Little Bits of Wisdom is a collection of aphorisms, ideas, advice, and strategies to help you live a meaningful life. I draw these lessons from subjects such as stoicism, behavioural economics, neuroscience, business, sociology, and present them in a digestible and actionable form.
Compressing wisdom into little actionable bits is extremely valuable, but so rarely done. It might feel arrogant and overconfident to tell people what to do. Who am I to decide for them? I pondered over this for quite some time. On the other hand I wondered, Who am I not to do that? Especially if it’s useful to people.
I read ~32 books a year, and LBW is my attempt to compress all the wisdom I’ve gained into directives. It’s a succinct and powerful way to communicate an idea, and you are free to agree or disagree. I don’t expect you to blindly follow what I say.
The ideas below are listed in reverse chronological order. The latest ideas appear on top. I would be updating this page every now and then, so it is advisable to bookmark it so that you can visit it periodically.
Are You Too Busy?
If you think you are too busy, do a 30 minute by 30 minute audit of a day. You’ll find out how much time you’re wasting.
Plans v Progress
When making plans, think big.
When making progress, think small.
Fight For It
To promote any value, even love and peace, you must be willing to fight for it, and aim at results. Don’t get carried away by the good, warm feeling that expressing such ideas might bring you.
They Aren’t Paying Attention
Other people pay much less attention to you than you think. They’re often far too absorbed in their own subjective experiences to pick up on subtle cues related to your feelings.
If you’re annoyed at your partner, they’re probably just too busy thinking about their own problems (such as what they need to do at work, or what they’re planning to cook for dinner) to scrutinise your facial expressions.
They’re not deliberately ignoring you. They’re just thinking about other things.
In the workplace, a job well done almost always depends upon external factors like office politics, the opinions of your supervisors, or the mood of your clients.
In many sports, outcomes are affected by things like the weather, equipment, officiating, or the performance of teammates.
But personal growth is different. If you wish to read more, learn more, write more, behave well, eat well, sleep well, there are rarely any external factors to blame. Usually it’s you who creates an internal obstacle for yourself.
What you get out of yourself is proportionate to the internal obstacles you get rid of.
Clarity in Communication
If your words can be perceived in different ways, they’ll be understood in the way which does the most harm.
Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.
The World Doesn’t Care
The world is aloof, busy, and distracted.
If you want the world to pay attention to you, you have to provide a compelling reason. You have to provide value that the world cares about. It doesn’t care about your dreams and life goals.
It’s better to have a bad strategy than having no strategy at all. As General Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
An imperfect start can always be improved, but obsessing over a perfect plan will never take you anywhere on its own.
Don't focus on winning trivial arguments.
Did someone say something you don't agree with? Agree to disagree, and move on to more important things.
Life is short. Learning to not care about having the last word will save you a lot of time and energy.
If you think you know how someone else feels, you should ask them to confirm. You shouldn’t assume you’ve got it right—you probably haven’t.
If you want someone to know how you feel, tell them in the clearest terms possible. Don’t make assumptions.
Being subtle about feelings is not the best idea, especially in high-stakes situations—be it in a relationship or at work. Err on the side of caution whenever possible.
Roots of Life Problems
When thought is crucial, you often act without thinking. When action is necessary, you often keep on thinking without acting. All the problems in your life have their roots in one of the above.
See things as they are. Seek peace in reality. Control what you can control. Have a strategy to deal with things outside your control.
You don’t need to be positive. Positive thinking is an illusion.
If you posses self-discipline, you have the ability to determine what you do with your life. If you lack self-discipline, the path you are taking through life is determined by someone or something else.
Self-discipline is worth possessing.
People Don’t Change
You don't change people. People change themselves.
Forcing change, or trying to guilt people into changing aren't effective strategies.
Therefore, articulate your thoughts so that people question their own beliefs. Let them decide independently. Devoid of any force or pressure. Let them come to the conclusion on their own. Then it'll be a permanent change.
Ask a Question
Rather than saying, “I cannot do that,” try asking, “How can I do that?” Rather than accepting a statement, ask yourself a question you can answer.
“How can I get wealthy?” over “I cannot get wealth”.
“How can I run 10 km?” over “I cannot run 10 km.”
“How can I start a business?” over “I cannot start a business.”
This is small change in language, but a great shift in perspective.
Find a Better Job
Every time you get a new job, immediately start looking for a better one.
Chances are that the best job for you won't become available at precisely the time you declare yourself ready.
Your best bet is to always be looking for a better deal. The better deal has its own schedule. Your job is not your job. Your job is to find a better job.
Try The Other One
It might be that your customers, your followers, your team members, etc. aren't bright or caring enough, aren't interested or attentive enough, aren't curious or open-minded enough to understand or appreciate your work.
Or, it might be that your work isn't good enough yet.
If you've been assuming one of the above so far, it's time to assume the other one.
It won't give you a solution, but it'll change your perspective.
Conquer Your Mornings
Get up at the same time everyday.
Setup a morning ritual that consists a mix of exercising, running, reading, making your bed, taking cold showers, planning your day, etc.
Follow it religiously. Do it everyday.
If you keep your morning routine consistent, you gather strength and energy for the whole day.
No matter how much the stress, no matter how tough the time, no matter how awful you feel, if you conquer your mornings, you conquer the day.
If you conquer your days, you conquer life!
I dread them. Especially if it's a friend, or somebody close to me. But, more than often, we all need some tough love. Colleagues, friends, family members, children, and everybody else.
I try to write down everything I want to say or discuss in advance. This helps me have difficult conversations I'd avoid having.
Writing your thoughts help you figure out how to communicate what you want to say in a non-violent way. It'll also help you think how to counter the arguments your counterpart would have. This will also help you not chicken out or soft-pedal during a heated conversation.
P.S. I read the notes either right before or even during the conversation
Stop Chasing Shortcuts
Getting rich, losing weight, increasing productivity, getting more followers, starting a new business-everything that we wish to achieve often come with heavily promoted shortcuts as alternatives. For example, “Try this simple trick to become instantly super productive,” or “10 way to get 10x followers in 10 days.”
The truth is, there are no shortcuts. So, don't fall prey. If the shortcuts and secrets would have worked as promised, they wouldn't be shortcuts. They'd be the norm.
All good things take time and effort. So, my advice is to embrace the process, and gradually improve it. Improve your thinking, your strategy, and your tactic.
Play the long game.
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