Why The World Doesn’t Want You to Succeed (and What to do About it)

Truth one: “Our days are filled with the path to future skills, tasks and commitments that we believe we can’t possibly take on. We’ve seduced ourselves into believing that we’re not born with the talent, or that the obstacles to doing the work are just too great.” —Seth Godin Truth two: “Attempting [to have a huge positive impact […]

The Dark Side of Changing Your Perspective

Neuroscientists can now identify how happiness and unhappiness are physically inscribed inside our skulls They even report the precise parts of the brain which generate positive and negative emotions. And also uncover more and more neural explanations for why particular deeds like singing and loving and following Maarten van Doorn on Medium seem to improve our mental well-being. […]

Our Real Job Is Fulfilling Our Potential

It’s always awkward when I tell people about my work schedule. On the one hand, some folks think trained monkeys work harder than I do. I tell them how a philosophy Ph.D. is hardly a full-time job for me because my mental state of being a zombie after four hours of deep work is a daily […]

Say “I Don’t Know” More Often

Most topics are ones where either we hardly know anything or where we think know so much that we are very confident. Funny thing: regardless of the topic of discussion— whether we are uninformed or knowledgeable on it — when someone asks for our view, most of us can’t resist the urge. Many of us, my past […]

Why I Hate to Talk About What I Do

When someone asks me how I’m doing, I’ll honestly reply “Excellent!” and after I’ve returned the question and you’ve also answered affirmatively, I’ll fire a follow-up, and another, and we’ll end up talking about you, and about non-personal stuff like the weather and politics. Then it’s goodbye. “Wow, you must be such a great listener […]

This Is Water: Overcoming Bias and How to Think Real Good

Once upon a time, there used to be a great and acrimonious debate in philosophy about whether people had “mental imagery” — whether or not people actually see a little picture of an elephant when they think about an elephant. Is “imagination” merely a way of speaking or a real phenomenon? Upon reading this, my intuition shouted: […]

Yes, Your Feelings Are Fooling You

So I was lying in bed, half-naked in my underwear, studying the physician Hans Rosling’s book Factfulnesswhen a biting passage made me want to jump out of bed and shout from the rooftops. Rosling, by the way, is the guy from the famous colorful bubble charts. The statistician who proved most of us walk around with […]

Learn to Express, Not Impress

Leo Tolstoy famously observed it about families, but all happy individuals, too, are alike; each unhappy individual is, also, unhappy in its own way. We live in a time were, using Instagram, Facebook and whatnot, many (young) people curate their lives: we present ourselves to the world as how we want to be seen. And not as how we are. Of course, […]

Why Truth Doesn’t Change People’s Minds (and What Does)

Today, everyone can get more information than ever. Paradoxically, this has made the truth less — not more — accessible. As ‘information’ became ideological, ‘the facts’ can no longer referee disagreements but are themselves contested. It’s easier than ever before for someone to live in a world built of his own ‘facts’. You might say: what happened to us? Why do facts not […]

100 Books a Year? Bad Idea

Conveying and containing knowledge are hard. Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this — one you’d read — come up in conversation, only to discover you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? In a brilliant article, software engineer Andy Matuschak confesses: I’ll be honest: it happens […]