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You Should Cheat

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”Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvator Dali

Before you start insulting me, let’s make something clear, I’m not talking about relationships. Let me explain myself. We all do things that doesn’t fit in our ideal life. The best examples are eating fast food, drinking alcohol, taking load of caffeine, watching TV, browsing the internet, playing video games or being lazy. The list could be longer, but you see the point. Tuesday, I’ve received my copy Fallout 4 by Amazon. For those, who don’t what I’m talking about, Fallout is post-apocalyptic video games. The game is huge and can easily suck you in for hours. I took my copy and put it aside. I wanted to make a simple experiment. I told myself that would only play saturday (for the whole day) if all the important stuff I wanted do would be done (gym, writing, reading and projects). Without committing myself, I would have easily spend all my free time playing and I’m not joking. To my surprise, I was way more productive that way. What I can see about that…

  • My gaming experience was even better because I’ve delayed the reward. I was awaiting that moment all week.
  • I wasn’t ashamed to play for my whole Saturday, because everything I wanted to be done, was finished.
  • I did way more during my week by avoiding anything related to TV. I felt more satisfied about myself, therefore I was more happy and less stressed.

Cheating can also help you build habits. I love to drink Red Bull. I know it’s bad for the health. I remember in my college years, drinking 2 cans a day. Nowadays, I avoid it as much as possible. The best way that I used to stop was to let myself cheat once or twice a month. I’ve avoided the pain of removing what I like from my life, but at the same I’ve reduce so much the quantity I drink that it doesn’t have significant impact on my life.

Trying to be perfect is impossible. It’s a recipe for frustration. Let yourself deliberately cheat, not too much, but just enough.

The Next Chapter

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“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atreides (Dune)

Deep inside, we fear change. We are afraid of going out of our comfort zone. Why do we feel that fear? It’s because what comes next is unknown. We can’t predict the future, therefore we cannot anticipate the chaos and turbulence that could happen in consequence. Still, it’s critical for each individual to embrace change.

Societies has evolved through time with revolutions, inventions, wars, new ideas and big changes. We aren’t where we are today because of stagnation. We are here because some people did it. They went beyond their threshold to make the human race evolve.  Without changes, we would still be in the stone age.

It’s the same for each and every one of us. We need to confront fear. We need to go beyond the comfort zone. That’s the only way to grow. Stagnation was never the answer. Make the next chapter happen, whatever it is.

Enemy Mind

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“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Isaac Asimov

What I’m about to say will look nerdish. I was checking at a PC game on Steam the other day, Crusader Kings II, for those of you who care about it. For the others, it doesn’t really matter. My friends talked about that game for the past three years. They always told me how much I would like it. A historical game of conquest…well I guess that is exactly the kind of stuff I like! Having a shitty laptop, I told them each time that sadly I couldn’t run the game.

The other night, I saw the demo online. I had a doubt. You know….kind of a “what if” situation. I downloaded the thing. I started the game and…it worked! IT FUCKING WORKED! I sent an sms to my friend telling him that I made probably the stupidest assumption of the decade. He found it very funny. And he told me something like our assumption are most often bad. My first thought was: “If I was wrong about that all the time, what else could I be wrong about?” Here we are.

It made me see that these kind of stupid assumptions can crawl into our brains and affect much more important stuff in our lives than a video game. What if you’re not making the most important move of your life because of that? It’s worth thinking about it.

The Unmistakable

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They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves.” – Calvin Coolidge

Have you ever search for your keys only to find out they were in your hand? The answer can be straight in our face and we can be blind to see it.  What we search can be so obvious, it’s natural to look elsewhere.

A while ago, I was trying to find ways to improve my strenght at the deadlift and overhead press. My first instinct was trying to find shortcuts. Maybe a new supplement could be my savior? Maybe I could add a new assistant exercise to my training? What if I wasn’t stretching properly? You can see where this was going.

After thinking about it, I concluded that if I wanted to get stronger, I needed to do more strength. As simple as that. I’ve added a few sets of singles (doing the maximum for 1 rep) to each session and after a week I was already seeing a big difference. We often try to find shortcuts, hacks, tips, tricks or whatever. We want to find the easy way to do things, because we want to avoid the hard way.

You want more money? Instead of cancelling your Netflix account, you could just find an another job or ask for a raise. You need to lose weight, drinking Coca-Cola Zero won’t make a big difference. What you need is to eat less carbs period.

We don’t need the new cool apps, the next productivity hacks or that new trendy idea. What we need is to stop bullshiting ourselves for one moment and do what fucking matters.

The Soothsayer

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We love to make predictions. But, clearly we are bad at making them. Take a look at sci-fi books from half a century ago and you’ll see that most of the predictions never happened.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a man was interviewed by the Time magazine. He said this:

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

That man was Charles H. Duell the commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Shortly after the interview, he resigned from his position.

The First World War was expected to last a few months. It finally last 4 years and around 8.5 millions people died. Making it the most violent conflict in history at that time. Nobody could predict that. And nobody could predict that it would happen again 21 years later.

Nassim Nicolas Taleb explain in Black Swan that we are often mistaking a naïve observation of the past as something definitive or representative of the future.

Last year, Warren Buffet offered 1 billion dollars for correctly guessing all the game of the NCAA March Madness. The result? Not a single soul won.

Most of my and your predictions are dead wrong. You don’t believe me? Start taking notes of every guess you make. You’ll see how bad you are. We have a problem of overrating the success of our forecast.

The end isn’t near. Maybe it is. We have no fucking clue about it. It’s as simple as that.

You are Now Less Dumb: Conquer Mob Mentality, Buy Happiness, and Outsmart Yourself (Book #6)

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What is it about.

We are dumb and stupid. Our brains has much more limits than we think. This book explore those psychological limits that are also called “self delusions”. One of them being the narrative bias. It means that we all tell ourselves stories to stay sane. Everything we do and see in life must have a cause and effect. We often try to find meanings in sequences. We are champion of doing that when we study history. The author educate us about a sixteen other ways we fool ourselves. Get ready to read about the sunk cost fallacy, the Benjamin Franklin effect, the pluralistic ignorance and the backfire effect.


Why you should read it.

Knowing that your own brain has limits and changing the way you think  can give you huge benefits in your daily activities. Everything in You Are Now Less Dumb can be applied in real life. I think that’s big plus about that book. You will learn about willpower, the importance of clothing, how to be happier, about the paradox of choice and how to take good decisions. Everything in the book is backed by psychological research.


The Bottom line.

Avoid the book if you are already a psychology junkie. It is a pop psychology book, not a PhD thesis. Otherwise, you’ll learn a lot of interesting stuff like I did. It’s easy and fun to read. The stories and the examples are originals. The author mention a good number of interesting sources. You’ll have further reading for a while. 

Overall: 7.5/10
Fun Factor: 8/10


David McRaney is also the author of You Are Not So Smart. He has an interesting blog and podcast of the same name.

We Are Blind: Our Non-Stop Ignorance

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“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw

I’ve talked recently about the idea that a little knowledge can be dangerous. Knowledge is a fragile thing. We can be 100% certain about something, but in truth being totally wrong. Take a look in the past and you’ll see many obvious examples of what I’m saying.

We thought that the earth was flat and we were wrong. Medical history has a great record of how many stupid beliefs we had. Bloodletting was used as a treatment for almost 3000 years. Why did it persist for so long? Because of the social, economic and intellectual pressures.

The medical field isn’t the exception. We most likely believe in the wrong for many aspects of life. It’s hard to make society change an idea. In the 1980s, saturated fat was seen as bad for the health. The idea is still around today even if we have evidence of the opposite.

The problem isn’t just about what we know and don’t change. It is also about what we totally ignore. We might be doing things that could lead to irreversible damage by our ignorance. You should be aware of that blindness and remember that a Sword of Damocles might be above your head as you read those lines.

Be Yourself

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be” – Kurt Vonnegut

I see people labeling themselves all the time, everywhere. Just take a quick glance at Twitter or Facebook. Consider what I’m talking about. Your friend James is telling the world that he’s a conservative. Your neighbor Anna write that she’s a feminist. And let’s no forget your cousin Robert shoving down our throats that he’s a fan of Volkswagen.

Labels are like a package deal. They can be anything from political affiliations, sports teams, a brands or anything else that someone can identify at. They have more effect on your attitude, than your attitude have on them. When you take the label, you take everything that comes with it. It’s like loosing your free will. Does Coca-Cola really taste better than Pepsi? In my mind, it’s more or less the same. Just people identifying too much with one or the other.

Then, why does people label themselves? Labeling comes from a primal way of thinking. The brain is wired to do it. Often, we aren’t aware of it. In the caveman era, banishment from the tribe meant death in the wilderness. Society has evolved, but the brain not so much. Not belonging to the group won’t result in an ostracism like in ancient Athens. No worry, you won’t be cast away for 10 years by public vote. Never forget that labels can make people judge you before even knowing you. The “package deal” effect work both ways. My advice, be yourself and stay clear of labels.

The Everlasting Rush

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“God made time, but man made haste.” Irish Proverb

You’ve probably identified Jason Statham on the picture above. That was from the movie Crank released in 2006. I don’t intend to do a review of that movie…don’t worry! Anyway, if you don’t know about it,  it’s just a popcorn flick to tune the brain at off. To shut the rush in our heads for one small moment. The movie is about Chev Chelios a mobster in Los Angeles. At the beginning of the movie he’s poisoned by a mafia boss for a reason that I forget. He will die in less than 24 hours. The poison affect Statham’s character slowly. With time it is making is heart become slower and slower until the fatal moment. His only way to survive and commit vengeance in the end, is to keep is heart pumping.

All options are considered. The character will take incredible amount of energy drinks, drinking red bull after red bull. Chelios will use drugs to speed is heart. He’ll even have sex in public. And yes…he will us booster cables on his tongue (or what is it in Crank 2? Nobody cares). You see the pattern? The movie goes at an incredible speed. Things are just moving too fast. It last an hour and half with non stop action. I know that the movie in itself doesn’t make sense at all. It’s purely fiction and hollywoodian. The point here is that our life is most likely the same as Jason Statham character. We don’t acknowledge it, but we are in a constant hurry. We finish item A, to start item B, before starting item C.  In other words, we do one thing to do the next. You brain always want the next thing, the new stuff or the new thrill. Your life is on booster cables non stop.

It’s something we tend to lose focus on. We forget about the haste of modern life. It’s just what it is. It’s normal. The rush will most likely only finish when we’ll be 6 feet under. It’s sad but true. I was trying to find where we went wrong. Where did we take the path to always be in a hurry? Most likely it’s not something that come from human nature. We see a lot of examples of cultures that don’t encourage that behavior. We can see that in the last 150 years, our relationship with time has change dramatically. The cause would be the rise of the machines. The industrial revolution. Remember Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Time? This is a great depiction of our modern relation with time. What is ironic is that we thought 60 or 70 years ago, that every work would be done by robots in the year 2000. You don’t have to take a time travel to ask the question, just ask your parents or grand parents.The idea was that robot would do all the work and that human would have all the time in the world. It seem we got in the opposite direction.

More technologies than ever and less time than ever. Instead of finding more time with technologies, we simply do more. We are in an era where time is scarce. The great depression of time. It’s already a start to know that we are part of the everlasting rush. But unlike the movie Crank, the clock will still race in 24 hours. We will still wake up and get some shit done. Probably at an incredible speed. We will cross every stuff on that god damn to-do list. Then, we’ll start again the next day. In truth, we are responsible for all of that. We are the creator of the everlasting rush. We are perpetuating it. And it will never end, unless we choose to. I could end here with crappy self-help stuff like “live in the moment”, “be simple” or “doing less”. I won’t, I just wanted to hit the nails. I don’t have magic pill for all of this. Napoleon Bonaparte is a better teacher than I am. I’ll let him finish. He said:Order marches with weighty and measured strides. Disorder is always in a hurry.The everlasting rush is disorder. Find the order and you’ll find the cure. It’s probably easier to say than to do.

The Perfect Story

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I’m always surprised when people are like, ‘I want to be just like Don Draper’. You want to be a miserable drunk? The outside looks great, the inside is rotten. – Jon Hamm

Everything always seem better elsewhere. The sun is always brighter far away. This is a common feeling that we have. We tend to look at others and compare ourselves. Others are always more lucky. Take a closer look and you’ll start seeing the misrepresentation of your thinking. 

Your friend Eric is a party animal. He’s always down to go out and drink. He’s the first to order more drinks and shooters. He seem to have so much fun. He’s the definition of cool. He get along well with all the people. Monday, Wednesday or Saturday? It doesn’t matter for him. Every day is the weekend. In reality, he’s an alcoholic. He’s constantly wearing a mask. He’s drinking to forget all his problems. He doesn’t want to look at the reality. He’s 32 years old in a dead-end job because he didn’t finish school and he doesn’t know where he’s going with is life.

Your girlfriend’s sister Anne is the definition of the perfect girl. She’s a hot blond, with a perfect ass and big round boobs. She’s hot, sexy and all your friends want her. The truth? She’s obsess about her look. She’s spending 12 hours a week in her local gym to keep her perfect ass. She keep a close and perfectionist look at her nutrition. Her boobs are fake. She’s thinking of getting them even bigger because she has a limiting belief that they are too small. She’s not comfortable with herself. All of this started because she think she’s ugly and too fat. Men’s attention is her fuel. Without it, she would fall into depression.

Your neighbor Sam is rich. He has a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S of the year and a crazy huge house. He’s always in expensive restaurants. He is making you jealous with his 20 000$ swimming pool. The reality? He’s dead broke. If he lose his job, he’s in total bankrupt. Is fortune is the result of loaded credit cards, bank loans and a mortgage that his choking him. By the way, the Porsche is paid weekly. He can’t sleep at night because of his money worries. Stress is eating him from inside. All you see about him is a mist. You don’t see the real situation behind your neighbor’s facade.

Your friend Dave is always bragging about how many girls he’s f*cking. He’s constantly saying that he’s the real deal, that every women want him. You see him living the great bachelor life. The reality? He fell that he was a looser in high school. He’s trying to get back at what he missed 10 years ago. He’s trying to prove himself that he can get all the girls he want. He want to show “them” how he became something else. He’s lonely, he would like to have a girlfriend, but he’s afraid of commitment.

You think these stories are exaggerations? Maybe they are, maybe not. Never forget that the grass is always greener on the other side. The perfect stories are most of the time not what you think they are. You would trade your life? You would be surprise in what you would get your shoes into. No humans are perfect. We all have our problems, even the last people you would think of. Perfect stories don’t exist.