Time’s Apparent Speed – 7 Takeaways No. 172

The power of "I don't know". Listening better. Choosing anger (or not). Prevention as the cure. Appreciating your already good life. Being a better wait-er. A possible explanation for time seeming like a blur of late.

An hourglass centrally located and surrounded by various types of stopwatches
(Image: DALL-E 3)

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1. “Listening and thinking. It’s radical.”

A Guide To Standing Up To Yourself (For Pussies) – Annie Scott – (Midlife Mess with Annie Scott)

As the title suggests, the essay discusses the author’s experience standing up to/for herself in an important way, and the lessons learned. What got my attention, though, was the related topic that we’re all expected to have opinions. “I don’t know” isn’t perceived as an intelligent answer.

Rather than contribute to a bullshit culture of faking it, I prefer to continue my quiet one-woman revolution in listening and thinking. It’s radical.

“I don’t know” is perhaps the most intelligent answer of all.

Do this: Don’t fake it.

#listening #thinking

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2. “The art of skillful listening”

How to save your friends – Kasra – (Bits of Wonder newsletter)

This is focused more on how to help and be there for others in a conversation. I’ll admit that the first two items — Don’t tell them what to do and Don’t make it about you — are areas where I could improve. I also struggle with what some would call “active listening”, which to me is often too close to simply parroting.

Telling them what you’re hearing does three things: (1) it helps you confirm that you actually understood what they said (if not, they can correct you); (2) it helps them feel validated; and (3) it can also lead to insights.

Sometimes it feels like communication is so incredibly difficult. It’s a wonder we’ve survived this long.

Do this: Listen.


3. “Anger is a choice.”

The Life-Changing Power of Shutting Up – Nate Dickson – (Personal blog)

Dickson discusses his personal approach to dealing with anger.

I have never come out of a situation where I was negative to or about someone else and felt better.

And yes, while anger is a choice (much like being offended)…

Some situations make it an easy choice, but I’ve yet to encounter a situation that makes it a right choice.

His approach to anger appeals to me. It feels more constructive.

Do this: Make better choices.

#anger #choices

4. “Sell painkillers, not vitamins”

Painkillers and vitamins – Jono Hey – (Sketchplanations)

It’s a quick read (and useful sketch), illustrating a very simple concept: investing in prevention is much harder than just finding a quick solution.

We tackle the “urgent” and neglect the “important-not urgent.” We might overestimate the likelihood of making good choices in the future. In essence, it’s easy to downplay future challenges compared to our current predicament.

There are many examples, but the painkillers/vitamins metaphor (or example?) is perhaps the clearest.

Do this: Take your vitamins.

#prevention #solutions

5. “What does living a better life even mean?”

Another Click-Bait Essay about What You Need to Do to Live A Better Life, Because the One You Have is Not Good Enough?  – (Deepculture newsletter)

I almost included this just for the title, but as it implies, this is a semi-serious tongue-in-cheek yet pragmatic look at appreciating what we already have. It’s a fun, and thought-provoking read.

The TL;DR: of it all is simply this:

Don’t chase a better one, just learn to fully enjoy the one you already have.

A good reminder.

Do this: Enjoy what you have.


6. “Live better in a world of waiting.”

How Not to Be Bored When You Have to Wait (Gift link) – Arthur C. Brooks – (How To Build A Life – The Atlantic)

Many people HATE being bored. So, you grab your phone, start scrolling social media … and according to studies, end up more bored and frustrated than when you started.

The best way to lower the misery of waiting, then, turns out to be not to change the world but to change oneself.

Brooks outlines a couple of strategies, but honestly overlooks the one that I’m shocked isn’t something more people do. Sure, my phone has access to the instant thoughts and memes of everyone on the planet. Yawn. It also has access to the libraries around the world. Be it the Kindle app, or another book reading app you prefer, it’s trivial to always have a book in your pocket. Some people used to (or still do) carry a physical book with them at all times, just to be prepared. Now we all have the opportunity with the technology already in our pocket.

It can make waiting an opportunity.

Do this: Read.

#reading #waiting #boredom

7. “Time’s apparent ‘speed’ changes with conditions”

Where All the Time Went -David Cain  – (Raptitude)

Cain presents an interesting hypothesis: time seems to fly by (or “it’s all a blur”, as I often say), and there’s a certain lingering mental fog right now because we’ve eliminated much of the novelty from our lives. The pandemic, or rather the lifestyle changes resulting from it, are to blame.

If you’re living a more routine and constrained life than you did five years ago, perhaps absorbing a lot of content and information but having fewer distinctly unfamiliar experiences, you’ve probably been forming fewer episodic memories. Consequently, life during that time might seem thinner and less significant in retrospect. It will seem to have gone by faster, and will be harder to recall. It might seem like you just got older and little else changed.

I can’t say good or bad at the vetted-science level, but I will say that the theory has a feeling of being highly plausible. If true, or even partially true, it’s also fixable.

Do this: Resume adding new experiences to your life.

#time #pandemic #mental-fog

Random Links & Thoughts

What I’m Reading

In progress:


A full list of my common sources is on the sources page.

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