Reduce Your Death Anxiety

“The one thing all human beings have in common, is the fact that one day, our lives will end in death.

What does the idea of death mean to you? How does it make you feel?

Chances are the thought of death triggers fear or anxiety in you. You might not feel totally comfortable with the idea of dying and your life coming to an end.

Research shows that in our modern-day Western society death denial is a common attitude. Which is very contradictory in itself when you think about it, as death is ultimately the one thing we can not avoid from happening.

Ignoring death often leads to more death anxiety which can have a huge impact on your mental health and your day-to-day life, while contemplating death will give you the benefits of going through life more aware and with greater purpose.

With my online video course I will give you the tools to explore your relationship with mortality, and reduce your death anxiety.

https://acourseindying.com/get-ahead-of-death-online-video-course-on-mortality/

My father-in-law recently died after several years of illness. Talking about the possibility of dying is fraught with people engaged in magical thinking, as if broaching the subject is causal. It’s simply a reality people must face, and when they put it off, it is invariably worse. For €79, it’s probably a useful exercise, but the reality is the people that really need it won’t be the one’s buying this course.

Hacker News: Important Non-Obvious Business Lessons

Here’s 30 years of experience for you:

1. Few business problems can’t be solved by more sales.

2. Cut expenses when the storm is approaching, not when you’re soaking wet.

3. You can’t eat assets or inventory. Don’t get emotional about what you own, only about your cash balances.

4. Banks are your friend only when you don’t need them. Corollary: One bank for borrowing, one for cash balance accounts.

5. 70 completed calls per week. Not emails, calls. You can do it, start now.

6. Don’t be an asshole: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_No_Asshole_Rule

7. Hire and retain “T-shaped” people. In difficult times those employees execute across multiple domains.

8. Client, vendor or employee drama is quicksand. You assist with a stick or a rope, you don’t jump in with them.

9. Don’t romanticize work & try to avoid romance getting in the way of work.

10. You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child. Prioritize good parenting over work. Good parenting = SOS: Self awareness, objectivity, selflessness.

11. Get a prenup. No, really, do get one.

12. Pay yourself according to a financial model that prioritizes healthy business cash balances, and not your personal desires.

-armc, “Ask HN: Important nonobvious startup/business lessons you’ve learned?Hacker News. May 12, 2022.

I think my favorites from this list are 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11. Except I might reformulate them a bit.

  • Be willing to sell almost anything you own.
  • Banks are never your friend.
  • Don’t be or tolerate assholes.
  • As want to work with As. Bs hire Cs.
  • Avoid drama and learn how to help deescalate.
  • You’re only as happy as the least happiest person in your inner circle.
  • Your romantic relationships will be the source of most of your happiness and/or misery. Choose wisely.

IBM’s Asshole Test

“Some years back I applied to join IBM’s grad scheme, there was a peculiar stage to the process I’ve not seen elsewhere. It was during the onsite day, where a batch of 20 or so applicants were put through various tests in an IBM office. They called it the “group test”; around 8 of us were led to a room and asked to solve a puzzle together. Each of us was given an information pack, there was a white board, and a timer ticking down from 60 minutes. At first there was silence as we looked at our packs, then the first voice: “Let’s pool our information”, someone stands up by the whiteboard, grasping a marker. Silence, it’s not clear how this information should be parsed. One person starts reading theirs out word for word. This is not going to scale. Someone interrupts. Before long the whiteboard leader has been deposed and another is wielding the marker. Then another fights for control. The 60 minutes has run out, the puzzle is unsolved. Confused and drained we head off to the next test.

At the end of the day the group is split into two rooms, my room is given the good news and I go on to join the grad scheme. Six months later I am shadowing a colleague who is running the “group test”. I asked him if he’d ever seen a group complete the test? “Oh, it’s not about that, this is an asshole test. You see who turns into an asshole under pressure and they don’t make it to the next round”.

-johnpublic, “IBM’s Asshole Test.” johnpublic.mataroa.blog. May 4, 2022

Companion to The Asshole Filter.

Happy People Tend to Stay That Way

* “[X], were you satisfied with your life before you met [Y]?”

* “[X], were you free from depression before you met [Y]?”

* “[X], did you have a positive affect before you met [Y]?”

Researchers have found that people who answered “yes” to questions such as these are significantly more likely to report being happy in their romantic relationship. In other words, a person who is happy outside their relationship is far more likely to be happy inside their relationship, as well…

…If I had to sum up, in one sentence, the most important finding in the field of relationship science, thanks to these Big Data studies, it would be something like this (call it the First Law of Love): In the dating market, people compete ferociously for mates with qualities that do not increase one’s chances of romantic happiness.

-Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, “People Are Dating All Wrong, According to Data Science.” Wired. May 10, 2022.

The net on this is that the qualities that people tend to look for in selecting mates are not the qualities that lead to happiness. But, the argument presented here is ultimately a bad one. Just because some approach is bad, does not make its opposite good.

If I had to sum up the lesson of this article, it is that people that are happy in their lives tend to also be happy in their relationships. If you want to be happy in a relationship, perhaps the secret is to be happy outside of one and look for someone who is also happy in their lives before they met you.

The Map by Venkatesh Rao

“If only, the argument went, you could discover the exact opposite territory — not literally; that was in the middle of the ocean, but some sort of training-data antonym in latent space — and the exact set of tweaks to make to the training code, the Antimap would emerge at the Antipode, and begin its own inexorable creep towards the Map. And through the ensuing battle of Map and Antimap, the final training epoch would be triggered, leading to the Final Convergence, and heaven on Earth.

It was widely derided as a profoundly stupid religion.

And yet, as the growth of heaven slowed to a crawl, the surreptitious search for hell began.”

-Venkatesh Rao, “The Map.” ribbonfarm.com. May 5, 2022.

Parable of the best possible outcome of a piece of technology, where its limits invariably bring humans to imagine its opposite, a kind of hell.

Making Friends [on the Internet]

Summarized:

“[1.] follow people you resonate with.

[2.] engage with bigger accounts, support smaller accounts.

[3.] ask questions, offer suggestions, share learnings.

[4.] pay attention to who keeps popping up.

[5.] use the algorithms to your advantage.

[6.] attend virtual events. participate! 

[7.] attend offline events! Be adventerous.

[8.] send that dm / email / offer to connect.

[9.] if they don’t respond, try again in a few months.

[10.] put your thoughts out there.

-Jonathan Borichevskiy, “Making Friends on the Internet.” jon.bo. May 2, 2022.

Open question: How do you make new friends that will help you move in the direction you want your life to move and be fellow travelers?

The thrust is correct. If you want to make offline friends, you need to orient your online presence to make offline connections. However, there’s a bit of an age-bias. When you are 25 and single, it’s a lot easier to go to meeting on a lark. As you get older, it gets more difficult. You have to arrange a babysitter. There’s also the time to consider. Here’s a rough chart of time and quantities of friends a human brain tends to top out at:

  • 5 intimate friends (+200 hours)
  • 15 close friends (80-100 hours)
  • 50 general friends (40-60 hours)
  • 150 acquaintances (10-20 hours)

The problem, as you get older, is: how do you find those hours to spend with someone? The easiest method is some social institution, such as a church. Over a year, it should be possible to pick up a few friends and acquaintances from a church.

So, the above is how to make an initial connection with someone, and it assumes that you bridge these hours in some way. This is much harder, as you get older. But, perhaps something to think about when you start new chapters of your life.

Zuihitsu: 2022-04

Technically, zuihitsu are longer reflections than what I tend to collect. But, the general idea is right. Here’s this month’s installment. If you want the complete set, please download the fortune file.

1. I tell you: one must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.—Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
2. Build, test, and improve.
3. Apes vs. Gorillas, aka users vs. providers.
4. Find your own way of doing things, make your own rules.
5. If you’re thinking, but not writing, you only think that you are thinking.
6. Things are going to be alright, whatever happens.
7. r, the interest rate, is the rental rate for capital, and w is the rental rate (wage rate) for labor.
8. Parking lots are major revenue generators for airports. Storage is big business everywhere.
9. You can swim all day in the sea of knowledge and not get wet.–Norton Juster
10. Look at the world without euphemism.
11. Most arguments fail due to lack of imagination.
12. The Internet amplifies variance.
13. The puppet does not pull the strings of the puppet master.
14. You can print money but not oil to heat or wheat to eat.
15. All ESG roads eventually lead to international confrontation, nationalisation or protectionism.
16. You could not have wished to be born at a better time than this, when everything is lost.—Simone Weil
17. Don’t privilege privilege.
18. Love triangles are never equilateral.
19. It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.—Mark Twain
20. Many and small beats large and heavy.
21. Finding always beats flanking.
22. Swarming always beats surging.
23. I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.—Rabindranath Tagore
24. What makes you dance in the streets?
25. Some things are not meant to be.
26. You can’t unshit your pants.
27. Who brings more value, the producer or the reducer?
28. You can have all the ingredients and still not know the recipe.
29. Don’t be afraid of changing your mind.
30. Equality that penalizes productivity isn’t equality.
31. Don’t shitpost with your wallet.
32. Solve the mystery no one was wondering about.
33. You cannot get water from a book. But, a book might help you find it.
34. A boat should be in the water. But, the water shouldn’t be in the boat. Same with people and the world.
35. Time in a growth market > timing the market
36. Twitter is Uber for ideas.
37. If you are going to manage it, you first have to acknowledge it.
38. Progress, not perfection.
39. Doubt kills.
40. Change your world.
41. When you pray for rain, you have got to deal with the mud too.
42. Takes talent to make money, but brains to keep it.
43. Same mud, same blood.
44. Nothing is more expensive than free. Nothing harder than looking for the easy way.
45. Curating is an act of generosity—you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you.
46. Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.—Gustave Flaubert
47. Our past is never where we left it.
48. Nobody’s as deaf as those that don’t want to listen.
49. You cannot change where you come from, but you can change where you are going.
50. Imagination leads to emancipation.
51. Humans are more important than hardware.
52. Actions over credentials.
53. Every decline is surfable.
54. When nothing is happening, change what you are doing.
55. Vision, a positive attitude, and hard work can make a new reality.
56. Less furious, more curious.
57. Don’t be afraid to offend.
58. Social media are the fidget spinners of the soul.
59. Some tools can only be used to destroy.
60. Most of the disorder and dysfunction in the world is caused by lack of impulse control.—Dr. Andrew Huberman
61. Resistance or difficulty is necessary in order to understand the nature and depth of our own desires.
62. Few devices have done more to obscure the efforts of human labor than the smartphone.
63. Get it down there where the dogs can eat it.
64. Things that cannot go on forever, stop.

Theater, Circus & Being

“In Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self, Tzachi Zamir proposes a theory of persons that allows participants in the theater to amplify and improve their own sense of self. According to Zamir, “a person is a cluster of possibilities, and actualizes a small portion of these.” The personal benefit of acting is that it broadens the scope of a person’s usual set of possibilities, potentially leading to a wider range of opportunities or ‘live options’ in real life for the person acting. Zamir calls this “existential amplification.” Acting (not merely observing acting) can help someone better understand themselves as they actually are, against a broadened backdrop of what’s possible for them…

…In Duncan Wall’s The Ordinary Acrobat, Jonathan Conant, one of the founders of Trapeze School New York describes the flying trapeze as “a machine for helping people re-evaluate what they are capable of.” He continues: “Before a flight, people are invariably uncomfortable. They’re pissed off, they’re scared, they’re sad. There’s a real fear of getting hurt.” They think that the trapeze is “…magical. It’s unattainable. It’s hugely difficult. It’s completely out of the realm of possibility for most people’s minds.” Yet after flying, “[t]here’s an evolution, an acceptance of what’s possible. The trapeze is so built up in people’s heads. And then someone says, ‘You can actually do this, too.’ That totally shifts the realm of what’s possible.” Conant continues, “People like to say that the trapeze is a metaphor for overcoming your fears. But this is wrong. A metaphor is just a symbol. The trapeze actually works.” Circus literature is rich with such accounts, especially in connection to the flying trapeze. Very often, there is talk of a great shift in perspective, of seeing the world differently, experiencing life anew, and even: becoming a whole new being.”

-Meg Wallace, “Circus and Philosophy: Teaching Aristotle Through Juggling.” aesthticsforbirds.com. December 2, 2021

Interesting throughout. I like the idea that trying new things, whether they be new ideas or ways of being in the world, can help us reconstruct ourselves into “a whole new being.”

Metaphorical Apes & Gorillas

Apes & Gorillas is another little gem from Joe Armeanio. It closely mirrors the idea two computing revolutions talked about in this post that talks about:

  1. Apps with easy to use interfaces designed for casual users
  2. Application layers, that provide tools that allow new ways of using a computer that were previously impossible

There’s a huge difference in needs between traders doing swaps and solo miners using a node wallet. The general principle is applicable to most areas of life where technology touches.

Zuihitsu: 2022-03

Technically, zuihitsu are longer reflections than what I tend to collect. But, the general idea is right. Here’s this month’s installment. If you want the complete set, please download the fortune file.

1. Distrust turns quickly to dislike.
2. The difference between saying something to or about someone is the latter is always gossip.
3. Children don’t worry about the future.
4. Showmen need to know how the audience leans.
5. Strategies for dealing with pain: 1) sleep, 2) forgetting, 3) madness, and 4) death.
6. Wounds that can’t be healed must be forgotten.
7. Find water first. Everything else can wait.
8. May all your stories be glad ones, and your roads be smooth and short.
9. Bones mend. Regret is forever.
10. Entropy eases familiar ruts.
11. Every good story touches the truth.
12. You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story true.
13. Small deeds for small men.
14. Just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it is true.
15. Fear tends to come from ignorance.
16. A man who travels with his wife can usually be trusted.
17. I’ll see you where the roads meet.
18. Stories give us a clarity and simplicity our lives lack.
19. To fear something, you have to dwell on it.
20. Stealth is a lie and a trap.
21. Borrow or lend, lose a friend.
22. Practice makes the master.
23.  Excellence is excellence’s only companion.
24. A laurel needs rain to grow.
25. A moment in the mind is worth nine in the fire.
26. Beer dulls a memory, brandy sets it burning, but wine is best for a sore heart’s yearning.
27. It’s easier to appear harmless.
28. Sweep up the glass of your broken plans and simply start again.
29. Learn to ignore what’s current.
30. Make something people want.
31. Wisdom precludes boldness.
32. You become what you pretend to be. You tell yourself a story, and you build your identity from it.
33. You don’t know the first note of the music that moves me.
34. Less trust, more rules.
35. Few are as gullible as the well-educated.
36. Never trust a weapon you haven’t personally test fired.
37. Roots are more vital than grafts.
38. The best time to think about it was decades ago, the second best time is now.
39. It’s rare, if not impossible, to produce clean answers to messy questions.
40. The consequence of secrecy in a community is lack of preparedness for facts on the ground.
41. Bad leadership cannot be overcome by spending.
42. De quoi s’agit-il?, or “What is it all about?”
43. Explicit knowledge is translated, and all translations are imperfect.
44. When you find good fortune, convert some to seed grain.
45. Know a lady by her manner and a man by his cloth.
46. Our experience shapes our senses. We see, hear and feel what we have before.
47. Everything has a price.
48. A secret is truth concealed.
49. Nothing is harder than convincing someone of an unfamiliar truth.
50. How badly are you willing to be burned to get it?
51. The unanswerable questions have the most to teach us.
52. Give a fact, the story ends. Give a question, the story begins.
53. Fools worry over what they can’t control.
54. Everyone eats a different part of the pig. Join them.
55. A story is like a nut. One fool will swallow it whole and choke. Another fool will throw it away thinking it has little value. But, the wise will find a way to crack the shell and eat the meat inside.
56. Strength creates enemies.
57. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass.
58. Leave mystery for poets, priests and fools.
59. True gifts are given without an expectation of getting something in return. Something given to bind another isn’t a gift.
60. If you need to run, run to where the hiding places are.
61. Among totalitarians, you either conform or have secrets.
62. Intelligence is everywhere, often unrecognized.
63. Freedom is deciding which chances you are willing to take.
64. Better than the person next to you or a better community?
65. Excellence is being open to people with different points of view.
66. Compassion without sentimentality.
67. The dysfunctions and idiosyncrasies of childhood become the self-evident norms of adulthood.
68. Replace the thing before it needs replacement.
69. If enough things get fucked up, you stop needing an origin story for them.
70. Humans are sex and murder machines.
71. It’s interesting, but it doesn’t get the tools stowed.
72. Life is risk.
73. Glossing over data and going straight to interpretation is hiding from whatever direction the data is pointing.
74. Anti-zuihitsu: “One person’s cliché is another person’s truth.”
75. Better to embrace that which cannot be avoided.
76. There’s often no right choice, just a plate of progressively off hors d’oeuvres.
77. The people talking don’t know, and the people that know are not talking.
78. Imagine you wake up one day and no one knows who you are.
79. One should not underestimate the probability of failure even when lots of money is spent.
80. When people don’t know anything, there’ll be a meeting to talk about it.
81. It takes an age to test if beauty will last.
82. Until death, all is life.
83. It’s a big toolbox, and everyone has to find their own way.
84. Nothing humans can touch goes unmodified.
85. Ribbing is fine when someone is happy, but comfort people when they are sad.
86. Beware money roach motels, where it is easy to get money in, hard to get it out.
87. It is so much simpler to bury Reality than it is to dispose of dreams.—Matrix: Resurrections
88. Science is a hard scramble out of ignorance.
89. Don’t huff your own farts.