1. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”
What Is Wisdom? – Mark Manson – (Mindf*ck Monthly newsletter)
Yet this perception that everyone else is awful is evidence that everything is alright. The fact that we’re exposed to enough diversity of thought and lifestyle to be so annoyed by everyone demonstrates that the system is working. In a sense, democracy requires constant dissatisfaction. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
This is a difficult one to get comfortable with. Perhaps it’s supposed to be. I think each of us feels like the world would be a better place if “the other side” would just go away (or magically convert to “our side”), but that reality would be all sorts of scary as well — just in different ways.
Do this: to paraphrase Manson’s closing paragraph: become comfortable with anxiety. (Easier said than done — there’s so much.)
2. “. . . if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is . . .”
Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 – Neil Gaiman – (Vimeo)
This is an entertaining and thoughtful graduation address from the author Neil Gaiman. There’s lots of good advice for those who are about to, who are struggling to, or who are already creating art of some sort. Given that I have a very broad definition of “art”, I choose to include myself.
The advice in the takeaway is not new, I’ve heard variations of it before. As an introvert, for example, one way to cope with situations more tailored to those comfortable in crowds of strangers is to “pretend to be an extrovert”. It works. I may be more tired than a true extrovert at the end of the event, but I’ll have navigated it successfully.
The same applies to almost any endeavor. It’s not “fake it ’til you make it”, it “fake it to deal with a situation, or learn from the experience”.
I’m not wise. But sometimes I try to pretend . . .
Do this: For something that you want to be or do, pretend that you already can or are. What does it feel like? What can you learn?
3. “The best we can do sometimes, in absence of actual wisdom, is to simply cease being foolish.”
Paper & Blood: Book Two of the Ink & Sigil series – Kevin Hearne – (ebook)
Yep, this popped up in some of my fantasy/fiction reading. I couldn’t pass it by, given the timing with the immediately preceding takeaway. We can’t always act as someone who is wise, so perhaps not being foolish is the next best thing. (Or, if need be, combine the two and act like someone who isn’t foolish. )
Do this: cease being foolish.
4. “. . . humans value social conformity . . .”
Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day – Jay Shetty – (ebook)
The full quote:
Research has proven that most humans value social conformity so much that they’ll change their own responses—even their perceptions—to align with the group, even when the group is blatantly wrong.
While everyone’s arguing facts and figures, right and wrong, smart and stupid, wise and foolish, in my opinion, this, more than anything else, explains so much of the conflict we see in society. (I’ve touched on this before: ‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation‘ from Find Your ‘Lenses’ – 7 Takeaways for May 9, 2021.)
It’s unclear that I’ll finish this book. At the “100 minus your age” point, the book is good, but I’m not sure it’s good enough for me.
Do this: Challenge your group alignment.
5. “Honesty shows confidence.”
Six Psychological Tools That Seem Honest But Are Secretly Manipulative – Tim Denning – (Medium)
I gotta say that the six techniques listed (you’ll recognize them all) have always held somewhat of an “ick” factor for me; used-car salesman level “ick”. So it’s really no surprise that they’d be listed as manipulative.
Honesty is difficult. And I’m not completely convinced it’s possible in every circumstance.
Honesty shows confidence. Honesty sells. Honesty is easy because you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not.
Honesty doesn’t always sell, for example. But it definitely makes it easier to keep your story straight.
Do this: Watch for the techniques. They’re not uncommon, as icky as they might be.
6. “If you must peddle fear, at least give hope equal time.”
Why I Decided to Follow Kathy – Julia E Hubbel – (Medium)
The essay discusses Hubbel’s decision to follow a younger humorist on Medium, Kathy Copeland Padden. The central theme is simply that we need humor, and from humor comes hope.
People need a reason to fight, and that reason is hope. People need hope. If you must peddle fear, at least give hope equal time. A whole planet of humans is raising their children, falling in and out of love, fighting with their neighbors, Adopting kitties, clipping their toenails, living life. What’s the point of doing all that just to live in a perpetual state of fear porn-induced existential dread? (author bolded)
Do this: laugh more.
7. “. . . you are the easiest person to fool.”
The Scout Mindset – Julia Galef – (ebook)
The full quote actually comes from Richard Feynman:
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.
I alluded to this book last week, and it’s looking quite promising. The topic is simply this: do we want to be right, or do we want to be right? By that I mean, do we seek out information that supports our pre-existing beliefs, thus feeling subjectively “right”, even though we could be completely off base with bad or insufficient information? Or do we seek out information to test our beliefs, and in so doing change or confirm those beliefs so as to be objectively correct?
While it’s nothing new, it does feel like it’s the problem of the decade, if not the century.
Do this: of the two “rights”, please choose the latter. I know it’s not easy. Make the effort.
What I’m Reading
In progress (also on GoodReads):
- The Scout Mindset – Julia Galef
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman