“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
Pro Tip: Jumpstarting Your Broken Systems
Last week, my entire system broke down after a terrible fever. Coming down with a fever amidst a global pandemic is scary enough on its own, but the rather aggravating part about this was that I barely had any energy or strength to work out or even face my laptop. Of course, resting was important. The fever ran its course. However, even after a day or two of being more or less alright, I could barely do everything in my routine.
My streak for German lessons, my daily brain training, reading and exercise — all went down together. I couldn’t do any of them for a few days until I decided to look at it in a different way altogether. It was when I was talking to a friend about their systems breaking down that I realised what might be happening to my system as well.
It is a generally accepted notion that the brain likes to take shortcuts to self-preserve. These work perfectly for most things. A utensil with steam coming out of it is “no touching zone” for us. This is because at some point in our life, we decided to touch a steaming object and it burned us. So, we know the best course of action is staying away.
In the same way, when something disappointing happens, such as your plan for a job going awry or an unexpected sickness, the brain tries to introduce friction in what you were doing when said event occurred. This is because of the same self-preservation idea. It mostly goes like this:
We followed X. We faced disappointment. I guess X isn’t very helpful. Let’s not do X.
That’s why doing all the things that we were doing especially after a setback, sickness, disappointment or just a bad day and nothing else feels so difficult. To break out of it, we should treat our systems precisely as we do our bodies when we work out after a long time: ease into it.
Do one thing. That’s the simplest solution. I wrote about this in the post about habits as well. Just like after a long time of staying away from the gym, you don’t immediately go back to your old regimen rather have a sort of comeback week, that’s exactly how you should go back to your system.
For me, this was starting with my 15-minute German lessons and brain training on Elevate. Once that was done for about three days, I could go back to reading again. Today, I worked out. Just like that, the entire system starts to come back. This is especially possible if you also stack habits together.
I call this “Add, Brew, Stack, Brew, Stack”. You add a habit, stick with it for a few days, then stack another habit right before or after this, then let them brew for some days, then stack again and so on. Before you know it, your system is back to its original functioning state.
Question: What’s Your Inner Weather Report?
Last year, this week, I was at a festival called Fuel Human Festival. It was a coming together of like-minded people where we just talked about ideas and nothing else. There, I met Sidharth Ananthram and his Our Life Circles.
Their concept of Life Circles is to have people sit in a circle and talk about the things that matter. In the exercise that we did, we talked about our inner weather reports. The answers I gave that day are still impacting my life in myriad ways.
It set out a path for me wanting to bridge where I saw myself in the future and what I was doing then. Every day, I’m trying to get a bit more clarity on the two. In any case, I wrote about the entire experience last year.
It’s an important question to ask yourself every now and then. I’ve made it a monthly check-in of sorts. I ask myself what my weather report is every first and every last day of each month. This shapes the entire month’s narrative in some ways.
Reading List: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
For most of my teenage, this book was stuck in my wishlist on different online stores. I knew this was a primer on how to think before I had even read it. When I finally did, the book proved its mettle and why it is so praised all over.
“Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.”
Predictably Irrational goes in Dan Ariely’s classic, witty style and gives you cases upon cases of things where people make the most unpredictable choices. He talks about his experiments and then, why things happened the way they did. It is an intriguing book that walks you through the fact that humans are not the most logical creatures, and it shapes how you think about society, in general.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
There’s a lot in the pipeline but an idea I have is called Mix and Merge which is what it sounds like: I’ll try to mix and merge things I learn elsewhere and apply them to life and systems.
For example, the last newsletter talked about Operating Systems and Collaborations. So, hopefully, we can make those a more regular thing for the social channels.
In case you missed it, I wrote about happiness on the blog last week. This was a slightly less actionable post than what you’d find on the blog usually. However, it was a premise that demanded a slight shift in tone.
Oh, And One Last Thing
You may recall from the last email that you’re in a special list that will receive extra tips and tricks along with downloadable every now and then.
Since this list is open for the first four newsletters, if you know someone who would like this, let them know of this little perk so they don’t miss out!