I’ve long realized that email is the biggest killer of my productivity. E.g. if I’m trying to code, I never stop to go and play video games. But I did stop and check my email because I could justify it as work (“work” that is both significantly easier and provides a quicker dopamine hit than trying to solve a hard problem). But once I rid myself of the habit of checking email constantly on my phone, suddenly I had less of a habitual urge to check my email in general. It feels wonderful.
Harj Taggar of venture capital investor/incubator Y Combinator, on his decision to remove email access from his smartphone, as well as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
He also quotes a great lecture delivered to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point by William Deresiewicz titled “Solitude and Leadership:”
I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea.
The full blog post by Taggar is here and the lecture by Deresiewicz is here. Both are must-reads.
[W]hat we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun’s motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
The only devils in this world are those running around in our own hearts, and that is where all our battles should be fought.
Don’t take anything personally. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. Their point of view and opinion come from all the programming they received growing up. When you take things personally, you feel offended and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflict. You make something big out of something so little because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong.
Everyone must know that within them burns a candle and no one’s candle is identical with the candle of another. It is our obligation to work hard to reveal the light of our candle, and make of it a great torch to enlighten the whole world.
- Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook