Tools for Thought

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#108 The Unexpected Complement

Unique value often lies in seemingly strange combinations.

The beekeeping lawyer.

The pro soccer player with an astrophysics degree.

The theologist waking up early every morning to go surfing.

The public servant spending their evenings performing at the local stand-up comedy bar.

The motorcycle repair shop owner writing philosophy books.

The chess champion with a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu black belt.

Societal pressure and expectations make such combinations unlikely. Out of the ordinary. Maybe even undesirable: an obstacle to conformity.

And if it’s undesirable, it becomes rare.

And here’s the twist: what’s rare usually becomes valuable.

Because there’s nothing incompatible about these combinations – in fact, the skills you practice may well complement each other in unique and valuable ways.

What could be an unexpected complement for your life?

Something you’re secretly interested in, but – according to society – doesn’t fit who you are (or who you’re supposed to be)?

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#99 Why bother to journal?

Stream Of Consciousness writing isn’t about what you write. It’s about the very fact that you’re writing.

Nobody cares about the words on the pages. Nobody will read them anyway. Neither should you.

This is not a novel. This is not a love song. This is not a poem. This is but an externalization of your mind’s chatter. Ugly, pretty, insightful, bland. It doesn’t matter.

There’s no great work. Nor is there any bad work. No high standards, no judgment. Nothing but what flows out of your mind.

So if none of it matters… why bother to write Stream of Consciousness?

Because it forces you to slow down.

Because it forces you to pay attention to what’s on your mind.

Because it forces you to listen to the way you talk to yourself.

Because it helps you get all the overwhelming thoughts and worries out of your system.

Because it helps you gain clarity.

And because sometimes, insights emerge. Not necessarily in the words on the page. But due to the fact that you’re writing the words on the page.

Stream Of Consciousness journaling is writing. Venting. Self-therapy. Problem-solving. Meditation. Goal-setting. Creative liberation. And anything else you want it to be.

Because you have all of that in you already – if only you’d re-learn to listen.

And listening to yourself, it turns out, is much easier when you put it all on the page.

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#94 Restoring Faith in the Malleable Mind

It only takes one new habit to restore faith in the malleable mind.

“I’ve never been good at languages. Until I learned my first foreign language. If I can do that… what else is possible?”

“I’ve never been good at public speaking. Until I gave my first speech, and then my second, and then my twentieth. If I can do that… What else is possible?”

I always give up on projects before I bring them to completion. Until I completed one project. Then another. Then another. If I can do that… What else is possible?

If something I thought I could never do becomes possible, cracks start to appear in my limiting beliefs.

It’s not just about the habits. It’s about the belief that you can change your habits, trust in your ability to complete projects and stick to your routine.

And the only way to build that is through taking small daily actions that are votes for who you want to be (and what you want to achieve).

Again: it only takes one new daily action to start restoring your belief in the malleable mind.

Start with one. Then discover what else is possible.


#93 Second-Hand Memories and Trust Issues

Memory stores the lessons we extract from learn life experience. And to do so, it relies, modifies, adds, subtracts, highlights, and hides.

What about second-hand memories? Accounts of past events we didn’t experience ourselves, wars, volcano eruptions, scientific discoveries,…

For knowledge to accumulate, to stand on the shoulders of giants, we need to transmit such lessons too. Not just as data or accounts of the past – also as memories.

But transmitting second-hand memories require trust.

Can we rely on the interpretation of others?

Who do we allow to control the narrative?

Parents? Elders? Teachers? Governments and politicians?

YouTubers? Influencers? Bloggers? Twitter gurus?

AI models and chatbots?

Objective data doesn’t exist. Objective memories don’t exist either. So if we can’t trust second-hand memories anymore, collective memory and our whole learning model collapses.


#92 The true purpose of memory

Memory isn’t an objective account of the past – and that’s not its purpose either.

Memory stores the lessons we extract from life experience. And to do so, it modifies, adds, subtracts, highlights, and hides.

Hot soup burns my tongue – next time, I’ll remember the pain, but not if it was tomato soup or chicken soup. And I’ll remember to wait a couple of minutes before having the first spoon.

Experience lived. Irrelevant info deleted. Lesson learned. Memory created.

My country gets invaded – and that causes so much pain, I won’t just deliver an objective account of what happened: I’ll make sure to tell everyone who the evil guys are too.

Experience lived. Story modified. Lesson learned. Memory created.

I eat the most delicious dessert at a Mexico City restaurant – that’s the memory I’m going to tell my friends about, not which glass of dessert wine I had with it.

Experience lived. Dessert highlighted. Lesson learned. Memory created.

You’re going to make memories anyway. Which lessons do you want to learn?

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#73 Why am I rushing?

Journaling question of the day: Why am I rushing?

Out of habit and automaticity – mindlessness caused by endless repetition?

Out of discomfort – I want to get out of this situation as soon as possible?

Out of impatience – I expect whatever comes next to be more interesting or riveting?

What would happen if I don’t rush this?

By interrupting the automaticity and slowing down, will I reopen my senses and discover new nuances?

By not rushing away from discomfort, will I discover everything is not as bad as I feared it would be?

By resisting impatience, can I become fascinated with whatever is happening right here, right now?


#72 Contrast

Without sadness, how do I know I’m happy?

Without happiness, how do I know I’m sad?

Without anger, how do I know I’m grateful?

Without gratitude, how do I know I’m angry?

Without pain, how do I know what pleasure feels like?

Without pleasure, how do I know I’m in pain?

Without bad moments, how can I appreciate the good ones?

Without good moments, what gets me through the bad ones?


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#70 Day 70 – This Is My Path

Daily blog post number 70.

Sometimes I’m frustrated I get less “work” done than before I started publishing daily posts.

Until I remind myself: who do I want to be?

A writer. Who writes. And publishes his writing. Every single day.

Then I realize: it’s not just who I want to be anymore, but who I choose to be. Every single day.

This is my path.

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#69 Evening Questions

I like to journal in the morning.

But if I’d journal in the evening, this is what I’d ask myself:

“Were my actions today actions of the person I choose to be? Or were they actions of a person driven by old patterns, habits and limiting beliefs?”

“Did my actions bring me closer to where I choose to go? Or did they keep me stuck in a place I really don’t want to be anymore?”

“Did my actions make me feel good about myself? Or did they make me resent myself?”

What can I do differently tomorrow?

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#62 Productive vs prolific

Plants are productive when they’re fertile: capable of producing fruit or offspring.

Plants are only prolific when they actually produce fruit in abundance.

When it comes to creativity, we humans are all productive in the sense that we are capable of creating.

Productivity tools and “hacks” can help to create more space in your day for that creative potential.

But you’re only prolific when you use that creative potential and actually create something in abundance. Like Picasso.

Without prolificacy, productivity is just an empty container – unfulfilling, unfulfilled potential.

What can you be prolific in? What do you want to create in large quantities? What’s important enough to you to start sculpting away, day by day?

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