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Sometimes I think ‘why the heck can’t happiness be a place or status? Wouldn’t that make things easier?’ But actually places can be regulated, big corporations can ask for money to let you in and they can turn it all exclusive and fancy schmancy. Because happiness is a state of being we will at least all have a shot, randomly stumble upon it every once in a while or work for it (without needing the permission of someone else).
I talk a lot about clarifying values and the happiness of living according to them brings. But not following our values can create feelings of guilt. Guilt shows us that what we think is right and what we do are not the same thing. It can be a useful bit of information. However it can also create a lastingly bad feeling without helping us progress. We could feel guilty about big goals like living healthily or environmentally friendly our whole life. A more helpful approach is to make tiny steps towards the goal, by trying out various things, keeping up what sticks and trying something different if it doesn’t work.
Everyone you meet today has toiled away doing work that people take for granted and have not acknowledged. This could be at their regular job, at home or when dedicating time to a cause or side-project they care about. The same is true for you. Silently or vocally thank them for that work.
To the ambitious ones of you who strive to let everything fall by the wayside that doesn’t directly lead to your goal or success: Nobel prize winners do the opposite. They are significantly more likely to engage with the arts than their fellow scientists. For example they are 12 times more likely to engage in creative writing, such as fiction or non-fiction books and 22 times more likely to have trained as actors or magicians than their fellow non winning scientists. True the arts alone don’t make a scientist a prize winner but there is definitely a strong relationship.
Thanks again Adam Grant, author of the book Originals.
There’s a lot of joy in a great meal. There’s also a lot of freedom knowing that even if we don’t get the great meal we will enjoy ourselves.
It’s great getting what we want. There’s freedom in knowing that we will be okay even if we don’t get what we want.
The damsel in distress belief is one that I find particularly annoying yet consistent in our culture. This idea that women can only succeed if a prince on a white horse appears does not feel romantic to me at all. Yet recently I wondered why the belief triggered way more emotions than similarly disempowering ideas. The answer is of course that I still believed it, not when it came to men, but otherwise: some idea would answer all my questions about how to progress my business. Or some doctor would figure out why I feel so tired all the time. In these cases the brilliant idea or the doctor are my versions of the prince on the white horse. Sometimes we know the most obvious version of our limiting beliefs. Yet these beliefs are savvy and they come in many disguises. If we want to move beyond them we need to weed all of these versions out, not just the obvious one.
When can you successfully speak up and when are you doomed to fail? Research has found that you have to earn the right to speak up. You contribute to a group. These contributions make others respect you. You gain idiosyncrasy credit. Now is the time to challenge what is happening. Without the ICs you will just be shot down as an annoying weirdo.
(one of many interesting insights featured in Adam Grant’s new book Originals)
Our browser history and our favourite websites tell us very clearly how we spend our time online. Does this match your values? Does it reflect the things that are important to you? Maybe the answer is no because you already pursue these things in many other ways and use the computer for entertainment mostly. It’s not necessarily about good versus bad websites. You can use Facebook to share very meaningful things or you can use it to share the equivalent of virtual fart cushions. Both have their place. The question is whether time spent has anything to do with helping you live your values and reach your goals.
You have to distinguish between your fears: rational fears like fear of heights have real consequences, irrational fears do not.
-Tim Ferriss, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, Episode 6
You’re in this situation and you wonder ‘what would Jesus (or that dude from Fight Club, whatever your preference is) do now?’. I don’t know about you but I havent’ found a hero who I feel does what I think is the right thing in every single situation.
So I recently had a fun idea: what if I would take the concept of fantasy football (for each position choose the best player you can think of) and apply it to my role models? It could be done for business, love, health or anything else we are interested in. Here are how I would fill the positions, 11 players in total like a real football (soccer) team:
Usually I acknowledge my fears and let them stay in the room. I will not try to make them go away but usually I don’t pay too much attention to them either, unless there’s a real risk involved. Yet a couple of months I wrote a couple of my biggest fears down. Then I forgot about it. Recently I found the list again and to my surprise while some of them still scared me from others I had simply moved on. They didn’t matter anymore and I wouldn’t have known this, if I wouldn’t have done the fears the courtesy to write them down.
Salary, grades, number of vacations or downloads: whatever metric you use to keep track of your life is something that will normalize meaning you will get used to it. That doesn’t mean that you should never track your success with numbers. It does mean however that while number goals can motivate us we need other things to make us happy. Quantity normalizes but quality does not. You easily get used to achieving A grades and even expect that from yourself and be disappointed by anything less. But if your skill level and the challenge grow in relation to each other the work you put into worthwhile projects will not normalize but can be a source of a more quiet and content happiness.
As we progress in skill and become better at doing something two things can happen: we use these successes to bolster our confidence and grow even more. Or we settle for a comfortable level of doing things. One is not necessarily better than the other: there is no need to become better at shampooing your hair. Settling is just fine. Yet if we settle too often life gets smaller. The new can help us keep efficiency at bay.
You don’t conquer the wave. The wave allows you to ride it and you survive it.
-Laird Hamilton, Surfer Legend
There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.
You don’t stop going to the gym just because you went once and it didn’t help. Yet with ideas and beliefs we expect them to fit us instantly or we discard them. Some ideas are clearly unhelpful and divisive. For those which are not let’s imagine a chamber of non-judgment. Whenever we test-drove a particular concept we will just park it in there until we are ready to try again.
Tim Ferriss is not doing any start-up investments anymore because even if he would only say yes to the top 1% he would still need the mental energy to filter the other 99% (it doesn’t matter if you know who he is, sufficient to say, he’s a smart guy).
I myself am a big fan of moderation however sometimes it makes more sense to say no than to constantly wonder whether this is an opportunity for moderation or not.
To those of you who travel a lot and easily make new friends this is no surprise: one of the quickest ways to expand your mind is to meet, befriend and if possible love (not necessarily romantically) someone who is different from you. The love for one person can put all the lies that people tell about their group right. The love for one person can give you the determination to not judge even if it’s easy. Watching a person you know in flesh and blood actually achieve something is very different from just hearing about something from famous people. Watching several people achieve something who you know might be precisely what you need to change from believing something to be for the select few to going after it yourself.
In most cases if you don’t do anything about your needs there’s a 100% chance that you get a no. So from asking only something good can come. If people don’t heed your request you are exactly where you left off: at a no.
A lot of self-help and also positive psychology asks people to sit down, think about important questions and write them down linearly. This implies that all the answers we need are supposed to hit us like lightening once we sit down. While some answers might strike like lightening I find that the best answers collect in a mental fishing net that is silently collecting answers and data over time. The lightening effect does happen but not because we sit down to write but only once the net has collected enough useful information and found a way to make the puzzle pieces fit together. What questions can you architect like filters and fishing nets?