Tag Archives: Philosophy

The Courage to Be Disliked by Fumitake Koga, Ichiro Kishimi

Summary

  1. The Courage to Be Disliked follows a conversation between a young man and a philosopher as they discuss the tenets of Alfred Adler’s theories. This book presents simple and straightforward answers to the philsophical question: how can one be happy?

Key Takeaways

  1. Past doesn’t matter
    1. None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves  have given meaning to. The world you see is different from the one I see, and it’s  impossible to share your world with anyone else.
    2. PHILOSOPHER: If we focus only on past causes and try to explain things solely through  cause and effect, we end up with “determinism.” Because what this says is that our  present and our future have already been decided by past occurrences, and are  unalterable. Am I wrong? YOUTH: So you’re saying that the past doesn’t matter?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes, that is the standpoint of Adlerian psychology.
  2. Trauma doesn’t exist
    1. YOUTH: Wait a minute! Are you denying the existence of trauma altogether?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes, I am. Adamantly. YOUTH: What! Aren’t you, or I guess I should  say Adler, an authority on psychology? PHILOSOPHER: In Adlerian psychology, trauma  is definitively denied. This was a very new and revolutionary point. Certainly, the  Freudian view of trauma is fascinating. Freud’s idea is that a person’s psychic wounds  (traumas) cause his or her present unhappiness. When you treat a person’s life as a vast  narrative, there is an easily understandable causality and sense of dramatic development  that creates strong impressions and is extremely attractive. But Adler, in denial of the  trauma argument, states the following: “No experience is in itself a cause of our success  or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences—the so-called  trauma—but instead we make out of them whatever suits our purposes. We are not  determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.” We determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences.  Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself,  and you are the one who decides how you live.
    2. “People are not driven by past causes but move toward goals that they themselves set”
  3. The first step to change is knowing.
    1. The important thing is not what one is born with but what use one makes of that  equipment.
  4. Unhappiness Is Something You Choose for Yourself
    1. Yes, you can. People can change at any time, regardless of the environments they are in.  You are unable to change only because you are making the decision not
    2. Adlerian psychology is a psychology of courage. Your unhappiness cannot be  blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn’t that you lack competence. You just  lack courage. One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.
    3. Adler’s teleology tells us, “No matter what has occurred in your life up to this point, it  should have no bearing at all on how you live from now on.” That you, living in the here  and now, are the one who determines your own life.
  5. All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems
    1. The feeling of inferiority is a kind of launch pad? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. One tries  to get rid of one’s feeling of inferiority and keep moving forward. One’s never satisfied  with one’s present situation—even if it’s just a single step, one wants to make progress.  One wants to be happier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the state of this kind of  feeling of inferiority. There are, however, people who lose the courage to take a single  step forward, who cannot accept the fact that the situation can be changed by making  realistic efforts.
    2. The condition of having a feeling of inferiority is a condition of feeling some sort of lack  in oneself in the present situation. So then, the question is— YOUTH: How do you fill in  the part that’s missing, right? PHILOSOPHER: Exactly. How to compensate for the part  that is lacking. The healthiest way is to try to compensate through striving and growth.
    3. You’re saying that boasting is an inverted feeling of inferiority? PHILOSOPHER: That’s  right. If one really has confidence in oneself, one doesn’t feel the need to boast. It’s  because one’s feeling of inferiority is strong that one boasts. One feels the need to flaunt  one’s superiority all the more. There’s the fear that if one doesn’t do that, not a single  person will accept one “the way I am.” This is a full-blown superiority complex.
    4. Adler himself pointed out, “In our culture weakness can be quite strong and powerful.”  YOUTH: So weakness is powerful? PHILOSOPHER: Adler says, “In fact, if we were to  ask ourselves who is the strongest person in our culture, the logical answer would be, the  baby. The baby rules and cannot be dominated.” The baby rules over the adults with his  weakness. And it is because of this weakness that no one can control him.
    5. 20. YOUTH: So life is not a competition? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. It’s enough to just  keep moving in a forward direction, without competing with anyone. And, of course,  there is no need to compare oneself with others.
    6. A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to  others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self.
    7. Human beings are all equal, but not the same.
    8. Does that mean you dropped out of competition? That you somehow accepted defeat?  PHILOSOPHER: No. I withdrew from places that are preoccupied with winning and  losing. When one is trying to be oneself, competition will inevitably get in the way.
    9. There are probably a lot of people who feel mystified by seeing a child who cuts his  wrists, and they think, Why would he do such a thing? But try to think how the people  around the child—the parents, for instance—will feel as a result of the behavior of wrist  cutting. If you do, the goal behind the behavior should come into view of its own accord.
    10. Once the interpersonal relationship reaches the revenge stage, it is almost impossible for  either party to find a solution. To prevent this from happening, when one is challenged to  a power struggle, one must never allow oneself to be taken in.
    11. So when you’re hung up on winning and losing, you lose the ability to make the right  choices? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. It clouds your judgment, and all you can see is imminent  victory or defeat. Then you turn down the wrong path. It’s only when we take away the  lenses of competition and winning and losing that we can begin to correct and change  ourselves.
    12. In Adlerian psychology, clear objectives are laid out for human behavior and psychology.  YOUTH: What sort of objectives? PHILOSOPHER: First, there are two objectives for  behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. Then, the two objectives  for the psychology that supports these behaviors are the consciousness that I have the  ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades.
    13. Work that can be completed without the cooperation of other people is in principle  unfeasible.
    14. There’s no value at all in the number of friends or acquaintances you have. And this is a  subject that connects with the task of love, but what we should be thinking about is the  distance and depth of the relationship.
    15. If you change, those around you will change too. They will have no choice but to change.
    16. You are not living to satisfy other people’s expectations, and neither am I. It is not  necessary to satisfy other people’s expectations. When one seeks recognition from others, and concerns oneself only with how one is  judged by others, in the end, one is living other people’s lives.
    17. One does not intrude on other people’s tasks. That’s all. In general, all interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other  people’s tasks, or having one’s own tasks intruded on. Carrying out the separation of  tasks is enough to change one’s interpersonal relationships dramatically. There is a simple way to tell whose task it is. Think, Who ultimately is going to receive  the result brought about by the choice that is made?
    18. You are the only one who can change yourself.
    19. One can build them. The separation of tasks is not the objective for interpersonal  relationships. Rather, it is the gateway. YOUTH: The gateway? PHILOSOPHER: For  instance, when reading a book, if one brings one’s face too close to it, one cannot see  anything. In the same way, forming good interpersonal relationships requires a certain  degree of distance. When the distance gets too small and people become stuck together, it  becomes impossible to even speak to each other. But the distance must not be too great,  either. Parents who scold their children too much become mentally very distant.
    20. As I have stated repeatedly, in Adlerian psychology, we think that all problems are  interpersonal relationship problems. In other words, we seek release from interpersonal  relationships. We seek to be free from interpersonal relationships. However, it is  absolutely impossible to live all alone in the universe. In light of what we have discussed  until now, the conclusion we reach regarding “What is freedom?” should be clear.  YOUTH: What is it? PHILOSOPHER: In short, that “freedom is being disliked by other  people.” It’s that you are disliked by someone. It is proof that you are exercising your freedom and  living in freedom, and a sign that you are living in accordance with your own principles.  YOUTH: But, but . . . PHILOSOPHER: It is certainly distressful to be disliked. If  possible, one would like to live without being disliked by anyone. One wants to satisfy  one’s desire for recognition. But conducting oneself in such a way as to not be disliked by  anyone is an extremely unfree way of living, and is also impossible. There is a cost  incurred when one wants to exercise one’s freedom. And the cost of freedom in  interpersonal relationships is that one is disliked by other people. The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained  that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of  lightness.
  6. Community, Praise/Punishment/Encouragement
    1. If other people are our comrades, and we live surrounded by them, we should be able to  find in that life our own place of “refuge.” Moreover, in doing so, we should begin to  have the desire to share with our comrades, to contribute to the community. This sense of  others as comrades, this awareness of “having one’s own refuge,” is called “community  feeling.” When Adler refers to community, he goes beyond the household, school, workplace, and  local society, and treats it as all-inclusive, covering not only nations and all of humanity  but also the entire axis of time from the past to the future—and he includes plants and  animals and even inanimate objects.
    2. It is necessary to make the switch from “attachment to self” to “concern for others.”
    3. People who hold the belief that they are the center of the world always end up losing their  comrades before long.
    4. Physical punishment is out of the question, of course, and rebuking is not accepted,  either. One must not praise, and one must not rebuke. That is the standpoint of Adlerian  psychology. In other words, the mother who praises the child by saying things like “You’re such a  good helper!” or “Good job!” or “Well, aren’t you something!” is unconsciously creating  a hierarchical relationship and seeing the child as beneath her. You must simply encourage
    5. As you may recall from our discussion on the separation of tasks, I brought up the subject  of intervention. This is the act of intruding on other people’s tasks. So why does a person  intervene? Here, too, in the background, vertical relationships are at play. It is precisely  because one perceives interpersonal relations as vertical, and sees the other party as  beneath one, that one intervenes. Through intervention, one tries to lead the other party in  the desired direction. One has convinced oneself that one is right and that the other party  is wrong. Of course, the intervention here is manipulation, pure and simple. Parents  commanding a child to study is a typical example of this. They might be acting out of the  best of intentions from their points of view, but when it comes down to it, the parents are  intruding and attempting to manipulate the child to go in their desired direction. YOUTH:  If one can build horizontal relationships, will that intervention disappear?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it will. Concretely speaking, instead of commanding from above that the child must study, one  acts on him in such a way that he can gain the confidence to take care of his own studies  and face his tasks on his own.
    6. Being praised is what leads people to form the belief that they have no ability. YOUTH:  What did you say? PHILOSOPHER: Shall I repeat myself? The more one is praised by  another person, the more one forms the belief that one has no ability. Please do your best  to remember this. You convey words of gratitude, saying thank you to this partner who has helped you with  your work. You might express straightforward delight: “I’m glad.” Or you could convey  your thanks by saying, “That was a big help.” This is an approach to encouragement that  is based on horizontal relationships. YOUTH: That’s all? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. The most  important thing is to not judge other people. “Judgment” is a word that comes out of  vertical relationships. If one is building horizontal relationships, there will be words of  more straightforward gratitude and respect and joy. YOUTH:
    7. This is a point that will connect to our subsequent discussion as well—in Adlerian  psychology, a great deal of emphasis is given to “contribution.” YOUTH: Why is that?  PHILOSOPHER: Well, what does a person have to do to get courage? In Adler’s view,  “It is only when a person is able to feel that he has worth that he can possess courage.”
    8. So the issue that arises at this point is how on earth can one become able to feel one has  worth? YOUTH: Yes, that’s it exactly! I need you to explain that very clearly, please.  PHILOSOPHER: It’s quite simple. It is when one is able to feel “I am beneficial to the  community” that one can have a true sense of one’s worth. This is the answer that would  be offered in Adlerian psychology.
    9. I should start? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. Without regard to whether other people are  cooperative or not.
    10. This is a very important point. Does one build vertical relationships, or does one build  horizontal relationships? This is an issue of lifestyle, and human beings are not so clever  as to be able to have different lifestyles available whenever the need arises. In other  words, deciding that one is “equal to this person” or “in a hierarchical relationship with  that person” does not work. YOUTH: Do you mean that one has to choose one or the  other—vertical relationships or horizontal relationships? PHILOSOPHER: Absolutely,  yes.
  7. Excessive Self-Consciousness Stifles the Self
    1. There is no need to go out of one’s way to be positive and affirm oneself. It’s not self-affirmation that we are concerned with, but self-acceptance. YOUTH: Not self-affirmation, but self-acceptance? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. There is a clear  difference. Self-affirmation is making suggestions to oneself, such as “I can do it” or “I  am strong,” even when something is simply beyond one’s ability. It is a notion that can  bring about a superiority complex, and may even be termed a way of living in which one  lies to oneself. With self-acceptance, on the other hand, if one cannot do something, one  is simply accepting “one’s incapable self” as is and moving forward so that one can do  whatever one can. It is not a way of lying to oneself.
    2. This is also the case with the separation of tasks—one ascertains the things one can  change and the things one cannot change. One cannot change what one is born with. But  one can, under one’s own power, go about changing what use one makes of that  equipment. So in that case, one simply has to focus on what one can change, rather than  on what one cannot. This is what I call self-acceptance.
    3. The basis of interpersonal relations is founded not on trust but on confidence. YOUTH:  And “confidence” in this case is . . . ? PHILOSOPHER: It is doing without any set  conditions whatsoever when believing in others. Even if one does not have sufficient  objective grounds for trusting someone, one believes. One believes unconditionally  without concerning oneself with such things as security. That is confidence.
    4. Well, I see what you’re getting at—the main objective, which is to build deep  relationships. But still, being taken advantage of is scary, and that’s the reality, isn’t it?  PHILOSOPHER: If it is a shallow relationship, when it falls apart the pain will be slight.  And the joy that relationship brings each day will also be slight. It is precisely because  one can gain the courage to enter into deeper relationships by having confidence in others  that the joy of one’s interpersonal relations can grow, and one’s joy in life can grow, too.
    5. To take it a step farther, one may say that people who think of others as enemies have not  attained self-acceptance and do not have enough confidence in others.
    6. Contribution to others does not connote self-sacrifice. Adler goes so far as to warn that  those who sacrifice their own lives for others are people who have conformed to society  too much. And please do not forget: We are truly aware of our own worth only when we  feel that our existence and behavior are beneficial to the community, that is to say, when  one feels “I am of use to someone.” Do you remember this? In other words, contribution  to others, rather than being about getting rid of the “I” and being of service to someone, is  actually something one does in order to be truly aware of the worth of the “I.” YOUTH:  Contributing to others is for oneself? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. There is no need to sacrifice  the self.
    7. Acceptance: accepting one’s irreplaceable “this me” just as it is. Confidence in others: to  place unconditional confidence at the base of one’s interpersonal relations rather than  seeding doubt.
    8. For the sake of convenience, up to this point I have discussed self-acceptance, confidence  in others, and contribution to others, in that order. However, these three are linked as an  indispensable whole, in a sort of circular structure. It is because one accepts oneself just  as one is—one self-accepts—that one can have “confidence in others” without the fear of  being taken advantage of. And it is because one can place unconditional confidence in  others, and feel that people are one’s comrades, that one can engage in “contribution to  others.” Further, it is because one contributes to others that one can have the deep  awareness that “I am of use to someone” and accept oneself just as one is. One can self-accept.
    9. They probably try to justify that by saying, “It’s busy at work, so I don’t have enough  time to think about my family.” But this is a life-lie. They are simply trying to avoid their  other responsibilities by using work as an excuse. One ought to concern oneself with  everything, from household chores and child-rearing to one’s friendships and hobbies and  so on. Adler does not recognize ways of living in which certain aspects are unusually  dominant.
    10. On such occasions, those who can accept themselves only on the level of acts are  severely damaged. YOUTH: You mean those people whose lifestyle is all about work?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes. People whose lives lack harmony. 
    11. Does one accept oneself on the level of acts, or on the level of being? This is truly a  question that relates to the courage to be happy.
    12. For a human being, the greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself. Adler came  up with an extremely simple answer to address this reality. Namely, that the feeling of “I  am beneficial to the community” or “I am of use to someone” is the only thing that can  give one a true awareness that one has worth.
  8. Happiness is the feeling of contribution.
    1. If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for  recognition from others. Because one will already have the real awareness that “I am of  use to someone,” without needing to go out of one’s way to be acknowledged by others.  In other words, a person who is obsessed with the desire for recognition does not have  any community feeling yet, and has not managed to engage in self-acceptance,  confidence in others, or contribution to others.
    2. What Adlerian psychology emphasizes at this juncture are the words “the courage to be  normal.” YOUTH: The courage to be normal? PHILOSOPHER: Why is it necessary to be  special? Probably because one cannot accept one’s normal self. And it is precisely for this  reason that when being especially good becomes a lost cause, one makes the huge leap to  being especially bad—the opposite extreme. But is being normal, being ordinary, really  such a bad thing? Is it something inferior? Or, in truth, isn’t everybody normal? It is  necessary to think this through to its logical conclusion.
    3. This conception, which treats life as a kind of story, is an idea that links with Freudian  etiology (the attributing of causes), and is a way of thinking that makes the greater part of  life into something that is “en route.” YOUTH: Well, what is your image of life?  PHILOSOPHER: Do not treat it as a line. Think of life as a series of dots. If you look  through a magnifying glass at a solid line drawn with chalk, you will discover that what  you thought was a line is actually a series of small dots. Seemingly linear existence is  actually a series of dots; in other words, life is a series of moments.
    4. If life were a line, then life planning would be possible. But our lives are only a series of  dots. A well-planned life is not something to be treated as necessary or unnecessary, as it  is impossible.
    5. You should be on a journey the moment you step outside your home, and all the moments  on the way to your destination should be a journey. Of course, there might be  circumstances that prevent you from making it to the pyramid, but that does not mean  you didn’t go on a journey. This is “energeial life.”
    6. The greatest life-lie of all is to not live here and now. It is to look at the past and the  future, cast a dim light on one’s entire life, and believe that one has been able to see  something.
    7. And Adler, having stated that “life in general has no meaning,” then continues,  “Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual.”
    8. No matter what moments you are living, or if there are people who dislike you, as long as  you do not lose sight of the guiding star of “I contribute to others,” you will not lose your  way, and you can do whatever you like. Whether you’re disliked or not, you pay it no  mind and live free.
    9. Philosophy refers not to “wisdom” itself but to “love of wisdom,” and it is the very  process of learning what one does not know and arriving at wisdom that is important.  Whether or not one attains wisdom in the end is not an issue.

What I got out of it

  1. I think the narrative format is really helpful to make some concepts very concrete and memorable – all problems are interpersonal problems; you can be happy today; you are the only one who can change you; happiness is contribution; past doesn’t matter; trauma isn’t real – we are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give to them; separation of tasks; courage comes from the confidence that you can contribute, that you are worthy; only encouragement and not praise

Chip Conley On Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile

Chip Conley, founder of boutique hotel chain Joie de Vivre and now central to AirBnb, discusses how be should really be measuring success

On a Life Well Spent by Cicero

Summary

  1. Cicero gives us some wisdom about how to age gracefully and live a life worth living so that when we’re older, we can look back and take joy in what we’ve done

Key Takeaways

  1. The best armor of old age is a well spent life preceding it; a life employed in the pursuit of useful knowledge, in honorable actions and the practice of virtue; in which he who labors to improve himself from his youth, will in age reap the happiest fruits of them; not only because these never leave a man, not even in the extremest of old age, but because a conscience bearing witness that our life was well spent, together with the remembrance of past good actions, yields an unspeakable comfort to the soul
  2. I have known several who have lived to be very old, without complaining at all; for they appeared not only easy, but pleased at their being delivered from the tyranny of their former youthful passions
  3. A calm contemplative life, or a life well and virtuously spent in the just discharge of one’s immediate duty in any station, will ever be attended with a serenity of mind
  4. How do the lawyers, the pontiffs, the augurs, and the philosophers, who live to a great age? Men will retain their understanding and abilities, while they continue their application and diligence
  5. And I must ever think, that all those who spend their time in improving others in knowledge, and teaching the nobler arts, when their natural strength of body fails them, are entitled to our highest regard and esteem
  6. We must prepare ourselves, my friends, against old age; and as it is advancing, endeavor by our diligence to mitigate and correct the natural infirmities that attend it: we must use proper preservatives, as we do against diseases; great care must, in the first place, be taken of our health; all bodily exercise must be moderate, and especially our diet; which out to be of such a kind, and in such proportion, as may refresh and strengthen nature, without oppressing it. Nor must our care be confined to our bodies only; for the mind requires much more, which without it will not only decay, but our understanding will as certainly die away in old age, as a lamp not duly supplied with oil. The body, we know, when overlabored, becomes heavy, and, as it were, jaded; but ’tis exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor
  7. I read much Greek and, agreeable to the Pythagorean Precept, the better to exercise my memory, I recollect at night what I have heard, said, or done in the day
  8. ‘Tis owned, that the most noble and excellent gift of heaven to man, is his reason: and ’tis as sure, that of all the enemies of reason has to engage with, pleasure is the most capital, and the most pernicious
  9. But I am now come to speak of the pleasure of a country life, with which I am infinitely delighted. To these, old age is never an obstruction. It is the life of nature, and appears to me the exactest plan of that which a wise man ought to lead. Here our whole business is with the earth, the common parent of us all, which is never found refractory, never denies what is required of it, nor fails to return back what is committed to it with advantage, sometimes indeed with less, but generally with a very large interest
  10. Yet in all I have said, I desired to be understood to mean the old age of such persons only, as have in their youth laid solid foundations for esteem in advancing years; for on no other terms ought we to expect it. And hence it was, that what I once said in a public speech, met with so general an applause, when I observed, that miserable was that man’s old age who needed the help of oratory to defend him. Grey hairs and wrinkles avail nothing to confer the authority I am here speaking of: it must be the result of a series of good actions, and nothing but a life honorably and virtuously led, thro’ all the advancing steps of it, can crown old age with this blessed harvest of its past labors
  11. We ought all to be content with the time and portion assigned to us. No man expects of any one actor on the theater that he should perform all the parts of the piece himself: one role only is committed to him, and whatever that be, if he acts it well, he is applauded. In the same manner, it is not the part of a wise man, to desire to be busy in these scenes to the last plaudit. A short term may be long enough to live it well and honorably; and if you hold it longer, when past the first stages, you ought no more to grieve that they are over, than the husbandman repines that the spring is past, and the summer heats come on; or after these, the more sickly autumn
  12. The best fruits of old age are the recollecting and feeding of the remembrance of that train and store of good and virtuous deeds, of which, in the course of life, we laid in a kind of provision
  13. Thus old people, for the little remainder of life that is left them, should stand loose and indifferent, neither anxious to have it prolonged, nor precipitantly or without just cause to shorten it; remembering the precept of Pythagoras, that no man should quit his post, but at the command of his general, that is, God himself. And in regard to those we are to leave behind us, tho’ some have commended Solon for saying – he wish’d not to die unadorned and unlamented by his friends; in which his sense doubtless was, that he desired while he lived to be loved and valued by them; yet I know not but that of Ennius is altogether as just, let none with tears or sighs my funeral grace: For his meaning was, that death crown’d with immortality, ought by no means to be lamented
  14. While we are closed in these mortal frames, our bodies, we are bound down to a law of necessity. But our minds are of a heavenly original, descended from the blissful seats above.
  15. When the mind is wholly freed from all corporeal mixture, and begins to be purified, and recover itself again; then, and then only, it becomes truly knowing and wise
  16. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others

What I got out of it

  1. Live a life that when you’re on your deathbed looking back, you’re proud of. You have to do this proactively or else it’ll be too late. Be interested rather than interesting (as John Gardner would say), learn, meet new people, do things which excite you and add meaning to the world

The Three Questions: How to Discover and Master the Power Within You by Don Miguel Ruiz

Summary
  1. “At each stage in our lives, we must ask these simple yet deeply profound questions. Finding the answers will open the door to the next stage in our development, and eventually lead us to our complete, truest selves”
Key Takeaways
  1. Who am I? You will know who you are by what you are not
  2. What is real? You will know what is real by what is not real
  3. What is love? You will know love when you know what love is not
  4. Everyone feels good around someone who has genuine love for themselves. We can never give what we do not have so it makes sense that it would be hard to truly love others if we don’t move ourselves. Be aware of your self talk and be affectionate and compassionate to yourself. Unconditional love of yourself is paradise.
  5. You can love without worrying about getting anything in return. You’ll find that you come to love naturally. When you don’t have to defend your opinions, you’re free to be authentic and open, surrendering to life
  6. Love has no conditions
  7. When there is nothing left to defend, truth is all that’s left
  8. The solution to all conflict is respect
  9. One of the biggest barriers to love is fear. We must be extremely aware of irrational fears, things which aren’t real, things which we’ve made up. We must face the fear and increase clarity, bringing calm and self awareness.
  10. Fear, left unchallenged, controls our actions. We are often most afraid of our reactions and enjoy being the victim. Awareness is our gift and salvation
  11. Searching for answers brings unexpected revelations. Curiosity opens unseen doors. We allow ourselves to receive the information of life. When we can’t master our own attention, we miss a lot. Too much focus on one thing means we miss so much around us
  12. Humanity’s greatest art is to dream consciously
  13. When you give up having to know or be right, you become so much lighter
  14. People trust authenticity more than almost anything
What I got out of it
  1. Be authentic, self-aware, and give as much of yourself to others as you can

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Summary
  1. Robert Greene draws on a multitude of different resources to highlight the laws of human nature. The examples are timeless, universal, and profound. By acknowledging these human universals, to what extent they impact you, and how they are prevalent in others, you will become more aware and better able to mitigate and control them in yourself and others. “Human nature is deeply ingrained within our genes, within our brain’s structure, and has evolved over millions of years. It is partly responsible for how we make decisions, how we manage our emotions, and it controls, unknown to us, the vast majority of what we do and think. Human nature has helped us survive and determines much of our emotions and how we think and behave.  Understanding how we are wired will help us better deal with others and better see through when they’re trying to manipulate us, take advantage of us, charm us, or otherwise. We developed extreme sensitivity so that we could better read and judge others and to this day, although we don’t realize it, we are finely tuned to register how others react, to their voice, their body language, and more. This book is an attempt to draw together the vast store house of knowledge from many different fields to describe and give examples of some laws of human nature. They are laws in the sense that people tend to react quite consistently in similar situations. Becoming aware of these laws will make you a calmer and better observer of human nature, more able to notice and decipher the subtle cues everyone emits, and become a greater judge of character.”
Key Takeaways
  1. It is important to realize that these laws of human nature impact, affect, and influence you as much as other people and by truly understanding them, they will help build your empathy, allowing you to simply see other points of view better and more clearly, giving you the opportunity to focus on what’s important – helping others and having having an impact. You will be able to train yourself to be present, to let go of preconceived notions, and to continually adapt your understanding of the people around you. This understanding will help you become more empathetic and more effective in everything that you do
  2. The Law of Irrationality – Master Your Emotional Self
    1. Realize that people often act the opposite of how they feel – someone loud and obnoxious is often insecure
    2. Emotions taint our thinking and behaviors, not allowing us to see and act in accordance with reality, leading to bad decisions, pain, and stress. By admitting and embracing this rationality we can slowly tame our emotions, become more rational, thereby making us more effective and insightful as we can align with reality, to see things as they really are and not as we wish they were
    3. The first step to tame your rationality is to admit that you are irrational. As you become more introspective, the calm inner voice will grow more confident and louder, allowing you to see things more clearly and accurately. You first recognize the biases in yourself and work towards giving yourself the space and time to think and act how you want, and not simply react emotionally
    4. The goal of rationality is not to eliminate emotion, but to channel it in order to become aware of why you are feeling what you are feeling – to take advantage of it and use it to further what you want to do
    5. You can become more rational by becoming more aware of low grade irrationality or what happens in the subconscious, and high-grade rationality (what happens in your conscious). Over time, you will be able to train your emotions so that you become be less reactive over time. You improve your rationality by first knowing yourself thoroughly – knowing your strengths and weaknesses, how you react under pressure, and when you’re flattered. Next, you must improve your reaction time giving yourself space to think and not just react instinctively. Then you must accept people as facts and not try to change them but just accept who they are, understand them, and how you have to deal with them
    6. We must learn from our mistakes. The point of memory is to not repeat mistakes but so few people take the time and energy to really dive into what caused him to err.  We have to become aware in the moment of things that make us react and dive into why we feel that way – is it a childhood trauma, something our parents told us, or why do we just react emotionally?
    7. People‘s true character and ability shine through under stress. You have to find time, space, and quiet in order to be able to think and gain perspective. Don’t think you are above stress and that it doesn’t impact you – it does!
    8. Be weary of groups as it doesn’t stimulate rationality and independent thought but rather the much deeper and more ingrained part of us that wishes to belong – leading to herd behavior
    9. Don’t think that we are in a steady path towards rationality as a species. The pendulum swings back and forth between rationality and irrationality. It is part of the cycle of human nature. Irrationality won’t always look the same but it will always come back. Improving rationality is something to be done at an individual level and not at a species level
  3. The Law of Narcissism – Transform Self-Love into Empathy
    1. We must be honest with ourselves and grow and come to love a cohesive self or risk falling into narcissism
    2. Turning your attention outwards to others rather than inwards like most people do will help you grow your empathy muscle and give others the attention they so gravely seek
    3. Shackleton in the toughest of times drew out very specific daily tasks to give everyone meaning and focus. In addition, he understood each man so well that he knew what to talk to them about, when, and how to keep them happy, their morale high and content. This empathy was literally life and death as it is for us, although it’s not as clear
  4. The Law of Role-Playing – See Through People’s Masks
    1. People hide their true feelings and intentions so you must become an expert reader in other people and at the same time learn how to play your role as convincingly and consistently as possible
    2. Milton Erickson was diagnosed with polio at a young age and to occupy his mind he observed others extremely closely and through this knowledge and pattern recognition came to see an incredible world of nonverbal cues, motions, gestures, the importance of tone of voice, and everything beyond what is simply said. Observe, observe, observe. People tell you so much with their walk, tone of voice, how they sit, their micro expressions, and more.
    3. Negative emotions leak out through body language and they must be observed and weighed more than whatever mask people put on
    4. Be authentic, humble, open minded and generous – “saintly” and above reproach
  5. The Law of Compulsive Behavior – Determine the Strength of People’s Character
    1. Gravitate to those who display strength. One best reads people’s character in stressful and difficult times
    2. Character comes from the Greek word meaning “stamped upon”. Our character is ingrained in us and is composed of our genetics, our earliest relationships and quality of attachments, and from habits and experiences. We can learn to compensate any harmful traits but for the most part they’re hard to rid
    3. People are quite bad at judging character but the most reliable way to assess someone is through their actions (people never do anything just once, actions are truer and can’t be rationalized by words), how people handle small and simple affairs, how people handle power and responsibility. Try to only work with people of strong character for those with weak character will negate all their other good qualities and will cause more headache than you want. People who are strong of character are as rare as gold and you should hold onto them is if you found treasure
    4. It is impossible to change one’s or others’ character but you can mitigate them by going deep within yourself, admitting your flaws and weaknesses, and doing all you can to strengthen them up and act in such away to emphasize your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. The goal is not to become someone else but to be thoroughly and authentically the best version of yourself
  6. The Law of Covetousness – Become an Elusive Object of Desire
    1. Realize that most people, no matter how often it is said, don’t really want truth and facts, they want their imagination lifted and their ego boosted
    2. Realize that the grass is rarely greener on the other side
    3. Learn when and how to remove yourself. You also want to be a little cold and ambiguous so people can’t get a great feel for you
    4. It is not possession but desire that drives people. By becoming a scarce commodity and playing on other’s covetousness, you can become highly desirable
    5. In the end, what you must covet is a closer relationship to reality, bringing calmness, knowledge about yourself, an understanding of what you can change and what you can’t, and being OK with both
  7. The Law of Shortsightedness – Elevate Your Perspective
    1. Learn to judge people by the breadth or narrowness of their vision and seek to surround yourself with those who can understand the consequences of their actions and have a bold vision
    2. With an elevated perspective, you will have the patience and clarity to achieve almost any goal
    3. When people’s horizon shrink to days or weeks, they lose the ability to see the consequences of their actions and they become manic
    4. 4 signs of shortsightedness:
      1. Unintended consequences (have at least one person focus solely on consequences)
      2. Tactical hell happens when you can’t back out of everyday battles to get detachment, perspective and the long-term view (strategists will always beat tacticians)
      3. Ticker tape syndrome (need to know instantly drives short-termism, avoid the noise as much as possible)
      4. Lost in trivia (know what’s most important and spend most of your time on that)
  8. The Law of Defensiveness – Soften People’s Resistance by Confirming Their Self-Opinion
    1. Learn to tame your stubbornly held positions and come to see other’s points of views and beliefs. This will open them up, making them more open to your suggestions
    2. It’s hard to ignore a man who makes you feel good. When you have valuable information and can get things done on top of it, you’re a force
    3. LBJ knew he had to rein in his more aggressive and bullying qualities in order to win over key allies and learn from them. Having one key ally near the top of the mountain can make a lot of things happen. He never asked for favors but did others favors, if his allies had any interests he would cultivate an interest in that too, he was always willing to help and work hard, knew what others wanted and needed and figured out how to make himself the gate between those things, he made it in other’s interest to hand over power to him
    4. Influence over people is often gained in the opposite way than we imagine. Put the focus on others and make them the stars of the show. Always step back and assume a subtle inferior position. Then do some small favors for them and they’ll begin helping you, expanding your influence. Bring out the cleverness of others and make them feel good when they leave you
    5. People have a self opinion and it doesn’t matter if it’s accurate. 3 universal traits: I’m autonomous, intelligent, good and decent. These affect everyone’s self opinion and playing into these and validate them make them feel good. Avoid confronting people’s self opinion.
    6. 5 strategies of master persuaders
      1. Be a deep listener and be aware of subtle nonverbal cues
      2. Infect people with the proper mood (acceptance of others unconditionally, calm, enthusiastic)
      3. Confirm their self opinion (people choose to help you)
      4. Know what people are insecure about and compliment that
      5. Use people’s resistance and stubbornness against them (channel their aggressive energy in order to make them fall on their own – use their emotions, their language, their rigidity)
    7. Praise people for their effort and not their talent
  9. The Law of Self-Sabotage – Change Your Circumstances by Changing Your Attitude
    1. Our attitudes are self fulfilling and paint everything we see, experience, learn and do
    2. See yourself as an explorer – always curious, open to new things, having weakly held convictions, you are always trying new things and want to learn
    3. See adversity as opportunities to improve and to get better, not something to be avoided. Understand that you can’t change people – embrace and enjoy who those people are and make the most of it. When you do this people, come to love you, accept you, and see you as a leader
  10. The Law of Repression – Confront Your Dark Side
    1. Embrace your dark side and integrate it into your personality. You’ll become a more complete and authentic person and radiate that to others – attracting them into your circle and influence
    2. Depression and anxiety comes from not being aware of your dark side and not letting it shine through in a positive way. By denying that side and repressing it, it only becomes stronger and comes out stronger in ways that you will come to regret
    3. Most hatred stems from envy and is a way for the subconscious to release some energy
    4. Steps to bring about and integrate the shadow:
      1. Become self aware and see the shadow (others can often see your shadow better than you can so ask them for their opinion)
      2. Embrace your shadow
      3. Show the shadow
  11. The Law of Envy – Beware the Fragile Ego
    1. You must become a master decoder of envy and those who are predisposed to being envious.
    2. People are status-seeking animals and constantly monitor their relative position in the hierarchy. People must have an adequate position to be comfortable and happy
    3. Always emphasize the role of luck in your life. Enhance your flaws in order to make yourself more relatable and to mitigate envy. As you gain power, keep humbling yourself and asking for the opinion of those below you
    4. Be wary of mass – spread the love, the relationships, and the wealth and you’ll have people pushing for you to rise rather than trying to put you down
  12. The Law of Grandiosity – Know Your Limits
    1. You must be aware of your tendencies towards grandiosity and how important that is for you. If you feel the temptation, you must mitigate this by realizing your weaknesses and how big a role luck has played, becoming more realistic and grounded
    2. Be aware of your grandiosity needs, concentrate that energy on a particular task or goal, create a dialog with reality and be open to the flaws in your plan, find appropriate challenges which test you but aren’t too much, occasionally let yourself take on huge challenges
  13. The Law of Gender Rigidity – Reconnect to the Masculine or Feminine Within You
    1. By blending in the opposite side, what you’re most lacking, you’ll become more complete, fluid, whole, and authentic, drawing other people to you as you merge the different sides of your personality.
      1. This is a far more effective tactic than trying to become a purer version of what you already have
  14. The Law of Aimlessness – Advance with a Sense of Purpose
    1. We must be open to our internal, primal traits that make us unique. They not only help set us apart and get us on a path towards mastery but also helps the community at large as it fosters diversity and helps spur creativity and innovation in others
    2. Operating with a high sense of purpose which aligns with who you are and what you want is the force multiplier – allowing you to achieve more and have a more meaningful and impactful life. Discover this sense of purpose and find as many ways to connect with it as possible – this will draw others towards you and open up opportunities that you would have thought impossible
    3. Discover your calling by going back to your roots, your childhood, the primal inclinations which set you on fire – the things which you got very enthusiastic about and couldn’t stop thinking about. Things which are so fun or easy for you are good signs.
    4. Surround yourself with as many people as possible with the deep and true sense of purpose. They will help teach you, guide you, energize you, and motivate you
    5. Have a long term goal but also build in small, shorter term goals which build up to the ultimate goal. This will keep you moving in the right direction and mitigate anxiety
    6. You must get into deep flow as often as possible in order to progress quickly and in the right direction. It takes a lot of work and is difficult as it takes sacrifice and dedication but is the only way to get there
  15. The Law of Conformity – Resist the Downward Pull of the Group
    1. Develop self awareness and the changes that occur to yourself and others when in a group. One of the greatest threats to our survival thousands of years ago was being ostracized so today fitting in and being accepted in the group is one of our greatest concerns. We fit in by accepting the norm and imitating and following the group. The danger is that we stop thinking for ourselves and simply imitate the group and lose what makes us unique and gives us power
    2. All people have evolved to see hierarchies and this gets exaggerated in groups. We lose our rationality and go with the herd, often leading to dangerous or poor outcomes
    3. You must be aware of the effect that groups have on people as individuals and the broader group dynamics – hierarchies can lead to cliques, factions, and power mongering
    4. In any group you have to understand the culture and the fact that an older company and a bigger group will likely control you rather than you control it. You also have to understand the group dynamic and the hierarchy – who is moving up and down relatively
    5. You can make factions and cliques less attractive by creating a positive, unifying, and uplifting culture that people can go all in on
    6. You must understand and be really realistic with yourself and how big of an influence the group has on you. You’re not as much of an individual thinker as you think you are. You must be able to detach yourself from the group and be a realist – this is more important today than ever
    7. Bad culture drags everyone down. You can’t focus I’m trying to improve individuals – you have to fix the dynamic. Improving the culture this will lift everyone up. When the group can face reality head on and kick-ass, that is when you have a great culture. Instill a collective sense of purpose (no matter what field, quality and excellence are key factors – money and success are byproducts). This higher purpose is rare to come by so people will go all-in and police themselves when they find it. Assemble the right team of lieutenants (avoid the petty details which cause confusion, competence and character are vital, know their roles and make sure they have complimentary skills, you must treat people equally, get rid of those who don’t fit the mold, and lead from the front), let information and ideas flow freely (frank and diversified information, open communication, transparency on how decisions were made), infect the group with productive emotions (lack of fear, courage, calm, openness to new ideas), forge a battle-tested group (group who rises in tough times and doesn’t wilt)
    8. A group willing to face reality with a great culture help rise people up, it is one of people’s most memorable experiences to be part of a group like this. It is our duty as enlightened humans to create as many such groups as possible, making society healthier in the process
  16. The Law of Fickleness – Make Them Want to Follow You (an amazing chapter on leadership)
    1. People are always ambivalent about powers and leaders. Authority is the delicate art of wielding power while making people feel like you are working for them
    2. As the leader you have to embody and practice all the traits that you would want in a leader. You must work hard, lead from the front, be fair, be consistent, courageous, wise, and calm and difficult situations
    3. As a leader be very aware of how fickle people are and how history is riddled with examples of great leaders who start showing some signs of weakness, arrogance, or whatever else which leads their people to turn on them and sometimes put them to death or ostracize them
    4. The fundamental role of the leader is to provide a far reaching vision to unite the group. We must avoid seeming petty  and our focus needs to be on others, on the culture, and the vision.
    5. Toughness and empathy are the twins pillars of leadership. They are not mutually exclusive but inextricably bound. You must have both or people will begin to lose faith in you as a leader
    6. You must be a consummate observer of people and these traits of leadership and hierarchy, coming to embody and practice them consistently in all situations
    7. Most people run away from the dangers and responsibilities of leadership but you must embrace it. This skill is increasingly rare in today’s world so the more you can run towards it, the more you’ll stand out. The essence of leadership is that when people willingly follow, you will not need force, rah rah speeches or to punish people. Your leadership style most authentically arise out of your personality and character you can be authentic, a founder, the deliverer, a visionary artist, healer, pragmatist, etc – but it must be natural for you
    8. Turn your focus outwards so that you’re always looking to help others and then you work to earn people’s respect – never assuming it will be given to you. What drives you is bringing the greatest meaning and utility to the largest group – never on your ego or selfish desires.
    9. Having a vision allows you to work backwards from the future to the present and determine the steps that you need to take in order to get there.
    10. You have to lead from the front and show early that you’re tough. Have high standards for your own work and  if there are sacrifices to be made, you have to be the first to make them, and they can’t simply be symbolic. If you take things away, make it known that it is only temporary. Be in a position where you can be generous
    11. Never overpromise
    12. Finally, we like to focus on the psychological health of individuals, and how perhaps a therapist could fix any problems they might have. What we don’t consider, however, is that being in a dysfunctional group can actually make individuals unstable and neurotic. The opposite is true as well: by participating in a high-functioning reality group, we can make ourselves healthy and whole. Such experiences are memorable and life-changing. We learn the value of cooperating on a higher level, of seeing our fate as intertwined with those around us. We develop greater empathy. We gain confidence in our own abilities, which such a group rewards. We feel connected to reality. We are brought into the upward pull of the group, realizing our social nature on the high level it was intended for. It is our duty as enlightened humans to create as many such groups as possible, making society healthier in the process.
  17. The Law of Aggression – See the Hostility Behind the Friendly Facade
    1. John D Rockefeller is the role model and story for this. He would use his will to outdo, outthink and outwork his opponents. Hostility is within every human and don’t be fooled to think anyone is too nice. Rid yourself of the denial that this doesn’t exist in people.
  18. The Law of Generational Myopia – Seize the Historical Moment
    1. Transitions can be seen over decades and seem to be universal across time and indicate that they are bigger than any one generation. It is part of human nature the pendulum swings in the trends follow
    2. We must develop generational awareness understanding how our own generation impact our thinking in view of the world and have generations overall impact people across time
    3. You must understand and honor how much the time period and generation you were born into affects you. For example, millennials care more about teamwork than individualism, and security rather than risk because of the financial crisis. If you can define the zeitgeist for each generation, you will better understand the people within it and how to work and get along with them. Taking different perspectives will help your creativity and calm you. Once you have a sense for the zeitgeist, look back in history and find a parallel. Associate yourself with heroes of the past
    4. Always work with the spirit and don’t critique or try to change it. Always evolve and adapt, don’t become a caricature of the past. Modernize your spirit, adopting your experience and perspective with some of the traits of the younger you agree with
    5. You must develop deep relationships with people from various generations
  19. The Law of Death Denial – Meditate on our Common Mortality
    1. Realize that life is short, that most people are terrified of death and have not confronted that within themselves.
    2. If you live everyday, there is more than enough time
What I got out of it
  1. Deep self-awareness is the cornerstone. Once you can face reality and admit your flaws and weaknesses, you can address them and mitigate them. As much as you can, put others before yourself, put your energy and attention on them rather than yourself

A Treatise on Efficacy

This book is about the diverging patterns of efficacy between Western and Chinese thinking. The Western model of efficacy, inherited from the ancient Greeks’ conception of action, seeks to attain directly a predetermined goal through voluntary and assertive action. The Chinese tend to evaluate the power inherent in a situation (shi) and transform it through non-assertiveness, relying on the “propensity” of things in such a way that the result takes place of itself. The Chinese strategist manipulates his own troops and the enemy to win a battle without waging war and to bring about victory effortlessly. Efficacity in China is thus conceived of in terms of transformation (as opposed to action) and manipulation. To summarize the difference between Western and Chinese thought: one constructs a model that is then projected onto the situation, which implies that the situation is momentarily “frozen”. The other relies on the situation as on a disposition that is known to be constantly evolving. It is a disposition that functions as a device.

One of my all-time favorites. It ties together so many recent themes for me – Werner’s effortless mastery, strategy, philosophy, psychology, and more.

John H. Patterson: Pioneer in Industrial Welfare by John H. Patterson, Samuel Crowther

I got so much out of this book that I wanted to create a more formal write-up. As always, I have attempted to put together something which is (hopefully) a manageable, actionable and digestible introduction to Patterson’s thinking and business philosophy.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

Summary

  1. 12 rules for how to balance chaos and order, how to live a meaningful life that benefits self and others. If we each live properly, we will collectively flourish

Key Takeaways

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
    1. Most animals and every human is part of a dominance hierarchy and being higher has more positive effects than we care to verbalize. It is an external part of our environment, an unchanging aspect of evolution. Where we stand powerfully affects every aspect of our being – conscious and unconscious alike. Our system actively monitors exactly where we stand in society and there are physical changes that occur in victory and defeat (a loss by a dominant lobster leads to a virtual dissolution of his brain into a subordinate brain).
    2. Many human games are winner take all or winner take most so being a winner often has exponentially positive effects – virtuous and vicious cycles. You feel safe and secure so can take more risks, change is typically seen as good and you can be more confident, courageous, and generous, can be on less alert and plan long term, you can delay gratification. All characteristics, traits, behaviors that enhance chances of success. Those at the bottom are generally less healthy and don’t live as long. Being at the bottom necessitates a lot of emergencies and a strong will to survive but this burns our energy.
    3. Having predictable daily routines offsets much chaos, unpredictability and ultimately fear that many people experience – go to sleep and wake up at similar times, have a high protein and fat breakfast. Many difficulties stem from biological imbalance and if we can get our sleep, diet, health in order, we can better manage anything that comes at us
    4. If you start to straighten up, people might just start looking at you and treating you differently. Your nervous system responds totally differently when you take on a challenge directly as opposed to being forced into it. Being higher up in the food chain, in the social hierarchy, has obvious social, physical, psychological, physiological effects which ripple into everything we do or undertake
  2. Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.
    1. Peterson argues that because you know your own faults better than anyone else, how meaningless and flawed you are, you have trouble taking care of ourselves like we would others. We don’t respect ourselves and see ourselves as falling creatures. We don’t stand for and walk with the truth so can’t take care of ourselves in the way that someone who did would. Most people simply do not believe they deserve the best care. However, although we are not a God, we are something, we matter. You have a moral obligation to take care of yourself as best as you can because it not only benefits you but ripples and benefits others as well. You deserve to be taken care of and to be healthy and happy
  3. Make friends with those who want the best for you
    1. Good influences will encourage you and not put up with your flaws. They will push you to be a better person and to strive for more, for better.
    2. Those who are bad influences will try to drag you down for every improvement you make in your life only makes them more aware of their own inadequacies
  4. Compare self to who you were yesterday and not who someone else is today
    1. Aim high but make the goal(s) reachable
    2. Be careful who you compare yourself to. The comparison is generally too narrow, without taking the full context into account. Is that famous person you are jealous of truly happy. Are they close with their families? Do they feel fulfilled?
    3. You have to see yourself as a stranger and ask who you are, what you want, where are you and where you want to go. Imagine that you’re dealing with your moodiest, most sensitive, laziest friend and communicate to yourself as you would to them. Nobody wants to work for a tyrant so ask nicely, humbly. Begin with small, simple asks and actions – what small thing could you do today that would help you accomplish that? That would get you just an inch closer to better, to being happier. Just like you pay an inspector to tell you the flaws in a house, you need an inspector to tell you your flaws. This can be an internal critic, if he/she is on the right track and has your best interests in mind.
    4. The past and the future are similar except that the past is fixed. You can do something about the future and happiness is found in uphill progress.
    5. 3 simple questions to get started on this path:
      1. What bothers me?
      2. Is this something I can fix?
      3. Would I actually be willing to fix it?
      4. What could you do, what would you do, to make life just a little bit better
    6. When you feel strongly about something, you must speak up. When this failure happens at a societal level, tyranny ensues. It is on the individual to speak up for what is right, to stop evil, to do good.
    7. What you aim at is what you see. That’s worth repeating. What you aim at is what you see. Overtime this accumulates and progresses. This is magic. This is compound interest. Seeing is difficult and very cognitively expensive so you must shepherd your resources carefully. You must ignore the unmanageable complexity found in the world and march towards your goal. You see obstacles as they arise and find a way around them. However, you must balance this with knowing when to back off for marching blindly towards your goal will make you unaware of other, potentially better, opportunities. If we accept that we are blind to most of the world, we also must accept that most of the opportunities are outside of our awareness. This is incredibly uplifting because it means that finding different paths, more opportunities is always available
    8. You cannot fool your psyche. You must wholeheartedly want to improve, to become better. You have to know what this means for you from bottom to top. Becoming better and improving takes more resilience and responsibility than living stupidly and without a purpose. It takes perseverance and effort. Don’t let that stop you. Align yourself to your highest good, bring peace and beauty into this world.
    9. You are too complex to ever fully understand. The closest proxy we have is to observe how we act. Don’t overestimate your self-knowledge. On one hand you are the most complex thing in the universe and on the other, you can’t even set the time on your microwave.
  5. Don’t let kids do anything that would make you dislike them
    1. Successful parents make kids eminently sociable (know how to play which allows them to develop and learn and be accepted by a wide variety of groups).
    2. Many parents are willing to give up respect in order to gain friendship. This is wrong. Your children will have many friends but only two parents. Proper discipline is difficult and takes much effort but the long-term payoffs are priceless. It will give you a well-adjusted, socially desirable child. Boundaries and limits, although not generally welcome in the moment, are needed by all children. They push in order to see what is permissible, where the boundaries lie. Consistent correction is necessary and better sooner than later, and a better alternative to what the child is looking for must be shown.
    3. No grudge after victory – you always reward good behavior. Children do not solely cry when they are scared, hungry or sad, but more often they cry because they are angry. Anger crying is often an act of dominance and should be dealt with as such.
    4. Violence, destruction, anxiety are not hard to understand. They are the default. Peace, progress, calm are hard to understand because they are difficult, they take restraint.
    5. Discipline and punishment evoke bad images but their use in raising children cannot be avoided. Rewards are of course needed too and they can’t be so small they are inconsequential nor so large that they devalue future rewards. People move towards what they find agreeable and away from what they don’t. So know what you are looking for and what you want more of and reward that and punish what you don’t. You can discipline your children or you can wait for the harsh and uncaring world to do it for you. Poorly socialized children have terrible lives so it is best, and most loving, to socialize them yourself when they are young. The question is not if to punish/discipline/reward your children, but how to best do it based on the temperament of your children
    6. Rules should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Bad laws drive out the good. Limit the rules and then figure out what is done when one is broken but use the least force necessary to enforce those rules – this must be figured out experimentally (note the rules he mentions in this section for why children should behave well). You are not doing your child any favors by holding back on punishment and discipline and ignoring their bad behaviors. Timeouts are useful to show the child that they can rejoin once the anger or poor behavior has resided.
    7. Parents should come in pairs. Parenting is difficult and everyone has bad days so it is necessary to have someone else around to observe and step in when needed
    8. Parents should understand their own capacity to be mean, vengeful, spiteful. No adult human being can withstand being dominated by a child forever and this will eventually lead to a need for revenge, to ignoring the child and the real punishment will then begin – resentment, holding back love, ignoring them. Planning and knowing the proper punishment and how you will act will stem toxicity and save the family
    9. Parents have a duty to act as proxies of the real world. Caring proxies, loving proxies, but proxies nonetheless. This responsibility supersedes any responsibility to make the child happy, boost their self-esteem, it is the primary job of parents to make the children very socially desirable, bringing opportunities, deep relationships, meaning and fulfillment. Clear rules make for sociable and calm children and rational parents
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
    1. Understanding resentment, revenge, and the dark side of humanity is very helpful but you must come to know these in yourself before you can judge others. It is only through the difficult self-work needed to make your life better, the little things that you know you can do or stop doing in order to make yourself happier, to make your life simpler, to make the lives of those around you better. Only once you have acted on all these and have gained this self-knowledge, can you begin to look outward and expect more of others. Once you see how hard it is to expect these things of yourself, you will better understand others and not have sky high expectations
  7. Do what is meaningful and not what is expedient
    1. Doing anything meaningful requires sacrifice and sometimes the bigger the sacrifice the more meaning you can gain
    2. Delayed gratification, planning, and sacrifice are essentially bargains with the future – you give up something today in order to have more or better tomorrow
    3. What is the biggest most impactful sacrifice you can make today and what is the most ideal future that would create? Define this for yourself and align your life to give yourself the best chance of making that happen
    4. Sharing done properly is giving something today to someone with the hope that they will give you something else in the future. It is the beginning of trade. What is even better than sharing is sharing generously, without expecting anything in return, for this has many positive unintended effects and everyone loves and helps those who are generous
    5. The most successful sacrifice: any sacrifice which is difficult to make, and is personal. Do this until it becomes easy, until it’s routine.  This is foregoing what is expedient and what is easy for what is meaningful
    6. If you learn to listen to your conscious, get to know your values and ideals, and follow them, you’ll be given more than you could ever need or require. The payoffs are greater than you know
    7. Enlightenment is so rare because it takes a move down to move up which means that the enlightened know the darkest, deepest, worst spots and stains and behaviors of man and is therefore never surprised by human nature. However, the flip side is that they also know the highest, the ideal form of man and knows that we are all capable of that as well
    8. Evil is when you make others needlessly suffer for no reason other than to see them suffer and good is anything which stops it. That is the meaning for that we should guide our lives towards. Never lie for this is the road to hell. Make this your moral pinnacle do everything in your power to alleviate unnecessary pain and suffering – that is the meaning of the good life
  8. Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie
    1. Never lie for it is the road to hell. If you lie, you can’t present your true self to others and you will never get to know your true self either. You will never truly know who you are or maximize your potential. You are hiding from the reality and not willing to confront it head on
    2. Lies warp the structure of being and lead to repression, pathologies, and the moral issues and horrific events that we saw in the 20th century
    3. You have to know where you are and where you are going so that you can chart a course, so that you know what you need to do to get from where you are to where you need to be. You have to know what your principles are, what you stand up for, so that you can argue against those who do not believe in what you do, so you can protect yourself, and you can more easily tell what is worth striving for. You have to keep your word and reward yourself when you succeed. It takes work to make heaven on earth, it won’t just be handed to you
    4. True thinking is really hard and really rare. Thinking can be thought of as a conversation between two or more avatars in your head and you have to be able to take each one of their sides, listen to each one, see how they would play out in your reality and then act on it. What most consider thinking is simply self-criticism disguised as thinking
    5. Memory is not meant to be perfect recall of the past for that does not exist. Memory exists in order to help you not make the same mistakes over and over again
    6. Truly listening to someone is one of the rarest skills and gifts there are. People organize their thoughts through conversation and if they have no one to share them with, they lose their minds. If you can truly listen, people tell you more than you could ever ask for and they will generally be very interesting and help you grow as a person
  9. Assume person you’re listening to knows something you don’t
    1. What you don’t know is more important than what you know. If you truly listen to people they’ll tell you what’s wrong, what they want, and how to fix it. Repeat people’s arguments to them and ask if you understood it correctly – don’t want to “win”, want to fix the problem. You and me against the problem, not me against you
  10. Be precise in your speech
    1. We don’t perceive objects like we think we do. We perceive meaning directly and then assign them to objects. We see tools and obstacles, not things and objects. And it depends on our needs and goals. This is why knowing where we are, where we are going, what we want, what we don’t want, our values, etc. is so important. It literally affects how we perceive the world around us
    2. We often see by instinct what things mean even before what they are which means that objectivity is very hard to reach
    3. Emergency = emergence of “c”, emergence of chaos
    4. Never underestimate the power of omissions. When things get swept under the rug and are not discussed and flushed out, they grow and manifest and become worse than you could ever imagine. If only they were brought up early and transparently and discussed openly, they could be called out, named, and dealt with. Everything discussed becomes clarified and gives you the potential to at least remedy them. If you avoid rather than address, what you least want will eventually come to happen, at the worst possible time. To specify the problem is to admit it exists, to admit what it is that you want. This may hurt but it is far better than the alternative and in the other way you cannot fail as you have not admitted what it is you want but this path leads you quickly astray. Be brave. Risk conflict in the present for longer term peace and happiness
    5. If we are imprecise with our speech, things remain vague, we are in the fog, our destination is unknown. Courageous clarity of thought is needed to call forth the problem
    6. Say what you mean, act out what you say so you can find out what happens and then course correct. Tell those around you who you are and what you want
  11. Don’t bother children when they’re skateboarding
    1. Kids need some danger, some consequences, in order to gain competence and later mastery. If things are too safe or predictable, they’ll behave in unintended ways because they need to live on the edge in some sense. They enjoy risk because it helps them improve future performance
    2. If you can’t understand why somebody did something, look at the consequences and then infer their motivations
    3. Conscientiousness and honesty more common and natural in western culture than people give it credit for.
    4. Take responsibility for your life and make the most of it. Don’t restrict children’s play
    5. Competence and not power is what gets you to the top of the hierarchy. In the west, the traits most associated with success are intelligence and conscientiousness and for entrepreneurs and artist, it is intelligence and openness to new experiences
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one in the street
    1. In order to cope with a crisis, people shorten their time frame just to make it through the day. Be alert to the unexpected beauty in life during difficult times
    2. What you love about someone is inseparable from their weaknesses, from their flaws
    3. In the depths of difficult situations it is not thinking that gets you out but noticing. Notice that you love someone not despite their limitations but because of them.
  1. Other
    1. Consciousness is the thin veil the process that turns order into chaos. It has been proposed that the two hemispheres of the brain exist in order to deal one with order and the other with chaos. Meaning, progress, and fulfillment is found when you have 1 foot in order and 1 foot in chaos – providing some stability and routine while still being able to learn and grow. This is the straight and narrow path to flow and all progress. A good question for parents regarding chaos and order is do you want to make kids safe or strong?
    2. An idea is more creditable when the results from the investigation come from various different realms
    3. Two lessons Peterson learned about the Golden Rule – about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. The first is that it has nothing to do with being nice and the second is that it is an equation rather than an injunction. It is better for both parties to be strong, to stick up for what is right, because if you just give in and are “nice”, one will become a slave and the other a tyrant. Sticking up for yourself therefore is helpful to you and also beneficial to the other party
    4. Happy is by no means synonymous with good. When you give a child candy, the child is happy but it is not good
    5. There is no one enlightened, only those who seek to be closer to enlightenment.
    6. Overemphasize who you are becoming rather than who you are. This mindset, while often painful, is the fastest road to growth, fulfillment, and happiness.
    7. Aim to be the person at your father’s funeral who everyone can rely on
    8. A shared belief system simplifies communication and allows you to more easily understand where you stand in relation to others. It is inaccurate but a necessary mode of thinking. This simplification is absolutely vital and if it is threatened can lead to outcomes such as the Cold War. It is a system of value, providing a hierarchy and a structure for how to act and respond to others

What I got out of it

  1. An incredibly insight and interesting book, drawing from many different realms. I re-read it the minute I finished it and will return to it often

The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer

Summary
  1. Schopenhauer walks us through the art of ordering our lives to gain the maximum pleasure and fulfillment
Key Takeaways
  1. The wise of every age have said the same things and the fools have done the same
  2. The first and most essential factor in our happiness is our personality, what we are, for it is always with us and shapes everything around us and everything that happens to us.
  3. Man’s happiness can be summed up in three lots:
    1. What they are – their personality, what has been bestowed upon them by nature
      1. It is undeniable that lasting happiness and fulfillment comes from the first bucket, from their inner constitutions. External circumstances are worth relatively little because they are shaped by our experiences, thoughts, and ideas that shape the externalities and affect how we respond to them. It is what we are and not what we have that leads to lasting happiness
    2. What they have
      1. Excessive material wealth does little for happiness but we must be able to meet our needs or else we won’t have the luxury of time and space to focus on ourselves and what makes us really happy.
      2. Excessive wealth leads to so many unintended distractions that you can’t focus on what really matters to you.
      3. Focus on acquiring culture and gaining knowledge rather than material wealth
    3. The esteem others hold them in.
  4. Beauty
    1. The gift of beauty is not one which should be lightly thrown away it is an invitation to others to like us and should be used accordingly
  5. Health
    1. Health is the foundation of happiness
    2. Health accounts more for happiness than nearly any other factor.
    3. A sound mind in a sound body is the foundation for all happiness and without which it is very difficult if not impossible to be happy.
    4. For great health avoid every excess and exercise regularly – even the trees must be shaken by the wind in order to thrive.
    5. Therefore any action which deprives us of health is a poor decision as 9/10 of our happiness comes from health
  6. Boredom
    1. The greater one is in their wealth or knowledge, the less susceptible they are to boredom extravagance and other vices.
    2. The wise man aims for a life free from pain and annoyances and seeks one of leisure and quiet.  The less wise a man is, the more apt he is to become bored for when he has nothing to do, his intellect does not turn on and he loses interest in everything around him.
    3. With time, leisure, and intellect, truth becomes clear
  7. Being Self-Sufficient
    1. Happiness is to be self-sufficient which is why wise man needs a little outside stimulation and socialize less on average than the normal person
  8. One can learn best from the extreme examples for they give us a magnified looked at our own nature
  9. Man never feels the pain of not getting what he has never known to ask for
  10. What is worth doing is hard to do
  11. Rank and honor and pride are tied to what others think is useful and not truly what you want to do or what you think is useful or how you best spend your time.
What I got out of it
  1. Striving for leisure and lots of time to read and think are worthy goals; health is at the heart of happiness; it is one’s inner happiness which lasts and paints external circumstances

Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell

Summary
  1. Change is never “out there”, it can start where you are, right where you are
Key Takeaways
  1. Most of us look for success anywhere and everywhere except right where we stand, and yet that’s where success can be found. It makes not so much difference where you are as who you are.
  2. To make money honestly is to preach the gospel. 98 out of 100 of the richest Americans are rich because they are honest. That is why they care on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them. It is because they are honest men
  3. Money is power and you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it. You ought because you can do more good with it than you could without it.
  4. Love is the grandest thing on God’s earth, but fortunate the lover who has plenty of money.
  5. A man can judge very well what he is worth by what he receives
  6. The difficulty was that I had not learned then that the foundation of godliness and the foundation principle of success in business are both the same precisely. Treat others as you would be treated, do this kindness and you shall receive rewards yourself which it will be your duty to take
  7. The man who has gone through life dividing always with his fellow men, making and demanding his own rights and his own profits, and giving it to every other man his rights and profits, lives every day, and not only that, but it is the royal road to great wealth
  8. The moment a young man or woman gets more money than he or she has grown to by practical experience, that moment he has gotten a curse. Don’t regard an inheritance as a help. There is no class of people to be pitied so much as the inexperienced sons and daughters of the rich of our generation. I pity the rich man’s son. He can never know the best things in life. One of the best things in our life is when a young man has earned his own living, and when he becomes engaged to some lovely young woman, and makes up his mind to have a home of his own. Then with that love comes also that divine inspiration toward better things, and he begins to save his money. He begins to leave off his bad habits and put money in the bank.
  9. The discipline of a poor boy is worth more than a university education to any man. Just ask Vanderbilt’s son who took a $3/week job after he learned his father earned his fortune all by himself and wouldn’t take any of his father’s money
  10. Known demand. That one thing is the secret of success. You must first know the demand. You must first know what people need, and then invest yourself where you are most needed. When you know what people need you have gotten more knowledge of a fortune than any amount of capital can give you
  11. True greatness is often unrecognized
  12. Lincoln’s rule was this: whatsoever he had to do at all, he put his whole mind into it and held it and held it all there until that was all done. That makes men great almost anywhere
  13. Greatness consists not in the holding of some future office, but really consists in doing great deeds with little means and the accomplishment of vast purposes from the private ranks of life. To be great at all, one must be great here, now.
What I got out of it
  1. Every minute of every day allows us an opportunity to change, to take advantage of an opportunity. Known demand is a key rule in business