“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
– Steve Jobs
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
The Uphill Battle with ‘Right’ Habits
Most of us want to get the right habits in our lives. What does ‘right’ mean, though? Is going to the gym to exercise a ‘right’ habit? Of course. Is going to the gym when the nearest gym is a forty-minute drive from your place a right habit? Probably not.
The issue with forming the right habits and the right systems is that most people think it’s a one-size-fits-all situation when it isn’t. It is quite the opposite.
I started a new diet a couple of months ago. I got a subscription for an app and their diet plan. I paid it for three months thinking, “Oh, it’s easy for me to do these things usually, and I’m working out consistently anyway, so I guess, it’s worth it.”
It turns out that I wasted the money because I didn’t carry on with the diet after the first two weeks or so. The primary reason for this was that the app is based out of Europe, so the ingredients for seemingly homemade recipes are either too expensive or too rare in my city in India.
Not to mention that during a pandemic where basic local groceries were scarce, I was trying to find the most exotic ingredients. Not the smartest idea in the book.
Also, I did not feel like I could continue that diet forever because it felt more of an obligation and less of a desired change. The change I wanted was to eat more. I already have a reasonably healthy and clean diet. I was solving the wrong problem with that subscription and the diet plan.
So, instead, I decided to build an eat more system in what I could find. This included nuts like cashews, almonds, fruits which I made more accessible by putting them on the kitchen shelf instead. So on, so forth. You get the idea.
When you’re building a system or a habit, try to answer these questions with the method you’ve decided to choose.
- Should I do it?
- Does it make me feel good after I’ve done it?
- Is it easy for me to do this as often as I’d like?
- Do I feel like I want to do it?
Once you have a unanimous Yes to all four of those, decide on the new habit and system.
Then, start small and work your way upwards.
This stands true for any new thing you pick up including hobbies. Anything that isn’t natural to you will not sustain in life. Anything that is not in the Goldilocks zone of effort and ease cannot be sustained as a system. Anything that you really don’t want to do will not sustain long-term.
The right habits – those that are right for you – fit like a glove.
The Importance of Art in the Not Art
In a conversation with a friend the other day, I realised that it wasn’t just me who was in an eternal conflict of art and, what I’ll call, not art.
While art in the contemporary world has even gone to adding video games to museums, there’s still a conventional belief among people as well as critics to what makes something a piece of art – something that has an intrinsic expression in itself.
While the distinction is unclear, let us for the sake of this little discussion presume that art is something creative that sends a message and stands by itself while anything that is not art may be that which comes from the corporate and more greyed-out side of contemporary society. It may be creative, no doubt about that, but its intrinsic motivation is not to send a message or express something.
I’ve increasingly seen and met people who do not enjoy something like fiction, and that’s okay. However, it’s one thing not enjoying one particular kind of art and another to reject art altogether. I’ve continually met people who are so bound within the hustle and the money side of society that they fail to even look up sometimes at say, the sky.
This is something I sent out a tweet about earlier today as well.
I feel there’s a need for a balance, of sorts, that is increasingly dying. There is some form of art, something that moves each person. It may be a pile of candies in the corner of a museum or a more conventional painting like Starry Night or a play by Shakespeare or maybe, a book by Hemingway or a poem by Virginia Woolf or even a modern movie like the work of Wes Anderson.
When I see a tweet or an article that claims a bookshelf to be without any work of fiction and boasts it as something to be proud of or when I talk to someone, and they laugh at the idea of modern art even before they’ve dived into it to understand what it’s about, I think I see why the current society has a plethora of problems.
The point I’m trying to get at is that we are as capitalistic and bland as we let ourselves be, and perhaps, this stands towards a personal bias of mine. Still, I feel the need for aesthetics is as pressing as those of ethics and other philosophical points of views.
You’ll probably get better ideas working on a piece of code if you know how to read poetry. That’s not me, that’s Matt Mullenweg who coined the phrase, “code is poetry” as part of WordPress’s initial ethos, which even after 17 years continues to be a presence on the internet. Today, WordPress powers over 30% of the web, including Nudge › How.
Visionaries like Steve Jobs have always been huge proponents of art and applied those concepts to the business side of things as well. In fact, he was called an artist through and through by the Smithsonian in a tribute to him.
So, I feel life is a collection of different perspectives required for different things. It’s at least worth a try to include some art in it as well.
It makes living easier and aesthetics, by definition, adds to the beauty of it.
Reading List: No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel García Márquez
“‘This burial is a special event,’ the colonel said. ‘It’s the first death from natural causes which we’ve had in many years.'”
This short 94-page book is something I wanted to recommend today because of the previous idea that I shared. This book is slightly less of Márquez’s classic, magic and fictional tropes and in fact, is a good commentary on society and politics.
The quote I’ve shared from it above is in the context of political violence as well. I did want to share another one but if I did, it’d spoil the ending and its effect on you so, here’s the second favourite one.
It’s not a long read. To me, the last few pages were worth the entire thing, though.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
Last week, I wrote about the active mindset, the narrative fallacy and locus of control on the blog. All of these ideas come together to help you how to take better control and shift to an action-oriented mindset. There’s also an activity included towards the end of the post that will definitely help you out!
Did you like this slightly different take on the newsletter today? Let me know by replying this email. If you didn’t, please make sure you let me know too.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.