No. 492 — October 2, 2022
Brain Food is a weekly newsletter with the insights you need.
The journey from potential to useful:
“The visual mental model I like for self-improvement is imagining something like a Lathe. A lathe, for the non-engineer, is a tool that molds a piece of material into some shapely form. A machinist would use a lathe to take a hunk of metal and turn it into a usable engine part, for example. The lathe takes something with potential and shapes it into something useful by slowly refining it and shaving away the excess.”
Laurie Santos on what makes us happy:
“We’re happier when we do nice things for others. We’re happier when we are focused on our healthier habits, things like improving our sleep and getting more exercise, we can really see the effects of this stuff, and often quite profound effects.
One of my favorite most profound effects is the effect of taking a little time for gratitude, the simple act of counting your blessings. There’s evidence that in as little as two weeks, the simple act of writing three to five things you’re grateful for down on a piece of paper can improve your well-being, and significantly improve your wellbeing.
There’s also evidence that expressing gratitude to other people, like writing a detailed thank you note to someone that you’ve always wanted to thank but never got a chance to, the act of doing that, at least in Marty Seligman and others’ data, can improve your wellbeing not just significantly immediately but can give you an improved wellbeing effect that lasts for over a month, right, which is crazy.
If I was like, “There’s this pill that you can take that will improve your wellbeing significantly for over a month,” you take one pill, and months later you’re feeling good, you’d be like, “Man, I’m going to do that.” The simple act of writing a thank you letter can do that.”
H. Macdonald on truth:
“Truth is not as straightforward as it seems. There are different ways to speak truth, not all of them honest. On most issues, there are multiple truths we can choose to communicate. Our choice of truth will influence how those around us perceive an issue and react to it. We can select truths that engage people and inspire action, or we can deploy truths that deliberately mislead. Truth comes in many forms, and experienced communicators can exploit its variability to shape our impression of reality.”
The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking.
One way to force yourself to slow down and think is to write. Good writing requires good thinking.
Clear writing gives poor thinking nowhere to hide, making a lack of understanding visible.
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Hilary Mantel on writing:
“You don’t know what you’re going to say. You don’t even know your way to the end of the sentence. You don’t know anything. Then suddenly you do know. You have to walk blind. And you walk slap into the truth.”
On disagreeing with someone more powerful than you:
“When you disagree with someone more powerful than you, you should always have a constructive reason to oppose.”
P.S. I couldn’t stop watching but I’m also not sure what I watched.