Interesting Links: February 2017

Links

  • Why We Get Fat: “Optimal nutrition is about maximising micronutrients while managing your glucose load so your pancreas can keep up. In addition to managing carbohydrates, moderating protein, increasing fibre and maximising nutrition, are important to optimise body fat and normalise blood glucose.”
  • Why Learning is the New Procrastination: “Stop learning by watching the game. Start learning by playing it.”
  • Charlie Munger on Getting Rich, Wisdom, Focus, Fake Knowledge and More: “While we can’t have his genetics, we can try to steal his approach to rationality. There’s almost no limit to the amount one could learn from studying the Munger mind, so let’s at least get started by running down some of his best ideas.”
  • A Brief History of Existential Terror: “Success, in this view, is to find a fear that is at your level of skill and ambition, something which might not work, and to dance with it. The biggest danger in the modern world is not failure, it’s boredom.”
  • Creating Focus: “Instead of writing some non-sense motivational speech on how to get amped up about your life, we’re going to outline a way to consistently get into ‘the zone’.”
  • 10 Year Projects and Short Term Projects: “If you choose your projects right, life will be very satisfying, full of achievements, every year will be a little easier and better than the last one… I’d like to recommend a guideline to you: only do 10-year projects or short projects, and almost nothing in between.”
  • How Your Climate-Controlled Comfort Is Killing You: “But what if our quest for technology-enabled comfort has actually made us physically and mentally weaker and sicker? What if our bodies actually need discomfort to truly thrive and flourish?”

Books:

Recently Finished:

  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
  • Stealing Fire
  • Extreme Ownership

Up Next:

  • Contagious
  • Cashvertising
  • The Boron Letters
  • The Robert Collier Letter Book
  • Zen Habits
  • Mindfulness in Plain English
  • The Magic of Thinking Big

How I (Finally) Started a Journaling Habit

It seems that almost every site I follow recommends keeping a journal:

For the longest time (think: years), I’ve tried and failed to keep up a consistent journaling habit. But in the last 100 days, I’ve only missed two and by now it’s a solid habit that doesn’t take any willpower in the morning. In fact, it actually takes willpower not to do it.

So what finally did it?

Fountain pens and nice notebooks. Let me explain…


Journaling is one of those things where you don’t see much benefit from it until after you’ve consistently done it for a while. This makes it hard to fit into the cue-action-reward loop that is required for habit formation.

With meditation, my cue is sitting down at my desk after weighing in and the reward is the feeling of calm immediately proceeding it. With working out, my cue is a certain time every day and the reward is the endorphin rush and chocolate protein shake.

I had the cue worked out for journaling, but was never rewarding myself with anything. When I finally shelled out for a nice pen, ink, and paper (TWSBI Eco, Pilot Iroshizuku, and LEUCHTTURM1917 for you nerds out there :p), the act of writing itself was a pleasant experience and didn’t need an additional reward.

Aside: this is an example of friction and snowball mental models. Reducing friction lets the snowball start to roll down the hill to produce something exponentially greater than what you started with and the energy added.

This makes it much easier to get the action reinforced and once you add a bit of willpower to do it consistently for a bit… Voila! You have a habit!


Something else that helped me was the idea that you don’t need to follow any sort of type of journaling. Just start, experiment, and do what works for you. I tried quite a few that were so complicated that maintaining them took much more time than it was worth.

At first, you may think that you don’t have enough going on in your life to justify journaling, but believe me, once you start, you’ll want to write down everything.

For now, my journaling habit looks something like the following:

  • Immediately after waking: stream of consciousness, 1 page minimum
  • During the day: modified bullet journal to track habits, food, and condensed learnings as well as pending to-dos
  • After BJJ: freeform, anything I learned
  • Before going to bed: what went well and what didn’t

It’s the small things in life…

… that bring me the most joy.

The big things–my health, my career, and (especially) my love life–are never all going to be completely where I want them to be. I find that I can very easily brush away my successes and focus on where I am still failing.

But the small things–

the incredible design of a pen,

the subtle flavors in a cup of coffee,

the perfectly-timed bassline in a live DnB set,

the editing of a great book that is worth every penny,

the absolutely hilarious facial expressions in a comic strip,

–the tiny details that someone put countless hours of work in to make just perfect, these are the things that I find I can appreciate the most.