Reality Is Malleable

Steve Jobs stated that life is not fixed and ready-made for you to live in. You can change and influence the world and leave your mark on it.

Most of us will have a far less impact than Steve Jobs did. But in the smaller sphere of our lives, there is enough flexibility if we understand that life can be changed.

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Ten Ideas That Have Shaped My Life

scotthyoung.com

Thinking up a new life is not enough unless you also pair it with action. It is important then to realize that most of our actions happen without thinking. We do the same pattern endlessly, and those actions create our lives.

Real change seldom comes from a single exertion. It comes from committing yourself to specific daily habits until the habit feels comfortable.

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Setting difficult, ambitious goals and committing to them has a much bigger impact than people realise.

Edwin Lock, who pioneered the experimental study of goal-setting, found two things:

  • Harder goals produce better results, provided you stay committed.
  • Specific targets work better than vague suggestions like "doing your best."

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Growth is dominated by two trends:

  1. Diminishing returns: At some point, more effort becomes increasingly unproductive. A key realisation is often to know how good is good enough.
  2. Compound growth: Each past improvement helps further development. What at first looks like a small improvement will end in huge growth. The problem is often lacking the patience to continue even if your efforts at first seem unrewarded.

Understanding what kind of growth you're dealing with prepares you for progress.

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For most of recorded history, most of the roads to worldly success came at other people's expense.

In modern time, the most prominent way we have become rich isn't through plunder but through invention and service. We improve our lives mostly by making life better for others.

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Exposure therapy works to reduce an irrational fear by exposing you to the fear in a safe environment.

Public speaking, talking to strangers, or taking tests can create a paralyzing anxiety. Knowing how to deal with it makes a big difference.

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Most of the essential activities in our life are infinite games, meaning that to win means you have to keep on playing. For instance, health isn't over when you've reached your weight-loss goal.

If you can keep going, you haven't lost.

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The quality of your life is mostly determined by what you pay attention to. But most of what grasps our attention isn't good for us, such as anxiety and anger about things we cannot control.

Like a prudent gardener, you can choose what you let grow in your mind by watching the conversations you have, the books you read and the news you follow.

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In the novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, two people are unfairly imprisoned. One spends his time brooding, raging and attempting suicide. The other spent his captivity improving his mind by practising languages, developing tools, and reconstructing manuscripts from memory.

Freedom is possessed by varying degrees by different people. Your life situation could be constrained, or you may only have choices you don't like very much. But increasing your options is part of a good life.

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While it's true that life is better when you have friends, money and status, that lifestyle is never satisfied. It always demands more.

Instead of striving to attain some ideal of life, organise your energy around pursuits that matter. Engaging in meaningful activities that help you and others are more satisfying.

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