Over-optimized for Moral Judgment — 7 Takeaways No. 69

Over-optimized for Moral Judgment
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1. “A well-lived life without calibration is unlikely.”

Re-calibrating – Seth Godin – (Blog)

When someone gets older or is injured, one of the dangers is that they’ll fail to realize that they can’t do the things they used to do in quite the same way.

None of these changes are failures. They’re simply steps in the journey.

We change. That’s part of the deal.

Many humans are change-averse. I see it all the time in the world of technology, but it’s true for many aspects of life. One of our favorite pastimes is complaining about what’s changed around us and how things used to be different (and, often incorrectly, “better”).

It’s frustrating, because, as Godin points out, change is just part of the deal, steps in the journey.

Do this: If you can’t embrace change, at least learn to accept it. You’ll be much happier.

2. “Eliminate absolute statements”

The Profile: The woman who builds the world’s most unique Airbnbs & the new financial supermarkets – Polina Pompliano – (Newsletter)

I frequently get as much value from Popova’s(*) Pompliano’s newsletter intro than from some profiles she shares. This is another such case.

I’ve long railed against black-and-white thinking. It’s at the core of so much that is wrong with public discourse, among other things. I get people want simple solutions, but acting like they exist when they do not is ultimately destructive.

… this type of all-or-nothing thinking tells me two things: 1) You perceive life events in an emotional way, and 2) Your worldview is likely distorted because you don’t see nuance.

Life is chock-full of nuance.

Do this: “If there’s one thing you can do right now to improve both your personal and professional life, it’s this: Eliminate absolute statements from your vocabulary.”

3. “It Depends”

Stop asking for general solutions to specific problems – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)

Another of my pet peeves. “It depends” is my most common answer to many Ask Leo! questions. Crittenden sums up why nicely:

It depends, it depends, it always depends. A one-size-fits-all answer will miss the nuance of your unique problem.


Don’t hold the context back. Explain the history. Get both of your hands dirty in the details. It’ll take longer, but any answers you get may actually be relevant.

Life is chock-full of nuance.

Do this: Ask better questions.

4. “We’re over-optimized for moral judgment”

On Slaps and Celebrity – Mark Manson – (Newsletter)

I was hoping Manson would address this. I hadn’t planned on paying much attention to “the slap”, but Manson’s perspective is unique: he’s co-authored a book with Will Smith, and if I understand correctly, went on a book tour with him.

Moral judgment comes easy and is rewarded with retweets and clicks. Forgiveness is difficult and doesn’t go viral.

I’ve been thinking a lot about judgement of late and how “judgy” we’ve all seemed to become in recent years. The thoughts here transcend one random incident, and apply to many more important things.

Do this: Think twice before passing judgement. It’s highly unlikely you know the whole story.

5. “Quit picking fights … and go make something!”

Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon – (ebook)

I re-read this book this week, as I periodically do, after receiving the 10th anniversary edition (in hardback, no less — quite unusual for me). It’s inspirational. There are a lot of thoughts about creativity and art that aren’t limited to traditional definitions of creativity and art.

The takeaway above seems timely, particularly in the face of the preceding takeaway.

You’re going to see a lot of stupid stuff out there and you’re going to feel like you need to correct it. One time I was up late on my laptop and my wife yelled at me, “Quit picking fights on Twitter and go make something!” She was right. But anger is one of my favorite creative resources.

Be it addressing the stupid stuff at hand, or simply using your creative efforts to distract yourself from said stupid stuff, making something — creating — is a great alternative to getting embroiled in the latest social media brouhaha.

Do this: Steal Like an Artist Smile

6. “Everything depends on making the most of this life”

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals – Oliver Burkeman – (ebook)

I mentioned this book last week, finished it this week, and it’s resonated with me deeply.

When people stop believing in an afterlife, everything depends on making the most of this life. And when people start believing in progress—in the idea that history is headed toward an ever more perfect future—they feel far more acutely the pain of their own little lifespan, which condemns them to missing out on almost all of that future.

Whether or not you believe in an afterlife, everything still depends on making the most of this life. And, indeed, what regret I see myself having is not for what I’ve done or not done, but the fact that I’ll miss everything else yet to come.

Do this: Make the most of this life.

7. “Living well is so much about perspective.”

You’re Going to Die. Here’s Why That’s Such Great News. – Julia Hubbel – (Blog)

In the same vein as the prior takeaway, Hubbel muses on the miracle that is our existence and the extraordinary odds against it. And yet here we are. What a wonder!

Perhaps it takes aging enough, perhaps a great deal, to finally begin to truly appreciate having been born at all, and given what time we have, especially as it begins to shorten, to enjoy the world we inhabit.

Having been born at all.

I do know that I am by god going to die. That is great news. For that means I will have lived.

Do this: appreciate the miracle of your very existence.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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(*): I’m constantly getting these two confused. My apologies to all.

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