Shalom! Welcome to this week's digest. Another jam-packed week, 1/3 of which is due to you all being entirely too kind and thoughtful in sending amazing content my way. Thank you for putting a big, doofy, nerdy smile on my face :D This week's topics include convenience, cognitive biases, online dating, subtraction, diet agnosticism, and creative resistance. Enjoy!
If you like this digest, please consider sharing with friends, high-fiving a dolphin, and / or base-jumping off Shanghai Tower. xoxoxo <3
TL;DR: We form beliefs before we vet them. One quote sums up the article pretty well: "It turns out that truth seeking–the desire to know the truth regardless of whether it aligns with the beliefs we currently hold–is actually opposed to way our brains process information."
BEST OF WHAT I CONSUMED THIS WEEK
ARTICLE - The Tyranny of Convenience (Thank you Arvind for sharing!) - Tim Wu's op-ed led to personal reflection on what I choose to make easy and hard in my life. We are so fortunate to experience almost zero friction in many crucial elements of survival - finding shelter, food, medicine, etc. Tim vividly illustrates what we lose in choosing the easy path. A major part of what will define each of us is where we choose to invest and take the harder path; not just to build character, but to realize exponential gains for linear increases in effort.
Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country... convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.
As task after task becomes easier, the growing expectation of convenience exerts a pressure on everything else to be easy or get left behind. We are spoiled by immediacy and become annoyed by tasks that remain at the old level of effort and time.
Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey.
We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices... Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.
As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies...
We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest.
Semi-random, related quote from Cloud Atlas (the novel): "If, by happiness, you mean the absence of adversity, I and all fabricants are the happiest stratum in corpocracy, as genomicists insist. However, if happiness means the conquest of adversity, or a sense of purpose, or the xercise of one’s will to power, then of all Nea So Copros’s slaves we surely are the most miserable."
I feel like the question that we ask ourselves with love and relationships is, "How happy do I have a right to be?"
I think people are terrified. To be vulnerable with someone is what love requires, but that's the hardest thing... We have these ways of sheltering ourselves, and being meeker about how we ask someone out.
People online tend to fantasize more in terms of what this relationship is going to be, and how great this person is going to be for you, because those fantasies can't be torn down in the moment.
BLOG POST - Addition by Subtraction - Andy Weissman's short and fun post reminds us of how we benefit from reducing life to the essentials (particularly catching my comedy nerd eye with examples from Rodney Dangerfield and Steve Martin). Complement with my midterm study guide (seriously ;D) from Wharton's Idea Generation & Creativity class, which teaches basic creativity frameworks like Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Function Follows Form, and more.
CLINICAL RESEARCH - Low-fat vs low-carb? Major study concludes: it doesn’t matter for weight loss - Another wonderful Examine.com report on a recent, landmark diet study! The takeaway is not so much groundbreaking as it is reassuring - "you should choose your diet based on personal preferences, health goals, and sustainability." Also important - "This study is notable due to its large group of participants, long duration (12 months), and careful dietary monitoring. Furthermore, it was partially funded by NuSI, an organization co-founded by low-carb advocates."
MOST FAVORITE FROM THE PAST
BOOK - The War of Art (My summary) - Steven Pressfield's how-to for breaking through creative blocks is my go-to for conquering internally created bullshit. He illuminates the many clandestine forms that our resistance can take. Any time I feel like I am procrastinating, blocked, lying to myself, etc., I re-read my summary and discover which form of resistance is casting a shadow over me. Inevitably, I discover other parts of my life where resistance has taken hold and where I can fight back.