10,000 Simple Steps To Make Your Life Easier

Do you have quirks? How do you know they’re quirks? Did someone else point something out about you and say – That’s a quirk! – because it was peculiar to them, they didn’t do that, everyone else (yes, they somehow knew everyone in the world) didn’t do that, and thus their mind concluded that you were the one with the idiosyncrasy?

I read a couple of intriguing articles this morning about quirks:

The Atlantic: There Are Two Types of Airport People by Amanda Mull – which is an excellent read, and explores the matter from several perspectives, including from a humorous viewpoint and a psychological coping mechanism angle.

I found this segment of it particularly interesting:

Jonny Gerkin, a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina, told me that both airport arrival styles are likely just different ways of approaching the same emotional problem: the extreme anxiety of air travel. “One person is hyper-efficient and overprepared, and another is someone who doesn’t manage their anxiety that way,” Gerkin said. It’s not that late people don’t find the airport as stressful as early people do, in other words, but that their coping mechanisms indicate a fundamentally different approach to the negative parts of life.

“They distract and procrastinate, and next thing you know, they can’t do what they need to do to get there on time,” Gerkin said. “It’s not quite self-harm, but it’s in the same arena. It changes your feeling state and gets you out of that place that’s uncomfortable and into this place of excitement.” This can mean that even for people who experience higher risks from airport lateness—those who can’t afford rebooking fees, or members of ethnic groups more likely to be stopped for additional security checks—the siren song of lateness can be just as tempting. In some individuals, the additional stress of those factors might make lateness an even more attractive coping mechanism.

Gerkin’s theory is in line with much of the research on the personality-based reasons people are late in general. According to Jeffrey Conte, an organizational psychologist at San Diego State University, type-A people—those who tend to be impatient and ambitious—are often punctual. Type Bs, who tend to be more relaxed and less neurotic, generally arrive later. Still, he says there are often mitigating factors, like how the culture in which someone grows up views punctuality in the first place, and whether or not someone has kids. “The relationships between personality characteristics and lateness are not what we would call strong (because there are other factors), but they are consistent,” Conte explained via email.

– excerpt from The Atlantic: There Are Two Types of Airport People by Amanda Mull

I haven’t traveled by air in such a long time that I’m not sure I’d remember how to do it. I did however travel a lot in the first three decades of my life. I was born abroad – not sure where not-abroad is for me (I’m a TCK – Third Culture Kid). My mother always had to be at the airport at least 2 hours before the flight or else her system would go into meltdown.

I got used to the early arrival and did something similar when I traveled alone. I’m more of a Type B than a Type A personality, but I find it more relaxing to be early… I hate being rushed, I go slower when people rush me to the point where I seem to be moving backwards in slow motion.

The other article, The Atlantic: What 10,000 Steps Will Really Get You by Amanda Mull, is about the quirks implanted in us by marketing which we get subtly brainwashed into believing are fact, sometimes even scientific fact.

I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the lead author of a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, began looking into the step rule because she was curious about where it came from. “It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was really a marketing strategy,” she explains. “In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.’”

Based on conversations she’s had with Japanese researchers, Lee believes that name was chosen for the product because the character for “10,000” looks sort of like a man walking. As far as she knows, the actual health merits of that number have never been validated by research.

Scientific or not, this bit of branding ingenuity transmogrified into a pearl of wisdom that traveled around the globe over the next half century, and eventually found its way onto the wrists and into the pockets of millions of Americans.

– excerpt from The Atlantic: What 10,000 Steps Will Really Get You by Amanda Mull

I love backstories like that to things which have become ‘fact’. It reminds me of the De Beers ploy to get people to buy diamonds – the diamond engagement ring. Or those miracle foods which ‘research says’ cure all your problems. It was almonds a few years ago… that campaign by the almond growers was so successful they ran out of almonds, and suddenly buying almonds was almost as expensive as buying a diamond.

It also reminds me of a dentist who told me not to eat fruit because of acid erosion – he looked annoyed when I told him the doctor had told me to eat fruit as part of the five-a-day health kick. He then told me to drink more milk to mitigate the effects of eating fruit – and glared at me when I mentioned that I was lactose intolerant. When I pointed out that the real problem with my teeth was due to a lifetime of having bruxism… and maybe he should read my file rather than read the memoes he’s been given by his dental practice to foist onto his patients… his eyes turned red – eyedrops would help with that but daily use of eyedrops is apparently bad for the eyes.

My favourite bit of the article was this:

If many of the persistent myths of American health, like eating breakfast and getting a certain number of steps, are based on marketing rather than science, why do they stick so well?

“A big challenge is that the public and the media want cut-and-dried, black-and-white messages and findings, and science just doesn’t operate that way,” says Virginia Chang, a physician and sociologist at the NYU College of Global Public Health. “The uncertainty in the research doesn’t get translated well into the messaging. People just want to know what they should do.”

– excerpt from The Atlantic: What 10,000 Steps Will Really Get You by Amanda Mull

One of my many quirks is a reluctance to, buy into or sell, deal in the cut-and-dried black-and-white.

A few years ago a post I wrote about narcissists – When Narcissists Claim To Be Victims Of Narcissists – caused a few people to get frustrated with me in the comments section because I refused to state clearly whether I was a narcissist or not.

I did reply to a few of those who got angry with me saying something along the lines of – that if I was a narcissist I’d most likely not know that I was, think that I wasn’t, be certain that everyone else except me was a narcissist… and I’d probably use cut-and-dried black-and-white ‘facts’ to back up my story.

Narcissists love those ‘red flag’ and other types of check lists for identifying narcissists – they’re very useful to a narcissist and get used up, worn out by them.

They love it when good and bad is clearly defined, categorised, easy to navigate and adjust to suit them. They also like it when someone else has done all the work of thinking things through, processing all the uncertainty, nuances, grey areas and… made doing narcissistic things (such as laying the blame elsewhere) easier for narcissists.

There’s one ‘fact’ which narcissists tend to use when proving that they’re empathic – I cry at sad movies.

How is that proof of empathy? Sad movies are designed to manipulate their viewers into crying, they use similar tactics which narcissists use to elicit sympathy from others for their dramatic tales of personal woe.

A sad movie and a narcissist are rather similar – they’re both works of fiction (or exaggerated for effect versions of the truth, based on a true story once upon a time) with actors playing a part for an audience trying to get a specific reaction out of people.

Empathy, a bit like almonds and diamonds and 10,000 steps, has become a must-have and must-do (or must say you have and do)… or else! Or else what?

The quirk of those who think empathy is a miracle cure-all is how they seem to be rather unempathic of those they deem to be lacking in empathy. And don’t you dare say anything anti-empathy around them!

“The problems we face as a society and as individuals are rarely due to lack of empathy. Actually, they are often due to too much of it.”


― Paul Bloom, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion

How did I end up on that tangential path?

The picture above is of a section of my garden (the wood pile on the left is from a victim of the honey fungus). Yesterday I mowed the lawn (aka hoovering the garden). I don’t mow all of the grass because the wildlife loves the long grass, there are a lot of wild flowers (some of which are sometimes known as ‘weeds’) growing in it, it seeds itself if I let it, and I’m lazy.

I reckon I walked over 10,000 steps (backwards and forwards, again and again… mowing always makes the garden feel huge like hoovering makes the house feel like it has endless floor). I have the blisters and callouses to prove it – I’d prefer not having that kind of proof. It was the perfect day to do it, hot and sunny, with just enough of a cool breeze to keep the body temperatures down.

I’d planned to do it the day before – I still haven’t learned that lesson about not making plans. I almost didn’t do it due to a strange occurrence.

That morning while having breakfast I noticed a raven strutting around on the lawn pecking randomly hither and thither. It looked a bit confused and something was odd about one of its wing. I made my presence known and it ran away rather than flew off. Uh oh, broken wing. I don’t know what had happened, but there are a lot of birds of prey living in the area and the ravens often get into scrappy air fights with them.

I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

“I wish to make a radical suggestion: because our social system is predicated on the majority of people believing in the fundamental necessity of work, a sharp increase in idleness, absenteeism, laziness, and non-industriousness might be the most effective way to bring about positive social and political change.”


― Andrew Smart, Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing

Normally, since I’m rather a bleeding heart (which is a very attractive trait to narcissists), I would have tried to catch it and driven it to a local animal sanctuary, but I don’t drive and my partner couldn’t (due to having aggravated his back injury overdoing the DIY and not listening to his body’s cries for a rest).

I thought about bothering friends and neighbours or coming up with a complicated plan… I decided to check online before doing anything.

I’d read in the local news about an organisation which deals with rescuing wild animals and decided to check their site out. They have cut-and-dried black-and-white instructions up to a point and then it gets not easy at all… they tell you how to catch an injured bird, how to ‘store’ it, but then you have to figure out where to take it ‘before it goes into shock’ – and most of the places listed were either not taking any other animals in or not interested in corvids – they’re not cute and fluffy and are considered a pest (one of the instruction pages told you how to scare crows, ravens, etc, away from your garden).

I could feel myself on the edge of an old bleeding heart spiral. My day was potentially about to plummet into the kind of ruin which activated neurosis, anxiety and angst bring. Potential internal dialogue during a bleeding heart spiral includes – I’m a terrible person for not saving this poor wounded being, why oh why do I never know what I’m supposed to do when something needs to be done, I’m so useless, every time I need to step up I fall over, and so on along those lines (it gets worse once you settle into to it).

I went to discuss the raven situation with my partner who was laid up in bed… and noticed a picture which usually hangs on the wall but which he’d taken down the previous day while DIY-ing – it is a portrait of a Poe-like man with a raven on his shoulder. What a coincidence.

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

– excerpt from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

I decide to go back outside and find the raven. If I found it I would go down the path of rescue and all the complications involved. If I didn’t find it I would go down the original planned path – mowing the lawn – and if I found it while mowing the lawn I would alter paths.

I didn’t find the raven. It had vanished. It was possible that it was hiding from the human, however all the little birds nesting and living in my garden didn’t signal its whereabouts either (which they had been doing while it was strutting around and pecking at things, and when it ran away into the undergrowth when I came out earlier).

My bleeding heart side told me I was being callous and ruthless when I took out the mower and went about enacting my original plan. I didn’t disagree…

But a question did occur to me.

What would the raven do?

If the raven saw another bird with a possibly broken wing, what would it do?

If a raven spotted a human with a possibly broken arm, what would it do?

None of the above questions were the one which occurred to me then. What came to mind then was something more along the lines of: What does ‘saving’ or ‘not saving’ the raven mean to me? What does it mean about me? How will I (or others if I share the story with others) use it to define my self?

For those who are into the whole five-a-day – what happens if you don’t meet your quota? What does it mean to you? About you? How will you (or others if you share the information with them) use it to define your self?

For those who are counting their steps, aiming for the goal of 10,000 steps a day – what happens when you do less? What happens if you do more? What does it mean to you? About you? How will you (or others if you share the information with them) use it to define your self?

What if it doesn’t mean anything?

Or if it can mean whatever you want it to mean?

I came across this flower in my lawn-mowing:

It’s growing amongst some foxgloves on a pile of flint and other rocks which I placed there while trying to clear out a messy area in my garden. Those rocks need to be moved… later when the flowers growing there have finished their plans.

For some reason finding this flower made my day… seem like it flowed along the path along which it was supposed to flow.

I was supposed to have an original plan which was put into limbo for a while due to an injured raven. I was supposed to not figure out how to deal with the injured raven… thus leaving me hanging over a precipice of possible self-flagellation – would I let myself fall or not?

I wasn’t supposed to take the path into cut-and-dried black-and-white but instead take the one which led into the uncertainty zone.

I was supposed to think about the things which the uncertainty zone stirred up.

While reading the article about the 10,000 steps, my dyslexia turned the word (in this sentence “That nuance can mean a lot to people who want to be less sedentary…”) ‘sedentary’ into ‘sedementary’. Dyslexia can be fun… and some of the mistakes it makes can be not-mistakes, it all depends on what you do with what happens and what meaning you weave with it, into it, with it. It can mean nothing at all if that’s what you want.

Yesterday another strange occurrence occurred.

It started late last night… I took a sudden plunge and changed my blog’s theme. In the morning I adjusted it, added some widgets (‘search’ and ‘Google translate’). Thought nothing more about it until the late afternoon, while chilling apres-mow, when I logged in and got one of those notifications from WordPress about a boom in my stats:

Every now and then that happens, usually due to someone sharing a link to a post somewhere on social media.

One person can make a big difference to your stats.

But this time it was slightly quirky.

Usually a boom in stats means a boom in visitors and views, but not this time:

Upon investigation into which posts were viewed, it seems like perhaps one person was checking out all of my posts on narcissists.

Was it a coincidence that this happened on the first day of my trying out a new theme?

Was this a good thing or a bad thing?

I found myself in the uncertainty zone again.

Was someone doing what I sometimes do when I find a blog or website which captures my attention, seems to have information which I think I need, and I want to get as much out of it as I can before my attention moves on?

Was someone looking for material for a project of theirs?

A few months ago I reverse followed a referral link in my stats to someone’s blog. They stated that the faculty members of the psychology department of a college regularly read and recommend my blog. Do they really? I doubt it. Unless they view my blog as a specimen jar, Exhibit C.

However I recently found out that my blog got credited in the ‘resources’ section of an article about narcissists – that was a novel experience and rather nice. I sort of knew the author sometime ago via WP, but they turned their blogging into a career and we lost touch because I like keeping blogging as blogging.

People tend to forget where an idea came from (which is partly why I link a lot in my posts – to remember where I came across an idea or something which inspired ideas to flow within me). Sometimes it’s good to forget, sometimes… it’s something else.

“There is no good reason why we should not develop and change until the last day we live.”

― Karen Horney

Somehow all of the things I’ve mentioned in this post connect up together… for me anyway.

Something is shifting… it feels like a weight I used to carry may now no longer need to be carried. It may be the bleeding heart… it can just be a heart now.

One of the quirks I have is to disregard the sort of posts and articles with titles similar to the one I’ve used – titles which claim that 5 or 8 or 10 simple things can make your life easier… those sort of articles and the steps they list usually make me feel anything but easy, and it doesn’t seem simple at all, it complicates matters.

Kind of like trying to rescue a raven… your eyes might get pecked out in the process of doing something which perhaps you weren’t supposed to do.

For those interested in the symbolism of the raven, this is a great site – What’s Your Sign: Raven Symbolism

I like what she says at the beginning of the article:

If you’re looking for raven symbolism pertaining to ill omen, death or other gruesome turns of thought, look elsewhere. There are plenty sources to feed macabre minds, and malign the raven.

I love ravens, but I don’t claim #1 fan status to the raven either. Even if I were, it wouldn’t matter because the raven needs no champion.

The raven is content to move about its bizarre ways in solo-mode. So, the raven could care less if I’m pro or con for its symbolic status.

I just think the raven has more to offer than uneducated conjecture and superstition (most of which has only cropped up over the last few centuries).

A lot of negative raven symbolism comes about from their appearance on battlefields. They are scavengers (and curious to a fault), and are often seen picking at mangled remains of fallen warriors on battle grounds.

– excerpt from What’s Your Sign: Raven Symbolism

Funnily enough I tried to look up the raven on that site earlier and the site had disappeared, vanished… couldn’t be found.

That’s it from me.

What about you?

10 comments

  1. We have many, many ravens here. They are huge, easily as big as a hawk and sometimes larger. They chat and argue with each other and will stop chatting as humans pass by, then to resume as they see that we aren’t stopping. It’s as if they are talking about us and don’t want us to know. I once watched three of them sitting on a fence and very animately chatting back and fourth. Finally, one of them flew down to the field beneath them, did some picking and looking, and then flew back to the fence where they resumed the animated convo.
    Translation: Sherman: What IS that? [Lots of guesses.]
    Sherman: John, you go see.
    John: I did it last time. YOU go!
    [Lots of arguing. Finally, John flies down.]
    John: I told you it was nothing!
    Imelda: But nothing is sometimes something!
    Sherman: No it’s not!
    John: Yes it is!
    … 😉

    I’ve never much believed those aphorism-like sayings. I kind of just do my own thing, and sometimes not very well. 😉

    I love your yard – so green. We have been very dry up until yesterday with lots of fires to the south of us.

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    • Thank you, Lynette 🙂

      I love your raven conversation, that’s brilliant! 😀 It reminds me of Waiting For Godot.

      We’ve had a fair amount of rain so the plants are bustin’ out all over making the garden look very lush. Today it’s a mix of bright sun and dark storm clouds, I love the way everything gets greener when it’s stormy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your quote from Karen Horney. It’s always fun for me to learn new things. I pick up random knowledge like a magpie after something shiny. I also like to try to figure out what’s going on in my headspace. A twisty turny journey that often just goes in circles.
    Yesterday I was awakened at 3:00am by King Ben. His mama took over at 6:30am and I went back to bed for an hour. I was tired all day, but I felt irritable beyond being tired. I’m an Empath so when I have strong feelings, especially negative ones, I question the source. I asked my daughter of she was irritated about something. She wasnt. Hmmmm….I still felt irritable beyond circumstances. A few hours later my daughter tells me she started her period. AH-HA! Explanation for feeling is found. Talking about my grumpiness saved hurt feelings and possible arguments.
    And now I’ve completely forgotten the point I was going to make…if there was one. But, rather than erase it all, I’ll leave it as it is.
    😵😂💌

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    • Thank you, Angie 🙂

      What you said reminded me of when I was a teenager and first came across the concept of picking up feelings from others and confusing them as your own. The idea generated one of those aha moments.

      Because I grew up with narcissists I was programmed early to tune into the moods of those around me – narcissists expect others to constantly monitor their mood status and cater to it. It was partly hypervigilance, needing to read the moods of others to be prepared for the shit hitting the fan and perhaps stop a storm from hitting, but it was also due to narcissists dumping their unwanted feelings (usually negative ones) into me and then accusing me of causing problems for them by having those feelings. I used to think those feelings were mine and it confused the hell out of me because I didn’t know why I was feeling that way, there was no logical reason, no personal context, or what to do about it. Gradually I learned to spot the signature of the feeling, it took a long time to figure out how to undo the old training though.

      Strong emotions and loud thoughts in particular generate a lot of electricity in the airwaves. People are like a radio station emitting a program, and if you’re tuned into their frequency their channel plays on your radio, sometimes all you get is static, sometimes you get a talk show, sometimes you get music – those who emit beautiful music tend to inspire in us a desire to tune into them on a regular basis. When people are experiencing certain moods their emissions become clearer, and are picked up more easily. Because it plays on your radio, you think it is your program.

      I read an article last night which touched upon this concept – “And among other things, it’s prompted me to wonder about the true nature of thoughts. What are they, really? And where do they come from? Are they simply generated by our brains, as most scientists claim? Or do we pick them up out of the ethers, almost like radio waves captured by a receiver?”

      That’s very wise – to talk about it openly and clear the airwaves 🙂 It takes a lot of skill to do it.

      Your comment is perfect as is… lots of shiny gems within it!

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  3. When I clicked to your blog on my mobile the other day, I got jolted lol I was standing up in a bus, at the same time it came to a sudden brake. So the new theme is pretty cool on desktop, it easier to search by categories now that you’ve the widgets on side panel.

    However, on mobile your header picture has comprised to just showing part of it. The first thought that popped up was ‘Oh, the curtains are down now’ On my mobile, only the most left portion of the header is seen. Lol, then again can’t expect all to be perfect 🙂

    The thing with the raven, I don’t see any issue at all. Every living creature has their own path in life, sometimes it needs another being’s intervention sometimes it doesn’t. Your hesitation in the beginning perhaps was telling you it doesn’t need to be saved regardless whatever that happens or not happen to the raven was meant to be. That’s how I view it 😉

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    • Thank you, Reverist 🙂

      I appreciate the feedback about the new theme. I did remember to check out how it would look on a mobile since so many people use their phones to browse the internet, overall I thought it was easier to view on the mobile than the previous theme. I agree that this header looks odd on the mobile now with the new theme – haha! Love the “curtains are down” perspective. I did make a note to self to change it, but I haven’t been inspired with an idea yet… although there is an image in my archives (this one – https://anupturnedsoul.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/twit-header-janus1.jpg ) which I briefly considered using but it needs work doing to it since I didn’t do it that well originally.

      You’re right about the raven, and your view is good advice 🙂 In some ways the raven was showing me an inner shadow which was ready to be met and elucidated.

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      • That’s an interesting image, I wonder what’s the meaning of the hand hanging, is it trying to reach the finger tip or similar at the side? Hehe I thought so as well, a little works on it should enhance the composition which is intriguing 🙂 btw, there is a fresh brew for tasting in my garden

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        • My hands have a will of their own 😉 The hand just ended up like that while I was using my arms to keep my head straight for a photo manipulation experiment.

          I’d read about this photographer who was taking portraits and then cutting the face in half and making two separate portraits of the same face using two left sides and two right sides of the face spliced together. Most people have asymmetrical faces, sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is less subtle, and there’s this theory that one side of the face represents our public/social face and the other represents our private face. Because the photographer’s project was so fascinating, I wanted to see what would happen if I did that with my face.

          But my head kept twisting slightly to one side and I couldn’t get a straight on shot, so I tried to keep my head from twisting by putting my arms up behind it. This image came out of my failed attempts in trying to do the experiment… eventually I did succeed in doing the whole two faces from the halves of one. I came across the results today. It’s weird but intriguing.

          Anyway I decided to go with the ‘Janus’ image redone, seemed fitting for Gemini season and the Gemini new moon. Thank you for inadvertently helping me make that decision 😀

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          • Haha, I see. I imagine your arms were the side your calfs. When one sits bended with elbows resting on your legs with one hand hanging Lol what’s was i thinking?! Excuse me my vision is not so good these days 😎

            Two faces from halves of one. Hmm, that sounds like fun. I shall try that sometime 😃

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