😮👈 That’s me right now
I’ve started writing this after listening to Naval Ravikant on the Joe Rogan Experience. I’m sure you’ve heard of both of them before. (And if you haven’t. My god, what a treasure trove there is waiting for you) There were so many moments that just made me go, “Oh shit” throughout the podcast, and this article is a chance to formalize all my thoughts, and maybe, just maybe, provide some value to you.
I’m thinking about how to structure this article, and I have 3 main principles:
- I’m not repeating what was said in the podcast, other than to summarize
- I only write down the moments that make me go: Oh shit
- I’m writing for myself
And on that note, let’s begin 😄
Let’s begin with the stuff that connects the pieces in your mind, the big realizations, the oh snap moments, the moments you live for
“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for some imaginary tomorrow”
1:49:34 (These are the timings for the conversations in the video above)
Remember, money is an IOU. It’s a method of saving the value you added to society, for something in return later. So it is the societal method that we sacrifice today for tomorrow.
There are three ways to get to retirement:
- Have so much money saved, your passive income covers your burn rate
- Drive your burn rate down to zero, become a monk
- Do something you love, you enjoy it so much, it’s not about the money
This felt so profound to myself, because it connected these ideas in my head. The ultimate goal is to be happy. (Or eudaimonia or self expression, or whatever else) To achieve happiness, almost everyone has to solve their money problems. It’s the world we live in, money is necessary to achieve happiness, to an extent. There are three ways to overcome this, as listed above. And the most practical, appears to be just doing what you love. What most people do is number 1.
“The way to get out of competition is to be authentic”
The thing you are better than everyone else at, is the thing you love to do. So be authentic, and strive to connect that authenticity to society’s needs and wants. This relates back to the previous point.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about ‘playing another person’s game’. And I think so many people get trapped in playing another person’s game, instead of doing what they innately want to do. And you can never excel without doing something you innately want to do. The goal is, society will automate everything that people don’t innately want to do. This goes back to Nietzsche if you listened to the Philosophize This podcast. I want to be authentic, which is why I’m writing this right now. I know I innately like to write and think about complex topics. And this is how I’m expressing myself.
If you wouldn’t do it if no one would know, then don’t do it. That’s how you be authentic.
“It looks like work to them, but it feel like play to me. And that’s how I know no one can compete with me on it. Because I’m just playing 16 hours a day.”
“Meditation. All it really is, is the art of doing nothing. And it’s important because I think when we grow up, all this stuff happens, and some of it you’re processing, and some of it you should probably think more about but you don’t, so it gets buried…and it’s like your email inbox…when you sit down to meditate, those emails start coming back to you. Did you solve this? Did you think about that? Did you regret there? Did you have issues there? And people get scared there. What you’re doing is self therapy. And you just have to sit there as emails come in, until you get to the magical inbox zero. And there comes a day, where you sit down and you realize the only things you’re thinking about is what happened yesterday, because you’ve processed everything else.”
Damn, that’s another perspective on meditation I haven’t come across before. I’ve always thought of meditation as a way to have clarity of mind, to be mindful and aware, to be grateful. There are many different kinds of meditation, but this seems super important.
Personal anecdote here. I remember going for a walk, where my sole goal was to listen to a podcast, and turn around when it ended. So I listened and walked for 1 hour, then I turned around, and thought and walked for another hour. The decisions I made in that hour were some of the best I’ve ever made. Some of the realizations in that hour are still profound in my mind right now. I just realized, how much I’m not internalizing by not thinking through my mind. I feel wasteful doing closed eyed meditation. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my assumption is that walking and thinking is almost as useful, if not, just as useful as sitting and thinking. There’s so much on my mind that constantly makes me feel anxious, or sad, or lonely. Action item 1: Take more walks
And getting these things off your mind is important. I’ve experienced moments of presence or mindfulness. (I assume that’s the state Naval is talking about) Where I’m just aware of myself and myself in my surroundings. And it’s this feeling of subtle bliss, that comes out of eternal worry and suffering that makes it feel so profound.
“What’s the meaning of life? There is no answer. The real answer is because. …If there was a single answer, we would not be free. We’d be borg like robots competing for that single meaning.”
Damnnnnn. That’s a nice answer. Inherent in freedom, is a lack of predefined meaning. However, I think there may come a time where we’ll give up that freedom, for certainty. Consider this, how can you predict the future? Well, if everyone on Earth agreed to focus on completing a single task, we’d be able to predict the future, to an extent. Freedom, means ambiguity. Now consider the Fermi Paradox. (If you don’t know it, Kurzgesagt!) One interesting idea, is that a civilization advanced enough to go interplanetary, will ultimately kill itself. Just like today we have the doomsday clock which quantifies how close we are to human extinction. From war, to disease, to individual activists, someone today could end humanity. A potential counter to this, is unification. The whole idea of a hive mind overcomes this hurtle. So potentially, we may give up individual freedoms. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know.
“Nature is very parsimonious”
This is the best counter-argument I’ve seen against General AI coming soon. Currently, we assume calculations in the brain only happen at the cellular level. A cell is considered one node in modern machine learning (Neural Networks). However, in a cell, there are many processes happening below the cellular level, all the way down to quantum. And we are many many years away from simulating anything near that. A logical counter to this is to ask, what if we could simply mirror the abilities of cells, instead of exactly copying them. However, the universe has proven time and time again, that it is maximally efficient (Parsimonious). Therefore, you could assume that there is no way to simplify a cell. I’m not sure if this is true, but it’s interesting.
Meta: I actually like ads at the beginning of podcasts. I’m listening to the YouTube video for the first time, and it just jumps straight in. I feel distracted, not in the zone yet
Next, the stuff that just makes so much sense, but you haven’t thought about before
“If I told you 10 years ago that podcaster was going to be a job, or that playing video games would be a job, or commentating over video games would be a job, you’d laugh me out of the room.”
The implication is that, we’ll always have jobs. And holy crap, you always hear this, but it never sank in this much for me. I think this is based on 2 axioms:
- People always want something
- Once that thing is fulfilled, people want something else
A job in the future can be considered stupid today. You could pay someone to design underwear for you. You could pay someone to play video games in your room. No one would today, but that’s because we have problems that we consider more important. What happens when those problems go away? We’ll just have more wants, therefore more problems. It’s part of the human condition to always want, therefore, we’ll continue to pay for something. If car production becomes automated, those workers will loose their jobs. But humans always want something, so there will always be a thing for them to do. And now, cars will become cheaper for everyone.
(Until we automate automation, then we’ll just do things? Maybe we can’t automate automation)
“The information age is going to reverse the industrial age”
As hunter gatherers, we all worked for ourselves. There were no bosses. In the industrial age, we had to unite for a goal. Unite under the brand, Ferrari, to build a car. Unite under the brand, Apple, to build a product.
Ronald Coase Theorem. Search it up. It basically explains why businesses arer the size they are. It depends on the internal cost vs external cost. If the external contract is too hard to do every single time, you’ll bring it in house. IT is making these contracts easier to do externally.
Jobs are like cookie cutter recipes. It groups people into one identity. But people are individualistic, we’re all different. A programmer who loves to write, is different than a programmer who loves to dance. Contract work allows the individual to perform at what they excel at. Instead of fitting yourself to a job, you fit the job to yourself.
“It doesn’t take many insults to cancel out a lot of compliments”
As always, us humans disproportionately weigh negatives or positives. It goes back to evolutionary biology, but the fundamental principle is: A negative requires an action, a positive requires inaction.
“Here’s the thing about politics…because we have a first past the post system, whoever wins 51% of the votes in this country gets a lot of the power, it’s not proportional representation…because of that, to win, you have to pick one of these sides, you can’t be nuanced”
Something really interesting was one of Naval’s friends trying to fix this, called the “Good Party”, where you commit your vote, hold it in reserve, and it only submits if you have enough to win.
However, this sounds like a systematic problem. To really solve the problem, people have talked about not using first past the post. What if you used Single Transferable Vote? (Great CGP Grey vid on this) Or something else? If the “Good Party” does work out, the government would just adopt it, wouldn’t it? I guess this goes back to innovation in privatization driving social change. But I’ve never seen it at a scale of changing a voting system.
“The peace that we seek is not peace of mind, it’s peace from mind…Most of the ways we try to get peace from mind are indirect. Whereas, if you understand things, you’ll naturally slowly develop peace from mind.”
This reminds me of Nietzsche and True World Theory. (Philosophize This, on Nietzsche) Nietzsche essentially talks about how we build fictional worlds, then say that they’re the most important, to take responsibility off of ourselves. But they’re all distractions from the real world, which is this one. To contextualize, I consider YouTube, movies, books, and more to be fictional worlds, that take responsibility off of ours. If you spend 2 hours mindlessly watching YouTube, what you’re doing is distracting yourself from your worries and problems. You’re saying, that your life is painful enough, that you’d rather live this other fictional life in a movie or video. I connect that with this idea of “peace from mind”. Trying to quench our worries, but they’re only band-aids. We’re trying to get away from our minds, not quiet them.
And finally, the stuff that I’ve heard before, that reaffirm my own thoughts, that I just love
“The right way to work is like a lion…You want to function like an athlete. You train hard, then you sprint, then you rest, then you reassess, and do that over again”
“When you combine things you’re not supposed to combine, people get interested”
“We are overexposed to everything. The way to survive in modern society is to be ascetic, it is to retreat from society”
“You have social statisticians, scientists, and researchers in lab coats, literally the best minds of our generation figuring out how to addict you to the news. And if you fall for it, if you get addicted. your brain will get destroyed”
“When you’re memorizing something, it’s an indication that you don’t understand it. You should be able to re-derive anything on the spot and if you can’t, you don’t know it.”
“Your real resume is just a cataloging of all your suffering”
Annnnd……That’s a wrap
I’d normally have key takeaways, but this entire article is literally a takeaway. Instead, we’ll have action items:
- Be authentic. If you wouldn’t do it if nobody knew it was you, don’t
- Take a break, go for a walk, clear your mental inbox, every single day
Maybe you took something from this, maybe you didn’t. Either way, I hope you take some of these ideas to heart, and live the best life possible. There were so many more amazing points in the podcast with Naval. These were only the points that particularly stuck out to me. I’m sure if I listened to this same podcast in 6 months, I’d take away something completely different.
Right now, I’m on a journey of discovery, of self exploration, of improvement. And part of that is reflection and introspection. So I’m going to continue writing articles like this, for myself. If you like them, even better!
So, let’s commit to this right now. For the next month, I’m going to publish one article Every. Single. Day.
So stay tuned 😉