“It’s impossible not to constantly wonder if there’s something better, someone better.”
My good female friend picked up her third glass of Syrah-Merlot and continued: “If I could only choose between three decent guys, it’d be a done deal. I’d be married already.”
I nodded. Having options–perceived infinite choice–isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. How, then, do you tame indecision, particularly in relationships?
The following guest post, written by Claire Williams, explores some of the more successful approaches… and realizations.
In 2000, Drs. Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper set up a tasting booth at an upscale grocery store in California. On some days, they put out a selection of six types of jam; on other days they set out twenty-four. Although the wider selection attracted more shoppers, more people bought the jam when there were fewer options. It seemed
the more choices people had, the harder it was to make a decision.
The Paradox of Choice explored this infamous dilemma, in which having more options tends to leave us paralyzed and increase our buyer’s remorse. But what does that mean when you’re not just shopping? What about when you’re doing much more important stuff…like picking a job, a house, or – gasp – a life partner?… Read More
This is a recent 5-minute presentation I gave at Google I/O Ignite called “The Practicality of Pessimism: Stoicism as a Productivity System.”
In it, I discuss the two most effective productivity techniques I’ve found since 2004, both borrowed from Stoicism. I include personal usage examples, as well as several from Seneca and Cato. The audio is quite low, so you’ll need to up the volume.
Ponder this: could defining your fears be more important than defining your goals?
Samurai and Seneca agreed: comfort with death brings better living. (Photo: Kalandrakas)
“We don’t beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well.”
-Randy Pausch (1960-2008), The Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon
This week, one of my friends died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was in his early 30′s.
Several hours after I learned of his passing, I received an e-mail from my parents: the 10-year old daughter of a dear high school coach had been diagnosed with liver cancer. The Reaper does not discriminate. Too often, we spend time focusing on the trivial with people who contribute nothing but their own self-interest.
How do we balance protecting time with protecting relationships? How do we conquer guilt and do what is truly most important?
I often read “On The Shortness of Life,” one of Lucius Seneca‘s most famous letters, whenever I succumb to social pressure to treat time as less valuable than income, or whenever I find myself agreeing to help those who make unreasonable requests and get upset otherwise.
Seneca’s masterful diatribe hit me like a much-needed sledgehammer, and I’ve included it below. He soon became my favorite Stoic philosopher, and this will help you understand why… Read More
Stoicism was born on the porch of Zeno, but it can be used in the concrete jungle.
(Photo: Blue Cinderella)
“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”
Few of us would consider ourselves philosophers.
Most of us can recall at least one turtleneck-wearing intellectual in college who dedicated countless hours of study to the most obscure philosophical points of Marx or post-structural lesbian feminism. For what? Too often, to posture as a superior intellect at meal time or over drinks.
Fortunately, there are a few philosophical systems designed to produce dramatic real-world effects without the nonsense. Unfortunately, they get punished because they lack the ambiguity required for weeks of lectures and expensive textbooks.
In the last three years, I’ve begun to explore one philosophical system in particular: Stoicism. Though my preferred Stoic writer, Lucius Seneca, I’ve found it to be a simple and immensely practical set of rules for better results with less effort.
Ryan Holiday is 21 years old and works directly with Dov Charney as his online strategist for American Apparel. He gets more heat, makes more high-stakes decisions, and take more risks in a given week than most people experience in any given quarter. He also happens to be a die-hard Stoic and incredible at putting the principles into practice… Read More
The smiles that greeted us at the preschools you helped build in Vietnam. (Photo: Matt)
Thus far, the Tweet to Beat experiment has increased Twitter count from 22,500 to 29,276, which means $20,328 to U.S. public school students via Donorschoose (6,776 new followers x $3 each).
This is good by any reasonable standard, but I’m not reasonable. So here’s what we’re going to do:
1. Every Twitter follower of mine — new and old — will receive a coupon at the end of the campaign for the following:
-6 months of RescueTime’s Pro time tracking tools for free (Normal price: $48). Just install it with no data entry and know exactly how you spend your time. Set thresholds, alarms, or use it for an entire business team. Full disclosure: I am now an investor in RescueTime, as I think they’re the best out there.
-6 months of DropBox’s Pro 50GB account for free. (Normal price: $60) This is a reader favorite. Sync your files automatically to your computers and the web; sign in and access your files from any browser or mobile device. It’s the world’s easiest back-up and syncing service.
-6 months of PhoneTag Alpha, the latest voicemail transcription service, for free (Normal price: $60). This is closed to the public and an exclusive for Tim Ferriss followers (!). Read voicemail on your mobile phone, portable device and/or e-mail. Forget about phone interruptions and suffering through long-winded voicemails.
The above video is of my presentation at the Entertainment Gathering, titled “How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk.” In a short 17 minutes, I explain exactly how I conquered fears of swimming, language learning, and ballroom dancing by questioning “obvious” guidelines and dogmatic teaching.
I explain three approaches (first principles/assumptions, material over method, and implicit vs. explicit) you can immediately apply to your own lifelong goals, or lifelong fears, to become the new-and-improved you in record time in 2009.
This is one of my favorite presentations I’ve ever done. Perhaps because it was so short! Special thanks to Terry Laughlin of Total Immersion for the photographs of swimming biomechanics.
For students of Japanese, the closest equivalent to the featured kanji poster that I could find online is here.
I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I enjoyed giving it! Read More