How will you wield your words? – 7 Takeaways for October 31, 2021

Wielded Sword

1. “The vast majority of news is irrelevant”

Why You Should Quit the News – Mark Manson – (blog)

Honestly, I could probably fill this entire issue of 7 Takeaways with takeaways from this single article. Yes, it’s long, but there are a ton of excellent points to consider about how news has evolved (starting with clay tablets), the purposes it serves, and how it can fail.

When you focus on first principles, the news becomes incredibly empty. I’d say 80-90% of the content out there is either: a) catastrophizing some irrelevant event, b) horse race updates when all you need to know is who won, or c) opinion and commentary dressed up as news.

I truly have a difficult time picking just one or two items from the essay. I will say that, unlike many essays on the topic, Manson offers solutions — things you can do, right now, to counter the problem; if not for society as a whole then at least for yourself.

Do this: Read the article. Yes, it’s listed as a 47-minute read. The fact people won’t read something specifically because it’s too long (TL;DR, anyone?), regardless of value, is exactly part of the problem. We’ve been conditioned to be intolerant of length. Take steps to fix that.

2. “championing good ideas”

3-2-1: Letting bad ideas die, the beauty of autumn, and the endless nature of craftsmanship – James Clear – (Newsletter)

The full quote is this:

Your time is better spent championing good ideas than tearing down bad ones.

While Clear’s directed this at creatives and entrepreneurs, I think, it applies . . . well, it applies just about everywhere. We seem to live in a world where most people are focused on tearing down everyone else’s “bad” ideas. It seems like the best way to overcome a bad idea is to propose — champion — a better one.

Do this: be a champion.

3. “a moderate balance between opposite extremes”

Finding Goldilocks: A Solution for Black-and-White Thinking – Jeremy Shapiro Ph.D. – (Psychology Today)

Black-and-white thinking is one of my pet peeves, particularly over in the world of technology. People want absolutes where there are none.

In researching the concept a little more deeply I’m finding all sorts of interesting scenarios where black-and-white thinking — which we all do to some degree — manifests most strongly in association with various personality disorders. I’m not saying my readers are narcissists, but I found it fascinating that it would be one of the more timely examples. In reality, people are just trying to get stuff done, and hope for an easy yes/no answer. Unfortunately, the world is rarely that simple.

. . . it is practically impossible to live comfortably with a black-and-white picture of a world containing many shades of gray.

Do this: work to recognize back-and-white thinking in yourself, and ask yourself if it’s accurate, and if it’s helpful.

4. “How will you wield your words?”

The War of Weaponized Words: Does Your Writing Heal, Harm, Befriend or Befoul? – Julia E Hubbel – (Medium)

This essay is targeted at bloggers and other online publishers, but it really applies to us all. We are all writers. Whether our audiences are large or small the things we choose to write about, and the way in which we express ourselves, can have a dramatic impact on those who take the time to read.

Social media has allowed us to weaponize our words and to express just how pissed off that we didn’t get the life we felt we deserved.

As the author also states, I strive to write such that my words have a positive impact. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a goal worth striving for.

Do this: Be aware of your words. Strive.

5. “learning from disagreements is still hard”

The Scout Mindset – Julia Galef – (ebook)

One of the issues I’m trying to get my head around is the air of divisiveness that permeates our culture, and what to do about it.

One of the common pieces of advice is to expose yourself to the other side of an argument. The author cites a study where conservatives and liberals chose to expose themselves to information from “the other side” for a month.

Had their views been moderated by the foray outside their echo chambers? Quite the contrary.

They each became more, not less, entrenched in their beliefs.

To give yourself the best chance of learning from disagreement, you should be listening to people who make it easier to be open to their arguments, not harder. People you like or respect, even if you don’t agree with them.

Note also, this is what you should be doing if you want to be open to updating your opinions. This isn’t something you can force “the other side” to do.

Do this: be open.

6. “Every successful person is a curious person.”

The Five Most Valuable Skills You Can Develop For Free – Josh Spector – (Blog/Newsletter)

The most valuable skills you can have in life and work are rarely taught in school, never show up on a resume, and are consistently overlooked and underappreciated

Here’s the thing . . . they could be taught in school. The problem? They’re not quantifiable. They’re, to put it in an all-to-annoying way, “soft skills”. You can’t really test for them. But you know them when you see them.

And we can all benefit from them, regardless of where we are in our journey.

Do this: be curious. (Perhaps about what the other 4 are. Smile)

7. “change cannot be pressured or forced”

To Speak Or Not To Speak – Deborah Barchi – (Medium)

Some times, the right words spoken at the right time make an immediate, satisfying difference.

And sometimes the right words spoken at the right time just plant a seed. It can be long and sometimes painful to wait and watch for it to grow. Sometimes we’ll never see the results.

But sometimes we do. I’ve been privileged to see words (and actions) planted years ago blossom and take fruit. It can be very gratifying.

The key? The right words. Wisdom? Knowing what they might be.

Do this: Speak the right words, as best you can.

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


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