A biweekly bookish newsletter pushing you into extraordinary intellectual rabbit holes that will fuel your curiosity, keep your motivation levels high, and inspire you to commit to continuous growth.
For four years, I've been on a quest to build a virtual library that offers (hopefully) an interesting take on some of the most useful lessons from great books.
The irony of the online content, however, is that what might be considered useful information for some. Can be a distraction for others.
A moment ago, you didn't know that there is a whole mini-course online about not using social media (this one here). Now you do. And you are internally debating whether you want it or not.
Maybe you do.
Maybe you don't.
But the point is that we are not in full control over our attention.
We think we are operating the smartphone when we unlock it. But most commonly, the machine is operating us - trying to make us care about things we didn’t really need to care about.
This realization nudged me to abandon social media a couple of years ago and to be a bit frantic about the TV at home.
While I have the pleasure to say that at home we are not really tv-obsessed. When we watch something. I'm very careful to stop the square box when there is a commercial of some sort because I don't want my son to be constantly exposed to new shiny things.
Taking control these days happens by removing yourself from sources that only distract you.
If you find yourself consuming too much of something you don't need (hey, this also means this newsletter) it's the best strategy to stop.
But stopping is not that easy. There is a whole crew of people who are sitting behind the design of the latest app, trying to make you spend more money and more of your finite time to scroll.
So what can you do?
Besides applying restrictions - like downloading ad blockers, go live in a cabin, or cutting some cables. A good strategy is to think about this: What you're trying to escape?
We reach for our phones not only because we know they offer an infinite source of pleasure. But also because what we are doing at the current moment feels unbearable.
We want to escape the unpleasant feeling of performing some sort of boring work by jumping into a pool of short clips.
Games People Play by Eric Berne: "After you are done with your homework. Your job. Your chores. Or after you greeted the person next to you. An inevitable next question arises: “What’s next?” Sitting idle is rarely an option. Internally, we desire to engage in some sort of exchange with the person next to us. Not so much because we want to know them. But because we want them to know us."
Time and Free Will by Henri Bergson: A dense book offering thoughts about free will and how we humans really perceive time. An interesting quote from the text worth thinking about is this: "The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality."
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin: A beautiful collection of essays about life and literature from a fierce thinker and largehearted writer.
(Note: The links intentionally don't lead to the default site (Amazon). Hopefully, if you decide to purchase a book from the ones I'm including, you'll choose a local library to support small businesses.)
3) Great thinkers:
Born on April 4, 1928, Marguerite Annie Johnson was an American poet, memoirist, actress, screenwriter, and civil rights activist.
She is best known for her acclaimed 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Author of 36 books and numerous poems, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide.
Big Idea: Share Your Experiences
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography describing in great detail the early years of Maya Angelou. The book tells the story of how she transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.
In an interview, Maya explains that young people are often exposed to the perfect life of others where one is never wrong. But when you instill this concert for perfection in a young person that "'I never did anything wrong." They find themselves confused when they do bad: "'Damn I must be a pretty bad guy. My mom or dad never did anything wrong." In her words, "They can't forgive themselves and go on with their lives."
The more open you are about your faults. The more others will see that it's not the end of the world when you trip as long as you can get up.
Spirit of Joy Planner: "As we go about our everyday business, often sprinting to meet deadlines, hopping from one call to another – we often forget to take a step back, and think about what really brings us joy and meaning in our lives... With this planner, we are zooming out, and focus on bringing joy back into our lives."
Radical acceptance: "Of course, living in the present doesn’t necessarily mean more joy – or any joy, for that matter. If anything, focusing on the immediate present might well intensify your feelings of sadness, fear or anger. However, we can gain increasing control and awareness over how long and how intensely we experience painful realities by facing them in the present."
5) Worth knowing:
We fear being great more than we desire it.
That's the core idea of the Jonah complex.
The Jonah complex is the fear of success or the fear of being one's best which prevents unleashing one's own potential.
The name of this concept comes from the Biblical prophet Jonah. He was called by God to go to Nineveh and save the city from destruction but instead, he fled.
As Abraham Maslow, the person credited for the term writes: "So often we run away from the responsibilities dictated (or rather suggested) by nature, by fate, even sometimes by accident, just as Jonah tried—in vain—to run away from his fate."
A normal question is: Why do we do it? Aren't we supposed to challenge ourselves and attempt to exceed our expectations?
It seems that a common reaction is regression, not progression.
When there is a challenge of some sort - a career change, moving to a new location, embarking on a long journey. The common response is fleeing. We fear the responsibility. We fear that the new life will be too much for us to handle. That's why we self-sabotage.
6) Worth thinking about:
"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
― Maya Angelou
To continue my thought from above. Trying to be on top of things online is a double-edged sword. Yes, you are never bored and you get to know the biggest highlights from everything happening in the world but at what cost?
The main problem, at least I think so, is that what really matters is not consuming sporadically everything remotely interesting. But slowly and consistently advancing in a specific field and mastering it.
Reading all the news from today about everything will probably make you a pleasant person to talk to, but focusing your time and attention on a single specific topic is what makes progress.
Thank you for your time!
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