I wrote the below to myself back in January as I was mentally preparing for a solo trip to Australia.
If my mind is right and my actions are focused, I will be ok. Walk the line between action and inaction. Know when to speak up and when to be quiet. Adapt. Interpret carefully and be easy. Smile. Listen as much as possible. Try to understand the people you are unfamiliar with. Don’t endanger yourself. Be cautious. Be slow. Don’t get too drunk. Try to relax. Get cozy in a strange land. Don’t expect too much of yourself. Don’t expect too much of others. Realize you’re human. Don’t expect too much of yourself. Have fun. Remember the universe is all one being, and all of our problems are each other’s problems. We should always try to help. We are all connected to each other. The self is an illusion, we’re all only as good as each other. Laugh a little bit but not too much. Be light on stories unless someone asks you. Try to find your true nature, whatever that is. Be yourself. Learn to surf and ride the fucking wave.
“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.