Sunday, December 30, 2018

Wi-Fi 6 Explained: The Next Generation of Wi-Fi and What Does 802.11ax Bring to the Table?

Wi-Fi is set to get better and faster with its upcoming major update. While plenty of routers are already available with chips using draft specifications, 802.11ax Wi-Fi won't be finalized until December 2019, ushering in a wave of updated devices touting new wireless capabilities that will contribute toward next-generation networks with more speed and less congestion.
802.11ax also known as 'high-efficiency wireless' will be commonly referred to as Wi-Fi 6.
This is a new naming standard set by the Wi-Fi Alliance, with previous generations now being known as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n). This labeling convention is expected to appear on devices as shown below.
Technically, Wi-Fi 6 will have a single-user data rate that is 37% faster than 802.11ac, but what's more significant is that the updated specification will offer four times the throughput per user in crowded environments, as well as better power efficiency which should translate to a boost in device battery life.
To achieve those improvements, 802.11ax implements a variety of changes including several multi-user technologies which have been borrowed from the cellular industry – namely MU-MIMO and OFDMA – techniques that greatly improve capacity and performance by enabling more simultaneous connections and a more thorough use of spectrum.
Home users who upgrade their hardware can look forward to some improvements from these technologies, especially over time as the number of devices per household increases – some estimates suggest there will be as many as 50 nodes per home by 2022.
However, as mentioned, Wi-Fi 6 is anticipated to have a more immediate impact in areas where networks are highly congested and will ultimately aid in laying a foundation for the number of nodes expected on upcoming smart infrastructure (e.g. Internet of Things devices). Along with addressing overlapping coverage from the sheer number of devices and network deployments emerging as IoT rolls out, Wi-Fi 6 will be equipped to handle the ever-increasing demand for faster multi-user data rates.
Source: Intel
Overall, Wi-Fi 6 builds on 802.11ac with more than fifty updated features, though not all of them will necessarily be included in the finalized specification.
Here's some of what Wi-Fi 6 is expected to accomplish:
  • More overall bandwidth per user for ultra-HD and virtual reality streaming
  • Support for more simultaneous streams of data with increased throughput
  • More total spectrum (2.4GHz and 5GHz, eventually bands in 1GHz and 6GHz)
  • Said spectrum split into more channels to enable more routes for communication
  • Packets contain more data and networks can handle different data streams at once
  • Improved performance (as much as 4x) at the maximum range of an access point
  • Better performance/robustness in outdoor and multi-path (cluttered) environments
  • Ability to offload wireless traffic from cellular networks where reception is poor

802.11n vs. 802.11ac vs. 802.11ax

802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)802.11ac Wave 2 (Wi-Fi 5)802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Bands2.4GHz & 5GHz5GHz
2.4GHz & 5GHz, spanning to 1GHz - 7GHz eventually
Channel Bandwidth
20MHz, 40MHz (40MHz optional)
20MHz, 40MHz80MHz, 80+80MHz & 160MHz (40MHz support made mandatory)
20MHz/40MHz @ 2.4GHz, 80MHz, 80+80MHz & 160MHz @ 5GHz
FFT Sizes
64, 128
64, 128, 256, 512
64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048
Subcarrier Spacing
78.125 kHz
OFDM Symbol Duration
3.6ms (short guard interval) 4ms (long guard interval)
3.2ms (0.4/0.8ms cyclic prefix)
12.8ms (0.8/1.6/3.2mscyclic prefix)
Highest Modulation
Data Rates
Ranging from 54Mb/s to 600Mb/s (max of 4 spatial streams)
433Mb/s (80MHz, 1 spatial stream) 6933Mb/s (160MHz, 8 spatial stream)
600Mb/s (80MHz, 1 spatial stream) 9607.8Mb/s (160MHz, 8 spatial stream)
Released in 2013, 802.11ac (now also known as Wi-Fi 5) was standardized in 2013 and while this specification is largely adequate for today's typical home usage, it only uses bands in the 5GHz spectrum and lacks the level of multi-user technologies that will support a growing number of devices connected at once.
As a point of reference for the changes coming in Wi-Fi 6, here is what 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) expanded on 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4):
  • Wider channels (80MHz or 160MHz versus a max of 40MHz in the 5GHz band)
  • Eight spatial streams instead of four (spatial streams illustrated)
  • 256-QAM versus 64-QAM modulation (transmits more bits per QAM symbol)
  • Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) on 802.11ac Wave 2, enabling four downlink connections at once instead of only one on Single-User MIMO (still 1x1 on uplink)
When Wi-Fi 6 is launched in full, the specification will be backward compatible with previous standards, incorporating both 2.4GHz and 5GHz along with eventually expanding that spectrum to include bands in 1GHz and 6GHz when they become available.
Perhaps more noteworthy than the inclusion of this additional spectrum are the technologies that will put this bandwidth to use. With more spectrum available, Wi-Fi 6 can split the bandwidth into narrower (more) sub-channels, creating more avenues for clients and access points to communicate along with enabling support for additional devices on any given network.
While Wi-Fi 5 can serve four users on downstream at once courtesy of MU-MIMO – a considerable improvement over the single-user MIMO on Wi-Fi 4 – today's AC wireless (Wi-Fi 5) can still only handle one user at a time on upstream. On paper, 802.11ax will increase that to eight users on both up and downlink, with the potential to deliver four simultaneous streams to a single client.
However, we've read that uplink MU-MIMO may not be supported on the first round of 802.11ax-certified hardware, and few if any current devices can benefit from four spatial streams, much less the eight supported on Wi-Fi 6, as most existing MU-MIMO-equipped smartphones and laptops only have 2x2:2 or 3x3:3 MIMO radios.
This number formatting (AxB:C) is used to demonstrate the maximum amount of transmit antennas (A), the maximum amount of receive antennas (B) and the maximum amount of spatial data streams (C) supported by a MIMO radio. While a Wi-Fi device must support MU-MIMO to directly benefit from that technology, hardware without MU-MIMO chips should indirectly benefit from the additional air time available on MU-MIMO-enabled access points.
Wi-Fi 6 also introduces support for up and downlink "Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access" (OFDMA), a modulation scheme that is equated to a multi-user version of OFDM (the spec on 802.11ac/n), which will reduce latency, boost capacity and improve efficiency by allowing as many as 30 users at once to share a channel.
To help you visualize those technologies, instead of one clerk serving a single line of customers individually, the combination of MU-MIMO and OFDMA can be equated to having many clerks and many lines, with each clerk capable of serving multiple customers at once

Further, 802.11ax informs clients more clearly when a router is available instead of having them contend for access, along with boosting the amount of data delivered in each payload courtesy of 1024-QAM encoding versus the 256-QAM modulation on Wi-Fi 5 and 64-QAM on Wi-Fi 4.
Although Wi-Fi 6's overall data rates and channel widths are similar to Wi-Fi 5, dozens of technologies have been implemented to the updated specification that should significantly improve the efficiency and throughput of future Wi-Fi networks, which could potentially serve dozens of devices on a single channel with speeds of several gigs a second.
Here are some of the core technologies that Wi-Fi 6 will change from current Wi-Fi specifications:
MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) - Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 introduced Multi-User MIMO but only supports four simultaneous connections on downstream (one on upstream), while Wi-Fi 6 will be able to handle eight streams of data in either uplink or downlink, supporting more users at once and offering four times the maximum theoretical throughput of Wi-Fi 5.
MU-MIMO access points also handle more signal processing than SU-MIMO APs, offloading that burden from end point devices, and MU-MIMO traffic is considered to be secure until tools are developed for processing the signals, as only the intended recipient can read the data.
OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access) - Not a part of Wi-Fi 5, which has regular OFDM. Borrowed from 4G LTE networks. Allows for resource unit allocation in a given bandwidth. Incorporated on Wi-Fi 6 so more clients (as many as 30) can share the same channel instead of waiting, while also improving efficiency by combing different traffic types. OFDMA is compared as a multi-user version of OFDM.
1024-QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) - An increase from 256-QAM on Wi-Fi 5, though some routers from this generation have 1024-QAM as an experimental feature. This boosts throughput by cramming more data into each packet.
1024-QAM uses 10 bits per OFDM symbol versus 8 bits for 256 QAM, a 25% capacity boost that results in a theoretical single-stream data rate of 600Mb/s using an 80MHz channel (39% better than the theoretical 433Mb/s single-stream data rate of Wi-Fi 5).
Longer OFDM Symbols - Increases the duration that an OFDM symbol is transmitted from 3.2ms on Wi-Fi 5 to 12.8ms on Wi-Fi 6 and supports a longer cyclic prefix for each symbol.
A cyclic prefix (CP) adds a portion of the end of a OFDM symbol to the front of the payload to provide a guard interval against intersymbol interference and to improve robustness since this portion can be used if necessary. This figure can be adjusted depending on overhead requirements (a longer CP repeats more data and occupies more space in a symbol, resulting in a lower data rate).
Dynamic fragmentation - Whereas Wi-Fi 5 has static fragmentation, which requires all fragments of a data packet to be the same size (except for the last fragment), dynamic fragmentation allows these pieces to be of a varying size for better use of network resources.
Spatial frequency reuse/OBSS (BSS coloring) - If multiple access points are operating on the same channel(s), they can transmit data with a unique "color" identifier that allows them to communicate over the wireless medium at the same time without waiting as the colors enable them to differentiate between each other's data.
Beamforming - Exists on Wi-Fi 5, though that standard supports four antennas and Wi-Fi 6 increases this to eight. Beamforming improves data rates and extends range by directing signals toward specific clients instead of in every direction at once. This aids MU-MIMO, which doesn't work well with rapidly moving devices. Beamforming was optionally available on Wi-Fi 4 devices but became necessary with the implementation of MU-MIMO on Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2.
TWT (Target Wake Time) - Wake-time scheduling instead of contention-based access. A router can tell a client when to sleep and when to wake, which is expected to make a considerable difference in battery life since a device will know when to listen on a channel.
Uplink resource scheduler - Similarly, instead of users competing to upload data as on today's wireless networks, Wi-Fi 6 schedules uplinks to minimize conflicts, resulting in better resource management.
Trigger-based Random Access - Also reduces data collisions/conflicts by specifying the length of an uplink window among other attributes that improve resource allocation and boost efficiency.
Two NAVs (Network Allocation Vector) – When a wireless station is transmitting, it advertises the duration it will take to complete so other stations can set their NAV to avoid conflicts when accessing the wireless medium. Wi-Fi 6 introduces two NAVs: One for the network that the station belongs to and one for neighboring networks. This should also reduce energy consumption by minimizing the need for carrier sensing.
Improved outdoor operation - Several of these features will result in better outdoor performance, including a new packet format, longer guard intervals and modes for improved redundancy and error recovery.

Expanding Wi-Fi 6 to Include 6GHz

Industry leaders such as Qualcomm have determined that adequate quality of service on future networks will require more spectrum than either 2.4GHz or 5GHz can provide. The 2.4GHz band has long been saturated by common electronics while 5GHz has insufficient spectrum for wider bandwidth channels (such as 80MHz or 160MHz) and portions of 5GHz are subject to restrictions that limit its use.
Qualcomm has suggested that regulators should expect to allocate around 1280MHz of unlicensed spectrum somewhere in the 5GHz band for unlicensed technologies.
In response to the FCC's call for public comments in July 2017 regarding the expansion of mid-band spectrum between 3.7GHz and 24GHz, more than 30 technology companies including Qualcomm submitted a proposal insisting that the 5925-7125MHz band (the "6GHz band") is "essential to meeting demand for the next generation of wireless broadband services."
To fulfill this upcoming demand for Wi-Fi, the companies proposed that 6GHz be opened to unlicensed technologies and split into four sub-bands with different technical rules and interference protections.
Given that Wi-Fi 6 is currently being developed and that the US among other countries are opening the 6GHz band, the IEEE 802.11ax Task Group has decided to implement support for this spectrum on next-generation Wi-Fi 6.
Allocating the 6GHz band as unlicensed space is appealing to companies because they can use this frequency without filing for access with the FCC, which is expected to propel innovation and investment as the so-called fourth industrial revolution unfolds.
"By opening this entire band to unlicensed radio local access network operations, the Commission will allow us to bring consumers faster service, lower latency, and more pervasive coverage, and allow the nation to reap the economic and public safety benefits that are associated with unlicensed technologies," the companies wrote in their proposal to the FCC.
Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax is only one of many upcoming wireless standards being developed to service the variety of network demands that will be made by different types of devices.
Standards span from 802.11aj/ay which can deliver tens of gigabits a second over 60GHz mmWave frequencies, to sub-1GHz specifications such as 802.11ah which offers lower bandwidth/better range for IoT sensors -- all of which (and more) will be part of the licensed and unlicensed spectrum that comprise 5G.

Wrap Up: A Sky-Level View of Wi-Fi 6

Meant to replace both 802.11n and 802.11ac as the next WLAN standard, 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 is being developed to deliver considerable increases in network efficiency and capacity for dense population centers, with moderate improvements to peak data rates, which will be sustained better across more devices at once.
Or as Qualcomm likes to put it, "the problem isn't how fast Wi-Fi can go, but if the Wi-Fi network has enough capacity to handle the growing demand for many different connected devices and services."
Because Wi-Fi 6 will have an immediate impact on the performance of networks in crowded places such as stadiums or apartment buildings, the standard is expected to be adopted faster than previous Wi-Fi iterations and it will eventually be a necessity for home users as 100Mb/s to 1Gb/s broadband connections become more available, and as the roll-out of IoT leads to 'everything' being online.
Contemplating Wi-Fi 6 more broadly, the boost in multi-user support and particularly the increase in simultaneous upstream connections will arrive alongside an accelerating demand for user data, which will be gathered from IoT devices and used for purposes such as machine learning, fueling artificial intelligence, the future of technology as a whole and a growing digital economy.
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, routers are already available based on draft 802.11ax specifications, with final ratification of the standard due in December 2019. And again, the first round of official devices might not support the full capabilities of Wi-Fi 6, which could potentially be expanded with a second wave of hardware enabling further support for features such as higher order MU-MIMO and 6GHz spectrum.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Why English is so hard to learn...

Monday, November 26, 2018

This 3-Second Trick Will Save You From Saying Something You’ll Regret

We get worked up and say something we wish we hadn’t. Now we’re filled with regret and left picking up the pieces on a situation that could have been avoided.
When things get heated, it’s all too easy to say something you’ll regret, hurting someone you love or causing a division among colleagues that really never had to happen in the first place.
People always tell you to think before you speak. And, sure, it works sometimes. But for the most part, it’s an unrealistic suggestion that is far easier said than done.
But that’s mostly because we don’t know what to think about. So, we often end up just mulling over our anger and making it worse.
I regret things all the time. I’ve never regretted not saying something. I’ve only regretted saying something.
– Chrissy Teigen
Instead of eating your words, use this simple trick to save you from saying something you’ll regret:

Craig Ferguson’s “3-second trick”

As unexpected as it might be, this simple trick comes from none other than comedian and former late-night host Craig Ferguson.
Ferguson says that there are three questions you need to ask before saying something you might regret:
  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me now?
The questions might appear simplistic but the more you think about and apply them, it becomes obvious that their simplicity is their very genius.
This strikes to the heart of three basic assumptions we make in virtually every conversation. Often, we’re so consumed with what we want to express that we don’t think about the fact that something can be held back and actually help the conversation.
Not everything has to be expressed, especially when you get worked up and might end up saying something you don’t mean, which is really where the first question comes in.
Do you really need to tell them they’re a screw-up? No, you don’t truly think that, you just want to hit them with something because of the pain they’ve caused you in the past five minutes. Stop before you say something you’ll regret.
Or do you really need to complain about what happened in that meeting? Is it possible the criticism isn’t warranted and it was just your interpretation?
And for the second question, do you need to be the one to tell them they might be in the wrong job? Maybe you can talk to their best friend and convince them to have a conversation with the person? Especially if they tend to react defensively when you bring things like that up.

Or do you need to be the one to complain about a colleagues performance? Or would it be better to take it up with the team leader before you cause a rift between teammates?
Finally, do you really need to say that they’re not very good at that new task they just picked up last week? Or would it be better to encourage they continue practicing and that they’ll get better soon?
Or should you talk to that colleague about the incident last week now or is it possible you might be missing information? Should you wait to see what they say in the next meeting first?
In the moment, the right one of these three questions takes no more than a few seconds. However, it can help keep you from saying something you’ll regret much longer.

The 20+ funniest French expressions (and how to use them)

1. The French don’t “piss you off”… they “shit you off” (Faire chier quelqu’un).
2. The French don’t call you “idiotic”… they call you “as dumb as a broom” (Être con comme un balai).
3. The French don’t “blow you off”… they “give you the rake” (Se prendre un râteau).
4. The French don’t tell you that “they don’t care”… they tell you that “they care about it like they care about their very first shirt” (S’en foutre comme de sa première chemise).
5. The French don’t say “this is annoying me”… they say “I’m getting swollen by this” (Ça me gonfle).
6. The French don’t tell you to “leave them alone”… they tell you to “go and cook yourself an egg” (Aller se faire cuire un œuf).
7. The French don’t tell you that “you’re grumpy”… they tell you that “you’re farting sideways” (Avoir un pet de travers).
8. The French don’t “go crazy”… they “break a fuse” (Péter un plomb).
9. The French are not “bumbling”… they have “their two feet in the same clog” (Avoir les deux pieds dans le même sabot).
10. The French are not “energized”… they have “the potato” or the “French fry” (Avoir la patate/la frite).
11. The French don’t tell you “to mind your own business”… they tell you “to deal with your own onions” (Occupe-toi de tes oignons).
12. The French are not “broke”… they are “scythed like wheat fields” (Être fauché comme les blés).
13. The French are not “very lucky”… they have “as much luck as a cuckold” (Avoir une veine de cocu).
14. The French don’t say “it’s useless”… they say “it’s like pissing in a violin” (Pisser dans un violon).
15. The French are not “ungrateful”… they “spit in the soup” (Cracher dans la soupe).
16. The French don’t “fuss about something”… they “make a whole cheese about it” (En faire tout un fromage).
17. The French don’t “give someone a tongue-lashing”… they “yell at them like they’re rotten fish” (Engueuler quelqu’un comme du poisson pourri).
18. French men don’t “sleep around”… they “dip their biscuit” (Tremper son biscuit).
19. The French are not “big-headed”… they “fart higher than their ass is located” (Péter plus haut que son cul).
20. The French don’t “shup someone up”… they “nail someone’s beak” (Clouer le bec de quelqu’un).
21. The French are not “tired”… they have their head up their ass (Avoir la tête dans le cul).
22. The French do not speak of something “out of the blue”… they speak of something “that has nothing to do with sauerkraut” (Ca n’a rien à voir avec la choucroute).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018



Eight forms of worldly suffering in samsara

“There are eight forms of worldly suffering in samsara. These eight forms of worldly suffering accompany us throughout our lives. The first four are natural phenomena. The other four may be remedied through spiritual cultivation but most of us are unable to overcome them because we live our lives deluded, fixated and biased.” ―I Ask The Buddha
“娑婆有八大苦,这八大苦跟随我们一生。前 四大苦是‘自然法则’,后四大苦是能用修行来对治,可是凡夫却无法做到,因为我们活在妄想、执著、分别当中。”―《我问佛》

How to get noticed at work and boost your promotion potential: 10 tips

Here are 10 practical tips to improve your visibility at work and up your chances of your boss investing in your success.

Climbing the ladder in any company requires one thing: Visibility. But employees tend to buy into several myths about what it takes to get ahead, instead of looking to practical advice, Aimee Cardwell, vice president of engineering and consumer product development at American Express, said during a Wednesday session at the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston.

These myths include the idea that if you do your job well, you will be "discovered" by upper management, Cardwell said. People also tend to falsely believe that their work will speak for itself, or that getting ahead is all about relationships, or all about what you deliver.

In reality, "doing your job is table stakes," Cardwell said. "What you need is to be seen doing what you do best."

Here are 10 tips for how to become more visible to your boss, and ultimately gain a promotion, according to Cardwell.

1. Be the messenger
Volunteer to be the person who announces your team's successes, because the messenger of good news also receives a halo of credit, Cardwell said: In your mind, you associate the person who send the email with good news with that good news, more than the people who are listed in the message below. However, it's key not to overdo this, and never to use it to announce your own successes, she added.

2. Speak up
You need to participate during meetings and events to become visible, Cardwell said. "When you speak up at meetings, and you really must, make sure what you say is concise, on point, and interesting," she added. "Be brief and bold. If you don't say anything during the meeting, no one will know that you're thinking smart things."

This doesn't mean overtake the meeting, she added, but realize that people are interested in your opinion, even if you are lower on the totem pole in your organization.

3. Make friends
This requires honing your small talk skills, Cardwell said. "The ability to engage strangers in conversations is one of the best ways to expand your network," she added. "You have to practice constantly to get better and grow."

One tactic for improving your small talk is when you meet someone, no matter what position they are in, treat them as if they are someone who your friend brought to your house for a dinner party, and focus on making them feel comfortable, Cardwell said. "Just relate as a person, and make them comfortable in the first few minutes of meeting," she added.

4. Sign up
Volunteer for extra credit projects that nobody else wants to take on, and then rock them, Cardwell said. That way, you're thought of as the person who is willing to take on a difficult or tedious task, and you may get to meet people who are outside of your usual department and add to your network.

5. Fix it
Take the initiative to fix the broken things in your company that people have just gotten used to. If you fail, people will continue to do things the same way, but if you succeed, you'll be a hero, Cardwell said.

6. Ask for feedback and advice
Ask for feedback and advice from people you admire, and accept that feedback graciously, Cardwell said. While feedback may be a more formal thing to ask for, you should end ever one-to-one meeting you have with anyone by asking, "Do you have any advice about this?"

"Try to be specific," Cardwell said. "If you can learn to take that feedback and advice graciously, people will see that you're listening to them. And it's also quite helpful, because other people see you in ways you can't perceive yourself."

7. Become a subject matter expert
Find other people in your company who need your expertise, and offer it freely and generously, Cardwell said. "Create a discussion channel around your interest, and invite others to discuss," she added. This may take the form of a Slack channel, for example.

8. Get help
Seek out a mentor, career sponsor, or advocate. Ask these people for 15 minutes of their time to ask about a specific question and learn more about opportunities in the company. "No one will tell you no," Cardwell said. "But if you never ask, you'll never get it."

9. Speak out
Speak externally at meetups, schools, and events, Cardwell said. Reach out to your corporate communications team and let them know you're available for these types of engagements. If you're not comfortable with speaking, start practicing, she added.

10. Observe
Watch the people in your organization who are well-known, and compare their different styles of approaching meetings and problems, Cardwell said. Watch to see if they approach things from a technical, factual, emotional, or other angle, and build a mental picture of that approach. The next time you're faced with a problem, you can try one of those approaches, and see how it fits you, she added.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How to Claim Against Foreign Motorist

Get out of your head: how to quiet your thoughts

A short guide to overthinking

Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

The average person thinks 70,000 thoughts per day.
Our mind can feel like our best friend — or our worst enemy.
It’s our friend when it has a task to fulfill. This sense of purpose streamlines our thinking, making it lucid and focused.
It’s our enemy when it’s left unattended. Like a puppy, it’s prone to wandering off in all sorts of directions:
… Why you and your partner had an argument, when your bills are due, why your flatmate said something in a passive aggressive tone of voice…
These are thoughts that float to the surface in moments of stillness: before bed, brushing our teeth, on the subway. Without a focal point, our brains default into repetitive worry rather than happy musing.
A Harvard study explored this and the verdict was clear:
“A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”
So how do we deal with meandering thoughts? Can we tame them, or train them into more positive thinking?
First, we need to establish something very important:

We are not our thoughts

Would you let your haircut define you? Or the length of your legs? Probably not.
But it’s trickier with thoughts. They live in our heads. Because of that, it’s easy to identify with them.
“The primal brain doesn’t know the difference between a thought and reality.”
explains health and community psychologist, Marny Lishman.
This is known as cognitive fusion. We look “from” our thoughts instead of “at” them.
We feel like we are our thoughts.
So we behave as if:
  • Thoughts are reality — what we’re thinking is actually happening.
  • Thoughts are truth — we believe them.
  • Thoughts are wise — we assume they know best.
In fact, our thoughts are super flakey and unreliable. They’re mostly fleeting scraps of consciousness that we project random external factors onto, like:
Hunger, tiredness, being unwell, what we ate yesterday, what we’re watching on TV… these temporary states have a huge impact on what goes on internally.
Clearly, these factors fluctuate as quickly as the weather. And like the weather, they can be stormy or sunny for no apparent reason.
Remember: our thoughts are not real. They only become real if we choose to act on them.

Can I stop thinking?

The short answer is no.
In fact, the more we try and shut thoughts down, the louder they will get.

It’s like being told not to think of a pink elephant — what pops into your mind’s eye? Shutting off our mind completely is about as easy as amputating an imaginary limb.
But that doesn’t mean we are powerless. We can’t control our thoughts, but we can choose how we relate to them.
Author and blogger Pam Grout captures this perfectly:
“Your thoughts are like harmless ants marching across a picnic blanket. They come, they go, they quickly flow right through until . . . you decide to gather them up, stare at them, and transform them into your reality.
It is our attention to our thoughts that pull them into our reality. We decide which thoughts to feed, which thoughts to empower.”
The choice is ours.

Acknowledging thoughts

We can’t ‘see’ our minds (in the way that we can see our legs).
We are only aware of them on a mental level. They feel unique to us. And so, they become intertwined with our sense of self like velcro.
How can we separate the two?


Acknowledging our thoughts is the starting point to freeing ourselves from their compelling power.
It sounds small and simple. But it’s huge.
The moment we acknowledge our thoughts, we step away from them. We build a divider, cut the cord.
And then, we have a choice. Are we going to engage with these thoughts?
Or are we just going to let them do their thing, while we get on with our lives?

Sit still

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées
Meditation isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
But sitting with your thoughts can be a very useful practise to acknowledge our thoughts — no religious or spiritual affiliation required.
Studies have shown the effects of meditation on brain function and brain structure. It de-activates the ‘me centers’ of the brain.
These areas are active during invasive, unhelpful thinking centred around ourselves:
“If I’d stayed at work later, I would have gotten that promotion” or “I’m sure my husband doesn’t love me anymore.”
There are many different kinds of mindfulness practises, but the ones I’ve encountered have the same principles at heart. And they are very simple.
That means you refrain from acting, or acting out.
It also means you create a space in which it’s easier to hear your thoughts, and become aware of your feelings.
When you sit still, quietly, thoughts and emotions will visit you.
You notice them, and you train your mind not to get caught up in them.
Most meditation practises offer a support for this. It may be your breathing, or a candle, or the sounds around you — anything that transports you from your headspace into the present.
These offer a place to shift your attention to the moment you notice you and your thoughts get tangled up.
You can explicitly acknowledge your thinking when you see it happen, by silently saying ‘thinking’. You mark that you’ve noticed. Then you shift your attention back to the present.
Then it happens again. No worries. You mark it. You shift your attention.
Your mind won’t suddenly go all quiet. Your thoughts will still be chatting away.
The difference is, you’re not listening, you’re observing non reactively.

Observe patterns

Over time, our thought processes become deeply etched into the neurons in our brains. When certain brain pathways are repeated, these neurons begin to fire information in a quick, interconnected sequence.
When one thought starts, the whole sequence gets activated, like a set of dominoes.
We can’t change the gut-level instincts that our minds and bodies produce; but we can observe them: you’ll notice that certain thoughts always trigger others.
So, when your mind embarks on a negative sequence, notice it with lighthearted curiosity. Then, gently pull it back to the present.
This simple action — moving your mind back to focus, over and over and over again — will strengthen like a muscle.
Over time, you will develop new pathways that don’t lapse into unhelpful thinking.
Slowly but surely, your brain will rewire itself.

Voice your fears

Many people grow thinking we should keep our fears locked away.
But as authors such as Dr. Brene Brown have shown, expressing your vulnerability is a source of strength and confidence.
Speaking is how we relate to the world — that’s why I’ve made open dialoguesuch a big part of our culture at JotForm.
Voicing our fears lets us process them. Letting them bounce endlessly around in our head does the opposite.
We can’t appreciate the true beauty of a work of art from 2cm away. And we can’t see clearly when we examine ourselves from one angle only.
Opening up a dialogue lets others contribute to our narrative; they are better-placed to be objective, as they can see us from a distance.
Psychologist Todd Essig PhD explains:
“From the earliest exchanges between infants and parents, a self grows in relationship with those around them. So too is the case in adulthood. We come to know ourselves in dialogue with others.”
Overly-detailed introspection is dangerous because it’s a closed system. This obsessive, ‘late night’ thinking makes things seem much worse than they are, like a spooky shadow cast against a wall.
When we turn the light on, we realize it’s just an old dressing gown.
Expose fears for what they really are: just thoughts.
Then move on.

Get in touch with your senses

We get caught up in the drama of life: breakups and makeups, new jobs, birth and death, tragedy and joy.
We reminisce over occasions in the past, and plan for those in the future.
This keeps us locked out of the present.
These big, important moments serve as life’s architecture. Meanwhile, little, but equally important moments are in danger of getting lost in the cracks.
According to research, 50% of our happiness is accounted for by genetics. Another 10% is determined by our circumstances: that’s why you see children smiling in the slums, and having tantrums in Trump Tower.
And the remaining 40% relies on our attitude. That leaves a ton of room for manoeuvre.
Getting our full 40% isn’t fancy, or expensive, or complicated.
We just need to pay attention to our senses.
Right. This. Second.
The crispness of fresh sheets. The taste of our coffee. The warmth of a hot bath after a long day. The sun on our back.
These joyful little moments get lost in the bland tedium of every day life.
Notice them, appreciate them, feel them.
As soon you do, congratulations! You’re living in the present — not inside your head.

Final thoughts

The ability to step out of your head and into the world is around you is a skill, and like any skill, it needs to be cultivated.
A busy mind can feel like a dark, scary place if left untethered.
But just remember, you have a choice: not on whether or not to think the thoughts, but on whether to engage with them.
Like mindless chatter on a busy bus, you can zone out, good-naturedly, until you hear something worth listening to.