Effortless Effort — 7 Takeaways No. 75

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1. “Every interaction is an intrusion.”

Thinking About Service, A Personal Observation – David Gerrold – (Patreon post)

Unfortunately, this post is locked to patrons only. The takeaway above caught my attention, though, and it seems worthy of additional thought.

So it’s important to recognize the three gates. Is the intrusion kind, useful, and true? Or is it just fun? Whatever the case, the intruder has to be responsible for the effect that the intrusion will produce.

Every interaction is a choice. I choose to be of service. It’s not always easy, but it remains a worthy goal.

If you take away the knee-jerk reaction that “intrusion” implies something unwanted or bad, this feels like an interesting way to think of it. Particularly the “kind, useful, true” mantra.

Do this: Make good choices.

2. “You don’t have to be Gandhi to be a good guy.”

Dense Discovery #188 – Kai Brach – (Newsletter)

Continuing a theme of “service”, in the intro to his newsletter Brach discusses how we often set the bar much too high when we consider being of service to one another. He quotes John Perry Barlow from The Pursuit of Emptiness.

The habit of small kindnesses is immensely rewarding.

Small kindnesses accumulate to make a big difference.

Do this: Be kind. Often. In small and large ways.

3. “‘The nun said, “That’s OK…”‘”

Strangers as entertainment – Rob Walker – (The Art of Noticing blog)

The quote above comes from Walkers mention of someone who’s published a book of random glimpses into people’s texting in public. It’s an example of the premise: people watching, both as entertainment, but as a fascinating activity overall.

I have the (admittedly dubious, but I think ultimately harmless) habit of peeking at what people are doing on their phones in public. Frequently they’re playing some dumb game, which makes me vaguely sad. Can’t you make a dumb game out of reality?

Perhaps, yet sometimes reality is exactly what we’re trying to escape.

Do this: Notice others, of course. But while you’re at it, can you make a game of the reality around you?

4. “Don’t settle”

How to Discover Your Authentic Self — at Any Age – Bevy Smith – (TED / YouTube)

One of the recurring themes of the items I’m drawn to seems to be aging, and breaking down stereotypes associated with it. I stumbled onto this video and found it both entertaining and inspiring. If I had to sum it up I’d say it’s a story of realizing you’re not living the life you wanted to and at age 38 quitting your job and embarking on a new, more meaningful path.

Who am I at my core? How am I being perceived? How would I like to be perceived?

Answering those questions took Smith on a journey of self discovery and growth.

Do this:  Answer those questions for yourself.

5. “We are not just rational animals, but meaning-making ones.”

The Meaning-Making Animal – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)

At perhaps the highest level we struggle with two questions in life: how and why? Science can do a great job of answering the how questions, but not so much the why. Why is left to philosophy, spirituality, and other realms.

If you understood all the mathematical axioms and laws of physics that govern the creation of a smartphone, then you can see that everything can be explained scientifically.

But one thing that can’t be explained is why the world is governed by these axioms and laws in the first place.

We search for meaning, and meaning comes from “why”. Yeo’s essay is a nice overview of why as humans we need these questions, and how answering them has shaped society. And there are many, many different answers.

By realizing this, you cultivate compassion for the “other,” which is the only hope we have of creating a better world. And interestingly enough, no mathematical equation will ever define that undeniable force.

Do this: Cultivate compassion.

6. “Humble iodine”

How Adding Iodine to Salt Boosted Americans’ IQ – Lisa Raffensperger – (Discover magazine)

File this under “things taken for granted, hiding in plain sight”. I’d never really considered the ramifications of iodized salt. I knew it was a mineral we needed, but didn’t give it much further thought.

But new research finds that humble iodine has played a substantial role in cognitive improvements seen across the American population in the 20th century.

No, it’s not a double-blind controlled study, but the amount of correlating data does seem to support the thought. Conversely, there are negative indicators in areas where there is iodine deficiency, presumably due to iodized salt not being commonplace.

Do this: I don’t know that there’s anything actionable here, I just found it really interesting.

7. “Effortless effort”

How to enter “flow state” on command – Steven Kotler – (Big Think)

I ran across this twice this week (newsletter and YouTube) and took that as a sign. Smile

Anyone who creates, heck, anyone who works, knows what it means to enter into “flow” state. It’s that state where time seems to not exist, and production, if not effortless, is at least focused and uninterrupted for some period of time. Those who’ve experienced it see it out.

In this video Kotler, Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective (apparently there is such a thing), discusses flow, and the ways in which can make it easier to enter. While I tend to disagree with the clickbaity title of the piece (“on command”? If only it were that easy) the steps are valuable for those of us looking to enter flow state.

Do this: A couple of his ideas: remove distractions (you knew that already), and aim a little higher than your abilities — challenge yourself, but not too much.

8. “Just-in-time knowledge”

How We Learn is Changing – Leo Notenboom – (Personal Blog)

I reflect this week on how the internet has changed how we learn, and the under-appreciated downstream effect that we’re often not living up to.

Critical thinking applies to everything. And in a world where Google provides answers — both right and wrong — in the blink of an eye, it’s more important than ever.

Do this: Learn how to think critically.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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