The fix is human

This is an instance of what philosophers call testimony. It’s similar to the sort of testimony given in a courtroom, but it’s less formal and much more frequent. Testimony happens any time you believe something because someone else vouched for the information. Most of our knowledge about the world is secondhand knowledge that comes to us through testimony. After all, we can’t each do all of our own scientific research, or make our own maps of distant cities.

~ Regina Rini

This is a nice introduction to the idea of “testimony.” By saying or writing whatever-it-is-I’m-considering, would I be building up, or tearing down my reliability as a source of testimony?


Getting your brain back

Luckily, this problem has a solution: I call it Getting Your Brain Back, but it is a time-honored problem that has been solved by many people in the past. Originally limited only to company CEOs and world leaders, the excess of information has trickled down to the rest of us. To survive in this flood, we need to learn how to swim, in much the same way as busy and important people have always done.

~ Peter Adeney

…and just how bad have things become? Try this short TED talk:


Lifelong consistency is impossible

When someone is that afraid of being contradicted, they are no longer concerned with the truth, only with protecting their priceless investment in what they have said. To honor a statement you made yesterday as a binding declaration of who you are is a tragic, yet extremely common mistake. This is the fundamental error that plagues humanity: to mistake one’s ego for oneself.  Enforcing an impossible, lifelong consistency in what you say and believe can only lead to dishonesty and despair.

~ David Cain

When I thought I was basically “done” becoming who I would become, I got bent out of shape over all the problems I saw in the world.

Now that I realize that the only meaningful life is one where I continuously tinker with self-improvement, I see that–just like me–everyone else is on a journey of transformation… wether or not they realize it.


Stem cell research

Things that are every bit as great happen every day in scientific labs, and no one cares. Maybe as a society we’ve become anesthetized to science — when really, it’s so exciting. We have so much to gain as a country if we invest in science and knowledge and understanding. I don’t blame the public for not understanding, though, or even legislators for sometimes not wanting to invest. They all look so much like my family.

~ Renee Reijo Pera

There are several science-y details in this interview that really startled me; Our knowledge of embryo development is vastly improved since last I looked.

…but mostly I just like the sentiment of wonder she expresses. “When is the last time I learned something new?” is a question I try to update the answer to every day.


The secret to connecting with people

Let the other person have the privilege of being the first one to be understood. The biggest distraction to understanding someone else is self-importance. Needing to say something means you have to be thinking about it, and thinking about it means you have very little mental capacity left for empathy. Free up yours, and it will free up theirs.

~ David Cain

Empathy is the most useful ability I have ever developed. Sure, I first had to develop my abilities of self-awareness and self-assessment. But at that point, the need for empathy and compassion became plain as day.


What’s wrong with the world?

This type of view of the world — and like I said, I think it’s the prevailing view — stems from an ideal that many people have in their heads of what the world should be like. They might not realize they have that ideal, but it’s there. And the world will never reach this Platonic ideal, because it’s just this image of perfection that does not match reality. Reality and this ideal are incompatible.

~ Leo Babauta

This ties in with yesterday’s comments about the Beatles’ Let It Be. There’s certainly a peculier passion associated with youth. But there’s a much nicer circumspection of age. When things are going badly, relax for they will not last. Whent things are going well, relax for they will not last. The error is in not relaxing, not in the circumstances being observed.


How to Make Money Buy Happiness

So let’s solve it. If we are really just buying feelings, who has the best ones on sale at the lowest price? Different people approach this problem with different levels of sophistication.

~ Peter Adeney

I remember when this sort of thinking seemed so alien. I remember when I truly believed the bill of goods I had been sold about the rat race, chasing success, consumerism, etc. Now I very explicitly use money to buy happiness. And then, having accomplished that, I move on to the important things in life.


Does Your Story Have This Common Weakness?

Another common curse: the belief that happiness cannot coexist with an imperfect world. For you to be okay with your story, do you require any of the following to occur? A crime-free city. A drug-free America. The day corrupt officials see the error of their ways. The end of suffering on earth. World peace. The day everyone starts using their turn signals, and stops mixing up “there” and “their.”

These are tall orders. Certainly worth aiming at, but never worth waiting for.

~ David Cain

I’ll nitpick and say the following about his opening Indiana Jones story: The fact that Indy closed his eyes and did not look at the contents of the Ark shows that he changed. Instead of his literally ceaseless quest for artifacts, he chose to let this artifact remain unknown to him. That’s why the demons in the Ark spared him.

I digress.

I love that he’s writing about Indy.

…and the rest of this article is even better: So, does your story rely on the “deus ex machina” trope? …since this is reality, how has that bee working out for you so far? I can tell you it didn’t work out for me, so I rewrote the script of my life.


The only resource more precious than time

Unlike money, everyone is ultimately on a level playing field when it comes to time. We all get the same allowance of twenty-four hours a day. Just as there are ineffective ways of investing your money, there are ineffective ways of investing your time.

If we all have the same amount of this essential resource, why do some people achieve so much, and others so little? Where we start from — in terms of economic class, skills and education — certainly has something to do with it, but there are just as many riches-to-rags stories as there are rags-to-riches stories, so obviously there is another factor at play here.

~ David Cain

I found the realization that it’s really my attention that is my limiiting resource to be both liberating and scary. Liberating because it means that all I need to do is focus my attention and long-term success is within my grasp. Applying my attention, even in short stretches, inevitably leads to progress on my favorite projects. And scary because every time I’m tired, run-down, don’t want to do something– every time, food or the Movie-monster call my name, entertainment or distraction– there are so many opportunities for me to turn my attention away from the things I find valuable.