Tag Archives: Self-help

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

  1. With short but sweet advice and pointed historical examples, Ryan Holiday envelops you in a Stoic world where people not only can conquer any obstacle, but take advantage of it, enjoy it and become better and stronger people because of it. Holiday is a very interesting guy who has worked closely with critically acclaimed author Robert Greene since dropping out of college at age 19 and I would highly recommend his podcasts with Tim Ferriss.
Key Takeaways
  1. The most successful people have a method and a framework for understanding, appreciating, and acting upon obstacles life throws at us. Great individuals and great companies find a way to turn weakness into strengths. The greater the obstacle, the greater their/its strength becomes (pair with Taleb’s amazing Antifragile)
  2. Every obstacle is unique to each of us but the responses they elicit are the same – fear, frustration, confusion, helplessness, depression, anger
  3. With the advice in this book you will be able to attack any obstacle by seeing clearly, acting correctly and enduring and accepting the world as it is
  4. Our perception can be a source of strength or our greatest weakness
  5. See things as they really are, without their legend or ornamentation
  6. Live in the present, day by day. Do not always try to figure out what things mean – why they are the way they are.
  7. Don’t waste time on false constructs
  8. Of course you want to avoid negative situations if you can but what if you were able to remember in the moment the second act, that opportunity to improve even the slightest, that comes with unfortunate situations
  9. Action is commonplace. Proper action is not
  10. Genius often really is just persistence in disguise
  11. Stop looking for angels and start looking for angles
  12. What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better
  13. We must be willing to roll the dice and lose. Prepare, at the end of the day, for none of it to work
  14. Will is our internal power which can never be affected by the outside world. True will is quiet humility, resilience, and flexibility; the other kind of will is weakness disguised as bluster and ambition
  15. Love everything that happens – Amor Fati
  16. Death gives life meaning. Having that finite timeline pushes you and inspires you
What I got out of it
  1. As we all know, simple often does not mean easy. The themes in this book not only cover how to face and conquer obstacles, but how to live a happy and successful life. Much of the advice may not be novel, in fact much of it is Stoic and dates back thousands of years, but it is nevertheless invaluable. People are capable of anything as long as they don’t confuse perception with observation, can learn from their mistakes and can embrace the problems everybody undoubtedly will face with a clear mind, acting correctly and accepting the world as it is.

Continue reading

The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle

  1. A very succinct book which does an excellent job of quickly laying out tips that will help you in achieving any type of skill you want to acquire. May be simple, but certainly not easy
Key Takeaways:
  1. Know exactly what the skill you are trying to acquire is and then begin to chunk it into the smallest imaginable parts
  2. Repetition is the single most important tool we have to acquire skills. Small actions, repeated over time, transform us
  3. Have fun and enjoy it, make training a game as often as you can
  4. Constantly push yourself to be in your sweet spot, just out of your comfort zone where you make mistakes and realize those mistakes immediately and get clear and immediate feedback
What I got out of it:
  1. An enormously powerful book which if taken to heart can have life changing effects.

Continue reading

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

  1. Haidt uses an elephant to represent emotions and the rider of the elephant as reason. Reason attempt to control emotions but is often unsuccessful. This book helps define and clarify what truly makes people happy and what steps you can take to get there

Key Takeaways

  1. Happiness doesn’t just come from within as the Buddha or other sages claim. It comes from somewhere between in and out – people need both strong social ties, good relationships and being content from within to be happy
  2. Control your perceptions and you can control your world. There is no reality, only perception
  3. Central belief of Hinduism is that we all have our role to play and should play it well but not be attached to the results or outcomes. Be unmoved by praise or blame and contented with whatever comes your way. This mindset is required for happiness
  4. Decide that you do not want events to happen a certain way but that you want them to happen as they do happen. Amor Fati
  5. Success is often more often received with relief than ecstasy
  6. Feel more joy while making progress towards your goal than when you actually accomplish your goal. The journey and not the destination is what counts
  7. Happiness formula: Happiness = set point + conditions + voluntary activities
  8. Seems counter-intuitive but fewer social constraints leads to higher rates of of suicide. People need some boundaries to function and be happy
  9. Weak vs. strong adversity hypothesis – can grow from trauma vs. need trauma to grow. If strong is true, then we need to take more risks and chances

What I got out of it

  1. An interesting read which does a great job of making abstract concepts of happiness concrete and actionable through real world examples. Helpful to be aware that happiness tends to come from a balance of both inner and outer factors such as being grateful, not being attached to results, helping others, etc. Do not make assumptions or be tied to results. Want things to happen as they do happen. I think these two concepts are so simple and so powerful

Continue reading

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

  1. Very interesting book that describes the science behind how people make decisions and how you can improve your decision making by using both the emotional and rational parts of your brain. Lehrer uses a diverse array of examples from many different fields which helps make this book more relatable and actionable.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in history and his decision making is what sets him apart. He does not have time to think about which receiver he wants to throw the ball to but relies on his feelings when he scans the field – he either gets a good feeling and throws it or a fearful feeling and keeps looking
  2. Lehrer describes a story about a pilot who was in an unimaginable situation when all his hydraulics broke and he was forced to fly the plane manually and with only one engine. By just using his feelings and gut instincts he was able to safely land the plane and save everyone onboard. When this same situation was later run in a simulator, not one person was able to land successfully.
  3.  Be weary of over thinking decisions – avoid paralysis by analysis.
  4. Lehrer argues that when making big decisions, such as buying a car or a house, one should rely on one’s emotional brain (gut instincts) since chances are that you have already invested a lot of time and energy into researching these types of decisions. However, small decisions that we make on a daily basis can be aided by our rational brain
  5. Another great example is of a Stanford particle physicist who becomes one of the best poker players in the world. He continually tries to determine what he did wrong, what could he have done better, instead of looking what he did well
  6. The rational brain has been around a couple hundred thousand years whereas the emotional brain has been around for hundreds of millions of years. I think this is something to keep in mind when making certain decisions. Trust your gut, what your instincts are telling you more often.
  7. From the perspective of the brain, new ideas are merely several old thoughts that occur at the exact same time.
  8. “Reason without emotion is impotent.”
  9. “Tell me what you know. Tell me what you don’t know. Only then can you tell me what you think. Always keep these three things separate.” (Colin Powell)
  10. “An expert is someone who has made every mistake in a very narrow field.”

What I got out of it

  1. I think this book does a good job of handling a lot of complex topics and making it engaging and easy to read. The main point I got out of this was to be aware of using both the emotional and rational parts of your brain when making decisions but knowing which decisions require more of one area. When deciding on things you care the most about, go with your emotions, When making mundane, every day decisions, use your rationality

Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander


  1. Dr. Eben Alexander, a neuroscientist, contracts acute graham negative bacterial meningitis which is extremely rare and often fatal. He enters a coma and this book is about his journey during that time, a time when he believes he is in Heaven. While the journey itself can be debated, I believe that the lessons that can be drawn from this book are extremely powerful, universal and the whether his trip to Heaven “really” happened or not is irrelevant.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Love is at the center of everything and is of the utmost importance
  2. Human experience does not stop with the death of the brain or body
  3. You are unconditionally loved and cherished – you have nothing to fear and can do no wrong
  4. Everybody is part of the divine – every particle in the universe is interconnected
  5. It is impossible to separate the observer from what is being observed
  6. Consciousness is the most “real” thing in the universe and probably the core/base of it all
  7. Gratitude incredibly important for all aspects of life

What I got out of it:

  1. This will definitely be a book that I re-read. I think the idea of being interconnected, having nothing to fear because you are unconditionally loved and the infinite power of love itself are so powerful. These are the types of principles that I want to live my life bye.