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1. “This time it’ll be different”
Optimism bias – Jono Hey – (Sketchplanations)
My relationship with optimism has been challenged over the last few years, for reasons I’m sure are fairly obvious. I remain a basically optimistic person, but perhaps ever so slightly less so. I know my aversion to doom and gloom pessimism remains as strong as ever.
I still try to embrace healthy optimism bias.
Optimism bias is a tendency to believe that things will turn out well in spite of past evidence or circumstances.
It can be extremely helpful. It allows us to attempt things that many may deem impossible. It probably helps drive entrepreneurs even when everyone is doubting them. Optimists are often healthier and happier.
Unfortunately it can also lead to unfounded perceptions of the world, and the people around you.
Do this: Be optimistic, of course, but “May your optimism be well-founded.”
2. “Choose the path that has a larger luck surface area”
The 4 Types of Luck – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle newsletter)
I have a complicated relationship with luck. I consider myself extremely lucky to be who, what, and where I am today, but even saying that does a disservice to the decisions, support, and hard work I’ve also put in to get here. There’s no doubt I’m lucky, but it’s more complex than that.
Breaking down what we call luck into four different scenarios helps add some perspective to the luck we experience throughout our lives, and also helps us perhaps position ourselves to be luckier in the future.
Type II Luck is derived through the expansion of your luck surface area from simple movement. The increase in collisions opens you up to more lucky events.
Movement like going to school, where I discovered my career, and shortly thereafter, met my wife. Very lucky indeed.
Do this: Position yourself for luck.
3. “How many of those days do you want to spend being upset?”
So What? – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)
Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say “so what.” That’s one of my favorite things to say. So what.
I really don’t mean to dip in to nihilism, because there certainly are things that matter, but we spend so much energy on things that don’t it’s frustrating. And it’s always a choice. Why would you purposely choose to be upset? (Mostly because we’re not paying attention, and not actually making the choice.)
Do this: Make the other choice.
4. “A haystack-sized piles of needles”
Treat your to-read pile like a river, not a bucket – Oliver Burkeman – (Blog)
There are several wonderful metaphors in this piece on overwhelm.
In a world of effectively infinite information, the better you get at sifting the wheat from the chaff, the more you end up crushed beneath a never-ending avalanche of wheat.
Information overload was apparently once thought to be temporary (though I never encountered that belief). The reality is it’s still with us, just better focussed.
To return to information overload: this means treating your “to read” pile like a river (a stream that flows past you, and from which you pluck a few choice items, here and there) instead of a bucket (which demands that you empty it).
It applies to more than just you “to read” pile or list.
Do this: Wade into your river. (I was tempted to say “kick the bucket”, but … no.)
5. “Good relationships lead to health and happiness.”
What the Longest Study on Human Happiness Found Is the Key to a Good Life – Robert Waldinger and Mark Scholz – (The Atlantic)
Even though it’s been an occasional recurring topic here, this resonated because of my recent focus on connection.
Relationships keep us happier and healthier throughout our life spans. We neglect our connections with others at our peril. Investing in our social fitness is possible each day, each week of our lives. Even small investments today in our relationships with others can create long-term ripples of well-being.
The key point is that perhaps it comes naturally to some, but for the rest of us it requires intentional action.
Do this: Act.
6. “Low-effort approaches to living your worst life”
10 Surefire Ways to Be Miserable – Jessica Hagy – (This Week’s Top Ten newsletter)
This week’s illustrated list is, of course entertaining, in the counter-example way that I hope it’s intended. The last item got my attention, though:
10 If you want to be miserable, believe it’s your only real option. And it very soon will be.
Doubting all Kindness + Believing all Hate –> Becoming a Danger to Yourself and Others
For some reason, I think we all know people who fit into that category. And, indeed, they’re often very miserable.
Do this: Don’t follow the advice in this top 10 list.
7. “Take the risk to blossom.”
25 “Randoms” on the 25th Anniversary of the Bill Clinton Calamity – Monica Lewinsky – (Vanity Fair)
There’s no shortage of opinion on Ms. Lewinsky, or Mr. Clinton for that matter. Her TED Talk of a few years ago impressed me, and I started following her on social media. I ended up bring pretty impressed by who she had become. After all she’d been through, she seems to have come out the other side with her self, and her sense of humor, intact. All things considered, that’s no small feat.
And, as we know, I have a love of lists, so this one — which spans the range from serious insight to humorous commentary — was an obvious choice for me.
2. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you are so fucked.
Do this: Laugh at yourself.
More links & thoughts
(This week I ran into more than my average number of take-away-able items. When that happens I’ll include them here. I’m considering making this, along with random commentary, a Substack-paid subscriber bonus in future issues. We’ll see.)
I just started listening to the audio book version of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, in part because I’m a proud jack-of-all-trades, myself. It’s fascinating, and dives into thinking, the education system, and much, much more than I’d imagined. I expect specific takeaways in the future.
Good News on Global Democracy, Cancer in the USA and Rhinos in India – via Future Crunch, one of my regular sources for Not All News is Bad, it had a number of thought-provoking items this week. Specifically, a comment I made over there about how there’s so much more positive progress happening with the environment than we’re typically told about, originated from the paid version of FutureCrunch.
“A lot of success is learning to grind when it’s boring.” – A tweet quoted in this week’s edition of Sahil Bloom’s newsletter that caught my eye.
“I don’t know whether the reporters are condemning it or advertising it.” – Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. This resurfaced via Readwise, and it just struck me as so timely with respect to the news we’re flooded with each day.
It’s High Noon In America, in The Atlantic, presents a somewhat depressing analysis of how the country seems to be returning to a black hat / white hat frontier mentality, and what that implies.
What I’m Reading
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (audio) – David J. Epstein
- Magic Bleeds – Ilona Andrews
- Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation – Benjamin P. Hardy
- The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green
- 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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