Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.


  1. Emotional engagement is essential to progressing up the ladder of skill acquisition. Handling negative emotions that come with failure is hard and this book sets out to provide a guide for how to cope in these tough times

Key Takeaways

  1. Moods & Learning to Learn
    1. Outline a taxonomy of moods to build a self-awareness and know how you are progressing, where you are, and how to overcome obstacles. This process helps develop the meta-skill of acquiring skills, the art of learning to learn
    2. Learning how to recognize moods, then shift to productive moods is the skill you ultimately want to develop
    3. We can begin developing the skill of learning to learn at a very young age by encouraging children to experiment, to take risks, and to make mistakes. School can play an important role in cultivating this ability
    4. A mood of defensiveness often shows up when we hear what we interpret as criticism
    5. In a world where uncertainty and rapid change are the norm, where we cannot control changes in technology, regulations, or the environment, but where we need to cope and navigate with these on an ongoing basis, learning to learn appears all the more as an essential skill we are called to cultivate 
    6. Learning to learn requires that we be in a mood that is conducive to learning. Often we are not. Moods are “attunements” to the situation we find ourselves in at any given moment which predispose us to certain actions. Moods are windows to our assessments and to the standards that support them. If we become sensitive to our moods, we may be able to open the curtains and observe how we see things, and discover whether our automatic predispositions help us achieve our learning objectives or block us. 
    7. Moods that get in the way of learning (pg 25) – confusion, resignation, frustration, arrogance, impatience, boredom, fear/anxiety, overwhelm, lack of confidence, distrust or skepticism 
    8. Moods that are conducive to learning (29) – wonder, perplexity, serenity/acceptance, patience, ambition, resolution, confidence, trust
      1. Learning to shift from unproductive to productive moods is a critical aspect of learning to learn. As we learn to become aware of our moods, and are able to observe ourselves in a negative mood that blocks us from achieving what we want to achieve, such as resignation, we can choose not to remain hostages to this mood, and take action to cultivate an alternative mood that is more conducive to achieving what we set out to achieve (reflect on your learning objectives and why that gives you energy)
    9. List of learning to learn resources on page 149
  2. Contrast in handling mistakes! Comparing healthcare vs. aviation and the difference that learning from your mistakes makes
    1. Every time an plane accident occurs, there is a deep dive into what happened. However, in healthcare, any sort of feedback loop seems lacking. Consequently, in contrast to the 400,000-500,000 premature deaths per year in healthcare, in 2013, 210 people died as a result of plane crashes
  3. Others’ expectations and what we ‘should’ know serve as roadblocks
    1. Common categories of assessment that get in the way of learning – important to be competent, efficient, independent, self-reliant, useful, prepared at all times
    2. Moods indicate which assessments we’re making
  4. Dreyfus Skill Acquisition model
    1. Beginner – advanced beginner – competent – proficient – expert – master
      1. A master reinvents the rules; generates new discourses and disciplines from anomalies in the domain. A master is willing to override the perspective that they intuitively experience and choose a new one for the sake of learning and contributing to their field. A master is willing to regress to earlier stages in the learning scale for the sake of taking risks and learning
      2. Masters deal with wonder, resolution, ambition and need to concern themselves with arrogance and resignation
  5. Education
    1. Education is not simply about the transfer of knowledge and the ability to apply concepts. When it comes to acquiring skills, particularly communication and relationship skills, education is about enabling others to take new actions that they weren’t able to take before. Second, as the Drefyus brothers argue, in order for someone to acquire new skills successfully, they must be emotionally engaged. A person must be involved
  6. The essential elements of an offer
    1. Speaker
    2. listener
    3. Conditions of fulfillment
    4. Background of obviousness
    5. Offer/Promise – action to be performed in the future by person making the offer/promise
    6. Specified time for fulfillment of the offer 
  7. Trust = combination of sincerity, competence, reliability, engagement/care
  8. Galilean Relativity
    1. Easterners perceive things holistically, viewing objects as they are related to each other or in a context, whereas Westerners perceive them analytically in isolation; Easterners use wide-angle lens; Westerners use a narrow one with a sharper focus. 

What I got out of it

  1. This book should be better known. The idea of matching not only time and energy, but also mood, seems like a superpower to learning effectively. This book helps you understand why and how to do this