You Can’t Be Happy – 7 Takeaways No. 144


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1. “Find the thing that quickens your heart.”

Find the Thing That Never Abandons You – John P. Weiss – (Blog)

Over three short stories, perhaps vignettes would be a better word, Weiss explores how having something that makes you want to live is so important. I’d even call it life changing, though that seems redundant.

Life is sweeter when you have something you love to do.

Two of the stories involve individuals facing terminal diagnoses, and how their passion made their remaining time meaningful.

Do this: Find the thing.

2. “We need to rethink our relationship with suffering.”

You Want to Suffer – David Pinsof – (Everything is Bullshit newsletter)

Perhaps surprisingly, this is not a Buddhist meditation on the inevitability of suffering. Instead, it’s more of a deep dive into why we need it and why we want it, even though we deny it.

The idea that suffering is awful — that we’re all trying as hard as we can to avoid it — is bullshit. It’s contradicted by almost everything we do.

It’s interesting. In many ways, our words definitely don’t match our actions, almost to the point of blatant hypocrisy.

Besides, suffering is not just inevitable, it’s critical.

It’s designed by evolution to help you deal with bad things, avoid making them worse, and prevent them from happening again in the future.

Do this: Learn from your suffering.

3. “We are all shedding data like skin cells.”

Slouching Toward ‘Accept All Cookies’ – Charlie Warzel – (The Atlantic)

This is a deep dive into privacy, and the complexity surrounding it. If there’s one conceptual takeaway it’s simply that the issue is more massive and more complex than people appreciate, or can even conceive.

In modern life, data are omnipresent. And yet, it is impossible to zoom out and see the entire picture, the full patchwork quilt of our information ecosystem.

The upshot is that we’re so overwhelmed we regularly give away our data, and some of our privacy in return for digital services. Sometimes it’s a fair value exchange, but all too often it is not. We have little understanding, and it’s almost impossible to make an informed decision.

Do this: Before you react, read the entire piece. Privacy issues frequently generate knee-jerk reactions, and that’s exactly the wrong thing to have happen.

4. “You can’t be happy. You can, however, be happier”

Three Myths and Four Truths About How to Get Happier – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

This got my attention on two levels. First, the takeaway is almost identical to something I say often about online security: there’s no such thing as “safe”, but you can be “safer”.

The second is a serendipitous reiteration of the takeaway on suffering, above.

You need negative emotions and experiences to achieve enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning in your life,

Problems and suffering are necessary for happiness to exist.

Do this: Don’t worry, be happier. (I know, it’s a gross oversimplification, but I couldn’t resist tweaking the song‘s refrain.)

5. “AI means massive worker upheaval over the next few years.”

When AI Begins to Replace Humans – Rex Woodbury – (Digital Native newsletter)

Seems like you can’t open a news article or social media post without running into the term “AI”. It’s currently in the “it’ll solve everything!” phase, much like blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFTs before it (and many other things before them). And like those, it’ll come down off of its high to something more practical.

Many people will get AI copilots that make them faster and more effective at their jobs—though it’s unlikely this means fewer hours worked, and more likely this means higher productivity and greater GDP growth. (Remember that in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that because of innovation, we’d all be working 15 hours per week in 2030. Whoops.) Many other people will lose their jobs together. We’ll need widespread workforce development to mitigate the pain of job loss.

This essay dives into some aspects of AI that are trending and will make this transition a reality. Much like any technological change, such as automated pin setters and electric street lamps, jobs will be lost and created. Such is the nature of progress.

Do this: Don’t believe the hype, but know there’s a shift on the way.

6. “Responsibility doesn’t equate to fault.”

Mark Manson’s 3 Rules for Life – Mark Manson – (blog)

Responsibility is a tough concept. Sometimes we avoid responsibility in order to avoid blame. And yet:

Bad things happen, but it’s our responsibility to deal with them and move forward.

Often it’s the folks willing to take responsibility that end up being the solution, rather than the problem.

Manson’s other “rules” — “No Bad Emotions, Only Bad Reactions” and “Radical Growth” — are also well taken.

Do this: Take responsibility.

7. “Whatever activity or habit leaves you more energized”

Energy makes time – Mandy Brown – (everything changes blog)

I struggle with this, but it’s very true: there are things we could do that, when done, leave us more energized, and more effective doing “everything else”. Be it a hobby, art, social time, or something else completely, the key word is energy. You gather energy from these activities.

We too often give these restorative activities minor consideration, and even less time.

Their art didn’t need more time; their time needed their art.

Do this: Think about what activities energize you. Are you doing enough of them?

More random links & thoughts


Everything Is Bullshit – Poking holes in the stories we tell ourselves by David Pinsof. – This is a recent addition to my list, but I love the contrarian investigation into so many things we take for granted. This week’s “We need to rethink our relationship with suffering.” was sourced here.

I’m building and keeping a list on the sources page. (It’s gotten fairly meaty, and continues to grow.)

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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1 thought on “You Can’t Be Happy – 7 Takeaways No. 144”

  1. “…we regularly give away our data, and some of our privacy in return for digital services. Sometimes it’s a fair value exchange, but all too often it is not.”

    Worse, sometimes we DO pay for digital services and there is STILL significant information gathering going on. For instance, I use the Oura Ring sleep/health tracker. While their FAQ assures that “We understand that data does not get much more personal than this, and the protection of your personal data is of paramount importance to us.”, they don’t reveal that their app — which costs $6/month to get access to your full results — also includes (according to my DuckDuckGo privacy phone app) trackers from Google, Functional Software, and Twilio Segment, which advertises to its clients that it gives them a “Complete view of the customer.”

    The astounding part: in the past 7 days alone, and just on my phone, the DDG app reports it has blocked 12,785 tracking attempts by the Oura app across those three tracking companies. The app gives some surprising insight into the data collection activities, such that it notes that in the past 7 days it has blocked an astounding 212,438 tracking attempts from 26 apps on my phone.

    And yes, I know that “tracking” doesn’t always equal “privacy violation.”

    *(Full disclosure: since I’ve been using the Oura Ring as long as I have been, they grandfathered my “membership” to be no cost for life.)


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