We’ve Forgotten How to Relax – 7 Takeaways No. 176

Paywalls, an enemy to democracy? Relax. Laughter in relationships. Be an adult, OK? Having faith. Listening makes you interesting. Curiosity makes for a rich life.

A middle aged woman in a recliner in a home library gazing out a window.
(Image: StableDiffusion)

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1. “Paywalls get in the way of informing the public”

Democracy Dies Behind Paywalls (gift link) – Richard Stengel – (The Atlantic)

Misinformation is rarely behind a paywall.

Paywalls create a two-tiered system: credible, fact-based information for people who are willing to pay for it, and murkier, less-reliable information for everyone else.

He advocates removing paywalls during the upcoming election season. While I can see where that could be an improvement, a) “everyone else” is likely already entrenched in a relationship with their less-than-accurate alternatives, and b) the problem is much larger than just the election.

It’s a difficult problem to solve. News sources, particularly those reputable ones, need revenue to survive. We’ve already seen too many fall by the wayside due to declining … everything. I don’t know what the solution is, but the arguments presented here are worthy of consideration.

Do this: Seek facts.


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2. “We’ve forgotten how to relax”

The Overlooked Importance of Boredom in Our Lives – John P. Weiss – (Blog)

One thing I remember from my childhood was my mom or dad just … sitting. “Thinking”, they would tell me. They’d take some time to just do nothing.

Doing nothing seems the antithesis of our current productivity culture.

We are indeed “sacrificing intermittent intellectual reflection for constant neural connection,”

We are becoming and are raising people who require almost constant stimulation. “I’m bored” has become a symptom requiring urgent fixing, rather than an opportunity for relaxed thought.

(After writing this up, I realized the topic has appeared here before, via a different author and takeaway.)

Do this: Cultivate some inactivity.

#boredom #reflection #thinking

3. “Snickering often replaces bickering”

Why it takes humour to sustain a long-term relationship – Enrico Gnaulati – (Psych)

I enjoyed seeing this called out. As the author states, it’s often overlooked, and yet critically important.

Lots of shared laughter is a bellwether for how alike partners are and how close they feel to each other.

My 44+ years of research into the matter would show the same. We laugh. A lot. Honestly, I’m sorry for the couples that don’t.

And for the record, while not the focus of the article, I believe it applies to many more relationships than marriages & couples.

Do this: Laugh.

#marriage #laughter #relationships

4. “If you must go online, behave yourself.”

How To Be An Adult – David Gerrold – (Patreon, public post)

Almost as a follow-on to last week’s “Grow the F*ck Up” takeaway, Gerrold presents a list he refers to himself. While the pedant in me isn’t in 100% agreement on absolutely everything, it’s a great reminder of how to be a decent human being.

Don’t get caught up in stupid arguments. Being right means you have to make the other person wrong. You won’t make friends that way. You won’t create partnership.

You don’t have to always be right. It’s OK to let it go. It’s OK to choose your battles. It’s OK to give the other person the win.

Do this: Be an adult.


5. “Belief, feeling, and practice are the necessary elements of healthy faith.”

How to Find Your Faith (gift link) – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

I’ve long said that in current culture, it’s much worse to have no faith that it is to have the wrong faith. Brooks kind of exemplifies the assumption, in that while he leads with the rise of “none” in response to questions regarding faith, he discusses how one would go about finding faith, under the assumption that all would want to. Somehow this portrays “none” as something less than desirable.

The right approach is to start practicing, notwithstanding your current state of belief and feeling. If the practice evokes sentiment in you, then study the faith to develop knowledge and opinions.

What I appreciate about this “practice first” approach is that it sets the stage for faiths to lead by example. “I want to be like those people…” can be a compelling argument. The opposite, “no way to I want to be like those people”, is just as compelling, very common, and something I suspect many people of faith overlook, particularly when they proselytize.

Do this: Set an example worth following.


6. “Charisma is about being interested, not interesting.”

3 Levels of Listening – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle)

One topic that interests me, and thus is a recurring theme here, is listening. I have so much room for improvement. Bloom discusses an interesting framework:

  • “Me” Listening
  • “You” Listening
  • “Us” Listening

Most of spend our listening “effort” at the first: listening to relate everything to ourselves. Listening to respond, rather than listening to understand or to grow.

Do this: Listen.


7. “Curiosity is the spark to ignite change.”

Firestarters – Steve Makofsky – (Makoism blog/newsletter)

Makofsky points out that our educational system tends to beat curiosity out of children. The result is a “that’s the way we always do it” kind of mentality in subsequent careers (and perhaps even life). The solution? Embracing and encouraging curiosity.

Curiosity is the best guide. Your curiosity never lies, and it knows more than you do about what’s worth paying attention to. Notice how often that word has come up. If you asked an oracle the secret to doing great work and the oracle replied with a single word, my bet would be on ‘curiosity.’

I agree. I gotta say that much of my skill and enjoyment comes from saying “I wonder what happens if …”. It saddens me to see so many people afraid of even considering the question.

Do this: Be curious.


Additional Interesting Links

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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

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