Everyone is Winging It — 7 Takeaways No. 87

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing
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1. “This will soon just be a memory”

17 ways to not be an asshole while travel is wonky and the world is understaffed (and undersupplied). – Nadia Bolz-Weber – (The Corners, newsletter)

After sitting on the tarmac for 4.5 hours, and eventually having the flight canceled, Bolz-Weber reflects on the surprisingly positive attitude of the people around her on the plane. But it’s about more than air travel.

Nothing is working right now. Not retail. Not restaurants. Not hotels. Not air travel. Not schools. Not healthcare. I mean – it’s all fraying at the edges.

She shares 17 ideas from her readers on how to cope. (Timely, for me, since I’ve recently booked my first air travel in a few years, and I expect issues along the way.)

Do this: Pack your patience and compassion.

2. “Being acutely lonely releases as much cortisol as being punched in the face”

This Might Be Why You’re Depressed – Johann Hari – FightMediocrity – (YouTube)

The probably caught my attention because a) I struggle with depression more often, of late, and b) recent headlines indicating it’s not necessarily a chemical imbalance that’s responsible.

Apparently a solution, like Soylent Green, is people.

… humans evolved to need a tribe and we are the first human beings to try to disband our tribes and live alone.

Exacerbated, of course, by the internet, which allows us to connect-but-not-really, as well as the pandemic, which has forced even more isolation.

Do this: Be with people, if you can.

3. “What if we were the creators of meaning in our own lives?”

On the Shortness of Life – Leo Babauta – (Zen Habits blog)

In this essay, inspired by Seneca’s work of the same name, Babauta offers 10 alternative ways to look at some of our most common frustrations with our limited lifespan.

Often we use up the current day worrying about or dreaming about upcoming days. And so we miss out on the day that’s here right now.

That’s like thinking about future meals, while you’re eating your current meal. You can’t enjoy the meal you’re eating now.

What if we could savor the day we’re currently living?

Do this: Savor the day.

4. “Everyone is totally just winging it”

Everyone is totally just winging it, all the time – Oliver Burkeman – (The Guardian)

Perhaps the most insightful quote from this 2014 essay is this restatement of something we hear often, but ignore just as often:

we chronically “compare our insides with other people’s outsides”

It’s the social media comparison problem. People only post the good pictures and discard the 200 crappy ones you never see.

Things are messy inside. That’s normal. The façade of other people’s outsides — or Instagram feed — doesn’t reflect reality.

Do this: Know you’re not alone. We’re all making this up as we go.

5. “An accessible work of art is a resonant one.”

Philosophy Has Lost Its Way – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)

Yeo bemoans the fact that much current philosophical discussion has fallen to pedants arguing trivialities, focusing on academia and producing treatises inaccessible to “normal” folks. The underlying message is the takeaway above, that philosophy needs to return to its more accessible roots.

I’d counter that academia isn’t where the average person goes looking for philosophical discussion these days. Indeed, writers such as Yeo, Leo Babauta, Ryan Holiday, and many others are the real philosophers of our time. The build on the work of the ancients, but transform it into something more relevant, and more accessible, to today’s audience.

Do this: Read the ancients, if you like, but reading our more current crop of popular philosophers is likely a more productive experience. Unless, of course, you’re an academic.

6. “Take accountability.”

Own Your Shit – Steve Makofsky – (Makoism blog/newsletter)

Personal responsibility — is it in decline? I’m tempted to say yes, but I also wonder if every generation preceding me has said exactly the same thing.

Nonetheless, it’s an important virtue. Take responsibility for your actions. Own your shit.

If you find yourself stuck, try to take on proper accountability for something. Just remember – If you don’t own your shit, it will own you.

He uses a poignant example from the Columbia space shuttle explosion of one person who did not and regrets it.

Do this: Need I say it? Own your shit.

7. “It feels a bit wrong to say that happiness is a choice”

Why You’re Not Happy And What To Do About It – Ali Abdaal – (YouTube)

Happiness is a recurring theme here, in part because these are difficult times. In this video Abdaal presents excerpts from his interview with Mo Gawdat, author of the books “Solve For Happy”, and “That Little Voice In Your Head”. Gawdat, who lost his son to a surgical error, points out that while some aspects are not a choice, we are often faced with smaller, incremental decisions that are.

I may never return back to a place of absolute happiness, of remembering my son and not missing him. But I have the choice to make that incremental bit. And that incremental bit is within the hands of every one of us.

Do this: I won’t make my usual flippant “make better choices” comment. Instead, I’ll suggest that if happiness is something you struggle with, or something you explicitly are in search of, this video might be worth your time. It’ll at least give you a sense of if the books might be right for you.

8. “Make life better for others”

On Privilege – Leo A. Notenboom – (Personal Blog)

This entry in my 65 Thoughts exercise got some reaction this week.

Privilege is being afforded advantage in life because of what you are, rather than what you do. In some situations, no amount of doing can overcome the advantage given to others because of what they are. Hence, the use of privilege as a derogatory term. Advantage isn’t distributed equitably.

Do this: Use your privilege wisely.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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