We are constantly adjusting our expectations in the backs of our minds. We analyse the results of previous games we’ve played to ensure that the expectations we set aren’t going to bring us grief. We reflect on our greatest successes and our most painful failures to inform which games we’ll opt into playing in the future. Our entire perception of the world is shaped by what we expect of it, and how it surprises us. But for all of these expectations we set, how many can we honestly say are conscious?
Each time we get in a car, do we consciously set the expectation that every traffic light we approach will turn green? Of course not. Still, most of us assume this will be the case.
What if one day we roll up to a traffic light and it just doesn’t turn green? For whatever reason the light, which has always acted as we expected it to, just didn’t. Most of us, despite the fact that the light staying red is causing us no real harm and will be resolved within minutes, would experience a negative emotional outcome which is far more intense than it has reason to be. We become frustrated and upset not just because we’re now a whole three minutes late to brunch, but because we were not prepared for our assumptions about the light to be challenged. This resistance, as it pertains to meaningful pursuits, is what we must seek to avoid if we are to protect our ability to foster long-term practice.
Assumptions are the expectations we set unconsciously ssumptions surrounding our pursuits are dangerous because when proven wrong, they can lead to the kinds of crushing emotional outcomes that make us want to quit.
When people get lucky breaks, it’s easy to dismiss as pure chance. They were just in the right place at the right time… right?
But what if there was an art to being in the right places at the right times?
What if it took hard work and determination to put yourself in positions where your chances of a lucky break increase?
What if you could cultivate serendipity?
Jason Roberts thinks you can.
He believes that luck is governed by a pretty simple formula;
Luck = Doing x Telling
What does this mean?
It means that if you start doing something, you’re going to get better at it. You’ll continue to get better at it the more you do it and after you’ve done it for a long while, and got pretty good, your chances of having a lucky break get better also.
The other side of the equation is telling, and it’s as simple as you think it is. The more you tell people about what you’re doing, the better your odds are that someone is going to swoop in with a serendipitous offer or opportunity.
If you want your project to take off, Roberts suggests you focus on maximising your luck by doing more and telling more people about what you’re doing.
The shaded rectangles in the above diagram represent what Roberts calls your luck surface area.
The more surface area you have, the more likely you are to succeed (or get lucky).
Doing without telling might lead to isolated genius, but it’s no way to sell your album.
And telling everyone what you’re doing even though you’re doing nothing at all is the trademark of a perpetual procrastinator.
Doing and telling are each necessary because they magnify one another.
Figure out which you do more often, and work on the other.
Here’s a few things I’m pretty convinced are true;
There is a constant war being fought for the attention of our digital selves which is having dramatic adverse effects on people’s happiness, especially amongst digital natives who have never known a world without digital media;
Activities practiced regularly which reward participants for consistent time investment over many years are essential to a meaningful life;
The instant dopaminergic gratifications available through social media and the 24-hour news cycle are training us against investing time into activities which generate meaning over time;
Therefore, it is necessary to reframe the benefits of investing time and energy into skills and activities which create meaning and value over time for those who don’t understand this intuitively.
A typical school library houses roughly 8000 books, which coincidentally is about the same amount of books a new kindle can store.
That’s strange, isn’t it? That there exists a waterproof device capable of cataloguing the majority of human history, and it weighs less than a pancake. Let that soak for a second.
If you loaded up a kindle to the brim and dedicated your life to reading a book on it every day until you’d finished them all, it’d keep you occupied for 21 years.
When you then consider that these 8000 titles would equate to only 0.008% of the 100 million or so books penned throughout history, it’s easy for your mind to wander into the incomprehensibility of the literary abyss.
This number doesn’t even include the 500 million newspapers sold every year, or the 840 million WordPress blog posts.
We are so saturated with information that sheer scale of what we will never be able to ingest is overwhelming.
Acknowledging this fact, accepting it, and attempting to filter through the noise anyway is all we can do.
There is too much available to justify reading anything which fails to captivate your attention. Feel no shame in reading twenty books four pages at a time, whenever you feel like it.
Get to work on your Tsundoku. Filter well friends, and enjoy.