Schools Don’t Support Personal Development, They Distort It

After they get their first job, many people go, “Finally, I can stop reading. I can stop learning.” In our society, it’s a truism everyone first needs years of schooling before they can start contributing to society. When we’ve reached this performance-phase, we quit learning. Your diploma was an entry ticket to the real world. It signals that you’re […]

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 […]

Science And The Myth Of Being Worthy

Traditional morality has it backwards. In a cruel way. It features this prevalent idea that happiness requires upfront payment. Both chronologically and morally, enjoyment comes after work. First toil, then fun. Suffer. Then laugh. Monks hitting themselves and locking themselves in rooms for days and not eating or even speaking for years on end to deserve bliss […]

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 To Really Win The Afternoon

2PM is too early to go home, isn’t it? A lot — and I mean, a lot — has been said about morning routines. I’ve been told by every self-improvement writer and their mothers to get up earlier and eat a protein-rich breakfast and to not break the fast and also kale smoothies. My view is that it’s largely smoke and mirrors because […]

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 […]

The Protestant Work Dilemma: Why We Won’t Stop

A once-influential group of Christians called Calvinists convinced many that it was predestined where you’d spend your Afterlife. Heaven or hell, your fate was already determined. Nothing you could do. So naturally, they set out to figure out who the elect were. And according to a then-accepted piece of reasoning, if one managed to accumulate tons of […]

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Two Biases That Stop Us From Knowing Ourselves

Oh boy, did Rousseau have a lot to explain. In 1745, he met Thérèse Levasseur, a barely literate laundry-maid who became his lover and, later, his wife. Thérèse bore him five children, all of whom he deposited at the foundling hospital — an almost certain death sentence in eighteenth-century France. Yes, it’s true: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher of compassion, […]

How To Avoid The Illusion Of Progress

I bet that, right now, you’re not growing. You might think you are, but you are not. In fact, I bet that your abilities in the things you care most about aredeteriorating. I bet that for many skills, once you’ve learned them, you no longer to get better at them. As performance researcher Anders Ericsson […]