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I've been traveling this weekend and was able to finish this book "10% Happier" by Dan Harris, which was recommended to me by my mentor. It was a bit bland for me in the first 25-30% of the book, but then it got progressively better - more on point about meditation and Dan's personal experiences with it, and also way more funny.
Dan is an anchor on ABC Network, so his life was and is pretty hectic - with constant stress of finding the material to report on, doing special investigations, being on camera, being watched and judged by millions on people, getting commented on online, and more. It was interesting to follow his journey as he navigated the world of meditation. He's also very skeptical about things like Nirvana, enlightenment, and other spiritual parts of it, and it was nice to see him separate the spiritual parts of meditation and the actual mundane, real practice of it.
The funniest part of the book was him describing his experience during a 10 Day Silent Meditation retreat :) I've also learnt a bit more about the various types of meditation practice - as I've been using the simple breathing technique I've learnt from Jon Kabat-Zinn's book "Wherever You Go, There You Are". The book also got me excited to start meditating again after a break.
If you're interested to learn more, I've also written about my personal experience with meditation and provided more resources (like books, apps etc.) in one of the past Do the Opposite letters.
To Play or Not to Play
This is something I think about a lot - especially when I am at an electronics store. I always think to myself - oh I want to get myself a PlayStation, or at least a Nintendo Switch so I can play some games. Then I rationalize myself out of it, knowing how many hours I would waste playing video games.
I understand people who love video games, and think it's totally fine to play a couple of hours a day or a week. I am, however, distancing myself from video games on purpose. I know how addictive they are: I used to play for hours and days when I was a child all the way through the teenage years. Then, at some point I've stopped - I think it was when I got a MacBook laptop and moved to Canada - so no games I wanted to play were available at that time on MacOS and I didn't have access to the 'Tower' PC I had back home. This was a very lucky turn of events. I don't think I would be able to stop playing games as easily as I did, were it not for that.
The addictive nature of video games exploits the best in us - we want to improve, we want to succeed, we want to socialize. Giving people 'levels', 'badges', micro-achievements makes them feel like they are getting better in life, like their life is improving and they are battling the 'inner demons'. Steven Pressfield, in his non-fiction books, talks about the concept of a shadow career - a career that feels very close to our calling - our desire to create and improve ourselves, but which, in reality, is just a shallow version of the real one.
I think if I were to start playing games it would be the shallow version of achievement, with no real work getting done. So after getting excited for 15 seconds about that new shiny Nintendo Switch at the store, I just keep walking.
(P.S. Your experience might differ and just to clarify: I think games you can play together with friends when they are physically present in your apartment are fun and worth it. I think the games that substitute an in-game achievements for the real life ones - are not.)
1) "Countdown to a New Era in Space" By National Geographic
This is a beautiful article that provides a detailed overview of the humanity's history of exploring space. From the evolution of the space suit and the map of Lunar rover landings to the upcoming missions and the raw material we've brought back from the Moon (842 pounds brought back by NASA astronauts), it has it all. The major sections provide highly-detailed visualizations and infographics to feast our eyes on.
2) "38 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent" by Bill DeMain
These lists are often found on the Internet, and I always make a point of reading them. I think it is eye-opening in terms of appreciating the perspectives of other cultures on life, and how, despite these differences, we can relate to them through the shared experience of being human. Almost each of these words has me going -
"that totally nails the feeling I had!". Plus, if you remember one of them, you are sure to dazzle your friends with your 'fun fact' at the next dinner party.
3) "Books To Base Your Life on (The Reading List)" by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is a marketer and an author. Say what you will about him, but the guy sure does read a LOT. That makes this book list even more valuable - knowing how many books did not make the cut into this list. I think the section on "Books To Base Your Life On" and "Biographies" are definitely worth a look! I haven't yet read (fully) "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius (Holiday's favourite book that he read more than 100 times over the course of 10 years), but if you are interested in stoicism, I join Ryan's recommendation of "Letters from a Stoic" by Seneca.
Tim Ferriss, "How to Start a Business or Podcast From Scratch"
I know that a lot of Do the Opposite readers are thinking/dreaming of starting a project of their own, and the advice of Tim Ferriss in this video is priceless.
Tweets that resonated with me:
Other cool tweets I saw:
1) Adam Savage of "Mythbusters" tries out a real-life "Ironman" costume - that flies
2) A fun prank as part of the new Men in Black (MIB) movie - an alien inside a car salesman
3) A great piece of design found by Tobias Van Schneider - dating back to 1968
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional"
— "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", Haruki Murakami
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Keep doing the opposite,