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Being Wrong

Shane Parrish’s highlights from this gem of a Ted Talk by Kahthryn Schulz.

… The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is that we just assume they are ignorant. You know, they don’t have access to the same information we do and when we generously share that information with them, they are going to see the light and come on over to our team.

When that doesn’t work. When it turns out those people have all the same information and they still don’t agree with us we move onto a second assumption. They’re idiots. They have all the right pieces of the puzzle and they are too moronic to put them together.

And when that doesn’t work. When it turns out that people have all the same facts that we do and they are pretty smart we move onto a third assumption. They know the truth and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes.

So this is a catastrophe: our attachment to our own rightness. It prevents us from preventing mistakes when we need to and causes us to treat each other terribly.

You can watch the whole talk below or click here. It’s twenty minutes well spent.



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Writing as the Most Important Thing You Could Do Every Morning

From a Ryan Holiday post on journalling,

“I don’t journal to “be productive.” I don’t do it to find great ideas, or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me.

Morning pages are, as author Julia Cameron puts it, “spiritual windshield wipers.” It’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found. To quote her further…: ‘Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.’”

Also totally love the quote that opens the article,

“Keep a notebook.
Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it.
Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain.
Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter.
And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”

—Jack London

Go, read!

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What Does Reading a Book Do to Your Brain?

From What Does Immersing Yourself in a Book Do to Your Brain?

Reading allows us to try on, for a few moments, what it truly means to be another person, with all the similar and sometimes vastly different emotions and struggles that govern others’ lives.
The reading circuitry is elaborated by such simulations; so also our daily lives, and so also the lives of those who would lead others.

The novelist Jane Smiley worries that it is just this dimension in fiction that is most threatened by our culture: “My guess is that mere technology will not kill the novel. . . . But novels can be sidelined. . . . When that happens, our society will be brutalized and coarsened by people . . . who have no way of understanding us or each other.” It is a chilling reminder of how important the life of reading is for human beings if we are to form an ever more realized democratic society for everyone.

Empathy involves, therefore, both knowledge and feeling. It involves leaving past assumptions behind and deepening our intellectual understanding of another person, another religion, another culture and epoch. In this moment in our collective history, the capacity for compassionate knowledge of others may be our best antidote to the “culture of indifference” that spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Pope Francis describe. It may also be our best bridge to others with whom we need to work together, so as to create a safer world for all its inhabitants. In the very special cognitive space within the reading-brain circuit, pride and prejudice can gradually dissolve through the compassionate understanding of another’s mind.

The whole article is a slow, lovely ode to reading and empathy.

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A Eulogy for Nana


Abby lost her grandmother this week.
This is her eulogy to her.

She was Aunty Matty to other people, mummy to her children and countless other fond names to who knew her.

But she was my Nana.

I have memories of her cradling me, and taking care of me as a baby.
Vacations at Nana’s were the highlight of my childhood years.
She was a tireless, hard working woman who raised her large family to the best of her abilities.
And not just her family, but also (to me it seemed) the whole neighbourhood.
She was loved and appreciated, just by about everyone whose life she touched.

As the years flew by, Nana seemed very out of place.
In our fast paced, always connected, no time for any one age, Nana was a slow, deliberate, thoughtful, kind, gentle and gracious woman, like someone from a different, more altruistic age.

And it was here in her shadow years, while i was grew up and was beginning to work and could make my own trips to see her, that i really began to see her for the strong willed, tireless, hard working that she was, beyond just my nana who cossetted me and made me nice things.

And after all these years, the only theme i see that has rung true throughout Nana’s life was, Nana was there.

  • when i was a young bawling baby, Nana was there.
  • throughout my growing up years, Nana was there.
  • to cook me what my heart desired, Nana was there.
  • for everyone in her life, Nana was there.
  • to crack jokes and lighten up any room, Nana was there.
  • to empathise and have a compassionate ear to whatever was ailing you, Nana was there.
  • to gently, yet firmly correct you, Nana was there.
  • to remember you on your birthdays and anniversaries, Nana was there.
  • to worry about you and pick you up when you were down, Nana was there.

Since the day before, when Nana left us, I feel distraught and left alone, that Nana wasn’t there.
And yet, as i read this little note, i realise that this is not quite true.
Like the Little Prince tells the author,

I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy.
But it will be like an old abandoned shell.
There is nothing sad about old shells …

Nana was in pain, and she moved on beyond her body to her rest.
But that does not mean, she isn’t there anymore.
I will always carry Nana with me.
We all do.
Nana is here.