Novelty is one of my big drivers in life. I love meeting new people, learning new skills, working on new projects, and generally exposing my brain to new and unfamiliar things. This brain really loves novelty.
The drawback? As soon as something becomes familiar, I easily lose interest. So if I haven't found a way to make it a permanent part of my life by that point, I'll move on. And since pure discipline doesn't work in the long run, I have to find other ways to keep the familiar fresh.
When I came up with the concept of a Mental Library, I knew I only have a few weeks at best before I'll start losing interest. And if I can't find a way to make it stick, it's all over. Which would be a shame as it's such as helpful mental tool.
So I did three things:
- I wrote a newsletter about it
- I told a bunch of friends about it
- I tried tying it into my core routines
I've tried dozens of habits and routines over the years, but there are only a few that I practice almost religiously. Journaling is one of them. I started journaling amidst my second identity crisis back in 2019 and I don't think I've ever skipped more than a couple days in a row. It's really THAT big part of my life.
But how do you turn a static thing – a database of principles, biases, techniques – into something you can use on a daily basis without it becoming stale?
That's how I came up with the concept of a Mental Maintenance Log:
- During the day, I pay attention to my behavior patterns, biases, mindset management techniques I'm using (consciously or unconsciously), etc.
- At the end of the day, I spend an extra 5-10 minutes writing these things down and thinking them through as part of my journaling session.
- Whenever I have time, I copy these insights over to a separate Notion database.
The "Mental Maintenance Log" database only consists of a handful of fields:
- Activity/Insight (what happened)
- Sentiment (positive, negative, neutral)
- Relevant Pattern/Problem
- Relevant Principle
- Relevant Management Technique
Not a novel concept, really. In fact, I gleaned the idea from my friend's Thought Record database – a CBT tool that helps track and reframe automatic thoughts.
This log serves a number of purposes:
- It helps me stay more aware and mindful of my mind's machinations.
- It keeps my Mental Library at the top of my mind so it doesn't get stale.
- It creates a short mental improvement feedback loop: the insights I get every day help improve my Mental Library which I then use to adjust the way I deal with similar challenges in the future.
This of course doesn't guarantee I won't get bored by the whole Mental Library concept eventually, but it greatly increases its chances of survival. And the longer I stick with it, the more of my mental patterns, quirks, and biases I can iron out.
Have a mental week,
A few thoughts
Shorten your feedback loops. The biggest aspirations in life often have incredibly large feedback loops. If dying without realizing your true potential is your biggest fear, then wasting a single day doesn't feel like much – but it absolutely is! Find ways to shorten your feedback loops to stay on track.
Tempus Fugit Trap. It's Latin for "Time Flies", and ChatGPT came up with this name for one of my most annoying personal behavior patterns: the feeling of not having enough time, which makes me feel stressed, rush things, make mistakes, and feel terrible about it. A little urgency is good – but only a little.
Planning to plan. I thrive on novelty, spontaneity, hyperfocus, and workaholism – so a lot of my life's highlights had little to no planning behind them. But lately I've been increasingly feeling that this aversion to planning is holding me back. So that's something I'm planning to tackle in a similar manner to the Mental Library.
Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging "Loss of taurine in humans was associated with aging-related diseases, and concentrations of taurine and its metabolites increased in response to exercise. Taurine supplementation improved life span in mice and health span in monkeys." So that's why I'm such a fan of energy drinks.
The Fusion Race "When AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss delivered his famous 1954 speech, he was confident that atomic energy – from both fission and fusion, or both – was just a generation away. He was off by a few generations. But his children’s children’s children’s children may well grow up in a world in which energy is indeed too cheap to meter."
The fun part
Just a couple things for the fun part today:
- My Spotify UI/UX Twitter rant thread is alive and kicking thanks to Spotify's latest changes to the like system.
- Microsoft Teams' smiley emoji looks kinda weird :)
- I haven't ridden a motorcycle for years, but finally plan to get back to it.
- ChatGPT when I send it a book's worth of thoughts on self-improvement late Sunday night and ask for thoughts and suggestions please.
Whatcha think about the collage? I prefer individual images, but having four of them felt like a bit too much.
But maybe it isn't?