Sleep is the Most Dangerous Thing – 7 Takeaways No. 120

Sleeping Corgis
Sleeping Corgis: Norma & Freddie (Image:

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1. “Satisfaction comes from the people in the house”

There’s Exactly One Good Reason to Buy a House – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

It’s been fascinating to watch changes happening regarding home ownership. Certainly as I grew up, it was a goal and even an expectation. Today, between changing societal values, changing property values, and the increased expectation of mobility and acceptance of lifelong change, the number of people with that goal and expectation is on the decline. Brooks doesn’t address that, specifically, but for those pondering home ownership, offers a perspective on what to expect for the happiness you might also assume follows. TL;DR: it might not.

Homeownership turns out to be an insignificant predictor of happiness when you control for things like marriage, income increases, and social engagement.

Homeowners might be happier, but not because they own a home, but perhaps because of other things that correlate.

Do this: Understand what’s really driving your happiness, and make decisions accordingly.

2. “Help them get what they want”

Making change happen – Seth Godin – (Blog)

One way to do it is to get people to want what you want.

The other way is to help them get what they want in a way that gets you what you want.

They’re not the same.

Changing what someone wants is very different from helping them see the story and the path that gets them what they’ve wanted all along.

The challenge? Understanding, truly understanding, what “they” want.

Do this: Apply this entire takeaway to politics.

3. “The talk of ignorant men”

Letters from a Stoic – Lucius Annaeus Seneca – (ebook)

The full quote that got my attention:

“For me the talk of ignorant men is like the rumblings which issue from the belly. For,” he adds, “what difference does it make to me whether such rumblings come from above or from below?”

Seneca’s actually quoting Demetrius in one of his letters, but it made me laugh. (I won’t speculate on the intended definitions of “above” or “below”.)

What I find fascinating is not just the humor, but that the very concept is timeless. Ignorant people continue to run amok, it seems.

Do this: I was tempted to say “listen to your gut”, but instead: be aware of your own ignorance.

4. “Fully in the present without reference point”

When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron – (ebook)

This is less a takeaway and more of a realization. Here’s the full quote for some more context:

In fact, anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness.

What the heck does that mean? “The edge of the unknown”? “Without reference point”? “Groundlessness”?

I’ve been told that Chodron is one of the most accessible authors on Buddhism and related topics. This is not accessible. Unless you already understand the concepts, this does little to help you understand … well, anything. Much, if not most, writing in this space suffers from this problem: the assumption that the reader already understands certain concepts, and often even obscure terminology.

It’s frustrating because it could be reworded in more accessible, plain English (or local language of choice). Doing so could lead to much greater acceptance and understanding of the underlying principles.

The realization? Yeah, everything I’ve just said applies to tech writing as well. Guilty.

Do this: Watch your language.

5. “A perpetually negative outlook”

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman – (ebook)

This reminder popped this week (on 4/1):

If you hold a perpetually negative outlook, soon enough everything you encounter will seem negative.

I so wish people would realize the impact of their default attitude. The more negativity you look for, the more negativity you see, the more negative your expectations, and the more negative a person you become. Replacing “negative” with “positive” works equally well, doesn’t negate the impact of negative events, but opens you up to experiencing more of the positivity around you, and just helps you become a more positive and pleasant person.

Do this: Watch your default setting.

6. “Negative Nellies will only complain”

Enjoy the Singularity: How to Be Optimistic About the Future – Lybi Ma – (Psychology Today)

Following, in a way, the prior takeaway, this essay makes the case that we can, and should, be positive about our future. But it does so without disregarding the bumps we’ll certainly experience along the way.

We need to be positive, but we need to be smart about what’s likely to go wrong.

That fact that things will go wrong is inevitable with all progress, but is absolutely no reason to abandon it. So much of what we take for granted today involved errors along the path to refinement. The challenge is to not just remain positive, but positive that we can deal with the bumpy road along the way.

Do this: Be optimistic.

7. “Sleep is the most dangerous thing we can do”

Why Do I Feel More Anxious at Night? – Kiera Carter – (The New York Times)

I feel seen. It’s not at all uncommon for me to wake up at three or four AM, only to have my brain “click on” and keep me from returning to sleep for another hour or more. It’s not always anxiety, but it frequently is. And, of course, it’s a vicious circle:

Sleep loss is often a precursor for anxiety disorders, and anxiety leads to sleep loss

The solution, of course, is “better sleep hygiene”. Sadly, that’s often much easier said than done, but important nonetheless.

Do this: One step that actually helps me is to write down (or electronically note, or otherwise somehow capture) the fleeting ideas prior to going to bed, or during that wakeful period. Knowing they’re somewhere where you’ll find them in the morning makes them less intrusive overnight.

More links & thoughts

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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2 thoughts on “Sleep is the Most Dangerous Thing – 7 Takeaways No. 120”

  1. Regarding your First Takeaway, the first paragraph ends with “TL; DR: it might not”. Could you please explain this to an English citizen who is not conversant with these United States abbreviations?

    • “TL;DR:” is a super common acronym on the internet that means “Too Long; Didn’t Read”. It typically precedes a short summary of what follows for those who avoid reading things that are too long.


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