A special welcome to the This is True readers who signed up this week after Randy made mention of my little side project.
Again, welcome. I hope you find some value or inspiration or something worth pondering or . . . well, something.
1. “All it needed was just a spark”
‘I am broken’: South African communities are gutted by a wave of looting, arson and loss – Hlengiwe Motaung, Max Bearak, Gulshan Khan – (Washington Post)
Naturally, I’m disturbed by the violence and unrest.
I think I’m more disturbed by the fact that I learned about this first . . . from a TikToker I follow. US coverage has been subdued, at best. Yes, that’s a Washington Post article, so perhaps I’m disturbed more by the lack of prominence.
I’ve long felt that the United States has a rather myopic view of what it considers “news”. It’s natural, of course, to concern ourselves with the events at home first, but please, not to the exclusion of the rest of the world. And yet, that’s exactly the position many take. If it’s not happening here, it’s someone else’s problem to deal with.
Hopefully you’ve also heard about some flooding in Germany and The Netherlands by now.
Do this: Seek out news and information from outside your own back yard. The BBC is usually a good start (though, ironically, the South Africa story is nowhere to be find on their home page as I type this — I had to dig deeper.)
Update: The TikToker reports that things have calmed down. And yeah, you probably read it here first.
2. “One of the most liberating facts I know”
Liberating, in the fact that mistakes go largely unnoticed, and and have less impact than we think. Specifically targeting “self censorship” online, Crivello advocates less of it, since the downside is lower than we think, and the potential upside can be significant.
. . . the downside of most moves is never really as steep as it seems; that the upside can be unbounded; and that the best thing one can do is make as many moves as possible. In Marc Andreessen’s words, “optimize for the maximum number of swings of the bat.”
Sounds amazingly like one of the takeaways from last week. Serendipity?
Do this: notice if you self-censor (online, specifically). I know I do. If so, why? What’s the downside, really?
3. “Fear of judgment . . . is nine times out of ten the biggest stumbling block to getting started on a piece of writing.”
Chaotic Good – Rachel Jepsen – (The Long Conversation newsletter)
I feel seen. I’m better than I was, but . . . there are still things I think about and don’t write about for fear of the judgment that would follow. In some cases, it feels legit (I don’t want to lose a third of my Ask Leo! audience, for example, if I say the “wrong thing”, whatever that might be), but on the other hand, it’s also a barrier to even getting started. That’s the sticking point.
Jepson uses several examples to posit that chaos is the place to start (hence the article title). In fact, that it’s the necessary place to start. And judgment — especially expectations of judgment — isn’t valuable. Starting is.
Do this: what are you holding back for fear of judgment?
4. “. . . the stupidest response to any situation is the emotional one.”
Tell It To The Stars – David Gerrold – (Essay on Patreon)
One of the hardest lessons for any human being to learn is that their opinion is worthless, irrelevant, and a waste of everybody’s time.
An interesting essay that caught my attention, particularly after takeaway number two, above. It’s both a hard (very hard) lesson to learn, and yet somehow very freeing.
Do this: I’d have you read this essay (it’s open to all, even though it’s on Patreon). It’s full of several nuggets.
5. “A donation is an investment too.”
Here’s How I Recharge My Brain When It Stops Functioning Properly – Tim Denning – (Medium)
This essay has several techniques that can help when you find yourself stuck, or spinning, or just otherwise mentally constipated. This one spoke to me because I’ve experienced it myself. Sometimes just stepping away from everything else and doing something — donating, projects, whatever — for someone else or an organization you support can be a surprisingly positive reset.
Direct charity helps you get out of your head.
Other techniques Denning uses include to stop focusing on content consumption for a while, perform a “brain dump” to paper (or whatever), taking some time with a true listener, reading life stories, or perhaps work out (“The gym is a buddha’s playground.”) Not all are for everyone, but some good ideas.
Do this: Invest. In yourself. That’s what most all of this really is.
6. “. . . we are not explorers as much as deserters”
Back on Earth – Dan Rather, Elliot Kirschner, and Steady Team – (Steady, Dan Rather’s emailed newsletter.)
I have mixed feelings about the recent rash of billionaires in space. Rather does a great job of providing a balanced perspective of both the excitement and awe at the accomplishments and the feeling that there are parts of it all that are just wrong. The full quote:
We need to value the explorations of learning that come with our walks through life. Space exploration is certainly part of this equation. But we cannot lose perspective. We cannot lose sight of our duty to our fellow human beings and the balance we must achieve to preserve our precious Earth. If we head into space without cherishing and protecting our home, we are not explorers as much as deserters.
Do this: Read Rather’s piece on the topic, it’s worth it.
7. “Complaining All the Time”
10 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Older, if You Aren’t Careful – Brooke Meredith – (Medium)
The takeaway above is simply my pet peeve, taken from the list.
But, to ruminate on them and complain all the time, only diminishes our quality of life even more. It wrecks your mental health, makes your life a more unhappy one, and will alienate a lot of good people around you.
Underlined emphasis mine. I see it all too often — people avoid chronic complainers because they suck the joy out of life.
The rest of the is worthwhile reviewing as well. As someone who’s well along the path to “when you’re older”, I can confirm its accuracy.
Do this: Stop complaining. Maybe read the list. It’s NEVER too late to make a change.
What I’m Reading
In progress (also on GoodReads):
- The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown – Catherine Burns (editor)
- Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel – Martha Wells
- 90 Days of Creative Motivation -Todd Brison
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
- On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down – James Fell