Hypothetical Encounter

It’s like she woke up something
inside of me that I never knew I had
something impossible
something so great that it altered my world
a complete flip
levels of strength and love
that I never knew existed
I woke up she woke me up
life before was a dream
this is a fairy tale
this can’t be real

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The 80/20 Rule

I like to remember the Pareto Principle, AKA the 80/20 rule, when assessing where to spend my time and energy. It is a popular idea in economics and business. Some general cases where it applies:

  • 20% of the input creates 80% of the result.
  • 20% of the workers produce 80% of the result.
  • 20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue.

Source: Better Explained

Applying this principle to other areas, perhaps by focusing efforts on the 20% in any part of our lives:

  • 20% of the people you know may provide 80% of the positive feelings, love and connection.
  • The amount of effort it takes to achieve something may only be 20% of what you think you need to do.
  • 20% of energy in a workout creates 80% of the desired fitness and health.
  • 20% of food consumed creates 80% of desired nutritional benefits.
  • 20% of time spent leads to 80% of results.
  • 80% of happiness is derived from 20% of your activities.

Disclaimer: No scientific basis for the above. I am extrapolating and exploring possibilities which may or may not be true. 

Maybe by aiming for the best 20%, I can create more of my desired outcomes, conserve energy and succeed more in health, love, work and life.

Desire

I believe it is beneficial to desire anything too strongly. (Easier said than done.) Desire is a big part of human life and I am not against it. Desire is healthy. But it needs to be kept in check. Unchecked, strong desires often correlate with expectations: taking actions and expecting certain results. This can be troublesome when we take an un-characteristic action only to achieve an expected result.

I have found, in cases where I’m acting against my own nature in order to gain some expected result, two things happen: 1) It leads to the opposite of what I expected. 2) I’m more upset because I acted outside of my preferred self.

So how can we avoid acting in ways that conflict with the way we want to be? Temper desires and realize them for what they are. Instead of being a slave to your desires, cultivate a mindset that will reflect your values as you try to accomplish your goals. When you do this, the situations you face may become more likely to reflect your desires anyways (call it good karma.) This seems to work for me, although it can be tough. Desire be desire go!

Additional Reading: Wu Wei AKA Trying Not to Try

Occam’s Razor

“The simplest answer is usually the correct one.”

A favorite rule of thumb of mine is Occam’s Razor, which was developed by William of Ockham in the 13th century. To summarize, it means when trying to understand why something occurs, don’t make the answer more complex than necessary. The simplest or most obvious solution is more often the best choice.

This principle is not bulletproof and does not apply to everything. But I think it serves as a reminder not to complicate things for ourselves beyond necessity. You can read examples of Occam’s Razor applied to real life situations here. A favorite story of mine, the Russian/American space pen myth also demonstrates applying it to problem-solving, although it is not true:

When NASA started sending astronauts into space, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside-down, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C. The Russians used a pencil.

Seeing and understanding the world clearly leads to better decisions and better living. Remembering Occam’s Razor can help us cut away complexity whenever life confuses us.