Timeless Ideas | February 21, 2021

Here’s your weekly dose of timeless ideas to sharpen your mind, make smarter decisions, and live better.

Quotes

I.

I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.

— Elizabeth Gilbert


II.

The brain can be developed just the same way as the muscles can be developed, if one will only take the pains to train the mind to think.

— Thomas Edison


III.

You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.

— John Wooden

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Ideas

I.

When you are young and healthy, you believe you will live forever. You do not worry about losing any of your capabilities. People tell you “the world is your oyster,” “the sky is the limit,” and so on. And you are willing to delay gratification—to invest years, for example, in gaining skills and resources for a brighter future. You seek to plug into bigger streams of knowledge and information. You widen your networks of friends and connections, instead of hanging out with your mother. When horizons are measured in decades, which might as well be infinity to human beings, you most desire all that stuff at the top of Maslow’s pyramid—achievement, creativity, and other attributes of “self-actualization.” But as your horizons contract—when you see the future ahead of you as finite and uncertain—your focus shifts to the here and now, to everyday pleasures and the people closest to you.

Atul Gawande in Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End


II.

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are. 

Fernando Pessoa


III.

The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to respect the woman that gave birth to his children. It is because of her that you have the greatest treasures in your life. You may have moved on, but your children have not. If you can’t be her soulmate, then at least be thoughtful. Whom your children love should always be someone that you acknowledge with kindness. Your children notice everything and will follow your example.

Shannon L. Alder

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Articles Worth Reading

I.

Vaccines Are the Safest Medical Procedure We Have. Make Your Wager Wisely

Stuart Firestein | Nautilus

You can’t take healthy people and make them sick. Vaccines therefore have to reach a higher standard of safety than any other medical treatment. Vaccines have fewer side effects than virtually any other drug you wouldn’t even think twice about taking—aspirin, for instance, which can cause internal bleeding, gastric ulcers, stroke. But since you are sick when you take those drugs you are willing to make the bet that the benefits will outweigh the possible side effects. With vaccines the wager is much simpler—it is indeed more like Pascal’s wager. It may or may not be highly effective (some vaccines are only 60 percent effective) but they are so safe that taking them poses little risk, whereas not taking them subjects you (and others) to considerable risk, i.e., getting the virus.


II.

Sprinkle a little ancient philosophy into your daily routines

Joel Owen | Psyche

Epicurus and Epictetus encourage their followers to memories and meditate on their ideas, until they become habitual ways of thinking and behaving. The practicing philosopher might then begin each morning by contemplating the meaning of such phrases, or might bring them quickly to mind in moments where emotions or desires become overwhelming. By reading, discussing and embracing the ideas and inspiration of these ancient philosophers, we provide ourselves with the nourishment from which our own spiritual exercises can be sustained.


III.

The right right thing to do

Irene McMullin | Aeon

Am I happy? Am I generous? Am I contributing to the world? The moral struggle we face is finding a way to honestly and accurately answer ‘Yes’ to all three of these questions at once, over the course of a life that presents us with many obstacles to doing so. The ethical life means being good to ourselves, to others, and to the world. But how do you choose if these demands compete?

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