Sunday Wisdom No. 18

Happy Holidays!

It brings me great joy to present Sunday Wisdom’s last edition for this year, and this decade. I hope you’ve had a great year, and I wish you all the best for the coming year. May you find strength in weakness, wisdom in ignorance, and peace in chaos.

I took my friend Noel’s advice and created a page on my website that lists my best articles by category, along with a list of all the articles that I’ve written so far. You can find them here.


My New Article

I gave it a good amount of thought. I asked myself, “What should be an appropriate article to end 2019?” At the end of a journey even if we are joyous, we might have few regrets. Things we could have done differently, decisions we should have taken better, etc. While there’s no cure for regret, there’s a pretty good way to deal with it. I hope you didn’t have a lot of regrets in 2019, but if you did, here’s a nifty tool to make 2020 better.

Regret Minimisation Framework: How to Live With Minimal Regret — When we choose what to eat, who to spend time with, or what city to live in, regret looms large—presented with a set of good options, it is easy to torture ourselves with the consequences of making the wrong choice. Regret is the result of comparing what we actually did with what would have been best in hindsight. Truth is, you cannot—in theory or practice—have a life completely devoid of regret. This article explores the Regret Minimisation Framework, a mental model to help you achieve the next best thing: a life with minimal regret. (1,219 words)

The past three editions of Sunday Wisdom: 1716, and 15.


An Advice For You

How hard you’re working isn’t a good indicator of the value you’re creating or the progress you’re making. It’s a vanity metric.

Just as how many Twitter followers you have is a poor measure for the vitality of your business, the amount you’re struggling isn’t a good measure of how much you’re learning and progressing.

“If I work hard at the right thing I can succeed,” is easily misinterpreted as “if I’m struggling, I’m doing the right thing.”


Articles Worth Reading

Being Pretty Is a Privilege, But We Refuse to Acknowledge It — “If I did not look the way I do, then I would not be on TV or on two book covers. I would not have a beauty column or an Instagram with more than 100,000 followers. This does not mean that I have not put in work and effort and done my job well, but my beauty is not something that I earned. I did not work for it, yet it has opened doors for me, allowing me to be seen and heard. And for me to pretend that it does not exist denies the ways in which being perceived as pretty has contributed to my success and made the road a bit smoother.”

The Ethics Of Walking In Cricket — A game of cricket. You are batting. Along comes a delivery down the leg side. You flick at it, miss, and the ball smacks into the keeper’s glove. Except that you didn’t quite miss. You felt the ball just touch your bat. You ought to be out. But the umpire didn’t see the touch, the bowler and keeper haven’t appealed, and, according to the rule book, you are not out unless the umpire says so. Is it your moral duty to alert the umpire, and walk? Here’s what Socrates would advise; and Kant, and Nietzsche.

Why It’s So Hard to Change People’s Commuting Behaviour — “Commuting alone by car is not just bad for the environment (24% of global energy-related CO2 emissions come from transportation), it’s also bad for business. Car commuters report higher levels of stress and lower job satisfaction compared to train commuters — in large part because car commuting can involve driving in traffic and navigating tense road situations. But how can organisations encourage their employees to commute differently?” 

Everything Is Amazing, But Nothing Is Ours — The shift to services in the physical economy, access to everything, ownership of nothing, is being replicated at the level of software. What used to be your data, on your computer, becomes a dependency, a call to somebody else’s server. “Files are a bellwether. Our phones are fully in the future: apps are services, and it’s really hard to access the file system. Our computers are still in the past: the two most important navigational anchors on my computer are the desktop and the downloads folder”

Who Needs Literature? — Critical essay asking whether readers are losing their appetite for serious fiction because real life has become so much more interesting. “I have reached the point that a newspaper report interests me more than a literary work. I sometimes fear that all of humankind may sooner or later come to my conclusion that reading fiction is a waste of time. Modern readers are connected to all the corners of the world, and nothing invented by the mind can compare with what takes place in reality”


I Enjoyed Watching

Las Meninas: Is This The Best Painting In History? — I love Nerdwriter’s videos. They are all very thoughtful, and extremely well executed. In this video, he breaks down Diego Valezquez’s Las Meninas. “There maybe no painting in the history of the form more worthy of analysis than Diego Valezquez’s Las Meninas.”

Breaking Down The GenieThe original Aladdin is one of the greatest animated films of all time, and a lot of this is due to the character of Genie. In fact, it’s more so because Genie was voiced by the oh-so-talented Robin Williams. Williams is one among the very few actors who could range from the purely flamboyant (in Good Morning, Vietnam) to the thoroughly thoughtful (in Good Will Hunting), and equally nail both the roles. This video breaks down the making of the Genie, and the man behind this funny, blue, loveable guy who shaped my childhood.

The Report — “In a thriller based on actual events, an idealistic Senate staffer leads an investigation into the CIA’s post-9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program, uncovering the lengths to which the agency went to hide a brutal secret from the American public.” This is an angry and urgent film that rarely raises its voice, smartly conveying inhumanity and injustice without unnecessary drama. This film epitomises the relentless pursuit of truth. I found it thrilling!


Worth Thinking About

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” — Henry Thomas Buckle (Father of Scientific History)


Little Bits of Wisdom

In 2020, I’m starting a new series exclusively for Patreon members. Every weekday I’ll share a little bit of wisdom with you. It’ll be an idea, an advice, or a strategy to live a meaningful life. Something similar to what I’ve been sharing through my newsletter. Only now, instead of receiving them once a week, you’ll receive them 5 days a week.

These are lessons drawn from subjects such as stoicism, behavioural economics, neuroscience, business, sociology, and are presented in a digestible and actionable format. Lessons that will make you a clear thinker and better decision maker.

Start your new year by committing to more wit and wisdom.

Become a Member


As always, please give me feedback. Do you have any comments, questions, or tips that you wish to share? Anything that you liked in today’s edition? Let me know. DM me on Twitter!

Until next year!

Best,
Abhishek