Welcome to the latest edition of Monday Seven — actionable ideas and frameworks for people who want more out of life and work.
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I’m going to contradict myself.
I’ve been writing that this newsletter is for people who want more out of life and work. But what if we have enough of everything? I’m starting to believe that’s true.
This week, I explore the idea that we have enough of everything. I struggled with this idea because I believed it kills motivation. But, I think I figured out the paradox.
Let’s get into it…
No. 031 - On enough, living experimentally, and living many lives
1 — Everything I have is enough.
But, most of us don’t experience life that way. We assume more is better. We want more time, money, and energy. At work, we want more resources. It’s never enough. When there is not enough for everyone we are in constant competition.
We view others as wasting our time or draining our energy. These assumptions are so engrained that few of us challenge them. We play a zero-sum game. It’s exhausting.
The German mathematician Carl Jacobi was known for his ability to solve hard problems. He taught us to “invert, always invert.”
What happens if we invert our perspective? Let’s assume we have enough.
We stop comparing what we have and who we are. The goal post stops moving. There is enough and we are enough. We start to play a positive-sum game.
But what happens to motivation? If we have enough then why create anything at all?
I was conflicted. Then I looked to nature to help me understand.
Across all three kingdoms, the animal, plant, and fungi—all of life creates more life. Humans give birth to new life. We also create ideas, systems, societies, and networks to support and grow life. The energy to create flows within us. We direct where it goes.
From a state of “not enough” this energy is wasted into needless competition.
By committing to play life as a positive-sum game, we remove negative energy drains. Living from a place of plenty directs energy into positive creation. When we no longer create from a place of a void, there are no potholes to fill—only mountains to build.
We direct energy flows toward positive creation rather than destructive competition.
2 — Questions I’m pondering:
To identify energy drain I’ve been journaling on these questions:
Where are you living from a place that you don’t have enough?
Who do you compare yourself against?
How do you judge yourself?
3 — Have you heard of The Cult of Done Manifesto?
It was written by Bre Pettis and Kio Stark in 2009. They touch on the idea of living life experimentally, giving yourself room to fail, and striving for action.
The manifesto is worth reading in full. I expanded on a few of my favorite points:
Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
You’re the draft of your future self. Do not let imperfections hold you back from taking action towards your goals. You're a living experiment.
There is no editing stage.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is probably it. Herein lies a paradox: Everything is a draft and yet you are live on stage without an edit button. You only have one shot.
Once you’re done you can throw it away.
Treat life as a rapid succession of prototypes. Experiment with different options of who you are. Discard your failures. Double down on parts that show promise.
4 — I admire people who live many lives within a lifetime.
I’ve been thinking about how the cells in our bodies regenerate and every few years we become entirely new people at the cellular level. According to the documentary Biggest Little Farm, seven years is about how long it takes for a natural ecosystem to return to land. Author John Soforic writes about this idea in The Wealthy Gardner: “I’ve learned to plan my life in five-year crusades. We always have a new life every five years. And we can always choose the direction of the next five years.” I’m thinking a lot about this.
What if we lived as life as series of 7-year chapters?
Choose for yourself what that number is. I think it’s a powerful idea.
5 — The Creative Independent by Kickstarter is my new favorite place to hang out online. From the about page: The Creative Independent (TCI) is a growing resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people. We produce interviews, wisdom, and guides that illuminate the trials and tribulations of living a creative life, as told by working artists—including writers, musicians, designers, visual artists, and others.
6 — Music: Persian Classics (Spotify). This Saturday is Nowruz, the Persian New Year. This is the playlist you didn’t know you needed, and probably don’t, but I grew up listening to these songs and love the music so here ya go:
7 — Quote:
I love Anthony Bourdain for many reasons. His philosophy on cooking applies to love for any kind of work. He teaches us that you must love doing your craft for yourself.
You need love.
Hopefully it’s love for the people you’re cooking for, because the greatest and most memorable meals are as much about who you ate with as they are about what you ate. But love for what you’re doing, and for the ingredients you’re doing it with, will more than suffice…
You must like cooking for other people, even if you neither know them nor like them. You must enjoy the fact that you are nourishing them, pleasing them, giving them the best you’ve got.
You must ultimately respect your ingredients, however lowly they might be. Just as you must respect your guests, however witless and unappreciative they might be. Ultimately, you are cooking for yourself — Anthony Bourdain, Les Halles Cookbook
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The next time you’ll hear from me will be Monday, March 29.