Use It or Lose It

In the wild, doing whatever it takes to conserve energy is a crucial survival mechanism. But in a world where all our needs are met, it makes us very lazy and fragile.

We all know this, but our solution is usually to dedicate time to “train” our body and brain. Much of the training is domain dependent. (Head nod to Nassim Taleb on this concept.) It only makes us better at that specific task. For example, brain-training games only make us better at that game. Bicep curls make us better at curling weight with perfect grips that you would rarely encounter in the real world.

Domain independent activities, on the other hand, make us more resilient across many fields. For example, squats and other heavyweight compound movements, translate to other activities like wheelbarrowing dirt around your garden. Practicing mathematical proofs teaches us how to break down complex things into their fundamental parts; something useful when planning complex work projects.

It makes sense then to focus our dedicated training to domain independent activities. Then use our everyday lives to integrate domain dependent training. Even better, the holy grail is to integrate domain independent activities into our everyday lives.

Arguably “useless” activities that you do for the sake of doing them are exempt from this philosophy, e.g., playing the piano.

Below is just a quick example of seemingly mundane domain independent and dependent activities that make us more resilient (and, to some degree, antifragile) with little adjustment.

  • Set all passwords to letters and special characters that you struggle to type without looking instead to ASDFJKL-laden characters
    Benefits/other domains: improve keyboard navigation and finger dexterity
  • In the moment, memorize the 4 digit bulk food “walnuts” code instead of writing it on the twisty label
    Benefits/other domains: improve ability to chunk information, less time in bulk food aisle, practice keeping multiple things in your head
  • Build a mental model of the city in your head instead of relying on your phone GPS
    Benefits/other domains: less phone reliance, improve hippocampus health, spatial memory, and situational awareness
  • Take the stairs everywhere. I can’t think of a more effective way of keeping you young.
    Benefits/other domains: get places quicker, improve cardio health, mood, and hiking endurance
  • Shovel snow by hand instead of using a snow blower
    Benefits/other domains: save money, improve cardio and muscular health, increase cold adaptation
  • Carry a grocery basket instead of pushing a cart
    Benefits/other domains: improve arm and grip strength, less time in grocery store
  • Use a fork with your non-dominant hand
    Benefits/other domains: increase weak hand dexterity, appreciate our fine motor skills
  • Use a map and compass while hiking instead of a phone app
    Benefits/other domains: improve presence and situational awareness, emergency navigation, less phone reliance
  • Absorb beautiful moments with your senses instead of taking photos/videos
    Benefits/other domains: improve appreciation, presence, and situational awareness

What are more examples of what you can do through your everyday lives that make you a better you?

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Use It or Lose It

Why is your Value

We were walking down the fairway on a sun-filled morning with the ocean screaming into the cliffs to our right. The old man struggling to walk along next to me hesitantly asked, “so what do you do for work that you can afford to play this course at your age?”

At $700 for the privilege, it was a mostly valid question. I’d teased out of him earlier in the morning that this was his bucket list dream for decades and he and his wife were spending 3 nights in the attached lodge for $600 a night.

I ignored the work part of the question, which I thought irrelevant, and said, “Easy! I’m staying in the hostel for the $75 a week rate. You can’t beat a week-long trip to Carmel and a round at Pebble Beach for 800 bucks!”

I could feel the air pressure change from his sudden deflated opinion of me.  Disappointed that I wasn’t some prodigy venture capitalist but rather some dirtbag golfer, we didn’t say much after that.

We both pitied each other. He delayed playing the course for when he was out of his prime because he believed he had to spend over $3000 for the honor of playing the course—and sleeping next to it. Because that is. Just. What. You. Do. But he and I knew he was there for the golf, not the turn-down service.

If people really questioned what they value in things, they would see that things are more attainable than they really think.

Do you value the second home and its accoutrements deep in the woods? Or the solitude and feeling of living like a pioneer in the midst of a winter blizzard? AirBnb can give you the latter, which in most cases is what you truly value, at a life-altering discount.

If you quietly sit in a chair, take a walk, or an extra long shower—with no distractions—and keep asking yourself why you want something until you no longer can break it down further, you’ll get to the core value that you desire. Throw away all the superfluous baggage that society says you need and instead live a life full of your values.

Why is your Value