[AKN #75] The One Book I Will Deeply Read This Year
LAUGH: Crying Child + NERF Gun = A Great Time, LOVE: Brainy, Scathing, And Fair Review Of “Don’t Look Up”
Happy New Year! Or as our former President would say:
I want to start off my first post in 2022 by thanking everyone for writing in and letting me know what articles most resonated with you last year.
Through this process of soliciting the homies for feedback, one theme emerged: people like when I write about things which help them.
Not exactly earth shattering news, but people like reading about things they can use to improve their lives.
The data bears this out too.
For example, my most popular articles are ones like:
All of these in some way, shape, or form share a common theme of “the reader could extract information from these posts to improve their life” and people seem to really like that.
I love that people feel that way about these posts because, selfishly, I like writing those types of articles.
A lot of times, those posts are the most useful to me as they allow me to explore something that I haven’t quite figured out yet.
I was curious so I wrote to figure it out and people found it useful to hear about my experience.
Since there seems to be a mutual benefit here, I am going to write more of these types of posts in 2022. But before I do, I would like to give them a fun marketing tagline. So I am going to call these types of posts: “Open Source Personal Development.”
Let me unpack that for you non-nerds in the room.
“Open source” is information made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. The concept was popularized in the software community where someone codes something once and they put it on the internet for everyone else to use so no one else has to figure it out from scratch again. Or to put it in middle manager speak: “they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” Just borrow the pre-made wheel design and move on.
The best part about open source is there are no strings attached to using this code. You don’t need to pay someone to use it. You don’t need to join their company or community. There is no monetary motive.
Open source is the utopia Internet everyone dreamed about.
A world where people share a piece of information because maybe it is useful to others.
That is what I would like to do more of in 2022.
Don’t worry, you will still get a healthy dose of me peppering you with my hot takes.
Because let’s fact it, my hot takes are both absolute fire and useful. Like how many people have I saved from committing seppuku by single handedly refusing to allow the myth that Ted Lasso Season 2 was watchable television be propagated?
Even if I saved one life, it was worth it.
Thanks for being a homie and I hope to get to know you better in 2022.
On to the newsletter!
LIVE: The One Book I Will Deeply Read This Year
I used to get off on telling people how many books I read each year.
“A book a week…it’s not a big deal”, I would say.
Retrospectively, I didn't realize how correct that statement was.
I now understand that telling people the quantity of books you read last year is the dick measuring contest of the pseudo-intellectual.
For example, as younger me plowed through books, it was never really about the “learning”. It was about having some objective measure I could lean on to signal how smart I was.
Every book I binged was about adding another notch in the bookshelf. A +1 to an ever growing number which I would bandy about so I could be showered with validation.
But honestly, who the fuck cares if you read 52 books last year? No one. Especially if you haven’t acted on a single piece of information from that book nor can you summarize it in detail.
5 years ago, I got sick of the whole charade and decided to move on from this bizarre form of mental masturbation.
Instead, I decided to tie my reading success to deeply engaging with one book that year.
That year was transformational and the power of internalizing one book was crystal clear as I quickly got my life together.
Thanks to my commitment to learning the principles inside that book, I began a new career, a new relationship, and a new way of looking at life.
At fear of sounding like a cliche, this book changed my life.
But only because I gave it the space and time to actually seep in.
Ever since this experience, I began asking myself the following question around the start of every new year:
What is one book that if I deeply internalized it this year, it would change my life?
This year when I asked myself that question, the answer I came up with is “The Power of Full Engagement.”
Because as I begin another new year, I find myself again saying how I need to “get back into shape” and how I am “feeling a bit burnt out at work.”
But the thing is, I have said that every January 4th for the last 10 years.
Rather than another New Years Resolution, I need a systemic fix so I don’t just find myself burnt out again on January 4, 2023.
That is where “The Power of Full Engagement” comes in.
I read this book at the beginning of last year and was immediately hooked. The thesis is that “energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
But what does that mean?
Well, we tend to think of life as disjoint areas. There are friends and family over in this part. There is work. There are our hobbies over here. There is our fitness over there. But in actuality, everything is connected by one thing: energy.
Everything you do requires energy.
Whether it be playing pick up volleyball, shooting the shit with coworkers, or warning hundreds of people not to watch Ted Lasso Season 2 because it is a steaming pile of dog shit.
Thus, “performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.”
The authors refer to this mythical state of balance as being “fully engaged” and:
To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.
Those are the four areas — physical, emotional, mental, spiritual — they say you need to work on balancing in order to maximize your energy output day over day, month over month, and year over year.
So I am going to work on doing just that this year.
Over the course of this year, I will be exploring the four pillars of a fully engaged life and how best to ensure I am keeping them all balanced.
Hopefully you will find it useful to follow along :)
Honestly. The video of this crying child with a NERF gun is one of my favorite videos on the Internet.
Like over the last couple of days, whenever I get sad, my mind wonders back to the fact that this video exists and I smile.
I spent a stupid long amount of time trying to get Substack to display the thumbnail for this video, but unfortunately you are just going to have to click it to see more.
You will not be disappointed.
Two things are true:
Scott Alexander is the author of one of my favorite blogs on the Internet.
I did not like the film “Don’t Look Up” at all. Like I went from mildly entertained to noticeably upset over the course of two hours.
So how lucky am I that rather than spend the time writing an article about how much I disliked it, I can instead stand on the shoulders of giants and share one of my favorite authors scathing, brainy takedown of a film I disliked?
This review is full of spoilers, but if you watched it or have absolutely no intention of watching it, I would recommend giving this a read because it is so spot on.
You don’t have to go home, but you can subscribe here:
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are strictly my own. Who else’s would they be?