Month: March 2021

Intellectual vs Instinctual

Intellectually, we know what’s good for us. But instinctually, we don’t always do what’s good for ourselves.

We know that exercise is good for us and is a key part to staying healthy, but we avoid exercise because our instincts tell us to minimize unnecessary physical exertion to save energy.

We know that it’s better for the world and the community if we donate some of our money or resources to help those in need, but we don’t do it because we instinctively prioritize our own survival and comfort over the lives of random strangers.

Too often, we already know what the correct answer is. We know intellectually what we should do and what’s good for us, but we fail to do it because we instinctively prioritize something else, usually our own comfort and convenience.


Not everyone cares about the process or how things are done. Most people just want the outcome and the results.

When you do a blood test, you don’t really care what goes behind the closed hospital doors, you just want your results. When you have a computer issue and visit the IT department, you want nothing else but to get your computer fixed.

The last thing you want is to spend time learning how the process works and following up with a bunch of people from different departments or sections, just to ensure you get what you want. It really shouldn’t be the customers job to do that.

Hide how things are done and make them as seamless as possible. That’s the experience most customers want. The only time you should ever talk about your process is when a customer becomes so impressed by it that they actually asks for it.

Agriculture and Society

For a really long time, humans lived in small groups as hunter gatherers where, for obvious reasons, food had to be either hunted or gathered.

One day, agriculture happened and humans no longer have to hunt or gather stuff. They can grow all the food they need (mainly potatoes?) out in their own backyard. With this, humans can now afford to live in bigger groups.

As the group gets larger and larger, so does the farm. So large, in fact, that a small city or town was born. And with such a (relatively) large population where the farmers can supply all the food the community needs, some people started specializing in other fields (like politics?) and dividing themselves into classes (like peasants and aristocrat?).

The discovery of agriculture was definitely a fun time for some people, but not so much for everyone else. Back in the hunter gatherer days, we lived in small groups where everyone was more or less equal. But once agriculture came, once we have a method of storing value (i.e. food), it became possible for some to get rich and start hoarding power. Which is probably what resulted in class divide and all that stuff.

How to Forgive Your Past Self

If you have trouble accepting or forgiving your past self, it might be tempting to just ignore it or run away from it. But interestingly, we have no issues discussing, forgiving, and even empathizing with someone else’s difficult past. So why not do that with our own past?

See your past self as someone else’s life. You’ve obviously changed a lot over the years so it shouldn’t be that difficult or unreasonable. And once you’ve severed the connection between your present self and your past self, it becomes a lot easier to think about the past without getting too emotional or feeling excessive regret.

Blank Pages and Blank Faces

Perhaps speaking in public isn’t all that different from writing in public.

Instead of facing blank pages, you’ll just be facing blank faces.

Everything Is a Remix

“Italy is known for tomatoes. Thailand for chilies. Germany for sauerkraut.

But tomatoes originated in Peru. Thailand imported chilies from Central America. Sauerkraut started in China.

Everything is a remix—and the world is better for it. Share what you know. Learn from others.”

James Clear

If you look hard enough, you’ll find that a lot of ideas originated from one place or time but became popular in another (here’s another example). The hard part isn’t to be original, it’s to take existing ideas and turn them into something others would want.

Procrastinate Your Vice Away

Sometimes, it’s easy to get trapped in a YouTube binge. Or maybe you get trapped in a medium or news article binge. Or perhaps you’re the impulse buyer type who can’t resist shopping and buying stuff. What do you do if you want to break free?

Instead of trying to stop using willpower, you need to learn how to trick your brain. Your brain is really smart, it’s been tricking you this whole time trying to get you to do stuff you know you’ll ultimately regret. So you need to trick your brain in return. How do you do that? With the power of procrastination.

Procrastinate on those YouTube videos, just bookmark that video and promise yourself you’ll watch it later. And keep doing that, watch your to-watch list grow bigger and bigger. In a few weeks, you’ll look back at all those YouTube videos you were supposed to watch but didn’t and wonder why you wanted to watch so much videos in the first place. So you delete them.

Now, do the same for all your other addictions and uncontrollable consumptions. Just save it and promise yourself you’ll do it later. Because I know how bad we are at keeping such promises, which is why this tactic will definitely work for a lot of us.

Do the Hard Things

If it was easy, anyone could do it and reaping the benefits.

If it was easy, most people would either just do it themselves or outsource it for cheap.

If it was easy, what makes you think you can do a better job than all the other people you’re competing with?

It’s easy to run on flat ground, but faster people can easily outrun you. That’s why you must run uphill and through difficult obstacles to make those with a natural speed advantage give up on the chase. That’s why you need to choose to do the hard things.

Only Change Is Consistent

The only thing that’s ever consistent in life is change. From the physical world to your mental world, everything is changing over time. You are no longer the person you were 10 years ago, your habits and preferences have changed thus far, what makes you think they won’t change again in the next 10 years?

Consistency is cool and all, but it’s a bit like clinging to certainty. We want things to stay the way they are, we don’t like uncertainty or unexpected changes. But that’s not how things work around here. The only thing we can expect to be certain or consistent is change.

Trust Over Talent

Talent is overrated, and no, I’m not trying to imply that hard work triumphs over talent. There’s that, too, but let’s save that for another time. When we’re looking to hire someone, most of us default to looking at their CVs. What’s their talent? How is their performance? Are their numbers high?

Almost no one looks at their trustworthiness. Can you trust this person with your business or customers? Can you trust this person to treat others with respect and not poison the work environment? Can you trust this person not to sacrifice others for personal gains?

But there’s no easy way to measure trust, so most people simply take it for granted during the hiring process. And once they found out that the person they hired is high performance and low trust, they’re reluctant to fire that person, probably because of sunk cost and the pain of hiring another person.

Of course, everyone hopes to hire someone who is high performance and high trust, but such gems extremely hard to come by. The more realistic choice is, would you prefer to work with someone who is high performance but low trust, or would you rather they be low performance but high trust?