Below are a few things I learned in my 27th year of life. It’s an incomplete list and mostly off the top of my head. I read 80 books in the last year and most of what I learned is sitting dormant in my head until something triggers it.
1. Fear and worry are two different things.
Fear is a signal from your environment that things aren’t right. Worry is manufactured.
2. Worrying is a choice.
“Since worry is a choice, people do it because it serves them in some way. The worry about public speaking may serve its host by giving him or her an excuse never to speak in public, or an excuse to cancel or to do poorly (“because I was so scared”).”
– Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear
2. A lot of what improv teaches you is good life/business advice.
– Have a point of view.
– Agree and add.
3. Many things in life are paradoxical.
4. Many things in life are loops.
I was in a loop once where I’d drink too much coffee, then stay up late, then be tired from staying up late so I’d drink too much coffee. Repeat. Acknowledge the loop and get out of it. Nature is also full of loops.
5. In storytelling, take the audience somewhere negative before you deliver a positive message.
The emotional trampoline makes the high feel much higher due to the contrast.
6. Passion is a result of being good at something.
Most people have this backwards.
7. Comedy and magic are close cousins.
Both involve sleights of mind.
9. Everything is connected.
Everything is part of a system. One of the many failures of school is that you learn how to solve complicated problems (static) when the world is full of complex problems (dynamic).
10. Ideas need a vehicle to move.
Ideas in the mind are like naked people. They need to put in the right clothes and vehicle for the intended audience if you want them to be accepted.
11. The McRib was a failure before McDonald’s limited its availability.
12. People tell stories to make sense out of chaos.
The randomness of life can be overwhelming. We could not live without some type of narrative, constructed or given to us.
13. There are no solutions, only trade offs.
Every solution causes new unexpected problems. Often the problems are worth the trade off, but there are always problems.
14. “If you continue this simple practice every day, you will obtain some wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special.” -Shunryu Suzuki
15. People don’t see things as they are.
They see things as their brain interprets them. Magicians exploit this to create illusions.
16. Kids are often better than adults at learning things because they don’t mind repetition.
When any of my nieces or nephews finish a book, the immediately want to read it again.
17. Almost everything in life can be either good or bad, it all depends on the context and degree.
18. Society is a pendulum.
Tastes swing back and forth between extremes, often settling in the middle.
19. I have good cupcake ideas (seriously).
I came up a cupcake idea and sent it to the owner of a cupcake shop. She made the Bacon Bad cupcake and it sold out on the day of the series finale of breaking bad. A month later I had an idea for a cupcake. I wrote it down and 15 more ideas came out. I emailed them off to the cupcake shop owner and she created 12 of them. They were amazing.
20. Only humans (or things we give human attributes) are funny.
Things I read rarely cause me to laugh out loud. The one exception is The Onion. The article below is hilarious and proves my point that only things with human attributes are funny.
21. It’s odd that there are celebrations when someone buys a house, but silence when you pay off the debt (via this book).
22. How men and women are different (via this audiobook)
That audio program is one of the most interesting things I listened to this year. Many issues stem from the fact that most men think of women as hairless men and most women think of men as hairy women.
“At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.”
– Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear
23. Feelings trump numbers.
If you say beef is 75% lean, people will have a more favorable opinion than to say it’s 25% fat.
24. Reason only gets you so far in life.
Many things are not rational and reason alone will drive you mad.
“A madman is not someone who has lost his reason but someone who has lost everything but his reason”
– GK Chesterton
25. Observation from watching my dog — it’s easier to leap onto something than over it.
26. People don’t act when they’re neutral.
Emotion needs to be triggered before they act.
27. Meditating makes me feel good.
For the last 90 days I’ve been meditating for anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. It’s something that I’ve come to enjoy and look forward to. Are there benefits to it? Studies say so, but it’s hard to know exactly. I usually feel very relaxed afterwards. I’ve heard a lot of people describe how meditation has helped them and not one person say something like, “I started meditating and that’s when everything went downhill and I started doing heroin.” Ray Dalio sold me on the benefits in this video.