“Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”
— Charlie Munger
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
Why Working Out Works For Me
It was early 2018, and I was still getting used to the idea of working out. I’ve never been as fit as I am today as I write these words. I had just begun working out at the time. It had hardly been six months. I was hanging out with some friends and their acquaintances on a random evening.
At some point, owing to either the buzz from beer or their nature in general, this person commented out loud, “Your wrists are so weird and slim.” I don’t know why, but I was affected by that. There are often things that affect you without you understanding why that happened. They didn’t have to say it, but they did. I didn’t have to take it to heart, but I did.
I never saw that person after that. Once, if I remember correctly, but I always avoided them. Apart from that, on that eventful evening itself, I went home and looked up the science behind wrists, and to my dismay, I learnt that it was bone density and mass that affected how your wrists looked. Even if I got enough muscle on them, they’d look the same, more or less.
Anyway, I continued to work out regularly. I kept meeting people like that regularly. Today, I can do a HIIT session with much ease. Along with that, sometimes I throw in 25-50 pushups for fun. My wrists? They are the same size still. They’re more or less as slim as they were at the time. I’ve gained some muscle but nothing that would net me a place amongst the human specimens that we see in magazines.
Yet when someone like that person comes along, my inner perspective often tells me: screw that person, they can’t do the workouts you do. That’s the truth. That’s why I’ve realised that it’s really not about how you look, but if you do engage in physical fitness, if you can play long badminton games without being tired, if you can run in a 90-minute football game without feeling much exhaustion, you start to laugh at comments.
It’s because you start to realise that their comments come from a place of insecurity. At the same time, you realise that you can do things that they can’t. They practically, physically, cannot do the things you do. That is enough for you to invalidate their comments as soon as they reach your ears.
That’s why I workout and engage in physical fitness of any kind. It’s not to signal that I’m fit. It’s not to get a body like my favourite comic book characters who are now being emulated by actors of all ages and sizes. It’s to feel the healthy relationship I have with my body (wrists included!).
In some way, if I never kept working out, I would’ve never developed the confidence I have in my body today. So, to me, that is why I work out now. To get fitter every day, and to also be able to shrug things like that off. It helps me say screw you to bullies without saying much.
I laugh, and they look at me, dumbfounded, as they realise they can’t project their insecurity here.
Why v How: The Question of Questions
Every year, as the year turns to a close, I start to feel a bit wistful and in general, sad. It comes and goes, of course, but it has a major presence. I’m really not sure why that happens, but I’ve realised that since it does, I need to learn to manage it.
This is something I’ve learnt over the years. While “why” is my favourite question, often it warrants us to solve something first and then try to figure out the “why” if time allows. Instead, often the better question to ask is “how”. How can I avoid this in the future? How do I make sure I don’t feel this way?
Those are all better questions to ask. The “why” is important, of course. Perhaps, it’s the most important question. Yet, in a measure of priorities, we can’t usually get to the why until we manage something. Even in software, you first fix the bug and either while fixing it or after the fact is when you learn why that happened in the first place.
So, if you feel bouts of sadness like me, perhaps, the better question to ask is how you can best manage them and get out of them? Then, once you are out of them, figure out the why of it.
To Read: The Tao of Charlie Munger by David Clark
“People are trying to be smart—all I am trying to do is not to be idiotic, but it’s harder than most people think.”
This is a compilation of Charlie Munger’s quotes, tweets, and interviews. I’ve not read the entire thing yet, but I am influenced by it already. I’m at the one-fourth mark if you were wondering. In any case, I’d recommend anyone interested in finance but also, in general, to skim this book, at least.
We live in a global culture of celebrity billionaires. From that entire lot, reading what the most humble ones have to say still warrants you the most amount of knowledge. Charlie’s perspective is not epic advice that might change your life. It’s functional (and obvious) direction that will change your life.
Or at least, affect it deeply. Here is a book you can read in a coffee shop or during a commute: short chapters, crisp writing, all in all, a brilliant compilation by David Clark.
What’s On My Mind?
I’ve been asking myself a question lately: how far does one go for other people? If our definition is being a social creature, then why is our general, natural tendency to act in our self-interest first? It’s present throughout history, and even in our general days. Most people act in their self-interest first so how and how far does the social creature thing factor in?
Quick Update On Nudge › How
I wrote about Mythologizing our lives on the blog last week. It’s a concept and activity that is very close to my heart and life. Probably because I have admittedly mythologized most of my life in some way while growing up, some of these things worked when they did. Now, they’re things I’m unlearning. In any case, if you want to check the blog post out, follow the link above. I talk about the pros as well as the cons of mythologizing your life.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.