I heard about How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton from Tim Ferriss's podcast episode with the author. I love French literature, though I (ironically) haven't had time yet to read the seven-volume opus In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust that forms the foundation for Alain de Botton's recommendations.
In a neat and short book, Alain de Botton goes through 9 different parts of life (such as love, reading, suffering, time management, emotions, and friendship) to distill the lessons relevant to each from the various writings (and personal experiences) of Proust.
I found the section about how to put books down and the limits of reading to be most interesting and impactful. I also liked the lessons around appreciating art and objects around you, suffering well, and expressing yourself in an original way.
I had learned about Proust of course before but not in as much depth, and I actually think that Alain de Botton's book will give me a good path to better enjoying and appreciating Proust's actual book when I get around to reading it.
Some of my main notes and takeaways on the book are below.
I've had a really crazy month and a half, but things are settling down a bit now, so I want to catch up on blog posts for the books I completed earlier this year.
I enjoyed Sam Harris's Waking Up book and have recently been getting into his podcast by the same name. I heard about his Lying book, and I found it to be an interesting, quick read which hit on a lot of good points that I hadn't thought much about. Since reading it, I have noticed myself paying more attention to the concept of honesty in all its forms.
Below are my notes on the book.
Lying is intentionally hoping to deceive others who expect honest communication
Ppl lie so others form beliefs that are not true
Truthfulness is being accurate to one's beliefs
Doesn't require speaking whole truth
All lies harm relationship
Two types of lies: omission vs commission
Deny friends access to reality
“Thank you but it's not my style”
False encouragement bad. Steals time from another person.
Misses opportunities for bonding
Tiny erosions to trust from white lies on canceling events
Sets bad example in front of kids
Do not lie
Criticism is what we most need to hear
Allows others to trust u when u say something good
Don't have to disclose everything
Keeping secret is a burden
Avoiding behavior leading to remorse
Don't pretend to be someone ur not
Illusory truth effect: Familiarity breeds credence.
Recoiling from relationship
Still only tell truth
Kids love fiction even when know it
Surprise parties bad
Can still say there's a party or trip but keep destination a mystery
I heard from Ryan Holiday in his latest newsletter about The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. I thought the title was humorous, and I didn't think the book would be that serious. However, it turned out to cover several serious and useful topics like Stoicism and finding out your true values in life.
The point of the book is not about being indifferent or not caring about anything; the point is to only care about the very small number of things that really matter to you (core values) and not sweating the small stuff about anything else. I liked how the chapter titles and main messages were very much contrarian to typical positive-thinking psychology stuff out there. I also identified a lot with the concepts of realizing how much you suck and aren't special and how constant learning and growth and failure is part of life ("you're wrong throughout your life because you're always growing and learning... just trying to be less wrong each day than before").
1 don't try
Wanting positive experience is a negative experience. Accepting negative experience is a positive experience.
Only focus on the true important things
Subtlety 1: not about being indifferent. It's being ok being different. Willingness to stare failure in face. Fuck it to everything unimportant in life.
Subtlety 2: first find what to give a fuck about. Find something meaningful.
Subtlety 3: you're always choosing what to give fuck about
2 happiness is a problem
Life itself has suffering. Pain and failure inherent.
Disappointment panda. Tell truths hardest to hear. Suffering biologically useful.
Problems never go away. Solution of one creates another.
Happiness comes from solving problems not eliminating
Emotions are overrated. Biological signals to nudge you. Question them.
Hedonic treadmill. Everything involves sacrifice.
Choose what pain u want to deal with because every path has it.
Joy is not in summit but climb itself
3 you are not special
Things fall apart
Not that great and not that horrible
Ordinary things are what actually matter
4 value of suffering
Self awareness onion
1 Actually know own emotions
2 Ability to ask why
3 Personal values
Values determine ur problems
Good values are reality based and controllable
5 major values
Contemplation of own mortality
5 you are always choosing
You are responsible for the problem
You choose how to respond to events
Fault is past tense. Responsibility is present tense. U always get to choose.
Not about cards u r dealt but choices u make
6 ur wrong about everything but so am I
Wrong throughout ur life because always growing and learning
Just trying to be less wrong each day than before
Testing ur beliefs is scary
Certainty enemy of growth
Ppl find patterns in randomness and believe they r right
Tend to Avoid opportunities that threaten to change ur view of self or identity
See yourself in simple identity not in narrow unique way.
Be less certain of self. What if I'm wrong? What would it mean if I'm wrong? Would being wrong create worse or better problem?
Much more likely ur screwed up than everyone else
7 failure is way forward
Just do something
Action can be cause of motivation
8 importance of saying no
Rejection makes ur life better
9 and then u die
What will u leave after ur gone
Nothing to be afraid of
Accept own death