“Never memorize something that you can look up.”
— Albert Einstein
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
On Volunteering To Help Others
The past week was filled with experiences where I was offered a lot of unsolicited help. I use the word “unsolicited”, but I don’t want it to have a purely negative connotation.
In India, help is a general expectation. More often than not, this leads to blurry boundaries because people insist with all their heart that they want to help you.
Even if you decline, the conversation gets to a slightly heated, almost coercion-like impasse at which points you nod and say that you’ll accept the help.
Of course, this doesn’t ring true for every culture, but I have a hypothesis that societies with large populations tend to have this almost default expectation of the idea of help.
I say “idea of help” because when help becomes the default expectation, even an inkling of independent behaviour tends to suffer. As someone who likes doing things on my own, I often feel a bit overwhelmed with all the people pushing their version of making my life easier down my throat.
Not to sound ungrateful, I do appreciate the intention. However, the one thing that totally knocks me out is how unaware most people are of another’s context, boundaries or preferences when they force their help onto other people.
In my analysis of the past week and what triggered me, I have laid down three specific rules for providing help. If you are from a culture where what I’ve said above rings true and sounds relatable, these will help you out.
Rule #1: If you offer help and someone declines politely, accept that your idea of help may be causing more discomfort to whatever they plan to do, despite your good intention.
Rule #2: If you insist on helping someone, without their asking for said help, help them on their terms. Otherwise, they were fine without you. They’ll manage.
Rule #3: If you ask for help yourself, be helped on the helper’s terms. You cannot control how you’re helped if you ask for it. You’re asking for assistance. Be grateful you’re receiving it.
Helping others can be difficult. Being helped can be exhausting. Draw boundaries where they can be drawn, and remember, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.
“How Many Gigs of RAM?” “I Don’t Know.”
Until college, I used to rote-memorise the specifications of my electronics, be it my phone or laptop. There was this odd sort of enthusiasm. It was almost too obsessive. I would keep up with each new phone that released, each laptop that was being launched, spend countless hours on Youtube and websites like Android Police or the Verge. Keeping myself updated was important.
Fast-forward to today. A friend asked me the question in the heading recently (and this has happened before). I answered with “I don’t know,” and I really did not know how much RAM was in my phone. I knew it was either 3 or 4 GBs, but I wasn’t sure. I had… forgotten.
I always get surprised when something like that happens, but it also makes me think that I have my priorities right now. If being updated with every single version of Snapdragon’s system-on-chip designs is important to you, more power to you. However, somehow, I became the person who wants it to work.
My phone should work. My laptop should work. They should work perfectly. If I am looking to buy something, I spend time on all that research, and I remember the specs until I can forget about them (when I finally make a purchase). However, I don’t see the point of constantly keeping up with information I cannot use or do anything with, really.
It’s an odd sort of change that I’ve gone through overtime, but I believe it is an important one. Often, in the name of staying up to date or in the loop, we keep all sorts of trash information in our heads. It’s not trash per se, but it’s also not serving us. It’s a lot of noise, and it reduces the signal. It’s important to reduce noise if we are to do what we do correctly.
So now, I allow myself to forget how much RAM my phone has inside it. I can always look it up in settings or on the internet if I have to know.
Reading List: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
“Things that never happened before happen all the time.”
I started reading The Psychology of Money this morning, and I’m almost done with it. It’s not a long book. Thank you, Morgan.
The book’s premise is simple. It talks about finance and economics. It does so not from the perspective of treating it with causal relationships, rather it does so by exploring the behaviour and psychology behind those decisions. This is introduced very clearly as you begin the book, and that is a great way to manage expectations.
I enjoyed this book because it was practical, and it made me realise some of my blind spots when it comes to financial decisions. In any case, I plan to complete this before I sleep. I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
I wrote about optimism on the blog last week. The idea was that even if things don’t work out, being optimistic that they will work out eventually was our best bet at finding that final insight that is vital to them working out. It was this perspective shift that changed my entire year, and perhaps, my entire direction. To simply collect data, you have to go ahead and do things.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.