Dear Wellness Wisdom reader,
Back in early Feb, I decided to start the Rabbit Holes Newsletter as an ongoing way to share the best content that has stretched my thinking across personal development, philosophy, art, mental health, and start-ups.
For those who are interested in the sausage making, Rabbit Holes is where I share the content and half-baked thoughts that inform what I write for Wellness Wisdom. As I plan to tackle more complex topics for future writing pieces, I’ll be sending out less volumes of Wellness Wisdom, and spending more time nurturing my digital idea garden in Rabbit Holes.
After iterating on the format & community with a group of 150~ curious minds I’m super excited to re-launch it here:
🗞 BI-WEEKLY PRIVATE NEWSLETTER - featuring the best Internet gems curated by myself and the community.
✨ LIVE RSS FEED - in addition to a bi-weekly newsletter, I'll be sharing the highest signal Internet gems in a real-time feed.
🔮 MY SECOND BRAIN - You can find 500+ (& growing) internet gems in an archive that allows you to filter by category (personal development, philosophy, etc.) and resource type (book, essay, tool, podcast, etc.)
👨🚀 PRIVATE COMMUNITY - To meet others and share + discuss amazing Rabbit Holes with one another.
If you want to join us down the rabbit hole, sign-up here.
To give you a sense of what Rabbit Holes is, I wanted to share a free volume with you today:
Welcome to the rabbit holes that stretched my mind in March 🔮
⭐️ Sleep around before you marry an argument: in order to learn about a subject don’t read about it, read around it. We are taught to just go with the direct/census approach to learning about a subject in school. However, it might serve our understanding best if we slut it up before we start writing. “Reading around a subject is about going beyond the object of study to unpack, examine, or pick apart what the person or the object of study represents. That is usually where the good stuff is. The fun stuff.”
⭐️ On the greatest risk to the human psyche in 2021: isn’t that you’ll end up on the streets next week or fail to fund your retirement in 30 years. The greatest risk is that you’ll feel so relentlessly battered by the weirdness all around that you’ll go numb and simply disengage from the world entirely today. "It is getting easier and easier to become terminally, fatally, disenchanted with the world and turn into one of the walking dead, a zombie assemblage of functional but pointless Adult/Parent drives, until one day you fall down and can’t get up again because you don’t want to." How do we continue to see the world with child-like eyes whilst holding mental constructs of an 80-year old to make sense of all the chaos?
⭐️ why you should be unreachable. "Most things are a distraction, especially in the startup and tech world. If you get to the core of building companies it's about creating a great product that gets customers that pay for it. If you get to the core of life it's living an existence you're proud of with people you love doing the things you like while minimizing suffering. None of these two probably involve being available for endless chit-chatting to billions of people in private messages"
⭐️ The Helsinki Bus Station Theory: your total output is all that came before - the early imitations, the breakthroughs, the peaks and valleys, the closing masterpieces, all with the stamp of your unique vision. The struggles and years of no recognition is actually what ends up making your work renown. When everyone got off the “life bus” to pursue another flashy route, you choose to stay on the bus. Don’t give up, keep going.
⭐️ What's your personal flywheel? Here's my mental model around why I do the things I do. I recommend this exercise because it not only clarifies your own values + "why" behind what you do, but also gives you permission to say "no" to things that don't fit in this flywheel.
Where do you derive personal fulfillment / self-knowledge?
How does that inform what you do in the world?
How do you share it with others?
Intertextuality is something i’ve been fascinated by lately: the shaping of a text’s meaning by another text, the relation of texts with other texts, how they form a web of influence and connections: allusions, quotations, pastiche, influence, & plagiarism. André Gide said: “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” I also read this in Austin Kleon:“Nothing is original, so embrace influence, school yourself through the work of others, remix and reimagine to discover your own path.” This idea is liberating for people with writers block because they think they don’t have any “original” ideas.
10 powerful life skills for a new decade: Learn to take compounding seriously, develop taste, sequence well, see what other’s see, make & execute decisions quickly, spot a convex or concave world, tell stories, dive into source code, be specific, see systems. The latter is something i’ve been actively trying to hone through reading Thinking In Systems.
Another take on 10 competitive advantages: intellectual curiosity, comfort with discomfort, simplify where others complicate, high tolerance for failure, low time preference, anti-fragility, presence, relentless consistency, noise cancellation, and being yourself.
If you have to choose between two theories, prefer the one that doesn't center on you. As thinking animals, our constant desire to overanalyze and seek meaning from noise can get the best of us at times. In this essay, Paul Graham encourages us to not see purpose where there isn’t one. Or in other words, see randomness.
⭐️ Theory of Reflexivity: subjective beliefs regarding objective reality can, to a certain extent, change objective reality because of the actions participants take as a result of those subjective beliefs. This theory perhaps more scientifically describes the more “woo” beliefs around manifestation theory. I recently also read that when an electron is observed by the human eye through a microscope, that very observation by the human mind, through the microscope, alters the behavior of that electron. That is, the human watching the electron brings about in the electron itself a different behavior, and that behavior is different from the behavior when the human mind is not observing it.
⭐️ Being basic as a virtue: Where she describes her exhaustion by the familiar dance of idea propagation that manifests over coffees, dinners, Twitter, and parties in the tech world. I really resonate with her feelings around it being hard to think when people are constantly asking one to externalize ones thoughts all the time. In my own writing, i’ve found that it’s difficult to come to insights “on-demand”. We’ve made everything “on-demand” and emboldened by a neat heroic narrative. My writing is the one safe space I have to take a naked look at the messiness of my mind and its contradictions. Slowly, I rearrange and assemble until something makes sense, for the time being.
⭐️ My generation isn’t suffering enough: on how for the first time in history, much of our misery stems not from too much suffering, but from not suffering enough. What lurks over Gen-Z is not just a sense of misery, but meaninglessness. A state of lethargy and unfulfillment, tormented not by the tragedy of it all, but the futility. This also has significant parallels to the Unabomber’s manifesto, which contends that technological progress will extinguish individual liberty, and thus meaning.
⭐️ Being scored through our data feeds the fantasy that we are essentially knowable. That we can know ourselves completely and totally, taking into account all the implications and ramifications of the various traits we possess. “Algorithms promise a simple solution to the riddle of the self, should we want one. They promise the certainty that data alone suffices to make a self — just generate data and you are significant, a somebody, a unique identification number at the very least. One can accept the ready pleasure of consumerism rather than pursue the freedom of autonomy, which is always imperfect and requires boundless innovation in our techniques of resistance.” We want so badly to have certainty in who we are. Instead, does the answer actually lie in the certainty of the uncertainty? Is freedom knowing that we are and always will be undefined?
Technology’s Hidden Cost: the bottom 80% of men are competing for the bottom 22% of women and the top 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men. Online dating as a precursor to potentially a generation of disillusioned and single men & women.. which could lead to other negative societal repercussions that are difficult to gork now. “Never before has the double-edge of technological innovation manifested this way, but never before has the shadow of disutility been cast over parties that could not reallocate.”
Transhumanism has been a concept that’s been fascinating me lately: Transhumanists believe human beings are essentially sparks of consciousness, which can escape mortality by detaching themselves from the decaying flesh or rejuvenating the flesh in which they happen to be embodied. They argue that technologies not available to previous humans but available to our present or future will be able to transform the human to live hundreds of years, or quite possibly allow the mind to be uploaded into cyberspace. This philosophy is certainly becoming more center stage in the public consciousness given the imminence of quantified self tools and brain machine interfaces like Neuralink.
On subjective consciousness & the unsolvable debate about whether animals other than humans have consciousness. Nagel uses many examples about the way bats actually perceive the world (sonar pulsations, echolocation, night vision, etc.) to challenge notions that we’d ever be able to share or even comprehend the subjective experience of an animal like that, or to know whether any such experience exists. Pretty insane stuff.
Can someone please build this 🙏
⭐️ Why making our brains noisier feels good: Fascinating study on how large influxes of change, can rewire our brain for good. This is contrary to the role of antidepressants, which tries to reduce spontaneous fluctuations. The flux theory, however, is that these negative habits of thought can be disrupted by flooding the brain with spontaneous fluctuations. The disturbance loosens things up and allows us to change old habits.
⭐️ Why everything is fertile by Nick Cammarata: this was a beautiful piece on how exploration ultimately makes us more appreciative and tender to the beauty that lies in the seemingly mundane - the lushness that lies all around you.“Exploration changes our perspective and forces us to pay attention, but this perspective can be brought back. By spending a lifetime dreaming of magical lands or flying with transforming elves one crafts the eyes to finally appreciate home.”
Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health? Vox asked 11 experts. TL;DR: to be decided. The research so far shows a correlation between digital media bombardment and problems with thinking. But it’s far from conclusive. One thing is clear however: The impact of digital media depends partly on how we use them, something I talked about in my opinion piece on The Social Dilemma. Over the past 12 years, 226 studies have examined how media use is related to psychological well-being. I think we’ll need to brace ourselves for many more.
The Human Screenome Project: is a collective effort to produce and analyse recordings of everything people see and do on their screens. Prior studies only sought to capture screentime on 1 platform like our phones or computers. This project seeks to captures screentime across all devices including: photography, games, education, videos, films, social, tools, etc.
A good overview on psychedelic wellness which is a trend I recently cited in Wellness Wisdom: In the 1970s, psychedelics were criminalized, effectively ending research into therapeutic uses. A highly politicized topic, psychedelics were associated with hippie culture and youth rebellion. More recently, regulators have eased restrictions on psychedelic research, fast-tracking clinical studies and legitimizing the space.
The yearning for something is sometimes more enjoyable than actually obtaining it. This research surveyed 1,530 Dutch individuals and found that vacationers reported a higher degree of pre-trip happiness, compared to non-vacationers, possibly because they are anticipating their holiday. Only a very relaxed holiday trip boosts vacationers’ happiness further after return.
⭐️ Lately artworks have begun to look more like memes, while memes have begun to look more like artworks. Kissick aruges that this is the result when everything is forged in economies of dollars, of ether, of attention. Most culture now has the feeling of having been made by algorithm; and the reason for this, is that humans have begun to act like algorithms. This has parallels to noema’s recent piece which argues that we’ll only be able to create morally sound AI, if we ourselves are ethically reflective and responsible. Tech is just a reflection of ourselves.
Creativity is dead, long live curation. Going forward, it will be very hard to imagine a retail establishment that does not give off an impression of a gallery.
A deep-dive on pioneering Asian-American Architects in Los Angeles: Before there were working Asian-American architects, Asian-inspired architecture was solely the product of the non-Asian imagination. Much of Chinatown was built from discarded set pieces previously used in yellowface Hollywood epic, The Good Earth. The Modernists also drew from Asian influences. Frank Lloyd Wright spent several years employed as an architect in Japan. Later, the result of Fujii v. California and Masaoka v. California was the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, which formally ended the exclusion of Asians in US immigration policy and thus allowed Asian-Americans to own property. A wave of asian architecture designed by asians ensued.
A heatmap of where people have cried on UWaterloo campus.
Every’s brand design process - from the typeface to logos for each writer column, it’s beautiful how intentional this design was.
⭐️ What will the next 10 years hold? Azeem Azhar believes:
Climate change will be the dominant narrative.
Our geopolitics will continue to fragment and this will result in more conflict.
In what we have generally thought of as the West, we’ll rethink the shape and purpose of our economies.
We’ll see the rise of new digital commons, economic institutions that are neither public- nor private- sector
World trade will face a troika of headwinds.
Cities will become relatively more important.
We’ll eat far less meat.
The big tech companies, particularly Facebook, Google and Amazon, will work aggressively to increase their footprint over the coming years.
AI will be everywhere (also touted by Sam Altman at OpenAI in his essay Moore’s Law for Everything)
During the 2020s there will be a generational shift.
⭐️ Work on what Matters by @lethain: is the CTO at the company I work at, Calm. His blog, Irrational Exuberance, is truly a treasure trove of learnings he’s picked up over his rich multi-decade career in start-ups. In this post he helps readers understand how to work on things that matte and avoid common traps like career snacking, preening or chasing ghosts.
Insights gleamed by studying these 137 YC startup success stories creating $300B+ in total market value. 3 insights:
Consumer is dead - there are no top Consumer companies 1–4 years of age.
Fintech is shining - aka Stripe & Coinbase
Old is sexy — “old economy” industries like healthcare, real estate, & construction are ripe for disruption
what one direct report of Sheryl Sandberg learned about leadership and scaling from her. So much of leadership is about a genuine relationship:
Sheryl told Mark the things he didn't want to hear.
She always had my back, I knew she would fight to the death for me, and I could always trust her.
The quickest way to make a dollar is to sell people their own dreams with a markup.
in the world of remote work, i’m using this template to do weekly stand-ups with my team and its definitely improved team morale/efficiency
55 questions to make sure you and your potential co-founder are values aligned
a great thread on how to price freelance projects
Technovelgy tracks ideas from Science Fiction that are close to or already becoming reality.
⭐️ guide on how to use the internet mindfully
⭐️ Guide: Salary negotiation: from Patrick McKenzie, is a super comprehensive guide to negotiating one’s salary. In your free time you should also check out Thomas at Matasano and Ramit Sethi for more on salary negotiation.
been loving this news feed eradicator that replaces my FB feed with an inspirational quote
a treasure trove of dev and design tools to help in your next side project
resources to add design flair, user delight, and whimsy to your product
a music playlist to create universes by
Original, 10 minute ambiences and music for your games and stories. I’ve leveraged this playlist for many Settlers of Catan games, and it has made the experience 10x better.
A curated and opinionated list of resources for Chief Technology Officers and VP R&D, with the emphasis on startups and hyper-growth companies
Resources on where to live in a remote-first world:
Wyoming (best US crypto laws)
Taiwan (Gold Visa)
Finland (90 day trial)
Portugal (Tech Visa)
New Zealand (EHF)
Chile (Startup Chile)
In the Rabbit Hole private chat, I asked community members what piece of content has shifted their mental models the most, either recently or ever. Here were their responses:
Love curated by Kenta Nagamine: “It’s about doing the things that make you the happiest *in the long term* and not chasing status or prestige, which are external. When I write it down it’s kind of obvious but the hardest part is making a conscious effort to always keep this in mind.”
A japanese homestay builds community curated by Nikki Datlangin: “I absolutely loved this short film i watched yesterday about the homestay Épinard in Oiso, Japan! makes me want to imagine more spaces that cultivate nourishment and connection”
You are the greatest story ever told curated by Soumya
4 psychological reasons you feel inadequate all the time curated by Brian: “Really enjoy this guys' writing”
‘Why do we need colours?’ A blind boy and a sighted girl experience a meadow curated by Atsushi Okahashi
The value of grey thinking curated by Atsushi Okahashi
A Bestselling Author Became Obsessed With Freeing a Man From Prison. It Nearly Ruined Her Life. curated by Rachel Michelson
Good overview on current consumer trends shaping the landscape curated by Marie Dolle
NFTs and the Future of Work curated by David Freiburger
How to be an imperfectionist curated by Gary: “I think a lot of times I aim for too high of a bar. So I've really reduced the bar for my daily habits. Ie. rather than doing a full work out, I do 5 squats. And then if I can't do those, I start to lower the bar more and more to 3 squats. Or an easier exercise. This helps build momentum. And it's important to celebrate these wins as well.”
Also how our members curate their own content diets:
Franck’s mailbrew curated by Marie Dolle & general mailbrew praise from David Freiburger: “I’ve started using Mailbrew (specifically only for Twitter). I’m not really a fan of their other features, but their “Top Links” feature is SO good for content curation. Essentially you can set up as many different aspects of Twitter for collecting its most engaged links. So I have it set up for my entire main feed, then several lists that I’ve made/follow. Highly recommend! Helps me stay off Twitter (coming from a Twitter addict 😅)”
How Marie Dolle curates: “I have setup a Feedly with around 600 good sources. (I fine tune on a regular basis). Once a week I spend 3h quickly diagonally reading to spot patterns. It helps me uncover emerging trends (which is my niche) that I then save in different board: to read later (I sense I need a focused read) or by sector and level of interest. When I finish, I write down 10 things that I found interesting and new. I also leave time for serendipity, mainly through Twitter and communities I’m involved in. To learn and make your curation actionable you also need time and space. (Basically just like writing)”
That’s all for March’s Rabbit Holes. If you want to get more issues like this, you can sign-up here.