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1. “So how do we beat back the bitter beer face?”
You and I are Too Old to Hang Out With Angry, Bitter People: Especially Ourselves – Julia Hubbel – (Too Old for This Sh*t: How to Take Your Life Back newsletter)
No one likes to spend a lot of time around someone who’s perpetually angry. And yet, many people are. The problem is anger is contagious (see: Social Media). If you don’t want to be that perpetual grump, perhaps the thing to do is remove some of the anger entering your life, be it those perpetually angry acquaintances, or the media you consume.
It’s incumbent upon us to do the work to keep our communities well-stocked with friends, both new and old, young and old.
While that quote targets the aging, it really applies to any age. I would also add that we sometimes need to clean our circle from anger, or any characteristic we don’t want to see in ourselves. We are so shaped by the company we keep, as we and they change, it’s important to keep perspective. Sometimes you just need to let go of the anger to let in the joy. That applies both directly to ourselves and to those we choose to associate with.
Do this: Don’t be a perpetual grump.
2. “I’m always making resolutions.”
Trying to break a phone habit in 2024? Skip the life hacks. – Shira Ovide – (The Washington Post)
I loved this takeaway from an interview with Oliver Burkeman. It continues:
“As long as you are not kidding yourself that you’re going to find the perfect system, the perfect morning routine, the perfect set of habits, it’s fun to always be changing things up and experimenting.”
The bulk of the interview discusses being tethered to our phones. This was also an interesting observation:
Ultimately we are attracted to anything — including our technology — that can enable us to escape feelings of isolation or feel in control.
This feels so very true. Other things have filled the role in the past as well.
Do this: Experiment.
3. “Fear is the first emotion that strikes us”
Fear Is a Framing Problem – Lawrence Yeo – (More To That blog)
The takeaway above is quite literal, and almost a pun: the fear we experience at birth. An observation I found interesting was this:
When using the future as your lens, fear takes the form of expectations. When using the past as your lens, fear takes the form of rumination.
Especially when we look forward, fear is all about what we expect might happen, regardless of how likely it actually is. In a way, Yeo states, it’s an inability to accept or be comfortable with uncertainty. Given that there is so much uncertainty in life, coming to grips with it might be a very valuable thing to do.
Do this: Accept uncertainty.
4. “Learn to embrace chaos.”
33 Life Learnings from 33 Years – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle)
I almost skipped this one, since I’m trying to not let listicles grab my attention too often, but it followed the preceding takeaway so well that I just had to. Uncertainty and chaos are both things we try to avoid, as they often make us uncomfortable. And yet both are things that we can benefit from accepting.
Other items in Bloom’s list:
No one has it all figured out.
Being normal is vastly overrated.
We all get more embarrassing with age.
And one of my longtime favorites:
Every single person you see is fighting a battle you’ll never know anything about.
Do this: Embrace the chaos.
5. “That’s all death requires of us, to give up living.”
Do You Know What the Most Important Kind of Freedom Is? – John P. Weiss – (Blog & ebook)
The takeaway above caught my attention because it’s literally what I believe happened to my mother in her final days. Weiss takes a more metaphorical view; the default setting that has us sleepwalking through our lives. He sees it in the eyes of many he encounters.
If our eyes are windows to the soul, why have so many of us permanently drawn the shades?
The essay discusses pain and purpose, and intentionally choosing to live, rather than remaining at your default, automated settings.
Take care of your children. Think of your spouse before yourself. Help your neighbor carry in her groceries. Be there for those in need.
Do these things, and you’ll sleep well at night. You’ll live an authentic life, and experience the kind of freedom that only comes from caring about others more than yourself.
Do this: Live.
6. “I’m just bored.”
Hi, You’re Bored and Lonely Today? – Fran Moreland Johns – (Medium)
In another case of serendipity, this crossed my screen immediately after the preceding takeaway, and it feels like it strongly follows the spirit.
The author tells a story of visiting a friend who’s become increasingly isolated. It’s not a pretty picture. That friend seems insistent on wallowing in her depression and boredom. After gently suggesting many ways out, the author closes with this:
If you don’t like sunlight in your windows; if you’ve had disagreements and don’t want to bother mending relationships; if you’re disinclined to volunteer for good causes; if you’re too mad about politics to try to change anything; and if reading too many books makes you feel like a slug . . . you might wind up feeling bored and lonely.
Or you might need antidepressants.
Do this: Don’t wallow.
7. “Our default behavior often makes things worse.”
Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results – Shane Parrish – (ebook)
In part I’m sensing a theme this week, but perhaps it’s one of my personal themes overall: thinking and intentionality.
In the space between stimulus and response, one of two things can happen. You can consciously pause and apply reason to the situation. Or you can cede control and execute a default behavior. The problem is, our default behavior often makes things worse.
Parrish has spent a lot of time working on and through mental models — structured approaches to thought and problem solving made popular (or at least given notoriety) by the late Charlie Munger. I’m just starting this book, but the theme that seems to resonate this week is simply actively thinking rather than falling back to default behavior. It’s not always easy. It’s a skill that, as illustrated by the quote above, allows us to avoid making matters worse.
Do this: Pause. Think.
8. “We can all make better choices.”
Did Tolstoy Understand Social Media? – Leo Notenboom – (Personal blog)
I changed my daily reading, and it hit home out of the gate.
Tolstoy articulates a universal truth: the quality of the media you consume matters. Regardless of its form, there’s useful, stimulating information to be had, and there’s “intellectual poison”. That poison often takes the form of the cheaper, easier to consume, content appealing to our short attention spans and our desire for quick dopamine hits.
Do this: Make better choices.
More random links & thoughts
- Massive waves threaten California, coast braces for another round after Ventura rogue wave – Yikes! (Some great photos.)
- Baloney Detection Kit – Don’t leave home without it.
Full list on the sources page.
What I’m Reading
- What Life Should Be About: Elegant Essays on the Things That Matter – John P. Weiss
- Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results – Shane Parrish
- Blitz: A Novel (The Rook Files) – Daniel O’Malley
- Inferno – Dante (Audio)
- A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts – Leo Tolstoy
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