… that today is National Croissant Day? Today we celebrate these delicious buttery, crescent-shaped rolls that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside! To celebrate National Croissant Day, enjoy a delicious croissant with a generous helping of butter. Yum!
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
… that today is Backward Day? Today is the day to do everything backwards! Try writing or reading backwards. Wear your shirt with the back in the front. Walk or talk backwards. Play a board game backwards, from the finish line to the start. Have fun with it!
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”
Ø For India to remain on track as a favorable investment destination and become a US$5 trillion economy, it has to streamline taxation guidelines and improve GST compliance which will boost exports and increase growth, according to top India-centric American business advocacy groups.US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) has appealed to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to announce reduction and streamlining of various tax and tariff structures and open up the economy, arguing that it would bring the country on the path of fast track growth and create employment in large numbers.US India Business Council, which comes under US Chambers of Commerce, recommended removing price controls in the media and entertainment sectors.
Ø After struggling to grow its handsets business in India during 2018,Apple ended 2019 on a high note. Following record sales in the September quarter, the maker of iPhone, iPad and Macbook put up a robust show during October-December 2019.Tim Cook, chief executive of the Cupertino-headquartered firm, said in an investor call, “We had double-digit growth in many developed markets, including the US, the UK, France and Singapore. We also grew double-digits in emerging markets, led by strong performances in Brazil, Mainland China, India, Thailand and Turkey.”
Ø The US has filed lawsuits against five companies and three individuals allegedly responsible for making hundreds of millions of fake robocalls to American consumers from abroad, mostly from India, and causing massive financial losses to the elderly and the vulnerable. Seeking a restraining order against such call centers and robocalls, the Department of Justice in its class action lawsuit alleged that the companies were warned many times not to place fraudulent calls including government and business-imposter calls; yet they continued to do so and facilitated foreign-based fraud schemes targeting Americans
Ø US President Donald Trump will visit the Sabarmati Riverfront in Gujarat during his India trip in February, the state Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Wednesday. Rupani said this while addressing an election rally in north Delhi’s Shastri Nagar.
Ø Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri and the aviation regulator yesterday defended the travel ban imposed on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by four airlines before the institution of internal enquiries, but legal experts questioned the length of the ban and charged the airlines with failing to follow due process. IndiGo on Tuesday banned Kamra for six months for heckling news anchor Arnab Goswami. Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir banned him “until further notice” after a tweet by Puri urging other airlines to follow suit.
Ø Indian companies are bracing for production shortages, disruption in shipments and scarcity of critical bulk drugs and life-saving antibiotics amid a travel clampdown in China, which is struggling to contain the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. In the wake of the disease outbreak, national carrier Air India said it will cancel flights between Mumbai and Shanghai from 31 January to 14 February, while the country’s largest private airline IndiGo said it will suspend flights from New Delhi to China’s Chengdu from 1-20 February.
Ø Finances of Indian Railways will remain stressed this fiscal as its operating ratio is unlikely to improve in the current fiscal amid dip in earnings. Operating ratio measures expenses as a proportion of revenue or the amount spent on every rupee earned. Railways’ is eyeing an operating ratio of 95% in the current fiscal, down from 97.3% in financial year 2018-19.
Ø Oriental Structure Engineers, Chetak Enterprises, KNR Constructions, Sadbhav Infrastructure Projects and a joint venture of IRB infrastructure Developers and Modern Road Makers are among the companies that have exited contracts as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) failed to give official approval for the execution of projects. According to the norms, the NHAI gives an appointed date or official date for the road developer to start work.
Ø Ahead of the Union Budget, the Oil Ministry has made a renewed pitch for inclusion of natural gas in the ambit of GST to promote the use of the environment-friendly fuel by reducing multiplicity of taxes and improving business climate.
Ø The California Institute of Technology said on Wednesday that it won a US$1.1 billion (837 million pounds) jury verdict in a patent case against Apple and Broadcom . In a case filed in federal court in Los Angeles in 2016, the Pasadena, California-based research university alleged that Broadcom wi-fi chips used in hundreds of millions of Apple iPhones infringed patents relating to data transmission technology. Apple said it plans to appeal the verdict, but declined further comment. The company had said in court filings that it believed all of the university’s claims against it resulted from its using Broadcom’s chips in its devices, calling itself “merely an indrect downstream party.”
Ø Boeing Co. closed the financial books on a tragic and tumultuous 2019 by revealing that total costs for its grounded 737 Max will surpass US$18 billion when the tab for restarting production later this year is included. The planemaker is taking a US$2.6 billion pretax writedown to compensate airlines for ballooning losses from a global flying ban that’s expected to stretch to midyear.
Ø Facebook Inc. will pay $500 million to resolve claims it collected user biometric data without consent in one of the largest consumer privacy settlements in US history, according to a statement Wednesday by lawyers for consumers The accord, which requires a judge’s approval, will avert a trial that may have exposed the social networking company to billions of dollars in damages. Facebook stocks plunged more than 7% on Wednesday in after-hours trading after the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings.
Ø The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate steady and continued to signal policy would stay on hold for the time being as the U.S. enters a presidential election year. The target range of the federal funds rate of 1.5% to 1.75% is “appropriate to support sustained expansion of economic activity,’’ the Federal Open Market Committee said Wednesday, repeating language from the December statement.
Ø Senators in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial peppered House Democrats and defense lawyers with questions on Wednesday, ahead of a crucial vote on whether to allow new witnesses and documents into the proceedings. The legal teams took turns fielding a range of pointed queries from the Senate as it weighs the ultimate question of whether to convict and remove Trump from office over his efforts to have Ukraine announce investigations into his political opponents. It’s highly unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will vote to throw a Republican president out of office. But a few key swing votes in the GOP could still change the trajectory of the impeachment trial, when the Senate votes on whether to call witnesses or subpoena additional documents.
It takes strength and restraint to be gentle.
Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong. (Leo Buscaglia)
Those who love you will come back to you even if you let them go.
If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. (Richard Bach)
… that today is Lopsided Basketball Game Day? In 1964, one Louisiana high school basketball team beat another 211 to 29, the most lopsided high school basketball game ever played. The teams shall remain nameless to protect the honor of the losing team. 😉
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“If the grass looks greener on the other side… Stop staring. Stop comparing. Stop complaining. Start watering the grass you’re standing on.”
… that today is Mad Tea Party Day? On the birthday of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we celebrate life with a mad tea party! Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was born on January 27, 1832, in Cheshire, England.
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
“Using order to deal with the disorderly, using calm to deal with the clamorous, is mastering the heart.”― Sun Tzu
“Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.”― Sun Tzu
“The victorious army is victorious first and seeks battle later; the defeated army seeks battle first and seeks victory later.”― Sun Tzu
“If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”― Sun Tzu
“He wins his battles by making no mistakes.”― Sun Tzu
Takeaway: When you consume caffeine habitually, you’ll need to consume more and more to experience the same energy boost. This makes occasionally resetting your caffeine tolerance worth the effort and the struggle. To do this, slowly lower the amount of caffeine you consume each day, or go “cold turkey” if you don’t consume a lot to begin with. Invest in your energy at the same time to counterbalance withdrawal symptoms.
Estimated Reading Time:3 minutes, 59s.
Podcast Length:29 minutes, 49s.
It’s worth resetting your caffeine tolerance every once in a while. The reason for this is simple: as your body becomes accustomed to consuming caffeine, you need to consume more and more of it to experience the same energy boost.
When you go from consuming zero coffee a day to drinking a single cup, you feel a big energy boost. But soon, your body adjusts, and you need two cups to experience the same effect. Then three. And then maybe even four. You get the picture. (Here’s why: caffeine binds to a chemical in your brain called adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired. Your brain normally reabsorbs this chemical and loses energy by itself—not so after you consume caffeine. Your brain even grows more and more adenosine receptors as you drink greater amounts of caffeine, meaning you need to consume more and more of it to feel the same effect. This also leads to larger energy crashes—once the caffeine in your brain dissipates, your brain absorbs a whole whack of adenosine at once.) This idea of caffeine inflation can be dangerous. Setting aside the fact that it’s never fun to rely on drugs to feel a proper amount of energy, consuming too much caffeine can also lead to anxiety, exhaustion, and can disrupt your sleep, among many other factors. Plus, large energy crashes can obliterate your productivity.
I fell into this trap a couple of months ago when, during the holidays, I found myself drinking far more coffee than usual—the equivalent of five cups of coffee each day, in the form of coffee, tea, and espresso.
There’s nothing wrong with consuming caffeine for a productivity boost, especially when you drink it strategically—like before working on important tasks—so you can actually make use of the energy boost. But it’s worth performing a caffeine reset whenever you find yourself consuming caffeine habitually, or when you’re consuming more of it to experience the same energy sensation. A caffeine reset can be a struggle, but it’s worth it to get out of a downward spiral. You can reset your caffeine tolerance in one of two ways:
Slowly reducing how much caffeine you consume each day, if you rely on it heavily to experience a passable amount of energy. I’ve done this by drinking the same amount of tea or coffee, but substituting more and more of it with decaf, until I’ve cut out caffeine altogether.
Going cold turkey, and not consuming caffeine until your energy rebalances. I’ve found this method helpful in the past during times when I’ve been drinking a couple cups of tea per day, or a single cup of coffee. I actually prefer this method—I can feel the effects of going without caffeine, and watch the effects diminish over time.
The toughest part of writing about caffeine is that everyone
is wired differently. Just as everyone responds to caffeine differently, a caffeine reset may have a different effect on each person. If you consume caffeine habitually, you’ll almost certainly experience symptoms as you reduce your tolerance—in the past, I’ve experienced headaches, mood swings, sadness, an inability to focus, brain fog, and even flu-like symptoms. While this may make resetting your caffeine tolerance seem like more trouble than it’s worth, consider that you’re experiencing these symptoms because you’ve grown reliant on a drug for energy.
Thankfully, while you’ll probably experience some withdrawal symptoms, there are many ways to mitigate them:
Starting on the weekend. This will give you an excuse to veg out, and will minimize the impact the reset has on your productivity.
Treating your worst symptoms. If your headaches and other withdrawal symptoms are bad, aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve them, until they go away in a week or so (depending on how much caffeine you regularly consume).
Investing in your energy levels. Eating clean-burning foods that provide lasting energy, getting exercise (which rebalances your brain chemicals), drinking plenty of water, and getting enough rest can minimize the amount of energy lost as you cut back on caffeine. You may even find that you have more energy than before.
Caffeine is a drug—a popular and usually delicious one, but a drug nonetheless. I’m personally a big fan of caffeine—and consume it most days, especially before working on my most important tasks. But because the costs of caffeine can be so great, it’s worth consuming it strategically, rather than habitually.
Resetting your tolerance to caffeine can be a pain—but once you get over your withdrawal symptoms, you’ll be able to consume it a lot more deliberately and productively.
More people are adopting a green lifestyle. Beyond Meat, maker of plant-based proteins, has increased its stock prices by more than three times since its IPO launch. But for consumers, the eco-conscious lifestyle doesn’t stop at vegetarian diets and organic hygiene products. Lunya, a popular women’s-clothing maker, constructs its products from natural fabrics and fibers, and its sleepwear and intimates lines use Pima cotton for durability and comfort. Using natural materials lowers the carbon footprint of their business, as well as that of the individual consumer.
According to Small Business Trends, when it comes to tapping new consumers in an already-crowded green market, “The answer may lie in supplying consumers with details — and authenticity.” It’s not enough to be green anymore; you have to help the customer understand what making eco-friendly choices means for you and them.
Right now, visitors in Singapore have the chance to wander through a family’s apartment. The first thing they’ll see is a kayak resting against the exterior wall, and as guests enter the home, they’ll pass ponchos, snorkeling gear, and homemade fishing spears, the tips of which are fashioned from old circuit boards and held to a bamboo base with plastic strips.
Further inside, there’s a kitchen, that, though familiar at first glance, contains a few oddities: books entitled “Pets as Proteins” and “How to Cook in a Time of Scarcity,” ration cards on the counter, homemade burners made out of cans. The living area has been given over to food growing systems—fogponics structures and mealworm habitats—and through a window, a view of a flooded Singapore.
No one actually lives in this apartment, but it’s a glimpse into how humans might live in the second half of this century. Called “Mitigation of Shock, Singapore,” it’s an immersive installation by London-based design studio Superflux and part of the 2219: Futures Imagined exhibit at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.
Superflux cofounders Anab Jain and Jon Ardern say they wanted to make climate change and its impacts feel more personal, and putting people in an apartment of a family making due with such hardships was one way to do it. “Not just thinking about big, global scale problems, but how does that impact day-to-day life?” Ardern says. “From our research, one of the big impacts is going to be on price and availability of food, so given that reality, we wanted to explore what might we sacrifice in our homes in order to make our access to food a little more robust.” Another detail in the kitchen: a piece of paper with a recipe for “wild pepper and roach stir fry.”
Jain and Ardern worked with experts like Benjamin Horton, chair of the Asian School of the Environment at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, to understand the ways climate change will affect food supply and the city of Singapore in general, and spent months perfecting the food growing system, which actually works (after much experimentation to ensure soil health and crop growth). They could have used props or plastic plants, but that trial and error, Ardern says, helped immerse them in the project and informed the entire installation.
Other elements in the apartment, from handcrafted kitchen burners to bamboo knives, emphasize how in the future, we may have to be more resourceful. “We wanted to create tools from the detritus of the Anthropocene, so to speak, so you know, everything that we have, you’re going to have to transition to new things,” Jain says. This installation isn’t exactly a prediction, she notes, but it is one possible, evidence-based future.
It isn’t meant to be apocalyptic, either. It may show the end of the world as we currently know it, and highlight the challenges that are certainly in store in the future, but the apartment is also a depiction of family life and perseverance. “We’re talking about multispecies cohabitation,” Jain says. “We’re talking about humility and deep resourcefulness and imagination.” Ardern notes that there are “drawings on the wall from a happy child,” though at least one is a drawing of “everyday life in a flooded city.” Still, it’s proof that generations have survived.
“Mitigation of Shock, Singapore” builds on a prior exhibit from Superflux called “Mitigation of Shock, London,” which depicted a London apartment adapted to climate change-ravaged 2050—only 30 years in the future (The Singapore instillation is set a bit further in the future, but Ardern and Jain prefer to keep the specific year ambiguous). Ardern and Jain picked the initial 2050 date because that’s when their son, currently 8 years old, will be around the age they are now. “That was an emotional lens for us when we were making it,” Ardern says. “Hopefully some of that hope and some of our desire for a better world is visible and readable within that space.”
Visitors have had mixed reactions to the instillation. At the London exhibit, people got angry and upset by the depiction, Jain says, even though they intended to present a hopeful vision of the future. Visitors to the Singapore exhibit, which opened in November and is on view until April 5, 2020, have said the opposite: it’s too optimistic and that things will actually be much worse. (Jain notes that the Australian bushfires began after the exhibit opened, and that catastrophic blazes, worsened by climate change, may have made this apartment’s version of the future seem downright utopian).
Ultimately, Jain and Ardern want to show that there is hope in how we will adapt to a changing world, and that even though we don’t know what the future will hold, there will be some familiarity, like that sense of home and family structure. And above all else, this immersive exhibit may help people realize that they need to acknowledge that climate change is happening. “We wanted people to situate their lives in that space and imagine what it might be to live [in the future],” says Ardern. “There’s an uncanniness to it, but it’s not completely unrelatable.”
… that today is the birthday of the Quadruple Twist Lift? In 1977, the Soviet figure skating pair of Sergei Shakrai and Marine Tcherkasova became the first skaters to perform a quadruple twist lift during a competition in Helsinki, Finland. Trivia buffs: Shakhrai’s problems lifting his partner eventually resulted in them splitting up. By 1981, Cherkasova had grown so tall that Shakhrai could no longer lift her!
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“The mindless junk of your past crowds out opportunities and sets pointless limitations. Move out the junk, and you create room for the rest of your life. Ultimately, it’s not just a question of tidying your house; it’s a question of liberating your heart.”
By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion. How are we going to feed everyone? Investment-banker-turned-farmer Stuart Oda points to indoor vertical farming: growing food on tiered racks in a controlled, climate-proof environment. In a forward-looking talk, he explains how this method can maintain better safety standards, save money, use less water and help us provide for future generations.
This talk was presented at a TED Salon event given in partnership with Brightline Initiative. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page. Read more about TED Salons.
Sara Menker quit a career in commodities trading to figure out how the global value chain of agriculture works. Her discoveries have led to some startling predictions: “We could have a tipping point in global food and agriculture if surging demand surpasses the agricultural system’s structural capacity to produce food,” she says. “People could starve and governments may fall.” Menker’s models predict that this scenario could happen in a decade — that the world could be short 214 trillion calories per year by 2027. She offers a vision of this impossible world as well as some steps we can take today to avoid it.
It doesn’t require a total overhaul of your life, but following a few simple steps can help you start consuming less, says Lucía González Schuett.
This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.
A few years ago, Lucía González Schuett embarked on a “personal rollercoaster journey,” as she puts it in a TEDxHHL Talk. And it all started when she looked at something that most of us have: a junk drawer.
She was disturbed by what she found — most of the things there were broken, incomplete or imperfect, but she had felt compelled to hold onto them. She questioned every item, asking questions like: “Do I really need this? Does it add value? Is it worth the space that it takes up or the care it requires?”
And she made a radical decision: She vowed to go for a year without buying anything except for food.
Around the same time, she was going through a professional transition. She’d made a career in fast fashion, where her salary was partly based on commission — the more she could get people to spend, the more she earned. One of her responsibilities was to rotate the store’s contents so the merchandise would appear new to shoppers and they’d discover something they overlooked on a previous trip.
In 2018, González Schuett left the industry to go to business school and she chose to make it her no-buying year (which she discusses in a TEDxHECParis talk). Her experiences caused her to rethink consumption — on a personal and a societal level — and become aware of the invasive, ongoing pressures to acquire new stuff.
“The app I use to measure my performance when I go jogging is trying to tell me when it’s time for me to throw away the sneakers I’m wearing and buy a new pair,” says González Schuett, who is currently based in London. “The pillow I sleep on I recently found out has an expiration date.” She adds, “We collectively need to pause for a moment and wonder: Are we losing — or at least outsourcing — our very basic common sense to decide our needs by ourselves when it comes to consumption?”
It’s not realistic or feasible for most people to swear off shopping as she once did, and González Schuett gets that. She says, “It is possible for us to rethink our day-to-day behavior towards consumption, exercise the ability to appreciate things again, and eliminate that link between easy access and taking things for granted.”
She urges people to engage in what she calls a “scary yet extremely insightful exercise”: “getting over the want and becoming honest about the need.” In other words, she invites us to take an honest look at the things we want and we need and question whether we actually do.
There are many good reasons to regain control of your consumption. González Schuett suggests, “Maybe it’s for the environment, for the sustainability of future generations, for your personal finances, or for the sake of your peace of mind.”
To help you take back control, González Schuett shares these tips:
Let yourself run out of something before you re-buy or re-order. “Spend some time without it; in other words, try to miss it,” says González Schuett. “Because there’s so much to be learned from missing things. Plus, you’ll exponentially increase your short-term happiness once you get it again.”
Keep an item in your online shopping cart for a few days — or weeks — before buying it. You’ll reduce your chance of regretting an impulsive purchase when you find something better later, or realize you don’t actually need it at all.
Instead of immediately replacing something that’s broken, try fixing it first. It’s not always cheaper to buy something new, and you can support a local business or repair cafe by visiting them. You can also teach yourself some new skills. In her no-buying year, González Schuett learned to sew on replacement buttons, and she even watched a YouTube video to figure out how to repair her washing machine.
When you do buy, consider second-hand. By purchasing something that’s pre-owned, you’ll keep from adding to the sum total of things in circulation — since the thing you’ll buy is already out in the world — and you’ll also save money. When it comes to furniture, she points out that for people who live in cities, “we’re all moving around so frequently that second-hand items are more often than not hardly ever been used.”
Choose quality over quantity, especially when it comes to fashion. Try to pick things that are made to last, and when you are done, consider selling, donating or swapping them, instead of throwing them away.
Share what you have, and find others who will. Rather than buying a tool or gadget for a one-off project, “knock on your neighbor’s door when you need a screwdriver,” recommends González Schuett. And while you’re there, let them know what you have to lend, whether it’s a bike pump, snow blower or sewing machine. These relationships can benefit both of you. She says, “What a burden for both of you to each own both things and how enriching to go back to knowing your neighbors.”
Shift your mindset about stuff. As González Schuett puts it, “Consider yourself a custodian of things, rather than an owner.” When you think about it, you’ll realize that there are ways to enjoy things without owing them — take the library, for example.
She adds, “Ultimately, we know it isn’t the junk in our drawers that is going to make us happy but having the resources, the space and the time to dedicate to the things that truly matter.”
Watch her TEDxHHL talk:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lucía González Schuett is head of retail projects at the Vestiare Collective, a global marketplace for pre-owned luxury and designer fashion.
We’re all drowning in a sea of information. The average processing speed of a human brain is 60 bits per second, but collectively we generate 1.7 megabytes of data in the same amount of time. That’s about 30,000 times more data than a single person can ever be aware of, much less make sense of, and the asymmetry is only growing as the age of information takes full swing. Add to this increasing flow of data all of the information that has already been existing, and a shocking fact becomes clear: trying to orient yourself in the modern age is like trying to bail a sinking ship with a teaspoon, and we’re already underwater. If we want to survive and thrive as individuals and as a species, we’re going to need tools and techniques that help us swim to the surface and stay afloat within the flood.
Understanding our current informational environment, including having a plan for making sense of and navigating it, is going to be the most important skill in the 21st century. Just as with any other environmental pressure, the information flood is kickstarting a process of natural selection: those who have the skills to navigate the new ecosystem will come out on top, and those who are unable to cope will settle into the bottom of our socio-economic hierarchy. Not everyone will be able to orient themselves and stay afloat; many will get swept up in a sea of distractions, until they are adrift without useful skills or a clear grasp on their current reality, prey for the behavioral scientists at the large tech companies, addictive products, or the latest political fads. Those who are able to develop the skills to cope with the informational asymmetry will enjoy the spoils the latest technological and biological revolution, poised to thrive in the cyber-economy and able to direct the world and bring about their visions for the world, whether positive or negative.
To be happy, healthy, successful, or hell, to even be a good person, will come down to how you deal with the information overload. So how can we equip ourselves to adapt to our new environment?
We gotta sort
Okay, so we’ve established that we need tools to help us sort information so it can serve as a tool for us rather than a tide that carries us out to sea. The question is how can you tell what is valuable or useless among the waves of information?
The first thing to take solace in is that we can sort. Not ALL of those incoming 1.7MB are going to be equally important to us; in fact, most of it will be completely useless and irrelevant to our goals. If we can somehow figure out what information is worth paying attention to, we can cherry-pick those bits that are truly impactful and avoid getting fire-hosed by irrelevancy. If you think of this filter as a question, it would be: is this relevant to me and my goals?
Secondly, even with a goal in mind, and a cherry-picked & sorted pile to search through, there is still too much stuff to wade through. The key will then be to hone your understanding of the world by identifying core principles for life and for how the world works. As quickly as possible, you should build your own internal framework of principles for understanding and making decisions in the world so you rely less and less on the random sea of information for determining what’s important and how you should make your choices. It’s like building yourself a SCUBA device for the flood. You will look for and compare patterns in the information you receive so you can build transferrable knowledge base and mental-models which will serve you in most situations. This filter as a question is: what’s the pattern here? does it fit with my internal model for how I should think and behave to achieve my goals?
To sum up, the two action items are to:
Have a Goal
Focus on Value-Dense, Widely Applicable Principles
Have a goal
Let’s say a tree fell down in the Redwood forrest. This is a data point. So the first question is: do I care? Well, it depends. Pretend you were a shark in the ocean: there’s a reason sharks have an acute sense for blood in the water and not a highly-developed sense for sniffing out fallen trees, that data has a nothing to do with finding food to survive, so it’s useless. But, if I’m an ecologist studying levels of deforestation with the purpose of cataloguing tree-deaths in the California national parks, this fallen tree becomes very important. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Every bit of information is value-less until you introduce an application for that knowledge. That application, is a goal or set of goals.
We need goals to differentiate what’s a distraction, and what’s highly significant. To paraphrase Nir Eyal, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of business and specialist in habit formation and manipulating user behavior, the definition of a distraction goes like this:
“Traction is the process of moving towards your goals. Distraction is anything that is not leading you directly to your goals, or pulls your attention and actions away from your goals.”
This makes intuitive sense. When your goal is to have fun, TV is not a distraction. But when you’re trying to write a term paper, TV is a distraction. The usefulness of the exact same information input changes as your goals change.
So the first half of the information-era success equation is to have clear and compelling goals.
Find the golden-nuggets of information
Okay so let’s say that your goal is to launch a rocket to the moon… that’s good and all, but where do you start? We have to find the pieces of information that matter the MOST. The ones that are value-dense. Value-dense information is often widely-applicable (universal), it’s a lot of utility packed into a simple principle, like a Swiss-Army knife. So how do we identify these Swiss-Army knives?
The answer is to start paying attention to reality and look for clues and patterns. We are lucky to be living in a reality with reliable and consistent behavior. Throwing things off a buildings causes those thing to fall to the ground at an accelerating rate, things don’t fall up as long as you are close enough to a body of large mass. You can run experiments to see what sorts of things you can build your rocket out of.
But running simple trial and error experiments to test every single case would take too long. You don’t have time to build a rocket out of Swiss cheese and try to launch it. The only option is to develop meta-understanding that will help you to know that the cheese rocket won’t work without going through the trouble of building it and watching it melt into a pile of oxidized lactose. We can sidestep the melted cheese by paying attention to patterns and identifying theories, and honing our principles.
Luckily, humans are pretty good at pattern matching…
We know this pattern quite well: 1 + 1 = 2. The law of addition. Mathematics is the perfect example of an abstraction layer that allows us to have a universal meta-understanding about how our reality works. It’s universal in the sense that we don’t need to check every possible pair of things that could be added to see if this pattern holds true, we can extrapolate the data we have so we can go into new situations armed with extra-information. The law of addition is highly useful and applicable in almost every field. It’s a simple piece of information that underlies our financial system, modern chemistry, and modern medicine. So by looking to universal patterns across situations and experiments, we can derive extremely simple and value dense principles from the insurmountable quintillions of bytes of data available to us. Our job is to find the “laws of addition” that relate to our goals.
Let’s return to the rocket, is there a formula or set of formulas that we can identify in the patterns of the world that will help us? Turns out there are: if you can know a few simple formulas and rules: the law of conservation of energy, Newton’s laws, and a few others… you can easily figure this out with a single formula:
This ultimate simplicity is all around us. Ph.D Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel writes about how it takes 26 fundamental constants, that combined with formulas, recreate all of our modern understanding of the physical universe.
So not only does our universe follow a consistent behavior pattern and cause and effect, but it also abides by another law: you can accurately describe the majority of behavior of reality in any field with an extremely small amount of information, through key, universal principles.
Some one line formula can suddenly be used to describe millions of phenomena that transpire around us each and every day. And what if you collected all of these formulas in one place? You’d have a cheat sheet. So what if we compiled cheat sheets for our goals? Success in the most important areas of our lives?
If you were to read the top ten of the most often recommended self-help books you would find that particular patterns emerge and themes across all of these books…
Have clear goals
Review your goals every day
Hang out with people who are successful and positive
Build positive habits
Live with gratitude
Model someone who has succeeded where you want to succeed
Boom. Just a few sentences for all the self-help in the world. By focusing on the underlying patterns, you’ve boiled down the universe’s insurmountable quantity of information to a few, easy to remember sentences.
Have principles for life
Curating and compiling a set of life and success principles is one of the most underrated practices you can undertake.
It’s not hard to conjure examples of traditionally successful people who tout this approach: Elon Musk’s “first principles thinking”, Ray Dalio’s book Principles, Warren Buffet’s strict adherence to a set of key investment principles, all the way back to the 10 commandments. The most successful and influential humans have followed principles. But would you be able to procure a list of the top ten principles you follow in your life if someone asked?
The fact that the average individual can regurgitate knowledge on things as obscure as the names of every single member of Jersey Shore TV show, but not produce a list of the most important principles that rule the areas of life they care about is the perfect symptom of how disconnected all of us are in our newly information-rich environment.
The key to having a list is to start building one and not worry about being perfect or original, you just have to have one. You can start with someone else’s as a template and go from there. You can get them from analyzing the lives of your role models, reading books or articles or podcasts, even advice from your parents. The point is just to start a list and work on refining it.
I’ll give you the ROUGH state of two of my working lists as an example. One list for general success, another list for being a good person.
Principles for Success
Have a definite aim
know what you want to do… for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year, for your life. have a clear picture of where you want to go and why. Write it DOWN.
Play to your strengths, don’t compete
take the things you are good at and work to get better at them, be best in class
what can you talk about for hours on end that no one else on the planet could?
Go to where the puck is going
do you know where the world might be in 10, 15, 20, 30 years?
are you poised to benefit or lose from these trends?
have no more than 3 MAJOR goals at a time
chasing two rabbits might lead to catching none
you can have anything you wish for, but not everything, you have to choose
You are who you spend time with
we all experience social osmosis
would you “trade places” with the people you spend time with?
What you do today is what you do everyday
every action you take is a vote for the person you will become
every action is strengthening neural connections and habits for you to act that way again
build positive habits that serve you
Good enough is good enough, EXECUTE and COMMIT
don’t get stuck in paralysis by analysis
make the best decision you can, but don’t worry about making a perfect one, it’s more important to commit to a good enough plan
Stand on shoulders of giants, don’t re-invent the wheel
find places where you don’t have to reinvent the wheel
regularly read from experts in what I want to get good at
no one got to somewhere on their own, they almost always have mentors
meetings with the right people can save you years of time
Control your attention and inputs
meditate, review your goals regularly, morning and night
the biggest threat to your goals is a lack of control over your attention
everything in the modern economy is trying to pull you off track
do what will give you more options in the future
know the few things that make the biggest difference
find the few things that will make everything else on your to-do list irrelevant or easier to do
Principles for Being a “Good person”
Follow the golden rule
How would you live if you believed you were literally everybody else, but you just didn’t know it, or couldn’t experience it
Treat others as you would have them treat you
Get good at something, or multiple things
The world has problems that are hard to solve, get skills that can move the needle on those problems
The man who doesn’t care about power is the person who doesn’t care about their fellow men
With power and success you can actually make a difference
The human default is to be lazy, live with discipline
You either live with pain of discipline or pain of regret
Work for the long term
Humans naturally have a short-term mindset, counteract by being one of the few who think long term
Live to create value for others
Self explanatory why this is a good thing
Work to decrease existential risk
Most of the “good things” have yet to come, no one will experience them if we are all dead, so work to prevent the destruction of the whole species
Live with gratitude
Gratitude helps you be happy while you do the work that needs to be done for others
Expand your paradigm
seek information that goes against your intuitions, seek a more inclusive and broader perspective of the world to avoid getting trapped in narrow or dogmatic thinking or perspectives
Understand your own strengths and weaknesses
Accept your weaknesses, build on your strengths
Always be growing and improving
You are a part of the living breathing ecosystem, if you improve yourself, you are improving the world
Each of these principles deserve an essay of their own that describes how the conclusions were drawn, their evidence, their application, and how they can improve your life, but for now I can be content with their introduction. But you could theoretically come up with principles for any question. Here are a few categories that might be particularly valuable to start collecting principles for…
how to do the most good for the world
how to become wealthy
how to have a thriving romantic relationship
how to be healthy
how to be happy
Theoretically, if you had 10 principles summed up for each of these five categories, you’d be able to have the secret to a life well-lived in 50 sentences. The disclaimer is that none of these lists or principles are perfect or comprehensive, and they don’t have to be. Because even the best list is completely worthless without one crucial thing.
# Perfect information isn’t the answer
As exciting as it is to collect lists of principles for navigating the world, these lists are just a small piece of the puzzle. The man who knows everything and does not apply it is a fool.
Most of the principles above are just common sense. You wouldn’t have to go to the library or interview the most interesting people in the world to discern them.
Derek Sivers, the founder of CDBaby and all around awesome person has an amazing quote that goes something like this: “If more knowledge was the answer to success, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs…”
The secrets to the universe are not secrets at all. Humans are just too lazy to apply and live by the knowledge they acquire. The battle is not against the universe, it’s with our daily impulses to be lazy and stay in our comfort zones that keep our societies in the dark ages and prevent us from living the lives we desire.
I’m not trying to discourage making lists of principles. If you haven’t collected a list of principles for the most important areas of your life (money, career, relationships) please try it, it could be one of the highest ROI activities you conduct. I’m just clarifying that having principles for living a successful life is not a sufficient condition for living successfully.
Once you have a working list you have to apply it to actually get anywhere. There’s no point in designing the perfect rocket trajectory on a whiteboard, if you don’t actually build it, and fly it to the moon.
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite time in the future.” ― George Patton Jr.
This leads us into a separate conversation of tactics. What are the day to day practices you utilize to put your principles into action to achieve your goals in the real world and not just on paper.? How do you fight battle with yourself each and every day.
So let me end with a couple of simple exercises you can follow to get some value out of your list.
Stoic philosopher Seneca recommended taking a bit of wisdom, a quote, phrase, or passage and reflecting on it each and every day. This exercise copies that approach
Compile a numbered list of principles for your life (hopefully as a living breathing document)
Create a journal somewhere, either physical or digital
Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to review
During your review, generate a random number write the principle at the top of your journal and answer some of following questions
How am I not living by this principle?
What are some changes I can make or ideas to live more in line with the principle?
What would my life look like if I followed this principle?
If you’d prefer to review on a weekly basis, here’s a slightly modified version.
Schedule a consistent event in your calendar at some point in the week.
Follow steps 1) and 2) from above
When it’s time go over this list, copy and paste the top 5–10 principles from the list over to your journal, leaving space underneath each one
Answer some or all of the questions from step 4) above
This is just one example of how you might bridge the gap between wisdom and its successful application so you can make better progress in today’s informational Wild West.
Hopefully this sort of practice would work to help you closer to living a life you might be proud of, rather than the one that others would have you live for their own purposes. I sometimes like to think what the world would look like if everyone followed a process like this. That thought keeps me going. Happy thriving!
… that today is A Room of One’s Own Day? Have a private place to enjoy silence and aloneness. Celebrate the birthday of Virginia Woolf, the English author who wrote A Room of One’s Own (1929), by sprucing up your room and creating a special place of your own.
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
3. Put together a full Christmas dinner (turkey, potatoes, gravy, rolls, etc) and drop it off at someone’s house who could use it. Ring the doorbell and run away so it’s anonymous (and so much more exciting!).
4. Take a treat or note to a neighbor or friend who could use a pick-me-up.
5. Write an inspirational note to someone how needs inspiration
My Signature – Better Still Better and My Poem “I am jAy”
I Am jAy
I am a speaker, author and mentor I wonder what it will feel like to swim in the Universe I hear the sound of the Stars and Meteors cheering my name I see a Galaxy full of planets I want to win a Sun/Moon medal I am a speaker, author and mentor
I pretend I am in Olympic training camp I feel proud I touch the shiny gold medal I worry that my friends won’t be able to make it to my swim meet I cry about losing in my past life I am a speaker, author and mentor
I understand how much my friends wanted me to Win I say that when I win the gold, they will be there I dream about my friends standing up and cheering for me I try to help me get better Still Better every day I hope my dreams come true in the life beyong life I am a speaker, author and mentor
The Wuhan-born coronavirus is spreading exponentially, and officials are still uncertain about how to contain it. So far the virus has killed at least 56 people in China, and more than 2,000 have been sickened worldwide. The virus has been found in Thailand, France, Japan, South Korea and Australia; new cases have cropped up in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US. A big problem is the incubation period which can last up to two weeks. People carrying the virus, but not showing symptoms, can still infect others.
Many believe local authorities have mishandled the crisis. Wuhan’s mayor estimated some five million people had left before travel out of the city was restricted. By Sunday the 50 million people of Hubei Province, including those in its capital, Wuhan, were on lockdown. Officials considered extending the Lunar New Year to delay the reopening of schools and offices, and people were encouraged to stay home. Also on Sunday the national government temporarily banned the wildlife trade, as China’s animal markets have been linked to epidemiological risks. Chinese tour groups were ordered to cease operations beginning Monday.
Confusion and uncertainty seems to have extended to the US government’s efforts to evacuate American diplomats and citizens from China. The state department said Sunday it was arranging a flight to leave Wuhan Tuesday bound for San Francisco. A limited number of private citizens are supposed to be able to join diplomatic personnel on the flight, but no plan was announced about who would be given priority if not enough seats are available for all who want to leave.