“How we spend our time is how we spend our days. How we spend our days is how our life goes. How our life goes determines whether we thought it was worth living.”
— Keith Yamashita
It’s easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of day to day events, and sometimes it can seem like a bit of a slog. When that happens, it can be useful to step back for a few moments to reflect: The Universe is unfolding exactly as it should, as it always has and always will.
But what is cool is that we are all participating in this unfolding process; we are blessed to be part of it for as long as we are manifesting our being as nodes of consciousness, only a droplet in a vast ocean, but a droplet nonetheless — in this web of cosmic intelligence. We dwell on the absolute cutting edge of novelty, along with all sentient beings everywhere. Our uniqueness contributes to the making of every moment unique, unlike any other moment that has ever occurred in the history of the Universe.
Consuming information is not the same as acquiring knowledge. No idea could be further from the truth. Learning means being able to use new information. The basic process of learning consists of reflection and feedback. We learn facts and concepts through reflecting on experience—our own or others’. If you read something and you don’t make time to think about what you’ve read, you won’t be able to use any of the wisdom you’ve been exposed to.
Anxiety, anger, fear, jealousy, frustration, depression, grief, shame, loneliness, resentment, envy, greed…
The question isn’t how to keep these painful emotions from ever happening; the question is how to see them with wisdom and compassion whenever they happen.
The truth is, negative emotions can naturally transform themselves and open into an experience of pure psychological freedom. But only if you let them.
“It turns out that reality has a surprising amount of detail, and those details can matter a lot to figuring out what the root problem or best solution is. So if I want to help, I can’t treat those details as a black box: I need to open it up and see the gears inside. Otherwise, anything I suggest will be wrong—or even if it’s right, I won’t have enough “shared language” with my friend for it to land correctly.”
“There are some people whose confidence outweighs their knowledge, and they’re happy to say things which are wrong. And then there are other people who probably have all the knowledge but keep quiet because they’re scared of saying things.”
— Helen Jenkins, on the problem of communicating scientific uncertainty.
“The important thing about friends is that you need to have them before disaster befalls you. One reason is that, as we shall see later, people are only likely to make the effort to help you if they are already your friend. We are all much less likely to help strangers or people we know only slightly – despite what we sometimes claim. Making friends, however, requires a great deal of effort and time.” – Robin Dunbar
Friendships are more important than we realize. The closer the friendship the more it matters. Friendships protect us against disease, cognitive decline, and embed us with a sense of trust in the community. They also require constant reinforcement to maintain their strength.
Distance yourself from people that you don’t want to become.
Many of us spend our days locked in a mild state of anxiety and annoyance at all the problems we have to solve, both minor and major.
Should I quit my job—or stick it out?
What should I make for dinner tonight?
How am I ever going to find the right relationship?
Our attention narrows, our world contracts, and we convince ourselves that solving these problems will lead to a lasting state of happiness and freedom.
This, of course, is a fantasy.
Meditation shows you that happiness and freedom aren’t earned by solving your apparent problems, which are endless. Rather, happiness and freedom can only ever be the place from which you solve—and even enjoy—your problems.
Put another way, happiness and freedom are not the end goal of anything. They are the starting place for everything.
Often what seems like an expensive solution is a cheap solution (in the long run) and what seems like a cheap solution is very expensive (in the long run).
What seems expensive is often cheap in the long run.
“The thing that’s very clear is that when people hear information that comports with whatever their tribe believes, or whatever their tribe supports, they’re willing to accept it without doing a lot of digging into the quality of the source, the quality of the information, the implications of the rest of the information that goes with it. Anything that challenges what their tribe believes they are going to be more dismissive of whether or not it comes from a quality source.” – Todd Simkin
“Groundedness does not eliminate passion, productivity, or all forms of striving and ambition. Instead, it is about ditching an omnipresent and frantic anxiety to begin living in alignment with your innermost values, pursuing your interests, and expressing your authentic self in the here and now. When you are grounded there is no need to look up or down. You are where you are, and you hold true strength and power from that position. Your success, and the way in which you pursue it, becomes more enduring and robust. You gain the confidence to opt out of the consumer-driven rat-race that leaves you feeling like you are never enough.” — Brad Stulberg
“We stick to the wrong thing quite often, not because it will come to fruition by further effort but because we cannot let go of the way we have decided to tell the story, and we become further enmeshed even by trying to make sense of what entraps us, when what is needed is a simple, clean breaking away.”– David Whyte
The ability to self-monitor and change your interior dialogue is one of the most critical faculties that distinguish a mature, adult human, someone capable of functioning fully in the world.
That’s what takes you from a victim mentality to being proactive, from blaming others to taking ownership of your situation and taking positive steps to change it.
You don’t need enough courage for the entire journey. You only need courage for a few seconds to overcome self-doubt before you take the next step.
“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” — Viktor Frankl
We’re unintentionally stupid.
I like to think that I’m rational and capable of interpreting all information in a non-biased way but that’s a dream. Cognitive biases are great at explaining how our evolutionary programming leads us astray. Knowledge of these biases in advance rarely helps us make better decisions. There are, however, many easily recognizable situations that increase the odds we’re about to do something stupid. Whether we’re tired, overly focused on a goal, rushing, distracted, operating in a group, or under the influence of a group, we’re more prone to stupidity.
Our evolutionary programming conditions us to do what’s easy over what’s right. After all it’s often easier to signal being virtuous than actually being virtuous. We unconsciously make choices based on optics, politics, and defendability. We hate criticism and seek the validation of our peers and superiors. We often want to feel good about ourselves first and have the outcome we desire second.
“There’s a companion quality you’ll need to be the leaders you can be. That’s the willingness to take risks. Not reckless ones, but the risks that still remain after all the evidence has been considered. … Certainty is an illusion. Perfect safety is a mirage. Zero is always unattainable, except in the case of absolute zero where, as you remember, all motion and life itself stop. … the biggest risk of all is that we stop taking risks at all.”
“An initial period of concentration—conscious, directed attention—needs to be followed by some amount of unconscious processing. Mathematicians will often speak of the first phase of this process as “worrying” about a problem or idea. It’s a good word, because it evokes anxiety and upset while also conjuring an image of productivity: a dog worrying a bone, chewing at it to get to the marrow—the rich, meaty part of the problem that will lead to its solution. In this view of creative momentum, the key to solving a problem is to take a break from worrying, to move the problem to the back burner, to let the unwatched pot boil.”
“We have been fighting on this planet for ten thousand years; it would be idiotic and unethical to not take advantage of such accumulated experiences. If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.” — General Jim Mattis
Just as you watch what you put into your body or your mind, closely look at who you spend your time with. Are they kind? Are they honest? Are they thoughtful? Are they helping you or pulling you down? Are they reliable? Are they clear thinking? In short, are they the things you want to become? If not, don’t tempt fate, cut bate.
Distance yourself from the people you don’t want to become. Cultivate people in your life that make you better. People whose default behavior is your desired behavior. If circumstances make this difficult, choose among the eminent dead.
“Your first impulse should always be to find the evidence that disconfirms your most cherished beliefs and those of others. That is true science.” – The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
In an expert-run industrialized economy, there’s a lot of pressure to be the one who’s sure, the person with all the answers.
Far more valuable is someone who has all the questions. The ability to figure out what hasn’t been figured out and see what hasn’t been seen is a significant advantage.
Rarest of all is the person with the humility (and confidence) to realize that even the list of questions can remain elusive. Finding the right questions might be the very thing we need to do. –Seth
If you succeed, no one will care. If you fail, no one will care. So just do what gives you energy. Period.
We spend hours consuming news because we want to be informed. The problem is news doesn’t make us informed. In fact, the more news we consume the more misinformed we become.
“When it comes to networks, the bigger the better, right? Not necessarily. Carefully curate your most trusted, inner circle and you’ll be surprised at how much more valuable you’ll become to the larger community of people in the world who care about the same things you do.”
“I belong everywhere I go, no matter where it is, or who I am with, as long as I never betray myself. The minute I become who you want me to be, in order to fit in and make sure people like me, is the moment I no longer belong anywhere.” — Brené Brown