My Stoicism Notes

my stoicism notes

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius

What does a good life mean to you? It’s when you wisely spend your time and energy.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” – Seneca

So many things to do, so little time. But are all those things important?

Most of the things we do are irrelevant to our goals and happiness.

“If you don’t know how much you need, the default easily becomes more.” – Ryan Holiday

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

Earning more money is addicting. Doing more is addicting.

First we should meet our physiological and safety needs. After that, focus on meaningful relationships and reaching our fullest potential.

Perform our duties quietly and efficiently. Move on and focus on the next tasks. Do it like a tree continuously bearing fruit and doing its work.

Humans need to be rational and social. We’re here for one another. Each of us has a different role to play.

Other people can be the main source of our pain. They can also be the greatest source of our joy.

Expect the worst from people. Expect them to be unreasonable. Then nothing will surprise you.

We can’t fully control what other people will say about us and our work. Just move on, meet the requirement, and do the next tasks.

Satisfaction and happiness already lies within our grasp. We don’t have to wait for the perfect time.

It’s doubtful that our wants will make us happy once we acquire them. The only thing for certain is the present.

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.” – Marcus Aurelius

Fame is random and fickle. It also controls our lives by defining our words and actions.

We can’t please everybody. Even the greatest writers and artists have critics.

Focusing on fame and wealth actually leads us away from them.

Practicing Stoicism often yields unexpected rewards.

External circumstances don’t define our happiness. It’s our interpretation of them.

There’s a lot to be thankful for. Every situation could always get worse.

We actually live in a lucky era.

Stoicism is relevant today because of distractions and busyness in our modern lives.

I wrote a book (Stoicism for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers). Check it out on Amazon.

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Clark Green City: Bridging Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability — Science This, Science That

Origin and Initiatives Clark Green City (in Capas, Tarlac) is a project initiated by the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). The green city will be disaster-resilient and will also serve as a center of economic vibrancy. Why build a green city in Capas, Tarlac? Metro Manila already suffers from congestion problems (e.g. pollution, […]

via Clark Green City: Bridging Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability — Science This, Science That

Who Moved My Cheese Summary

Here’s the Who Moved My Cheese summary. Learn that our attitude about change is one of the things that matter. Learn how to deal with unprecedented change by constantly moving and looking for new opportunities.

Overview

Who Moved My Cheese author Spencer Johnson tells how we can deal with change and uncertainty by way of a story. Two mice and two little people have each a different attitude toward change. The cheese represents what we call success.

The story started when the characters found an abundant cheese supply. But one day the cheese supply is gone because of everyday consumption and other causes. The two mice prepared for this so they just moved on. But one of the little people asked, “Who moved my cheese?”

The humans felt they are victims. The mice kept searching. The mice then found a new cheese supply after a difficult search through the maze. One of the little people also did that after some time.

The main lesson is that the cheese keeps moving. As a result, we must also keep moving. The supply might run out anytime. The solution is to keep looking and exploring by overcoming our fears.

About the Author

Spencer Johnson is one of the popular authors who take complex subjects and present simple solutions that work. His books has already helped millions of people achieve more happiness and success with less stress.

Aside from the Who Moved My Cheese, he also wrote The One Minute Manager, Yes or No: The Guide to Better Decisions, The Present, and other brief books that contain timeless advice.

Main takeaways: Who Moved My Cheese Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Always prepare for change.
  2. Stop blaming others, start searching for new opportunities.
  3. Get moving if you want new cheese.

Always prepare for change

Change always happens no matter what we do. The best we can do about it is to prepare. Gone are the days when we can enjoy a nice salary for the rest of our working lives. One economic downturn or one “change” can make our jobs or businesses disappear.

Yes it’s frightening and disappointing. But we got not choice but to adapt and survive. Well, some people might be lucky to avoid those big changes. However, we shouldn’t count on it. For the most of us, it’s likely we’ll experience one or few big changes.

Remember what the mice did earlier when the cheese supply run out? They just moved on and started searching. That’s because they’ve already prepared themselves for the situation. They’re always ready to find a new cheese supply.

The humans in the story got comfortable and set established routines. They thought that the cheese supply is going to last forever. When the inevitable finally occurred, they found it hard to move on.

It happens often in the real world. When something bad happens, many blame others. That blaming often leaves us powerless and feeling victims. The result is we’ll find it hard to move on and search for new opportunities.

Stop blaming others, start searching for new opportunities

For the most of us, we can’t help blaming other people, the management, and the government. However, we can’t dwell on that. Time flies no matter what we do. The only choice we have is to move forward.

Some changes hurt us really bad. It affects our livelihood and the future of our children. But if we keep blaming others, we won’t be able to move forward.

The answer is to start looking for solutions. It’s ideal that the next day after the big change, we start searching for those solutions. This way, somehow we minimize the effect of the change.

Then, as we start getting comfortable with our new job or business, we should remind ourselves of the lessons from the past. We now know that change is going to happen no matter what. So even while we’re working at our present job or business, we should still look for a “new cheese supply.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow. It’s also exhausting especially if we’re juggling our responsibilities. But the pain is greater if we were not able to cope with change.

Get moving if you want new cheese

Thinking of new strategies and rationalizations won’t always lead us to finding success or happiness. If we always think about it, we won’t act as a result.

We even think about if a new achievement will make us happy. We even think what kind of cheese will give us the most satisfaction. But that thinking actually leads us nowhere. Many of us feel depressed just because of that.

The answer is to just keep moving. We’ll never find something unless we act. Our knowledge about future and any situation is always incomplete. In many cases, we’ll never find out unless we get there.

No matter where we are, we should keep exploring. We’ll never know what lies ahead in the next corner. Yes we should still be cautious. But nothing happens unless we act.

That’s what the mice did when the cheese supply run out. They just moved on and looked for a new cheese supply. They never got comfortable with the routine. They know in the back of their minds that change is inevitably coming. In real animals, that’s their instinct to act immediately.

We humans are complicated creatures. We like making things more complicated than is necessary. We like to think things over. We like to rationalize and think of something else before doing anything.

So if we always want to find new cheese, we should just get moving. Don’t ask “Who moved my cheese?” Instead, run and search for a new one.

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Why We Work Summary

Here’s the Why We Work summary. Why do we work? Why people are still unsatisfied despite receiving a healthy compensation? Gain insights on how to become a more satisfied worker and find great work.

Overview

Why We Work author Barry Schwartz tries to answer the simple question: Why do we work? The question is simple but the answer is not. For some people, they will answer it’s because of the paycheck. They work because there’s money involved.

However, the answer is not always that simple for many people. Despite receiving good compensation (plus benefits), they still feel empty. They don’t give their best. The drive to do great work goes beyond the financial incentive.

About the Author

Barry Schwartz is an American psychologist who specializes in studying the link between economics and psychology. One of his popular works, The Paradox of Choice, became a bestseller. He discussed one of the great mysteries of modern life, which is why abundant societies experience depression more.

He has also taught in the psychology department of Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania for over 30 years. His articles have been published in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and other media outlets.

Main takeaways: Why We Work Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. A mission keeps employees engaged and motivated.
  2. More money is not always a good incentive.
  3. Autonomy empowers people to do their best.

A mission keeps employees engaged and motivated

Many people think of a job as just a way to pay the bills. People go to work and receive a salary. They just do whatever is required by the boss or company. They don’t go beyond their job description.

It’s natural. But once they get home, they feel some emptiness. They feel the frustrations. They feel they’re not making any difference at all. They feel that they’re just there to work and get paid.

The result is that the employee doesn’t feel the energy. He becomes automatic. It all becomes part of a routine. He feels that there’s nothing much he can do.

But if the boss and the managers introduce a mission, many employees get inspired and excited. They’ll feel that they’re making a difference. They’ll know that what they’re doing leads to something good.

A mission fuels the whole company. It gives direction. It also gives a vision for employees. That’s why great companies always have a great mission. They want to be #1. They want to change the world. They want to affect millions of lives.

Those statements are sure to give extra boost to their employees. They’ll come up with more ideas on how to get better in their job. They’ll feel a sense of involvement. Money is still important. But with the mission, they’ll feel they’re getting more from the company.

More money is not always a good incentive

First, the monthly salary should cover all the needs and some wants of the employees. Get money out of the way first so people can focus on their work. This way, they won’t have to continue worrying about their budget for the month.

Once the needs and some wants are covered, an increase in salary doesn’t always motivate people to work harder. That’s because the price might not be worth it for them.

Maybe they need to handle more responsibilities and spend extra work time to get the increase. The price might be too much for them. Maybe they want to maintain the amount of time they spend with their family. Or they want to take care of their health. Maybe there are other reasons that make the increase not worth it.

That’s why it’s important to move beyond the financial incentive. Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, once people satisfy their basic needs (food, shelter, security, safety, etc.), it becomes easier for them to go to the higher hierarchies of needs. They can start focusing on belongingness, esteem, and achieving their full potential.

So if employees are already feeling safe and you provide more of their basic needs (high salary and good benefits), there’s a tendency it won’t have much effect. Their focus is already on the higher levels.

If you’re an employee, try to cover all your basic needs and some wants first. Then you can focus on finding purpose on your work. If you’re a CEO, think of other incentives besides money when asking your employees to do more. Their minds are already thinking of rewards beyond financial incentives.

Autonomy empowers people to do their best

Autonomy is one of the elements that drive people to give their best in the workplace. If you give them control on their job, they will feel more engaged. They’ll feel the sense of involvement. You empower them.

They also get proud of their work because they’re in control. They now have more power over their decisions. They can work independently and get the work done fast because no one’s interfering them.

First, people should have all the information and tools before they can gain full control. This way, it becomes unnecessary for them to bother the manager. It’s also a way to make quick decisions without the need for others’ approval.

Once they have all the information and the tools, the manager can just give the purpose of each task. The manager can give the ‘why’ while the employee takes care of the ‘how.’ The employee can then take the best course of action without regularly consulting her manager.

There you have it. More money is not always the answer. People now are looking for meaning when they work. They want a purpose. They also want to feel empowered. This way, they can give their best. The result often benefits the whole company.

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The Millionaire Next Door Summary

Here’s The Millionaire Next Door summary. Learn that most of the millionaires don’t actually live in expensive homes and own luxurious cars. They live simply but they have great wealth.

Overview

The Millionaire Next Door authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko studied the common traits of the America’s wealthy. They have learned that the truly rich live below their means, pursue the right occupations and opportunities, and ignore conspicuous consumption.

The authors also highlight that most of the truly rich look like common people. They are not star athletes or celebrities. They maintain a low profile. Maybe the person next door in your neighborhood is already a millionaire.

About the Authors

Thomas J. Stanley wrote over 40 published articles about the affluent. He appeared as a featured guest in The Oprah Winfrey Show and other shows. He has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The New York Times, and other media publications.

William Danko spent over 30 years in the marketing faculty. He also extensively studied consumer behavior and wealth formation. His academic publications have appeared in the Journal of Business Research, Journal of Consumer Research, and other reputable journals.

Main takeaways: The Millionaire Next Door Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from their book:

  1. Frugality is one of the keys.
  2. Financial freedom is more important than displaying high social status.
  3. Use accumulation to your advantage.

Frugality is one of the keys

Most of the truly rich live below their means. Well, if you’re always spending more than you earn, it’s unlikely you’ll get rich right? The truly rich learned that the moment they start earning their own money.

Being frugal is a discipline. If you have children, you should somehow teach them to save money. As an adult, you should serve as a model for the younger. Frugality is one of the habits that will serve all of us for life.

Look at how much money we can save if we start being frugal right now. If we continuously save and invest 10 percent of our earnings, it’s likely we would be millionaires before our retirement.

Being frugal is hard. Once you start using your credit card to buy your wants, it’s difficult to stop. You’ll get into debts and you’ll be paying more in the interest. It becomes much harder to save money in that situation.

There are times we should still spend for our wants and getting into out-of-town vacations. But make sure that you still have some money saved for your future. Decades from now you’ll be thankful of what you did. Your children will also benefit because they saw you as their role model.

Financial freedom is more important than displaying high social status

This is a continuation of being frugal. We live in a consumption-driven society. We feel the “need” to try all the foods and go to all the known restaurants. We also feel the “need” to go to different places so people can call us “adventurer” or “traveler.”

We often want to take pictures of our food and places we visit so we can show them to friends. It becomes a contest where the winner is the one with the most number of places visited. It’s a competition which causes stress to everyone.

Some of us also buy a new car just to look cool. Right after buying the car, we post a picture of that in Facebook. It’s a nice feeling to have when comments start pouring in congratulating you for that new car.

It’s all right to buy a new car, travel, and try different cuisines. Just make sure that you still have money left for your savings. Also make sure that you’re not sinking in debt. It becomes more stressful if you’re piling thousands of debts in your credit card and salary loan. That stress often leads you to buy more things you don’t need.

For the truly rich, achieving financial freedom is more important than displaying high social status. They understand that displaying high social status often causes problems down the road. They know that they’ll regret their lavish lifestyle years or decades later. They imagine the hundreds of thousands of pesos wasted on the nonessential.

Use accumulation to your advantage

Being frugal has a cumulative advantage. Instead of spending the money, you invest it. That investment actually compounds, especially if you invest wisely. You’ll accumulate wealth much faster. Time becomes your ally.

Accumulation works best if you start early. If you start investing now, decades later you’ll have a sizable amount of money. If you start learning how to use your money, a year from now you’ll gain much financial intelligence.

You won’t see much rewards at the beginning. But after several years, you’ll see the numbers grow. Making and growing money is actually addicting. Once you see the results, it’s difficult to stop. You’ll explore more ways on how to grow your net worth further.

Instead of accumulating debt, accumulate assets. Instead of paying the interest, earn interest from your investments. The accumulation leads to further accumulation. That’s one of the secrets of the rich. The rich gets richer because they know how to use accumulation to their advantage.

There you have it. Start early. Live simply. Still enjoy life but make sure you still have money left for savings. This way you truly enjoy life. You won’t suffer unnecessary stress. You’ll start your way to becoming the millionaire next door.

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Ego is the Enemy Summary

Here’s the Ego is the Enemy summary. Realize that our egos hold us back when we learn and cultivate our talent. Learn how to raise the battle against ego for your own good.

Overview

Ego is the Enemy author Ryan Holiday explains that ego is what impedes us from living a successful life in the outside world. Ego also holds us back in both failure and success.

When we taste success, our ego blinds us from our faults. When we experience failure, our ego makes recovery harder. Your ego is actually your worst enemy. Learn how to fight it and stop it from controlling you.

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is a media strategist and writer who also wrote The Obstacle is the Way. At 19, he dropped out of college and apprenticed under Robert Greene (the author of The 48 Laws of Power).

He has worked with American Apparel, Google, and other known companies. His works have been read by TV personalities, world-class athletes, political leaders, and other known figures.

Main takeaways: Ego is the Enemy Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Our ego is our worst enemy.
  2. Ego stops you from doing good work.
  3. Purpose and endless curiosity are your allies.

Our ego is our worst enemy

No matter what stage of life we’re in, ego is always our worst enemy. When we’re experiencing failure, our ego stops us from learning from our mistakes. We blame others so we can’t place the blame on ourselves. We think that we don’t mistakes. It’s always “them.”

The result is we don’t learn from that failure. It also leads to slower recovery. We also magnify the failure because we’re feeling that it’s all outside of our control. We stay in that state because of our ego.

Our ego also takes advantage of our success. We feel we’re invincible whenever we accomplish something. But the result is often we forget to look at our faults. Those faults if neglected tend to become bigger problems.

Instead of learning everything we can from that success, we speak and act rashly. We fail to extract the lessons and determine the little faults that could have gone wrong. Because of that, our ego will lead us to failure after some time.

In other words, our ego impedes our learning. It stops us from reaching our own potential. It prevents us from achieving more success. It also stops us from recovering from our failures.

Ego stops you from doing good work

This is another result of letting our ego control our actions. We mentioned earlier that ego takes advantage both of our success and failure. In the former, it prevents us from getting more success. In the latter, ego prevents us from recovering.

The natural result is that we stop working. Instead of improving our craft, we get paralyzed. We let our ego control us. Instead of further polishing our work, our success blinded us from our faults. Instead of adjusting course, our failures made us blame others.

We won’t be able to do any good work with that attitude. Instead, we’ll be busy complaining and blaming others. We always try to protect our ego. We feel invincible when we achieve success. We attribute that success to all of our own efforts. The ego feels good with that setup.

We also try to protect our ego when we experience failure. We often don’t want to acknowledge that it’s our fault. We don’t want to feel incompetent or unintelligent because of the failure. The result is that we blame other people, the government, and other things. It feels much easier that way.

Purpose and endless curiosity are your allies

What is the solution then? Have a purpose. If you have it, you will have something that is higher than your ego. The result is you will pay more attention to that purpose.

You will set aside your ego when you make decisions. The purpose becomes the priority. It also gives you a direction and some level of certainty. Whenever you have doubts, that purpose will get you back on track. You won’t be thinking about your ego much that way.

An endless curiosity will also help you battle your ego. An endless curiosity or a learning mindset will open you to opportunities. You will acknowledge that you don’t know it all. You’ll realize that there’s always something new to learn.

With that mindset, you’ll be open to suggestions and new concepts. You’ll also have an open mind whether you experience success or failure. You’ll extract the lessons from your success and try to figure out the things that could have gone wrong. You also learn from failure by acknowledging your mistakes and formulating strategies for the next time it will happen.

There you have it. First, acknowledge that the ego is the enemy. It stops us from recovering from our failures and achieving more success. With purpose and endless curiosity, we can fight it and live a better life.

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Moonwalking with Einstein Summary

Here’s the Moonwalking with Einstein summary. Learn actionable techniques on how to improve and extend your memory. Also learn how to make the act of memorizing a fun activity.

Overview

Moonwalking with Einstein author Joshua Foer explains the techniques he used to win the 2006 USA Memory Championship. He also provides the lessons that helped him accomplish great feats such as memorizing a deck of 52 cards in less than 2 minutes.

He also explains that our memory skills are actually declining. We rely more and more on storing the information outside of our brains. We rely on computers and other digital storage systems. Contrast that with how the ancients live. They have to remember and memorize a lot for them to survive and thrive.

About the Author

Joshua Foer has written for National Geographic, The New York times, and other popular publications. He specializes in writing about the hard sciences. As a science writer, he has also written about the science of memorizing.

He used what he has learned in winning a memory championship and memorizing a deck of cards in less than 2 minutes. He has also founded websites and organizations that are about learning and his curiosities.

Main takeaways: Moonwalking with Einstein Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. The importance of storing information in our brain has diminished.
  2. Our memory skills can still be improved.
  3. Chunk information and use the Memory Palace if you want to improve your memorization skills.

The importance of storing information in our brain has diminished

Hundreds of years ago people rely much in their memories. Books (and even paper) were not much available back then. They had to memorize details and transactions. They also had to remember details as accurately as possible.

Contrast that to the present day. We can store the information outside of our brain. We can write the details or just store the info in our computers and mobile phones. It’s easier than memorizing.

That’s why there’s not much incentive in memorizing anything. We have easy access to information. We can just Google everything or pull out our phones to look for more information.

With that reliance on storing the information outside of our brains, our memory skills suffer. Notice now that for many people it’s a struggle to memorize a couple of digits such as their phone numbers or even their families’ birthdays.

Our memory skills can still be improved

There’s still hope. Even for us adults, we can still improve our memorization skills. It doesn’t matter even if we were not champions in spelling bees during our school days. What matters now is that you should be willing to adopt new practices if you want to improve your memory skills.

Our brains have a level of plasticity. It means our brains can be continuously rewired. We can always learn new habits. We can also unlearn some if these don’t help us.

The same goes with our memorization skills. If we always practice, our brains will be rewired so we can store more information in a more efficient way. This is true especially when you’re immersed in a certain field.

For example, chess masters can memorize the exact positions of each piece during a game. Some can even play blindfolded. They know the position of each piece even without seeing the board.

But those same chess masters won’t actually perform better in general memory tests. They just have become better at memorizing chess pieces. That’s because with tons of practice, they’ve started seeing the board differently.

You can also do that in other fields aside from chess. For example, you have years of programming experience. It’s now easy for you to memorize new programming-related concepts. You might also find it easy to learn new programming languages.

Chunk information and use the Memory Palace if you want to improve your memorization skills

The masters use specific techniques that make memorizing easier. You might have used a few techniques yourself during your studies. At school, you’re required to memorize a bunch of stuff in almost all the subjects. During those times (especially before an exam), you might even have used techniques that you didn’t learn anywhere else.

For example, you might have used the acronym technique in memorizing a list. Some exams have an enumeration. If you can make 7 items fit an acronym, it becomes easier to memorize the whole list.

Some students also became creative in storing information in their brains. For example in identifying whether a certain bacteria species is gram-negative or gram-positive. They draw a circle and write the gram-negative bacteria in the left side. Then they color it red. They do the same in the other half with the gram-positive bacteria (but this time the other half is colored blue).

Another common technique is chunking. Instead of memorizing a long string of information, you break it down into smaller and more manageable chunks. For example try memorizing 10091986. It’s a struggle isn’t it?

But if you break down that long string of digits into chunks, it becomes much easier. You can make it 10/09/1986. Notice how you can easily memorize that.

You can also apply that to other bits of information. The key here is to break down long strings of information into smaller and more manageable parts. This is to avoid overwhelm and to help us feel that it’s more manageable than we thought.

Another technique is the Memory Palace. Basically, you mentally associate things to physical locations. For example, you have a long list of grocery items to buy. Imagine each item being put onto the kitchen table. Then when you come into the grocery store, you just have to remember the kitchen table and the items on it.

That’s just a simple example. You can also apply the same principle to huge amounts of information (such as a deck of cards) to memorize. You can mentally associate each card into a specific item in your home or locality. Then when it’s time for you to recall each card, you imagine the location and what card is put into each specific location.

There you have it. You still have lots of opportunities to improve your memory skills. You can just do it for fun so you can impress your friends. You can also do it to improve your academics. Either way, having a strong memory is always impressive.

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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking Summary

Here is The 5 Elements of Thinking summary. Learn practical and inspiring ways on how to become more successful through effective thinking. Learn specific strategies how brilliant people use their minds.

Overview

The 5 Elements of Thinking authors Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird explains how brilliant people think more effectively. They have studied ways on how people can use effective thinking strategies to achieve more success.

They say that you have to understand deeply, make mistakes, raise questions, follow the flow of ideas, and embrace change if you want to be an effective thinker.

About the Authors

Edward B. Burger is the author of over 60 research articles, books, and video series. He is a mathematician who has been honored for his innovative work in teaching mathematics through electronic textbooks.

Michael Starbird has received more than a dozen teaching awards. He specializes in teaching mathematics. He has also conducted hundreds of lectures and workshops.

Main takeaways: The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from their book:

  1. Understand the fundamentals and go for depth.
  2. Make mistakes and raise questions.
  3. Follow the flow of ideas and embrace change.

Understand the fundamentals and go for depth

Any subject or concept (no matter how complex they are) is just a combination of a few simple core ideas. The fundamentals always govern concepts all around us.

For example, if you understand deeply the 3 Laws of Motion, you’ll understand a large part of classical physics. It will just be a combination of few concepts. Add some math and the subject becomes more elegant.

Also look at calculus. It started with a few pages hundreds of years ago. But now a calculus textbook can have over a thousand pages. The few fundamental lessons were extended and combined to yield more learning.

It’s like having mental models as Charlie Munger says. You master the fundamentals and these will serve as your guide in thinking. No matter how complex the situation, you’ll go back to those fundamentals.

When you’ve mastered the principles and fundamentals, you won’t have to memorize hundreds of formulas. You won’t have to memorize a specific formula for each specific situation.

Make mistakes and raise questions

This is one of the keys towards effective thinking. Making mistakes present opportunities for learning. You’ll discover the holes in your understanding. You’ll also get feedback that you can use to improve your understanding.

Feedback is helpful especially when starting to learn something. You’ll identify the mistakes. You’ll also know what you’re getting right. You can keep trying until you see something that works.

You won’t know much if an idea would work unless you test it. Yes you can do some mental simulations. But it’s hard to consider all things (including the important ones) when you’re imagining the possible consequences of your thinking and actions.

Your mistakes will always be a great source of further learning. You might not find use in that one specific mistake for now. But for a future situation (maybe unrelated or not), you might find that mistake valuable in your learning journey.

Maybe you’re already familiar of Thomas Edison’s story about the light bulb. He tried over 10,000 ways on how to invent one. But he failed in most of them.

The thing is he only needed one success. He just needed one time when the light bulb will work. He made thousands of attempts. And he learned from all of them. He learned thousands of ways that won’t work. The succeeding attempts made him closer to getting it right.

Also raise questions. Just because it has been done that way in the past doesn’t always mean it’s the best way. There’s always room for improvement.

Many people think that asking questions is like showing they’re ignorant. Well, asking questions is part of effective learning. You have to challenge assumptions (both yours and your colleagues). This is important especially in new and complicated problems.

Follow the flow of ideas and embrace change

This is also important. Follow the flow of ideas. There’s always something more about each idea. We mentioned about calculus earlier. It started with a few pages. Then people started exploring the variations. Now calculus has grown into a very important field.

It also goes with other major discoveries. Newton’s 3 laws of motion seems simple. But those 3 laws guided further discoveries and innovations for hundreds of years. After all, you have to start with simple truths first. Then you can expand on them later.

To make further discoveries, you always still have to rely on the discoveries of others. There are always implications to each discovery. Follow that flow. And you’ll discover something new.

Also embrace change. Learning is a lifelong journey. What you’ve learned today might become obsolete tomorrow. But here’s the thing. You’ll become a much more effective thinker. You’ll welcome change and challenge assumptions. You will always be ready to learn something new. You’ll also go into the core of each issue.

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The Obstacle is the Way Summary

Here’s The Obstacle is the Way summary. Learn how to turn trials into personal triumphs using some of the principles of Stoicism. Also learn how successful people have applied Stoicism to overcome difficult situations and problems.

Overview

The Obstacle is the Way author Ryan Holiday explains how to overcome problems using the principles of Stoicism. You will also learn how each problem is the way in achieving more.

The author also discusses how successful people such as John Rockefeller and Steve Jobs used Stoicism to overcome challenges. He also explains how to turn your biggest problems into your greatest opportunities.

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is a prominent writer and media strategist. He served as an apprentice under Robert Greene (The 48 Laws of Power author). Then he went on to help other bestselling authors and multi-platinum musicians.

Aside from The Obstacle is the Way, he also wrote Trust Me I’m Lying and Ego is the Enemy. You can learn more about him through his website RyanHoliday.net.

Main takeaways: The Obstacle is the Way Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Study philosophy so you can handle life.
  2. What stands in the way becomes the way.
  3. Control your perception and discipline your will.

Study philosophy so you can handle life

What is philosophy? It’s the study of the fundamental nature of existence, reality, and knowledge. There are volumes of books about philosophy. But what’s the goal anyway?

The goal is to live a better life. Philosophy should serve as a guide to living a good life. We can spend countless hours in debating the nature of our existence. But if it doesn’t help us live a good life, we won’t get much use to it.

One of the most popular philosophies today is that of Stoicism. It serves as a guide for many successful people on how to navigate through life. It has a set of “guidelines” one can use so people can have ideas on what to do with their lives and how to respond to life’s situations.

That’s why the book, The Obstacle is the Way, draws its inspiration from Stoicism. It’s useful because people can learn how to handle life.

What stands in the way becomes the way

Read that again and you’ll feel you’re in a Zen-like state. But you don’t need the Zen just to realize its practical value.

The Obstacle is the Way is the perfect title for the book. Also remind yourself of that whenever you’re encountering a difficult problem. But how is that helpful?

For example you have business problems. It seems that there’s not much growth or potential in your business. That’s the obstacle. But it can also be your way. Why do you think there’s no growth in your business? Is it just your perception? What if you face the problem and see the potential of your business?

If truly there’s not much potential in your business, what’s going to happen? Well one option could be you should just try to sell the business. Or you could just spend as little time on it by delegating. Or you could just push further and explore other opportunities related to your business.

It’s a good mental exercise especially when you’re in a rut. The obstacle is truly the way. Let’s look at another example. We all have constraints in our careers, business, and our whole lives. But some people have capitalized on those constraints.

William Shakespeare is one of the best examples. What did he write? Sonnets that follow a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure. Most of us will think that we can’t do much with those restrictions. But Shakespeare worked with that. The rest is history as they say.

We can actually use the constraints to get more done. One common example is the deadline. For example you should finish writing a book within 6 months. At first it seems impossible.

But it will urge you to focus only on the essentials. You will set aggressive timelines. You will also set strict schedules. The constraint will help you to focus.

Author John Grisham writes one page a day. Jerry Seinfeld also writes every day. They have set constraints and hard deadlines for their work. But those constraints and obstacles also pave the way towards their inevitable success.

Control your perception and discipline your will

There’s nothing good or bad without our awareness. It’s only our perception. Once we recognize that, we can control it.

For example, the economy is going down. For many of us it means loss of jobs and business failures. But for the few people it’s different. They perceive it as an opportunity. How do they do that?

With a bad economy, prices are also going down. Companies are in a much tighter position to get more business. They’re now willing to offer lower rates. That spells opportunity for the entrepreneurs.

For example there’s the Dot Com Bubble. Amazon and eBay survived that. Look where they are now. They are now worth billions. Because of some crisis, they were able to get better deals. The bubble also got rid of many other companies. That led to less competition and dominance.

When someone loses a job, he has the tendency to lose heart and blame it all on the government. But it can be reframed as an opportunity. Maybe it’s just the right time to relocate and start a new life. Or maybe it’s time to start a new business.

One thing usually leads to another. Every problem can be transformed into an opportunity. It’s just about perception. We don’t have much control about our economy. But we have control over our perceptions and the next things we’re going to do.

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What Technology Wants Summary

Here is the What Technology Wants summary. Learn what technology wants by gaining insights from natural systems. Also realize that technology can be an extension of biological evolution.

Overview

What Technology Wants author Kevin Kelly explains that we can get a glimpse of where technology is headed if we map the behavior of life. The natural systems already provide us with the best examples.

Technology still has a colossal potential. But we can only get an idea about its potential if we view it as an extension of biological evolution. Then technology will be able to give our lives greater meaning. This is a good read for anyone curious and excited about the future.

About the Author

Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. He was also the former editor and publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He has also been a conservationist and digital culture student.

Aside from What Technology Wants, he also wrote Out of Control and The Inevitable. He also wrote a popular article titled 1000 True Fans.

Main takeaways: What Technology Wants Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. We are literally and figuratively transformed by technology.
  2. Each new technology creates more problems than it solves.
  3. Technology wants what life wants.

We are literally and figuratively transformed by technology

It’s now hard to imagine life without the technology we have right now. The internet, smartphones, our appliances, our mode of transportation. Almost everything in our lives is affected by technology.

Technology also serves as an extension of our bodies and senses. Telescopes extend the range of our eyes. Clothes serve somewhat like an extension of our skin. The internet somewhat serves as an extension of our brains.

Literally and figuratively, technology transforms us. Technology also shapes our history. Let’s look at the wheel. It’s an ancient invention. But it actually changed the course of history. Transport became easier because of the wheel.

Let’s look at the computers and internet. They literally altered the course of history. Many industries became possible because of the internet and computers. Many new careers were made. Companies and governments also took advantage of the new technologies.

Technology greatly affects the history. If we’re trying to predict the future, we should include technology in our thinking. What are the new technologies that will emerge? Those new technologies will shape the future.

Each new technology creates more problems than it solves

Yes that’s true in every field. Let’s look at the automotive industry. Having a car is a much more convenient option than having a horse or walking by yourself in long distance.

But there are also problems associated with people having cars. There’s heavy traffic. It causes daily stress especially if we use the car for going to work. There’s also the road rage. Fatal accidents also occur.

Also look at the oil industry. When we start harnessing the power of oil, we accelerated the technological and industrial progress. But now there are concerns about pollution because of its carbon footprint.

Those problems are inevitable. It’s easy and exciting to visualize the innovations. But it’s not easy to visualize the possible consequences. People see an invention as foreign. We often don’t know what to think or do with it.

Scientists and engineers are working hard to solve those problems. By solving those problems, they create new technologies. It’s just a part of life. There are always consequences.

Technology wants what life wants

What does life want? One thing that comes to mind is efficiency. Natural systems always pursue the path of least resistance and effort. Nature always want to get the most out of its resources. The same goes to technology. Waste not is what industries and people want.

Life also wants increasing diversity. Many new species are still appearing despite extinction of others. Life wants variety. The same goes with technology and humans.

Life also wants increasing complexity. From an evolutionary perspective, we’ve evolved from a single-celled organism into the most dominant life form in this planet. Our bodies are much more complex compared to unicellular organisms. The same goes with technology. A wheel is a simple technology. Compare it with a car. The parts are much more complex and all of those parts should work well together.

So if we want to know what are the potentials of technology, let’s look at life itself. Look at the natural systems. How do they evolve? How did they achieved evolutionary success? What does life want? What does life will do next?

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