The Path is not Linear — 7 Takeaways No. 60

A Winding Road

(If you’re having difficulty viewing this in email just visit in your browser. If a link to one of the sources below leads to you a paywall or is otherwise inaccessible, please read my note on the topic: Paywalls.)

1. "The sin of unavailability"

What If We Just Stopped Being So Available? – Joe Pinsker – (The Atlantic)

I resemble this remark. But I’m working on it.

Technology has allowed us to set an expectation that responses to messages will be quick. That expectation adds stress to an already often overwhelmed life. The reality is that in most cases the stress is unwarranted.

What I found most interesting is that while current technology has shortened the expected response timeframe, the concept is nothing at all new. The author includes an example from a letter written in 1863, beginning with an apology for a delay.

Do this: Consider whether a response is really needed that quickly. And perhaps, in appropriate circumstances, consider adding something indicating you’re not expecting a quick result so you’re not inadvertently adding stress to your recipient.

2. "You’ve got one life to live and it’s happening right now"

Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy – Shankar Vedantam & William Irvine – (Hidden Brain podcast)

This might be one of the gentlest, most accessible introductions to stoicism I’ve run into in a long time. The word "stoic" doesn’t even appear until nearly 15 minutes in, as part of a book title, and Stoic philosophy isn’t directly mentioned until the 20-minute mark (it’s 45 minutes in total). And yet, even before it was mentioned I kept thinking "that’s Stoicism!"

I call it a gentle introduction because it’s not actually about Stoicism, per se, but rather how to deal with the stresses of daily living, especially of late. Ways of thinking that originate in Stoicism happens to be where they land.

I enjoyed listening to it.

Do this: If dealing with life’s ups and downs, and perhaps understanding Stoicism a little better, sounds at all interesting this one might be worth a listen.

3. "A completely different approach to using gratitude"

The Science of Gratitude & How To Build a Gratitude Practice – Dr. Andrew Huberman – (Podcast)

Even though it clocked in at an hour and a half, I found this a fascinating podcast episode. The takeaway refers to the finding that commonly recommended gratitude practices are generally ineffective. And yes, this includes the old "make a list at the end of the night" approach.

Citing many studies, and referencing both psychology and neurobiology, Dr. Huberman proposes an alternative shown to be more effective, and easy to do.

Do this: No matter how you do it, be grateful.

4. "Evolution doesn’t prioritize independent thinking"

How Philosophers Think – David Perell – (Blog)

This is a good overview of some of what makes a philosopher a philosopher. It really is all about how they think. While I don’t consider myself "a" philosopher, I definitely aspire to the more rigorous thinking involved.

“What can this person teach me?” is a much more productive question than “How is this person wrong?”

With so much "wrong" being perceived these days, this is a very difficult perspective to maintain.

Do this: Keep an open mind. "When you restrict yourself to one side of the intellectual spectrum, you limit your capacity to find truth."

5. "The path is not linear"

The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature – Robert Greene – (ebook)

You must see your career or vocational path more as a journey with twists and turns rather than a straight line.

I’m not sure that this would have changed my outlook on life back in the day, but it was definitely not what was taught as being expected. Perhaps mine is one of the last generations to have entered the workforce with the expectation of one career for life. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out that way. The twists and turns have been awesome.

Do this: Enjoy the ride.

6. "Rely on the meaning and not on the words"

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching – Thich Nhat Hanh – (ebook)

I’ve often commented that communication is hard, really hard. In fact, it’s so hard that I’m surprised civilization has lasted this long. Really.

When we consider how difficult it is to communicate ideas, using only words, and then how many people jump on the words, and not the ideas behind them … well, in some ways it explains so much of what’s going on in the world right now.

Do this: Words matter, so choose them carefully. But realize that not everyone does, and the idea they’re attempting to share is so much more important than the words they happen to use.

7. "It’s hard to know exactly why anyone changes their mind"

How A Chicken Turned My Mom Into a Secret Democrat – Emily Kingsley – (Medium)

This is a light, fun read. A story, but with a point. A chicken, that turned out to be a rooster, and yet.

watching Natalie, a boy bird, express himself freely as a girl bird changed her mind about how she thought about people.

I found myself smiling.

Do this: Love the Natalies in your life.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


Support 7Takeaways

As Austin Kleon says about his own newsletter: it’s free, but not cheap. Your support helps keep 7Takeaways viable. I appreciate your consideration VERY much.

Pick your own level of support!

Leave a Comment