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Category / wisdom

Raise the aspirations of others

Tyler Cowen is an economics professor and a prolific blogger at Marginal Revolution. He’s an A-list follow with multiple blog posts every day, and he’s a voracious reader who has pointed me to a lot of insightful articles and books. I love this thought from Cowen: “At critical moments in time, you can raise the […]

A belief in the blood

“My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do I care about knowledge? All I want is […]

Lines of excellence

In a press conference just weeks before his death, President Kennedy was asked by a reporter if he liked his job. Kennedy’s response: “Well, I find the work rewarding. Whether I am going to stay and what my intentions are and all the rest, it seems to me it is still a good many, many […]

“If you’re polite and if you read…”

“If you’re polite and if you read, I think you’ve got the first 75 steps down the path to success.” –Tom Peters Be kind. Be curious. Love and knowledge. “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” –Bertrand Russell

The Journey is the Thing

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.” Tal Ben-Shahar in Happier It’s about pointing […]

Act as if you were absolutely perfect

“Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect—whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage… Behave as best you know. Do what you think you should. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them. Only intentions matter. The shape things take is […]

Miles Davis, So What, and being in accord no matter the chord

This story that opens jazz great Herbie Hancock’s memoir, Possibilities, is profound: I’m onstage at a concert hall in Stockholm, Sweden, in the mid-1960s playing piano with the Miles Davis Quintet. We’re on tour, and this show is really heating up. The band is tight—we’re all in sync, all on the same wavelength. The music […]

The only competition that matters

“Oh my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible.” –Pindar “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” –Seneca “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” –Robert Louis Stevenson The only competition that […]

Energy crisis

“To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is frequently the energy that is lacking.” –Bertrand Rusell The know-how may be less crucial than the want-to and the get-up-and-go. The will to action can be tough to summon. But it’s often the first step—the […]

Things fall apart: The Second Law and the meaning of life

I keep coming back to this feature I read last year on the scientific term or concept that scholars think ought to be more widely known. Here’s the scientist Steven Pinker’s response explaining why more people should understand entropy as described by the second law of thermodynamics: Why the awe for the Second Law? The Second […]

On not aiming for fame

I saw this New York Times column by Emily Esfahani Smith last fall and filed it away to reference later. I ended up reading her book, The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness. She makes the case that a good life is one that most likely looks quite ordinary and […]

On noticing when you’re happy

From a 2003 speech to college students by the author Kurt Vonnegut: And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other […]

By-the-way happiness

“Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.” […]

Defying gravity

I get The Daily Stoic daily email. Today’s email quoted this passage from Walker Percy’s book, The Moviegoer: “I don’t know quite what we’re doing on this insignificant cinder spinning away in a dark corner of the universe. That is a secret which the high gods have not confided in me. Yet one thing I […]

Wired for story

“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” –Philip Pullman Humans are wired for story. It’s what knitted us together into a tribal species and ended up being a key to our eventual dominance of the planet. We built our culture on stories, useful fictions that allowed us […]

Raw materials

I routinely forget to celebrate the arrival of unwanted circumstances that are beyond my control. I need to remind myself that external events which I perceive to be happening to me are actually raw materials that I can use in my endeavor to craft a more excellent life. I can utilize events out of my control to […]

If this is it

What if this life is the paradise we were promised, and we're just squandering it? — Naval Ravikant (@naval) August 14, 2016 What if this is it?  Paradise—right here, right now. As far as we can see in this vast universe, there is no place like this planet, no place like our home. It’s filled […]

Beware of advice

“Beware of advice, even this.” –Carl Sandburg via Scott Berkun Learn all you can from the experience and wisdom of others, but ultimately you have to live your own life as best you can on your own. Or not.

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