Getting Through Tough Times

When the going gets tough, the clowns get going.

Hey friends,

It's like our world just can't catch a break lately, right?

The pandemic, extreme weather due to climate change, Russia's war in Ukraine, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, now the polarizing Gaza−Israel conflict, the resurgence of authoritarianism, disinformation, inflation, the housing crisis. And it's not like the previous decade has been great, either.

Recently, I was part of a discussion about things that help people get through tough times. Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

  • Spending time with friends, animals, nature. Cultivating these kinds of relationships is hard work, don't get me wrong. Especially as an adult when you have a million other things to worry about. But it's absolutely worth it.
  • Having a ton of work. Ideally well-paid and/or challenging and/or serving the greater good and/or something you truly believe in. The more boxes it checks, the better. Workaholism isn't healthy and I don't recommend it, but being immersed in meaningful work helps a lot.
  • Being around principled, persistent, optimistic, and confident people. I always try to surround myself with these kinds of people in areas I'm interested in such as business, technology, politics, writing, climate science, and others. They're incredibly inspiring.
  • Cultivating an optimistic attitude towards change and hardship. Life's shit, but we've got a shovel. Do what you must and come what may. Everything is figureoutable. Difficulties are a natural part of life, from minor annoyances to catastrophes. Change is also part of life. Change is the only constant. Don't fight change, embrace it. Adapt to it. You'll get through it.
  • Putting things into perspective. I love world history books and biographies. The entirety of human history is pure chaos. It might seem like everything is going to shit right now, but we're doing pretty well historically speaking with space exploration, technological breakthroughs, progress in reducing poverty and inequality, eliminating diseases, the good stuff. Yes, there are still pressing, critical issues we have to fix. We'll figure them out.
  • Realizing we can make a difference, individually and collectively. Yes, you too can make a difference, even if doesn't feel like it.
  • Self-improvement and mental health. Taking time for yourself. Mindfulness. Self-reflection. Psychotherapy. Medications. Substances (use with caution!). Gentle but continuous self-improvement.
  • Physical health. Eating healthy. Getting enough sleep. Staying active. Regular exercise makes an immense difference in how I feel. I do basic weight training, you might be into something else, just do something.
  • Allowing yourself to occasionally let everything go. Indulge in your guilty pleasures, disconnect from the world, defy expectations, just be yourself, be funny, silly, stupid, eccentric, whatever. I call it my clown mode. It's the best. Do what you want in the moment, not what you're expected to do. You owe the world nothing. The world owes you nothing. Go have fun. Or don't.
  • Cultivating a sense of humor. Serious challenges don't demand a somber attitude. Laughter and humor make tough times more bearable.
  • Incurable optimism. It's gonna be alright. People are inherently good. We're on the right track. Shit happens. We'll figure it out. You'll figure it out.

Hope you find this helpful.

Have an optimistic week,


A few thoughts

Clusters of your kind of people. The people who are your kind of people might be all around you without you even knowing about it. Then you meet someone new and suddenly you get introduced to the whole cluster of your people.

Getting lost in the weeds. When you have a hundred things going on, how do you focus on the few right ones? It's a question I like to ask people during interviews, but it's also something I should be asking myself more.

Enjoyed this

Instead of Your Life's Purpose "There is a common misperception of what makes life meaningful. It is the idea that we have a special purpose in life – and that once we find it, all our confusion ends. We are saved from the happenstance and absurdity of our lives. There may be some people lucky enough to discover a mission that does this. But for most of us, this approach is wrong."

You are a morale-driven machine "To have high morale is to believe that you are able to do the things you want to do; to have low morale is to believe the opposite. Either state is stable, and your brain will act to reinforce it, so that reality matches its expectation. Everything - everything - either increases or decreases morale. Morale is your motive force, and you live or die by its maintenance."

The fun part

Love hanging out near the airport watching planes land and take off!