Diamonds and Degrees

A diamond is forever.

Proposing marriage with a diamond ring is the norm of today. And we all brush it off as an age old tradition. But before 1947, proposing with a diamond ring wasn’t as popular. Only a few people in the world did it. Mostly the powerful and the filthy rich.

Back then, the De Beers group of companies had total control over the diamond market. And since very few people used diamonds in their daily lives, their sales were plummeting. That was when De Beers devised up an ad campaign to increase their sales. The strategy of the ad campaign read as follows ( according to The Atlantic) –

We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer’s wife and the mechanic’s sweetheart say ‘I wish I had what she has.’

The campaign took off like a blazing arrow, the fire spread across the world. People all over the world saw the ad and that sealed it. Soon, every average joe was proposing the love of his life with a De Beers diamond. And as the ritual was passed down through generations, people forgot where the tradition came from – marketing.


College degrees are a logical necessity. It is imperative to have one if you want to succeed in life. And there is no other way to earn an education.

But before the rise and boom of capitalism, there were multiple paths to an education (including degrees).

But the corporations and companies that sprouted with capitalism, needed individuals who were specifically trained to do one particular job accurately. And the college degree was one method of education that did exactly that – training individuals in a narrow area of expertise.

Although the capitalist system wouldn’t work if there weren’t enough employees to staff the corporations of the world. So the College Degree was popularised as the ‘only’ method of earning an a solid education. And like the De Beers ad campaign, it took no time for people to mentally associate a college degree with the concept of success.

The mental correlation goes something like this :

College Degree – Good Job – Great money – Successful life

The real correlation is something like this :

College Degree – Specifically Trained Staff –  More Profits – Successful Business Venture.

Well, some might argue that the increasing profits of corporations around the world also raise the standard of human life. That I have to agree.  But what we forget in the meanwhile, is that College Degrees aren’t a logical necessity for an education. They’re just a consequence of the capitalist structure of our world.

There are other ways to get a solid education for a happy successful life. We have just been following the way of the college degree for so long that we have forgotten the other ways.


Elon Musk – “There is no need to even have a college degree.. at all” ( in a TV interview)


The Prime Comedic Principle

Comedy, in its numerous forms, is the finest remedy to a disturbed mind. But like every medicine, comedy works on a simple principle – which I call ‘The Prime Comedic Principle’

The Prime Comedic Principle

Comedy is mainly of two type – visual and verbal. In the past when recording device weren’t developed, visual comedy was the norm. And after the advent of audio recording and talkie films, comedy gradually became more and more verbal. Irrespective of which kind of comedy you prefer, it revolves around one principle.

The Prime Comedic Principle states that in order to be humorous sequence or speech must form an expectation in the minds of its audience and then overthrow that expectation.


Take a look comic scene from the hugely successful SITCOM ‘Friends’

Joey, Chandler, Monica and Rachel are looking at an old home video of Monica, when she was fat.

Joey points to fat Monica on the screen and screams

“Some girl ate Monica!”

The audience laughs.

Monica dismisses him quoting a popular TV phrase

“Shut up the camera adds ten pounds”

Now the usual expectation is that the joke ends here.  But that expectation is overthrown as Chandler stretches the joke one last time.

“So how many cameras were actually on you?”

The audience bursts into laughter on this final punchline.


If you want to make someone laugh, create an expectation and then destroy it. The more expert comedians go the extra mile, destroying a single expectation two or three times over.  So if you are pursuing a career as a comedian or are just looking to improve your sense of humour, this rule is for you.

Note : The Prime Comedic Principle is just a rough guideline. Comedy is an art; art thrives on the occasional breaking of rules. So don’t follow the principle to the letter, but just keep it in mind.


Informal Education is a needless Taboo.

What is informal education?

Informal education is style of education that diverges away from the formal structure of education. Unlike the the fixed curriculum, a finite number of exams and the emphasis on physical presence in a classroom ( the features of a formal education), informal education promotes more flexible methods of learning which involve – self learning, experiential learning, out of the box thinking and acceptance of new trends.

The history of Formal Education

Ever since the modern education system began, a majority of the human population has subscribed to that system. The reason for this bias was that the formal structure of education was more dependable, predictable and had a potential to show consistent results. This is why, the formal education system spanned every nook and corner of the civilized world. There was no second thought to whether a different style of education might be better in some way or the other. Formal education became the way to go, if you wanted to become successful in life. And more so, after the beginning of formal education, every field adopted the structure. And before we knew it, engineers, doctors, accountants, artists and even military men were being subjected to the same style of education. Despite having contrastingly different occupations, they followed the same classroom approach to everything they needed to learn.

Since the system was proving to be successful, no one ever thought to question it. And by question it, I don’t mean completely overthrowing it. I mean thinking hard and sound about whether formal education is appropriate for oneself.

Think to yourself. After you’d finished high school, you would have spent days, even months on choosing a field of learning that best fits your interest. But you never even for one second, spent time evaluating your style of learning. If you had, you would have asked yourself this question –  “Formal and informal education, which of the two am I comfortable with?”

But instead we go on, without questioning the style. We dive into the water, without judging the depth.

Why is informal education a taboo?

We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.

-Christof, ( The Truman Show – 1998)

Now since the belief in formal education has been reinforced over many generations, usually everyone instinctively chooses formal education. Why wouldn’t they? It shows success and everyone follows it. From their standpoint it is completely logical to blindly follow formal education.

And a rare few stop to logically evaluate the two styles of learning. Some of them arrive at the decision that informal education is better for them. And to those who have stepped into formal education  with blind faith, choosing informal education seems completely illogical.

The fish in the water looks at the bird in the air and despises him.

That is why when someone chooses to follow the informal structure, they’re termed as crazy, lazy, and other degrading terms.  And since formal education is the norm everywhere in the world, informal education has become a global taboo.

Why it is a needless taboo?

It is completely illogical to not question your style of learning. And more mindless is to choose your style of learning based on what others have done in the past. What ever style you choose should be a reflection your particular strengths and weaknesses. Your style of learning is your identity and should be chosen after proper evaluation of the alternatives.

And if after such a process, one arrives at the decision that informal education is the best for them, it is their personal choice. No one has the right to insult a person who choses to educate themselves outside the bounds of a classroom. It is their own choice. No one  (Not even parents )has a right to interfere in what route of learning an individual chooses.

Snippets from my life

Exactly one year ago, I got around to evaluating whether pursuing a degree was right for me. I reached the conclusion that I wasn’t comfortable with the structure of formal education. I wanted to learn things on my own terms. My interests are highly divergent. I have a professional interest in a variety of fields such as engineering, physics, filmmaking and writing.  Having such a wide scope of interest, being subjected to the a singular field of interest for half my day is uncomfortable.

And when I communicated my thoughts to my parents about me wanting to discontinue formal education, they erupted into hysteria. They called me crazy. When I said I didn’t want to be like everyone else, the asked me why the hell did I want to be different? They didn’t understand me back then, and they don’t even now.

So to them, I have this to say.

I love learning but on my own terms. I’m uncomfortable dedicating 4 years of my life to a singular interest. I want to learn everything, and I want to do that all the time. From your standpoint this might seem logical, but it isn’t. What is illogical and completely psychotic is that you yourself have never evaluated your style of learning. I pity you because you cannot see through my eyes, because you are missing out on all the sides of this world that I can see and you can’t, because you have closed your mind.

So whatever you say or do to force me into formal education, the reality won’t change – you followed the masses blindly, like mindless sheep. It was your choice. And to not live blindly is mine. I didn’t interfere in your choices, please leave me alone in mine.


Learn Psychology: Ask anything

The best way to learn anything is to ask questions. And to remember what you have learned, you need to have your questions answered. So today, you can ask me anything concerning psychology. If you have any doubts about the previous posts in the series, feel free to ask. In fact, make it a point to harass me with your questions 😉  (Write your questions in the comments section)

Also, I would be eternally grateful if you would be kind enough to give me some feedback about the series. All you have to do is select one of the 4 options below. You can also select multiple options if you like. If your answer isn’t in the options, you can put your suggestions and feedback in the others section of the poll or the comments section.


Learn Psychology: Social behaviour

The society is a significant component of human behaviour. Everything we do or think has a shade of the need for social acceptance. Of course, there are deviations and exceptions to this rule. This need to be accepted by a certain social group is social conformity.

Social Conformity

We are social beings. And hence we feel the need to be accepted by the society. We do this by trying to imitate the social conventions around us. If everyone wears black at a funeral, you must too. We try and stick to social conventions so that the society can accept us.

When a human with healthy social relationships makes a decision, he always takes into account the social ramifications of the decision. This being said, there are certain exceptions to this rule though.


In one of the previous posts of Learn Psychology, we learnt about ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy‘. It states that certain desires when left unfulfilled, gain more priority than other desires. For example, if you are extremely hungry, trapped in a snowy cave with the dead body of your friend. In normal situations, eating your friend would be considered socially unacceptable. But in this case, your hunger would override your need for social conformity and you would consume the flesh of your friend- not because you are a psychopath, but because you didn’t have any other choice – In a life threatening scenario, your self-preservation instinct dominates any other need.

Also according to Maslow, until you are satisfied physiologically (hunger, sleep, sex) and also feel safe, you will not move on to garnering social acceptance. This might also be the psychological explanation why people get cranky if they don’t get enough sleep or food.


There are exceptions to the need for social conformity. People with psychological ailments don’t always necessarily stick to social conventions. In some cases, their altered perception of the world comes in conflict with their social perception.  This causes them to behave in socially unacceptable ways.

There is another class of exceptions to the rule. There are people in this world who despite the lack of a psychological ailment, choose to not live by one or more of the social conventions. This is completely normal since most of the modern day counselling curriculum teaches us to embrace our differences and celebrate them. ‘Everyone is unique.’ is the worldwide slogan for embracing uniqueness.



If you haven’t read the last post of the series, click: Learn Psychology: Sleep. Also to read all of the posts in this series, click: Learn Psychology

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Learn Psychology announcement!

Man is a social being. A sense of society makes us feel at home in our environment. But the influence of society doesn’t end there. This Sunday, in Learn Psychology, we’ll talk about how social relationships and social conventions affect our behaviour in daily life.

Also if you’ve missed the last post of the psychology series, here’s the link: Learn Psychology: Sleep

If you’re looking for something that can inspire you, watch out for the next article of the ‘Inspire’ series coming out tomorrow (Saturday). If you haven’t read the last post of the series, click on : Inspire: Kanha

Learn Psychology: Sleep

Sleep is a cherished time of the day. You come home from a hectic day. You take a long warm shower. And then you suit up and head straight for the bed. You lie down and feel your muscles relaxing, one by one. Now your brain will shut down. You’ll be out for the next 8 hours. Or will you?

What happens when we sleep?

The function of sleep is to rest your brain and your body. But during that period, your brain is far from being inactive. In fact, your brain has a lot of functions to perform while you rest. But the only difference between wakefulness and sleep is that the brain is less sensitive to external stimuli during sleep.

The brain has 4 important functions during sleep:

1.Waste removal

Thought and other processes in the brain take place through chemical reactions. Electric signals are sent to and fro between nerve junctions. These signals cause chemical reactions which in turn produce some waste products. The accumulation of these waste products can lead to severely impaired brain function. So every time we sleep, the brain clears up these waste products.

This phenomenon is also responsible for the lack of focus, cognitive function and logical thinking you experience when you haven’t slept enough.


It has been found that wounds heal faster during sleep. And actually, the bulk of all healing processes occurs during sleep. Now it must come as now surprise that all patients admitted in hospitals spend most of their time sleeping. Sleep helps drugs and other treatments to work effectively. So in a way, sleep is the second best medicine – after laughter

3. Brain growth and development

Babies are cute. But they’re more bearable when the asleep. You might have noticed that most babies spend a huge chunk of their day sleeping. This helps their brain grow and develop. And this rule applies to adults as well. In fact, as we grow up, the brain needs more and more sleep for further development.

4. Memory organization

When we’re awake, the brain is bombarded with inputs from all directions. Even when you are focused on a single task, your senses involuntarily pick up data from your external environment. Now all this data piles up throughout the day and has to be sorted into the useful stuff and the rest. The brain does this during sleep. It sorts through all the information and shifts the useful stuff to the long term memory. The rest is discarded or kept temporarily in short-term memory.

Sleep is the best scientist

James Watson (discovered structure of the DNA)

August Kekule ( discovered the structure of Benzene)

Rene Descartes ( laid down the framework for scientific method)…

The list goes on and on. All of these people have come up with their best work while they were asleep. This happens because, during wakefulness, the mind is distracted by a lot of things. Even if you focus all your attention on a single task, a small part of your brain is still engaged in processing the environment around you. When you sleep, that part of the brain becomes available for use. And hence when you sleep, you have your complete brainpower at your disposal.

This is why the above-mentioned people found solutions to their problems in their sleep. So if you take away anything from this section, let it be this – sleep is the best answer to all problems. ( Well not always but it certainly helps.)


Sleep is essential for keeping one’s sanity. It is the key to a healthy body as well as a sound mind. And if all the stories are to be believed, sleep is also the answer to many problems. Now all this talk about sleep has made me drowsy. So I’d better take a nap before I start typing gibberish.

See you tomorrow. Until then, keep mindfeeding 😉


This post is a part of the Learn Psychology series. If you haven’t read the previous post, click on: Learn Psychology: What is Psychology?

If you want to read all of the posts in the series, just click on: Learn Psychology

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