Category: Life (page 1 of 3)

Learning from Gandhi

By Christian Staal

A mother seeks out Gandhi, to ask for his help:


… being a good example is the strongest kind of leadership.


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (book) by Stephen Covey

The 8th Habit (book) by Stephen Covey


What is the Meaning of Life?

By Christian Staal

Imagine asking a chess master about the best possible move in chess:

Asking about the meaning of life is the same thing. There is no universal meaning of life – it depends on the circumstances of your life.

Man’s Search for Meaning (book) by Viktor E. Frankl (I totally stole the analogy from this brilliant book!)

Primary Pain vs Secondary Pain

By Christian Staal

Psychologists distinguish between two types of pain:

  • Primary pain relates to a specific event (e.g. worrying about a job interview)
  • Secondary pain is emotional gasoline thrown into the fire (e.g. being sad/angry/worried about being worried)

Secondary pain accounts for more misery than primary pain. You can reduce secondary pain by accepting – rather than fighting – primary pain (one way to train this is meditation).

What do you carry? (Puzzle.blog)
The Upside of Your Dark Side (book) by Robert Biswas-Diener and Todd Kashdan

Meaningful Work: Building a Cathedral

By Christian Staal

A traveller came upon two bricklayers, and asked them what they were doing:

Your perception of your work influences your motivation, productivity and happiness. Are you laying bricks, or building a cathedral?


Man’s Search for Meaning (book) by Viktor Frankl
Want To Make Your Work More Meaningful? (article) by Michelle McQuaid



Second-Order Consequences

By Christian Staal

Do you think about the consequences of your actions? Most people think about the direct effects of their actions (the first-order consequences).

If you want to take your thinking to the next level, start thinking about what happens as a result of the direct effects of your actions (the second-order consequences).

Second-Order Thinking: What Smart People Use to Outperform (article) by Farnam Street.

Principles (book) by Ray Dalio

The Peak-End Rule

By Christian Staal

Think of one of your most cherished memories. What do you think determines how you remember it today? You would think that your memory of the experience is determined by how good you felt, and for how long. However, research shows that the duration of an experience is mostly neglected when we think about our past.

Two things influence how you remember an experience: how you felt at the emotional peak of the experience, and how you felt at the end. 

The riddle of experience vs. memory (TED Talk) by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow (book) by Daniel Kahneman

The world is getting better

By Christian Staal

Most people think that the world is getting worse. That’s the picture painted by the news. It seems like there’s more violence and misery in the world than ever before.

In reality, the opposite is true: the world is richer, happier, healthier and safer than ever before.


Feeling overwhelmed? Try this.

By Christian Staal

What do you when you’re feeling overwhelmed? My favourite answer to this question comes from Jocko Willink (former Navy SEAL Commander): “Prioritize and execute.”

It’s as simple as that. Make a list, get clear on what’s most important, and executive on your priorities.

Tribe of Mentors (book) by Tim Ferriss, p. 539.

How do you make people feel?

By Christian Staal

People are emotional creatures. When you’re having a discussion, creating a piece of art or helping someone you love, be mindful of your emotional impact on your fellow human beings. As Maya Angelou said: people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. 


How to Win Friends and Influence People (book) by Dale Carnegie.

Origin of the Maya Angelou quote (quoteinvestigator.com).

What are you bad at?

By Christian Staal

It’s never fun to find out that you’re bad at something, but it’s often a blessing in disguise. Everybody has weaknesses, and only by seeing yours clearly, can you overcome them.

In Principles, Ray Dalio puts it eloquently: You shouldn’t be upset if you find out that you’re bad at something – you should be happy that you found out, because knowing that and dealing with it will improve your chances of getting what you want.


Principles (book) by Ray Dalio [from principle #1.10e]


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