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, […]

The Empowerment Paradox: Why Mastery Won’t Set Us Free

If I increase my ability to reach my goals, that’s a good thing, right? Not always. There’s a surprising way in which empowerment can come full circle and become powerlessness. How to achieve a goal Let’s see getting what you want as a two-step process: Discover what the cause-effect relationships that govern reality are Figure out how to set theright cause-effect […]

Sleepwalking Through Life

People say we live in bubbles and echo-chambers and wait I thought echoes were about babies. I don’t think that’s true (I’m not sure about the babies part). There’s more confrontation with those characters who have other opinions than ever. If you don’t buy it, just ask your grandmother how many non-Christians, or non-Muslims, or […]

Self-Improvement Doesn’t Have An End, It Is The End

I like Mark Manson. Apart from Wait But Why, at which Tim Urban never posts anything anymore anyway, he’s the only blogger whose new articles I check out immediately. And his paperback Models — which sounds like a dating manual but is so much more than that — is probably the best self-help book I’ve read. I used to agree with him that self-improvement is […]

The Rationalist’s Mistake: How (Not) To Miss The Extraordinary

I have always had a tight bond with reason. This is an intimate part of my identity, and for the most part, it has led me in the right direction. When I was young, for example, I dreamt of being like Sherlock Holmes. Extremely rational and not contaminated with these inconvenient things called feelings: “All […]

You Cannot Talk About Self-Improvement Without Talking About Values

There’s a question that has been on my mind a lot lately: What difference does self-improvement make? In what way(s) does engaging in self-improvement make my days and life go different compared to the life of someone who doesn’t bother? To paint a picture, let’s look at Joe. Joe’s routine is rather stable: He goes to […]

Philosophy of Consciousness: Why You Are Not Stronger Than Your Environment

A lot of us overestimate our psychological independence, and I am no exception. Surely, I can flourish anywhere, can’t I? Making friends is not that hard — and really, how different is the daily grind going to be whether me, my laptop and my brain do their thing in The Netherlands, Budapest, or anywhere else? There is […]

How Andy Won The Game Of Life

The Shawshank Redemption is the most gripping film I’ve ever seen. It tells the story of an innocent man’s (Andy) hell in prison, his unusual friendship with an inmate and prison contraband smuggler serving a life sentence (Red), the former’s miraculous escape and the friends’ reunion as free men. My favorite scene is a very short one. It features Andy in the prison […]

Stop Finding Your Passion

Most people have it backwards. They think that passion precedes effort. That caring about a project comes before pouring your heart and soul into it. They’re only willing to commit if there was a prior discovery about how much they like this thing. “Offer me something I’m passionate about and I’ll show up with all of my energy, effort […]

You Are Not A Product

When some teacher, a long time ago, during an undergrad seminar in goal setting, let me in on the secret that I had a “personal brand”, I was sold. Spending my time building, crafting, improving my self in a goal-directed project-like way was something I’d never considered before. Referring to self-presentation as “branding” is apt. It underlies what the Millennial […]