Fewer Better Things No. 66
What are you willing to struggle for?
I took a pause, a long unintended pause. I tried to write a few posts but didn’t really have anything valuable to say. So I decided to be quiet for a while and focus on the daily betterment schedule I created back when the pandemic began in March 2020. During this period I also decided to delete all my public social media accounts and unsubscribe all but a few newsletters. I felt I was feeding an insatiable machine instead of learning, growing, and spending quality time in the present.
What got me back to writing (both this newsletter and the book) was reading Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck”. I saw it in bookstores, in different languages, all around the world during my nomadic years but never picked up a copy. When I visited my recently re-opened local library a few days ago I saw the book again and decided to give it a try.
The book is about finding out what the fewer better things in your life are and how to achieve them. The kicker though is how to go about this massive never-ending challenge. While most people are chasing temporary happiness, the author argues, the real path to achieving your goals and dreams is really defined by what you are willing to struggle for. By choosing the pains you want in your life you define what goals and dreams you really find important and worth while to realize. And at the same time reset your expectation that everything must always be awesome.
Now that is a very radical idea in a consumer culture that is trying to alleviate all pains and make everything easier, faster, and cheaper. In reality, the author argues, we are looking for the easy and temporary highs (shopping, social media, casual relationships, alcohol, drugs et cetera) instead of accepting that real happiness requires pain and sufferings and takes time. You gotta love the process if you are going to reach your goals.
I love ideas that challenge the machine so this was right up my alley. A little shift in perspective and suddenly the whole world looks completely different. I asked myself “What am I prepared to suffer for?” as a filter to align my daily schedule with my real goals and dreams. It helped me shift the focus from the desired and dreamy results to the process in everything I do and let go of the belief that for something to be great it needs to be perfect.
So it’s by rejecting the unlimited alternatives, by narrowing my choices and committing to only fewer better things (people, problems, goals et cetera), that I will create greater meaning in my life. And what I chose as worthy goals are the pains and sufferings I’m prepared to go through to reach them. Basically, it’s the goals that I’m prepared to suffer for every day that in the long term will lead to a life well-lived.
Am I prepared to struggle for a cool car to impress everyone around me? No. Am I prepared to spend hours in the water to learn how to surf? Yes. Am I prepared to worry about what I’m wearing to have other people accept me? No. Am I prepared to suffer through language classes to learn a new language? Yes. Am I prepared to spend time on social media to let people I don’t really care about and might never meet again know that my life is great/sucks? No.
You get the point.
And why am I telling you this story? Because it’s the reason I’m back writing: I’m prepared to endure the very painful and solitary process of writing every day to bring alternative ideas and perspectives into the world to – hopefully – make it a better place. I believe that by changing our habits around how we chose to interact with ourselves, people, and planet we can go on and solve better problems and create new and more sustainable ecosystems. And as you know, our planet really needs that.
Support your local library: Now when the world is slowly opening up, make a visit to your local library and feed your mind – for free.
The Santiago Cake: Awesome cake recipe introduced by Ferran Adrià, the culinary innovator at El Bulli, considered the best restaurant in the world several years in a row.
Trustworthiness: “The Courage to Trust” is a great book about becoming trustworthy, trusting others, and start having faith in the future.
Apple Watch: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: replace your iPhone with the Apple Watch and you’ll save time, money, and attention. Version 7 is out in the fall.
Fishpeople: A very inspiring Netflix documentary (now available on YouTube) about people who have been transformed by the ocean.
Enjoy your weekend!