CONFIDENCE

Confidence is something all of us are familiar with, we hear it on a day to day basis, it’s something that goes through our mind during every social interaction we have, and rightly so. Confidence is, in my opinion, the single most important skill any human can have. A majority of people will have heard the saying “Confidence isn’t walking into a room and thinking you’re the best person in there, confidence is walking into a room and not feeling the need to compare yourself to anybody else” or something similar to that, and it’s true, confidence is defined as “the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.” And so, in its simplest form, being confident is just being able to rely on yourself, whether it’s relying on yourself to hold a good conversation, relying on yourself to pull off a good presentation, or even relying on yourself to say something funny. Confidence is just trusting yourself to be the kind of person you want to be.

Confidence is key, people pick up on it on both a conscious and a subconscious level, and that’s why if you want to achieve absolutely anything in life, the first thing people will tell you is “Just be confident”. But do you want to know the best thing about confidence? Of course, you do! The single best thing about confidence is that it is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned and developed.

I was watching a program the other day, and it got me thinking about how important confidence is, the program was called “The Hunt” and it was a series documentary  by Sir David Attenborough, and it was all about how different animals hunt in the wild, but what really caught my attention was this pack of African wild dogs, as wild dogs do, they were trying to hunt wildebeest, and there was a couple of lessons I think we should learn from these predators.

First of all, they wait for a wildebeest to break from the herd, and that’s rule 1, there’s strength in numbers, it’s hard to stand alone, it’s a scary place, and so if you want to start being more confident, start small, don’t break off from the herd just yet. If you have to speak in public, have somebody on stage with you, or even a small group of people, as Sir David Attenborough called it “the safety of the herd”. And as a side note from this, one dog alone cannot take down a wildebeest by itself, but when working as a group, much larger tasks can be accomplished far more easily!

Secondly, the wild dogs find it much easier to kill a wildebeest when it is running away, a wildebeest is armed at the front, if it stands its ground, it can very easily kill a wild dog, possibly a small pack, so the thing to take from that is that, when you’re scared, you need to assess your situation, the easiest thing to do always seems to be to run away, but a lot of the time, that’s the worst thing you can do, sometimes it pays to stand your ground, you just have to learn to judge a situation, and the only way to know how to do that is through experience, and the only way to get experience is to go out, make mistakes, and learn from them.

And finally, a phrase that I picked up on him repeating quite often was “most predators fail most of the time” and I looked this up and came across this website:

https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/hunting-success-rates-how-predators-compare/

the thing that I found astonishing about this is that African wild dogs are some of the most accomplished predators ever, yet even they only have an 85% success rate, leopards are one of the most vicious, skilful killers in the entire animal kingdom, and they don’t even manage to make 4 out of every 10 hunts a success. But there’s a valuable lesson in this too, if you want to be a predator, an alpha, somebody who gets exactly what they want, and ends up where they want to be in life, you must expect failure! You must understand that you need to fail more times than most people even try.

The more attempts you make, the more times you will fail, do you think every lion kills something on its first-ever hunt? Do you think a lion kills its prey every time? Of course not! But would you go out and fuck with a fully grown lion? Exactly! Failure gives you experience, and experience gives you success, don’t be afraid of failure, people only ever remember your failures at your low points anyway, nobody ever talks about all the times that Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, or Dwayne Johnson failed, do they? No! Because people are too busy admiring them for where they are now!

There’s a lot we can learn from the animal kingdom, after all, that’s what we are, animals, mammals, I wanted to be an engineer for quite a long time, and I was always fascinated by biomimicry, the definition of it is “the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modelled on biological entities and processes.” That’s just a pretentious way of saying “you look at animals, and use what they have and do, and use that to help humans” for example, if you were looking for the best way to design an aeroplane with regards to the aerodynamics, rather than putting hours of research into fluid dynamics and still probably not finding the most efficient way, you might study falcons and other fast birds, or even something like a dolphin that glides through water, use evolution to do your hard work for you. I won’t go into any more detail here, but if you want to learn more, A lady called Janine Benyus wrote an incredible book called “biomimicry – innovation inspired by nature” and here’s a link to a website you can use to look it up in a bit more detail:

But I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I don’t think the uses for biomimicry stop at engineering and architecture, I think that, psychologically, there’s a lot we can learn from the natural world too! I think that modern life has disconnected us from our primal instincts, and I think we’d benefit from looking back to nature for inspiration, whatever the situation is.

MICROPLASTICS – WHAT’S THE HARM?

***AUTHORS NOTE: this is an article I wrote about 2 to 3 years ago on behalf of an environmentally friendly t-shirt company that never made it past prototyping, so I thought I’d share it here.***

Microplastics is one of those topics that seems to really have only become an issue in recent months, but that just isn’t the case. National Geographic put out a video on YouTube back in October of 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHCgA-n5wRw) warning us of the damages these microplastics were causing. One of the huge concerns about microplastics are their effects on marine life. Over 80% of waste that ends up in the ocean originates on-land. But we don’t realise how much of a problem they cause because we don’t see them every day, out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes!

Image result for microplastics

Image source: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html

However, programmes such as Blue Planet 2, and organisations such as PETA have really brought light to the issues recently, but the question you might be asking is “But why should I care?” and that’s a fair question, why should you care? Why should you care that over 300 species of animals, just that we know of, have ingested this pollutant? Why should you care that animals are passing this pollutant, that is detrimental to human health, up the food chain?

Well let’s take a look at the facts, according to an article released in 2017 (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(17)30121-3/fulltext),  “As of 2015, 6,300 million tonnes of plastic waste have been generated, around 9% of which was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% ended up in landfills or the environment.” 79% ended up in the environment, 79% of 6300 million tonnes is 4,997 million tonnes of land waste! 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste enter our oceans, each and every year! And the problem with plastics is that they don’t biodegrade, they take four hundred years to decompose (Bakelite, the first plastic based on a synthetic polymer, was only created in 1907! A lot less than 400 years ago), they break down, smaller and smaller, into these microplastics, and then they get eaten, a study found that European consumers can expect to ingest eleven thousand plastic particles a year just from eating shellfish alone! The problem extends even further than sea food too, a study found microplastics inside the grains of salt from sixteen different companies across eight countries. It hardly even warrants talking about where we find these plastic particles, they’re now even in the air we breath on a daily basis!

So, to answer your questions about why you should care, these plastics can kill you (or cause serious harm in trying). Particle, chemical, and microbial hazards are all massive issues, and we speculate from past research that microplastics present all these problems!

Particle toxicity is where you get a build up of these particles inside your body, and that localised mass causes an immune response, and your body can’t do a lot to fight it… Chemical toxicity is one of the main concerns, plastics contain things that just shouldn’t really be inside the human body, and when you mix that with the excretion of deadly pollutants the plastics have picked up from the environment, you start to see where the big issues lie. (I’ll leave this video link here with an excellent explanation of the problem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFgpudNSArI).

Ryan

POLITICS PART 1: THE ELECTION

What did I learn from the UK parliamentary election? I learned something valuable that, at first, may appear to be very off-topic. I learned that social media has less power to influence people in certain aspects than we are told that it does. Social media is good for a lot of reasons, it can be used to teach us, and make us aware of what’s going on in the world and what is available, however, its power to influence is not as prominent as I previously believed. And I wanted to say that its power lies within indoctrinating people, but upon reflection, it doesn’t do that either, because social media isn’t the issue. Social media isn’t real, in a sense, Social media is just a platform, it is nothing without the people that use it.


The real problem lies in the fact that Social media connects us, but it doesn’t just connect us at random, we connect with our friends and family, and then it extends to their friends and family, and it recommends pages and accounts that our friends like and react to, and all of a sudden, by the nature of the way it connects us and the algorithms it uses, we’re only really seeing posts from like-minded people, and that can dangerously cloud our judgment of the real world.


After the election, I thought about everything I’d seen on the run-up. I won’t lie to anybody, I voted labour, and so did the majority of my family and friends. But the way that extended out, and I must say, especially on Twitter, I was seeing people I didn’t know all across the country ripping into Conservative supporters, what amounted to borderline bullying of teenagers in favour of the Conservative party. And if you’d have seen my Twitter feed, you’d have been Convinced that the ratio of supporters of Labour to Conservative was a thousand to one… And well, you know the results, 365 to 203 in favour of the Conservatives, I won’t pretend I know a lot about politics, or in all honesty, that I even care about politics; I think the results of the election matter a lot less than people believe, and I don’t see it as black and white, but part two of this is based around my view of politics and democracy as a whole, so to me, I’m happy to just wait and see what happens.


But here’s my issue, 365 to 203 is a large majority, especially to say that what I’ve been seeing for the past 4 months has been Labour propaganda, and then not only did Labour lose, they lost 59 seats, and the Conservatives gained 47, something there doesn’t add up. When you put it in perspective, you’ve got Stormzy at Glastonbury convincing his whole audience to shout “Fuck Boris” live on the BBC, hundreds of “influencers” promoting the idea of a Labour government, and they go and LOSE 59 seats…


There’s no conclusion to this, and I want to keep it short because I’m not here to tell you what to believe and what to disregard, that defeats the point, what I want you to take from this, is to think freely and do adequate research, if you only get your information from like-minded people, and you only look at the sources that are biased in favour of your current views, you’ll be stuck with a very linear and very shadowed perception of the world and how it works.


Question everything…


Ryan