Things I believe to be true.
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Things I believe to be true.

Sept 2, 2023

Here are a few things that I believe to be true, at least in my life.

Many of these, I learned the hard way.

Happiness is a choice, and it comes from saying “no”

Our environment conditions us to live a life of “ought-tos”. We’re not encouraged to act for ourselves, to the extent of the word “selfish” being a negative verb, with implied victims. Often, it is a mentality derived of family, community tradition, economic class, etc.

As a result, our lives slowly fill up with things that we “ought to” do, until we become fully enslaved to that expectation.

Choosing happiness is uncomfortable, because to live the way uniquely your own, you must reject the way of being that you were born into.

Friends and loved ones likely will not understand, and view it as personal offense. Your pursuit of happiness will seem like a rejection of them as a person.

This is hard.

On a positive note, when you take the “selfish route” and discover your own happiness, you either:

  • Bring a better version of yourself to your relationships
  • Realize the people you’d been satisfying weren’t worth it in the first place

If you don’t take the selfish route and say no to more, you become a martyr for a cause that you never actively chose to support.

You have limited fucks to give.

I don’t care enough to explain this one further. Go read this book.

You have no idea what the “next level” of the game is like.

You’d expect human ambition and ability separates into levels:

[1, 2, 3, 4]

Someone at Level 1 can reasonably guess at what Level 2 looks like.

I’ve found that life doesn’t work like this.

The gap between levels are more profound, like:

[1, 10, 100, 1000]

Someone at Level 1 would have no idea what Level 10 would look like.

The times in my life where I’ve felt significant progress has been when I’ve realized that a whole new game exists beyond what I could have imagined. These are frame breaking moments, where you jump from a Level 1 to a Level 10.

The upside of this is that if something feels impossible, it’s comforting and motivating to know that there’s likely a group of people out there who treat that impossible thing as normal. You just need to break your current frame and allow those people to rebuild that frame at the 10x higher level.

I’ve seen this plenty of times in my startup career, but perhaps a more understandable anecdote would be distance running:

In my rural midwest upbringing, most people could run a mile, but a 26.2 mile marathon was an unfathomable distance. Completely untouchable!

It took one friend treating a marathon as a totally doable thing for me to break the frame and run my first one. Now, I regularly run marathons and longer distance, surrounded by people who treat that as totally normal.

Linear effort would have been to run a 5k or a 10k. But I chose the “impossible goal”, broke the frame, and learned what the next level looks like.

You make your own luck.

If you’re reading this, you already have your own opinions on this topic, so I won’t talk too much on it.

Maybe it’s all hard work.

Maybe it’s all luck.

Maybe luck is all privilege (which I have other writing on).

Maybe luck is something you can manifest.

I personally believe that given your starting point of privilege, the luck beyond that is the result of hard work.

Why? Just think about incentives for good things happening to you.

There’s no incentive for anyone to help you unless you’re able to provide some form of value back in the moment that the opportunity arises.

So, given that lucky moments happen regularly, and will come regardless of what you do, it’s best to spend your time preparing to grab onto one!

To benefit from luck, you need to be prepared.

Why do anything? “Because It’s There”

George Mallory was an early Everest climber who lost his life trying to be the first person to summit the mountain. His cited motivation:

“Because it’s there”

As my need for extrinsic motivation has reduced over time, I’ve found that my motivation boils down to:

If something is physically possible, and I want to do it, I have a responsibility to myself and the world to make it happen.

Many SF tech people cite their motivation as:

  • “I just want to create a positive impact on the world”

or the more honest:

  • “I want to make a bunch of money”

I don’t feel drawn by these.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to make a shit ton of positive impact, and a shit ton of money. But not because I care about those specific outcomes.

It is because those outcomes are both possible and within my control, therefore it’d be a huge shame for me to not do them!

Fun is a necessary ingredient for outstanding results.

Outstanding results require significant time.

Significant time requires significant motivation.

On a long enough time horizon, it’s awfully hard to have significant motivation if it’s not fun.

So have fun!

(and yes, Type 2 fun counts)

No one is more capable than someone having fun.

brainstorm notes
  1. It is a duty to use your resources
  2. Money is meant to be spent
  3. I want the ability to get bored by things
  4. Willpower only works briefly
  5. Don’t be a martyr
  6. Selfishness leads to bringing a better self
    1. caveat to people/things who deserve your better self
  7. Give a fuck about a very limited set of things
  8. Do what you want to
  9. Thinks only happen if they’re fun
  10. Time is a bigger enemy than money
    1. money mattered a lot when I didn’t have it
  11. Try new things often
  12. Craft is good
  13. Type 2 fun, with people
  14. You get 1.5 things
    1. Because to do something well, it must become an identity
  15. I want to be remembered as a human
    1. Honesty
    2. Empathy
    3. Even tough interractions come from a place of love and trust
  16. I default trust people. There are many cases that show me that this is a dangerous thing to do, but I do not wish to live a life tainted by that.
  17. I do ambitious things because I can, and that’s enough of a reason
    1. Why climb everest? because it’s there. -mallory, perished
  18. I want to be the type of person who does that
  19. It’s inspiring to make real things happen
  20. The man in the arena
  21. There’s nobility in pushing limits
  22. I have the things I want
  23. Used to need to snowboard and travel and do crazy shit for validation, but the people cheering me on stopped being people I wanted to impress
    1. life was easier back then
  24. Happiness is the result of
    1. Framing
    2. Doing things out of principle, not out of circumstance
  25. Most people get trapped in suboptimal lives because they’re afraid to reject a way of being or a person(s)
  26. It’s usually hard work that matters
    1. hard work means consistency, clarity, and a realization that you can keep upgrading the game you’re playing
  27. Social structure works in levels. You think you know what the levels above you look like, and that ends up being wrong. You have no clue. Always trust that leveling up is not just resource acquisition; it’s perspective shift.
  28. Outstanding effort is mandatory, but wasted if you’re not looking for ways to upgrade the game to the next level. You don’t want to work hard on the same thing forever
  29. Seek leverage
  30. Joy is found doing things, not having done them. I cry while running. I never cry about runs in the past.
  31. Limits are false.
  32. It’s easier to achieve an insane goal than a good goal. Because the good goal isn’t motivating enough.
  33. Minimalism helps you focus on the games worth playing