The Smarter Brain
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“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre

Worth Reading


4 Steps to Cope With Panic Attacks

Our brains trigger a fight-or-flight response to escape life-threatening danger, but this may be a false alarm. During a panic attack, your body “produces three interconnected reactions: catastrophic thoughts…physical symptoms…and a powerful urge to escape.” Four psychologists share four steps to cope with panic attacks.“The four steps to alleviating a panic attack:

1. Learn about the body’s emergency ‘fight or flight’ stress response

2. Replace your catastrophic thoughts with rational ones

3. Calm yourself with breathing exercises or grounding

4. Resist the urge to escape the situation, and continue what you were doing.”

It also helps to remember that a panic attack is a “normal reaction that will pass in no more than a few minutes.”

Christian Jarrett, Psyche ()


The Hidden Dangers of “Survivorship Bias.”

‘Bill Gates dropped out of University and built a billion-dollar empire. Therefore, if I drop out of school, I’ll also build a billion-dollar company too.’ You may laugh at this ridiculous line of reasoning (obviously very few dropouts become billionaires.) But we also tend to focus on a few examples of success and ignore the multitude of failures. “Survivorship bias is an error that arises because we look at the data we have but ignore the selection process that led us to have those data…it leads us to look at these highly selected events and then make inferences.” Success stories are often anomalies created by luck, not hard work or talent.

Katy Milkman, Scientific American ()


I Am Not a Blank Page

“You can be anything you want to be if you’re prepared to work hard enough.”Why do we keep falling for these fast food motivational messages? Look around you. How many hardworking people do you know who live in mediocrity? “[E]ffort is no substitute for aptitude and (I’m sorry if this hurts) we can’t always be whatever we want to be. In the argument between Nature and Nurture, Nature may not have the last word, but it’s got an awfully loud voice.” Hard Work shouldn’t be the default solution to adversity. It’s okay to give up and focus on activities at the intersection of what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.

Cameron Sage, Quillette ()


How to Build, Operate, and Manage Great Teams

Lecture by Keith Rabois, former Executive at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide, and Square, on how to operate a successful company. “What you are doing when building a company is building an engine…The more you simplify, the better people will perform…The people who work with you, generally, should be coming up with their own initiatives…The office environment that people work in everyday dictates the culture that you are going to be in.”

Six key takeaways:

  1. Build idiot-proof systems.
  2. Eliminate inessentials.
  3. Delegate and focus on the #1 most important thing.
  4. Simplify KPI’s.
  5. Look for anomalies.
  6. Reflect priorities in your calendar.

Keith Rabois ( | )


Young Children Would Rather Explore Than Get Rewards

A new study published in Developmental Science discovered that children are much less motivated by rewards than adults. During two studies of image selection tasks, children chose the high-reward image much less often than adults (approx. 40% versus 90%). The key takeaway is that children are much more motivated to explore and gather information than seek rewards. Children learn best when you let them explore first, before giving instructions.

— Nathaniel J. Blanco and Vladimir M. Sloutsky (2020). . Developmental Science.

Worth Listening

When Did Marriage Become So Hard?

The rapid rise of marriage breakdowns has raised questions about the history of marriage, and why it’s getting harder. “Marriage originally arose in more egalitarian band-level societies as a way of sharing resources and establishing peaceful relations with groups…How do you make equality erotic? Where’s the sizzle in consensus and compromise, in child care pickups and doctor’s appointments, in a lifestyle symbolized by a Honda Civic rather than a flashy Ferrari?” Modern marriage is driven by a subtle expectation that your spouse will always fulfill your needs. But if you can’t fill the void yourself, who else can?

Hidden Brain ()

Worth Watching

Einstein Speaks

Albert Einstein’s written work is well-known and highly praised, but history has forgotten the sound of his voice. This is a rare showcase of Einstein’s voice against the backdrop of images.

Pioneer Works, YouTube ()

A bit of history:

Ages of the Founding Fathers of the United States, on July 4, 1776:

• Thomas Jefferson: 33

• George Washington: 44

• Benjamin Franklin: 70

•John Adams: 40

• Aaron Burr: 20

• Alexander Hamilton: 21

• James Madison: 25

• John Jay: 30


Food for thought: Beliefs aren’t “real.”Your worldview is one of many possible mental models to understand the world.


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