and I will always be back then.

Transitions

Seasons do not change when time passes. They change, when a relationship changes.

A friend shared this with me, and I guess it’s really relevant currently.

Transitioning was never really hard for me, up until last year. I always looked forward to changes, because I guess with every change comes new opportunities, and somehow things always worked out for me.

Yet, recently I find myself struggling to adapt so much- and it scares me. The recent year(s) has been full of change- most of them unexpected- death, loss of a great friendship, loss of social circles, loss of wanderlust, loss of support, loss of structure, loss of meaning. I never felt so empty in my life before.

Just two years ago, I pride myself in being a free bird. A close friend told me that I had some commitment issues, while he was the one that remain rooted to the ground. Is it a limitation? A restriction? A choice?

Never did I expect that I would feel what I feel today.

As August came a few days ago, it acted as a reminder that one year ago was the starting point where I felt so lost and empty. However, I am beginning to see that this will only make me stronger, as did all other obstacles in the past- and things really do get better.

Friendships
While I mourn the loss of some very close relationships, I also admit that sometimes, I am the one who cut off people. I ask myself, would I rather be alone, or struggle in a friendship that no longer works? And luckily for me, the answer is clear.

Blessings
I am also very thankful for the lucky stars in my life right now- I don’t even need both hands to count them. For when I was depressed, stressed, and in a mess, they could still make me feel blessed #itrhymes. At my most vulnerable points, I know that I can count on them to listen to me, to calm me down, to help me see from a different perspective. And I hope that when they need me, they will not hesitate to look for me because they know I will be there for them.

Learning points
And I actually learnt a lot, the past year. I learnt that when you reach out for help, you do receive it. Of course, it is also important to know that not everyone will help you- but I am confident that at least someone will try. I learnt the importance of seeing the good in the bad. I also learnt how having suicidal ideation is not weak, but rather a consequence of a series of events that translated to such thoughts. I realise how narcissistic I can be (sigh the ME ME ME generation syndrome?) and I hope to channel that into self-confidence instead. I learnt that change can be good or bad, but we must always keep an open mind to adapt. At the same time, I learnt what values are important to me. Courage, optimism, open-mindedness. I am still learning- and trying to preach and do what is important to me. I also appreciate it so much more when people come up to me with their kind words. I learnt that relationships are easy to start, but the difficult part is maintaining it- which requires effort from all parties. I learnt that sometimes it is not only important to attract positives, but also erase the negatives. I learnt that it is never too late to start and seek new opportunities- friends, hobbies, passions. I also realise that when others come up to me and tell me that I made a difference and inspired them, it gives me a high that drugs can never give in the long run. I learnt that it is important to remind myself that I am not alone. I am never alone. And all these experiences really help to shape what I want to achieve in this lifetime. Not money, not fame, but fulfilling relationships and a meaningful purpose.

 

Graduation

Officially graduated from NUS!

Man, I don’t know what to feel. It feels so bittersweet, y’know? I mean, I kind of already left NUS after finals ended, but today really reminded me that this chapter has ended.

It feels similar – when I graduated from TNPS, from Damai, from MJC.

But at the same time, it’s not quite the same – because this is the end of my formal education.

I guess change is the only constant, and yes, I will take time to adapt to this “post-education” state (aka adulting), but for now I am grateful for all the opportunities, experiences, memories and bonds forged throughout these years.

Do I Regret Studying Psychology in Singapore? Personal Reflections.

Since I’m gonna be officially graduating from university in four days, I thought it would be a good time to reflect about choosing psychology as my major in my four years of university as an undergraduate.

Choosing Psychology as my Major: I still remember the feeling when I first received my A levels results: I was ecstatic. I did not get straight As, but I was simply happy and thankful because it allowed me to go to university. More importantly, it enabled me to go to the course I wanted – which at that time was either NUS FASS or NTU Psychology. I weighed the pros and cons between these two courses. Of course, I also considered other courses available besides Psychology. I did not have any strong passion for anything at that point of time- considering courses¬† such as Business, Computer Science, various Social Sciences such as Sociology, Social Work and Economics.¬†At 19 years old, I didn’t really have much experience to know what I really want to study, much less for a career. Business was a choice because it felt general and safe at the same time. Computer Science because I kind of liked the idea of hacking, cyber security, and app development. I also looked at Law, Medicine, and Dentistry but my grades could not make the cut-off, so I didn’t really give it much thought. I kind of eliminated stuff such as Engineering, Accounting, Design courses – felt like I would not only suffer but simply hate it if I took it lol. So yeah, tl;dr I got into NUS FASS.

Managed to pass the pre-requisites to major in psychology (B- for PL1101E and PL2131 in NUS), so by year 2 I was in psychology. However, I know a lot of people who dropped out in y1/y2 and changed majors (usually to another major in social sciences). I think some of those who dropped out realised that the contents of a psych course was not what they really liked or expected. Some come into the major thinking they could help people, or that they could read minds. If you want to help people, I honestly think social work (as a major) is a better choice. If you want to read minds, you do not join university- you seek a psychic guru out. The course doesn’t teach you how to do that. Many also realised that psychology as a course is more theory-based and not really hands-on/applied. That makes it kind of boring. I went into psychology, knowing that there will be statistics modules to take, and essays to pen down, but I was quite disappointed with the amount of memorising I had to do. If you have a knack for memorising things easily, you have a 80% chance of doing well as a psychology major. I also hate how we had to review and read about research articles, some which were super boring- NUS in particular, is very focused on academic research.

If you want to help people, I honestly think social work (as a major) is a better choice. If you want to read minds, you do not join university- you seek a psychic guru out.

Career Prospects:¬†Another major problem (pun intended) is the career prospects of a psychology degree at the Bachelor’s level. Honestly, I went into psychology because I thought it sounded interesting, and because I had hope to understand a little bit more about myself and the human behaviour in general. Fortunately (or not), I did not have any pressure by my parents to study a course that they wanted or thought it was prestigious (re: medicine, law, dentistry, accountancy, business; …oh the latest would be computer science/IT-related stuff I guess?).

Yet, at the same time, I did not really consider much about the prospects of a psych degree when I enrolled. I think this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Many people take up a major without knowing what they are getting themselves into, and as a result, waste time and effort changing courses/doing something irrelevant. However, like I said, at 19, we have a high probability of making bad choices because we do not have the relevant information or a mature mindset to decide. Anyway, this isn’t the point of my post. A lot of people told me that I made a mistake when I decided to major in psychology- and that they, too, made a mistake when they did. I panicked- they are kind of right: The market is saturated with psych degrees, and the job market seems bad. To be a clinical psychologist, you’d often have to be at a Master’s level. Also, the content of psych courses doesn’t really give you any hard skills to rely on, such as software and programming languages.

Psychology as an art and science: I personally feel that it is a matter of how you look at it- psychology IS broad, and yes, it is general, but I don’t really see that as a bad thing. A psychology degree enables you to learn research and statistical skills, from the simple ones such as SPSS to more complex ones which I never ever did (e.g. higher level statistics modules such as PL5225 in NUS) – giving you an advantage when you apply for research-related jobs. It also hones your essay and report writing which is an essential skill in many jobs.

The different areas of psychology:¬†Because psychology is so broad, it gives you a sneak peek into many different areas – the compulsory cores that I had to take were biological (e.g. brain, genes), cognitive (e.g. attention & memory), social (e.g. interpersonal relations), abnormal (e.g. learning about mental illnesses), and developmental (e.g. human development over different stages of life). I hated the bio core, so subsequently I avoided all the bio-related psych modules as much as I could. I kind of liked social psych, so I took a lab in social psych (which made me realise I do not want to do lab stuff). As you take more psych modules, you start to learn which fields of psychology you like (if any) and lean towards them. I was someone who did not lean towards any for a long time (I just knew I hated bio). In my final year, I still took random modules such as clinical neuropsychology, moral psychology, criminal forensic psychology, and correctional psychology. It also allowed me to study really uncommon areas such as the psychology of religion, and the theory and neuroscience of consciousness. I learnt about different neurological disorders besides Alzheimer’s, that I would have never had the motivation to read up on my own. The bottom line: There are a lot of pathways that you can go with a psychology degree, but you need to navigate clearly. For instance, if you are interested in the psychology of hiring, training, and motivating people in the workplace- take up modules such as industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology to help you in your resume.

In reality, many of these modules alone will not lead you to whatever you want to do. After all, most of them are theory-based and hardly give you any practice to apply it to the real-world. You can learn all the theories you want, but a portfolio of zero experience will not make you look impressive. You need to get out there and go for internships, in order to really get a sense of what you want to do. I guess, at least for NUS, one thing they could really work on is to give psych majors a portal to look for psych-related placements, similar to the social work field placement that social work majors need to fulfill. It need not be mandatory, since some psych majors do not intend to go into fieldwork, but it could really improve the chances of getting a psych-related job. However, at the end of the day, it is still up to your own hands to really take the initiative and seek out the career you want for yourself.

You should also never discount profs as well. A good prof makes a boring module come alive, and a mediocre prof makes a what-should-have-been-interesting module dreadful to go to. If you’re lucky and you have both- then you will seriously look forward to attending it every week,¬†maybe¬†even feel inspired,¬†and I think that is the crux and joy of learning. In addition, some profs are very helpful and they are more than happy to share with you about their career (e.g. forensic psychology), so ask away! This doesn’t just apply to a psych course but every course- but I would just like to highlight and remind the importance of it.

I’ve talked with a couple of psych majors over the past year, and a few of them regretted studying psychology- they wished they took up business, sociology, or another major instead. Many people come into psychology, wanting to be a clinical psychologist, but find that the path there is hard, and very competitive. Clinical psychology is just one of the many branches of psychology. I do think there are a lot of careers that are psych-related, yet is not considered a psychologist (e.g. UX Researcher, Marketing, HR, Policy Planning, click here to find out more:¬†Career Prospects of a Psych Degree). Another thing is recognition- psychologists in Singapore are perhaps not as recognised as the ones in Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, or United Kingdom. I’ve also heard stories about how people respect psychiatrists over psychologists, so there’s that stigma there too. Others do not regret it- they loved the experiences and learning they gained throughout the 4 years, and that itself is invaluable to them.

For me, I did not regret taking up psychology as my major; mainly because it taught me so many things- about the different mental illnesses, neurological disorders, workplace satisfaction, criminal thoughts, interpersonal relations, a spectrum of emotions, cognitive biases, and how to live a happy life. Even after 4 years, I’m still not sick of it. For that, I am grateful.

Some FAQs:
Now that I’ve completed the course, here’s my thoughts to some of the questions that were discussed by myself and a few others:

Q: If I’d gotten straight As, what course would I choose?
A: Honestly, with what I know now, I would still go for psychology. But the difference would be that I would consider applying to an overseas university, and get a scholarship to pay for my university fees.
Q: Reeeeally? Even with the seemingly dull career prospects?
A: Yes. Although I’ve yet to find what I really love, I know what I hate- and that eliminates many choices already. And I honestly enjoyed studying psychology (yes I complain about the memorising but I still get fascinated and excited over learning about it). I also feel that psychology actually opens up many doors – if I took a specialisation like Medicine, or Dentistry, I would think that my field of work would be much narrower, and given that I have so many things I want to try out, psychology actually helps in giving this flexibility.
In short, I love studying psychology, and I feel super grateful to be able to study something that I genuinely like.

 

 

 

Quotes from Thinking, Fast and Slow

I have been reading a book by Daniel Kahneman called “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.

Its a book about two processing systems, cognitive biases, and happiness. Knowing how our minds work, can help us in many aspects of our lives – changing habits, persuading someone, increasing our levels of happiness.

Here are some of my favourite takeaways and quotes from the book itself.

  1. “Familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth” – We can create familiarity through frequent repetitions- this creates a sense of cognitive ease (instead of cognitive strain)¬†and thus more likely for us to choose that over the unknown [“Becoming Famous Overnight”]. This is the root of false memories, and also, perhaps the reason why we may limit ourselves to our comfort zones: we do not wish to venture out of the familiarity, even if it is misery.
  2. “Creativity is associative memory that works exceptionally well”¬†– Cottage. Swiss. Cake. Also, when we’re happy, we tend to be more intuitive (and make more mistakes) because a good mood acts as a signal that things are going well, directing us to let our guard down.
  3. Cognitive ease is both a cause and a consequence of a pleasant feeling; good feelings lead to intuitions of coherence”¬†– When we experience cognitive ease, we tend to smile more, and when we smile more, we tend to relax and thus experience cognitive ease.
  4. How many animals of each kind did Moses take into the ark?” –¬†Moses didn’t take any – Noah did. This question sets up a Biblical context, and we will not be surprised by the mention of Moses, even though we did not expect him.
  5. We are evidently ready from birth to have impressions of causality”¬†–¬†We are born prepared to make intentional attributions- eager to identify agents and assign them personality traits; only people afflicted by autism do not experience it. I thought about this as a possible argument that religion/higher powers are all made up- but that’s another topic for another day.

  6. Very little repetition is needed for a new experience to be normal” – Turning an passive expectation into an active one. I feel that this is one way for people’s mindsets about controversial issues to be open to change. Once bitten, twice¬†shy¬†normal.
  7. System 1 does not keep track of alternatives that it rejects” – System 1 =¬† The fast, automatic way of thinking. A definite choice was made, but sometimes we do not even know of it. Keeping track of alternatives = Mental effort needed. That belongs to system 2, where conscious doubt takes place.
  8. Before an issue is discussed, all members of the committee should be asked to write a very brief summary of their position” – This allows for diverse and unbiased perspectives and potential solutions- a really quick solution for a common issue in the workplace.
  9. Randomness appears as regularity.” – We are pattern seekers, and sometimes random events may fool us into thinking they are deliberate, and has an algorithm behind them.

 

 

“I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”¬†

Mere Exposure Effect: Repeated exposure -> Signal that it is safe -> Develop liking for it

/To be continued.