The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction

Review

I liked this book. While the title implies that it’s about modern distraction, it spends most of its time talking about better thinking, using a foundation from some of the classic philosophers.

Every chapter ended with a series of questions for you to use to discover what is distracting you, and keeping you from accomplishing what you want in life. There were also many sections that gave me ideas to really apply in my life.

There are a few sections that veer away from what I’d consider “thinking”, and into general advice on how to live your life. Also, some advice is repeated in places. However, I found this book to have many good ideas that I was able to start implementing in my life (as you can see below).

Like all “self-help” books, if you’re not going to take any action, then you’ll waste your time reading this book.

Notes

The Internet makes it easy to retrieve information, and reduces our need to retain information. Without retaining information in our brains, we don’t make the neural connections that we would have in the past.

Thinking is physically/chemically tiring. It causes a drop in dopamine and glucose (sugar/energy).

One of the highest uses of our time is intelligent leisure (not distractions). This is when we can become the person we are meant to be – the artist, the athlete, etc. We need to minimize our time spent on distractions, and spent working (in order to earn enough to eat, have, shelter, and engage in our intelligent leisure). Then we can become the people we were meant to be.

Time is one of your most precious assets. Don’t give it away needlessly or frivolously. Learn to say no to things that aren’t important. Learn to delegate (including things such as laundry, cleaning, cooking). Do things right the first time, so you don’t waste time repairing, or redoing, them.

Schedule thinking time.

Use introspection to get to your core identity and beliefs, and find the areas of your life that need work.

Schedule a weekly introspection session – what did I do good/bad this week?

When starting your day, ask yourself, “In what ways will today be good?”

When learning something, don’t just read, reflect on it.

Always have a notebook and pen with you. Take notes on ideas and questions you have throughout the day.

Do a proactive life analysis. List everything in your life that has a single point of failure (job, investment accounts, etc.) and identify ways to handle problems that may arise with them. Put backup plans in place.

Think about the core values in your life (honesty, reliability, friendliness, humility, etc.). Use them to decide what you will, and won’t, allow in your life from friends and associates.

Develop a decision-making process, and use it for your important life decisions.

When looking for a solution to a problem, first get to the root problem. Limiting yourself to the more detailed version of the problem may also limit your possible solutions.

Quotes

Think if you wish to thrive.

…the shape of our lives depends on what we make time for as we go through them.

…communicating is only as good as what is being communicated.

The good life is a life nurtured by a healthy sense of self-worth, brightened by a positive outlook, warmed by a loving family and loyal friends, grounded in congenial and challenging work, and made meaningful by involvement in something larger than ourselves.

…happiness is a by-product of the good life and the good life is the by-product of good thinking.

The multibillion-dollar entertainment industry of our time is essentially built upon humanity’s addiction to thought avoidance.

Do few things, and do them well

Ultimately, an information-rich world is a time-poor world, and a time-poor world is an attention-poor world.

Together with willpower, attention is the top building block of the fully engaged life.

… reflection is the prelude to good decisions.

Lack of self-esteem has been called the problem behind all problems.

While we were not looking, we entered a world in which impulsiveness had a positive connotation and a high profile.

Self-control begins with freeing your environment from the threats to your self-control.

Patience is the ability to relax, having realized and truly internalized that disruption, disappointment, nuisance, uncertainty, sickness, hardship, and adversity are not tears in the fabric of reality, but the fabric itself.

Mistakes are bad choices we make when we are not ready to make good ones.

… life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

“In the field of observations, chance favors the prepared mind,” said Louis Pasteur.

Remember that even a small reallocation of time from the pursuit of the digital trivial to the pursuit of outstanding thinking could have momentous repercussions on the quality of your life.

Everyone suffers, but it is not everyone’s lot to be incapacitated by suffering.

The thoughtful take genuine pleasure in making others feel good about themselves.

“On each occasion […] a man should ask himself, ‘Do I really need to say or do this?’ In this way, he will remove not only unnecessary actions, but superfluous ideas that inspire needless acts.”

Since life matters, it deserves to be taken seriously.

What I’ve done in my life, based on this book

  • Uninstalled all computer games from my computer
  • Deleted 150 GB of movies and TV shows from my computer
  • Unsubscribed from most YouTube channels
  • Started ‘cleaning out the pantry’ of old podcasts that I downloaded, but hadn’t listened to yet (I’m either listening to them, or deleted them).
  • Installed LeechBlock on browser
  • Installed RescueTime
  • Cancelled Netflix

 

To get your copy of “The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction”, click here.

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