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Rabbit Holes 🕳 #24
From the benefits of "awe", to rest as resistance, lateral thinking, the great contemplation, and embracing limits
Rabbit Holes 🕳
As always, here are five perspective-shifting ideas that I’ve come across lately:
#1 😲 The Benefits Of ‘Awe’
Great overview of several studies that basically show how awe can be used to help people feel more connected and be happier. I particularly love this part: “In awe, the self-image becomes diffuse, intermingling not just with other people, but common humanity, the biosphere and everything.”
“Keltner, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, […] latest book, “Awe,” describes two decades of research and arrives at a radical conclusion. Far from being an undefinable caprice, awe, to Keltner, is a panacea, an evolutionary tool that holds the key to humanity’s capacity to flourish in groups.”
“Proponents of this new science believe that experiencing awe may be an essential pathway to physical and mental well-being. By taking us out of ourselves and expanding our sense of time, it counteracts the self-focus and narcissism that is the root of so much modern disenchantment. To experience awe, to fully open ourselves up to it, helps us to live happier, healthier lives.”
“Over the course of Keltner’s research, one recurring motif — and the facet of awe that best unlocks the question of what the emotion is for, and why it might be good for us — is that it precipitates ‘ego death,’ the dissolution of the self. […] In awe, the self-image becomes diffuse, intermingling not just with other people, but common humanity, the biosphere and everything. Keltner uses the word ‘merging.’”
“In “Awe,” Keltner writes: ‘Awe occurs in a realm separate from the mundane world of materialism, money, acquisition and status signaling — a realm beyond the profane that many call the sacred.’”
“Moreover, awe is regenerative. ‘That was one of our most surprising discoveries — that the more you feel awe, the more it becomes omnipresent,’ he said. ‘That runs counter to an assumption about human pleasure — that the more we eat ice cream, the less we like it. Awe is different. But you have to put the work in.’”
#2 🧘 Rest As Resistance
In a world that’s all about growth, efficiency, and optimization, rest becomes counterculture. Moreover, in a consumer culture and an attention economy, rest becomes a form of resistance.
“It’s counterintuitive to believe rest to be not a place to waste time but instead a generative place of freedom and resistance. We have never learned this in our culture. The thought of not doing, even for a short time, is seen as lazy and unproductive. So an explanation for rest as a form of justice is layered and nuanced. I have learned that one of the most concise and true ways to share the message of rest is to say: ‘Rest makes us more human. It brings us back to our human-ness.’ To be more human. To be connected to who and what we truly are is at the heart of our rest movement.”
“When we can begin to tap into the deep vessel of who we truly are, so many things would end about oppression. I believe the powers that be don’t want us rested because they know that if we rest enough, we are going to figure out what is really happening and overturn the entire system. Exhaustion keeps us numb, keeps us zombie-like, and keeps us on their clock. Overworking and the trauma of burnout continues to degrade our divinity. Once we know and remember we are divine, we will not participate and allow anything into our hearts and minds that is not loving and caring. We would treat ourselves and each other like the tender and powerful beings we are. When I say sleep helps you wake up — it helps you wake up to the truth of who and what you are. And the system doesn’t want that. It would crumble under the weight of this power.”
» Self.com | The Founder of the Nap Ministry on the Ways Rest Can Be a Form of Resistance by Hannah Dylan Pasternak
#3 ↪️ Lateral Thinking vs. Vertical Thinking
Which types of thinking do we value more, which do we value less? And what thinking mode do we need to solve today’s problems? In my opinion, we have been putting too much focus on vertical thinking.
“In essence, lateral thinking is a method of approaching a problem by deliberately forgoing obvious methods of reasoning. It requires one to consider a given issue from unlikely angles, uncovering innovative solutions as a result.
Traditional thinking is vertical, moving step-by-step to a logical conclusion based off of the available data. Lateral thinking, however, is horizontal, putting the emphasis on generating many ideas while de-emphasizing the details of how those ideas could be implemented. Both vertical and lateral thinking are complementary: Without lateral thinking, vertical thinking would be too narrow-minded; without vertical thinking, lateral thinking would produce many possible solutions but no plans to implement them.
Despite their complementary nature, our society really values and focuses on improving vertical thinking. We believe that adequate training on specific techniques and systems will produce a talented engineer, lawyer, or doctor. But when it comes to professions that rely on creative, generative, lateral skills, we tend to assume that only those born with innate talent can excel in them. Even when it comes to the more vertically minded professions like engineering, creativity is seen as a desirable bonus that great engineers are born with.”
#4 🤔 The Great Contemplation
I find it so bizarre that for over a decade or so, we see studies showing us that around 80% of workers from around the world are not engaged at work….but we do nothing. We have basically built a system where almost everyone hates (or at least finds no meaning in) what they are doing 40 hours per week, 40 years of their lives. This needs to change!
“If Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek kickstarted the ‘first wave’ of the post-industrial reimagination of work in 2007, 2022 was the year that a newer, and weirder, second wave began.
Unlike the first wave, which largely played out at the individual level, this one is happening at the societal level. While it is still early, this ‘great contemplation,’ as I’ve been calling it, will likely shape the work stories that people use to orient their lives over the coming decade.”
“As the worst blows of the pandemic have receded, people who seemed committed to traditional employment and working for big companies have started to soften their attachment to traditional work scripts. […] While some people made dramatic shifts in 2020, most of those were moves that were accelerated by a couple of years. The bigger impact of the pandemic was planting seeds of possibility in many more people that have yet to even sprout.”
In the 1990s, the sociologist Andre Gorz argued that most people live in what he called ‘wage-based societies.’ What determined membership in such a society was participation in formal work. Put more simply, to be a good person, thou shall be employed. This was undoubtedly a hidden force that held the ideas in Ferriss’s book from reaching mass adoption. But for the first time, the conventional thinking that it is taboo to question these 20th-century scripts is starting to evaporate.”
“Once I realized I was trying to escape work, I leaned in a different direction. I embraced a principle I now call “design for liking work.” The reality is that most people want to be useful, and that means some form of work in people’s lives. With patience and a willingness to feel lost and take it slow, over the last few years, I started to find a better relationship with work.”
» Every | The Great Contemplation: Reflections on the impact of the '4-Hour Workweek' 15 years later by Paul Millerd
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#5 🛑 Embracing Limits
Most of humanity is striving to overcome natural limitations whereas indigenous communities strive to live in symbiosis with nature’s limitations. One group seeks power, the other seeks balance. What’s better? What makes us happier?
“Limits exist everywhere in nature. Physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy—pick your field, dig into the literature, and you’ll soon be struck by how everything in the universe is defined by limits of temperature, weight, volume, density, number, power, frequency, speed, and more. Limits enable the functioning of systems at scales from the subatomic realm all the way up to galaxy clusters. If there is any physical thing that could credibly be claimed to be infinite, it is the universe itself. But not all cosmologists believe the universe is infinite, and proving whether it is or not may be impossible in principle. Leaving the totality of the cosmos to one side (an action possible only within the human brain—which does, most assuredly, have its own limits), everything else we encounter in life has boundaries.
So, why have many people become obsessed with either denying or overcoming limits, to the point where they appear to feel that life can have meaning only if it’s tied to some limitless thing, quality, or substance? Humanity’s obsession with limitlessness probably began with the origin of language, which enables the asking of questions. People tens of thousands of years ago began to ask, ‘What happens to our essential sense of self when we die?’ Their efforts to manage existential terror likely led them to tell stories about a boundless otherworld in which the dead live forever. […] We’ve been searching for a path to infinity ever since.”
“[…] However, people who stayed in one place long enough learned the limits to their bioregion’s capacity for regeneration. Through a long series of tough lessons, people discovered how many plants of each kind they could harvest, and how many of each kind of animal they could hunt, and when. In doing this, they were emulating other predatory animals, which typically evolve to avoid extinguishing all their prey. In short, even if they sometimes thought about infinity, Indigenous peoples who stayed put for many generations adopted a worldview and a variety of behaviors that were overwhelmingly oriented toward successful adaptation to the finite.”
🤨 Interesting Stuff
🐦 Environmental justice solutions that just make sense
💭 A comic explaining why the super-rich are inevitable in our current system
📚 Lo—TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism by Julia Watson, a great book for those into design and architecture
🐦 Twitter thread debunking the idea of “green growth” – i.e. that we don't need to give up "perpetual economic growth" in order to halt global heating.
👔 Capitalist Realism is hindering us from exploring more and better alternatives
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