When you’re writing code or building a product, deciding what not to do is more important than choosing an initial goal. Find the best cut of your problem space: what obvious things could you eliminate from your project that makes everything else dramatically easier to accomplish?
Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.
The crucial developmental step in the economic lives of individuals and societies is their ability to cross from the pursuit of middle-order goods to higher-order goods. Sometimes we need to lessen our attachment to the middle needs like status and glamor in order to concentrate on higher things. This doesn’t take more money; it takes more independence of mind.
A good life is still a life. It must involve a full share of suffering, loneliness, disappointment and coming to terms with one’s own mortality and the deaths of those one loves. To live a life that is good as a life involves all this.
The organizations that build the future become ‘graduate studies’ in the skills they require to do so.
Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.
Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here — and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.
A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence [but] of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct. Quite often you can construct very good stories out of very little evidence… . People tend to have great belief, great faith in the stories that are based on very little evidence.
What we are doing here is building a giant rocket ship, and we’re going to light the fuse. Then it’s either going to go to the moon or leave a giant smoking crater in the ground. Either way I want to be here when it happens.
As much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert. The more connected we are to family and community, the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. Connected people sleep better at night. They live longer. They consistently report being happier.
One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.
The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all - and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is a minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to liver their own lives to the end.