The behavioural psychology classic explained in 10 minutes

Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow is a classic, but like most classics gathering dust on our bookshelves, it is not exactly a breezy read. I first flirted with it a few years ago but couldn’t make it past the first few chapters.

Now, decades of reading has made me a fairly quick reader, but I just couldn’t crack this one. I even bought a hardcover version, applying the same logic as the people who buy annual gym memberships in January. Fortunately, in my case the outcome was a happy one.

It took a few more attempts over the next…


It’s all about the L-word

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‘Don’t be selfish’ is probably among the first life lessons parents pass on to their kids, because they are only too aware of the stigma the label of ‘selfish’ carries. Whether it’s justified or not, being thought selfish by others can be disastrous for your social standing. There is good reason for it too.

In our distant, prehistoric past, being selfish was to put the safety and cohesion of the tribe in jeopardy. A crime so grave naturally used to carry proportional punishment. If you were lucky, you’d be quickly murdered by your mates. …


How a different point of view can be the shortest route to intelligence

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A change of perspective is worth 80 IQ points.

— Alan Kay

When talking about ultra-successful people, we like to tell ourselves that they have something we don’t. More often than not, we call this something ‘smartness’. Or brains. Or intelligence.

While some very successful people are actually quite smart in the conventional sense — the Silicon Valley savants come to mind — the correlation doesn’t always hold in the other direction. If smarts were all it took, you’d have the Forbes richest list overrun by PhDs and Nobel Prize winners.

No, what is more rampant among the ranks of…


A four-letter word can help break the spell

This is Part 2 of a two-part essay on how seemingly harmless behaviours can sabotage our ability to achieve our goals. Part 1 is here.

‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.’

— Richard Feynman

Telling others that you intend to do something and then not doing it carries the possibility that they might finally wisen upto your games and stop believing you. There is another, more pernicious way in which we fool ourselves about our goals, one that is even less detectable.

This is when we fantasize…


Show, don’t tell

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This is Part 1 of a two-part essay on how seemingly harmless behaviours can sabotage our ability to achieve our goals. Part 2 is here.

‘I’m working on a novel.’

‘I’m setting up a business.’

‘I plan to quit smoking’.

I don’t know about you, but the first thought that comes to mind when I hear someone say such things is ‘We’ll see about that’.

Now, I’m no pessimist and I do wish that more people achieve their goals. But having made more than a few missteps in life myself, I’ve come to understand an important truth about motivation:

‘Done’…


And how to break free of it

‘Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.’

— Salvador Dalí

The desire for perfection seems to be built into humans by default. Whenever we begin a new project — be it a new piece of art, an essay or a startup — it magically appears in consciousness and colors every action we take.

Some people call it ‘attention to detail’ or ‘doing the best you can’. For others, it’s a synonym for originality. Whatever it is, the shadow of perfection looms large over any creative endeavour.

The dictionary definition of perfection is a state that cannot be…


What it is and why there is so much of it

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We are probably living in a golden era of bullshit. Wherever you look, you will find it in abundance. It seems the only thing certain these days is death, taxes, and well, bullshit. Maybe bullshit (or BS, for short) was always present in the affairs of humankind and was only lacking sufficient outlets for its spread. Whatever the case might be, there is no escaping it.

A striking feature of BS is that everyone takes part in creating and spreading it, but no one would ever admit to it. Bullshit is always something that other people do, never us.


Does your memory really remember what you have lived through?

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How do you measure the quality of your life? Is it the sum of your best and worst moments — births, deaths, weddings, funerals, successes, failures — or is it the mundanity of living that connects them together?

Unless you drive race cars for a living, extreme experiences constitute barely a fraction of your life, but they occupy disproportionate space in your mind. Your daily existence, on the other hand, is the bulk of your experience, yet it hums along unnoticed in the background.

Why do outlier moments carry so much weight in how we assess our lives ? What…


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What is common between Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and John Denver?

Or how about the movies Ocean’s 11/12/13 and The Karate Kid?

No?

Here’s the answer: Jerry Weintraub (pronounced wine-trawb).

It’s ok if you’ve never heard this name before because his wasn’t a face you would see on posters or on TV. But in his career spanning five decades, Weintraub had a hand in crafting the success of people who did become known around the world.

As a talent agent, events promoter and movie producer, Weintraub launched countless careers, put together memorable spectacles and created some iconic movies. …


Lessons learnt over a decade of highs and lows (mostly lows)

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Our thirties are probably Nature’s way of reminding us of our mortality. It is probably the first time in life when you realize that the hourglass sand is slowly trickling away. It is a strange phase, full of contradictions. On one hand, there is the onset of regret as we rue missed opportunities and wasted years. On the other, there is the promise of the future and a conviction built on the fact that you are at the peak of your powers.

When you’re in your thirties, it’s easy to beat yourself up about what you should have done a…

Dhawal Sharma

I read like a man possessed | I write to understand the world | Twitter: @DhawalHelix

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