Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)
Comments: This was an interesting read with good ideas that occasionally felt a touch long. That said, I loved the fact that Oliver Burkeman wrote this to remind us of the brevity of life and the importance of saying no to things that don’t matter to make space for the things that do.
Insights that resonated:
(1) “Consider all the technology intended to help us gain the upper hand over time: by any sane logic, in a world with dishwashers, microwaves, and jet engines, time ought to feel more expansive and abundant, thanks to all the hours freed up.
But this is nobody’s actual experience. Instead, life accelerates, and everyone grows more impatient. It’s somehow vastly more aggravating to wait two minutes for the microwave than two hours for the over – or ten seconds for a slow-loading web page versus three days to receive the same information by mail.”
(2) “The original Latin word for “decide”, decidere, means “to cut off,” as in slicing away alternatives; it’s a close cousin of words like “homicide” and “suicide.”
(3) “Some Zen Buddhists hold that the entirety of human suffering can be boiled down to this effort to resist paying full attention to the way things are going, because we wish they were going differently (“This shouldn’t be happening!”), or because we wish we felt more in control of the process.
There is a very down-to-earth kind of liberation in grasping that there are certain truths about being a limited human from which you’ll never be liberated. You don’t get to dictate the course of events. And the paradoxical reward for accepting reality’s constraints is that they no longer feel so constraining.”
(4) “The average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short. But that isn’t a reason for unremitting despair, or for living in an anxiety-fueled panic about making the most of your limited time. It’s a cause for relief.
You get to give up on something that was always impossible – the quest to become the optimized, infinitely capable, emotionally invincible, fully independent person you’re officially supposed to be. Then you get to roll up your sleeves and start work on what’s gloriously possible instead.”
(5) Robert Boice, a psychological professor, spent his career studying the writing habits of fellow academics.
His conclusion was that the most productive and successful among them made writing a smaller part of their daily routine than others. They wrote in brief daily sessions – sometimes as short as 10 minutes and never longer than 4 hours – and religiously took weekends off.
They cultivated the patience to tolerate the fact that they probably wouldn’t be producing very much on any given day, with the result that they produced much more over the long term.