Thoughts on: ‘The Accidental President’ by A. J. Baime

I was going to get a biography of Winston Churchill and ended up with this book (some people don’t read the backside of a book before they buy it, I apparently don’t even read the front cover 😂).

I have this idea that I want would like to read a biography from each american presidents but I think I like the idea of having done it is more appealing than the process itself. 🙃

📝 Truman was Vice President when Franklin Roosevelt died. He was put in office in what might be the most eventful year of recent political history; 1945.

📝 Franklin Roosevelt famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

📝 Truman about the presidential workload: “It takes about 17 hours a day and then you get as much sleep as you can. Start over again and do the next 17 hours as best you can. No man can do it as it should be done.”

📝 He gave the order to use the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

📝 He started reading at age 5 and read a lot. He studied the heroes of history and was a fan of Plutarch. (Who I’m yet to read…)

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I noticed how clueless I am about how events during this period relate to each other in space and time:

– The defeat of Germany vs. the time of The Bomb.

– How things lead up to the Cold War.

– The raise of Mao.

– When Roosevelt was replaced with Truman. (I didn’t even know who was president at the time to be honest).

Of course I learned all of this in school. But this book highlighted how much of the knowledge has been warped or plainly forgotten. I’ll definitely spend more time with historical biographies in 2019!

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The book is good but, as with most political biographies, I find them getting tedious at times. Like the Marvel movies, I enjoy the raise of the hero/president better than the confrontation with the bad guy.

Which is you favorite biography of a world leader?

3/5

Photo credit: @socialworxpr (Instagram)

Thoughts on: ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’ by Donald Robertson

I have adopted many powerful principles the last couple of years that increased my baseline happiness levels. One of the big ones, second only to learning to stop giving a shit about what people might think of me and what I do (still W.I.P 😉) ,is the Stoic idea of being indifferent to thing that are not under ‘our direct control’.

The weather, death, traffic, other people, outcome of soccer games, train delays, sickness, international politics etc..

So much anger, anxiety and frustration has been avoided since I fully committed to this principle. What a great source of fulfillment and tranquility!

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This book does a great job summarizing Stoic philosophy! Here’s some notes:

  • Mindfulness of what is up to us and what’s not is one of the main remedies for emotional suffering.

  • Set you intentions each morning and evaluate how you did each evening. Where did you act virtuously and where did you miss the mark? Review your actions and evaluate you conduct.

  •  ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them’ – Epictetus

  • Novice Stoics should begin by training themselves each day:

1️⃣ To endure what they irrationally fear, or find aversive, with courage and perseverance.

2️⃣ To renounce, or abstain from, what they irrationally crave, through discretion and self-discipline.

  • Outcome independence: The goal of a Sage (the Stoics ideal) would not be to benefit others, which is beyond his control, but rather simply do his best to benefit them. Like an archer firing a arrow, his work is done when he has done his best, weather or not he hit his target.

This is a great book (even excellent if you ignore its repetitive textbook nature) that provides a great overview of Stoicism. It’s also full of exercises on how to apply the philosophy to everyday life.

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I still think Irvine’s ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is the best starting point if you are curious about Stoicism (link in BIO). Which you should be! It’s an fascinating and very practical philosophy!

What principles have you picked up during the last couple of years that had major impact on your life?

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4/5

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Practicing Stoicism: Voluntary Discomfort (Part 2)

Now it’s time to level things up a bit. Here are my stoic challenges for the coming weeks:

❗️Not drink anything for a day.

❗️Do public speaking.

❗️ Sleep without a pillow for a week.

At least for me all these appear worse to me than only drinking water for and sleeping on the floor (with pillow 😀) for a week. (Actually, I still only drink water it kinda stuck with me.)

One of these new challenges have a slightly different feel to it; to do public speaking.

Voluntary discomfort is not only about gaining appreciation for things you have and preparation for aversion: it’s also about eradicating irrational fears.

One of the most common irrational fear is the fear of public speaking. This is one of my irrational fears. So this month I’m going to put myself in uncomfortable situations where I need to talk in front of large groups of people. Wish me luck!

Follow my progress in my Instagram Stories!

In what ways are you torturing yourself these days? 😆🤔

Practicing Stoicism: Voluntary Discomfort.

I’m back into stoicism again after rereading Seneca and after picking up the so far excellent book, ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’. But this time around I’m not settling with only theory. I want to try some actual Stoic exercises, or more precisely; Voluntary Discomfort.

Why would the Stoics voluntarily put themselves in uncomfortable situations? Well, to develop appreciation and gratitude for what I already have and prepare for future adversity.

Here are some things a stoic practitioner could do:

❗️Underdress for cold weather.

❗️Forgo pleasures such a passing of a glass of wine of watching you favorite show.

❗️Sleep on the floor instead of the bed.

❗️Eat only plain foods and drink only water for a week.

❗️Emulate poverty by dressing in shabby clothes and sleep under a bridge.

❗️Not drink anything for a day.

❗️Reading the comments on articles and videos on the internet to elicit anger and practice equanimity (found this one on Reddit 👍🏻)

❗️ Sleep without a pillow.

You get the idea: Get yourself more uncomfortable than you’d usually be. It’ll make you stronger. You’ll appreciate what you have and eliminate irrational fears.

Or at least that’s the theory. Now I’m going to try it myself for a month or so. See my Instagram Stories for weekly updates! Or wait for my Lab Report . 😀🔬

What experiments are you conducting in your life? 🤔

Thoughts on: “Think Like a Freak” by Levitt & Dubner

📝 Experiments: “It fun! Once you embrace the world of experimentation the world becomes a sandbox in which to try new ideas, ask new questions and to challenge the current orthodoxies.” 👌🏻

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📝 “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.”

There is a gap between the incentives people say they care about, and those that ACTUALLY changes their behavior. (Money and being like everyone else are powerful incentives, but we don’t like to admit it).

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⚖️ VERDICT:

The book is filled with entertaining examples of how one can benefit from thinking unconventionality and out of the box, but as a whole it’s very shallow. If you want to improve your ‘ruling faculty’ you should read these instead:

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🔥‘Influence’ by Cialdini

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🔥 ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by D. Kahneman

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY & 💭 THOUGHTS:

The book talks about knowing when to quit something and when to stick with it. Due to the Sunk cost fallacy we are prone to continue to spend money and time on endeavors we are already heavily invested in. Consider the the opportunity cost (what you have to give up in order to choose something else.) of what you do every now and then!

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A while ago I quit studying Chinese. I was very serious about it and I spent some good money on teachers, books and language apps. But the biggest investment was in time. It was really hard to quit after hundreds of hours of practicing Hanzi characters and tunes (Chinese is not only hard to write, its impossible to pronounce too 😈). The sunk cost fallacy was strong. But it would be insane to continue, since I would probably have to study for the rest of my life to reach the level of a Chinese 5-year-old, and by that time everyone will probably have a Babel fish in their ears translating in real-time anyway.

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So I quit! The opportunity cost was too high. I had too many other interest to pursue. I don’t regret it one bit!

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What are you happy you quit? 🤔 Let’s make quitting sexy again! 😉

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Photo credit: @ha77on (Instagram)

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2/5

Thoughts On: ‘On the Shortness of life’ by Seneca

A brief essay on the the duration of life. And about why most people think it’s too short, when it’s actually long enough to if the time is used properly.

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Seneca is a stoic philosopher (4. BC – 65 AD. I won’t go into into much detail about what a stoicism is, since there will be a lot other opportunities to dwell into that in upcoming post (judging from what I’m reading right now). With a risk of oversimplifying, I like how Nassim Taleb put it: “A stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one that says “fuck you” to faith”

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“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficient measure to allow us to achieve the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested…” “…we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

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So, how do people waste their life? By gossiping, overindulgence in food and sex, living life for others (work a job you hate), complaining, etc.

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Also worrying about the future or letting the past disturb ones tranquility. Then, when we find out that these things are unimportant, we only have a few years left to live and wonder where all the time has gone.

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“He who has grey hair has not lived for long, he has existed for long.”

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Being written 2000 years ago, it’s amazing how almost all these thoughts are applicable to contemporary society. ———————————–

My takeaway from this book is to be more protective of my time and be wise in how I spend it. A sad thing would be to spend your life doing things you dislike with a promise of leisure and freedom in the future. Wasting each day as it comes for a future that one are is certain to live to see.

5/5

Thoughts on: “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller

Wow, this sucks! The book is just a long commercial for the authors other services and the concepts covered could have been a 15-page pamphlet.

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Wow, this is brilliant! It’s to the point, clear and actionable.

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Both these assessment are correct, depending how you look at it. But my intention when picking up this book was to learn something practical. And I did.

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You brands message should be simple, clear and, most importantly, packaged as a story where the customer is the hero.

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Many brands and marketers get some fundamental stuff wrong and puts the brand as the hero in their marketing instead of the customer.

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📝 Story in a nutshell:

“A CHARACTER (customer) who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before the can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE (you) steps into their lives, gives the a PLAN (your product), and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action help them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.”

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📝 WRONG: An example of doing it wrong was Tidal, Jay-z music service. The marketing made whining artists the heroes of the story instead of focusing on the customers needs.

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📝 RIGHT: And example of doing it right is Apple with the Mac. The customer is the hero facing a problem; Complicated computers that stands in the way of the customers creative expression! Apple has a plan for our hero, the Macintosh computer.

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📝 Story is the greatest weapon we have to combat noise, because it organizes information in such a way that people are compelled to listen.

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When you finish this book, given you’ve done the exercises, you will have a new brand script for your services or products that capitalize on the strength of storytelling (or on human weakness to stories, hehe!😈). The book left me inspired and equipped for taking stuff to the next level!

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Since I don’t really have a product to sell I’m going to use the story brand method to improve my website (hehe, will be quite easy judging from the state it is in). I will do this next week. Another takeaway is how uncomfortable selling things makes me feel. I have a really hard time with it.

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4/5

Review (4/5) – Get the Book!

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Thoughts on: “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

At the age of 6 the narrator abandoned his favorite hobby; drawing. Grownups kept mistaking his depiction of Boa Constrictors who swallowed entire elephants, for drawings of hats… 🐍 🐘

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“Grownups never understand anything by themselves and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again”.

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The narrator puts drawing to the side and instead becomes a pilot. After a dramatic crash landing in the Sahara desert he runs into a young boy that he refers to as The little prince. The boy shares his life story with the narrator. He tells tales about his interplanetary travels where he visited all kinds of weird and narrow minded people. All of the grownups, all of them very serious, all of them deeply irrational.

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📝 “Anything essential is invisible to the eye”

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📝“It’s the time you spend on your rose that make your rose so important”

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📝 “You are responsible forever for what you tamed.”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

This book is a great reminder of the foolishness of being so serious all the damn time. Grownups often have an inability to perceive what is really important. Children on the other hand can often see things more clearly.

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Reading this book reminds me of a great quote from Nietzsche: “A mans maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play”.

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I’m going to buy this book in Swedish and read it as a bedtime story together with my son.👌🏻 🤴 it’s short, sweet and quite wonderful!

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What is your favorite children’s book?

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Photo credit: @deepsnow_fromjp

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4/5

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“Sapiens”, “Homo Deus” and “Now 21 Lessons for the 21 Century”. REVIEW.

While his other books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, focused on the past and the far future – this book focuses on the present and mankind’s immediate challenges.

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Topics are ranging from how to deal with disruptive technologies, the resurrection of nationalism and the relevancy of religions. Harari wants to shine a light on the fact that we are lacking new idea systems that are capable to help us navigate these new and trying times. Liberalism and the other old ideologies just won’t make the cut anymore.

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📝 The opportunity cost of fighting terrorism is that the money could have be used to fight other threats; like global warming.

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📝 Disruptive technologies will likely create a new “worthless class” of billions. Marxism might make a come back when jobs are being threatened, one might think? But Marxism presumes that the workers labour is of value. That probably won’t be the case with advancements in automation.

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📝 Protect humans not jobs. Finding meaningful pursuit for humans is the most important problem to solve in a future without jobs.

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📝 You don’t need religious text to be moral. Apes learned to take care of the poor and weak well before the Bible told them so.

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📝 “If you want reliable information, pay good money for it.” 👌🏻

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A whole bookshelf worth of topics is crammed into one small volume, which becomes a problems when each chapter deserves its own book.

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Harari don’t have a solution for all the issues. He offers the same advise that wise people and sages always have: sit down on a cushion and observe your sensations. Know thyself, and get to know suffering deeply enough so that you can act in a way that reduces it both your life and in the life of others.

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4/5

 

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Thoughts on Classics: “The Stranger – Albert Camus

The Stranger is presented as a first person narration by Monsieur Meursault. A man who get imprisoned for shooting “an Arab” on a beach.

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It’s a quick read, somewhat depressing, and very absurd. I like it! Especially thought provoking is the fact that Meursault excepts to be judged for his crime (murder) but is instead is judged by his character because he did not cry at his mothers funeral and the fact that he was seeing a comedy at the cinema the day after his mother’s death.

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Reading it gives me a sense of unease as I’m are used to sympathize with the main character. Meursault don’t care about being likable. Another striking thing about this books is Meursault detached way of observing the world.

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Here is a conversation after his friend have been beating up a girlfriend of his:

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“Then he wanted to shoot a game of pool, and I just barely lost. Afterwards he wanted to go to a whorehouse, but I said no, because I don’t like that. So we took our time getting back, him telling me how glad he was that he’d been able to give the woman what she deserved. I found him very friendly with me and I thought it was a nice moment.”

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📝 The Classic beginning:

“Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the Home: “Mother deceased. Funeral Tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.”

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💭 Thought:

Haha, when I think about it, the way Monsieur Meursault expresses himself in this book is very similar to how I write in my journal. Short sentences. Very detached and emotionless. Giving small and big events the same weight. A journal entry could look like this: “My son took his first steps today. I need to eat more vegetables. Today I received The Stranger in the mail. Looking forward to reading it.”

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On the topic of baby steps; I’m taking my first stumbling steps into the world of classic literature. I feel it’s much harder to write about these types of books than non-fiction. Anyway.. I enjoy it!

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What are your favorite classics? Which one are wanting to read? 🤔

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4/5

 

Review (4/5) – Get the Book!

 

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