I love these comments by John Leland, a reporter for The New York Times, in this NYT’s article that examines two books on aging.
“These people totally changed my life. They’ve given up distractions that make us do stupid things and instead focus on what’s important to them. To a person, they don’t worry about things that might happen. They worry when it happens, and even then they don’t worry. They just deal with it. At whatever age we are, we can choose to adapt to whatever happens. We have influence over whether we let things knock us out.” — John Leland, Happiness Is a Choice You Make
Outside offers a quick view at the life of Dan Buettner, a National Geographic author and happiness lifestyle researcher.
The keys to longevity, according to Dan Buettner, as summed up in this article are move naturally, eat wisely, connect with community, and have a positive outlook. Dan gives his personal applications of the lifestyle principles he’s uncovered on his expeditions. Two insights that resonated with me this week were his take on work…
“One could argue that I work all the time or that I screw off all the time. It depends on how you define work. If work is defined by something you don’t like to do, then I work one hour a day. If it’s defined as engaging the brain and moving a goal forward, then I work 12 hours a day. I usually write all morning until noon. Those are my sharpest hours.”
“I don’t believe in habits. They almost always fail. If you want to live longer, work better, and be happier, either change your environment or shape your environment in permanent ways that set up nudges to help you do the right thing rather than the wrong.”
Studies are revealing we need more self-clarity, and less self-esteem.
“Psychologists define self-clarity as the understanding of who we are. It reflects how well we know our own strengths and weaknesses, as well as our ability to accept them. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is the degree of self-worth we attach to those strengths and weaknesses.”
I stumbled upon Shawn Blanc’s blog this week, in particular an article about 8 week work cycles. He writes about adopting this method for his company and their projects. It’s not unlike the periodization training principle which we endurance athletes are familiar. He works 6 weeks focused on one specific project, followed by one buffer week of reviewing and preparing for the next cycle, followed by 1 week of sabbatical or rest.
“When you’ve got just 6 weeks to work on something, you are somewhat forced to pick something that will have the highest impact and the lowest effort. And then, when other ideas come around in the middle of a work cycle, you simply don’t have time to give in to them. And this is liberating.”
I’ve been doing this for years, albeit in shorter intervals, with my endurance training, but have yet thought to apply this approach to work. I’m going to consider it this week and contemplate ways to apply eight week cycles to work, learning and wellness.
James Clear writes about 5 common mental errors that can keep us from making good decisions. One that stuck out for me is survivor bias. We tend to hear about success stories and the principles these successful people (or companies) used to reach that success. What are less aware, if at all, of those who followed the exact same principles with opposite results.
“We only hear from the people who survive. We mistakenly overvalue the strategies, tactics, and advice of one survivor while ignoring the fact that the same strategies, tactics, and advice didn’t work for most people.”
Read his full article to learn about loss aversion, confirmation bias, the availability heuristic, and anchoring. The last two are interesting, yet questionable, marketing and sales tools.