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The subtle art of not giving a f*ck, by Mark Manson

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Brainy quote: “Too many of us spend money we don’t have, buying things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like”

I can’t remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when I saw the quote above but one thing is for sure… it got to me. The quote above is basically saying that a lot of us give too many f*cks about the wrong things in life and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see that it’s the truth. You and I sometimes care too much about the wrong things in life – what people think about you, or what some insulting jackass yelled at you in traffic on your way back from work last Thursday for example.
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Sports and society

A large number of us grew up playing some sort of sport in our youth and many of us still follow our favorite teams, living vicariously through them till present day. Thinking objectively, one may assume that society would view activities which involve a bunch of grown men chasing a ball around for over an hour while trash talking the hell out of each as a rather pointless exercise. In actuality though, a large swath of us continue to open our physical and digital wallets to watch sporting spectacles of all kinds either through the “idiot box” or in person. The next natural question to ask then, is why do we engage in this seeming act of folly? Well, my answer to that rhetorical question is that our affinity for sporting spectacles cannot really be understood from a logical point of view because the pull of sporting spectacles as a whole is much more emotional than logical. Continue reading Sports and society

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Is genius a product of talent or effort?

skill level conceptual meterMichelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Michael Faraday, Martha Graham, Marie Curie, James Marshall Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and John Clayton Mayer. The brilliant works of these luminaries often transcend culture, race, and time, leaving many of us rapt in awe. How did Martha Graham so thoroughly master dance to the point where she could create her own genre? During his illustrious career, how did Floyd Mayweather Jr seemingly sense impending punches and skillfully slip out of the way well before his opponents could land them? How does John Mayer effortlessly slide around the guitar, belting melodies from every corner of the instrument almost as if it were part of his body? How did Michelangelo manage to capture the very essence of life in the divinely sculpted statue of King David. Are these amazing shows of brilliance a result of some God given talent, or just plain old fashioned hard work? Short answer – extreme skill is almost always a combination of talent and a special type of hard work. For the more detailed answer, keep reading. Continue reading Is genius a product of talent or effort?

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The 5 stages of personal transformation

The transformational process that converts a caterpillar into a butterfly.
The transformational process that converts a caterpillar into a butterfly.

At certain points in our adult lives, many of us go through personal transformations that can change us to the very core of our being. Although the end results of such transformations can be wonderful and awe inspiring to behold, the actual process of transformation can be very uncomfortable. The discomfort that often comes with profound personal change is probably a big reason why many of us avoid it even when it becomes evident that it is necessary for further growth. Continue reading The 5 stages of personal transformation

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The holiest of all wars

My agony and struggle to recovery after ACL reconstruction...
My agony and struggle to recovery after ACL reconstruction…
Most well adjusted human beings will agree that war is fundamentally destructive to any civilized society. Some wars (like the american civil war) were necessary to extinguish evil in its purest form, while some wars (like Saddam Hussein’s irrational campaign against Kuwait) serve as unfortunate examples of a senseless loss of too many lives at the whim of an idiotic egomaniac with too much power. Regardless of its root cause, war often forces a fundamental change in the world at large as its reverberations are felt far beyond the borders of the countries in which it is fought. A good example of this is how the destruction caused by the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the world to realize that the threat of nuclear war had to be minimized because its potential for destruction was so great. Wars take a heavy toll on the infrastructure of the countries in which they are fought, and perhaps an even heavier toll on the psyche of the people that are touched by its many battles. Although war can bring many hardships and difficulties, it can also serve many fundamentally important purposes. It is strange to think of it that way, but if you are able to take a sufficiently removed emotional distance, you will see that war also has its “upside”. For example, war can indirectly serve as a very effective way to check population growth, ensuring that the surviving factions of humanity don’t eventually all starve to death as a result of having too many mouths to feed. War can also serve as a very powerful means of re-setting counterproductive ways of thinking that have spread through a given society or group of people. For example, the american civil war served as a big “reset button” that ultimately and forcefully altered the mindset amongst 19th century tobacco and cotton plantation owners in Northern America. Although it remains amongst the bloodiest and most gory of all wars fought by man, the american civil war served the essential purpose of permanently altering the mindset that promoted the evil of slavery. Continue reading The holiest of all wars

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In search of the ultimate virtue…

Hong_kong_bruce_lee_statueMany ancient warrior cultures such as the Spartans and Aztecs worshipped strength as the ultimate virtue that any human could aspire to. The surface reason for this is readily apparent because unlike in our modern times, physical combat was the accepted method for settling disputes back then. It follows therefore, that the more physically strong or battle hardened you were in those times, the more successful your life became because your strength furnished you with the ability to fend off rivals who threatened your eminence or position in life. Being a strong individual or empire in those days also gave you the resources required to snatch the property and possessions of other people and/or city states in order to fulfil the primal desire to expand reach and power. As important as it was to show strength in those ancient times, it was perhaps even more important to avoid a show of weakness as that could literally mean certain death. For example, a show of weakness in battle could mean the difference between leaving the battlefield with your life and limbs intact, or taking a lethal bronze sword through the jaw as your lack of confidence would arm your opponent with the requisite boldness to strike with deadly intentions. All of this might sound very barbaric to those of us living in the modern world today but society was much more blatantly ruthless and machiavellian back then. The fact that our world and the people that inhabit it have now become much more refined, begs the following question: is the need for strength now a thing of bygone eras? In the much more physically and socially forgiving environments that we all now live in, is the need for strength still just as important? Continue reading In search of the ultimate virtue…

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How to get really good at (fill in the blank)

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

We all intuitively know when we have experienced a display of exceptional skill because it stirs up emotions in us that words cannot quite capture. It is the feeling that causes you to shake your head in disbelief at Stephen Curry’s accuracy from 3-point range on a basketball court. It’s the emotions you feel when a soulful guitar solo leaves you in tears. It is the excitement that forces you to dance when you hear Alicia Keys belt out the chorus to “Empire State of Mind” from her famed vocal chords. Words cannot describe these feelings because exceptional skill predates language in our human culture. Before the invention of language or the existence of insanely skilled musicians, writers, and athletes, our ancestors were insanely skilled hunters and navigators who could deftly weave their way through the rich African jungle and strategically plan the efficient killing of prey. Master’s of their respective domains seem to possess skill that is otherworldly and beyond the average person’s grasp. This apparent unattainability of mastery is further heightened by the fact that there are so few masters in history who really stand out. These masters form a shining line through the annals of time: Galileo, Leo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Michael Faraday, Benjamin Franklin, Martha Graham, Marie Curie, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Steven Paul Jobs, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and John Mayer amongst others. The otherworldly skill these masters possess seduces us into repeatedly asking certain questions. How does exceptional skill come about? Are their brains just different from that of the average person? Are these people just born geniuses? Can anyone become a genius? Do I have what it takes to be like that or should I just accept my lot in life and stop fooling myself? Well my friends, I invite you to follow me on this literary journey as I attempt to explain where exceptional skill comes from. Continue reading How to get really good at (fill in the blank)