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#9: Cockroach (?!)
Rest assured. I won’t show you an image of it.
This week I was reading the amazing book Seeking Wisdom and was fascinated by the cockroach.
The cockroach is the oldest insect on our planet as evidenced by fossil records dating back 325 million years. It can eat almost anything, live 45 days without food, and has an effective reproductive system with female sperm storing capabilities lasting a lifetime and a great defense system. The cockroach is about the same organism it was millions of years ago because its characteristics were adaptive then and now.
No wonder Richard Schweid writes in The Cockroach Papers, “If there is a God that made all life forms, a particularly rich blessing was bestowed on the roach, because it got the best design of all.”
This made me think. We’re all attracted to appearances. But good-looking doesn’t always mean it’s superior. Sometimes beauty is what people don’t see. Opting for survival rather than pursuing other fancy things might be a better strategy.
What’s worth doing
What makes you happy
What’s smart — meaning long-term good for you
What’s useful to others
We know what makes us happy. If people show gratitude, we’re likely helping others and being useful. But how to be smart?
Benjamin Todd gives a thoughtful framework. He argues that problems that are worth solving are:
Important: if progress is made, how much social impact would result?
Neglected: how much effort will be invested in this problem by others?
Tractable: how easy is it to make progress per unit of resources?
Lessons from Maria Popova
On extrinsic motivation:
As Paul Graham observed, “prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night — and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.
On dealing with options of other people:
When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as important, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.
I’ve been taking (free) microeconomics lessons from Marginal Revolution University for about two months now. It says “We believe economics has the power to change the way you see the world” and I agree. I didn’t realize how many vague ideas I had about how things work were wrong. Highly recommend it!
Check it out here.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, I’d really appreciate it if you share it with a friend or two.
And if you come across anything interesting this week, let me know by replying to this email or DM me on Twitter.
Have a great week,