Words are Hard – 7 Takeaways No. 173

Twisting your words. The importance of purpose. What your kids really need to learn. The power of consistency. We only share a slice of our lives. Jobs under threat, and being created. Trusting your gut. The importance of understanding what others believe.

A cluttered desk covered with various books, papers with scribbles, and a dimly lit lamp casting shadows over everything. A lone figure sits at the desk, head in hands, surrounded by crumpled paper balls, signifying struggle and confusion. The background shows a clock ticking, windows showing a busy city at dusk, and a half-filled cup of coffee going cold, symbolizing the passing of time and the complexity of life. The atmosphere is one of overwhelming thoughts and the difficulty of expressing them, aiming to evoke a sense of empathy towards the intricate challenges of life and communication.

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1. “Life is complicated, and words are hard.”

Lessons In How To Human (part 1) – Suzanne Hooker – (Saying the Quiet Parts Out Loud newsletter)

The essay is essentially about how some figures who choose to share parts of their lives online are often harassed. There are several significant points about what you and I, as humans, do or do not, owe each other. The most interesting? “An explanation”.

With the takeaway above, this hit true:

People are extremely cruel and like to take words and phrases and twist them around, especially when they’re related to complex situations.

I’ll say that some people are extremely cruel, and it’s sad that they seem to have an oversized impact on so many.

Do this: Be kind.

#kindness #words

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2. “Most of us are just surviving, not living”

Why We Need Purpose – Darius Foroux – (blog)

There’s a lot of literature pointing out that happiness more often than not flows from purpose. Understanding why we’re here — making it up as we go if necessary — and then following through on that results in greater overall satisfaction with life.

It’s not about achieving grandiose goals or accumulating material wealth. It’s about finding fulfillment in what we do and making a difference, however small it may seem.

It’s unfortunate that so many are, indeed, just surviving. It might seem like life circumstances might make some more privileged having the time or resources to even consider what purpose means, but even those with the opportunity, which is probably more than we think, seem to ignore it.

Do this: Make a difference.

#purpose #fulfillment

3. “Even a hot mess can be a good parent.”

The One Big Thing You Can Do for Your Kids (gift link) – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

I’m not a parent, but as someone’s child, a few aspects of this essay rang very, very true.

What I wanted was for him to grow up to become a responsible, ethical, faithful, well-adjusted man. From that day forward, I stopped talking about his grades and started talking about values.

It’s not that my parents didn’t talk about grades, of course they did. I was an OK student in grade and high school, and mediocre in college, but it all worked out. But some of my most lasting memories are my father telling and showing me how to be responsible, ethical, and faithful. Sometimes it was direct, more often it was by example (and occasionally counter-example Smile).

In retrospect, this seems more valuable than the grades I got. While they’re still important, it’s too easy to focus on grades and ignore important lessons in humanity.

Do this: Teach humanity.

#parenting #education #humanity

4. “Time is the friend of the consistent”

Discipline vs. Motivation – Shane Parish – (Farnam Street blog)

In a sense, this essay was speaking to the choir, since it’s something I’ve internalized deeply over time. While it’s positioned as work and entrepreneurial advice, it really applies to anything you want to accomplish in life.

Showing and doing the work consistently matters. You can have the greatest idea(s) ever, but if you don’t consistently act on those ideas, turn the crank, and produce results, it’s all for naught.

It’s one reason this is issue 173 of this newsletter.

Do this: Turn the crank.


5. “No one ever gives you the full picture”

The parasocial friends you’ll never meet – Kasra – (Bits of Wonder newsletter)

“Parasocial” isn’t really new, but with the explosion of online publishing in its various forms over the last couple of decades, it’s certainly something that’s applying more often.

What got my attention, though, was this:

The people talking about self-improvement and connection are the ones who have suffered enough to have to spend time figuring out how to be happier, who are lonely enough to have to think hard about how to connect.

I don’t know how prevalent that truly is, but I can say it doesn’t really apply to me. If you’ve been here for a while, you know that happiness and connection are common themes, and yet I don’t feel like I’ve “suffered enough”, whatever that means. I guess it really goes to show that it’s dangerous to make broad assumptions based on what anyone posts online.

Do this: Realize online sharing is always, and only, a slice of someone’s life. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always incomplete.

#parasocial #self-improvement #happiness

6. “Human beings have invented 6 billion jobs in my lifetime”

Jevons paradox is not surprising – Seth Godin – (Blog)

This is something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time, but never had it clear enough to articulate well.

When a resource can be used more efficiently, we end up using more of the thing, not less.

Godin’s focus here is on AI, and that it will probably create more jobs that it will destroy. I agree. But, like any new potentially transformative technology, it’s a tough sell because we don’t yet know what those new jobs will look like. That’s not much consolation to those currently in jobs likely to be affected who face the uncertain future of inevitable change on the horizon.

Do this: Look for the possibilities. (More on: Jevon’s Paradox)

#ai #jobs #possibility

7. “It is crucial not to solely rely on the strength of gut feelings”

189. When Should You Trust Your Gut? – Angela Duckworth & Mike Maughan – (No Stupid Questions podcast)

I found this an interesting episode on the concept of gut instincts. In a sense, we should pay attention to them, but not too much. Trust but verify.

The strength of gut intuition cannot determine whether a decision is right or wrong. Strong gut feelings can arise from years of experience and learning from feedback, leading to trustworthy intuitions. However, gut feelings can also stem from mental shortcuts and biases, leading to potentially incorrect intuitions.

Experience or bias? It’s important to understand where your gut instincts are coming from. I know my gut has served me well in some arenas, and completely mislead me in others. The difference is the origin of the feeling.

Do this: Trust your gut, to a certain degree, but question the source.


8. “It begins with understanding”

What “They” Believe – Leo A. Notenboom – (Personal blog)

I took a whack at something I’ve been thinking about a lot of late: how some beliefs lead to what we might consider to be extreme actions impinging on the rights, beliefs, and lifestyles of others.

What’s important here is not whether we agree or disagree. What’s important here is understanding what “they” believe, and how unshakeable that belief may be.

Asking them to be a decent human being is doomed to failure when we fundamentally disagree on what it means to be a “decent human being”.

Do this: Think about what a “decent human being” means to you.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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

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