For every issue that dominates our media cycle, we might feel obligated to pick one extreme side of an argument (or worse, pick a “team”). Most consequential issues are more nuanced than can be responsibly conveyed in a single-sentence meme.

Adopting a mindset of curiosity compels you to ask more questions, investigate, and avoid the temptation to immediately construct arguments.

You’re going to form opinions anyway, and that’s a good thing. Better for everyone that when you do, they are more informed and thoughtful.

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Often we get too caught up in our ego and get offended if we feel we’re being disrespected.

The odd thing is that we tend to get upset about being disrespected by people we ourselves don’t respect. This seems like an unfortunate use of energy.

It’s natural and human to care what people think. Just make sure they’re the right people.

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Photo credit: Rob Long

We don’t judge the quality of a book by the number of hours it took the author to write it. When a friend recommends a great movie we don’t ask what the film’s budget was.

When we hire companies to do landscaping or cater a party, we don’t interrogate them about the tools they use. And we don’t evaluate their work product by asking how many years they’ve been in business. We care about and discuss the thing that matters: the outcome.

When hiring someone to do anything, you get the best result when you review their work and have a human conversation that maps their interests and past performance to the outcomes you desire. Hiring a graphic artist? Don’t ask what software they prefer or how many years they’ve done work. Discuss and review their most comparable work product to the one you seek.

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The main concept in the book “Time Off” is that you can’t maintain a great work ethic without having a great “rest ethic”. It’s easy to see the necessity of time off when we use an exaggerated example and consider how productive we’d be after days without sleep.

Mounting scientific evidence shows that we are even more productive and fulfilled when we manage our own self-care and downtime, but chances are you didn’t need science to tell you that.

One big takeaway for me is not just that this is true, but that it’s just like any other habit or skill that you can improve.

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Photo credit: Michael Schwartz

We tend to think of freedom in terms of the options we have. This is “freedom to…” While we may not have all the resources that give us freedom TO do all we desire, we can recognize the opposite side of the coin, which is “freedom from”: any of the pressures, stresses, or life-deranging things that don’t plague us at this moment.

As you contemplate all you have the freedom to do, give thanks and perhaps give yourself credit for the harmful and even traumatic things that you have freedom from.

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Remember when you first learned about compound interest? It wasn’t intuitive that starting with a penny on day one and doubling it each day for 30 days would net so much money. Investing time and attention works in a similar way, compounding, even if it’s not exponential.

One powerful lesson from any investment that repeats and compounds is that real progress or growth isn’t immediately obvious. Knowing this allows you to adjust your expectations and stay in the game.

Citing the above penny-doubling experiment, after 10 days (1/3 of the way!) you only have $10.24. What do you have on day 30? $5.4 million.

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Internalizing a single nugget of wisdom can make consuming an entire book, podcast, seminar, or conversation worthwhile. Always be open to useful outlooks, approaches, or strategies from any source.

Even one new perspective, idea, or well-thought-out question can shift your outlook in life-changing ways.

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The feeling of hunger tells us when we should eat (now), not how much we should eat. Bright lights close to bedtime tell the body that it’s still daytime, as our eyes are the most important medium for delivering info to the mother ship (the brain) on the time of day.

Our bodies can misinterpret signals, and our conscious minds can convince our bodies of a false story. Two keys to correcting this:

  1. Self-awareness is a strong antidote to better interpret these signals. Are you eating more because you’re still hungry?
  2. Change your environment — if we know we’ll get better sleep by avoiding certain kinds of light at night, and exposing ourselves to light in the morning, we can make the right changes.

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If there’s a reliable way to enrage someone while also compelling them to do the exact opposite of your advice, it’s using the phrase “calm down”.

One alternative that I’ve found to work well when I really do want someone to calm down is to say…nothing. Just BE an example of calm. Mirror neurons are part of our biology. Often, people can’t help but embrace some of your calm energy.

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Optimism is hard for a reason — it’s unnatural. For our ancestors, being optimistic and “wrong” perhaps meant you missed out on an opportunity, whereas being pessimistic and wrong meant you became tiger food.

We should train ourselves to overcome this programming for a few reasons: First, many of us are lucky to live in a world where we can test theories, and create things that might be valuable. We can be wrong and “fail” many times, often with little to no personal or reputational damage, unlike our ancestors.

Second, being optimistic is a healthier mindset regardless of outcomes. And lastly, you’re more likely to improve the world (and yourself) by thinking “this might work” versus, “here are all the reasons this won’t work.”

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Steve Acho

Steve Acho

I write very short articles (20 seconds to read) sharing perspectives on health, relationships and business that have been most helpful (SteveAcho.com for more)