Why are we here?
Pebbles of Perception is is an exploration of the more important decisions in life. Inspired by the teachings of Charlie Munger, the book is an invitation to Be Curious, Build Character and to make Better Choices.
[bluebox] Curiosity: Eagerness to know or find out. Inquisitiveness. Interest. A thirst for knowledge.[/bluebox]
What’s your question?
Curiosity is the engine of civilisation. All discovery begins with a question.
A questioning mentality is far more effective than a knowing mentality. Once we have declared an answer, out biases towards commitment and consistency causes us to defend our answer, wasting energy that would be better applied to exploring alternatives.
First and Second-Level Thinking
First-level thinking focuses on the most visible and immediately obvious answer. It is clear to everyone.
By contrast second-level thinking considers what else might be going on. Continually asking ourselves why allows us to go beyond first-level thinking.
Let’s say that you have recently done exceptionally well for yourself. Decisions are going your way and everything is going swimmingly in both your interpersonal and financial affairs. First-level thinking might lead you to conclude that you are smart and in control. Second-level thinking suggests that there may be a large element of luck involved and that you need to keep your ego in check. The illusion of control is pervasive among first-level thinkers.
When we are captain of our own ship, life can be a wonderful continuous voyage of discovery. Why doesn’t everyone become a lifelong learner? It may boil down to choices and priorities. It is easy to to be drawn towards passive entertainment, which requires less from us, over more energetic, activate understanding.
Why not make a conscious decision to learn something new every day? No matter how small the daily learning, it is significant when aggregated over a lifetime. Choosing lifelong learning is one of the few good choices that can make a big difference in our lives
Having resolved to be lifelong learners we have two main avenues: directly through our own experiences, and indirectly through learning from the experiences of others.
The process of thoughtful reflection makes our experiences more concrete, and helps with future recall and understanding. Reflecting about what we learned, how we felt, how we and others behaved, and what interests were at play, hardwires the learning in our brain and give us a depth of context and relevance that would otherwise be absent.
[bluebox]Character: Integrity and authenticity. Of good reputation. Principled. [/bluebox]
We build character through our actions and our motivations. Good choices are those that rest on the foundation of good character.
Why are we here and what do we hope to achieve?
To build a foundation of good character on which we can make good choices, we need to look forward. Start by considering the end. I guess, for most of us, life is about personal fulfilment of some sort or another.
What does it look like? How would we describe it? What does it feel like? What would represent a good life?
Some insight may be found by posing the opposite question: What might an unfulfilled life look like? Or worse, what would a truly wasted life look like?
The dictum “Invert, always invert” is attributed to the German mathematician Jacobi. Inversion is a wonderful tool. To understand the nature of a life well lived, it is helpful first to consider the nature of a life that has been wasted.
The only thing we know for certain is that the final day arrives for us all. How we live our life between now and then will be our story.
Know yourself, Be yourself, Mind yourself
Know yourself and see the journey. Be yourself and enjoy the journey. Mind yourself and extend the journey.
- Pursue a purpose.
- Aim for a balance between work and play.
- Rest. Take time out and switch off the noisy mental chatter.
- Practise accepting what it is.
- Stand up for yourself.
- Believe in something bigger than yourself.
Complement Pebbles of Perception with What do we want to know? In Curiosity, Alberto Manguel dedicates each chapter to a single thinker, scientist, artist, or other figure who demonstrated in a fresh way how to ask “Why?”