March 2023

Don’t believe everything you think.

Perhaps the most comforting thing about growing old gracefully is the increasing ability not to take things too seriously. One of the big differences between a genuine sage and a preacher is gayety. When the sage laughs it is a belly laugh; when the preacher laughs, which is all too seldom, it is on the wrong side of the face. …

With advancing age my ideals, which I usually deny possessing, have definitely altered. My ideal is to be free of ideals, free of principles, free of isms and ideologies. I want to take to the ocean of life like a fish takes to the sea. As a young man I was greatly concerned about the state of the world, today, though I still rant and rave, I am content simply to deplore the state of affairs. It may sound smug to speak thus but in reality it means that I have become more humble, more aware of my limitations and those of my fellow man. I no longer try to convert people to my view of things, nor to heal them. Neither do I feel superior because they appear to be lacking in intelligence. – Henry Miller

Marketers are trying to teach us that extensive/scarce stuffs are better.

The young man knows the rules, the old man knows the exceptions.

Once the mind has accepted a plausible explanation for something, it becomes a framework for all the information that is perceived after it. We’re drawn, subconsciously, to fit and contort all the subsequent knowledge we receive into our framework, whether it fits or not. Psychologists call this “cognitive rigidity”. The facts that built an original premise are gone, but the conclusion remains—the general feeling of our opinion floats over the collapsed foundation that established it.

Information overload, “busyness,” speed, and emotion all exacerbate this phenomenon. They make it even harder to update our beliefs or remain open-minded.

– Trust Me, I’m Lying

“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” — Leo Tolstoy

The cost of being who you are is conflict with those who want you to be someone else.

The cost of being what others want you to be is conflict with yourself.

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable. All these and other factors combined, if the circumstances are right, can teach and can lead to rebirth.”​ — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ― Atticus Finch

Rich people have money. Wealthy people have time.

“The insatiable goals to acquire more, succeed conspicuously, and be as attractive as possible lead us to objectify one another, and even ourselves. When people see themselves as little more than their attractive bodies, jobs, or bank accounts, it brings great suffering…You become a heartless taskmaster to yourself, seeing yourself as nothing more than Homo economicus. Love and fun are sacrificed for another day of work, in search of a positive internal answer to the question Am I successful yet? We become cardboard cutouts of real people.” URL

“The very secret of life for me, I believed, was to maintain in the midst of rushing events an inner tranquility.” ​ — Margaret Bourke-White

You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

  • Andy Warhol

Doing, or, practicing, is the only way to make a meaningful impact on your knowledge. Understanding — true understanding — is existential, not intellectual. It’s one thing to say you know something, it’s another thing to be able to embody it, live it out, and be a breathing example of what you’ve digested.

Anger is just a cover to your own pain.

One way of prompting creativity is to create for yourself:

Write the novel you want to read. Paint the painting you want to hang in your bedroom. Open the cafe you want to visit every day.

Creators benefit from being obsessive and intensely self-interested. Focusing too much on what the crowd wants, or what the algorithm wants, will make you easily forget why you started a creative endeavor. You will feel pulled in every direction by other’s expectations, you’ll make compromises, and your work will end up inauthentic and unfulfilling because it won’t be what you wanted.

What you do needs to spring out of who you are. This is the first step in authentic creation. The first step to winning the heart of an audience, or anyone at all, is to produce work from a place of genuine selfhood. Create what you want to see more of in the world, because the world needs more of you.

Our attention is under the sway of powerful instincts developed for a different environment than we live in.
We equate productivity with effortful exertion, mistaking the feeling of busyness for actually spending time on things that matter. We don’t know where our time actually goes, so we can lie to ourselves about how much of it is on activities we don’t care about.

A lot of people now think they are not consumers because they buy vintage clothes, save some money, and spend on “experiences” instead. They are being fooled by the advertising world.

Have you noticed this trend? To attract young folks, brands have promoted the idea of experiences. They’ve convinced people that it’s better to go on vacation or drive five hours to eat at some fancy restaurant.

Instead of consuming goods, they are simply consuming experiences. Same underlying activity, different destination.

It’s probably the smartest move in advertising of the last decade. They also use it to sell smartphones and gadgets. “You need this new smartphone with the best camera ever so you can document your amazing vacation.” It’s a highly effective marketing strategy.

– Darius Foroux

Existential loneliness and a sense that one’s life is inconsequential, both of which are hallmarks of modern civilizations, seem to me to derive in part from our abandoning a belief in the therapeutic dimensions of a relationship with place. A continually refreshed sense of the unplumbable complexity of patterns in the natural world, patterns that are ever present and discernible, and which incorporate the observer, undermine the feeling that one is alone in the world, or meaningless in it. The effort to know a place deeply is, ultimately, an expression of the human desire to belong, to fit somewhere. URL

Writing is the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about. Importantly, writing is also the process by which you figure it out.

“A sure way for me to blunt my aliveness, my day-to-day experience of my vitality, is to live in victimhood, blame the weather, blame the traffic. What I notice is, if I stop blaming and I choose to move the locus of control back over here, and I choose to have agency, to be responsible for my experience, not the external world, but to be responsible for my experience, there’s a surge of energy that comes back in the body.” –Jim Dethmer

Doing your best isn’t about the result. It’s about the preparation. It’s about the position you find yourself in before you do whatever you are doing.

Real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. URL

“The thing that is least perceived about wealth is that all pleasure in money ends at the point where economy becomes unnecessary. The man who can buy anything he covets values nothing that he buys. There is a subtle pleasure in the extravagance that contests with prudence; in the anxious debates which we hold with ourselves whether we can or cannot afford a certain thing; in our attempts to justify our wisdom; in the risk and recklessness of our operations; in the long deferred and final joy of our possession; but this is a kind of pleasure which the man of boundless means never knows.” — William Dawson, The Quest of the Simple Life

“Stress is any deviation from homeostasis or our neutral baseline position. So every time we tilt that pleasure, pain, balance to the side of pleasure or pain, we’re also setting off our own endogenous adrenaline or stress hormone. That is the definition of stress, a deviation from homeostasis. So I think that in many ways the source of our stress in modern life is the constant stimulation, the constant hits of pleasure from reaching for our phone in the morning to our morning cup of Joe to the donuts, to the Netflix binges at night, to the hookup, you name it. We’re actually experiencing stress as a result of overabundance.” – Dr. Anna Lembke

Elevated standards create elevated results.

Standards apply not just to the quality of work you produce but the opportunities you work on. If you accept substandard work from yourself, you’ll only get average work from others. If you say yes to average projects, you’ll have no time for exceptional ones.

Raise the bar to raise the results.

“The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. … What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing … the thing that might be worth saying.”​ — Gilles Deleuze