Last week I didn't manage to reach my goal. I had too much on my to do list, got a fever, injured my hip, and learned that I put the bar too high. I actually wanted to sum up everything I read in depth, and before it was Friday I had over 5000 words, unorganized..

I also didn't read everything I set out to. Which is fine, but there are some small improvements I'll make in my approach. On a positive note, I was able to consume more content than I expected I would. It was a very insightful week.

Image result for setback funny comic
The feeling when one setback involves into a small clusterfuck πŸ˜… Though handling setbacks with care is something to value on its own!

Consumed content

And some related articles, Wiki pages and Youtube videos.

Key takeaways

  • Take care to identify the presence of 'you' - your ego - before you reflect on the values you want to stand by;
  • When standing by your values, do not give a fuck about what other people think, unless one of your values revolves around caring about their opinion;
  • If you don't give a fuck, remain willing to explain why you are saying 'no'. This is valuable for others, and a good overall value;
  • Fulfillment is not found in grand ideas. Human flourishing is found closer to living 'action by action'. However valuable, don't let conscious thought consistently chip away at your present experience. Don't let the FOMO rule you. It sucks. Also don't mistake the importance of present experience for a reason to act hedonistically. Remember what Freud once said:

β€œOne day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” - Sigmund Freud

Random thoughts

Programming is addictive

What makes programming so addictive and awesome, because it can be hugely rewarding, is that there is a pattern of variable reward and investment. You get an idea, code it, it might work (quite unpredictable if you work on something challenging) and you'll have to invest (sometimes a sh*tload of time) to get it to work like you want. Reminded me of the 'Hooked' model described in β€˜Hooked’ by Nir Eyal;

How to describe love?

I had a thought that I think describes love:

Love shows when we connect in the moment, with the intention of providing emotional safety and support, being engaged and completely open to someone's experience.
There is a sporadic, short lived, strongly emotional and recurring inclusive process of indicating emotional safety and intention to engage in bonding that is received and reciprocated. A sensation cared for together while we change as individuals.

Regardless of whether it's friendship, a relationship or someone random you just met, cultivating this value in the relationships that matter to us is a good thing. Look at Limbic resonance: "Within the effulgence of their new brain, mammals developed a capacity we call 'limbic resonance' β€” a symphony of mutual exchange and internal adaptation whereby two mammals become attuned to each other's inner states.".

This is essential for human beings, noted in studies.

The Digest

Due to the amount of variety around this info digest cycle, I am branching out in several posts and topics:

Post: Reflection on Ego, goals, freedom and virtue in the ordinary - based on Tim Ferris and Sam Harris podcast

A great podcast from two guys I admire. Sam Harris is a realistic but moderately spiritual person, and goes into ego, goals and many other aspects that are mentioned in most modern philosophy of the mind. I've been trying his new app 'Awaken' and so far, I like it a lot. It provides solid info while guiding you through meditation. I found it to work better than Headspace, and it's the first app I can prefer over unguided meditation.

This podcast raised some thoughts about goals, freedom, ego and living well through embracement of the ordinary. Writing a separate reflection on it here (upcoming).

Post: Being a good leader for the most important person in your life - based on Podcast from Tim Ferris and Seth Godin and some blogs

We are always alone. This realization came early in my life when reading a book from Krishnamurti and finishing Nietzsche's 'Ecce homo' and while in a deep existential crisis.

To be a good leader for yourself, is a virtue. It's a good measure of maturity. Seth Godin had some interesting points revolving around productivity, creativity and discipline that are valuable for anyone interested in leading themselves healthily in these aspects of life.

Subtle art of not giving a fuck:

The idea that happiness is a concrete goal is a myth. Happiness comes through suffering, but not all suffering. Where it comes from, I don't know. Books like Flow indicate similar things. You can find this notion more often in positive psychology.

Throughout the book, a couple of things were striking and could even be life changing: Values, and the 'self'.

Watch what you value. It's hard to find out what you value, for real. That's where the challenge of the 'self' comes in. Learn to see what your mind does (meditate, or ask honest friends). What makes you doubt yourself? What makes you give a fuck? These things revolve about your values. They are not conscious.

Try looking at the common denominator in what makes you react emotionally to certain situations (angry, for example) and look at what the situation denies. In case of a client not paying: the situation denies you money. It's either money, or what you set out to do with it, that is your value. This is a good start to learn more!

There is so much good information to be extracted from the book, especially when armed with knowledge from other good books like Tao Te King, 12 rules for life, Ecce homo, Flow or Thinking, Fast and Slow. All recommended.

Resonance: how to open doors for other people

We need kindness and love so much more than we know, want to admit and give. Often, we're awfully deprived of real love. Our view of relationships needs a severe makeover. I've been somewhat troubled by witnessing this problem in myself and others nearly all of my adolescent life, which is why I'm so interested in it.

Resonance is not only a mammalian capacity but an outright necessity. A really striking quote from the article on Farnam Street was:

People want to be recognized. It reminds them they exist. Never take that away from anyone - some aunt of Shane Parrish's friend.

This also ties into relationship therapy nicely. The social need is part of our mammalian brain. Love is not only for our intimate relationships. Love is the base of any human connection, and emotional availability is the currency of love.

The lies we tell

If you want a good example of why the contents of books like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and Thinking, Fast and Slow are so valuable, read this one through :) It's a very short read.

The knowledge about our own mind and emotions makes us humble enough to accept that we're wrong so much that admitting it should be as common and accepted as saying you need to go to the bathroom. It's nothing beautiful, but everyone does it, all the time.

Blog about Stack Overflow on CodingHorror

This was an interesting takeaway, and something that Jeff Atwood is equipped to say considering the data's there.

because 10 different people will ask a nearly identical question using 10 different sets of completely unrelated words with no overlap. I know, it sounds crazy, but trust me: humans are amazing at this. We want all those duplicates to exist so they can point to the primary question they are a duplicate of, while still being valid search targets for people who ask questions with unusual or rare word choices.

This adds a tiny bit of extra quantitative flavoring to the idea of human language being wildly ambiguous.

Post: Emotion, love, relationships - based on a paper and podcasts from Dr. Sue Johnson

I started my overall interest in relationships and social science when I read 'The definitive book of Body Language' and 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'. It only got more when I got into DevOps because of the relevance of culture and communication, which is something I will be writing about more. It's all connected!

Tools and tips for better sleep

Even though a lot of my investigation still has to be done, there are some useful thoughts and takeaways I might already have that can re-inspire a part of my search to understand my own sleep management better. To be honest, I found this one of the lesser podcasts of Tim Ferris since 80% of the conversations were a bit off-topic and focused on health in general.

Some niceties I know or have learned about sleep from the top of my head:

  • For muscle recovery, deep sleep - or slow wave sleep - matters most. You should ideally get around 1,5 hours of deep sleep every night. This is also important for memory recovery. Basically: for physical recovery;
  • Naps work, but try to keep them under 2o (max 30) minutes (this works best for me, you'll otherwise wake up less energized and less sleep later). There are resources that suggest this is the best approach based on research (no sources though). I usually only use naps if I'm suddenly fatigued (like when I have to do focused work after a heavy training);
  • Due to the half life of caffeine (6-8 hours, though some say less, I found this to be closer to the truth and so does Wikipedia), stop drinking coffee after 14:00 and accept if you're tired. Don't drink coffee to work away tiredness;
  • This should be obvious by now: but no light. It turns out through research that the 'blue light' emitted by most devices is not actually a sole cause for reduced melatonin, even though the body is more sensitive to it. It's light in general that impacts our circadian rhythms. So an overall dark environment is still most important before you go to sleep, even though changing screen color or wearing glasses that filter blue light might still help;
  • A morning rhythm works great to wake up. Especially one with some physical exercise;

For lots of info on sleep, check out Tuck! I found this a good resource.

Alain de Botton from The School of Life: Why you will marry the wrong person

Early in the video I found an interesting notion: Being happy about being sad. Interestingly, Alain noted that sadness is a β€˜better’ emotion than rage.

The reason being is that rage is based on hope that's not realized. If we become enraged, it's due to a strong expectation that isn't met (often derived from a personal value, a topic that I will go into more in another dedicated post with the link added here). If we become a bit more pessimistic (an extreme would be nihilistic or philosophical skepticism), we tend to feel more saddened rather than angered. We have prematurely accepted that our expectations aren't going to be met..

My personal thought is that we should refrain from disappointment becoming the expectation itself. This is, I feel, an easy way to reach emotional turmoil as we remove the possibility for fulfillment. Fulfillment comes from goals being met, and what are goals but carefully set expectations? If we remove optimistic expectations, we remove our opportunity for fulfillment. The middle ground: find pride in dealing with expectations not being met. Find pride and challenge in staying balanced through your unmet expectations.

I believe the virtuous person is virtuous because of the way they manage themselves over time. It's important to separate this from a virtuous action. Let's aim to be virtuous people :)

I will include more of the video's contents together with more material in my posts on relationships and emotions!

Funny encounter

I follow poorlydrawnlines, because it's indisputably hilarious, period. Join us! 😈 πŸ₯³

Where good intentions can go wrong. I have to admit I have done this too, once or twice (I hope not more, sorry dear friends πŸ˜…)..

Changing the format constantly

Working on a consistent upward trend also means adjusting, so I'm going to go at it another week and try to post every coming Sunday. The new format will be the same as my first attempt: just short summaries.. I've further divided my more extensive posts and thoughts into topics I am very interested in like 'relationships', 'self', 'productivity', 'meaning', 'health', 'training', 'devops', 'programming', 'security'.

I'll keep changing the format until it both seems to be most interesting for others as practical for me. Might take a couple of iterations! Please give me feedback if you have any, I'm iterating constantly.

Follow me on Goodreads if you want. I keep track of things I read/listen and want to listen since around a week now.

'Till next week!