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My hope is that you use these emails to practice reflection. Since 2011, I've spent countless hours reading, reflecting, and writing for my blog to craft these emails. They have remained (and will remain!) free and ad-free, with no hooks, nor guest posts. If what I create improves your life in any way, please support my efforts with a donation of $5/month or $50/year …that's less than $1 for each of these emails.

Below each section, the word "~ Original" is linked if you want to share a specific section. A link to this email as a web page can be found on the previous issues page.

Dreary and repellant

All violence, all that is dreary and repels, is not power, but the absence of power.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

~ Original Tagged Quotes, Ralph W. Emerson



Diffuse thinking

Although diffuse thinking comes in the guise of a break from focus, our minds are still working. Often, it’s only after we switch away from this mode that we realize our brains were indeed working for us. Moving into diffuse mode can be a very brief phenomenon, such as when we briefly stare into the distance before returning to work.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/focused-diffuse-thinking/

It is a most interesting mode of thinking. Even after protracted wondering, it’s not clear to me what exactly is the list of things necessary to intentionally slip into the mode of thinking. So I’ll start with some things that will prevent me, every time: Being exhausted or even very-tired will prevent my diffuse thinking. Because settling in, physically and mentally, is also how I go to sleep. Being overly energetic will prevent my diffuse thinking. It’s as if the mind is the driver atop the elephant, and the elephant must be in the mood to follow, not in the mood to frolic or smash.

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~ Original Tagged Shane Parrish, Thought and Philosophy



Self-delusion

Delude not yourself with the notion that you may be untrue and uncertain in trifles and in important things the contrary. Trifles make up existence, and give the observer the measure by which to try us; and the fearful power of habit, after a time suffers not the best will to ripen into action.

~ C. M. von Weber

~ Original Tagged C. M. von Weber, Self-awareness



Thhhhpbt

Burnout research shows that cynicism is an easy way out when we don’t have the mental resources to cope. It’s no surprise that cynicism is a core attribute of the burnout equation: during a time of ongoing stress it’s much easier to be pessimistic than it is to mobilize and make a difference.

~ Chris Bailey from, https://alifeofproductivity.com/remember-burnout-and-cynicism-go-hand-in-hand/

That short blog post is about news-from-the-Internet and the pandemic, but it’s perfectly applicable to any source of chronic stress. For me, the chronic stress is entirely self-inflicted and the cautions remain the same.

I’ve gotten relief from myself over the years through journaling and blogging. Journalling gives me some perspective. (But it is difficult to do it well, since it can degenerate into subjectivity, navel gazing, or whining.) Blogging gives me the chance to regularly work with the garage door up; showing my work by exposing my thinking. Even if mostly no one calls me on anything, knowing that people are looking calls me to a higher quality of thinking.

Yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about taking another look at cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A couple years ago I made a pass at understanding it—specifically wondering if one could “do it” to oneself. (Yes.) I’ve dusted off a small volume for a re-read to see what I can tune in my existing self-care routines, and hopefully find some new ones to settle into for a while.

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~ Original Tagged Chris Bailey, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Journaling, Meta



A sudden crash

All human things hang on a slender thread: The strongest fall with a sudden crash.

~ Ovid

~ Original Tagged Literature, Ovid, Perspective



A good argument

Arguments […] can have a great deal of force for us even if, perhaps especially if, we recoil from [the] actual positions. The better the reasoning, the more [the] work requires us—if we’re going to be honest—to pick out the step where we disagree, and to see what consequences that has for the rest of our thought.

~ Stephen E. Sachs from, https://reason.com/volokh/2021/09/30/why-listen-to-abhorrent-speech/

I do think about this sort of thing.

In my day-to-day life, I rarely encounter something abhorrent. That’s partly because of my privileged position in life, but it’s mostly because I don’t try to overreach. I don’t try to watch “everything” or keep up with “everything” and I very emphatically do not try to have an opinion on everything. But I do, sometimes, encounter things that, while not abhorrent, rise to the level of odious. Which then makes me think, “do I want to have an argument?”

Increasingly, approaching “always” these days, I don’t feel I have the energy for a good argument. That’s not a good sign.

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~ Original Tagged Reason and Rationality, Stephen E. Sachs, Thought and Philosophy



Small asks

The world expects that its requests will be accepted. That assignments, lunch dates, new projects, and even favors will get a yes. […] It’s just a small ask, the person thinks. Responding or reacting to incoming asks becomes the narration of your days, instead of the generous work of making your own contribution.

~ Seth Godin

~ Original Tagged Focus, Getting Things Done, Quotes, Seth Godin



wait wat?

This community’s value proposition is about more than being the Hacker News or reddit for travel. The focus is squarely on quality.

~ Anuj Adhiya from, https://cmxhub.com/outbounding-hook-model/

Yes, please. Based on that statement alone, I’d want to be a part of this sort of community.

The basic idea is that, to create habit-forming communities, you must move a user through a loop that over time will help them develop a habit of returning and contributing to the community. It looks like this: A trigger, internal or external, drives a user to the platform where they get some sort of variable reward, contribute something of their own, and return to the platform later for the same loop.

~ ibid.

Uhmmm… (That slight-squint with slightly-sideways, dubious look happens here.) Habituation is not, per se, a good thing. I agree that it is important to understand how what’s said there actually works; I often talk about the Oxo® handles we all have sticking out of our psyches. The ability to generate a habit in someone else is clearly one such handle.

A community comes into extence from the network of interpersonal relationships. A community isn’t, simply by its existence, a good thing. Also, if those relationships form because of habituation to come to the community space, that still doesn’t mean the community is a good thing. And we don’t even need habituation in order to form those interpersonal relationships. Yes, we may be able to “hack” those relationships into existence via habituation, but there are other ways to encourage those relationships.

I want to be part of communities that understand the nature of the interpersonal relationships, and the effect a community has as a whole. I want to be part of communities where those things are actually positive goods.

ɕ

~ Original Tagged Anuj Adhiya, Community, Psychology



Playfulness

To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as if nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with one another, we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise; everything that happens is of consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcomes of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for unlimited possibility.

~ James Carse

~ Original Tagged Experience and learning, James Carse, Play, Quotes



A random proof

Here’s how I do things.

GIVEN…

  • I have a book that has 2,000 pages. (Curiously, it is exactly 2,000 pages.)
  • Life is finite, (and probably also “short.”)
  • It’s unlikely I can get through it front-to-back; I’d like to read as many pages as I can.
  • I’m a systems guy; I want to figure something out once and then never think about that same problem again.
  • I have a personal task management system; It can easily remind me to do things however I’d prefer.

I WISH, that I had an easy way to get a random page number. This strikes me as very easy to build. Therefore, because it is easy, because Internet, and because humans are awesome…

THEN, such a thing must already exist.

THEREFORE, I guessed, “!random”, would exist in my favorite search engine—here, you’re welcome—and quickly found my way to this: https://www.random.org/clients/http/

QED (Quite easily done, yes; But, no.)

All that remains is to skim their simple API docs, and then type this simple URL: https://www.random.org/integers/?num=1&min=1&max=2000&base=10&format=html&col=1

This enables me to create a repeating task which has that URL. I click the link, and flip to that page. You’re thinking, “holy shit no.” And I’m thinking, “tiny building blocks, well placed, get shit done.”

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~ Original Tagged Internet Tech, Systems



Interior stability

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, welcome, to accept.

~ Henri Nouwen

~ Original Tagged Henri Nouwen, Listening, Quotes



What do you know

Read that title in the Petulant Voice. (There are the 1st-person, 2nd-person, Narrator, Author, etc. voices; I’ve always thought failure to formally recognize Petulant Voice was a major literary oversight.)

Reasoned skepticism and disagreement are essential to progress and democracy. The problem is that most of what’s happening isn’t reasoned skepticism. It’s the adult equivalent of a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2019/02/distrust-intellectual-authority/

As in this article, the majority of what I’ve read—in the 32 years I’ve been reading stuff on the Internet—has been about the skeptic in the skepticism/disagreement relationships. But the responsibility is actually with the side claiming authority.

Always.

Because that’s the moral high road. (The high road is always less crowded.) If one wants to hold oneself out as an authority, then one is responsible for reaching down and helping others up. (Also, is “Tortured” a recognized voice?) One is not responsible for the skeptics whose attention you do not have. But one is responsible for those whose attention you do have; Those skeptics see you. There’s your chance to do good work.

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~ Original Tagged Reason and Rationality, Shane Parrish, Thought and Philosophy



Painting a masterpiece

You can’t really decide to paint a masterpiece. You just have to think hard, work hard, and try to make a painting that you care about. Then, if you’re lucky, your work will find an audience for whom it’s meaningful.

~ Susan Kare

~ Original Tagged Creativity, Quotes, Susan Kare



Sapiens

About 70,000 or so years ago, our DNA showed a mutation (Harari claims we don’t know quite why) which allowed us to make a leap that no other species, human or otherwise, was able to make. We began to cooperate flexibly, in large groups, with an extremely complex and versatile language. If there is a secret to our success—and remember, success in nature is survival—It was that our brains developed to communicate.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2019/01/yuval-noah-harari-dominate-earth/

Sapiens by Y N Hurari has been on my to-read pile for ages. It’s currently aged its way to the no-seriously-I’m-not-kidding pile of books that are near my desk. The run-of-the-mill to-read pile is several bookcases that live in another room.

And the clock is ticking. The weeks—if one lives to 76, one gets 4,000 weeks—tick by and my collection of to-listen-to podcast episodes (I’ve given up; There are no shows that I subscribe to, pretending I’ll listen to every episode) and my to-read books continues to grow. I need to stop screwing around trying to do things and make a living, and instead get back to listening and reading. Chicken and egg problem, that is.

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~ Original Tagged Books, Shane Parrish, Yuval Noah Harari




 






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