Do you know what the “illusory truth effect” is? It’s our tendency to treat a false or misleading statement as fact after repeated exposure. You see, as humans, we tend to take shortcuts when assessing if what we hear is true or not. Instead of racing out to collect facts, we evaluate statements based on prior knowledge and how familiar we are with them. Researchers have shown that people who are exposed repeatedly to statements, even when false, are more likely to believe they are true.
How does this work you ask? Let’s take a look at a specific example.
We’re 2 weeks into the new decade. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?
From what I see at the gym in the morning and around my neighborhood, a lot of people are doing a good job sticking with it. As I do every year, I’m seeing new faces at the gym, and new people walking and jogging around the neighborhood. While most will dwindle away, some will stick with it. The new routines will become habit, which is when they will start to notice changes in their body.
When people set resolutions for the year, they are always around diet and fitness. People want to eat better and work out to improve their health and lose weight, which are both great goals. Why don’t people place the same attention on their mental health as their physical health?
2019 marked the 7th year that I’ve maintained a blog. Since the overwhelming majority of blogs don’t make it past the 6-month mark, I’m happy that I’ve been able to stick with it for this long, and I plan to continue.
As I’ve done each year, here’s the review of the blog’s performance in 2019 and my blogging goals for 2020. It’s a fun state of the union exercise to look back and see how things have went, traffic levels, popular posts, and more.
If you’re interested in past year’s performance, click on the year to see the review for that time and the forward looking goals:
Every year I like to review my fitness goals for the prior year and set new ones for the upcoming year. I’ve found that setting measurable goals and then publishing them keeps me on track and holds me accountable.
In 2019, my goals were focused around three areas – working out, walking, and diet. These were the same 3 areas of focus for 2018, and they will be the same for 2020.
When looking back over the last year, things went well for the most part. There a couple of adjustments I’d like to make. Otherwise, it’s going to be more of the same in the upcoming year. Sometimes it’s best not to fix it if it isn’t broken, if you know what I mean.
Here’s the look back at 2019, and the look ahead at 2020.
As I like to do every year, here are my book recommendations for you to consider adding to your 2020 reading list. I like to break the recommendations into sections – general recommendations, personal development, business reads, and fun reads.
I read 32 books in 2019, which is more than I usually read. For some reason, the books leaned more towards non-fiction, so this year’s list will be a bit light on the fiction side. I’m planning to read a more balanced selection of books in 2020, which I addressed when creating my reading list for this year.
Here are this year’s recommendations:
Each year around this time, I dust off my master reading list, review, organize, and prioritize it for the coming year. There are currently 230 books on my master list, so it took a little effort this year to rearrange it into the subset of books you’ll find here.
I usually read around 25-30 books a year. According to GoodReads, which I use to manage my reading lists, I read 32 books in 2019. However, to be fair, 4 of these were short stories, and 1 was my daily devotional. Still yet, 27 books read is a good year for me.
I added 34 books books to my master reading list in 2019, which is an improvement since I usually add a lot more. I tried to be more disciplined about adding books than in the past. There have been years where I’ve added over 50 books. So the master list only grew by a couple this year, rather than the usual 15-20.
For the coming year, I used the same process as I have in years past to prioritize my annual list and narrow it down to the 50 or so candidates you see below, with one slight adjustment. I know this is far more than the 25-30 books I typically read in a year, but I like to have a buffer just in case my reading pace is faster than usual.
Let’s start with the selection parameters for the list.
I didn’t learn how to play the piano until I was an adult. When Amanda started taking lessons when she was 6 years old, I decided that I would take them with her. I felt it would encourage her, and it was always something I had wanted to do.
Through an interesting series of events, and a stroke of luck, I got introduced to Pauline, who taught lessons out of her house. When I first met her, I knew she was older. Based on her mannerisms, movements, mental acuity, and piano playing ability, I figured she was probably in her later 60’s, maybe early 70’s. It would be a few years of taking lessons from her before I found out she was much closer to 90 than she was 70.
She lived a simple life. Outside of the lovely Steinway that I played during my lessons, her house and the possessions within were simple and unassuming. Her car was nothing special, but it provided a means of transportation that allowed her to get around town. In other words, she had everything she needed to meet her basic necessities.
My lessons were scheduled for 45 minutes, but they would usually last closer to an hour and a half, and sometimes up to two hours. We would get sidetracked on in depth discussions of music theory, or she would start telling stories about her experiences around music. Whether it was about her student experiences at Syracuse University, teaching at the University of North Carolina, playing piano for radio programs in Hollywood, or her music writing, the stories were always interesting. While she may not have had a wealth of money and material possessions, she was rich with experiences and memories.
This is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. I love the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have fond memories of this time period growing up, especially while I was away at college. I always looked forward to finishing up the semester, getting home a couple of days before Christmas, and doing my last minute shopping for gifts.
There are so many things that make this time special – family, celebrations, decorations, anticipation, and the music. Oh yes, the music.
To the dismay of my family, I am a serious Christmas music addict. It starts the evening of Thanksgiving and lasts through the end of the year. With relatively few exceptions, I listen to a steady diet of Christmas tunes this time of year. And why not? It’s really the only time you can get away with playing it throughout the day and not risk being committed.
Five years ago, I posted a list of my 50 favorite Christmas songs. Since then, the list has grown. While I have a playlist with over 170 songs on it, below are the 65 that I could shuffle and put on endless repeat. So here’s the updated, refreshed list (new additions are in bold).
Last year, when I posted my annual beard photo, I said I was 85% certain I wouldn’t grow it again this year.
Well, I did it again, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s just something about this time of year that brings out the beard.
This year’s edition started around the end of October. I’ve kept it somewhat groomed over the last 6 weeks, although it’s starting to get a bit out of control, and a little uncomfortable. Abbey helped me with a photo shoot last night. Google Photos assembled an automated collage which is what you see to the right.
The plan is cut the beard back this weekend, and then shave it all off before Christmas.
I’m not a big fan of the beard, which makes me wonder why I’ve done it for the last 10 years. So who knows, maybe this is the last year for it. Let’s just say that I’m 85% certain it is.
(If you’re interested in taking a trip down memory lane, here’s a post that has images of “the beard” dating back to 2012).
I find it interesting how society creates arbitrary rules that become the expected norm over time. Retiring at age 65 is one such example.
I’m not 100% certain, but I strongly suspect that the original Social Security Act, which was passed in 1935, had a lot to do with setting this expectation. It set an age of 65 to receive full retirement benefits. While the age requirement for receiving full benefits has been slowly increasing to 67, the “retirement age” in most people’s mind is still 65.
I believe it’s time we need to rethink retirement. We need to re-evaluate what it means to retire, and the age at which retirement starts. Here’s why.