Thoughts on: “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari

For a long time depression and anxiety has been believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and the solution is a lifetime pill popping. Hari challenges this idea, both the cause and the solution.

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His research shows 9 very different causes for depression – Disconnection from…

1. Meaningful work

2. Meaningful values

3. Other people

4. Status and respect

5. Childhood trauma

6. The natural world

7. A hopeful and secure future

8. & 9. The real role of genes and brain changes.

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📝 “You are not a machine with broken parts you are an animal whose need have not been met.”

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📝 When asked how many friends people have, “zero” is the most common answer.

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📝 Anxious and depressed people are prone to gaming addiction. Games have groups and teams, clear goals, and provides a sense of control.

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📝 Anti depressant Companies (who often finance studies) only publish what makes their product look good. Just like when we take selfies, we discard the double chins and post the one where we look ace! 🤳

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📝 The more people value things, the more likely they are to be depressed.

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📝 Obesity and loneliness are equally deadly.

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📝 Studies show that depression is in fact to a significant degree a problem not with your brain but with your life.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: I have not been depressed myself (I don’t think?) but like most people I have had periods that has been darker and more anxious than others. Reconnecting to the 9 areas pointed out by Hari definitely improved things for me. Whether it was starting to run in nature (6.), Meditation (5.), read books (2.) or work on this Insta account (1. & 3.). Unfortunately “Reconnection” is not as commercially lucrative and easy to package into a product as antidepressants.

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We all have people around us, friends or family members, that suffer from depression. Reading this book helped me gain a deeper understanding why modern society is a breeding ground for mental disorders.

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This books is a serious contender for Book of the Year for me – and it’s only beginning of February. ❤️

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What actions and habits in your life protect you from depression and anxiety? 🤔

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5/5

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Photo credit: @thelavinagency


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists! Also, if you want more notes from this book then checkout the Extended Notes, right here!

Thoughts on: “Mutants” by Armand Marie Leroi

Spontaneous sex change, cyclops and mermaid syndrome and conjoined twins. The tall and the very short. Albinism and rapid aging. No stone is left unturned when Armand Marie Leroi’s takes us on a journey though the biology of the bizarre – and beautiful.

This book “..is not only about the human body as we might wish it to be, but as it is – replete with variety and error”.


📝 Mutation arise from errors made by the machinery that copies or repair DNA.

📝 “We are all mutants, but some of us are more mutant than others.”

📝 Clitoris = Penis

📝: ‘I do not want to be embarrassed by your black body at Daddy’s grave’ said her mother. Rita Hoefling was a white girl in the apartheid society of South Africa who suddenly turning black. At first she got subtle racist remarks and by the end of her transformation she was denied attending her own fathers funeral.. racism is dumb.

📝 Preformationists= They believed the egg contained the entire embryo (complete with limbs) and that embryo had itself it owns sperm or egg which in turn contained embryos ad infinitum.

📝 In conjoined twins the skew toward femininity is overwhelming: about 77 percent are girls. No one know why this is.

📝 Boys who are castrated before puberty grow up to be unusually tall.

📝 “Women of all cultures seem to prefer men who are on average five centimeters (about two inches) taller than themselves.”


The human body is amazing. This book feels like it celebration of the most haunting, weird and wonderful shapes the human body can take. It leaves me in awe.

4/5

What are you reading these days? 🤔📚

Check out more great books in the Reading Lists!

Thoughts on: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Goggins, Goggins, Goggins! This guy is proper crazy!

He managed to escape an abusive family situation and decided become a navy S.E.A.L. The problem was that he was overweight, uneducated and unprepared. This was the starting point for the man that grew to become one of (if not THE), toughest endurance athletes I’ve come across.


📝 About his abusive childhood home: “Glossy surfaces reflect much more than they reveal”. Great expression!

📝 “Motivation is bullshit.”

📝 “I brainwashed myself to craving discomfort”. Schedule suffering into your life.

📝 It’s funny, humans tend to hatch their most challenging goals and dreams, the ones that demands the most effort and promises absolutely nothing, when we are tucked into our comfort zones.

📝 Ran 100 miles without training, on broken legs, pissing blood.

📝 Had the world record for most pull ups in 24 hours in 2013 (4030).

📝 When you think you done your upmost you’re probably only at 40%.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

The most common excuse Goggins hears for not working out is that people don’t have time. We get it, we all got stuff to do. “You must win the morning” and master the dark hours, when your spouse and kids are asleep, he says.

So, how do I act on this? I’m waking up 05:30 for the coming 66 days. The extra time in the mornings will be used for exercise, meditation, reading and writing.

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⚖️ VERDICT:

This book made me add another 10km on my regular run last Sunday. There where two reasons: First, the book is really solid and I didn’t want to turn off the audiobook. Second, Goggins made me realize I’m not putting in even half the effort I could.

This book will challenge you to set the bar higher for yourself, If you can look past the Navy jargon..

What your morning routine? 🤔


4/5

📷 credit: @portlandpickers


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Thoughts on: “Life of Pythagoras” by Iamblichus

This is a new sub-genre for me; ‘Biographies about ancient dudes written by other ancient dudes’. Iamblichus wrote this book about Pythagoras life and teachings around 300 AD.

The book is fascinating, often boring and sometimes complicated.

📝 He traveled everywhere he thought he could find wisdom. “He thus passed 22 year in the sanctuary of temples, studying astronomy and geometry and being initiates in no casual or superficial manner to in the mysteries of the gods”. On top of that he studied 12 years of the sciences.

📝 He was regraded as a divinity and was a cult leader.

📝 People looking for apprenticeship with Pythagoras were studied and observed for a long before getting the thumbs up. If they passed these initial tests they had to spend 5 years in silence to learn to control their speech before they could see Pythagoras face to face.

📝 According to this book, Pythagoras l could tame animals by talking to them, be in several places at the same time and speak to rivers. (This book reminds me of Life of a Yogi in many ways..)


⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

Pythagoras studied diligently under the best mentors in the world for +33 years. Then he started his career as a teacher. In modern society we expect things to go fast. For me this is was a great reminder of the value of playing long game and be patient. 🕰

⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

Now I have this weird urge to join a sect for some reason. 😆


I’m happy I read it but I don’t think this is for everyone.

Who’s your favorite Hellenistic philosopher? 🤔

Photo credit: @maankawas

2/5

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Thoughts on: “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

I managed to squeeze in another classic before the year ended and this time it was Aldous Huxleys dystopian vision in Brave New World.

This book brings my thoughts to raise of AI and the importance of setting the right goals for it (if we ever get to Artificial General Intelligence that is.). The path chosen for the society we are presented with in Brave New World choose happiness as the highest good through maximization of pleasure and avoidance of suffering.

What does this future looks like?

No one gets to grow old. every one belongs to everyone else and no mothers and fathers are available to traumatize childhoods. There are no spouses and children to feel strongly for.

And if all else fails… there is always SOMA. The pill that makes all anxiety go away (I.e alcohol without the hangover 😉).

Mantras of the Brave new world:

    “Civilization is sterilization”
  • “Everyone belongs to everyone else”
  • “The more stitches, the less riches”

💭 Thoughts 💭 :

Will we end up in a world more like the one in this book? As we spend more time living online worlds and in VR, the real world will become more foreign. No one creates online avatars that are old, deformed or disabled. Quite the opposite; we always create idealized versions of ourselves. Just look at your own Instagram page! 😉 Will old age be something we hide like we hide dead people nowadays. Will we be shocked when we see a real human face without a photo filter applied? 😨

Great book with philosophical undertones!

4/5

What’s your worries about the near future? 🤔

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Instagram Photo credit: @dauntlessreading

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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)

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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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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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