This Accrual Of Specialness – 7 Takeaways No. 135

An unopened bottle of Starbucks Coffee Liqueur

(If you’re having difficulty viewing this in email, visit in your browser. If a link to a source below leads to you a paywall or is otherwise inaccessible, please read my note on the topic: Paywalls.)

1. “Emotions are messy”

The Best Decision-Making Is Emotional – Jonny Miller – (Every)

An argument that not only are emotions critical components of life, accepting and understanding them ultimately makes for better decisions.

Emotions are not your reactions to your world. They are how you make sense of what’s going on inside your body in relation to the world.

I find it an unusual and interesting perspective.

Do this: Feel the feels.

2. “Waiting around for inspiration is an excuse.”

Woulda, coulda, shoulda: the haunting regret of failing our ideal selves – Susan Kelley – (Cornell Chronicle)

This article is timely because I find myself making several decisions this week based on the question “what will I regret the least?”

Our sense of self is made of three concepts: the actual, ideal and the ought (what you “ought” to do/be) selves.

The actual self is made up of the attributes a person believes they possess. The ideal self is the attributes they would ideally like to possess, such as hopes, goals, aspirations or wishes. The ought self is the person they feel they should have been based on duties, obligations and responsibilities.

Regret appears to stem from the failure of the actual self to live up to the ideal. The “ought”, while it has issues, is minor in comparisons. Once again, an unusual and interesting perspective.

Do this: Consider your potential regrets.

3. “Grief is the most natural kind of suffering”

Four Ways to Make Grief More Bearable – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

That this came across my desk this week is spooky serendipity. It’s something I’m dealing with right now. (Details someday.)

Brooks explores grief, its nature, its importance, and it’s inevitability. And while understanding grief only gets you so far, he lays out specific approaches to dealing with it — not necessarily to make it less traumatic, but rather to help traverse the process.

  1. Look for meaning
  2. Make changes to your identity
  3. Adopt rituals
  4. Let yourself be happy again

These aren’t your normal pithy suggestions. Each includes both rationale and steps to make them do-able.

Do this: Hug your loved ones, before you need this.

4. “The majority is almost always wrong.”

If You Want to Make the Wrong Decision, Ask Everyone – Tim Denning – (Unfiltered Substack newsletter)

The takeaway I captured above is, in my experience, accurate. For so many things popular opinion, or the expression of said opinions, are almost always off the mark.

But that then raises the question: isn’t that how democracy works? I’m certainly not saying democracy is wrong (to quote someone: it’s the worst form of government, except for all the others). I just find it an interesting dichotomy. And, to be sure, Denning’s talking more about personal decisions, rather than societal ones.

This also got my attention:

asking everyone for feedback is often a lack of research in disguise

Many, many, many entrepreneurial efforts fall into this trap. I may even have been guilty of it more than once.

Do this: Decide.

5. “You’ll find yourself looking forward to it more”

The Imperfectionist: The four-hour work day – Oliver Burkeman – (The Imperfectionist newsletter)

I love counter-intuitive, and even contrarian takes on “common wisdom”. Burkeman looks at his feeling of overwhelm and decides:

what if I were to deliberately limit myself to a preposterous, clearly insufficient four-hour workday instead?

He finds himself more productive, and enjoying his work even more.

He’s clear: it doesn’t work for, and is not an option for, everyone, but it’s an approach that you might not think of.

Do this: Pay attention to the counter-intuitive.

6. “This accrual of specialness”

Psychological ‘specialness spirals’ can make ordinary items feel like treasures — and may explain how clutter accumulates – The Conversation – (Medium)

We all have them. Those things that we purchase or somehow acquire that we elect not to use, or save for some special day. I’ve written about at least one of mine before. I’ll also confess to having an unopened bottle of Starbucks Coffee Liquour (yes, they made one, once upon a time) sitting on a shelf … waiting.

The article addresses the clutter that often results from these types of attachments. My take is one of amusement and reflection. Why do things … things … become special? Why do we wait? Is an experience delayed really an experience? What happens when you wait too long?

Do this: I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m not taking my Starbucks off the shelf any time soon. But at least be aware of those things that fall into this category and ask yourself if they really should.

7. “No, don’t open that door!”

The Curse of Knowledge, Open Loops, & More – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle)

I’ve heard the phrase about being “main character in a movie of your life” before, but it didn’t click until I read Bloom’s description. It’s an interesting way to self-examine.

You know how often when you’re watching the main character in a movie and they make bad decisions? Ever yelled at the screen? That, except it’s you on screen.

It may sound crazy, but we are all that main character—and our audience would be screaming something at us right now.

What is it? What are they screaming at you?

What insight does the bird’s-eye view perspective provide that we are missing on the ground?

Do this: Pause your movie for a moment and reflect.

More random links & thoughts


The Imperfectionist – Oliver Burkeman, the author of Four Thousand Weeks: “twice-monthly email on productivity, mortality, the power of limits, and building a meaningful life in an age of bewilderment”. The source of this week’s “You’ll find yourself looking forward to it more”.

I’m building and keeping a list on the sources page.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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