Loserthink has nothing to do with IQ but all to do with unproductive thinking. The aim is to gain deep experience from many fields, learning the mode and technique of thinking and not necessarily the facts. This books is broken down into various sections so that you can learn “how to think like a psychologist” and more. Thinking clearly is in fact rare and not the norm. You must learn the techniques for thinking from various fields, mitigating blindspots that even a smart person can have because of lack of exposure to a certain field. If you don’t have deep experience across many fields, you are prone to loserthink.
Thinking like a psychologist
The mind reading delusion – people are dreadful at reading other people and knowing what they’re thinking
Occam’a Razor – In science the simplest exclamation that fixed it fits the fact it’s quite easy to arrive at however nearly every other round this is in a good jurisdiction because everyone has a different opinion on what is a simple fact
Projection – people accuse others of having faults flaws or biases that they themselves have
Ego is a tool that you should be able to dial up and down if you want to accomplish something ambitious turn off your ego and if you’re dealing with loved ones turn it down. Don’t choose ego over effectiveness. Put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations as a sort of practice and learn to ignore or at least minimize your embarrassment
Thinking like an artist
Failure of imagination – The best explanation to most things in life is something that has never occurred to you. Most people fail because of a failure of imagination
Thinking like a historian
History is extremely filtered and biased based on who wrote it. Every government writes its own version of history to brainwash its citizens no one history is objective everyone is slanted
Don’t forget about the past but it is more productive to look forward to understand what the paths to success are rather than what has happened
Slippery slope – things will continue on their path until they go too far. Almost everything can be considered a slippery slope so it’s more productive to look at forces and systems
Privacy is overrated. Sometimes it helps but context is important. When gay men started coming out, their lack of privacy helped their cause
Thinking like an engineer
A new expert will always call the work of the previous expert a joke
The one variable illusion – people look for a silver bullet when in reality almost always multiple variables matter
Thinking like a leader
Directional truth filter – truth has two important aspects: accuracy and direction. If you don’t know which one is more important, you might be falling to loserthink. Getting the direction right is almost always important but being 100% precise is only sometimes so
Confusing hyperbole with legitimate opinion – make sure you know which you are dealing with
Systems vs goals – a good system is doing something on a regular basis to increase your odds of doing something productive even if you don’t exactly know the final outcome
Thinking like a scientist
Coincidences are more than likely simply confirmation bias. We are surrounded by coincidences and most mean nothing at all
Anecdotes – beware drawing patterns or assigning too much confidence in anecdotes
Inversion – always ask what if the opposite were true. Beware forming opinions too early and always realize that you could be wrong
Judging a group by its worst members – beware falling for this mistake
Proving a negative – can’t be done and best you can do is say it hasn’t been detected or found up to this point
Thinking like an entrepreneur
Couch lock – do what you can do, not what you can’t do. This will give you a small step to take, leading to the next, building momentum. Small but steady and consistent steps is how big things happen in a lot of realms. The effort in totality is humongous but in any given day it is manageable
Leave your lane – pick up different skills from different realms. This makes you more valuable and gives you different perspectives
Sense of control – people who think they can control their situations are more likely to do so
Humility and testing – be aware that you are probably overconfident but this should not stop you from experimenting. You learn from failure as long as it doesn’t take you out of the game completely. Find ways to start small so that nobody gets hurt
Thinking like an economist
You can expect bad behavior when there is money to be had, when the chance of being caught is low, and lots of people are involved
The ends justify the means. Must consider all the costs and benefits that goes into a decision – ethically, morally, pragmatically, emotionally, financially…
How to compare things – this is a skill that can be learned but most people don’t even know this is a skill. Compared to nothing is the lowest rung of the skill ladder, compare to how someone else performed in the same/similar situation, compare to the next best alternative
Halfpinions – must compare full cost of the plan to the full benefit
Time value of money – those who only focus on the near term are childish and those who can look long term and understand the full costs and benefits are adults. Should discount things in the future back to the present to understand the trade offs. Money received in the future is worth less than money received today
Consider the alternatives – important for any decision
Confusopolies – companies in an industry are so complicated that knowing what is the best product or service is difficult if not impossible
Straight line predictions – the world is dynamic so assuming anything stays stagnant is by definition incorrect. Don’t assume that the future will look just like the past. Humans are not good at predicting but are good at solving important and slow moving problems. You should also look at industries that have a lot of entrepreneurial energy as these tend to stick around
Things pundits say that you should not copy
Pundits are almost always advocates so are biased. Do not blindly mimic what they say without understanding their bias
Moral equivalency – beware comparing two things which aren’t morally equivalent (even if you think they are). Somebody’s issues with their kids compared to your issues with your cat
Word-thinking – trying to win a debate or persuade by focusing on the definition of words. Instead, focus on the root of the problem, the morality of it. When people resort to word thinking, walk away as the chance of a good debate is low. Words are not reasons by themselves
The hypocrisy defense – just because the other side did something too, doesn’t make it right. If you screwed up, admit it, and communicate how you’ll solve it
Fairness – different for everyone and it can rarely be measured or doled out. People are spring loaded to prefer fairness but fairness is an illusion
Feels-the-same – just because one thing about a person or situation feels the same as something, doesn’t make it fair or right to compare the two. People are pattern recognition machines, and not good ones. Analogies cannot help you predict the future. Focusing on causation rather than simply patterns
Friction – adding friction of whatever kind changes behavior
Mentioning is not comparing
Do your own research – doing your own research is very helpful in many realms but in the most complex (politics, climate change) it may not and may simply lead to confirmation bias. Doing some research is likely better than no research, but don’t pretend that you can tell the difference between knowledge and confirmation bias
Be yourself – if who you are today isn’t benefiting your or those around you, you can change yourself. Be more positive and adapt your habits to become a better person
The Golden Age Filter
Bad news and drama sells, so most people don’t see or understand that the world is in a better place than it has ever been
Poverty has drastically decreased, overpopulation has been mitigated, unsolved crime has decreased, inexpensive homes are improving, wars seem to be less likely moving forward as the economic and political benefits have drastically decreased, climate change technologies are quickly improving, end of unemployment may be within our lifetimes as housing/energy/technology/etc. costs and improvements help everyone, healthcare innovations, race relations have improved although the press blinds us to this often
How to Break Out of Your Mental Prison
Cultural gravity – some cultures have low gravity so that people aren’t ashamed of learning and excelling. Seek to surround yourself with this as much as possible.
Knowing where to start – doing the wrong thing is an excellent place to start in order to learn how to do it right. Loserthink involves doing nothing until you knowhow to do it right.
Unfocused priorities – You have to get your own health and finances in order. Only then can you help and focus on others. Priority should be yourself, family, friends, community, state, country, and then the world
Context is hugely important yet most people ignore or are blind to the bigger picture
Fake news filter – can assume that if both sides present the same story that it is likely true, side that is out of power more likely to resort to fake news, beware mind reading and absurdity, be skeptical until the noise settles down a bit
Persuasion – humans are not rational but have the illusion that they are. Once you accept and see this, the walls of Loserthink will soften
Managing Embarrassment – getting comfortable with getting embarrassed takes training. Put yourself in the position to fail and be embarrassed and you’ll realize it won’t kill you. Learning that embarrassment doesn’t kill you is like a super power
Change what you do to change how you think – thoughts follow action, so be biased towards positive action
Judging the mistake versus the response – this is the best way to judge others
The 48 hour rule and the 20 year rule – new manners that the author proposes. Give people 48 hours to apologize, clarify, or update you if something didn’t make sense. Forgive what people did more than 20 years ago
How to break others out of their mental prison
The magic question – what one thing do you believe that you don’t think I believe? This question will frame the conversation so that you can respond to specific criticisms
Pacing – Agree with someone as much as you can at the beginning (without lying) to prove that you are an open and reasonable person. This will make future disagreements and discussions more productive
Define the weeds – define what is important and not
Describe the long-term – what does the future look like under your scenario? If they can’t answer that clearly, they aren’t looking out far enough
Call out the mind reading – by giving it a name and exposing mind reading, you will have more productive conversations
Framing issues – how you frame an issue is as important as the issue itself. make sure you are thoughtful about how you frame it
People gave greater weight to things that have names (why he created a new word in “Loserthink”)
Everyone is coming from a different starting point but the purpose of this book is to explain these core ideas and how you can use them in your own life
You must know not only how many times someone or something was correct, but how many times they were incorrect (the stockpicking scam where they send thousands of people productions and some salt small subset is blown away by how accurate they are and are conned out of money…)
Opinion stacking – tactic of fake news where you get several people with the same biased opinion together and only one dissenting opinion
What I got out of it
Different realms require different modes of thinking and Scott Adams gives some amazing tips and tools for how to be more productive and persuasive and how to not fall for “Loserthink.”
Latticework: success in investing based on a working knowledge of a variety of disciplines
Latticework is itself a metaphor. And on the surface, quite a simple one at that. Everyone knows what latticework is, and most people have some degree of firsthand experience with it. There is probably not a do-it-yourselfer in America who hasn’t made good use of a four-by-eight sheet of latticework at some point. We use it to decorate fences, to create shade over patios, and to support climbing plants. It is but a very small stretch to envision a metaphorical lattice as the support structure for organizing a set of mental concepts
Physics – Equilibrium
Physics is the science that investigates matter, energy, and the interaction between them – the study, in other words, of how our universe works. It encompasses all the forces that control motion, sound, light, heat, electricity, and magnetism, and their occurrence in all forms, from the smallest subatomic particles to entire solar systems. It is the intellectual foundation of many well-recognized principles such as gravitation and such mind-boggling concepts as quantum mechanics and relativity.
Equilibrium is defined as a state of balance between opposing forces, powers, or influences. An equilibrium model typically identifies a system that is at rest; this is called “static equilibrium.”
The concept of equilibrium is so deeply embedded in our theory of economics and the stock market, it is difficult to imagine any other idea of how these systems could possible work…One place where the question is being raised is the Santa Fe Institute, where scientists from several disciplines are studying complex adaptive systems – those systems with many interacting parts that are continually changing their behavior in response to changes in the environment…If a CAS is, by definition, continuously adapting, it is impossible for any such system, including the stock market, ever to reach a state of perfect equilibrium. What does that mean for the stock market? It throws the classic theories of economic equilibrium into serious question. The standard equilibrium theory is rational, mechanistic, and efficient. It assumes that identical individual investors share rational expectations about stock prices and then efficiently discount that information into the market. It further assumes there are no profitable strategies available that are not already priced into the market. The counterview from SFI suggests the opposite: a market that is not rational, is organic rather than mechanistic, and is imperfectly efficient.
The SFI pointed out 4 distinct features they observed about the economy: dispersed interaction, no global controller, continual adaptation, out of equilibrium dynamics.
Biology – Evolution
What we are learning is that studying economic and financial systems is very similar to studying biological systems. The central concept for both is the notion of change, what biologists call evolution. The models we use to explain the evolution of financial strategies are mathematically similar to the equations biologists use to study populations of predator-prey systems, competing systems, or symbiotic systems.
Complex systems must be studied as a whole, not in individual parts, because the behavior of the system is greater than the sum of the parts. The old science was concerned with understanding the laws of being. The new science is concerned with the laws of becoming
Social Sciences – Complexity, Complex Adaptive Systems, Self-Organized Criticality
Although Johnson’s maze is a simple problem-solving computer simulation, it does demonstrate emergent behavior. It also leads us to better understand the essential characteristic a self-organizing system must contain in order to produce emergent behavior. That characteristic is diversity. The collective solution, Johnson explains, is robust if the individual contributions to the solution represent a broad diversity of experience in the problem at hand. Interestingly, Johnson discovered that the collective solution is actually degraded if the system is limited to only high-performing people. It appears that the diverse collective is better at adapting to unexpected changes in structure.
Folly to think you can eliminate every waste, every performer who doesn’t meet the highest bar, and excel and survive. Can shift the entire bell curve to the right, but you still need the full spectrum
Notes: We have observed anecdotal evidence of emergent behavior, perhaps without realizing what we were seeing. The recent bestseller,Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of american Submarine Espionage, presents a very compelling example of emergence. Early in the book, the authors relate the story of the 1966 crash of a B-52 bomber carrying four atomic bombs. Three of the four bombs were soon recovered, but a fourth remained missing, with the Soviets quickly closing in. A naval engineer named John Craven was given the task of locating the missing bomb. He constructed several different scenarios of what possibly could have happened to the fourth bomb and asked the members of the salvage team to wager a bet on where they thought the bomb could be. He then ran each possible location through a computer formula and – without ever going to sea! – was able to pinpoint the exact location of the bomb based on a collective solution
It is when the agents in the system do not have similar concepts about the possible choices that the system is in danger of becoming unstable. And that is clearly the case in the stock market…The value of this way of looking at complex systems is that if we know why they become unstable, then we have a clear path to a solution, to finding ways to reduce overall instability. One implication, Richards says, is that we should be considering the belief structures underlying the various mental concepts, and not the specifics of the choices. Another is to acknowledge that if mutual knowledge fails, the problem may center on how knowledge is transferred in the system.
Psychology – Mr. Market, Complexity, Information
Another aspect of behavioral finance is what some psychologists refer to as mental accounting – our tendency to think of money in different categories, putting our funds into separate “mental accounts,” depending on circumstances. Mental accounting is the reason we are far more willing to gamble with our year-end bonus than our monthly salary, especially if it is higher than anticipated. It is also one further reason why we stubbornly hold onto stocks that are doing badly; the loss doesn’t feel like a loss until we sell
Philosophy – Pragmatism
Strictly for organizational simplicity, we can separate the study of philosophy into 3 broad categories. First, critical thinking as it applies to the general nature of the world is called “metaphysics”…Metaphysics means “beyond physics.” When philosophers discuss metaphysical questions, they are describing ideas that exist independently from our own space and time. Examples include the concepts of God and the afterlife. These are not tangible events like tables and chairs but rather abstract ideas that metaphysical questions readily concede the existence of the world that surrounds us but disagree about the essential nature and meaning of the world. The second body of philosophical inquiry is the investigation of 3 related areas: aesthetics, ethics, and politics. Aesthetics is the theory of beauty. Philosophers who engage in aesthetic discussions are trying to ascertain what it is that people find beautiful, whether it be in the objects they observe or in the state of mind they achieve. This study of the beautiful should not be thought of as a superficial inquiry, because how we conceive beauty can affect our judgments of what is right and wrong, what is the correct political order, and how people should live. Ethics is the philosophical branch that studies the issues of right and wrong. It asks what is moral and what is immoral, what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate. Ethics makes inquiries into the activities people undertake, the judgments they make, the values they hold, and the character they aspire to achieve. Closely connected to the idea of ethics is the philosophy of politics. Whereas ethics investigates what is good or right at the individual level, politics investigates what is good or right at the societal level. Political philosophy is a debate over how societies should be organized, what laws should be passed, and what connections people should have to these societal organizations. Epistemology, the third body of inquiry, is the branch of philosophy that seeks to understand the limits and nature of knowledge. The term itself comes from two Greek words: episteme, meaning “knowledge,” and logos, which literally means “discourse” and more broadly refers to any kind of study or intellectual investigation. Epistemology, then, is the study of the theory of knowledge. To put it simply, when we make an epistemological inquiry, we are thinking about thinking. When philosophers think about knowledge, they are trying to discover what kinds of things are knowable, what constitutes knowledge (as opposed to beliefs), how it is acquired (innately or empirically, through experience), and how we can say that we know a thing.
For pragmatism, anyone who seeks to determine the true definition of a belief should look not at the belief itself but at the actions that result from it. He called the proposition “pragmatism,” a term, he pointed out, with the same root as practice or practical, thus cementing his view that the meaning of an idea is the same as its practical results. “Our idea of anything, Peirce explained, “is our idea of its sensible effects.” In his classic 1878 paper, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear,” Peirce continued: “The whole function of thought is to produce habits of action. To develop its meaning, we have, therefore, simply to determine what habits it produces, for what a thing means is simply what habits it involves.”
A belief is true, James said, because holding it puts a person into more useful relations with the world…People should ask what practical effects come from holding one philosophical view over another
If truth ad value are determined by their practical applications in the world, then it follows that truth will change as circumstances change and as new discoveries about the world are made. Our understanding of truth evolves. Darwin smiles.
So we can say that pragmatism is a process that allows people to navigate an uncertain world without becoming stranded on the desert island of absolutes. Pragmatism has no prejudices, dogmas, or rigid canons. It will entertain any hypothesis and consider any evidence. If you need facts, take the facts. If you need religion, take religion. If you need to experiment, go experiment. “In short, pragmatism widens the field of search for God,” says James. “Her only test of probable truth is what works best in the way of leading us.”
Pragmatism, in summary, is not a philosophy as much as it is a way of doing philosophy. It thrives on open minds, and gleefully invites experimentation. It rejects rigidity and dogma; it welcomes new ideas. It insists that all possibilities should be considered, without prejudice, for important new insights often come disguised as frivolous, even silly notions. it seeks new understanding by redefining old problems.
One of the secret to Bill Miller’s success is his desire to take a Rubik’s Cube approach to investing. He enthusiastically examines every issue from every possible angle, from every possible discipline, to get the best possible description – or redescription – of what is going on. Only then does he feel in a position to explain. To his investigation he brings insights from many fields…He continually studies physics, biology, and social science research, searching for ideas that will help him become a better investor…In an environment of rapid change, the flexible mind will always prevail over the rigid and absolute…Because you recognize patterns, you are less afraid of sudden changes. With a perpetually open mind that relishes new ideas and knows what to do with them, you are set firmly on the right path.
Literature – self-education of a Latticework through books, Adler’s Active Reading
We must educate ourselves and the vehicle for doing so is a book supplemented with all other media both traditional and modern…So we are talking about learning to become discriminating readers: to analyze what you read, to evaluate its worth in the larger picture, and to either reject it or incorporate it into your own latticework of mental models…We can all acquire new insights through reading if we perfect the skill of reading thoughtfully. The benefits are profound: not only will you substantially add to your working knowledge of various fields, you will at the same time sharpen your skill at critical thinking.
The central purpose of reading a book, Adler believes, is to gain understanding…This is not the same as reading for information.
Reading that makes you stop and think is the path to greater understanding – not solely because of what you are reading but also because of the process of reflection in which you are engaged. You are learning from your own thinking as well as from the author’s ideas. You are making new connections. Adler describes as the difference between learning by instruction and learning by discovery. It’s evident of in the satisfaction we feel when we figure out something on our own, instead of being told the answer. Receiving the answer might solve the immediate problem, but discovering the answer by your own investigation has a much more powerful effect on your overall understanding.
Adler proposes that all active readers need to keep 4 fundamental questions in mind: what is the book about as a whole, what is being said in detail, is the book true, in whole or in part, what of it? The heart of Adler’s process involves 4 levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical, and syntopical. Each level is a necessary foundation for the next, and the entire process is cumulative.
Elementary reading is the most basic level, the one we achieve in elementary education
In inspectional reading, the second level, the emphasis is on time and the goal is to determine, as quickly as possible, what the book is about. It has two levels: prereading and superficial reading. Prereading is a fast review to determine whether a book deserves a more careful reading. Look at the table of contents, index, how much can you learn about the main themes through this overview. Next, Adler recommends systematic skimming. Read a few paragraphs here and there, read the author’s conclusion. These two activities should take between 30-60 minutes and help you determine if it is worth your time to read the book
Analytical reading is the most thorough and complete way to absorb a book. Through analytical reading you will answer what is the book about as a whole and in detail and provide you the most complete answer to if the book is true. It has goals: develop a detailed sense of what the book contains, interpret the contents by examining the author’s own particular point of view on the subject; and to analyze the author’s success in presenting that point of view convincingly. Take notes, make an outline, write in your own words what you think the book is about, write the author’s main arguments
The fourth and highest level is what Adler calls syntopical reading, or comparative reading. In this level of reading, we are interested in learning about a certain subject, and to do so we compare and contrast the works of several authors rather than focusing on just one work by one another. Adler considers this the most demanding and most complex level of reading. It involves two challenges: first, searching for possible books on the subject; and then deciding, after finding them, which books should be read
The challenge for us as readers is to receive that knowledge and integrate it into our latticework of mental models. How well we are able to do so is a function of two very separate considerations: the author’s ability to explain, and our skills as careful, thoughtful readers. We have little control over the first, other than to discard one particular book in favor of another, but the second is completely within our control
I believe in…mastering the best that other people have figured out, [rather than] sitting down and trying to dream it up yourself…You won’t find it that hard if you go at it Darwinlike, step by step with curious persistence. You’ll be amazed at how good you can get…It’s a huge mistake not to absorb elementary worldly wisdom…Your life will be enriched – not only financially but in a host of other ways – if you do. – Charlie Munger, Poor Charlie’s Almanack
Decision Making – Continuously add more building blocks to your knowledge base in order to build more robust mental models
Failures to explain are caused by our failures to describe
Our institutions of higher learning may separate knowledge into categories, but wisdom is what unites them.
What I got out of it
A beautiful book on how to approach being a multidisciplinary thinker as it applies to investing.
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
Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
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).
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.
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
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
Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.
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
Make friends with those who want the best for you
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.
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
Compare self to who you were yesterday and not who someone else is today
Aim high but make the goal(s) reachable
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?
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.
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.
3 simple questions to get started on this path:
What bothers me?
Is this something I can fix?
Would I actually be willing to fix it?
What could you do, what would you do, to make life just a little bit better
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.
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
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.
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.
Don’t let kids do anything that would make you dislike them
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
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
Do what is meaningful and not what is expedient
Doing anything meaningful requires sacrifice and sometimes the bigger the sacrifice the more meaning you can gain
Delayed gratification, planning, and sacrifice are essentially bargains with the future – you give up something today in order to have more or better tomorrow
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
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
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
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
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
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
Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie
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
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
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
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
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
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
Assume person you’re listening to knows something you don’t
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
Be precise in your speech
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
We often see by instinct what things mean even before what they are which means that objectivity is very hard to reach
Emergency = emergence of “c”, emergence of chaos
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
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
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
Don’t bother children when they’re skateboarding
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
If you can’t understand why somebody did something, look at the consequences and then infer their motivations
Conscientiousness and honesty more common and natural in western culture than people give it credit for.
Take responsibility for your life and make the most of it. Don’t restrict children’s play
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
Pet a cat when you encounter one in the street
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
What you love about someone is inseparable from their weaknesses, from their flaws
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.
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?
An idea is more creditable when the results from the investigation come from various different realms
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
Happy is by no means synonymous with good. When you give a child candy, the child is happy but it is not good
There is no one enlightened, only those who seek to be closer to enlightenment.
Overemphasize who you are becoming rather than who you are. This mindset, while often painful, is the fastest road to growth, fulfillment, and happiness.
Aim to be the person at your father’s funeral who everyone can rely on
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
An incredibly insightful and interesting book, drawing from many different realms. I re-read it the minute I finished it and will return to it often