Principles

Mar 2, 2021 14:17 · 1321 words · 7 minute read

Read this post to learn what this is about.

Wisdom
is the highest goal in life

Imagine you could perfect one single goal in your life. Could you have achieved it better with the help of wisdom? Does it depend on external factors outside of your control? Will the perfection of said goal be lasting or is it tied to your current condition?

A wise life is the only attainable goal that you can reach on your own. It does not depend on fortune and it will always improve your life no matter the external conditions.

is unattainable

you cannot “have” wisdom. You can act and try to act wise, but there is no such thing as a sage. The very idea to claim to have a complete understanding of anything is unwise. Surprise and imperfection are inherent in our existence

Doubt is the foundation of wisdom

To find truth in life you need a mechanism that helps you adapt to new experiences and learnings. Without a doubt, you risk getting stuck with a comfortable but delusive picture.

Empathy is good and important

Empathy is wisdom’s stirrup. It allows us to immerse ourselves in others’ thoughts and feelings. What better source of wisdom than the study of other beings?

There are no absolute truths

Communication is a lossy channel. We can never fully convey to each other what our experience is like. Every truth that you can write out is tied to your experience in some way. So there is an irreducible degree of error when communicating truths.

Ergo: There are no absolute moral values

Morality is a type of truth and thus contingent on the culture, upbringing, and state of mind of its jurors.

All models are wrong but some of them are useful
Plurality is at the heart of our existence

Your reality is your own and unique. Still, our society makes a huge impression on us growing up. Could you even imagine the person you would be if you had grown up

Likewise, when you are by yourself, your own mind echoes in your head creating a dialogue. This is the mark of conscious thought.

To deny your part in a greater whole is to sever yourself from reality.

You chose your own reality

Your environment provides you with perception. Yet you have a degree of control over the image you assemble from it.

If you ignore this power you have you risk living a driven life. A subject to the things that happen to you and the will of other people.

The past

What you think of as the past is an illusion, an ever-fleeting idea prone to our fiction. But what about history? History is very different from “the past”. History is a selective study of things we judge to have likely happened.

History shapes perspective

It inspires humility in the human scale of its stories and helps you build both distance and empathy with those that came before.

Moreover, it teaches us:

That European colonial ambitions have brought persistent horrors to this planet
Everything another person did felt right to them at the moment
People are not stupid

Assuming either is a full dismissal and makes it impossible to learn anything. Rather ask yourself in a positive way: “What is the knowledge or wisdom that I own, which allows me to see their behavior for what it is?”

If you find that you have no such thing, reconsider your judgement. If you do, find room for pity and maybe help them understand your viewpoint.

Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity”

If you assume malice, you feed the cycle of disgust people develop at each other. You again also don’t learn anything.

People aren’t bad

But they aren’t good either.

Enthusiasm is infectious and attractive

But when it’s frustrated those gains are lost with interest.

Slow down

Only states of emergency need immediate action. Thinking things over in all other cases can never hurt.

Life is a gift

For most of time, you haven’t existed and before long you will never exist. No one owes you anything for being born and you don’t owe anyone for your existence. That’s what you call a gift. Neither the donor nor the receiver can have any expectations of the other. But the latter may as well appreciate it for what it is.

The culture I grew up in is deeply embedded in racism, sexism, and the oppression of the other. I have been a chief beneficiary of this and it’s my god-given duty to amend that as best I can.

The fight for equity is not a straight line on the graph of history. It’s a hard-fought battle and duty calls on you to act according to your values.

Don’t confuse the map with the territory

Where the map is our understanding of reality: Constructed, contingent, and prone to become outdated.

Value integrity over intelligence

Intelligence is ephemeral, always circumstantial and completely random in its appearance in people. Integrity is intentional behavior that values truth

Bigotry is an affliction

Take its victims seriously, but remember that often they have lived a long life of misinformation.

Be honest for your own sake

You find yourself in tense relationships when it takes you effort to be honest. It leads to sugar coating and half-truths. Occasionally these tear friendships, families, and entire countries apart. If you make honesty a reflex you will automatically avoid these situations.

Do not postpone bringing up an issue

Every second after you have made up your mind about addressing an issue is an interest that you pay. That interest means doubt and resentment, because you weren’t heard and because the delay is causing them trust.

Communication is an art

So we should practice it as one. While technical bits such as speech, writing, and gesture are important it is also an exercise in character. You have to meet the other person halfway and engage in their world to know how to

Use simple language to describe simple things

If you overcomplicate your language all you do is broadcast that you don’t care about who you are talking to. It also takes way more understanding and thought to break down your high-flying ideas into simple sentences.

Make room for errors

The message always seems obvious to the sender so empathize with the receiver.

Imitate then iterate

A fast way to dive into a new topic is to go for full child-like imitation. This will take off the pressure and embed the automatism in your mind.

Solution and problem complexity

Every problem has an inherent complexity that needs to be matched in the solution.

Complex solutions to easy problems cause confusion, waste, and harm flexibility. Easy solutions, complex problems are necessarily incomplete. Unless of course, you figure out how to reduce the problem complexity.

Most of the time refining the problem statement beats a complex solution

We often fail to realize that humans are always in control of the why and the what so we get obsessed with the how. But the former is where the vast majority of problems for the latter are created.

Decomposition

This is the most powerful tool in rational thinking. When you encounter a hard problem don’t feel overwhelmed. As the Romans used to say “Divide and conquer”.

Levels of abstraction

When in dialogue your head may be up in the clouds while they are onto something very concrete. A recipe for confusion.

The magic happens outside of your comfort zone

Expect to be challenged if you want to live a good and virtuous life. If it were convenient you would already be doing it.

Every good trait about you deserves your appreciation and your commitment to train it like a muscle.

Rituals help with this because they anchor patterns of action and thought in your behavior. So does doing things like writing a list of principles.

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