No. 495 — October 23, 2022
Brain Food is a weekly newsletter with the insights you need.
How to choose your next book:
Most people read the same new books that everyone else has read, not necessarily for the ideas but for the social reward of being able to talk about them with others. Reading the same thing as everyone else is only going to put the same ideas in your head that everyone else has. If you want new ideas, read old books.
My conversation with Neil Pasricha on how simple acts of gratitude change how you feel, the specific routines and habits you can use to counter anxiety, the recipe for resilience, working from home, how your mindset affects your outcomes, and the small steps that strengthen your relationship with your partner.
“I am a really big believer in family contracts. When I say family contracts, people like back off. They get worried. They think I’m talking about pre-nuptials and stuff like this. No. I’m just saying here we are sitting here today. Most people listening to this will have a contract, a written contract in place with their employer of sorts. Here are the terms of your working relationship, but while we’ve signed that contract with our employer, we don’t go home and say, okay, honey, okay, partner, love of my life, mom I’m living with, the roommate I take care of, whatever it is, let’s come up with the terms for our life.”
Charlie Munger on getting what you want:
“The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It’s such a simple idea. It’s the golden rule. You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.”
One of the most overlooked opportunities in life is how you are positioned when circumstances hit.
Good positions create options, while bad positions reduce them. You don’t have to be an expert decision-maker to get better results, you only need to put yourself in a good position. Anyone looks like a genius when all the options are good.
If you’re forced to do something because you need to and not because you choose to, things quickly spiral from bad to worse.
The person in the good position eventually takes advantage of the person in the poor position. As one example, many people bought the biggest and most expensive house they could afford over the past five years. In an environment of low-interest rates, a booming economy, and house price increases that rival investments that didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time. Things change quickly. The very same person now might find themselves forced to sell their house at the worst time. Another person — one who didn’t go all in on a house — is thinking about buying today to take advantage of the opportunities.
Good positions are expensive, but poor ones cost a fortune. Spend less time worrying about maximizing your immediate results and more time maximizing your ultimate results. Giving yourself options in the future always appears suboptimal in the moment. Putting yourself in a good position for tomorrow means paying today. This might mean a lower return, living below your means, or sitting on the sidelines when everyone else is having fun.
Poor positioning kills more dreams than poor decisions. Decisions matter, but it’s easier to make good decisions when all your options are great.
Good positions allow you to master your circumstances rather than be mastered by them.
A theory on cancel culture (and why real estate commissions are so high):
“To maintain harsh punishments a la HKL – including harsh punishments against the merciful and apathetic – you need intense moral passion, which fuels moralistic aggression, which in turn fuels fear of self-righteous anger.”
“Why can’t we go back to the moon, given that the Artemis program has taken the same amount of time and money that the Apollo program did, and didn’t need to have any new ideas at all? It’s because the roadblocks, red tape, virtue signaling, and so forth have become the major proportion of the problem. You don’t need one good idea nowadays, you need a good idea, two schemes to involve the activists on your side, three favorable environmental-impact statements, four sympathetic judges, and 500 lawyers.”
P.S. A reminder that life is short.