Good morning loves. I’m currently sitting in bed with a large cup of coffee while Tulum cicadas hum loudly outside. Today i’m ready to dive into designs for my ideal meditation app for another weekend hackathon.
The days have felt long and full here. Despite social media portrayals of Launch House being filled with “poolstorms” and gregarious techies at beachclubs, there’s a lot that’s happening below the surface. I’ve enjoyed the clip of many serendipitous conversation on our deepest insecurities and future realities at 1am. The long stretches of uninterrupted flow in solitude while jungle storms erupt outside. The sobering realization that despite physical escape, you can’t escape yourself.
And that I rather like this version of myself a lot - more centered and values-driven than prior versions. I’ve realized that one of the biggest expressions of self-love is to have “what you do” be an external manifestation of these values. And it’s why building FlowBox this past weekend for the On Deck hackathon felt so internally nutritious. Looking forward to the remainder of the month here. Some snapshots:
- how to create a syllabus of dead people
- the many permutations of “cottage core”
- the best life advice column i’ve read in quite some time
- Abraham Maslow’s unpublished papers
The world at large has no shortage of armchair philosophers.
What is my purpose in life? What is the meaning of life? How does consciousness work? What is being? How can we truly know anything?
If you’re human, you’ve probably wondered about these things at some point or another. Maybe after a few glasses of wine, an ego-shattering trauma, or while staring pensively into the spacious night sky.
Maybe the expansive uncertainty of the question quickly overwhelms you, like it often does to me, and you quickly avert your attention to the latest shenanigans happening on Twitter or Instagram.
Swoosh. Your mind automatically coalesces back into the unending stream of digital status games.
It’s easy to pile in on the latest Snowflake IPO or TMZ controversy. It’s much more uncomfortable to traverse the unraveling strings of larger questions that slide you down a bottomless pit of uncertainty.
Lately, i’ve been pining to surrender to this bottomless pit. Since quarantine, i’ve felt the once omnipresent nature of life stuffed into browsers, Zoom calls, and text bubbles.
The gravity towards these form factors usurp the serendipity of face to face conversations that delightfully turn deep. The moments of philosophical awe transpired from a melting sun or expansive forest.
Despite living through one of the most existential periods in human history, there’s less surface area in life to think deeply about the questions that arise when we’re truly alone with ourselves.
How do we make more room in our lives to ponder deep questions without slipping helplessly into a bottomless pit?
With some structured guidance hopefully.
Writers like Tim Ferris, Mark Manson, Alain de Botton and Ryan Holiday have all attempted to make philosophy accessible to the “modern person”. (btw, where are the women??)
In line with our diminishing attention spans, listicles are made on “The top quotes on Stoicism” or “Plato’s thoughts on productivity”. Even reading articles like mine right now. Like fast food, one might feel “enlightened” after reading this content. But the “philosophical high” quickly fades in lieu of a deeper grasping of its core foundational underpinnings.
So why not go straight to the primary source?
I decided recently to create a philosophy syllabus for myself completely comprised of essays and books (by dead people, preferably - the deader the better). Here’s a few resources I used to build my book list:
- Reddit: I’m interested in philosophy where should I start?
- Reddit’s recommended philosophy reading list here and here
- MIT’s linguistics and philosophy course and Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness
- OpenSyllabus.org scrapes college curriculum across 6,059,459 syllabi and you can look up what books top colleges are using in their philosophy curriculums
- I also enrolled in my dad’s college-level “Intro to Philosophy course” - all currently online.
For the next few issues, I plan on sharing what i’m learning and my personal syllabus of collected books.
Learning in public hopefully keeps me accountable and attracts more weirdos like me into my orbit (No hard feelings if you want to unsubscribe 😆).
Signing off with a few questions for you:
- Do you feel intellectually satiated with the content you’re reading today?
- Is there something you want to make time to learn deeply?
- What are some recent deep questions you want to lean into? How can you make it more comfortable to do so?
If yes, hit reply. I’d love to hear about it and share your deep musings in the next newsletter (anonymously of course!) :)
- An entertaining overview on the different types of “Core’s” that have arisen post-pandemic.
- Cottagecore: whitewashing and romanticizing agricultural life in the west.
- Goblincore: cottagecore but participants like to be “dirty”
- Angelcore: This is basically just Cottagecore if it was a religious cult.
- Bloomcore/Meadowcore: Cottagecore but lots of pastels, denim, and never-ending meadows.
- Dragoncore: the new kid to the block channeling Daenerys Targaryen vibes.
- Navalmanack is out - This book collects and curates Naval’s wisdom from Twitter, Podcasts, and Essays over the past decade.
- Fascinating article on productivity cycles and how we may all be better using caffeine:
- Drink a latte 30 minutes before a high point, work as hard as you can, and then use the warmth of your laptop to take a nap a few hours later, because you’ll be spent.
- Caffeine is a zero-sum game, but you can use that to your advantage. Consuming caffeine in time for it to affect you at the exact peak of your “focus wave” effectively makes the highs higher, and the lows lower.
- Plan your high points, work during them
- Refuel during low points instead of stretching them out with forced work
- Slingshot your amplitude with caffeine; 3 weeks on and 1 week off
- Avoid non-intentional caffeine, only drink it on schedule
- A feature on the next generation of wellness changemakers making wellness a more inclusive, intersectional, and holistic space for all.
- A google doc from The Art of Noticing full of deep and interesting icebreakers
- The Rabbit Hole from Blas Moros features amazing book notes and summaries
- After more than a decade of writing life-changing advice, Oliver Burkeman's last column: the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life. A few of my favorites:
- There will always be too much to do – and this realisation is liberating. The only viable solution is to make a shift: from a life spent trying not to neglect anything, to one spent proactively and consciously choosing what to neglect, in favour of what matters most.
- When stumped by a lifechoice, choose “enlargement” over happiness. I’m indebted to the Jungian therapist James Hollis for the insight that major personal decisions should be made not by asking, “Will this make me happy?”, but “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?”
- The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it. As the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics understood, much of our suffering arises from attempting to control what is not in our control.
- The spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti said his secret was simple: “I don’t mind what happens.” That needn’t mean not trying to make life better, for yourself or others. It just means not living each day anxiously braced to see if things work out as you hoped.
- The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one. Everyone is basically winging it. The reason you can’t hear other people’s inner monologues of self-doubt isn’t that they don’t have them
- Selflessness is overrated. More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm.
- Classes to help with emotional fitness: Massachusetts General Hospital is offering a free course “Mental Health for all: Science-based skills to build resillience during stressful times”. Coa, a mental health and emotional fitness studio, is offering free classes during COVID-19, all online and therapist-led on topics like imposter syndrome, anxiety, and sex.
- Brian Johnson goes over key highlights of “Future Visions” by Abraham Maslow. Future Visions are Maslow’s unpublished papers on self-actualization, motivation, and personality growth —some of which were written just days before he died.
“It frequently takes half a lifetime for the creatively talented individual to come to terms with one’s own talent, to accept it fully, and to unleash oneself, that is, to be postambivalent about one’s talent.” — Abraham Maslow