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The surprisingly difficult art of doing less

Victims of our own prosperity

Many people believe that the key to happiness is to have more choices, but it is really the opposite.

To free ourselves from the result of our consumer culture, we should work on our self-control. We have to develop the strength to resist these constant temptations.

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The surprisingly difficult art of doing less

The surprisingly difficult art of doing less

https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/6/11/18634202/the-joy-of-missing-out-svend-brinkmann-doing-less-digital-detox

vox.com

5

Key Ideas

Chasing after the next goal

In our consumer culture, we end up buying more and doing more. To be satisfied is almost considered an offense because it means you're not chasing after the next thing.

Part of the same vicious cycle of wanting more is the desire for continual self-improvement and the development of other competencies. 

Missing out on life

Taking secularization into account, the idea that we don't live in order to obtain some kind of salvation in the afterlife leads to the belief that we have to achieve everything we desire in the here and now.

If we miss out on anything in this life, it is seen as some kind of existential failure. Carried to an extreme, it is tragic because it's rarely a recipe for a good life.

The joy of missing out

We gain from it the chance to engage in activities and experiences that are deeper and more meaningful. Because the mentality of fearing that we will miss out makes us always worried that something better might be waiting for us.

And moving through life, where everything becomes a means to the next thing, prevents us from understanding that certain things are inherently valuable and meaningful in and of themselves.

Victims of our own prosperity

Many people believe that the key to happiness is to have more choices, but it is really the opposite.

To free ourselves from the result of our consumer culture, we should work on our self-control. We have to develop the strength to resist these constant temptations.

Enjoying the present

While some people can opt-out of the culture, most need to make the best of it within the system we have.

  • Reading a book is very disciplining. Most people have lost the ability to sit for hours and read a book without looking for a smartphone distraction. In a way, reading a book is like mindfulness, only you focus on something different.
  • Instead of always focussing on the positive things, focus on the negative things. We have to see what's wrong to have any chance of fixing it.

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Loneliness is a perception issue

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Loneliness has more to do with our perceptions than how much company we have: it is just as possible to feel very lonely surrounded by people as it is to be content with little social contact.

Olivia Laing

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“Loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed but simply that one is alive.”

Dealing with loneliness through creativity

One way people have always dealt with loneliness is through creativity. By metamorphosing their reality into art, lonely people throughout history have managed to interchange the sense of community relationships could foster with their creative outputs.

The artist Edward Hopper (1882–1967) is known for his paintings of American cityscapes inhabited by closed-off figures who seem to embody a vision of modern loneliness.

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Observing people and situations is an incredibly valuable tool. 

It gives you the ability to notice subtle cues during conversations, job interviews, presentations, and anywhere else so ...

Increase Your Powers of Observation

Learn how to notice small details.

It's not a superhuman ability. It's important to note when talking about Holmes that he has spent a lifetime cultivating the habits of mindfulness. So it's not like he was just born with this ability to be in touch with the world. What we choose to notice or not notice is a way of framing it in our own mind. We have a lot of bad habits in our mind, and we have to retrain ourselves to really notice the world. Everything we do rewires the brain, but we can rewire it in a way that mindfulness eventually becomes less of an effort. -- Konnikova

Force Yourself to Slow Down

Give yourself monthly or daily challenges to form a new habit of observation.

Ideas could include trying new foods weekly and writing about them, noticing the color of a co-worker's shirt every day, or even just looking at a new piece of art closely once a day.

The idea is to gradually teach yourself to notice small details in your environment and daily life. 

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Be direct

When having a difficult conversation, be direct and get to the point quickly.

Difficult conversations become even more difficult when the delivery...

Be specific

The more clarity you can provide, the better the critique will be received during a difficult conversation.

Be honest and thorough with your feedback, and fully clarify why you're having the conversation. Offer as many concrete examples as possible so the person understands you're not just pulling things out of thin air. 

Plan out the conversation

Prepar for a difficut conversation in advance: think of what you’re going to say, as well as anticipate how the other person might react

The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to stay even tempered and not get flustered, and therefore deliver a more solid critique.

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