It’s that time of year again! Wishing you all a very happy, fulfilling, active, mindful, restful and loving 2023. I hope you get some value out of this year’s instalment: A collection of thoughts I’ve gathered over the year on health, happiness, psychology, relationships and other bits.
1. Success is not a function of what you have..it’s a function which you have divided by what you want. Satisfaction = h/w where H is your “haves” and W is your “wants”. One way to increase satisfaction very temporarily is to cut out more. A way to also increase satisfaction very permanently is to decrease the denominator (want less). – Arthur C. Brooks.
2. Staying in “infinite browsing mode” reduces our happiness. When we fail to make a long term decision about a job, a partner or a community, we reap the stress that comes from still needing to make that choice down the line. When you face too many possibilities before a decision, you wind up being haunted by decision ghosts – the ghosts of all the choices you didn’t make. When people have a lot of options, you raise their expectations about how good the thing they choose will be. You invite them to make comparisons to all of the options that they have rejected, and everything the more you compare, the more the thing you’ve chosen suffers, so you end up making a good decision and feeling bad about it. – Pete Davis, Dedicated
3. The most notable nutrition and fitness companies aren’t necessarily better, they’ve been able to package/standardize/position/brand better.
CrossFit is well-packaged high intensity hybrid training
Noom is well packaged low calorie diet-disguised-as-eating-psychology program
Beach Body is well packaged home workouts + MLM supplements
F-45 is a well packaged multi-implement circuit class
Orange Theory is a well packaged cardio/dumbbell circuit class
Peloton is a well packaged high end home cardio + technology
Whole30 is a well packaged socially acceptable eating disorder elimination diet
4. We pathologize being by yourself, but nobody measures solitude, however solitude paradoxically protects against loneliness. Loneliness doesn’t care if you’re actually alone. Loneliness is a subjective feeling. It’s not necessarily about physical isolation.
5. Regret is our most misunderstood emotion. It hurts, it lingers. It exists in every place, and in every person. A half century of research in social psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience and cognitive science shows that this painful emotion is one of our most common. As painful and unpleasant as these feelings are, they serve a purpose – If we channel them properly. If we neither wallow in them nor ignore them. almost all regrets sound like the following:
- If only I’d done the work
- if only I’d taken the chance.
- If only I’d done the right thing.
- If only I’d reached out
- Daniel Pink
6. You become what you pay attention to and your #1 guide? You: 10 years from now. The you of 2033 will know what to do. The person you will be tomorrow will tell you the person you should be today.
7. Perhaps the biggest folly of fad diets is the idea that weight loss and better health is strictly a food issue. That we can eliminate or mitigate maladaptive coping mechanisms, dysfunctional food environments and emotionally driven consumption with a cleanse or avoiding all carbs. You can’t keto/detox/raw vegan/whole30 your way out of patterns rooted in emotional regulation. You cannot make substantial, long term changes with the same mindset that got you to your undesired state in the first place.
8. Procrastination is about emotional regulation – not laziness, poor time management or some other moral deficit. Those are symptoms of procrastination rather than the cause. We’re not avoiding the task per se, what we’re avoiding is the negative emotions associated with that task. Procrastination then becomes a way to cope with that negative mood and those negative emotions. What’s the best tool to regulate negative emotions? Self compassion.
9. Mindsets act as a bridge between our conscious and subconscious self. Our minds aren’t passive observers simply perceiving reality as it is. Our minds actually change reality. In other words, the reality we will experience tomorrow isn’t part of a product of the mindset we have today. – Alia Crumb
10. These are the questions you must ask about your career if you want to get rich.
- 1. Do I own a business?
- 2. Does the business have a path to avoid ruthless price competition?
- 3. Does the business have a path to avoid being dominated by a global behemoth?
If the answer to any of the three questions is no, you are unlikely to become rich. Of course getting in a situation in which all three answers are yes is not easy, which is not surprising since many people want to be rich. – Tony Fadell
11. Americans do not seem to be translating their increased wealth into more time doing things that tend to make people happy. Between 2003 and 2019, real per capita income rose more than 20% and Silicon Valley delivered all these amazing free products, yeet Americans actually spent less time doing the hobbyist activities. There was a decline in time spent talking and socializing,meditating/religious activity and gardening.
12. The Happiness Equation is equal to or greater than the difference between the events of your life and your expectations of how life should behave. “Committed acceptance” is not only to accept the harshness of life, but to commit after you accept. And what that means is, first you say “okay, something happened I cannot do anything about it, but I’m going to try to do my best to make tomorrow a little better than today, and after tomorrow a little better than tomorrow.” – Mo Gawdat
13. Definition of happiness: Being happy IN your life and being happy WITH your life. Being happy IN your life is having a decent ratio of positive to negative emotions. Essentially having a decent ratio of things like laughter and joy to things like sadness, anger. Being happy WITH your life is separate. It is the answer to the question “all things considered, how satisfied are you with your life?” It’s a sense of purpose and meaning – bigger picture stuff.
14. Whatever pain you can’t get rid of, make that your creative offering. This applies to conventional creative activities, like writing a book or launching a business, but can be applied more broadly to other realms of life. There’s a lot of different ways to take a pain and convert it into something else. – Susan Cain
15. Early in life, we have a lot of what psychologists call “fluid intelligence.” That increases through your 20s and 30s, but then decreases in your 40s and 50s. Fluid intelligence is your ability to work hard with focus and solve problems, your analytic capacity. There’s another kind of intelligence that you get later in life called “crystallized intelligence.” That increases through your 40s and 50s. It stays high through your 60s and 70s, and even beyond. Crystallized intelligence is not all about working hard and focusing—it’s about wisdom and passing on knowledge. You get wiser as you get older, which means you know a lot, and you know how to use the information. It also means you’re a much better teacher—the best teachers are older people. – Albert C. Brooks. From Strength To Strength.
16. Humans are pattern finding machines. Most conspiracies are just people looking at a bunch of data and finding connections that don’t exist. The solution is about having flexibility of the mind: don’t fall in love with your hypothesis. We are very good at finding hints that don’t exist. We can arrange things afterwards to make it look like something is true to when it certainly wasn’t. – David McRaney, How Minds Change
17. There are evolutionary, genetic, biological, psychological and environmental reasons why we stay stuck in place. The result of this evolutionary human tapestry leads us to act more on emotion than logic. The conscious mind gives us options (of which there are many), but what whittles them down into actionables is our emotions – our aversions/affinities. The strongest ones are the ones we act on.
18. Episodic Future Thinking: EFT is a way of connecting who you are today with what you might really feel and do in the future. Try this exercise: Imagine yourself waking up 10 years from today. Create an image of yourself of the space that you’re in. And who might be with you. Where are you 10 years from today? What’s around you? What do you see, hear, smell and feel? What’s the first thing on your mind when you wake up? What do you have planned for the day? How are you physically different in this future? What did you see in your far future? Did you expect things to be more or less the same? Or did you fill your future with alternatives to how things are today? There is no right or wrong answer. Just notice the picture of a morning you’d like to wake up to. Where did you find yourself exploring possibilities that might be painful to encounter? Both are helpful forms of imagination, your positive and shadow side, just notice which direction you went to first.
Ask yourself; Should I try to change what I’m doing today to make this future more or less likely?
19. In the dating market, people compete ferociously for mates with qualities that do not increase one’s chances of romantic happiness. What were people looking for? Good height, income/occupation (women seeking men), attractive (men seeking women), sexy names. Most likely best mates?: someone satisfied with life, secure in themselves, who constantly tries to better themselves. Bottom line: if you’re happy now you’re more likely to be happy later in a relationship.
20. Parenting matters way less than we think. Genetics matter most – way more than parenting. When you raise biological kids apart, they tend to reach the same levels of success. When you raise adopted kids together they tend to have different levels of success based on their genes. Breastfeeding, TV exposure, being bilingual, dance classes and lots of other popsci factors didn’t have much impact overall. What did have a big impact? Neighborhood.
21. The average age of successful tech startup founder is 42.3 years. A 60-year-old startup founder has a 3x higher chance of creating a valuable business than a 30-year-old.
22. The diet industry continues to operate on fear. Here’s a short history of things we’re supposed to be afraid of.
1991: Fat is bad. stop the insanity!
2002: Carbs are bad. ATKINS, BABY!
2005: Carbs are selectively bad. Diets named after sexy cities are the way.
2007: Weird “skinny bitch” phase (meat is bad?)
2011: Any food in the past 10k years is bad. Paleo, bitchez.
2013: Gluten is plotting to kill you in your sleep.
2015: Breakfast is for chumps. Fasting=life
2016: All carbs are bad.. but veggies are ‘aight. KETO MOFOS. BUTTER ON ALL THE THINGS.
2017: Whole30: Socially acceptable eating disorders.
2018: Anything remotely resembling non meat product is the devil. screw veggies. CARNIVORE.
Present day: Seed oils are Satan’s urine. Fast and low carb harder. You’re also breathing and sleeping wrong.
23. The Times left exercise: This is an emotionally-stirring, yet impactful exercise to help you see what truly matters and also offset hedonic adaptation. Here’s how it works: Identify an activity you really enjoy. This can be anything – something you do with a particular person, something you’ve been putting off. Regardless, it should be something that matters to you. Next, calculate the total number of times you’ve done this activity in the past. Calculate the number of times you have left to do this activity in the future in the way you enjoy doing it, and if relevant with a person who you enjoy sharing it with when making your future projections, account for constraining factors and factors that will likely change.