Conformity can be viewed from two angles. From one perspective, conformity is like a lube that makes it easier to get ahead in life. If you conform to the unspoken rules, others will reward you. As a child, you know what makes your parents and teachers (un)happy; you try to steer clear of the cookie jar when you’re not supposed to, hoping that your (proper) behavior will grant you an audience with the jar later on. You know, after you do the dishes or take out the trash.
For most of us, the gravitational pull of the cookie jar sticks throughout our lives. So, we do what’s required. At our workplace or at home, we dutifully fulfill the expectations of people around us. And since we’re being rewarded for conformity — money, respect or love are some common currencies — we grow to like it. And who wouldn’t? …
In the pre-pandemic world, unbridled freedom meant we were free to follow — and often succumb to — our base desires, unhelpful social norms, and the siren call of the marketers. Instant gratification reigned supreme.
In the lockdown, we are forced to be more…discerning; we deliberate on what we truly want because our “freedom” to go with the flow got flushed down the drain.
The decisions that we now make thus deliver another kind of freedom — freedom to reinvent ourselves via thoughtful, intentional decisions that reflect our authentic selves.
For example, in the pre-pandemic world, it was easy to go out partying. Friday night settled in and you and your friends were already looking up which club has the best music. The fact that Friday was dedicated to clubbing was rarely questioned — it was Friday and that’s what you and your friends did on Friday. …
We humans have limited reserves of self-respect. We build them laboriously by collecting successes, small wins throughout our lives. The reason for that is simple — confidence. The more successes we accrue, the more confidence we have.
But this process doesn’t seem to work that well; according to some statistics, up to 85% of the world's population is affected by low self-esteem.
That’s because there’s more to confidence than collecting small wins (despite what all the self-help articles might tell you).
A couple of days back I took a leap and subscribed to a service called Readwise*. This service lets you import highlights from various sources such as Medium, Pocket, and Kindle and import them to your personal management system (PMS).
I’m a frequent highlighter, as was shown on the number of highlights from articles I’ve read in the past year: close to 400. And that’s just articles, not books.
Eager, I imported all the stuff into my PMS (RoamResearch) and went through it. Fast forward a couple of days, a few cups of coffee, and a lot of disappointment, and I’ve finally cut my way through the jungle. It was a massacre. …
If you think about it, the high consumption of written content does not differ from the high consumption of audiovisual content. In other words, binge-reading is the same as binge-watching.
Yet we glorify the former while we vilify the latter. Why? I think it’s because we’ve been socialized and brainwashed by the self-help culture into seeing binge-reading (usually masquerading as read 50+ books a year content) as a worthwhile activity: it builds character, helps us develop knowledge, teaches us to discern arguments, and, well, helps to sell books of people who depend on that.
In contrast, binge-watching is the face self-help culture slaps on sloth, aimlessness, and everything that’s wrong with the world. …
There are two ways to find happiness:
But before we discuss this notion in greater depth, let’s first identify our predicament:
We have become too fickle as a society. It teaches us to crave the new and cultivate disdain for the old.
If we’re not happy with the partner we have, Mr. or Mrs. Right might be just a swipe away on Tinder. If we’re not satisfied with a thing we have, Amazon gives us a 30-day guarantee, no questions asked.
The friction associated with change is systematically engineered away from every area of our lives. The result is that we find it increasingly difficult to commit. …
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve sat down to write, intending to publish an article. It’s also been a few weeks since I’ve been feeling dreadfully bad about it.
In the past months, I’ve averaged around 3 articles per week. Not a break-neck pace (seeing as some dish out 1–2 articles a day), but still a considerable feat for my standards.
The reason my output dropped is that life took over. I’m working on my bachelor's thesis at the moment and I feel overwhelmed. …
The other day I’ve seen a movie starring Johnny Depp. In it, he plays an English literature professor Richard who’s just been told he has 6 months to live.
We follow him as he copes with his impending death, disregarding social norms, ignoring people’s feelings, and playing pretty much captain Jack in a tweed suit.
In one scene, he talks with his teenage lesbian daughter. It’s what she asks Richard — and his answer — that forms our following discussion:
Daughter: “Why are you and the mom still together?”
Richard: *wry chuckle* “Yeah… I think as you get older, you find yourself needing someone to hold accountable for life not turning out exactly as you…
The other day I’ve seen a movie starring Johnny Depp. In it, he played a tenured English professor — Richard — who’s been told he has 6 months to live.
His reaction, saying “fuck” in three separate scenes, leaves no one wondering — it describes the situation rather precisely.
The movie then follows him as he copes with his impending death mostly by alcohol and other kinds of debauchery.
Amidst the hilarity of him not giving a fuck about social norms and other people’s feelings, we see his raw character emerge. …
Niklas Luhmann is probably the reason the word “overachiever” came to be. During his lifetime, he penned 550 articles, 50 books, and had dozens of semi-finished manuscripts to his name at the time of his death. He finished both his doctoral thesis and the habilitation as a professor of sociology in Bielefeld within a year. In short, the guy knew how to write. And he decidedly knew how to read effectively.
Luhmann didn’t read frivolously. Instead, he read to produce. He read to retain the knowledge embedded within the text, to extract it, and use it as his own.
Many know Luhmann because he’s the father of the now famous Zettelkasten system that authors such as Richard Greene and Ryan Holiday use successfully to write best-sellers and churn out quality content. …