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1. “We get to know.”
The Terrible Weight of Not Knowing – James Mulholland – (Note to My White Self blog)
An interesting anecdote exploring some assumptions we make, or don’t even realize we make, based on our race. A new homeowner’s policy was cancelled. Was it because of a Black Lives Matter sign?
Nothing negative ever happened to me because of the color of my skin. Indeed, many positive things – most of which I am unaware – happen to me. When something negative does happen, I can be fairly certain the explanation given to me is true, or at least it has nothing to do with my race.
I don’t know that it’s accurate to say nothing negative ever happened, but the scenarios and consequences are quite different, I suspect.
Do this: Question what you take for granted.
2. “Find your authentic voice.”
Finding Your Voice – Steve Makofsky – (makoism blog)
This resonated. It’s something I know I’ve struggled with over the years. It seems we’re constantly being encouraged to be “like” someone else, and look to others for inspiration, leadership, and direction. Do what they do, and all that. While there’s a lot to be learned from others, understanding just who you are yourself is arguably more important.
I was thinking back if there was any ‘unsolicited’ advice that I could impart to my son as he headed off onto the next step on the journey into adulthood. (Side note: even though I’m 51, I feel like I’m still trying to figure this whole adulthood thing out 🤪)
Spoiler: At 65, me too. We’re all trying to figure out adulthood. It never ends.
Do this: Know thyself.
3. “Each of us feels that our beliefs are pretty damn sensible”
Crony Beliefs – Kevin Simler – (Melting Asphalt blog)
Another theme that I gravitate towards in my ongoing reading is thinking, and why people believe the things they do. Deeper dives into “how can people believe that sh*t” fascinate me. Being what I hope would be a rational person, the incredible impact of social forces on belief systems is eye opening to me. It’s much, much deeper than most realize.
In this essay, Simler lays out a model of “Meritocracy” and “Crony” belief reward systems, and describes the role they play. Spoiler: “crony” systems hold incredible power.
At church, we earn trust in exchange for faith, while facing severe sanctions for heresy. In politics, our allies support us when we toe the party line, and withdraw support when we refuse.
He lays out what he believes is an approach to moving society towards better, more accurate belief systems. It’s mostly what we already might expect, but at a scale that seems ambitious, at best.
Do this: Examine your beliefs. What’s the honest reward for them?
4. “Not more advice”
Episode 199: Cozy Convos: Different ways to show up, where we give our energy, permission to not engage – Sarah Steckler – (Mindful Productivity podcast)
As the title implies, this podcast episode is less of a solo presentation and more of a comfortable conversation around a variety of topics. One that got my attention, though, was this:
what I really need is not more advice, but rather more conversations around the things that I already know to be true
This seems counter to what I’ve often quoted about always questioning your beliefs, but bear with me. I think one thing we’ve lost in the past few years, in part due to pandemic isolation, is exactly that: conversations — deep conversations — with friends and acquaintances about shared interests. And while it’s tempting to jump on the “I already know to be true” as a call for more conversations within an echo chamber, I think this is also one way we expand our knowledge, view things from different perspectives, and even change our minds: conversations with those we trust.
Do this: Have a conversation.
5. “I now look back at my cancer with gratitude.”
What I Learned From Being Cancer Free – Evan Armstrong – (Napkin Math newsletter)
Yes, it’s another post-cancer awakening post. But it’s valuable.
Cancer helped me to realize the greatest thing I can build is my own life. In building an existence that is abundant, meaningful, and happy I’ll be better able to create great things for others. … All of the changes that I have made over the intervening years because of my diagnosis have made me happier than I would’ve thought was possible.
It seems we tire easily of these kinds of stories … until we, or someone we love, experience cancer.
Do this: Don’t. Ignore. These. Stories. Learn from the hard fought lessons. Learn what’s really important and live accordingly. As my cousin would say, “seize the day“.
6. “Understanding the finality of everything”
The Finality of Everything – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)
Understanding the finality of everything brings a clarity that only a wiser version of myself can see. If I know that one day I’ll long for the very things I routinely gloss over, how can I consciously neglect those moments again? Perhaps the best way to give every moment a fresh start is not to redo it, but to be aware of the finish line that awaits each one.
It’s another “thing we know we should do but don’t” — appreciate what you have before it’s gone. Be it the moments with your children, to the unsolicited advice from your parents, these are all things that will someday no longer happen. Yeo breaks it down into even smaller things that we rarely think of, and that some day we’ll almost certainly miss.
Do this: Appreciate what you have.
7. “It’s vaccination, not vaccines, that saves lives”
There’s Terrific News About the New Covid Boosters, but Few Are Hearing It – ZEYNEP TUFEKCI – (The New York Times)
It’s true that variants can cause breakthroughs, but vaccines still prevent serious illness and death, and even more so with boosters.
Even slightly buried in this article is something that I found fascinating: not only does getting vaccinated significantly reduce the chances of getting COVID, and significantly reduce the symptoms if you do, the latest vaccine also seems to reduce the chances of getting “long COVID”, beyond simply avoiding the illness to begin with. If you’re not concerned about long COVID, take a listen to “Who Is Long Covid Hurting?” episode of The Journal podcast from The Wall Street Journal.
Do this: Get the latest booster. I did.
What I’m Reading
- Mentats of Dune – Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
- Letters from a Stoic – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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