Nothing will change your future trajectory like your habits. While goals rely on extrinsic motivation, habits, once formed, are automatic. They literally rewire our brains.
No matter what obstacles you face, you first need to get deep with knowing yourself — your strengths, your values, your comfort zones, your blind spots, and your biases.
When you fully understand yourself, you’ll know where your true north lies.
“Sociopolitical forces today can make humility feel especially dangerous and even foolish. Social media has stunted our ability to reinvent our thinking because our ideas are increasingly cumulative: Every opinion we’ve ever posted online is memorialized. With such a well-documented history of beliefs, changing your mind on something important or controversial can feel like a weakness and open you up to public criticism. The solution to this is to take most of your opinions off the electronic grid.”
“People think that computer science is the art of geniuses but the actual reality is the opposite, just many people doing things that build on each other, like a wall of mini stones.”
- Donald Knuth
Sometimes, we believe that the strength of our ideas, arguments, or communication makes people change their minds. Wrong. People make up their own minds.
An effective way to convince and help people decide is the Socratic method. Instead of telling people how to think, or what to do, ask questions that will make them think about it. Once they think about it, they’ll care about it. And once they care about it, they’ll act on it.
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” — John Maynard Keynes
“Scientists who study the mechanics of curiosity are finding that it is, at its core, a kind of probability algorithm—our brain’s continuous calculation of which path or action is likely to gain us the most knowledge in the least amount of time. Like the links on a Wikipedia page, curiosity builds upon itself, every question leading to the next. And as with a journey down the Wikipedia wormhole, where you start dictates where you might end up. That’s the funny thing about curiosity: It’s less about what you don’t know than about what you already do.”
Meditation doesn’t stop as soon as you get up from your seat. Instead, every second of life is an opportunity to recognize the openness and clarity of your mind.
Take walking, for instance. Each step is a chance to be fully present, right now, no matter where you’re going. Notice how your balance shifts as you move. Notice the sights and sounds around you. Notice that your body knows exactly how to walk, without any conscious effort from you.
There really is no reason to rush through the world. And if you must rush for brief periods of time, why not do so mindfully?
Confirmation bias is the tendency to confirm what you already believe to be true while discarding any evidence that contradicts your beliefs.
We attribute confirmation bias to the people we disagree with and not ourselves.
We both think our view of the world is the correct one because it’s…ours.
If you want to be wise, figure out whether your biases and belief systems are helping you. If your beliefs aren’t helping you get the results you want, maybe you should change them.
If someone has an answer or solution to every complex macro problem, they’re not wise because they can’t resist the urge to have an opinion on something.
Wise people can say “I don’t know” and admit which areas of understanding are above their paygrade.
Wise people would never actually call themselves ‘wise.’ You can be confident in your intelligence, but you can also remember that you’re not as much of a hotshot as you think you are.
If you can’t get what you want from life, how smart are you, really?
What use is your ‘ intelligence’ if you can’t find happiness, meaning, and purpose?
Wisdom comes from that process of banging your head against the wall trying to get what you want, failing over and over again, until you finally get it. Many intelligent people are scared of going through this journey.
Privilege makes you think you know everything.
Wisdom reminds you that you know nothing.
When you know nothing, anything is possible.
You have more power and influence than you think. For instance, this year you could save at least one human life. Possibly many more. All it takes is just one moment of clarity—and a single decision to do good.
The whole world is waiting for you to become a moral hero. Will you answer the call?
Worry is preposterous; we don’t know enough to worry.
Nature is not mute; it is the man who is deaf.
Don’t try too hard to make your life easy.
“Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy. Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder. Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder. Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder. Easy has a cost.”
Wherever you are right now, pause and look around you.
Feel your feet on the ground. Feel the texture of the phone in your hand. Hear the sounds, near and far. Relax your eyes, open your peripheral vision, and receive light from the visual field.
Marvel at the complexity and intricacy of everything happening on it’s own. And let this next breath come as it will, with no effort from you, as if you were being breathed.
You’re here. You’re alive. This is it. What more is there to be grateful for?
“For the classics, philosophical insight was the product of a life of leisure; for me, a life of leisure is the product of philosophical insight.”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb
When you assume that something is impossible, sometimes it is just that you haven’t met the guy who has already done that.
Whenever your mind says, “I can’t do this,” – challenge it. It may just be an assumption.
You can do a lot more than you think you can. The obstacle, it turns out, is almost always inside your head.
Sometimes, it’s hard to make decisions at the moment. You know what you want to do but you end up doing something else. You walked into dinner with your friends telling yourself that you weren’t going to eat dessert and you walked out having devoured it. There is a way to make this easier.
Pre-decide what you want to do and make it an automatic rule.
Words are easy to say and hard to do.
While your words are how you see yourself, your actions are how other people see you.
“Ambition is a word that lacks ambition: ambition is frozen desire, the current of a vocational life immobilized and over-concretized to set, unforgiving goals. Ambition may be essential for the young but becomes the essential obstacle of any mature life…”
- Consolations by David Whyte
In life, we are often too quick to judge. The truth is, we don’t know what will be good or bad for us.
Don’t worry about luck – you don’t control it. But here is what we do control – doing the best work we can.
Keep doing that and one day, luck will come around.
“A writer—and, I believe, generally all persons—must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”
— Jorge Luis Borges
“Good thinkers understand a simple truth: you can’t make good decisions without good thinking and good thinking requires time. If you want to think better, schedule time to think and hone your understanding of the problem.”
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”
Ninety percent of success can be boiled down to consistently doing the obvious thing for an uncommonly long period of time without convincing yourself that you’re smarter than you are.
There will always be far more beyond the boundaries of our knowledge than within them. For some, this may be a rather depressing realization, because it means that, however much we strive to expand our knowledge, it will always be a tiny fraction of what there is to know.
For me, far from being depressing, this insight is actually the reason for joy, because it means that if you enjoy learning (and I do) you will never exhaust the opportunities to expand your knowledge.
There is simply no end to what there is to know. But you will never be able to know everything; there will never come a point when you can say, ‘we’ve got all this figured out.’ In fact, we have almost nothing figured out, and never will, and that’s a good thing.
‘we monkeys are not running this show.’ A moment’s reflection is all it takes to arrive at this realization. If anything, our presence on the planet at this point is a threat to the smooth running of the ‘show’ (and by ‘show’ I mean the ongoing unfolding of life on earth). Far more than our species, as puffed up with self-importance as we may be, it is the other members of the community of life that are ‘running the show.’ In particular, it is the plants that are running the show.