The most powerful self-assertion to tell yourself whenever you want to break a habit (to give up a bad addiction)

Sometimes, I want to break a bad habit. So, there’s some “poem” that goes inside my head, there’s a “story” I like to tell myself.

I heard a lot of times that assertions like these work very well to break a bad habit:

  • “I’m better than this. I can overcome this. I have the power in me. I am the master of my behavior.”
  • “Think of the future! The advantages of giving up this habit are so big! Look at me, two months from now, one year from now, five years from now. I’ll be [habit ABC]-free!”
  • “What would the future me say of my bad habit of today?”
  • “When I was little, did I imagine myself doing this?”
  • “What stops me from achieving my goal, of being [habit ABC]-free?”
  • “habit ABC is evil”.
  • “Don’t postpone giving up the habit! Give up [habit ABC] now!”
  • “What would others say of my habit?”

For my experience, I found a much more powerful assertion. A single one, simple & easy:

  • “I don’t even enjoy this!”

It’s very negative, and it manages to cut any enthusiasm I have in having a bad habit. For example, eating some tasty junk food. If I say to myself “I don’t even like this cookie”, I come to realize that, actually, I don’t even like it. Just by using the assertion forces me to come up with some additional questions (“Do I like this? Is it good for me? Should I buy the cookie?”), and, generally, it’s much easier to break a habit with this question.

Celestine Chua - Excellence, a habit,

Celestine Chua – Excellence, a habit,

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Small tip: at a restaurant, ask for coffee/tea specifically in a mug, not in a card cup

If you buy  coffee or tea at a restaurant, it might be a good idea to ask specifically for a mug. The experience should be better than drinking from a cardboard cup.

Via: Starbucks? Cere la cană! » nwradu blog

Chaval Brasil - Coffee and Milk,

Chaval Brasil – Coffee and Milk,

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How to find out about trainings / volunteering stages / other educational forms financed by the European Union (Erasmus+)?

In the article below, I list some of the solutions you have if you want to take part to a training / volunteering stages / other means of education financed by the European Union. I took part to 6 trainings like these (2 in Romania, then one in Serbia, Germany, Turkey, Ireland), and to other various smaller projects. I greatly enjoyed them. I also know some people who did volunteering via EVS. Below some information on things like these.

(the video is not mandatory, but it explains better what I say in the article)

The most important part of this article:

SALTO-Youth – this is for people interested in trainings. Generally, there are 20-25 participants, from various countries in the European Union. The trainings are usually aimed at people with ages below 30, but you can find options if you go over that age. Generally a training goes for 7 days. The working language is generally English. The International trainings I took part to were generally not held in big cities, but in places quite isolated from big communities. I think it’s more interesting to participate in a training in a different country than yours, but it’s simpler to just go in a training in your country. Of course, you can pick the trainings which interest you, and even decline if you are accepted. Most of the times, the age for participation is required to be more than 18 years. Some programs have an upper limit (no more than 30 years old, let’s say), others don’t. I wrote about the reasoning for taking part to such a training here – How to visit a new country like a PRO?: Betterish. So, the links:

EVS (European Voluntary Service) - this program is for people interested in volunteering in the European Union countries (and not only). You can volunteer anywhere from 2 weeks to 12 months. You can pick the country and the NGO for which you wish to do EVS. You need to be between 17 and 30 years old.

Other programs:

Below, some extra things. Less important, but, still useful things to know.

Barack Obama - Week in the field—Illinois, February 17th, 2012,

Barack Obama – Week in the field—Illinois, February 17th, 2012,

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Why should you soak in water various nuts & seeds overnight?

You might have heard that if you plan to eat some nuts & seeds on Friday, you should consider leaving them in a cup of water from Thursday evening.

A.Ddiction - NUTS!!?!,

A.Ddiction – NUTS!!?!,

What are the benefits of doing so?

  • Better taste. Yummy!
  • Better activity through your body (they tend to be hard to digest otherwise):
    • The body absorbs the minerals better.
    • The body can digest them easier.
    • They produce more nutrients.

A quote:

Soak your nuts and seeds anywhere from 20 minutes, to 2 to 3 hours, even overnight in the refrigerator. In general, harder nuts will take longer to soften. If your recipe calls for soaked nuts or seeds and you are low on time, try to squeeze in 20 minutes or just do a really good job rinsing them. Otherwise, plan ahead a bit and soak them overnight in your refrigerator in a glass container with an airtight lid. Soaking nuts in plastic is generally not recommended as plastic can leach into the water and into your food. (Soaking Raw Nuts and Seeds: Benefits (Raw Food Diet))

Some details on the process:

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Some Gmail add-ons for better productivity

If you want a piece of software which makes Gmail better, you should know about:

Other ideas:

Cairo - Gmail!,

Cairo – Gmail!,

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How to learn a foreign language better? Watch movies with subtitles in that language

“We’ve all probably tried to learn a new language at some point. Foreign films can help you learn those words and accents, but a recent study suggests that subtitles can help a lot.

Your first instinct is probably to turn on subtitles in your native language (English subtitles on a Spanish movie for example). But ideally, you’d watch with the subtitles in the foreign language as well. In the study, students learned the accents better and were able to understand new material easier. Plus, it helps you pick up individual words when people talk quickly.”

Source – Learn a Foreign Accent by Watching Films With Subtitles

The study (Foreign subtitles help but native-language subtitle… [PLoS One. 2009] – PubMed – NCBI) says:

Understanding foreign speech is difficult, in part because of unusual mappings between sounds and words. It is known that listeners in their native language can use lexical knowledge (about how words ought to sound) to learn how to interpret unusual speech-sounds. We therefore investigated whether subtitles, which provide lexical information, support perceptual learning about foreign speech. Dutch participants, unfamiliar with Scottish and Australian regional accents of English, watched Scottish or Australian English videos with Dutch, English or no subtitles, and then repeated audio fragments of both accents. Repetition of novel fragments was worse after Dutch-subtitle exposure but better after English-subtitle exposure. Native-language subtitles appear to create lexical interference, but foreign-language subtitles assist speech learning by indicating which words (and hence sounds) are being spoken.

Personally, I always watch movies in English with English subtitles only. Now I have some material to backup my thesis. happy

Chris JL - Languages,

Chris JL – Languages,

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How to choose the title of a publication?

I will present below my opinion on how to pick the title of a publication, based on My gorgeous article about the best attributes to successfully use: Olivian Breda, which I suggest you to read first.

Rob - He Who Uses Apostrophes Incorrectly Annoys Everyone Else. -

Rob – He Who Uses Apostrophes Incorrectly Annoys Everyone Else. –

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How to visit a new country like a PRO?

I see people saying things like:

  • I’ve visited 100 countries, most of them for less than 2 days! (my reaction – facepalm)
  • Next month I’ll go and visit 8 countries in Asia! (my reaction – facepalm)
  • There’s this low-cost airline company who just created a new route to Paris! (facepalm)
  • Last year, I saw both the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Eiffel Tower. (facepalm)
  • I’ll go with some friends to the seaside! We’ll sunbathe in the day and spend the nights in a tent. (half-face-palm)
  • I’ll go with some friends to the mountains! It’s useful for health and bonding. (half-face-palm)

Some thoughts about these?

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How to set the price for an electronic equipment, second-hand? (e.g., at what price should you sell your laptop?)

Let’s say you have an electronic equipment you wish to sell. What price should you settle for?


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When you buy a product, should you buy it after only seeing it online, or should you go to a store to view it, and only then buy it?

Let’s say you want to buy something. You can’t decide whether it suffice to buy the product online, or you should see the actual product in store, test it for a while. I talk in this article on tips on how to buy a computer case, a mouse, a keyboard, a CPU, a case fan, a backpack for a photo camera, some electronic cords, some headsets, a flat TV and a computer monitor. I also give basic criteria on what to look for on any of these products. I use, for my research and example, only I also give links to some reviews I made during the past years for some products I mention in this article. The article has both a video and a text version, they tend to complement each other well.

Let’s proceed then.


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How to buy a product online with a quick research only?

I talk in this video about how to buy a product (the solution being to have a quick look on the biggest sellers online, and get quick product information from there).

I previously wrote on the subject in Romanian: Cum găsești rapid ce produs să cumperi, din mai multe opțiuni?: Olivian Breda.

Links I mention in the video:


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How to translate an event in English into Romanian?

Let’s say you’re an event organizer. Your conference is in English, but half of the participants know English (and Romanian), and the other half know only Romanian. How to translate?

  • The first thing to think about is reducing your audience. I had a teacher of Economics in school who said that if you pay someone a good wage, you get a risk – he might be a good or bad employee. Pay that person a poor wage, and you get a guarantee – that’s surely a poor employee, since no qualified person will stay and work for you for a poor salary. It’s the same logic with this audience – don’t translate the event, and some people who don’t know English, might leave, annoyed. But do translate simultaneously into Romanian and you get a certain fact – lots of people will be annoyed by the long waits – the speaker says something, the translator translates this into Romanian, the speaker says something else, the translator translates and so on. See this videoor this one. Yes, most Romanians don’t know Greek, but, still, it’s a very poor choice to translate sentence by sentence. The first thing to do is consider not offering any translation at all. It is annoying for both the speaker (you tend to forget what you are saying, and it’s much more difficult to focus in those conditions) and the audience.
  • Another option is having a screen, and writing the translation. You could use two translators at the same time – one translates a sentence, the other one another sentence. Or translate just partially what the speaker says. This is much more efficient and pleasant than the first solution.
  • Another option is to somehow split the audience into English-speaking one and Romanian speaking one (two separate rooms, for example; or some in front, with English, and some in the back, with Romanian. And for the Romanian audience do simultaneous translation (no breaks).
  • If it’s possible, you could have the text of the conference in English and Romanian given to the audience, so it’s easier to follow. (via)
  • Of course, there is the option of having headsets, and this is actually the best option for translation, but the logistics and costs are much more complicated.

In my opinion, translating simultaneously does so much evil to the event, that it’s the worst option to consider.


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How to back-up HTML files visited web pages on your computer? (2014.06.15)

In the video, I present you how to back-up web pages on your computer as HTML files.

I show you how to bulk organize lots of files, how to work with HTML files, why should you compress them, give alternatives (saving as screenshots).

The end result is a list of folders organized by date (the folder names are similar to 2014.06.14 Saved file #1, 2014.06.15 Saved file #2 and so on).


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The best goals to set in order to motivate yourself

What are the best goals to set in order to motivate yourself?

It’s simple – put no goals to yourself. Instead, focus on creating a system in which you will like things.

So, instead of saying “I’ll write 10 pages each day for a month”, say “I’ll find something which I like doing, like writing, and have lots of fun doing it”.

Quotes on this:

The researchers came to a stunning conclusion – one they didn’t expect and a result that turned conventional wisdom about both education and parenting on its head. The kids who were rewarded for their pretty pictures chose to spend less time drawing than those who weren’t rewarded. The children who weren’t told about the prospect of any prize continued to enjoy drawing, but the children who were given awards seemed reluctant to carry on without the promise of further honours. The initial award reduced the children’s motivation rather than spurring them on to greater heights.

But that’s not all. The investigative team also asked a group of independent art aficionados, who were unaware of the goals of the study, to evaluate the quality of the children’s handiwork. The pictures drawn by the children who were rewarded tended to be rated as less competent, less skilled than those drawn by the unrewarded children. In other words, the rewarded children didn’t just spend less time drawing when given a choice in the matter; they seemed to put less effort into their art too. (source)

A new study by a pair of researchers at the University of Chicago and the Korea Business School shows that this approach has some benefits. Focusing on goals fires up your intentions to engage in the activities that will help you achieve those goals. But there’s a major downside. Stay focused on your goals and you spoil your experience of the activities you’ll need to pursue. In turn, that makes it far more likely that you’ll drop out early and fail to achieve the very goals that you’re so focused on. (source)

Here’s another example. Going to the gym 3-4 times a week is a goal. And it can be a hard one to accomplish for people who don’t enjoy exercise. Exercising 3-4 times a week can feel like punishment – especially if you overdo it because you’re impatient to get results.  When you associate discomfort with exercise you inadvertently train yourself to stop doing it. Eventually you will find yourself “too busy” to keep up your 3-4 days of exercise. The real reason will be because it just hurts and you don’t want to do it anymore. And if you do manage to stay with your goal, you use up your limited supply of willpower.

Compare the goal of exercising 3-4 times a week with a system of being active every day at a level that feels good, while continuously learning about the best methods of exercise. Before long your body will be trained, like Pavlov’s dogs, to crave the psychological lift you get from being active every day. It will soon become easier to exercise than to skip it – no willpower required. And your natural inclination for challenge and variety will gently nudge you toward higher levels of daily activity while at the same time you are learning in your spare time how to exercise in the most effective way. That’s a system. (source)


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How to avoid cravings?

First, read some more on the Stanford marshmallow experiment – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Stanford marshmallow experiment refers to a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward (sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel, etc.) provided immediately or two small rewards if he or she waited until the experimenter returned (after an absence of approximately 15 minutes). In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI) and other life measures. However, recent work calls into question whether self-control, as opposed to strategic reasoning, determines children’s behavior.

So, the solutions here would be to be able to think of something else (distraction) or think of the final prize (change the desire).

The second solution, by Scott Adams:

Expanding on that point, let’s say you have a choice between pasta and a white potato. Assume you enjoy both foods equally and you want to choose the best one for your waistline. Which do you pick?

I recently posed that question to a crowd of ninety senior managers at a huge tech company. About 88 of them chose the potato. That’s the wrong answer because pasta is only half as high on the glycemic index. The two people out of ninety who knew pasta was the better choice wouldn’t need to use as much willpower later in the day to stay within a good diet range. Studies have shown that if you use your willpower resisting one temptation you have less in reserve for the next. The systems approach to weight management is to gradually replace willpower with knowledge, e.g. knowing pasta is better than a potato. (The book describes more ways to replace willpower with knowledge in the diet realm.)

This solution implies finding a system in which the craving isn’t there.

Third – find habits and create them. Find what you like about the craving, and create a system / habit which stops it from happening.


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How to watch movies at a PC?

  • First note: It might be a better idea to watch movies at the cinema. Not for the quality of the video or sound, but for your experience of going to the cinema, the people you’re with, the people around you.
  • Second note: I’m not an expert in computer software for movies. I’ll share my experience.
  • The best program to watch a movie - BS Player.
    • If you want to watch part of the movie, do something else, continue viewing, BS Player has the single most useful thing to me – resume where I left off.
    • It’s got a very good search for subtitles. You set the language (EN / RO / whatever), and the software can automatically look for subtitles for the movies which don’t start with one already. Even if the movie has a subtitle, it can still search for new ones.
    • It’s very good at scrolling through the movie, either with clicking at the desired destination, or using keys.
    • It has simple keys (if you know the keys of WinAmp, you’ll do fine – XCVB. F for full-screen, Space for play/pause).
    • It has simple to understand menus.
    • As a setting, in Romanian, I like to set the subtitle font for Central European, which has diacritics – ș, ț, ă, â, î.
    • I watch the movies in sequences, not the whole movie at a time, so I like to set the default movie to another player (VLC, Media Player Classic). I like BS Player better, but the function for continuing the movie where I left off doesn’t work so well if I open lots of other videos.


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Gramatică – diferențe între cratimă și linie de pauză

Observație personală:

  • Văd frecvent evitarea liniei de pauză pe net (e o linie mai lungă –, în locul ei văd cratima -).
  • Văd frecvent scrierea 13 – 17 ianuarie (greșit), în loc de 13-17 ianuarie.


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Will Smith: “The keys to life: running and reading”

Some things to add:

  • Reading is nothing without reflection. If you only get stuff in, you don’t go through the necessary processes to do change. Some people advise others, for this, to stop and think (1) and put into practice what you read (2). I advise another thing – teach others. Give presentations with what you learn. Even better, write. Keep a blog. Make it public, if it makes you any better. More on this – Writing Is Thinking · An A List Apart Article.
  • Will Smith says if you are hurt when you run, you should keep running, and this is why running is good. I’m thinking more in health terms – do sports, do any sports, keep doing that sport. At times, even if it mildly hurts, but don’t overdo it, and always ask for an external, proper, opinion on this.
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Each Windows installed has its own specificities

Sometimes, I install Windows-es. They’re all sort of them – XP, 7, 8, different service packs for each of them, x64 and x86. Windows 7 with SP1 on x64 is a different thing than Windows 7 on x86 with no SP. Some programs work, some don’t. The thing is, you can’t predict things easily. You install Last FM and don’t know if it will work, and if it will work correctly. Again, the thing is lots of programs are not installed right away with Windows. So, you install Windows, you install the other software and, surprise!, after a month of usage you discover you need some other programs. And these don’t work.

I don’t have a clear solution to this. I just wanted to clarify some things.


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