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1. “Our expectations are like the air we breathe”
The Expectation Effect – David Robson – (ebook)
My takeaway is the entire book, which I finished last week.
Using anecdotes and the results of many (many!) scientific studies, Robson makes a compelling case that we’re undervaluing the power of expectation in our daily lives. From everything to sleep, disease, aging, accomplishments and more, he shows our expectations are an incredibly powerful predictor of results. This isn’t in isolation — you still need skill, for example, to accomplish a task, and you still need to take action, but your expectations related to your ability make a surprising difference in your results.
Similarly this isn’t a “believe it and it will come” manifesting fest — backed up by science. This is nothing more than the tangible power of belief to shape our behaviour, and, in turn, our outcomes.
Do this: Read it. Totally worth it.
2. “Ten thousand Boomers hit 65 every day.”
Why You Should “Retire in the Graveyard”: Keen Advice on How to Live Your Later Years – Julia Hubbel – (Walkabout Saga blog)
Inspired by an episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, which is an interview with the author of a book, “Independence Day: What I Learned About Retirement From Some Who’ve Done It And Some Who Never Will,” Steve Lopez.
What it means to get older is changing — dramatically. I’ve long thought of traditional “retirement” as a death sentence, and for many, it absolutely is. Hubbel’s take, like mine, is to never truly retire. To keep doing what we do until we “retire”, hopefully long in the future, by being planted six feet under.
You and I need a purpose which makes life worth living. Having another drink and another day watching the waves wash in isn’t for most of us.
Do this: Find your purpose, and keep to it. (Find a new one, if so inclined.)
3. “The vast majority of gifts are a waste of money”
Give gifts that people want – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)
This is Critter’s summary of a longer article that, honestly, makes so much sense as we enter the holiday season. We measure gifts we’re giving improperly, looking for things like “wow-factor” at the time of opening, and paying too much attention to price.
This caught my attention:
But the receivers are so experienced at faking excitement that the givers never realize how much their gifts suck.
Do this: Don’t give gifts that suck.
4. “Friends are God’s way of apologising for our family”
Treasure your friends, the top of your love hierarchy – Anna Machin – (Aeon)
A line that grabbed my attention:
Being within a supportive social network reduced the risk of mortality by 50 per cent
Studies show that it’s more important/effective than things like BMI, and on a par with quitting smoking.
Society seems, particularly post-pandemic, to be tailored to just the opposite: isolation and individualism. Not that those aren’t important and even useful skills, but in the larger picture we need room — more room, it seems — for our social connections and friends.
Do this: Make and cherish your friends.
5. “Every situation has two handles”
Can You Be Grateful Even For This? – Ryan Holiday – (Blog)
We have much to be grateful for. The stoics, and Holiday, would add to the list even those things that we might, at first blush, consider not worthy of our gratitude.
But what about all the other stuff in the world?
The obstacles. The frustrations. The stresses and difficulties of life. The people that wronged you. The haters. The dilemmas. The bad days.
The point is simply this: they’ve happened and there’s little to be done about them, other than … learn and grow. Thus, be thankful for the opportunity they present to become a better person.
Do this: Be thankful.
6. “Alone time has tremendous benefits”
Too Many Empty Calories – Steve Makofsky – (Blog)
Specifically, the ability to be alone and to let ourselves be bored. It’s long been a problem, but kids of late are not picking up the skill.
Studies show that kids today don’t even really understand how to be alone and bored, and alone time has tremendous benefits for their mental health.
Like I said, it’s nothing new. I think it’s something we’ve all faced at one time or another. The “empty calories” referenced in the blog post title refers to the mindless consumption of social media, doomscrolling, or other similar wastes of time.
Do this: Let yourself be bored occasionally.
7. “You can’t think well without writing well”
The Need to Read – Paul Graham – (Blog)
Good thinking comes, in part, from good writing. Good writing comes, in part, from good reading. Good reading is unlikely to ever be replaced (the initial thought of Graham’s piece).
It’s something I’ve fallen down on of late. After my “65 thoughts” daily writing exercise, I’ve not written a thought piece in over a month. (I still write daily, of course, in the form of emails, Ask Leo! content, and even, to some extent, these notes. But it’s not the same.)
The ability to write well is a skill I wished I’d focussed on earlier, for a variety of reasons. Maybe I’d be a better thinker if I had.
Do this: Write. Hone your skills. Encourage others. Teach your children.
What I’m Reading
- Discipline is Destiny – Ryan Holiday
- The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – Walter Isaacson (audio)
- Dune: House Atreides – Brian Herbert
- 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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