Lessons I learned from the book Poor Charlie’s Almanack

In this post, you’ll find a few lessons I learned from the book Poor Charlie’s Almanack.

Life and the universe around us are both very difficult puzzles. The crazy thing about it is not the degree of difficulty of each, but the fact that we have to solve both within the limited constraint of a human lifetime. So it stands true that the best we can do is to try to solve our part of the mystery, and we can only do it well by establishing a relationship with the wisest around us, both the living and the dead.

Once in awhile the wisest among us give us the gift of their wisdom through the written word, where it will, as a result, propel what the knowledge through generations and time. This post is about the book Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger, which is perhaps one of the most important books anyone of any demographic should read at least once in their lifetime.

Lessons I learned from the book Poor Charlie’s Almanack

The time we live in is one in which it’s easy for anyone whether skilled or not to do anything regardless of whether it takes skill or not. One of these things is writing. Today anyone can write a book, and if we’re lucky we’ll find a golden nugget or two in it. Most of the time, however, the shiny cover and the shiny tittle are all there is to the book. When you’re done you’re lucky if you’re as clear-minded as you were before you started. But we needn’t lose hope. There are still a few books out there packed with knowledge and this is one of them. Below are two big, but by no means the only takeaways I got from it.

The pursuit of knowledge

The first big thing was the emphasis on knowledge acquisition made by the author throughout the book. When it comes to self-improvement advice, tons of people out there tell us about the importance of working on ourselves continuously. Few mention the knowledge aspect of it, and the few who do most don’t live what they preach. One of the head raisers I got from the book was that both friends and family members reported how the preacher not only wasn’t a hypocrite but also lived hist truth to the fullest.

So he advises us to improve ourselves by improving our minds. And the way to improve our minds is through the pursuit of knowledge. This knowledge could be in person through mentors, or through the written word, by reading what the wisest who we don’t have access to have written.

The thing about the pursuit of knowledge is that the return per time effort invested is often orders of magnitude higher. What you learn today stays with you forever. It’s essentially the same as paying making a $10 investment today on a machine that keeps on printing money indefinitely.

The removal of ignorance

Still on the same vein is the idea of removal of ignorance taught in the book. Something happens the more you read on a varied number of subjects, and it’s that not surprisingly you become less and less ignorant over time given that you enter the learning experience with an open mind. As we discussed, life is too complex, and to handle that complexity our brains come up with mini theories on virtually everything around us. Most of these little theories tend to be wrong, but the problem is that 1) we don’t know which ones are wrong, and 2) these theories are a part of who we are. We believe in them, and in some sense, we are them, as they are us. This is why it can be difficult to give up a belief we hold dear even in the light of overwhelming evidence pointing against it.

So it’s important to begin your studying with an open mind and to fight against the tendency to discard any new and conflicting piece of knowledge you get thrown your way because it either will be an opportunity to decrease your level of ignorance, or a chance to sharpen your reasoning skills as well as your ability to defend your points through the use of logic.

Math and science

One very important thing the book mentions is also the kinds of disciplines to study and the reasons for it. The reason why different disciplines can be more or less beneficial is that different benefits can exercise your thinking in different ways. Take math and science for example. Instead of just taking what’s give, both have at their core the need to problem-solve. The deeper you get into math and science the more you adapt your brain to solve problems for whose solutions will likely come not from a cookbook but from the combination of struggle and creativity. There is also the self-doubt that you eventually grow to tolerate, whose effects can be so damaging as to prevent you from gaining the insights you so desperately seek.

Math and science force you to think differently. At first, this way of thinking will likely be unnatural to your mind, and this is probably the reason why most people quit after a few tries.

I have a background in computer science

One real-life example comes from me. I have a computer science background, and I could definitely see how thinking about problems in my field all day long eventually translate into real-life non-computing related problems. He needs to reduce the complexity of a problem so you can solve it better, as well as the desire create solutions that allow you to solve a multitude of problems is one of these things that every software developer is born with, or eventually grows to appreciate with the passage of time. The point is that even if math and science seem difficult at first, you owe it to yourself to take the first steps towards the land of understanding.

Cognitive biases

The second big picture idea I got from the book was with regard to the human mind’s propensity for error. Again, life and the world around us is too complex to understand all at once. There are just too many variables to keep track of  and it’s not too large the number that would be enough to keep us busy for a lifetime. So the mind comes up with shortcuts for faster decision making. Rules of thumb. The problem with these rules of thumb is that what you gain in speed you lose inaccuracy. Often your decision will be the right decision, but there are some cases in which it just isn’t. The book brings awareness to this fact as a way to help us make better decisions. These cognitive biases were useful in the earlier times of human history. Now, even with time on our side, i. not being in the act or die kind of environment, we still rely on these primitive decision-making shortcuts. The problem with many of the instinctive mechanisms that run our lives is that we often don’t realize they’re at play. It’s as if for the car, it and itself only is the reason why the wheels are spinning and turning at a given time when there Is some entity at a higher level giving the commands. The only difference here is that becoming more aware of them is the first step towards having the power to decide whether we want them to make /not make the decisions. Knowing alone gives you power.

Summary

These are a few of the things I learned from the book. As I said before these are by no means the only golden nuggets you can take from it. The book is an ocean of ideas that might be ground-breaking to such an extent that they might even change your life. I definitely recommend reading it from cover to cover once, and then again, and again, in essence making it more than just a read once and shelve kind of book but a friend. As a final note, I leave you with the one quote that I carry with me till the day of this writing and that is: “Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead but not necessarily in fast spurts, but you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day, if you live long enough, most people get what they deserve. ”

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Statistics, Evidence, and Willpower

In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to improve will-power in a way most people have never thought about before.

Willpower is one of the most important things for anyone who has goals and dreams, especially if these goals and dreams are ambitions. Because the bigger and more ambitious the goal, the harder it tends to be. As the saying goes, if it was easy everyone would do it. To get ourselves to do the things that we need to do in order to achieve our goals there are two main strategies:

  1. Habits
  2. Will-power

Lots have been written about habit formation both out there and on this website alike. The same goes for will-power, but this post, as mentioned above is here to bring new light to the second strategy.

Statistics evidence and will-power

The times we live in today is one of science. With the passage of time, we get a greater and more comprehensive understanding of the world around us. With this increased understanding we gain greater control of our environment, and things that once we’re out of our reach are not only possible now, but also second nature to us. We watch TV, use GPS with the same ease of breathing or eating. When we get sick we no longer resort to prayers and the hope of healing, but we also look more and more into what medicine has to say in the topic. How did we get here? One might say science, but the answer is much deeper than that. When we think of science we think of theories coming from the brains of geniuses in incredible feats of intelligence and creativity. We think Einstein and Newton, people whose intellects leave us and generations breathless. Yes, a part of the reason why we’ve gotten here is these moments of genius insight. But the big picture is simpler than that.

Evidence

One of the bases of what makes science is evidence. Empiric evidence as they say. It’s not enough to think the framework of thought and convince the world of its truth. The final say comes not from the number of followers you have, but from the ability to make predictions from your hypothesis. When you get it right it’s as if through experiments, you’ve gained the power to simulate the universe. Like a computer programmer, you can think and make something happen because you know how that particular part of the fabric of the universe works.

This is why getting evidence against a hypothesis is enough to kill the hypothesis. Through your framework of thought you’ve predicted black, but what you’ve got is white. You thought you understood, but now you realize you didn’t.

Statistics

The thing about evidence is that it by itself is not to prove a hypothesis. In case you’re not familiar with the term, to put it simply a hypothesis is what you’d call a theory. Technically speaking, a theory is a hypothesis that has been proven unlikely to be untrue. Be that through an enormous amount of confirming evidence or through the use of rules of logic. Having one case in which your hypothesis holds is not enough to prove it right. Not even two, three or a hundred. What makes you think that on the 1 millionth experiment your hypothesis will have its first disconfirming evidence? In science to prove something to be true is a hard goal, sometimes so difficult that we settle for the next best thing: the fact that we haven’t found disconfirming evidence for what we believe to be true. This is where we begin to enter the field of confidence intervals, the law of large numbers the field of statistics is known for, simply because we surrender to a weaker version of what we consider to be true namely: that which has been tested countless times and so far it hasn’t gotten any disconfirming evidence.

Will Power

That’s all interesting and good but how does it relate to willpower? Well. The ability to get ourselves to continue doing that which is unpleasant is a function of many things. The amount of sleep you’ve had the previous night, health physical and mental as well as the reason behind it. One of the factors we rarely address is the fact that sometimes we give up because we falsely believe we have no chance to win.

The overweight man/woman quits on weightloss plan not because the plan hasn’t worked yet, but because he/she falsely concluded that it will never work. This is, in my opinion, the most detrimental belief one can have. We quit on our dreams because the first few failures lead us to believe we’re not cut for it. But how can you know that? Because you’ve failed 10 or 20 times? Does that mean you can’t make it?

In science, a drug can work for 15 people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the drug is the reason why people have gotten better. In science, there is a need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that what we think of as the truth really is the truth, and I think we should do the same when it comes to our goals and dreams. Failing a few times is no proof that you can’t make it special when there have been countless stories of people who’ve literally failed their way to success.

The point is to take a scientific approach to your self-improvement journey. To not quit too early to see the benefits, nor to hang on for too long to miss the change to try any other alternatives. This will allow you to know when to persevere, and for how long, as well as to be guilt-free when the time comes that you amount enough evidence to decide to quit on a given approach.

My proposal is to set a given number of experiments/trials for any given self-improvement approach. To set a number so high that you’re either guaranteed to succeed due to the law of averages effect or to quit with confidence like the gold seeker would after digging every inch of the expected to be profitable area.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Think Clearly

In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to think clearly.

Clarity of thought is perhaps one of the most important parts of decision making. As a general rule the more clouded your thinking the lower the quality of your own decisions. Taking substances cloud your thinking because they force the mind to look at things from a particular frame. Whether the frame is right or not is not important, since even when in the wrong frame of mind, if allowed, one can bring itself back to clear thinking.

This is an example of clarity of thought being reduced through chemical means, but there are certainly more ways to reduce one’s judgment objectivity, and below are a few of them.

How To think clearly

A Clear sign of clouded thinking

The tricky thing about clouded thinking is that for the thinker their mental sky is as clear as a hot summer day. It’s the same issue of insanity. The insane creates an internal world in which their behavior is completely justified. Sometimes going so deep that any questioner of that world is perceived as weak or unenlightened. What makes the issue difficult to address is that just because you feel objective doesn’t make you so. It’s easy to look for shortcuts as hints about your clarity of mind. One commonly used and not talked about shortcut is that of assuming that being positive is the peak of clarity, going down proportionally to de degree or number of negative thoughts. Here negative thoughts are labeled as pessimism and by extension a “sign” of clouded thinking.

There are also people who associate clarity of thought with the opposite side of the spectrum. Meaning that the more positively you think about life the more delusional you are, with your clarity decreasing with proportion to the number and/or degree of positivity you experience.

The truth is that life rarely is about extremes. Don’t get me wrong. At some point or another, you’ll get to experience the extremes of life, but more often than not you’ll not. The reason for this is that if that wasn’t so what you consider to be the extremes would be the norm and vice-versa. From this, it follows that when you find yourself thinking in extremes, be that positive or negative, chances are that your thoughts are out of sync with reality. In a depressive episode, we experience the negative end of the continuum. When under the influence of any positively mind-altering substance we experience the positive end of the continuum. Either way, we’re all able to tell that the person going through the moment is not clear-minded. So we should do the same for ourselves.

Identify your clarity time of the day

Sometimes some times of the day make you more prone to making the best decisions you can. IT might be when you wake up, just after lunch or just before bed even. The point here is to find what time you make your best decisions. We are taught that mental clarity is either an all or nothing kind of thing. Meaning that you’re either the kind of person who has it or you’re not. I’m sure you can testify to the opposite. I believe that chances are that you might even think of yourself as an outlier when it comes to this rule. Since, as you say to yourself, there are moments in which I find life to be more like an open book in which all I have to do is to make an effort to understand the contents of its pages. Other times, however, it sure feels like a mystery of the kind that astrophysicists spend their lifetime trying to decipher. So what’s the truth? Is life a mystery or an open book? Am I a clear-minded person or am I not?

One thing I learned over the years is that life is rarely black and white. Life is an array of colors each with enough depth for itself that one could spend a lifetime trying in vain to understand its most basic outer layers. Since just when you think you have begun to understand it, and another layer is revealed to you.

Black and white thinking is easy thinking. Not accurate. Easy. And mental clarity is among one of the things about life that one might find very hard to put into neat little boxes. Some times of the day might be the best for your thinking and find which are which is probably one of the most important things anyone can do for itself.

Use time as a tool

One thing I learned about thinking is that time can often be a very helpful tool. Many can testify for the countless moments in which they thought an Idea they had was good, only to later, after a few hours/days of reflection to come to the conclusion that their idea had no grounds in reality. We are now taught that when we quit on an idea is because we’re afraid of the journey it might lead us to. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes an idea is just weak and time, not fear is what brings that level of clarity to us.

This is a simple and yet powerful idea that most people use once in a while and still many of the ones who use it downplay its value. Not sure about your career path? Give it time. Give it a try and see how you really feel. Not sure about your relationship? The same rule applies. See, the biggest enemy of clarity of thought is the fabric of thought itself. It’s good at making us see the world for what it is, while also feeding us a fairy tale we can’t help but believe in. Neither is distinguishable from the other and just like a person in the dark we use hints as the small and fragile candle of thought to finally get us to firm ground. Sometimes those hints areas not so subtle as the whole world telling you how faulty your thinking is.

Watch what you put in your mouth

The human body is one of the most mysterious and sensitive systems that there are. We talk about the weather as being the kind of system that happens to be very sensitive to small changes in variables, but the human body is arguably even more sensitive. They say a small and inconsequential swing of a butterfly can cause a tornado in China, but we forget that a small change in diet or habit can have effects as profound as a complete life change. What you eat or drink is definitely a part of it, and perhaps one of the most powerful. Most of us fail to make the connection between the things they eat/drink and their levels of mental clarity 2 or 3 hours later. I noticed this effect after several failed attempts at continuing my exam preparations just after eating this or that kind of food. The effects are so predictable they are not even funny. I would start by studying. I would assimilate the material easily for a while until my stomach urged me to go to the kitchen. After the meal, all would feel like night and day. When before I was able to learn and memorize fairly easy, now my only desire would be to binge-watch anything non-school related on youtube.

Everything changed when I successfully made the connection between eating some foods and not others and my mental focus and productivity. If none of the tips above work, it might pay off to pay attention to your body’s chemistry. As Dave Aspery the author of the book headstrong said once: “It’s not a character flaw, it’s an energy delivery problem”, meaning to say that sometimes, or often even, the things we blame our “lack” of self-control as the source might be due to the ironically energy-draining properties of some of the food we love so much to eat.

Another thing I learned over time was that one of the best ways to know what works for you, in particular, is experimentation. Some so-called “healthy” foods might not only not work for your mental clarity but they might even make it worse. Reading up about health information from books or blog posts might definitely take you closer to the ideal nutrition advice for you, but the only way to really know whether it applies or not, is to test each nutritional advice for yourself, and one important thing to keep in mind is to not fall for the trap of deluding yourself on this or that supplement simply because most people or everybody tells you it works for them. Meaning that it’s certainly possible to be the only one in a crowd who doesn’t function well with some popular supplement, and the reverse is also true.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Best books for low moments

In this post, you’ll find a few tips as well as great books for low moments.

Life is full of ups and downs. I’m sure you’ve heard that before but the truth is that just like most things we hear and agree without having to make any effort, this too quickly slides right to the back of our minds. Don’t believe it? The proof is on the countless moments in which the lows of life came and just like the time before you received the moment of trial with surprise as opposed to with the front that only the true stoic would present when facing the latest adversity life brought to him/her.

I guess is the first tip already, and just in case you haven’t been paying attention it goes as follows: expect the good moments not to last. Expect the bad moments to come, and apply the same rule in reverse. This is life. Most people fall into one of two categories: 1)those who expect only the good, and 2) those who expect only the bad. Just like most things in life this too is not black and white. To say life is joy or suffering is the same as eating a spicy dish, and saying the dish is the spice. To try to reduce life to a single word is an act of laziness, which more than just harmless can also be harmful since it’s based on your definition of what life is that you make decisions about your own, which might lead you to a happy and fulfilling life, or a bitter and resentful one.

Best books for low moments

The big question of life and perhaps the most important of them all is: how do you handle the lows? The highs tend to be intuitive. It’s true that one has to take care so it doesn’t lose itself in the wave of fortune a fortunate moment can bring. It’s also true that it’s quite possible to extract misery from an extremely joyful moment simply because we are/were not mature enough to handle it. It’s the classic case of the overnight millionaire or billionaire, who takes itself back to poverty because of its inability to handle the sudden ocean of wealth that came to him/her.

Although this is a real problem, a more pressing one is still that of facing adversity. That of finding a way out of a hole, and as it’s often said, to put yourself in the position to even having the problem of having to manage an excessive amount of good fortune.

The way one handles the lows can define one’s life from the moment on. Bad handling of the bad moments of life is probably one of the most dangerous parts of unfortunate moments since the outcomes can be as bad as one ending its life, to not necessarily less important also learning the wrong things from their latest challenging life lesson.

What books tend to be the best and why

First things first, it’s important to be aware that in low moments, any book or blog post claiming that it has the solutions for all kinds of lows is just trying to deceive you. Just like depression the nature of each low moment can be different, and along with the differences also come the resistance to any one size fits all kind of solution. Just like with depression each case might require different solutions, and just because one thing worked for someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will for everybody.

One thing to consider, however, is the increased likelihood of success that comes from listening to and implementing the solutions of a person who went through something similar as you’re currently going through. Hence it follows that if nothing of value is taken from this post, the one take away to pay attention to is to look for people who have gone through what you’re going through and lived to tell the story.

The one thing by Gary Keller

It might be a bit strange for anyone to think of this book as the first on the list but it all makes sense. I’m sure the expectation is to hear about a “feel good” kind of book that promises you everything will be alright. Although such books can be helpful,  most of them don’t really do much in forcing you to get into problem-solving mode. The one thing asks you to focus on what matters and the reason why this can make the difference is that when in low moments, the real source of it tends to be the feeling of being overwhelmed by life. In one moment everything was alright and now it seems as if the universe is out to get you. Everything seems to be wrong, and whatever you try will fail. At least that’s your brain tells you. Telling yourself everything will be alright might be useful for the short term, but in the long run, it will be nothing more than a momentary fix. It’s the same as taking substances to alleviate the badness of life, but now the only difference is that: 1) It’s totally legal, and 2) Society might even congratulate you for it.

What The one thing asks you to do is to get to the meat of the matter. The source of the problem, and to look for the one action that will have the greatest impact on it. Not just what will help, because many things can be helpful, but what will help the most.

The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday

The next book on the list is The obstacle is the way, and just like the first suggestion, it might not be what you expect. While the one thing directs you towards greater clarity of thought through cold hard logic and problem solving, The obstacle is the way takes a somewhat different approach.

As the title says for itself, it’s about looking at the trials of life from a different angle. Instead of complaining about what fate has dealt you, to look for, as the author says “The Gift”. He teaches the reader to look deeper. To look through the self -evident disadvantageous position you’re in, and see what you have to gain from having to go through it. From the perspective of the muscle, the weight is a burden. A reason to complain about its role in the body. Life is sometimes to the mind what the weight is to the muscle, a large tree lying in the middle of the road that forces growth upon us in creatively and often inconvenient ways.

The idea that from any situation is a lesson to be learned, and that each stressful life event makes us stronger as long as we decide to persist has been around for a while, but it doesn’t get the credit and attention it deserves. One proof of that is also in the countless moments in which we choose to complain about a trying life event as opposed to focusing on the gift the trying moment brings with it. But the gift is there. It’s always there. Even we fail to see it, and I guess this is the reason why it’s often the case that after the survivor of a trying event crosses the surviving moment, the survivor is able to develop a weird sense of gratitude for the trying moment, since now, they are able to see how much better the bad made them.

Can’t Hurt me by David Goggins

The last and by no means the least important book on the list is Can’t hurt me. Many might find this to be inspirational as it helps them get out of the mental hole and that should be expected. One thing that makes the book powerful is its ability to encourage the reader to go out and do the hard things in life. The things you’re so desperately avoiding right now, while also hoping it will magically go away. The book takes us through the journey of the writer. From being the kind of individual with low accountability and very little standards for himself to becoming one of the living examples of self-discipline and mental strength.

For this one it might also be useful to watch his videos on youtube since they can also be as inspiring as the book itself.1)

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Chess and the game of life

In this post, we’ll have a talk on how chess might truly be one of the best games ever invented.

The game of chess has been around for a good while. Just like AI it had is summers, winters and everything in between. It’s the kind of game that makes people feel smart just talking about it, even though most of what the greatest grandmasters do is pattern recognition. Meaning that due to its long life, the game has been played by thousands and thousands of people, and even though the number of possible games and variations of games is astronomical, a good part of the best moves and biggest mistakes has been cataloged. If you’re gifted with a great memory you can become proficient at it pretty quickly and maybe even beat players who have played the game for years.

When you look at chess from this light it completely loses its mystique. IF it’s all about memorizing board variations, and as many heuristics/rules of thumb to use in as many board formations as possible, then what was once perceived as an arena hosting the duel of minds, become nothing more than just a competition about who can recall the most important rules the quickest. The truth is that the game is more than that. Just like most good books, one principle/golden nugget pays for both the money and the time to take in the content. And that’s what this post is about. The one idea/set of ideas that make learning and becoming proficient in chess pay for itself.

Chess and the game of life

So what is it? The number one thing that makes chess pay for the time and effort it takes to master it is the simple idea of learning to think not one, or two, but three or four steps ahead. I’m talking about future predictions without being a prophet blessed by God. And not because some superior being decided to give you a nugget of insight out of nowhere, but through the sheer use of your own mind to see beyond the present. To see beyond the future that comes not right after the present, but right after the future that comes after that future.

The problem of the present and the near future

One of the biggest problems of our universe is that massive changes often occur in imperceptible ways, such that sometimes its effects are not even observed in the near future. Meaning that sometimes it takes more than one future for things to start to happen, at least to a large enough scale that we as humans can begin to see and feel the difference between two nearby shades of change. Trends form almost out of nothing, but if you agree in the theory of determinism in the smallest bit,  a part of you knows that given enough information any human can see trends forming, even before they even decide to give away the kind of droplets of hints lotto winners are always looking for.

The point is not to see what’s coming always and/or with 100% accuracy, but to make the effort to. To train yourself to see and predict what’s to come at least 2-3 steps from now, such that any surprise, if it does arise could have only been predicted if you looked deep into the nesting of an already deep nesting of cause and effects. Meaning that the time it would take to see what just happened coming would have not been worth the headache.

The domestication of one’s emotions

Another very important lesson from the game of chess is the domestication of one’s emotions. Both winning and losing predictions are likely to elicit an emotional response from the player. Both of which in turn can quickly turn the winner into a loser and vice versa, all because the opponent, who probably happened to be lost in his own thoughts, drown into the sea of emotions caused by each thought now knows something is up, and the more experienced he/she is the quicker the realization of what that something might be is made.

Just like a scientific principle that works in different contexts, this too can be applied in different areas of life other than chess. The domestication of one’s emotions not only hide your intentions and what you might be thinking, but it also makes room for clearer and more insightful thought patterns. I like to think about the mind like a country in rebellion and we are the leaders assigned to bring it back to harmony. Just like with war the way to go is as simple and intuitive as taking one village/city at a time. To take control of it one step at a time. First, like any rebellious country the mind will fight back since unlike the usual rebellion of humans, the mind hasn’t gotten into that state overnight. It’s always been that way. So much so that just like a spoiled child, it began to believe it had control over the host, and the sad story for most of us is that it does. We equate rationality with rigidity, and the willingness, better yet the unwilling willingness to behave emotionally with youth and fluidity. There is a large conceptual gap between an inspirational spur of the moment actions that result in innovative ideas, and the inability to override the spoiled child each of us possesses, who for whatever reason never matures even as we begin to collect white hair, blinder eyes, and increasingly wrinkled and frailer skin. We’re all born and die children. What makes us different from one another is the degree to which we keep that child’s behaviour get in the way of adult matters.

Thinking about the endgame

One of the most important parts of a chess match is the beginning. The openings. The reason for this is that whoever gets to control the center the quickest will have more control over the board and the opponent’s movements. Another thing chess players focus on is the endgame. I’ve been playing chess occasionally since I was a child and I’ve seen clear winners lose at the end, and clear losers triumph over their opponents even though the overall game was one of their domination. Thinking about the end game of life is perhaps one of the most important things one can do. The reason for this is that there are out there lots of things we are supposed to do because they are considered to be “good things”. If we follow that path for long enough eventually we are likely to find ourselves around nowhere concretely. The reason for this is that the many good things we are supposed to do are not linked logically to a common and clear goal. Even if they were I doubt the final goal would be of your interest in particular.

When you think about your endgame you get to just like in chess decide which kind of moves you have to make to get to where you want to go. Here because you know about the end, you also know about the middle path moves/steps that are good locally, but that add nothing to your final goal at best, and at worse are even detrimental, since they starve those actions that would give you a bigger bang for your buck from your energy and full attention. When you get lost in trivia you not only lose time, but also the opportunity to do the things that really matter. It’s like deciding to invest all the electricity from your house in ironing clothes, as opposed to distributing it among the most vital areas. The first is definitely  a good thing, but the question is: is it really?

Learning from every match

The game of life is one with many matches, each teaching us a new lesson. A new lesson we can’t get through practice because there is no such thing as practicing living life. Even if there was because of its unpredictable temperament life would still have plenty to teach simply because it has no restraints. It’s perfectly capable of giving you heaven in one second while prepping you for a slew of trials and struggles. Trials so trying even that it might make even the most believing of the believers question the existence of goodness.

The goal is not to not make any mistakes in life. But to as you probably know already, make a list of what not to do, because you’ve felt the multi-level pain that comes from making a mistake. In chess the best study their past games. They replay them, and each move they make, they question themselves whether there was a better move. They ponder on what move or series of moves led them to destruction if that was the end, and what could have if it wasn’t. The best of the best go a step further and question the thoughts and emotions going through their heads, performing a live dissection of their own minds.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Keep Great People

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to attract and keep great people.

We live in a time in which the subject of self-esteem has reached a high point in comparison to most of the remaining human history. We live in a time in which more than just believing that he/she can do anything, the average person is also likely to feel as if the world has to go the way. We live in a time of “me me me”. Meaning that most of us believe they are special in such a way that we feel entitled to the best partner the world can give, forgetting we too have to do our part by doing our best to be the best son/daughter, partner or friend to the people we consider to be more than acquaintances.

The reason why this way of thinking is just incorrect is that in a world in which everyone sees itself as deserving of better, no one really gets that ‘’better” simply because everyone already thinks they are better even when they’re not.

The question of how to attract and keep great people is one of humbleness. First being that you’re aware that as awesome as you might think you are, you’ll still have to do some work to attract great people. The second being that even when you manage to incorporate a great person into your life, you’re also aware that they don’t owe you anything. Everyone is free to do what they want, even unsubscribing to your social circle.

How to keep great people

One good question is why would you care about great people in particular? Why not just people in general? Aren’t we all humans? Aren’t we all special for having been born with the capacities we have when compared to other living beings? The answer to that is that although we can all do more than any other species we know of, this ability can be used for both good and harm. As individualistic and needless of people you might think you are, the truth is that the people we spend most of our time with can have a great deal of impact in our day to day moods and even as far as the way we define the level of quality and/or wellbeing our life has. This is why just like with food, the quality of people you expose yourself to can have an impact on your happiness.

How to attract great people

The question of attracting great people regardless of the kind of relationship you’re looking for is one that has plagued the human mind for a long time. It looks difficult but it’s not. I figured over time that the problem is not the lack of a clear solution/answer, but the application/implementation of whatever the solution might be. Like in business your success in a relationship is all about value. In a way, you need to deserve the kind of people you want to be around. In other words, the simplest way to have awesome people around you is to be awesome yourself.

This is one point of view most people are likely to reject at first glance since most people are all for the idea that people should love them as they are. The first problem with this is that it asks of humans the level of understanding and unconditional acceptance that only either Gods or clueless people can have. The ask for unconditional acceptance is at its root one of laziness. The reason for that is that the acceptance we ask is never for our virtues but for our flaws. Simply because it’s easier to remain flawed and not being judged for it than it is to put ourselves through the journey of bit by bit emptying the bottomless bag of flaws we all are. And most of us still wonder why finding the one is so difficult.

Just like losing weight the math is simple but the doing is hard. I guess that’s why we keep looking for shortcuts, when deep within we all know what we have to do to get what we want in life. Attracting great people like anything else in life requires more than just wishing. What we want is to have our cake and eat it too. What we want is to have the best life has to offer for free.

As Charlie Munger once said: “To get what you want you to have to deserve what you want”. The point is that the simplest and not necessarily easiest way to attract great people to your circle is to become great. Be that as a friend, and employee or a romantic partner. The reason for that is that is simply that just as you look for people with good traits and try to stay away from people with bad traits, so does everybody else. To ask to be adored even when your flaws are many which often are is to ask for special treatment from the world in a universe in which most think they are special.

How to keep great people

Attracting great people is just half the battle. Keeping them is just as and maybe even more important. The truth is that through thousands of years of experience and collective wisdom, humans have become pretty good at implying the presence of a value in themselves even when the only true content they have is the words they use to hint on how great they are. Humans have become so good at this that often distinguishing the true from the pretenders can sometimes be as challenging as distinguishing the parent rivers of two droplets of water after they have been merged into one. So now, as long as you can fake well enough you can be as believable as that who is truly good.

The problem with faking is that it’s like a building made of sand located right at the edge of a stormy beach. You live in a perpetual attempt to keep the story up. To keep it alive, and just as you begin to relax people begin to catch up. Just like the fragile building the foundations of your story are constantly tested, up to the point in which you decide to either tear the whole building down and take the hit, or just like most of us do, to add even more sand until we get to yet another fork in the road.

What I mean to say is that any mediocre actor who’s not really an actor can lead a crowd to fall in love with him/her for a moment. The question is what happens after you get what you want? What happens when your promises are called upon and you have nothing to show for them?

Keeping a great friend/spouse is hard work. The biggest problem we face in relationships is that of taking what we have for granted. In the beginning, we make the effort to impress. We make the effort to be useful, and to soothe pain when pain soothing is required. In other words, we spent most of our time outside of ourselves. Outside our heads. Now we spend most of our time within. We ask for more while giving less and less. Now it’s even worse since we not only don’t give anything, but we also ask to take, because the people close to us have signed an unspoken agreement which states that they should keep being their best selves, even as we become worse and worse versions of our former selves. The funny thing is that the same silent agreement is signed twice and each of the parties is only aware of the one that benefits them.

The point is simple and it goes as follows: whatever you did when you were in the honeymoon phase of your relationship should keep being done regardless of how long it has been. I think this is in part the reason why many relationships whether romantic or not are likely to take a hit when that new person comes and steals your partner/friend from you. They are in essence doing the same things you used to do in the past, and now you’re not. We treat relationships like a machine that once setup requires minimal attention. We should instead look at it like if it was a plant. A plant that as cliché as it might sound needs to be frequently irrigated. This is especially true if you’re dealing with people you consider to be great. The reason for that is that you’re probably not the only one making the observation. Which means that more people will likely steal your best friend from you and just like anxious buyers lusting for a limited stock product, they will be willing to go the extra mile just to get what you have. I guess this is where most people default to the idea that if you lose the best friend the best friend never deserved you in the first place, but that would be a self-centered view of the world. Why should we be able to keep our best relationships by giving our minimal effort into taking care of them? Why should our loved ones not have our best selves and the best we can offer? Isn’t that what we expect from them? To deny the first question is to also deny yourself from the privilege of wishing for and having a great friend/lover. And no one wants that.

The point in this post is that one should raise its game in the game of relationships. We live in a time in which being what just what we are is not good enough anymore. Simply because there is always someone around the corner ready to go the extra mile for your customers, and any other opportunity you might be able to hold onto now. At first glance, this might sound like a terrible way to live one’s life but that would be to forget that on the other side of this coin lies growth. When you force yourself to be more than you currently are you can’t help but grow. When that happens something just as interesting begins to happen, and that is that the people around us also start to feel the pressure to raise their game. It’s true that some of the time they won’t but this I guess is the perfect time for you to take the role of the one who is with people who don’t deserve him/her. Now you have more than a reason to feel that way because you bring more to the table than they do., and the next worse thing to being the person who brings nothing to the table, is to be the person who keeps giving to those who are only takers.

This is perhaps the biggest take away from this post. To be better not only professionally but in your relationships. To be so much better than most people are that your loved ones feel lucky to have you. To be so important that they genuinely miss you when you’re gone, and while alive they dread that day and wish they are the first to go because the hole you’d leave would be so deep. It’s not easy to live this way. But then what’s the point of easy? Easy attracts average and both give birth to an unsatisfied life. A life in which to cope we tell ourselves tales. Tales that no idiot would believe at first, but that over time become so deep-rooted that we begin to live by them. We become the delusional salesman who believes wholeheartedly in the greatness of his inferior product. The only difference is that now, we are an inferior product.

The point of this post is that in order to have the relationships you want and by relationships I mean pretty much everything in life, the only way to truly earn them is by being a better version of yourself across time. I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times over, but as Jim Rohn once said: there are no new truths. This is the truth that keeps teaching and giving over and over again.  Because at the end of the day the frustrations you might have today can be directly or indirectly linked to your own inadequacies. To your own shortcomings whether you’d like to admit it or not and the good thing is that most of your weaknesses can be improved and turned into as cliché as it might sound: strengths. I know there are things for which you have little to no control over, but the truth is that for those, chances are that most if not all are things you can live with. The problem is that as humans we always seek for that which we do not or can’t have, even when we only seek for them for no other reason than that we don’t or can’t have them. It’s the old tale of the forbidden relationship in which the “forbiddeness” of it is imposed by a group of people or society at large. The residents of the bubble make it and feel as if it’s more than what it is. More than just a bubble whose raw materials are nothing more than a mix of rebellion fuelled by attention. I’m not saying that there are no stories of true and forbidden love. That’s not the point. The point is that sometimes we don’t really want what we believe we really want. Sometimes it’s all fluff. What really matters is at large in our control, but the sadistic joke that comes following is that just because we can control it doesn’t mean the controls will always do what we want. Life is in essence like a TV that works perfectly but whose buttons are broken. We can always get to the right channel so as long as we try hard enough, but the journey to get there is more often than not painful. Most decide to settle for what they get after a few failed attempts. But for those of us who stay on task, what awaits them is almost always a mind-blowing evening.

So, to end this the final point is that in order to have the kind of relationships you dream of the hardest but surest way to go about it is by looking inward, fixing what’s broken and bringing forth your best, which is exactly what we expect from the people around us.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Best Ryan Holiday Books

In this post, you’ll have my take on Ryan Holiday’s best books.

Developing oneself is perhaps one of the most important things anyone striving for their dreams can do for themselves. Creating a culture of continuous improvement, directly and indirectly, brings us closer to our goals as long as we keep the habit alive. The problem is that the degree to which a given self-improvement action affects our odds of being successful or not is rarely clear. If it was it would be safe to assume that most dreams ever dreamt would have become realities, and the reason for that being that the first step towards the death of one’s dream is the painful uncertainty that our actions are those of some delusional person, in other words ineffective, or we really are getting somewhere even though we can’t see it.

Best Ryan Holiday books

For this post, I decided to talk about a few of the ones I consider to be Ryan Holiday’s best books first because I felt they would be a good fit for the subject of resilience to life’s difficult moments and also because he is one of my favorite authors. Like Robert Greene, his books too never stop giving even as you re-read them indefinitely. It should not be a surprise if you find yourself more inspired and resilient to stress as you take in some of his writings.

#1 The obstacle is the way

We live in a universe in which if given enough time every single one of us eventually will run into obstacles. This is true regardless of how privileged your life is simply because either we like it or not the numbers are against us. Meaning that through basic probability it’s easy to conclude that the longer we live, the more time life has to put us through tests. Luck is just in too short of a supply for anything that lives for longer than a few moments.

What do you do when the moment of truth arrives? What do you do when your emotions are put to the extreme and the act of quitting on whatever it is you’re holding on to, carries with it the bittersweet taste of relief wrapped up in future regret? The answer to this question and many of the genre are the sole focus of The obstacle is the way.

The reason why this is the first book on the list is that facing adversities is just like knowing how to read and write. It’s essential to one’s life. I would consider it even more than reading and writing since the act of trying to learn how to write depends on one’s ability to overcome the obstacle of illiteracy.

The obstacle is the way is about looking at problems and obstacles in a different light. Instead of raising our hands to the sky and ask  “why me?”, the book urges us to ask another and perhaps multiple times over more powerful questions, and that is: “what is the other side of the coin in this struggle?”. Meaning that we should instead ask what is the benefit we will gain by overcoming the obstacle at hand. Because if you pay enough attention to every obstacle or trying moment, there is always a benefit that comes along with it. The most basic and pervasive being that of being able to overcome obstacles. For each moment of difficulty, if nothing of value can be gained from them, there is always the fact that they prepare us for future  more trying trials. They prepare us for the storm that is always lurking in the background, in the moments in which we childishly believe we’ve been through the worse life can offer.

The book teaches us to as the author says “open the mind to the gift”.

#2 Stillness is the key

The ability to be still regardless of what happens to one’s surroundings or life is perhaps one of the most undervalued of all skills. We all seem to recognize its power, like in the moments in which we find ourselves overwhelmed by a person who screams presence and respect without saying a word. Or when all necessary conditions for us to lose ourselves are set, and yet something in us allows us to keep our composure and act with a cool head, even as the world spins uncontrollably descending into chaos. Being still is important. Probably even more than you think.

This is the reason why stillness is the key is the second book on the list. In a way, it and the obstacle is the way complement one another. Both are in essence about dealing with chaos. The first more about how to bring stillness to mind when obstacles tempt us into quitting on our best selves, and the latter more about bringing that sense of equanimity to one’s day to day life. To be honest they both offer powerful advice, so much so that to assume that the first is better than the latter and thus that only the first is powerful would be to do to oneself a disfavour.

We live in a time of noise in which being quiet and composed is to some extent looked down upon. So to follow the crowd most who have a bit of quiet ironically decide to keep the quiet in them out of sight. And as for the ones who are mostly made of silence and thinking material, in order to cope with the pressure of looking normal opt to the also ironically “lesser” sacrifice of killing themselves, and putting a more user friendly impostor on its place.

The point is that we all value the moments of quiet that a still mind brings. Looking for more of these moments might just be what you need, as opposed to the common idea that being more outgoing equals proportionally more happiness. This book is perhaps at my top 10 list simply because it went well beyond the idea of stillness we know off. It was somehow able to point some light at the fact that stillness of mind doesn’t necessarily require stillness of body, which is likely to have been one of the deepest points of insight I’ve heard in a bit.

#3 Ego Is the enemy

The third book on the list and also one of my favorites is the book: Ego is the enemy.

The longer the back and forth goes in a discussion or argument the lower the chances that whoever is actually right will be able to turn the other side of the table around. The reason for this is that the longer an argument goes, the less it becomes about the facts, and the more it becomes about the clash of egos between the parties involved. Now it’s about being right even when we’re not.  Now it’s about keeping the wounds away from our ego. It’s about being the surviving party at the end, even when both are more like walking dead than actually alive. The book ego is the enemy brings this point and many variants of it to light.

It shows that unlike popular belief, both the wealthiest of the wealthiest and the average of the average are likely to be victims of their own ego. We carry the flawed thinking that they got to where they got to because of their innate and grandiose ego. What we forget is that we all carry the disease within us, like the genes we propagate through generations; our ego is a part of us. A part of who we are. Keeping it in check is no small matter. How well we manage it directly impacts how far we go in life, and whether we believe it or not, It has a more than a significant impact on the longevity of our relationships, romantic or not.

The ego is the enemy shows us that we too can be greedy. We too can be blinded by our ego. Actually the fact that most of us think of themselves as free of ego is a sign of how much we are blinded by it. We’ve been living in this imaginary bubble of delusion of virtue for so long that we actually believe the bubble is real. This is why this book is likely to be a difficult read. A difficult read accompanied by moments of denial wrapped up in shame. Because it forces you to face your own shortcomings. Shortcomings portrayed in your private stories as virtues, and now their true nature is brought to light.

The one good take from the book for me was the same an experienced meditator gets after years of practice. That is the awareness of  seeing themselves from a third person’s perspective, even in the moments in which we seem to be looked up deep within the sea of our own emotions. It definitely gave me a greater sense of clarity in the moments in which my actions were driven by ego and when for a second I genuinely believed they weren’t.

One thing I got to understand overtime was that time itself is perhaps one of the greatest ego softeners. In a heated argument we are blinded by a fog of defensiveness, but only after some time, when the ego lets down its walls is that there is room for more clear and objective thinking. It’s as if within each of us there is this wise self who despite its enormous powers of reason, is  also always subject to the will of the more childish ego. Who, when for whatever reason gets its guards up, the wiser self gets locked up behind the walls with it. Depriving both us a system of selves and the world, from its insights and clarity of thought.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Simple life ideas no one talks about

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on simple life ideas no one talks about.

Life just like the human-animal is complex on its own merit. Thousands and thousands of books have been written about it, songs composed and lectures given, and still up to the day of this writing there hardly is a single and concise definition of what it is, or what it might be all about. This doesn’t mean that the whole of it is a mystery. Just like an unpredictable artist who once in a while it reveals a little of itself while keeping its mystery, life too gives us a glimpse of itself but in a way that it’s either to clear to pick up even for the clear-minded or too painful to accept even for the thickest of the thick-skinned. This post is a blend of both worlds, and hopefully, you’ll finish the reading with a clearer perspective of this thing we call LIFE.

Simple life ideas no one talks about

As the title describes it these ideas are simple and for one reason or another we don’t bring them up as much as we should. What it’s easy for us is to rehash old sweet-sounding ideas repetitively, each time feeling like we’re breaking new ground. The truth is that we’re all aware of this on some level, but you know how the human mind is. It’s wise enough to know the truth without knowing, but also creative and relentless enough to hide it from itself.

1.Not Everything matters

The first and likely to be unpopular life fact is that in life not everything matters. In fact, most things don’t even matter when putting to perspective the droplet of time a human life is. And yet most of us act as if everything is the most important thing in the world. We live in a time in which social norms/standards are literally made overnight, and before we can tell something even happened we find ourselves living by different rules. When yesterday you could say whatever you wanted without feelings of fear for your career, today even the self-entitled “I don’t care what people think of me” people have to watch over their shoulders before they open their mouths.

This is good and all, but as you know, with every good comes some bit of evil and vice-versa. The speed with which information travels makes the easily impressed/influenced lose their sense of direction. I’m talking about the kind of people who follow the crowd. I’m talking about most of us. Who 50 years ago would live conservative lives not because they themselves are conservative people but because being conservative was the norm. In the past change would happen very slowly, just like the way it does in large organizations that have been around for decades.

Now the kind of social change that would require years can come and go in a matter of months if not days. All of a sudden everybody is passionate about this cause, and in no time everybody forgets that the issue is still there. It never went anywhere. Just your mind did. Just like a helpless seducer, it found itself chasing something new because what once was exciting is now old and boring. Even as retains its importance and urgency. Not everything matters people! I know It might sound cynical but once you accept this truth and apply it to your life real change can happen. When you only allow yourself to worry and stress about a select of very few thoughts about things you can put/give more of you to those things. This leads us to the question of: “What really matters for you?” Is it money? Relationships? And an even more important question is: “why?” Is it because someone told you the things that matter for you matter? Or does it come from a deep place from within you that might not be completely understood by you yourself, but whose fundamental insights in the subject of “you” tend to be accurate?

The problem with this attitude to life begins when you first voice it out to other people. This is why trying it out first for yourself and seeing the benefits that come from it is perhaps the best. The reason for this is that people are very good at putting their values, goals, and dreams onto us. This need comes from an even deeper need to influence other people. To see them taking our advice and to be able to tell other people that we were the cause of so and so’s change in behavior. We want to be smart so some of us will go to the extent of hurting someone through bad advice just to feel good about ourselves. Anything new, especially if opposed to our beliefs is not welcomed, simply because we tend to attach our identity to our beliefs. We become what we believe in. Many believe that everything matters because if it doesn’t chances are that they don’t matter. And that my friends, just like a life without an afterlife whether true or not is an unbearable thing to imagine.

So what really matters? The answer is simply whatever matters to you and you alone, and you can only really know what this thing/set of things is/are by spending some time alone. By quieting the voices of the many people that whisper within you while giving the fake impression that the values you have come from your own self, just because the voices you hear come from your own head. Not all voices are yours even when they sound like yours or come from within that thing you call your brain.

2. Not everybody matters

Still on the same vein is the idea that only a select few can realistically matter to most of us. We live in a time in which being social has been overblown. Just like groups that have been oppressed, instead of a correction, as the comedian Bill Burr often says, there was an overcorrection, in which the oppressed become oppressors and the only reason why they don’t get the title is because now they have control over perhaps what one would call the most powerful weapon that ever existed, and that is dialog. When you control the labels you can make nothing out of something, and just as easily something turn into nothing. The point is that even that which we consider good can turn bad when overdone, and one of these things is the idea, or to be more accurate the silent idea that one’s happiness is directly proportional to the number of friends one has. So we silently try to become that person who is able to develop deep relationships with every soul that crosses our path, even if we’ll never see them again. So the ones with fewer and deeper relationships can easily feel as if what they have is not enough, ignoring on the process the fact that they might have something priceless at hand. and just like the child that hasn’t felt yet the burdens of adulthood, that same person unknowingly prays for silver when they already have gold, simply because the world told them that silver is to the gold they have what the gold they have is to the silver they now want.

Not everybody matters and one should not seek to be best friends with everybody. Be overjoyed when you find that one person, or that one group who/in which you and them feel the closeness the hand feels when it slips inside a custom made glove. When there is no room for interpretation, or even the need to pretend anything for anyone. It just is. I like to compare the power of a great relationship with the effect that a career path that suits a person has on the way they spend their time. For both time is always at a deficit. Moments and hours are indistinguishable from one another, and for each, the mind’s solely purpose is to slow time down, which fails miserably until it has to settle for less of that it is the attitude of just enjoying the moment while it lasts. Can that be even defined as settling for less?

The point is that relationships are perhaps one of the best areas to apply the old wisdom of “it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.”

3. There is such a thing as wisdom from within

The third point is that in life it pays to understand oneself. We tend to put emphasis on the kind of person who goes their own way and never follows the pack. Some of us are completely against this approach to life, and their appreciation of well-established rules and procedures to do things is often looked down upon.

One thing I learned about human beings is that they are vastly more complicated than they look. The moment we try to place them in neat little boxes of definitions the more prone to mistakes we are. Just think about introversion and extraversion for example. Can you place yourself/anyone in one or the other completely? Chances are that no. So no wonder problems quickly arise when that moment comes in which the wisdom of the masses fail us and we feel emptier than ever before. The truth is that life is a game in which most have no clue about the rules and very few if any have only a vague idea. But most of us, however, can’t help but follow others like us who, for whatever reason managed to convince us that they know the way in a journey they themselves are taking for the first time.

The point is that life is complicated and blindly following the pack or blindly ignoring it can be a source of great pain and unhappiness. You need to get to really know yourself to be able to even get a shot at happiness and that takes time.  From within the truth about yourself comes to life, not because the inner you is mystical or anything, but because we’re all the main character in the story of our lives, and it’s impossible to get a main character perspective in a plot in which you’re nothing more than an extra. The point is that through introspection you often get to know more about yourself than you would from someone else’s point of view simply because only you can really know what it feels like to be you. Only you can really know what “I” means.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Stop Failing At Life

In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to take your life around.

Most of what tends to become one’s life is really the product of momentum. Meaning that at the end of the life of a winner/loser, the winner/loser might find it hard to put the pieces that led them to where they ended up at. One explanation as to why people get to where they end up in life is the word momentum. The drug addict doesn’t begin as a drug addict. He/she starts going the drug path step by step in a way that each step feels so small and inconsequential that it barely registers in conscious awareness as a potential source of future happiness and joy/misery. We are creatures of habit. The more we do something the more likely we are to do it again in the future, and the more likely that is that the behavior will become a habit. Hardwired in one’s brain almost in the same way that some applications come pre-installed on our mobile devices. We can’t remove them or the system will fall in part because they are more than just mere parts. They are a part of what the system is.

What I mean is that after habits become habits, habits become who you are and maybe even how you identify yourself. This is why turning one’s life around sounds good in theory, but just like exercising it can be downright dreadful in practice. The change is in part hard because it requires along with it the death of your current self even if not completely.

How to stop failing in life?

Below are a few tips/ideas worth thinking about when that moment comes in which you realize that you’re worse than just not progressing in life, but in fact in a negative momentum towards destruction.

1.Looking for ways to stop/reduce the momentum and cleaning up your room

This first point is a product of two ideas I learned from two people a while ago. The first comes from the investor and social media Guru Tail Lopez, who is one of his many talks advised the listener that if he/she wanted to make more money to look for a way to learn how to make  an extra $100/month, and after that $500, and on and on until you have become satisfied with your income. The same idea can be applied in reverse. Instead of trying to stop the negative momentum all at once a simpler and probably more productive solution even would be to try to reduce the negative momentum. To become a bit less of a failure as you might feel day by day until your negative momentum becomes neutral.

One of the biggest problems in goal achievement is that of trying to climb a mountain all at once, and to then incorrectly assume that the first few hardships on the way up are indicative that the mountain is infinitely tall even as it looks reachable.

From this idea, another comes to mind. That of Jordan Peterson’s, who is known to promote the importance of doing simple things to make your life less miserable such as cleaning up your room. When you finally get to neutral the same principle applies if you want to get to the green. To each day do one simple thing that moves you in the right direction. Like Jordan Peterson, himself taught in many of his talks that thing could be as simple as cleaning up your room, which although small, it’s also not so small. The power of it is in adding a small fraction of positive momentum to your life which is very important if you want to get extraordinary results. This is one of these ideas most of us have probably thought about at least once in life, but that happened to be immediately followed by the negative voices falsely reminding us that if progress is so small that you can’t see it, it’s not progress. This is why many of us never bring ourselves to begin the journey of reading books and growing our minds because often a given book contains nothing but a small gold nugget of wisdom. We forget about the power of compounding. As the book, The one thing teaches us: “small changes can quickly add up to big results”.

2. Pay attention to the way you spend your time

Many people talk about habits and how powerful they can be in changing one’s life. At the same time, even more, people struggle with the fact that creating new habits is hard. One thing I noticed through observation is that a part of creating new habits is being able to replace what you want to stop with what you want to start doing in your schedule. If you want to be fitter, maybe the solution is in scheduling some form of exercising around the same time that you tend to overeat. The idea is to essentially time starve your bad habits away from your life.

3. Stop obsessing about how much of a failure you are

One thing about failing and winning is that as the old Christian proverb teaches us, the more you have of one, the more of it you’re likely to get, and the least of the other you get the lesser of the other you’re likely to get. The same lesson is taught in physics, where the idea of momentum itself is that what is in motion will remain so until some force that goes against it appears to stop it. The same can be applied with negative momentum in life. The issue here is that the more you fail the more you think about it, and the more you think about it and feel the effects of the anxiety and depression caused by the thoughts, the greater the odds that the negative momentum will remain. Chances are even that the momentum is more likely to increase in speed. So, the point is to as counter-intuitive as it might be to stop thinking enough so the thoughts don’t get in your way, but not too much so that you’re content with whatever life throws at you whatever it might be, which just like the first is not a good thing. A similar example occurs in relationships, in which one is forced to keep the sustained balance between being present so that the partner doesn’t feel neglected, but not so much so that the attention becomes claustrophobic and what would once upon a time look and feel like the actions of a carrying person become defined as controlling behavior.

The idea here unlike what many self-help books will urge you to do is not to stop thinking negative thoughts altogether. Which as you might know it’s next to impossible, because most of the time we spend, we spend daydreaming, and some of that time will be filled with negative thoughts, no matter how positive of a person you are, or how amazing your life might be. So, it follows that even attempting such a feat can be detrimental to one’s attempt to recover from a failing streak simply for the fact that

  1. You’re almost guaranteed to fail and
  2. The pain of failure might add to the negative momentum if not making it even worse because now you’re not just a failure at achieving external things, now you don’t even have power over your own mind. Which is an unreasonable demand to make to oneself. Just think of monks who spend decades of their lives attempting to find enlightenment and some even to attain the state of having no thoughts at all. They might manage the state for a while, but no one who happens to be awake can sustain the state indefinitely.

4. Do something positive regardless of how small

Still on the same breath of momentum is the idea that small changes can quickly, as Jim Rohn also said: “add up to big changes”.  One reason for this is that there is simply no motivator more powerful than results regardless of how little. Knowing that you can reliably lose 0.5lbs every two weeks might not seem like much, but unlike no results at all, here we can clearly see a time in the future such that if we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll eventually get to where we want to go. Here there is no room for doubt.

What we have is a certainty, and certainty is perhaps the most powerful motivator of all.

With the certainty of success, one needs no more external motivator since with the sure win one can allow itself to dream wide and wild without the fears that come attached with the possibility of being proven wrong by the world.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Best Robert Greene Books

In this post, you’ll find a list of the best Robert Greene books.

In life and business, one of the most profound things one can do for itself is to look for the handful of people whose advice they can be confident will produce results. Some people accept the first person that meets the eye, and more often than not the person they chose to listen to is not the right person to be giving advice on anything in the first place. But since humans the way they are can’t help themselves, they opt to give advice even when they are under-qualified. There are some people, however, whose ideas are so meaningful that you’d be doing yourself a disfavor if you didn’t follow and learned as much as you could from them. Even if only through the books they wrote. For me, one of these people is Robert Greene, and below are a few of the ones I consider his best books, and why.

Best Robert Greene Books

#1 Laws of Human Nature

The first book by Robert Greene I consider to be perhaps the most important to read is so for a reason. The way one improves one’s life can have an impact on how much that improvement changes one’s life. It’s now known in science that sometimes all it takes for a person to change its life completely is by starting to exercise. Habitifying exercising caused a cascade of cause-and-effect that in turn caused a complete life makeover. That’s when the ex-drug addict turned successful businessman comes to the stage and tells us the story of how he/she changed their life overnight, and how they can teach you the same, if only you pay a small fee that ends with 99.

The point is that it’s important to be thoughtful about the things you chose to do first, because of the effect they can have 3 or 4 steps down the road. The most important thing one needs to do first on its way to a fulfilling life is to gain an understanding of the inner workings of its own mind, as well as that of those other minds that due to constraints imposed by the laws of physics is prevented from learning about.

Robert Greene

So, this is why this is the first book on the list. In-Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene describes the inner workings of minds of different kinds of people, with different backgrounds and not yet healed wounds from childhood. Due to the broad nature of the book, chances are that at some point you’ll find yourself as the target of the current discussion, whereby you I mean anyone who has the same psychological makeup as you do. Just like with any other form of criticism, the tendency when we first hear about it is to be defensive, but for the sake of the wealth of information you’ll get if you suspend judgment, the best thing to do before starting the read is to be aware of your own tendencies, and manage them.

Laws OF Human Nature

The great thing about this book is that you also get to learn about other people while you learn more about yourself.

#2 The art of seduction

The second book on the list is The art of seduction. Although most people are likely to think of this book as a pickup book of sorts, only after a few re-reads is when you can be made aware of the fact that it is definitely more than that. On the surface, you learn about the many ways you can engage in the art of courtship, but going deeper you soon come to the conclusion that the book really is about human psychology. Many of the ideas you learn in the context of seduction can just as easily be translated to most other life contexts. One example that keeps coming to the back of my mind is that of the Coquette, whose tendencies/behavior clearly go beyond the seductive. Few people willingly change their personalities to fit the context. Most of us are what we are, who we are, and the way we are when trying to seduce someone, or when at the workplace.

The Art Of Seduction

The consuming flirt is what it is in all occasions. It’s true that some of the tendencies are toned down, but at the core, we never really change. So, the point is that for each of the characters he brings to light, and the description of their psychology on the context of seduction, to assume that more often than not that’s who and how they are in all facets of life. So, when you read up on the coquette’s behavior and psychology in seduction, you also learn about it in life in general. Taking this into consideration, we can thus conclude that The art of seduction is deep down a more surface-level representation of The laws of human nature, even though the latter was published after the former.

#3 Mastery

The third book is Mastery. In Mastery you get a glimpse at what it takes to master a craft. More than just a book on how to master something, Mastery is also about how to master yourself and your own mind through the kind of practice apprentices went through in the old days. What I mean and what the book talks about is the kind of apprenticeship in which the student learns directly from the master in the real world. Here the student is not trying to get the highest grade possible to pass the class but to instead learn and internalize the craft as much as possible so they can be the best at the craft as much as they can be.

Today, with the internet in the reach of our fingertips, it’s easy to incorrectly conclude/feel like we can master anything with a few hours, if not minutes of reading. We think that the mere act of reading the summary of a subject, written by some other person who barely understands the subject is enough for us to consider the subject mastered. I think this is why there are now more and more people who feel the urge to surface level talk about medicine with doctors who went to medical school and have years of experience, in a way that makes it look like they know what they’re talking about. The point is that unless there is some new technology that allows us to insert knowledge and skills directly into the neural networks in our brains, true mastery is not a 5 min subject.

Mastery-Robert Greene

This is in a way what the book is about. By showing us the steps it takes to master a craft, from finding a mentor, to handling the breakup moment well, the author also tells us without saying that mastery takes time and effort. So much so, that just like a spouse, it should be taken as a life-time kind of endeavor, as opposed to the kind of thing you do for a while and abandon without any minute’s notice.

When you learn to master a craft you also learn to master yourself, since the discipline required to achieve the first allows you to also achieve the latter. Mastery is a process that gives you the right to be and feel confident, and this is so because it gives to your confidence a solid backing in such a way that if for whatever reason someone brings the motive behind your sense of confidence to question, you making it less of an opinion issue, and more of a fact. You will be confident for a reason, not just because you lied to yourself in the mirror for a decade, until you believed in your own lies. You will be and feel confident because you’re undeniably competent, and anyone who dares to question your abilities will have to take back their words when they see you perform.

Mastery also gives your life structure. God knows that the times we live in of fast-paced change and new trends, by the time you begin to make progress in the field, chances are that it’s not trendy anymore. When you focus on a craft for life, it might feel somewhat constricting but the constriction that comes from choosing a single path more than pays from the downsides of the lack of direction that comes from not choosing a path at all, or frantically switching from aim to aim. It’s the same reason why I personally think listening to everybody’s opinions about your life and taking them as gospel can do more harm than good as opposed to deciding for yourself what you want to make of your life. The reason for this is that for every direction you can point to there is always someone who defends the complete opposite, and for each of the opposites, there is an endless number of people who are exceptional at convincing people of things. Which means that it’s not only completely possible but likely that if you spend a day with a person defending one point, and the following day with a person defending the opposite each time you’ll feel as if you are in the presence of someone who knows the truth even though can only be one and much less about two conflicting ideas at the same time. The point is that picking a craft to master and committing to it as you would to a partner in a romantic relationship can definitely bring more benefits than harm.

#4 48 Laws of power

I’m sure this is probably the one book most if not all of Robert Greene readers would consider being the #1 on the list. The reason why it’s not on this list is that the way I see it, this book would be another step towards the mastery of your own life. The first 3 are about understanding one’s own and other people’s psychology, then to be able to master oneself, and this one is about gaining power through influence. One thing I noticed on Robert Greene’s reading s is that there is some knowledge of human psychology you learn about regardless of the focus subject of the book. One very salient idea I got from this book, in particular, was that of not stepping on the toes of the ones who have the power to advance or bring your life into a halt. I’m talking about superiors of any kind, who due to the fact that they feel threatened by you, instead of giving you a promotion, they do all they can to stop your progress. Without stealing anything from the book, according to the author the way to go about dealing with such kind of situations is to “not outshine the master”, and if you do, try to make the master shine even brighter. Instead of looking to claim every drop of credit from your efforts, to make a conscious decision/effort to give them the credit while making them feel superior and smarter on the process.

48 Laws Of Power

The great thing about these first 4 books is that the knowledge of human psychology you get by reading them all is incremental as you start and finish each one of them. Some of the things he talks about are things you’ve been aware of, and might even know in your gut, but that was never able to put into words. They are in essence a description of the cold truth about the inner workings of the human mind. The darkness behind passive-aggressiveness, as well as the pettiness triggered by the so well-known feelings of jealousy for those who for whatever reason are blessed enough to have the things we aspire for ourselves. Be that the dream job, partner or family, and the desire to not only have what they have but to take it away from them while making them miserable in the process. The book teaches also how to not make yourself a target of such types, and if even after your efforts you still find yourself at the aim of their aggressive tendencies, also how to quickly deal with the problem.

Like many Robert Greene’s books, this one also explains each point with a reference from mother history who teaches silently but whose teachings are deep and insightful nonetheless. This is one of the many things the book teaches without teaching. That if you want to learn more about power struggles, the winners and losers, and why they won or lost, one way to go about it is by reading through the history books and trying to gain the insights that the words written in them don’t tell explicitly but imply. Another way to go about it is by learning from those who possess the lessons you need in their memories. I’m talking about people who have had the privilege of living through multiple decades. The ones who know what it feels like to be a kid, also a teenager, a young adult, an adult and now have a wealth of experience they are willing to give to anyone who is patient enough to listen to the golden nuggets of wisdom they have to offer. These tend to be even more profound and powerful because they tend not to be tainted by the biases and intents of the writer. A storyteller can perfectly through the use of its own imagination re-tell the tales of World War 2. Only the frontline soldier who’s now an ancient and somehow survived to tell the tale can give you actual wisdom about the difficulties a mind can go through when not just your life is in chaos but the whole world. What it feels like having to find the hope of a better future when tomorrow is unlikely to come.

The beautiful thing about the book is that it takes the reader not only through the cases in which the rule described in the chapter was successfully applied but also through the cases in which it wasn’t and the repercussions that followed from it.

Final thoughts

Over the years. After over 200 books read few have been so powerfully insightful enough to be a part of my all-time favorites. Not that this should mean anything to you or anyone, but I say it as an attempt to give credit where credit is due. Robert Greene, in particular, is also one of the few authors whose books I read over and over again and the main reason for that is that each page is more than just content for the sake of content.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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