Elusive of casual definition

We feel something, and reach out for the nearest phrase or hum with which to communicate, but which fails to do justice to what has induced us to do so. We hear Beethoven’s Ninth and hum poum, poum, poum, we see the pyramids at Giza and go, “that’s nice.” These sounds are asked to account for an experience, but their poverty prevents either us or our interlocutors from really understanding what we have lived through. We stay on the outside of our impressions, as if staring at them through a frosted window, superficially related to them, yet estranged from whatever has eluded casual definition.

~ Alain De Botton

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Playfulness

To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as if nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with one another, we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise; everything that happens is of consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcomes of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for unlimited possibility.

~ James Carse

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Seek to learn

Embracing a growth mindset means to get pleasure out of changing for the better (inward rewarding) instead of getting pleasure in being praised (outward rewarding.) […] to seek as many opportunities to learn as possible is the most reliable long-term growth strategy.

~ Sönke Ahrens from, How to Take Smart Notes

Ahrens of course discusses, and gives credit where credit is due, to Carol Dweck’s ideas. (See Dweck’s, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.) Her comment about “reliable long-term growth strategy” struck me as insightful. Her use of, “most reliable,” is an understatement. What other strategy would even be reliable?

If I want to grow, I need to learn. If I want to learn, I need to maximize those opportunities.

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Spacing effect

This is where the spacing effect comes in. It’s a wildly useful phenomenon: we are better able to recall information and concepts if we learn them in multiple, spread-out sessions. We can leverage this effect by using spaced repetition to slowly learn almost anything.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/spacing-effect/

It’s funny how ideas percolate in the brain. This article and another one, (back on the 29th, which is further down in this weekly email,) passed through my radar within a couple of weeks. (I can tell because my general digital reading pile is a FIFO queue.) They were read a few times, but again in relative closeness in time. And they both ended up making the cut to be blog posts.

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Problems

Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; Indeed they create our courage and wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.

~ Scott Peck

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Side quests

I [generally] hate the Internet. I wanted to start this post with a reference to a little children’s TV skit I saw many (many) moons ago, on Sesame Street or maybe it was the Muppets… about a guy named Henry with a bucket with a hole who tried to fix it based on another character’s—named Liza—ministrations, but which eventually lead him to need the hole-y, original bucket to haul water to complete the bucket-repair process. If you’re not yet grabbing your head, try reading: “There a hole in my bucket. Dear Liza. Dear Liza.” Fortunately, Wikipedia, and a pile of YouTube clips I managed to not watch, have me covered. Long live the Internet!

“Holey-bucket-fixing” is a long chain of tasks which turn out to be circularly dependent. Obviously, I don’t realize it’s holey-bucket-fixing at the start of the side quest. I start off on some simple problem. To do A, I need B. To do B, I need C. To do C, I need… A? Where’s the Tylenol?!

But sometimes, I start off on some simple problem and it goes very well. As in . . .

Your merry band enters the dimly lit inn, glad to find shelter from the stormy night. The rogue among you sticks to the shadows to the left, the dwarf angles right, (in both senses of the word,) towards the bar, and the elf-archer, with the balance of the band in tow, strides for a long table against the doorless, far wall. The dwarf orders the first round of whatever-it-is-they-serve-around-these-parts, and the bartender strikes up a conversation. “Haven’t seen you folks around before. You look like you might be up for an adventure.” If you want to go on an adventure, turn to page 42. If you just want this idiot to shut up so you can drink your whatever-it-is-they-serve-around-these-parts in peace, continue reading.

And so, with a hole in my bucket, or a simple question in mind, or—challenge-loving dwarf-at-the-bar that I play so well—just too curious for my own good… I almost always turn to page 42.

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Lifelong learning

Your education shouldn’t end when your schooling does. If you want to get an edge in life, you must be constantly learning, not coasting along on what you already know. Lifelong learning requires the ability to reflect on your mistakes, a lot of reading, and testing what you know.

~ Shane Parrish

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