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Here’s why you should switch off sometimes

Is not ‘switching off’ after work a good or bad thing? And will it affect my health?

I’ve noticed that more and more nowadays, I am constantly busy doing something – this is usually something of value of course to myself or the people around me. Now this could be working on a side project at home, such as the family business which allows me to dip in and out based on the business requirements at the time, or I might be reading up on a topic that may be relevant to something that I have an interest in either personally or for work purposes. Conversely, if i’m not doing any of the above, i’m thinking about stuff and/or reflecting. I simply keep the mind active, doing something. And what I mean by ‘switching off’ is basically doing an activity that allows your brain to recharge. This could be watching TV, reading a book, yoga etc.

After a bit of research, I came across two personality types that you have probably heard of, namely, personality Type A and personality Type B. This is basically a theory mind you that was hypothesised by two Cardiologists (not Psychologists or Neuroscientists), Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman. They talked about the two most common personality types among humans, Type A and Type B personalities and the break down is as follows:

Type A:
Ambitious, rigidly organised, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management.

Type B:
Work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing and either enjoy the game or back down. They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts. They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds.

But from the above traits, which is the general consensus based on other sources looked at, you can guess which personality type I think I generally fit in to (type A). I say generally because, I don’t think I tick all of the boxes for Type A’s traits. I reflect and think a lot, i’m not always in a hurry, I don’t have road rage, I enjoy exploring ideas and concepts; I trained as an Architect after all and that’s what their job is! Maybe i’m a type C or A-B?

Although you can’t necessarily say one is better than the other, as they both have their own merits, what you can say however is that, each personality type has repercussions just as everything else does in this world. These repercussions you should take more notice of, because they could prove to be serious if not considered. An article on the Daily Mail (2012) website writes that;

“It found that having a ‘type A personality’ […] could raise the risk of stroke as much as smoking.”

While an article on the US News (2010) website wrote that;

“Personality traits play a distinct role in determining how healthy we are, psychologists say. “Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style…”

It’s clear that personality type can have a direct effect on your health and I agree with that. Where I work, at New Horizons, the health team always say, “there is no health without mental health”, and indeed this is probably true, based on statistics related to stress related health problems, anxiety and other mental health related problems.

However apparent the results of personalities may be, conversely, an article on the HeartHealthyWomen (no date) site writes;

“While some earlier studies suggested that type A personality doubled your risk of heart disease and made you 5 times more likely to have a recurrent heart attack, other studies have found no association between type A personality and heart disease risk. It is now thought that the component of type A behaviour that is in some way bad for your heart is hostility.”

So my advice would be this; work hard and achieve what you want. Think all you want and indeed reflect all you want. BUT. Make some time for yourself to recharge and revitalise your mind. Our minds are muscles that need exercise of course, but at the same time, they require rest too. So sometimes, just take it easy.

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Why ‘Why’ Will Win and Why ‘What’ Won’t

All of the great and inspiring leaders and organisations in the world think, act and communicate in the exact same way and it’s completely opposite to everyone else – Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, the Wright Brothers, Barack Obama all have this in common.

What is it? They communicate from the inside out.

What does that mean? Communication from the inside out entails in communicating with emotion, passion and love first and then everything else second – you communicate WHY you’ve done what you’ve done, why you’ve made a difference, why you’ve challenged the status quo – then drop that all important question – Wanna buy one?

As humans, we are hard wired to respond better to emotion, passion and feeling more than technical or soft details of a product – you could call it “instinct”, I guess. Here’s an example.

We’ve made the best machine possible by thinking differently, challenging the status quo and designing something we want to use. Wanna buy one?
vs
We have leather seats, air conditioning, four wheel drive and great suspension, all at an affordable price. Wanna buy one?

Obviously the tone in which it is communicated will make a difference but you get the point.

Simon (the speaker) talks further about how our brains are structured to respond to this type of communication – he talks about the two parts to our brain in particular, (1) the neo-cortex corresponding with the ‘what’ level responsible for our analytical and rational thought and our (2) Limbic system (or Paleomammalian brain) corresponding with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ levels, responsible for all of our feelings like trust and loyalty. Ultimately, the limbic system is also responsible and forms the basis of all behaviour and decision making. The limbic system does not have capacity for language however – our neo-cortex deals with that.

As our Limbic system has no capacity for language, if your limbic system is not comfortable with something, you will get that gut feeling that something is not right – you have no idea why or a good reason to communicate, it just doesnt feel right – that is where that comes from. Our neo-cortex comes to a conclusion or decision based on the information it receives – it analyses it and responds accordingly with sound reasoning – the limbic system doesn’t because it responds to feelings and by inspiring such feelings we can communicate directly with the part of the brain that makes the decision.

After watching the video and some reflection on Steve Jobs, Apple, Barack’s ‘Yes We Can’ campaign and Dr King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, it does make sense – I definitely agree. Perhaps this is why UK Politicians get limited public support – they’re too busy trying to make friends with the media or plotting on how to tackle the opposition rather than communicating why they are doing what they are doing – maybe this is what they need. Check out the video below.