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Unbelievable

One way to always be believed is to always say reasonable, believable things. Things that other people already mostly believe or at least want to, whether it’s about you, the world, or themselves. If you limit yourself to always staying neatly within the lines of “believability” in this way, then likely most people will nod their heads in agreement when you speak.

Of course, you’re likely not saying anything that’s true, relevant, interesting, or important if that’s the case.

People like to think they’ve got it all right. That their world view and collection of facts, even if incomplete, isn’t incorrect. Sure, there might be things I don’t know, but those things all would fit neatly with what I do know if I learned them.

But a fact that not-so-gently nudges one of my existing thoughts out of place, never to find a comfortable resting place again? Well, that’s just unbelievable.

So don’t take it personally. People are people. You could spend a lot of time fruitlessly trying to convince them – or you could spend much more productive time acting on the things that are true in your own life.

Escapism

Today, as part of her birthday celebration, I and a few other relatives took my oldest daughter to her first ever Escape Room. She had no idea that’s where she was headed; the whole thing was a surprise for her.

Watching her unleash her glorious mind on the puzzles surrounding her in that environment was incredible. Last night I watched her fly through the air and break a board with a kick. Today I watched her not only complete an Escape Room, but she got the all-time high score for that room at the place we went to.

I’m not raising a kid. I’m training a superhero.

Vending Machine

You see someone walk up to a vending machine. They open up their purse or wallet or whatever, and inside is a stack of dollar bills. They carefully examine the stack to select the best possible dollar, then on top of that they take extra care to smooth it out and maybe even clean it before inserting it into the machine. Then, once the dollar goes in, they mash the keypad at random and take whatever the machine spits out. Then they look at it, sigh in a sort of disappointed manner, and hope for better next time.

You would think you were looking at a lunatic, wouldn’t you?

Imagine being so totally consumed with being meticulous about what you’re giving away while putting absolutely zero effort into determining what you’re getting back in exchange. It certainly sounds like lunacy, but people live their lives this way every day.

I see it constantly – people are consumed with their own performance at work, making sure they’re giving away huge amounts of time, effort, and juice, but then just sort of vaguely hoping that their efforts will be rewarded in a way they find satisfying. But never once do they actually tell anyone what a satisfying reward would be or what they want. They might not even know themselves.

It’s good to work hard, of course. It’s good to take pride in what you do and to put in effort to do it well. But that’s focusing on what you’re putting into the vending machine of life. You also have to focus on what you want to get out of it! Don’t fall into the trap of just working hard at working hard. Carefully consider what you actually want and put in the focused effort to actually get it.

Confusion

Confusion is so great! Think about it, what is being confused? It’s being surrounded by knowledge you don’t yet possess within your own framework of understanding. Could you imagine a better situation?

It isn’t lack of knowledge. It’s being bombarded by knowledge! If you watch a film in a language you don’t understand, you may be confused. But you’re also getting tons of information thrown at you! If you catch even 5% of it, you’ll learn so rapidly.

Being confused is like being thirsty in a lake. You’re surrounded by the thing you feel like you don’t have! When you change around that framework, you see the answer. Don’t close yourself off, as so many do when they feel confused. Open up! Drink deeply!

I Always Do

Just remember – you have survived 100% of your days so far. Nothing has managed to kill you yet. You’ve been knocked down a few times, but never out. You have made it through everything life has ever thrown at you.

Overall, you have a great track record. And it makes sense! After all, you come from a long line of survivors. Literally every single one of your ancestors going back to the dawn of your lineage has survived at least long enough to produce an heir, so it’s no wonder that you’re a hero.

Look, this is absolutely survivorship bias. But it’s motivational, too – you’ll survive this. You always do.

Chronicle

Think about someone you admire. A historical figure, a current person of significance, maybe even a family member. Imagine the deep richness of their life, how many valuable moments happened in all the days stretching into their past.

Imagine you could step into those days and look around. That you could pick up individual moments and learn from them. Instead of just having to absorb the broad strokes and brief summaries of their exploits, you could peek under the hood and really see how the machinery grew and changed.

Someday, someone will wish that of you. You may even wish it of yourself.

Chronicle what you do now, however mundane it may seem. It isn’t all building to something important. It is something important, right now.

Doomed to Repeat It

How much of history is made up of individual decisions and their effects, and how much is made up of an endless cycle of what is inevitable given human nature?

A molecule of water is nothing like an ocean. Yet, the latter is made of the former, and given enough knowledge about the starting conditions, the movement of the ocean is predictable within certain error bars. We know when the tides will come in and out.

That doesn’t let us stop them.

I don’t think the lessons of history can help prevent repeated mistakes. I think that the lessons of history serve a different and vital purpose: they let a small few know when to sail and when not to. You can’t change the tides with all the predictive power in the world, but you can avoid them.

Party of the Year

My oldest child is 8 – going on 9 in about a week. My middle child is 4 tomorrow.

The oldest one, this year, decided all on her own to throw a party for her younger sister for her birthday. She bought party supplies with her own money, planned out games and activities, and stayed up late the night before decorating. All so that her four-year-old sister would have “a really special birthday.”

This year has been tough on a lot of people, but I truly believe kids are getting it worse than anyone. My oldest is a very social creature, and thankfully she’s quite adaptable – she has many friends that she communicates with regularly online and makes a great game of it. She’s gathered group Zoom calls together just so she could read out loud to them from her favorite books. She’s organized games of “messenger tag” that keep them entertained for hours. And she takes every opportunity (of which I give her all that I’m able) to run around outside with absolutely anyone. All are welcome into the circle of her friendship.

But her younger sister doesn’t have the same resources – for one, she simply doesn’t know as many people. So she primarily relies on her siblings as her friend group.

And because the world is wonderful in many ways, those three siblings are thick as thieves. They’re an amazing circle of friends, those three. I swear, it’s like watching something out of a movie or young adult novel. They’re like the Baudelaires. They play and scheme and build and conspire together as an inseparable team. And when the chips are down, these three kids absolutely pull out all the stops for each other.

Just like today.

The Night Before
They partied hard.

Difficulty Progression

Things don’t get steadily easier as you practice, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes there will be spikes of difficulty that can feel like “moving backwards.” In reality, that’s you reaching new levels of mastery.

In the best cases, that is. Sometimes it really is you getting comfortable and starting to atrophy.

See, you can get pretty good at something fairly quickly, and then it can become easy to slip into a comfort zone. Once you’re there, you’ll be, well… comfortable. And you won’t want to get uncomfortable, so you’ll use the same solutions and techniques that work and you’ll stay in your small zone of expertise.

But then those techniques will become boring and tired. So they won’t hold your passion, and so the work will once again start to get harder.

That’s the sign to kick it up. Push harder, try a new thing. Light it on fire again.

There Are No Fish On Land

“I need a fish.”

Okay. They’re over there in the river. Go get some.

“But I’m not sure what kind of fish I want.”

Doesn’t really matter. There aren’t any fish on land, so no matter what kind of fish you want, you’re in the wrong spot. Go get in the river.

“What if the fish are hard to catch?”

They’re impossible to catch here on land.

“What if I catch the wrong kind of fish?”

Then you let it go and catch a different fish. Right now, you don’t even know what the ‘wrong kind of fish’ is, because you don’t know anything about fish at all. Go in the river and catch some fish, see what happens.

“But it’s wet and cold in the river, plus it’s harder to stand there. It’s warm and dry and easy here.”

There are also no fish here.

“I don’t even know how to catch fish.”

Step 1: Get in the river.

“That’s easy for you to say! You’ve got fish!”

Yes. You’ll notice I’m also wet, because I got this fish from the river. Look, there’s no way around this. Fish are in the river. You can go hungry lamenting that there are no fish on land, or you can try some hare-brained scheme to coax the fish out of the water, or you can just go get wet and get fish.

Some things, even if they’re not easy, are actually very, very simple.