Inversion: a mental model

Inversion: a mental model

Is a thinking model to get insight by turning a question backward, that is, by studying how to create non-X.

It is in the nature of things that many hard problems are best solved only when they are addressed backward", the great mathematician Jacobi noted. Instead of thinking how can you be happy, ask how you can be miserable and avoid that.

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"How to Guarantee a Life of Misery" | James Clear

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Johnny Carson's 3 Paths to Misery

In a graduation speech Johnny Carson, the legendary host of The Tonight Show, listed his prescriptions for misery:

  1. Addictions- Ingesting chemicals in an effort to alter mood or perception
  2. Envy
  3. Resentment.

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Charlie Munger's Paths to Misery

Charlie Munger, the famous investor, added more paths to Misery to complement Jhonny Carson list: 

  1. Be unreliable. Do not faithfully do what you have engaged to do.  
  2. Learn everything you possibly can from your own personal experience, minimizing what you learn vicariously from the good and bad experience of others. Never learn. 
  3. Go down and stay down when you get your first, second, third severe reverse in the battle of life. 

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Aristotle argued that we become what we habitually do. If we spend our days thinking of everything that has gone poorly and how dark our future appears, we can think ourselves into misery.

While we should pay attention to the many injustices to be righted, we can also make the world a better place by being aware of the good things it already affords. We can change ourselves into the kind of people who seek out and celebrate things we can be thankful for.

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How to make gratitude a way of life

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The Bees and the symphony of life

Against every choice of destruction, there is always the choice of creation.

This is the message of Poet Audre Lorde, as she draws on bees to describe the alternative to destruction. Her poem describes young boys throwing stones at swarming bees. A boy gets stung by a bee, and consequently, school guards destroy the hive. Afterward, a girl observed that the bees were not making trouble. Instead of destroying the hive, the children could've studied honey-making instead.

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Brain Pickings - An inventory of the meaningful life.

brainpickings.org

Description is a tool for learning

Describing something with accuracy forces you to understand it and learn more about it.

An accurate description needs the following:

  • Observation
  • Curiosity about what you are seeing
  • Refraining from drawing conclusions based on assumptions.

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How Description Leads to Understanding

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