"We start trying to be wise when we realize that we are not born knowing how to live, but that life is a skill that has to be acquired." - Alain de Botton
"Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease. First realize that you are sick; Then you can move toward health." - Lao Tzu
"If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire."
A regular period of quiet solitude helps create a bedrock of self-sufficiency that accompanies us into the social hours ahead.
If you want the best odds of getting the best apartment, spend 37% of your apartment hunt (eleven days, if you’ve given yourself a month for the search) noncommittally exploring options.
For thirty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.
Conformity, after all, has become synonymous with safety. Have you ever laughed at a joke you didn’t find funny to avoid hurting someone’s feelings?
Dr. Ali Binazir estimates the probability of being born as 1 in 10 to the power of 2,685,000. That's a 10, followed by 2,685,000 zeroes.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.
The first person to spot the arduousness, and to pioneer focused thinking, was the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE). He became famous in Athens for standing around the marketplace asking what seemed like simple questions.
The technologies we use to try to ‘get on top of everything’ always fail us, in the end, because they increase the size of the ‘everything’ of which we’re trying to get on top.
We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts, the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors.
We base goals on our current desires, but why should our past constrain our future?The perils of modern goal-setting often forgo fate and encourage a dogmatic pursuit toward achievement.
Consider the archetypal case of being lured from your work by social media: It’s not usually that you’re sitting there, concentrating rapturously, when your attention is dragged away against your will.
Imagine you are walking through a forest. It’s a glorious summer afternoon, and the sun is shining brightly through the vibrant green leaves.
Western culture encourages us to look within, to seek our authentic selves. The promise is that by determining who we are, we can find the lifestyle that best fits our personality.
We will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.
Knowledge comes in two major forms: explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is all the facts you know and can consciously report, independent of context.
Our brains default to desiring instant pleasure when we choose immediate rewards over delaying gratification, causing the part of our brain associated with long-term planning to deteriorate.
Memories are not buried somewhere in the brain, as if they were bones at an archeological site; nor can we uproot them, as if they were radishes; nor, when they are dug up, are they perfectly preserved.
The best arguments in the world won’t change a single person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.
The Sufi poet Rumi once wrote, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.
In their book Peak, Florida State University psychologist Anders Ericsson and science writer Robert Pool explore the debate between innate talent and discipline.
We've all heard this popular justification for anger: expressing anger calms you down. The logic follows that you need to release anger rather than contain the emotion within.
Have you ever done a little finessing of expenses on income taxes? That probably compensates for the legitimate expenses you forgot about, and besides, you'd be a fool not to, considering that everybody else does.
Many of us have a romantic idea about how creativity happens: A lone visionary conceives of a film or a product in a flash of insight.
Clearly the words rational and irrational can be quite loaded. People are always labeling those who disagree with them ‘irrational.’
The brain is designed with blind spots, optical and psychological, and one of its cleverest tricks is to confer on us the comforting delusion that we, personally, do not have any.
Sociologists refer to ‘reference group theory’: the idea that in forming our self-identity, we compare ourselves to those in our peer group.
Confirmation bias causes us to focus on the information reinforcing our beliefs while ignoring or distorting disconfirming evidence.
The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,’ writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin.
People judge the probability of events by the ease with which instances come into mind, a habit that Tversky and Kahneman called the Availability Heuristic.
We form beliefs in a haphazard way, believing all sorts of things based just on what we hear out in the world but haven’t researched for ourselves.
If you want to predict where you'll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses, and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line.
Amor fati is a Latin phrase that translates to “love of fate,” a notable concept in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century German philosopher, cultural critic, and writer who profoundly influenced modern literature and thought.
The term liquid modernity was coined by sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman to describe the inversion of value we are experiencing.
The way complex adaptive systems work, and the way mental constructs work, problems frequently become easier to solve through 'inversion.' If you turn problems around into reverse, you often think better.
Simpler explanations are more likely to be true than complicated ones. This is the essence of Occam’s razor, a classic principle of logic and problem-solving.
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.
2,500 years ago Confucius, Socrates, and the Buddha were all addressing similar philosophical questions: What is the best way to run a state? How do I build a proper world where everyone has a chance to flourish? How do I live my life?
Dr Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that explores meaning as the core motivational force in humans.
Western notions of authenticity often cause more harm than good. Because it is impossible to separate ourselves from the unconscious behavior we have adopted, the advice to “just be yourself” is misleading.
In Buddhism we say chisoku, which means ‘be satisfied’. Knowing how much is enough is about finding satisfaction in what you already have. Human desire is endless. Once we acquire one thing, we desire ten of them.