Am I going to die from this?

I got rattled yesterday.

Our final quote for our first cabin’s off-grid energy system came through- £2k more than expected.

Ouch.

This sent my mind racing.

First, I was frustrated with supplier who sent the quote- why wasn’t this clear earlier?

Next I was fretting about the implications.

Finally my thoughts turned to all the other outstanding tasks. A sense of overwhelm followed.

After an hour of fairly unproductive typing I dragged myself away from my laptop, grabbed a book, my journal and went for a stroll.

A quick stroll to the local path and I sat down to write:

“I’m a little rattled this afternoon!”
“How come?”
“Basically the solar bill came back higher than expected.”
“Ok… Are you likely to die from this?”
“Haha no…”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about! So it comes in expensive… Amor Fati! Figure it out with the supplier”.
“The learning: I should have got to the bottom of this earlier… Now I know for next time!”

I hadn’t planned to write this so I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out.

Writing has an amazing power to help you gain an objective lens through which our worries seem petty and irrelevant.

Not only did I diffuse the worry but I also realised where my mistake had been and internalised this lesson for next time.

On the walk back to my flat I mused that, although I’m not in much danger of dying from this, I will die someday!

Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste the time I have left worrying.

An audience of one

There’s one sure fire way to have an audience for your new product or service.

Build it for yourself.

If you do- you have a guaranteed audience of one.

It’s a glib remark in a sense as you of course need a larger audience for a viable business. However there is wisdom in the idea.

Firstly- if you’re building it to solve a problem that you have then the chances are others will have that same problem.

Secondly- if you yourself are the target audience then you’ll have a much better idea of what the target audience wants or needs. A big advantage.

More to the point… It keep it fun!

One big decision

I find it interesting just how much of life is impacted by a seemingly simple decision.

How to spend our time.

This could be the type of work we do.

Or who we choose to spend time with.

Or perhaps what we do during the weekend.

Each moment in isolation seems insignificant. But add them all together and the difference over even a year is astonishing.

A 1% improvement at something each day leads to not a 365% increase over a year, as you might expect, but a 3873% increase or 38.73x.

This is the power of compounding. Quite remarkable.

Abundance

For most of human history we’ve had a problem of scarcity. Of food, of shelter, of resources.

Today we have a new problem: Abundance.

There are parts of the world now where our problems no longer stem from not

enough of a resource but too much. Food, alcohol, drugs, entertainment. All available in abundance.

It’s the overconsumption of these things that causes much of the unhappiness in western society.

Restricting consumption and escaping the noise is now more crucial than ever.

Triggers

I’d say 50% of my day spent in quarantine is thinking about food.

My next meal. My previous meal. Lunch tomorrow. What foods I’m enjoying right now…

The list goes on.

I’m probably not the only one.

At the heart of this issue is the psychological concept of triggers.

Our brains are constantly looking to steer us towards pleasure and away from pain. They do this by taking cues from our environment.

For many of us, this work from home period has seen us consigned to working in our kitchen or dinning room.

When else do we spend time there?

During meals!

The hours previously spent in our kitchen revolved heavily around food. It’s no surprise that our bodies react to this additional kitchen time with a constant craving to check the fridge.

Bring on life after lockdown.

Short term thinking

Every day we are programming our brain.

With the content we consume. The conversations we have. Even the thoughts that occupy our minds.

We’re living now in an age of instant gratification.

Boredom is a thing of the past.

Equipped with our smartphones we’re never more than a swipe away from the next dopamine hit.

But there is a cost!

Short term thinking.

Our brains are being programmed to chase these short term rewards.

This is very much the case if you’re starting a company. A focus on Instagram followers or money in the bank comes at the expense of the bigger picture and building something that lasts.

Do the social media giants make the world a better place? I’m not so sure.

Hidden cost

Let’s talk about social media.

There is no doubt that social media has revolutionised the world. It has enabled millions to better run their businesses and billions to connect.

But at what cost?

Since the dawn of farming some 20,000 years ago we’ve seen a number of huge shifts in the way we live. Social Media is perhaps the latest.

For all this invention and innovation, are we better off?

Maybe not.

There has been extensive research in the last century on the native tribes that are still found dotted in quiet corners of the globe.

The research offers a valuable insight into the lives of the hunter gather- our lives, before it all changed.

The findings are truly remarkable.

They are happier, healthy and get far more joy out of life than their more “advanced” relatives.

And not just marginally!

It’s a landslide.

Farming. Social Media. The internet even. These all seem like great ideas.

Sure, there are clear benefits.

But at what cost?

Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.

Pen and paper

I find there is nothing quite like pen and paper for easing my worries.

Whenever I feel uneasy or stressed. Grabbing a pen, some paper and writing whatever comes to mind does wonders!

There’s something about writing that helps objectivity the situation and make a mockery of my, usually irrational, concerns.

Getting basics right

All of my good days seem to have one thing in common.

They are the days I get the basics right.

The bad days? The days I get the basics wrong.

Understanding this is one thing. Doing something about it is something else entirely.

We’re built to be active, to meaningfully connected with each other, to eat, to get enough sleep, to switch off.

As far as I can see we each have vices against these basics.

For me, I tend to overeat, I spend too much time sitting at my desk, I waste time on social media & messaging platforms.

Whatever is going in on the macro of my life I find it’s these mirco battles that set my happiness level.

I get sucked into my laptop some days and lose the day. Not a good day!

Likewise, if I can resist the instant gratification of whatsapp or emails, and get outside, spend time solving problems, or having proper interactions with friends and family, then the days become richer and more enjoyable.

In quarantine this is tricky! The battle is fought everyday, and despite being armed with this insight, I get it wrong time and time again. There’s a lot to be said for leaving the house and changing environment.

Roll on post lockdown!