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G'day!  Welcome to this week's digest. This is a very special "Birthday" edition, because I turned 31 on Friday!! Reflecting back now, *so much* happened this year. Most importantly, I started writing this digest :D I left my 'stable' start-up job and started creating a machine; a machine which enables me to do meaningful work in preventive health & wellness, enjoy the day-to-day experience, and earn a living. I wrote down my best guess for how I want to live my life. I had a significant romantic relationship. And I am learning to truly love myself, shadow and all. There have been tremendous ups and downs on this journey, but I wouldn't trade the ridiculousness of my 31st year for anything... even, like, really sweet flip flops. The best part is realizing that what motivates me every single day, what empowers me to enjoy the vicissitudes of life, is you. I now feel deeply that I am not in this alone, and that feeling of support provides such confidence to stick my neck out and do scary things. Because the hardest parts of life, the most important elements, are going to be exciting and also pretty fucking scary. And your support, large and small, means we don't have to face that alone, and we can see the challenges for what they really are - an opportunity to be fully alive with the people we love. Thank you for being there with me.

This week's topics include crossing mountains with elephants, kicking ass, decision making, Chinese philosophy, and fear of death. Enjoy!

 
If you like this digest, please consider sharing with friends, tasting a rainbow, and / or skipping stones on calm water. xoxoxo <3
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TDD TL;DR
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
 
"And it is only when we understand that nothing is stable that we can make decisions and live our lives in the most expansive way." ~ Michael Puett
MORNING MANTRA OF THE WEEK - AUT INVENIAM VIAM AUT FACIAM

Every day, as part of my morning ritual, I read my "morning wake-up poster". It is a collection of aphorisms, mantras, and other phrases that I find incredibly motivating. It's like the banners that sports teams have going from the locker room to the field - my day just feels different if I read this first. I have shared this in various formats before, but I want to go into a bit more detail on each of the elements. Each week, I will select an element and go into detail on why it is important to me, and maybe inspire you to add it into your day.

This week, I want to share "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam", a Latin saying translating to "I shall find a way or make one". I first heard this in Wharton's Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship class, from Prof. Bob Borghese (a goddamned legend if there ever was one). This saying is important to me because it represents the importance of self-confidence, and the notion that whatever we face in life, we will figure it out. Most challenges are not rocket science; and even if they are,  rocket scientists exist, and we don't have to face it alone. A fun fact for this saying (possibly a conspiracy theory) is that it was attributed to Hannibal, the legendary Carthaginian general, as he tried to cross the Alps by elephant. And yet, Hannibal didn't speak Latin, so he wouldn't have actually said these words. MIND BLOWN.
BEST OF WHAT I CONSUMED THIS WEEK

PODCAST
- The Upgrade: How to Kick Ass with Mel Robbins - Sharing mostly for the opportunity to write out "schmucko" ;D (see highlight below). Mel's 'five second rule' concept can be so powerful, and it relates strongly to concepts from Taming Your Gremlins (an old favorite). If we understand that the feeling of nervous and excited are the same, and we get curious about all of the opportunities open to us in a given moment (regardless of our instincts and fears), the world can truly become our playground.

My highlights:
  • [The five second rule] sounds so stupid. Look, I went to Dartmouth, I have a law degree, I'm not some schmucko that's here because I have some shtick that I invented. But it sounded when I invented it like the dumbest thing in the world.
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  • There is absolutely no difference in your body when you're nervous and when you're excited. Absolutely none. And you can use that to your advantage once you know that to manipulate your body state and to manipulate your thinking state... That's why your body gets agitated, because you're about to do something you give a shit about... And the only difference between being agitated in a state that you would call 'I'm nervous' and being agitated in a state where you would say 'I'm excited' is what your mind is saying about the body state. That's it, that's the only difference.

RESOURCE - Coinbase Decision Making Framework - My dirty little secret is finally out... any resources related to decision making nerdiness (frameworks, cognitive biases, etc.) automatically get saved. If you have a decision making framework for choosing the right decision making framework, sign me up for your cult. I love Coinbase's focus on simplicity, specificity, and bias to action and experimentation over deliberation.


BOOK - The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life by Michael Puett (My full Kindle highlights) - A thought-provoking, easy read that aggregates and synthesizes a variety of intriguing philosophies. This book reinforced (confirmation bias!) two emerging trends in my life: 1) Planning less and doing more, especially at a hyper-local level. 2) The power of ritual, with an added twist of utilizing ritual as an opportunity to experiment with new roles and perspectives.

My highlights:
  • ...it’s at that everyday level that larger change happens, and a fulfilling life begins.
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  • The goal of a self-actualized person is now to find himself and to live his life “authentically,” according to an inner truth. The danger of this lies in believing that we will all know our “truth” when we see it, and then limiting our lives according to that truth. With all this investment in our self-definition, we risk building our future on a very narrow sense of who we are... By thinking of human nature as monolithic, we instantly limit our potential.
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  • This is what life is about: moment after moment in which people encounter one another, react in an infinite number of ways, and are pulled to and fro emotionally. Not one of us can escape this, be it a child on a playground or the leader of a great nation. Every single human event is shaped by the world of our emotional experiences.
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  • Confucius might well point out how contradictory it is that we resist rituals because we think they tell us what we should do, yet we unwittingly follow so many social norms and conventions.
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  • What we in the West define as the true self is actually patterns of continuous responses to people and the world; patterns that have built up over time... By being loyal to a “true self,” you ended up concretizing destructive emotional habits
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  • Trying to formulate abstract, universal laws to guide us is not only irrelevant but also dangerous. It prevents us from learning how to wrestle with the complexities of situations. It obstructs our understanding how to express goodness... No norms can tell us exactly what to do once we are out in the messy world, juggling myriad roles and emotions and scenarios. The only norm is goodness. For Confucius, cultivating and expressing goodness are the only ways to become an ethical person.
  •  
  • And it is only when we understand that nothing is stable that we can make decisions and live our lives in the most expansive way.
  •  
  • Rather than going into all of this thinking, I can be anything I want to be, the approach you’re taking is I don’t know yet what I can become... You can’t plan out how everything in your life will play out. But you can think in terms of creating the conditions in which things will likely move in certain directions: the conditions that allow for the possibility of rich growth.
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  • ...we actually spend our entire lives battling against flux and transformation: we declare our opinions to be right (and others indisputably wrong); we work ourselves up over the accomplishments of a rival; we remain stuck in a dead-end job because we’re fearful of change.
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  • Our conscious minds tend to focus on what “should be”—on what appears to be right. We think we know what is beautiful, what is large, what is virtuous, what is useful. Yet do we really understand how arbitrary the words and values we depend on actually are? ... The problem comes when we assume that our perspectives are universal, and we close off our minds.
MOST FAVORITE FROM THE PAST

BLOG POST
- Quartz: I was a stressed-out workaholic. Then I realized that one fear was at the root of my problems by Khe Hy - Fear of death can be paralyzing and all-consuming. I remember the first time that concept dawned on me, I was three years old, and I stayed up all night crying and freaking out. It wasn't until my late 20's that I started to face this fear, to appreciate that we all have one destination... and that is OK. Now, every morning, I update my 'Death Clock' (a digital post-it note counting down to an arbitrary date), if only to force myself to contemplate it for just a moment, so I can better appreciate the beauty and value of the day ahead of me, whatever it contains.

Complement with Bertand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness (there's a chapter on this) and The Reboot Podcast's The Work of Your Life (Khe Hy is the guest!).

My highlights:
  • ...my relationship with death had been causing a lot of problems—from my workaholic tendencies to the stress and worry that characterized much of my everyday life. With the help of some great mentors, I decided to stop trying to beat death and lean into these fears. I needed to learn how to live with the reality of my—and every living thing’s—ultimate destiny.
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  • I came to understand that my constant refrain—“There’s never enough time!”—was ironically the biggest time thief of all.
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  • “The hope and belief is that the things that man creates in society are of lasting worth and meaning, that they outlive or outshine death and decay, and his products count,” [Ernest Becker] writes. “They earn this feeling by carving out a place in nature, by building an edifice that reflects human value: a temple, a cathedral, a totem pole, a sky scraper, a family that spans three generations.” ... I realized that the desire to build something that would outlive me was all-consuming.
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  • While leaving the corporate world initially seemed risky, I ultimately realized that not trying my hand as an entrepreneur was—existentially—even riskier.
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  • ...the more I reflect on my own death, the less I fear it.
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  • Yes, I’m terrified of losing loved ones. But what I’m really scared of is not having lived a meaningful life. And that’s something I can control.
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