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December 7, 2020
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” - Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin in the body, fulfilling roles such as absorption of calcium, strengthening bones and boosting the immune system. Multiple studies have shown that the majority (over 70%) of the (US) population suffers from a Vitamin D deficiency and that having a deficiency is linked with more severe symptoms of respiratory illness, including this year's notorious covid-19. In fact, it was shown that 96% of the people who contracted covid-19 had a Vitamin D deficiency. This only proves a correlation, not a causation, so scientific studies have yet to definitively prove the underlying relationship.
Vitamin D has long been recommended as an immune-system boosting supplement in prior years, especially around the colder months, so this is not something new that just popped up on the scene this year. I’ve been supplementing with Vitamin D from the beginning of this pandemic, and both Joe Rogan and Dr Patrick do so as well. Give it a listen and I’m sure you will see how much of a no-brainer this is.
While a cliche, this year should have at least reminded you of this simple fact - life is short and fragile. A lot of us can easily get caught up in plans and dreams of the future, and end up committed to giving up today in search of tomorrow.
However, tomorrow will always be a dream. A promise of what could come, but not a guarantee. In the essay linked, Paul Graham walks us through some simple arithmetic to understand how many important moments you have left in your life. It reminds us that the only thing we do have is the present moment, and that we should make the best of it for ourselves and others. We must not wait to do the things that matter.
🔖 Read: Life is Short - Paul Graham
The recent documentary The Social Dilemma made waves in that it showed how social-media technology has influenced life and created addiction-like behaviours in people. Lowered attention spans and higher amounts of depression are also collateral in this pandemic. The addiction has to do with our primary reward system, Dopamine, which is usually secreted when we accomplish tasks. Nowadays, social media and much of the technology around us has conditioned us to get small dopamine spikes from various notifications, messages and engagements. Because of this, life today can feel reactionary, as you often move between moving from notification to email to caffeine boost. Before you know it another week has gone.
The featured video is part of a free online series that walks you through a dopamine detox, Working by carefully curtailing your habits and environment to reduce the amount of stimulation your body and mind usually get. This is helpful as it allows you to reset your mind and to be much more cognisant of where your energy and attention go throughout the day. Andrew does an amazing job of explaining to you clearly how to detox yourself from a dopamine addiction, how it started in the first place and how to begin to turn your life around.
Sometimes, the path to success lies in the avoidance of failure. As opposed to striving to find the best trades in the market, the best investors focus instead on avoiding bad trades and making errors in judgement that are common to man.
Similarly, to improve one’s thinking, one needs to understand how that thinking goes wrong and to avoid making those errors. In the article shared, Mark Manson breaks down some of the most common thinking errors (re: logical fallacies) that plague people and most conversations today. We are all guilty of making these mistakes, but being aware of them is the first step to recognising when they occur and to improve our thinking beyond them.
Cal Newport is one of the most productive people there are. His book on Deep Work was influential in helping people structure their day better around maximising knowledge work, and I picked up important tips when he was promoting it in a podcast a few years back.
Now, he’s dropping some more tips and tricks in the article below. As a full-time professor, author of four books, regular writer, husband and new father, it’s amazing the amount of output he’s been able to achieve before knocking off at 5:30pm. I also think this is the kind of work-life balance (productivity) that we should all strive towards.
We’ve known for a long time that humans are wired to respond to emotional triggers and share misinformation if it reinforces existing beliefs and prejudices. No doubt this is a tendency that’s been hard-wired in us since our primitive days when survival was a daily concern and fear and anxiety kept us alive. Yet today we are seeing this bias being exploited many times over, resulting in a new crisis - fake news and the loss of objective truth.
As the article elucidates, the types of information disorder out there are varied. Some are deliberately engineered to mislead and incite others, while other types are, less maliciously, a product of human error or incorrect data. The way to solve it is recognising how we all contribute to this phenomenon in the first place, and then deciding how we should engineer our environment and behaviour to combat this issue.
A notable excerpt: “There are no permanent solutions to weaponized narratives. Instead we need to adapt to this new normal. Just as putting on sunscreen was a habit that society developed over time and then adjusted as additional scientific research became available, building resiliency against a disordered information environment needs to be thought about in the same vein.”
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