Monthly Archives: January 2021

How to stop comparing yourself to other people

1.The tendency to compare ourselves with other people is at the root of most people’s lack of satisfaction, even when what they have is more than most people can ever dream of.

2.Wishes that come from our comparing ourselves to other people are not conducive to true happiness, since just when you finally manage to get even, there is always someone with more. There is always someone doing better, at least enough to make you feel like we don’t have enough. There is always someone who makes you feel like you need to get even. This is why there is no point in grounding your identity on being the best anything, as you will always find yourself the loser if you think hard enough about your accomplishments.

3.Today, happiness is only real for those things we can brag about. The thing is that human beings come in all shapes and sizes, which in turn make one’s source of happiness different from someone else’s. Sometimes what makes you truly happy is not something you can brag about, and that doesn’t make your source of happiness any less worthy.

4.Just as we can be less happy when we compare ourselves to other people and lose the comparison game, so we can when other people openly compare themselves to us. Just because someone makes it sound or look like your way of living is inferior to theirs doesn’t mean it is. In fact, trying to change their mind about it is a losing battle, as you’re now playing a game in which the rules are set by your opponent, and phrased in such a way as to automatically put them 5 or 10 steps ahead. The worst thing about it is that this is the kind of game in which winning always leaves you with a bitter-sweet aftertaste. One where happiness only exists in forced smiles but not in the heart.

5.Comparing yourself to yourself from the standpoint of your own values is one of the most important steps towards true contentment. When you let someone else set the rules you may succeed at winning the game of appearances at best, and at worst risk losing it in perpetuity, as the same mind that created and imposed the rules in the first place can just as easily change them, and logic is not required. Emotion is often enough of a reason.

You can also read our post on: A few thoughts on maturity

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Lessons from the book: Relentless by Tim Grover

The ability to stick to what we start is among the most challenging things for humans to do, especially in this age of minute by minute blast of distractions. The longer the journey and the loftier the end goal, the greater is the chance that the road will be littered with bumps. Some of them will make you wonder whether the journey is worth it, and you may even find yourself contemplating other avenues. Wondering how good it would feel to just quit.

But you then remember that others before you, who have managed to be successful also went through the same doubts you may be facing at the moment. You remember that the difference between them and many other dreamers who never made it was that the first group managed to stick to their vision no matter how hard it got.

The book “Relentless” is really a library of valuable lessons on the kind of mentality that drives the best to succeed. By adopting the way of thinking described in the book, you also, automatically earn the ability to stick to things. You learn how to deal with the storms that will eventually come your way, and still come out on top.

1.How hungry you are will influence how you engage with the world


The first lesson is that the degree of “hunger” will dictate how one engages with the world. Without giving away to much of the book, the author brings to light the idea that there are 3 kinds of people. Among their many differences, in a fundamental level they differ on how much they want to succeed at their field of choice. If you’re a part of the first group your desire for success is not very high, so much so that you may be content with nothing more than being a part of someone else’s success story. The second group wants to succeed for themselves but they have in their heads an idea of how much will be enough. The third group on the other hand, is constantly purusiuing success, so much so that they eventually manage to make a name for themselves not only when they’re alive, but long after that.

The point is not to make anyone feel bad for the way they are. It’s ok to want less or more. The point is to be aware of what it takes to get what you truly want.

2.You can’t strive to be the best at all areas of life


The second big lesson is that you can’t be successful in all areas of life. Today, it’s not enough to be successful in one’s career to be happy. One also has to have the perfect family and be the best neighbor one can be. The problem, as the author teaches, is that to excel in any one of the areas above one has to declare that he doesn’t care about anything else. Every one of these areas takes a lot of time and energy to be good at.

So the point is to accept the fact that there will be some areas of your life that you won’t excel at. In fact, there will some areas of life you will underperform especially when you decide to succeed at any one of them.

3.The importance of acting like a professional


The third deep lesson is to carry yourself like a professional. The author brings up the fact that the best carry themselves differently. Those who manage to stay in the collective memory don’t manage to do so by being sloppy. Their drive, focus, and perfectionism in their areas of choice are not localized. It also applies to how they carry themselves, from the way they dress, speak or drive. Always polished, and that’s in part what makes them even more memorable.

The point is that the way to become more memorable is to expand your perfectionism and drive to all areas of life.

Final thoughts


This like the rest of the books I’ve reviewed so far has much more to offer and teach than we covered in this post alone. So for this case, I also strongly advise you to buy and read the book and feel free to leave your thoughts about it in the comment below.

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A few thoughts on maturity

(1) Your childhood matters but not as much as you think. To blame all your life’s failures on your upbringing is to claim that you’re nothing more than a preprogrammed robot. We are as much a product of other people’s actions as we are of our own decisions.

(2) Responsibility and ownership are the signs of a mature mind. It’s possible to have grown babies who can never take the blame without giving blame, as there are young minds who are only young because biology says so. Able to take responsibility and commit to doing things better regardless of who is to blame, because they know at the end of the day, that it doesn’t matter anyway.

(3) When you begin to take ownership of what happens to you the mind gets stiller. It means you expect you and only you to make things happen and that you’re not dependent on the whims or goodwill of anyone. You know life is difficult now and it will remain so, but it will definitely be easier because now, you are the master of your own destiny.

(4) Rock-solid values are at the root of a mature mind especially at this age when what “the right thing” means keeps changing. Societal values change overnight these days. You know you have some growing up to do when you find yourself changing your values at the pace of new social media posts. It’s not about being stubborn or set in your ways, but about deeply reflecting on your beliefs before you run for an update.

(5) Maturity is a life long process. We don’t magically become mature once we reach a certain age. But instead, we become more mature as life happens to us, mistakes are made and lessons are learned. This is what a mature person looks like. The kind of person who has a library of lessons built the hard way by doing the wrong thing and learning from it over and over again. Maturity is not a level but a process.

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Lessons from the book “Can’t hurt me” by David Goggins

The cards we’re dealt at birth can have a major impact on one’s fate. Having your parents not care enough or having them be just a little too controlling can set the domino that leads you to a life of crime or poverty. This is made worse by the fact that today’s society has a tendency to blame all adult inappropriate behavior to something that happened in childhood. The way one is brought up does have an effect on how they go about living the rest of their lives, but it’s not the only factor.

The book “Can’t hurt me” teaches us a multitude of lessons surrounding the topic of one’s upbringing’s effect on life. Below are a few takeaways from the book.

(1)The way you start in life doesn’t have to be the way you finish

The first big lesson is that we don’t have to be victims of our upbringing. The author tells his story and how painful his childhood was. Most of us if forced to go through what he did would consider ourselves to have a free pass to complain about life. A free pass to become an unproductive adult with childhood struggles as an excuse. If you’re familiar with the author’s social media presence you likely already know he went above and beyond as an adult given his background. It’s true that a bad childhood can set e up on a path to failure, but the good thing about being humans is that we are not robots, who are forced to behave only how they were programmed to behave.

(2) There is a lot to be learned at the edge of your capabilities

The next lesson is that we hardly learn anything new in comfort. As the author often says, we often plan to run a marathon when we are in a nice room with a warm cup of coffee. The greatest insights happen when we are at the edge of our capabilities and fail. This idea is brought up repeatedly throughout the book in the form of real-life stories where the author finds his limitations and rises above them by digging deeper within.

(3) True growth happens when you make the effort to go beyond yourself

The last lesson is that true growth happens when you force yourself to go beyond established limits. If you consumed any material on self-development at all, chances are that you know this principle. The reason why it’s worth talking about is that when told in the form of real-life stories, as it’s done in the book, it takes a different form. This is why many people find the book inspiring, not because the author talks about positive affirmations but quite the opposite. You get to mentally take the same steps as the author and in some cases experience the pain and struggle went through, and I think this is what makes the book so powerful. You suffer along with the author even if not physically, you experience the same thoughts that went through his mind, and you also feel the joy of victory when he finally goes over obstacles.

Final thoughts

At last, you should definitely buy the book, especially the audio version. I find this book to be in my top 5 favorite books as each time you go back to it you gain something, if not a new lesson a deeper understanding of already learned lessons. If you feel lazy or demotivated this could be that one sure thing that brings you back from the abyss.

Here is a link to theΒ audiobook, and below is one of his speeches.

David Goggins Interview- Rich Roll Podcast

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A few thoughts on productivity

(1) Productivity is a destination that can only be reached physically by going there mentally first. Clear goals and the vision of how productivity will look like from the perspective of these goals and respectively step #1 and #2 on your way to a productive day.

(2) The journey to productivity begins with the desire to improve performance. Once when we figure out how to do more in less time we are quickly tempted to do add more tasks to our to-do list, which curiously enough is often the very thing that takes us back to our unproductive selves. Productivity like medicine is the kind of thing to be handled with care, or it may lead you to the same problems you were trying to solve in the first place.

(3) Most things in life are irrelevant no matter how urgent they may seem. The key to productivity is to separate the irrelevant from the essential. As Garry Keller teaches us on “the one thing”. As yourself: “What is the one thing such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

(4) At the end of the day, productivity is nothing more than a tool. To be productive for the sake of being productive is to take vitamins for the sake of taking vitamins, not because you want to be healthy.

(5) There are many strategies and tools to enhance one’s productivity, but the one thing that trumps them all is the motivation behind the productive output. The bigger the fire behind your behavior, the more productivity becomes a given. It’s important to remember that to use the tools one has to be motivated to be productive in the first place. Without a compelling enough vision there is no motivation to apply the techniques and technologies designed to make you more productive.

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Thin slicing and relationships

Relationships rank the highest on the list of the most difficult subjects for human beings. In fact some theories propose the idea that the need to manage complex inter-personal relationships is behind men’s deveopment of a bigger brain, and along with it also greater intelectual prowes. In other words, our brains got bigger and more efficient to help us deal with relationships.

The better we can read one another the better off we can be in life. Humans are known for hiding their true selves to gain an edge, and it’s for this reason that being able to read someone’s intentions can be so crucial. A lot can be lost because of incorrect readings. Get into a business partnership with a dishonest person, and you set yourself up to lose your investment in the best case, and to go bankrupt at worse. Get married to a dishonest person, and you put yourself at risk for a life-long heartbreak.

The good thing is that after years and years of evolution we’ve developed an ability to mind-read other humans. What we call a gut feeling is often the reason behind why we manage to stay away from people who don’t have our best interest at heart before anything bad happens, even when we can’t rationally explain the source of the feeling. 

Sometimes we are able to make judgments like the one above in a very short time frame of minutes or even seconds. I’m talking about what psychologists call today “thin-slicing”.

Thin slicing is to put it shortly the brain’s ability to derive conclusions or arrive at decisions from a limited amount of information in a limited time. When you can tell that a person you just met is dishonest by the way they look at you, you’re thin-slicing. When you can tell that a person is not as smart as they try to come off as you’re thin-slicing, and this also applies to relationships.

Thin slicing and relationships

When it comes to relationships slicing couldn’t be more important. The first time we interact with someone our brains get on the process of deciding who that person is and what them being what they are mean to us.

The good 

The good thing about our ability to derive conclusions about people we meet in seconds is time. In a fast-paced world, sometimes seconds are all we have to the decision to get in a relationship with a person. This is true whether the relationship is romantic or professional.

Being able to quickly get the gist of who a stranger might be is handy especially when there is a lot to lose. The book blink by Malcolm Gladwell goes in-depth on the subject of split-second decision making if you’re interested in learning more.

The bad

The bad side of these often split-second decisions is the same we often face with cognitive biases. We might make the right decisions but not always, and sometimes the risk of the wrong decision outweighs the illusion of certainty we might get through slicing.

There is lots of self-help advice out there claiming that humans have this special ability to learn about things through intuition. The advice to follow one’s intuation is given and taken often with the assumption that intuition is never wrong, which is not true.

At the end of the day, any kind of strategy employed to make quick decisions is likely to be limited by data. What we get in speed, is often paid off in loss of accuracy. The book Wait by Frank Partnot makes this point clear, by teaching the reader to take as much time as possible before taking action or making a decision. If the deadline is due in 1 min, take 59 seconds before taking action or making the decision. If it’s due in a day, wait 23 hours and 59 min. 

As you can see, this approach to decision making can go aganist the popular advice to “go with your guts”, but it might just be the better alternative since it’s often the case that with more time there is more information available to process, and with more information also better and more informed decisions can be made.

This is even more important in relationships. When faced with a stranger, opinions formed in seconds can be accurate and just as easily be inaccurate. As we discussed, it’s very difficult to truly know who someone is even after a decade, especially knowing that humans are trained from childhood to mask their true desires. This is a point made clear by the author Robert Greene in the book Laws of human nature, where he brings to light the dark side of human nature we only think applies to bad people, when in truth also applies to all of us.

The point is that when deciding to bring people into our lives, the safest thing to do is to take as much time as we can to see who they actually are. When faced with the task of deciding whether a person would be good to have a relationship with or not, we are faced with a limited amount of information to analyze, and from that small sample, there is always the possibility that the data is tainted. 

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, the ability to spot patterns instantaneously should be taken as a tool that happens to be appropriate to some occasions as opposed to others. Slicing should not be taken as a wonder drug that exists to solve all of our problems. When you’re truly constrained by time, the best solution is to take advantage of the gift mother nature gave us, but when you can afford more time, the best approach is as described in the book Wait by Frank Partnot.

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Lessons from the book “Wait” by Frank Partnot

The ability to make the correct decision under moments of pressure can make the difference between living the life of your dreams, and wondering why you couldn’t at old age.

When forced to make a decision under pressure we often leave it to chance, by its nature time is scarce. The book “Wait” by Frank Partnot, teaches us that not all decision making has to be left to mother luck, not even when we’re under pressure. Below are a few lessons learned from the book.

1.Quick decisions made as a novice versus quick decisions made as an expert


The first lesson the book teaches us is that there is a difference between the kind of decisions made by the novice or the expert. The expert is more likely to make the right decision when under pressure, while the novice is likely to either take too much time making the decision or be quick but make the wrong decision.

According to the book, the best approach when under time pressure as a novice is to do nothing.

“Novices who wrongly believe they are experts are doomed. They don’t realize their predicament until its too late”

2.How experts can also be novices


The second lesson might come as a surprise to many, as we tend to think that just because a person is an expert on one field it automatically means they will be an expert on another. The book teaches us the not only is the case that experts in one field will likely be novices on another, but also that, given the right conditions they might even become novices in their own field of expertise. Like when they are faced with a problem situation they haven’t been trained for. In fact, in these cases, they are just as good as novices in their decision-making.

3.Premortums


The third lesson is about mistakes. We are used to the idea that we should learn from our mistakes and make sure that we don’t repeat them again. This approach will certainly lead us to wisdom but at the cost of the pain that comes with making the mistake in the first place.

The book suggests the reader do a premortem. Which is in essence the study of how things might go wrong even when we make what we consider to be a good decision. What we think of as the best decisions or strategies are often based on assumptions that may or may not be correct. We all work with a limited sample of the data and based on that data our reaction can be said to be correct, or the most appropriate, but just because an approach is appropriate for a sample of the data, doesn’t mean it will be for the whole.

Another variant of the premortem idea is that suggested once by Warren Buffet, who once said that just because we learn from mistakes doesn’t mean they have to be our own. In this case, the homework is done for you. All you have to do is to take and apply the answers.

Final thoughts


Like I always say, this book too has a lot more to teach. There are many more examples and lessons to be learned by reading it yourself. It’s definitely a good read. After you do, please let us know what other lessons you learned by commenting below.

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Lessons from the book “To have or to be?” by Erich Fomm

Owning a luxurious house

We’re a product of everything we get in contact with including the things we own. I’m sure you’ve never thought of your possessions as having an influence on the way you live day do day have you? Well.. me neither, and at the time of this writing, I can safely say that my views have changed.

We live in a time in which to feel more one has to own more even when the one doing the owning is living beyond its means. Looking like you’re successful is more important than actually being successful, and the easiest way to show this success to the world is by owning more stuff.

Owning more stuff does more than just impressing the outside world. It also helps in impressing ourselves. In a way, you’re more like 2 people in one, and one of them can easily fall for signs of success even when they are fake and created by their own sibling.

The book “To have or to be” by Erich Fomm makes a case for why we should focus on being rather than having. Why we should not be so obsessed about our possessions, and it teaches us about the effect the having attitude can have on one’s mind, and it’s deeper than you think. Below are a few big lessons.

How treating opinions as possessions is bad
The first big lesson from the book is with regards to how we treat our opinions. We are at our core possessive beings, and this possessiveness extends also to our ideas and beliefs. The book teaches us that when you treat your opinion as a possession it makes changing it for something better difficult since the change will likely trigger the fear of loss. Our ideas become increasingly a part of who we are the more time spending believing in them. In a way, they take a similar role to that of a loved one who has the power to make life more meaningful with their presence and to also make it more painful with their loss.

This problem is made worse when we share our views with the world.
In the age of social media, virtually everyone with a smartphone and internet connection can not only have a voice but also have it heard and impact the entire planet as a result. Voicing our beliefs to the world and have them proven wrong/incorrect is doubly painful, which makes trying to convince a person away from their beliefs with evidence alone not enough. They can see the evidence, and maybe even the falsehood of their beliefs, but in their eyes, you’re still wrong.

The danger of wanting more
The second lesson is about the common human problem of equating happiness with possessions. As the author states “If my aim is having, I am the more I have….I can never be satisfied because there is no end to my wishes.”. We grow up believing that the more we possess the happier we will be. This is at the root of why everybody wants to be rich.

According to the book, we would be wrong to think that happiness will occur when we make/own a certain amount. The more you own your desires are temporarily satisfied, but they also change into bigger and bolder desires. We are not wired to be satisfied with the things we have. We are wired to dream and seek for that which we don’t or for whatever reason cannot have at the moment. There is no end to it. Just as there is always someone who is smarter or prettier, so there is always something new to be wished/desired that is better than what we currently have.

Final thoughts
The book definitely makes for a great read. Eric Fomm is now among my favorite authors and I definitely recommend reading not only this but also the rest of his work. Like I always say, the lessons brought here are by no means the only ones. Go read the book. There is a lot more of value to be learned. Feel free to comment below on other lessons you might have learned from the book.

To have or to be ?

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5 Lessons on Happiness

(1) Happiness is a difficult goal to attain, especially when you don’t know what it looks like. We’re all on a time-restricted race to find it, and that’s why we can’t afford the trial and error way of doing things. Knowing oneself is the map and guide to happiness. Studying oneself is the meditation we so desperately need to know what will truly make us happy.

(2) Happiness takes different shapes and forms. What’s one man’s bliss can just as easily be another man’s misery. No one can tell you what will make you happy. Only you can. So following someone else’s steps to happiness will lead you to their version of it, which may or may not be yours.

(3) As you gradually discover what makes you happy you also discover what makes you, you. This is another reason why following someone else’s recipe for happiness is a mistake. If you shape your life on someone else’s ideal you stop being you. You stop living your life. The worst of it is that most of us, even those who look blissfully happy are not living their lives either. So you might be in for a bitter surprise one day when your north star wakes up from their lie and realize they are not as happy as they portray themselves as, and you, in turn, wake up to the fact that you’re not just a copy, but a copy of a copy, which in turn may or may not be the original. You realize that you’re a part of a much bigger chain of unhappiness, where everyone’s failed attempt at happiness is not about looking inside and reflecting, but by looking and mimicking what they see outside.

(4) Just like we should develop ourselves to handle possible future riches, so should we prepare ourselves for happiness. We live in a time in which we are told who to be and what to believe in, on a global scale. What happiness looks like is different for different people. Be prepared for the possibility that your version of happiness won’t match society’s. Be prepared for the possibility that what makes you truly happy won’t be accepted, and that as long as you’re not hurting anyone, to fight with teeth and nails to keep it.

(5) Happiness is not a permanent state. The feeling of happiness comes and goes. The goal shouldn’t be to truly be happily ever after, that only happens in movies. True happiness is not eternal bliss devoid of all sadness, but having that bliss be the background theme throughout your life even as you go through thunders and storms. Hollywood movies always end on a high note and we falsely conclude that the forever bliss is possible. If we managed the peek behind the curtains and see what happens the first second after the credits roll, I guarantee you that the cycle of bliss and misery starts all over again. How do I know that? Look at all the sequels that ever existed.

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5 Thoughts on Relationships

(1) Relationships are a difficult game some of us pretend to understand completely, while others who know they don’t seek black and white answers from those who do. If they were as simple as some people claim, dating apps would run out of business overnight and divorces wouldn’t be as much of a thing as they seem to be.

(2) Being with someone you don’t want is as much of a punishment to you as it is to them. It’s the same as taking a hobby you don’t particularly like. You close the door for what you do like and that is insane no matter how rational your justification.

(3) Being with someone who doesn’t like you is just as insane as being with a person you don’t like. It’s like playing tennis with a walking dead. The game won’t be as exciting as it can be and you’ll invariably end up out of breath. And yes, you also close the doors for something more fulfilling.

(4)The state of a relationship is dependent on the state of the ones involved as a whole. It gets sick when one of the members is sick and it flourishes only when all are healthy. No one can carry a relationship by itself. The burden is just too heavy for mortals.

(5)The two biggest illnesses relationships suffer from are extreme selfishness and extreme selflessness. A relationship dies when the give and take dynamic becomes one-sided.

(Bonus) The rules that govern healthy romantic relationships often apply to platonic ones. Treating others as you wish to be treated, giving without expecting to take, as well as being a good person in general work well not only for those we are intimate with but also with those we call friends and acquaintances.

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