Daniel-isms: 50 Ideas for Life I Repeatedly Share

  1. Your thoughts and mood are heavily impaired by things like how loud it is, how much you slept, whether you have eaten enough, if you have exercised recently, if you are stressed, etc. Always try to be cognizant of how you would think or feel about something as if you weren’t tired/angry/hungry, etc.
  2. Most things you feel, you will feel and think about very differently in 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years, etc., in the future. When thinking through any feeling or problem, consider how the future you at different time intervals would think about the same situation.
  3. People often take rejection or failure as a personal indictment, but it typically is a statement about the universe that is worth learning from. If someone actually doesn’t like you, it’s probably because you don’t resonate very much, and isn’t because they intentionally want to sabotage you. It’s good for you to learn this and to focus on relationships that are more win-win and with whom you resonate more.
    1. Same goes for employment opportunities, friends, relationships etc.
  4. If you add value to others, they will value you; if you don’t add value, you will be neglected. Most self-pity is not sufficiently internalizing this.
  5. Anger often resembles a hot ball of fire that you eagerly want to throw at others, because it hurts to hold and you believe others should feel it too. However, this is rarely strategically helpful. Take a few moments to acknowledge the badness of the situation, show compassion for yourself, and think strategically about what truly helps achieve your goals, then act accordingly. Expressing anger towards others rarely assists in reaching your objectives. In contrast, remaining calm and kind, even in bad situations, usually does.
  6. It is supremely dumb and strategically unhelpful to be mad at the universe.
  7. The key to living a good life is primarily the result of possessing traits or values typically associated with being a good person. Being a “bad” person is a defect. Most people who do bad things or are perceived as bad individuals lead worse lives due to the traits that lead them to commit such acts. Generally, one should have compassion for these individuals and view their bad actions as signs of their own weaknesses and failures.
  8. Imagine there were thousands of “yous”, born in different parts of the world, in different times, to different communities. Think about how similar each of these “yous” would be in these different environments and what would be different. Try to introspect into what you think is the true version of yourself and what is an arbitrary product of your environment.
  9. For every person who becomes a star, most probabilistic versions of them are likely nobodies. Similarly, there are likely versions of you in different timelines, exposed to different life circumstances, who became stars. Just because you are a nobody doesn’t mean you don’t actually have the talent to be somebody in some domain.
  10. Pineapples are delicious but they can’t grow in Greenland. If you are a pineapple in Greenland, it’s obviously not your defect if you aren’t growing to your full capabilities. Both Albert Einstein and LeBron James would probably not be the greatest McDonald’s managers ever. People judge themselves based on some objective criteria, forgetting that in order to flourish, you need to be in the right environment to flourish. It is often more helpful to find your compatible environments than to try to adapt to environments where you can’t flourish.
  11. Most people think of themselves as being not as smart/talented/good at X, compared to others. In reality, the rate of improvement is much more important than one’s starting place. Over enough time, the person who seeks to improve will be way ahead of the person who initially was much better, but didn’t progress.
  12. If you decide to do things in the world, you can accomplish a whole lot more than most other people. If you take 5 minutes and sit down with a pen and paper, you can move mountains. 
  13. Most excellence is merely just creating a plan and sticking to it.
  14. It is very difficult, highly inefficient, and non-meritorious to get ahead in life on any conventional path — there are too many people pursuing the same thing, including most people evaluating you being phonies themselves who can’t recognize talent. In contrast, pursuing small niches is much easier to get ahead in — if the whole niche ends up growing, you too will grow with it.
  15. Compliments are incredibly important because most people who have positive qualities (i.e., high energy, good at getting things done, takes initiative, etc.) often don’t realize they are better than others at these things. Providing awareness of this and helping people lean into it is a supremely important task.
  16. It’s Never Too Little, It’s Never Too Late, It’s Never Enough. Having the will to care about things is 99% of everything. Most people do not care — if you actually care, you will be ahead of nearly everyone.
  17. To get anywhere or improve at something, you need to get a lot of reps at doing things — being in the arena is essential for building competency. Don’t just talk about what you want to do someday; actually do things.
  18. To think about adding value (i.e., to a team), consider how your contributions can enhance the broader environment, rather than focusing solely on assessing your performance in a specific domain. A highly skilled individual might consume excessive resources or disrupt the workflow, thereby detracting from the group’s overall effectiveness. Conversely, a less talented person could facilitate smoother operations or significantly bolster the group’s achievements. For instance, in basketball, a player who positions themselves at the three-point line can create valuable space for the team, even without handling the ball. On the other hand, a highly skilled player who monopolizes every shot and hinders ball movement can actually degrade the team’s performance.
  19. If you consume the same thing as everyone else, you will have boring opinions and no alpha. Everyone can have unique and insightful things to offer if they pursue their own passions, by combining disparate knowledge together in a unique way.
  20. When you travel/move, enter into a new environment, you get to be the current version of yourself, and have everyone interact with that version of you. When you are at home or in an older environment, you have people who are simultaneously interacting with many different versions of you at once (ie people who knew the high school you, college you, early career you etc). This is challenging because it pressures you to also carry on multiple historical iterations of yourself, rather than being truly the present version of yourself you want to be in that moment.
  21. Watching well-regarded films is probably the most effective way to broaden your emotional horizons, which is one of the most important things you can do.
  22. All the best things in your life were set on a course to happen one day, when the day before, you had no expectation that your life was about to change positively. Every day warrants optimism and positivity because you never know when the next wonderful, unexpected thing will be set on course to happen in your life.
  23. Any significant life event acts as an exogenous shock that introduces so much chaos into your life that it becomes difficult to discern whether the overall consequences will be beneficial or harmful. Narratives are often constructed long after the events have occurred, and it’s challenging to comprehend in the moment whether something is truly good or bad, regardless of initial appearances (for instance, many lottery winners end up worse off, while others facing illnesses like cancer may end up better off). The best approach is to treat each moment with respect and consideration for your future self and do what is best in each and every moment.
  24. Be a tourist for everything. Tourism isn’t just literally about traveling to a new place; go immerse yourself in a new subculture, a new neighbourhood, a convention/event for something you aren’t familiar with, a new ethnic restaurant, go explore YouTube comments or TikToks about something you don’t know
  25. While there is a reason why things are priced as they are, and generally there is a relationship between price and value, as your preferences diverge from society’s, there will be lots of things you value more or less than others. Shift your consumption to take advantage of this.
  26. Spending time criticizing or being in opposition to things is both intellectually and emotionally bad for you and a sign that your life is oriented around the wrong things. It is good to be for things; it is bad to be against things.
  27. Most conflicts follow this dynamic: Group/Person A is mad about something that happened in the past that they can’t forgive. Group/Person B is acting unobjectionably at the moment, but since Group/Person A is still mad about the other infraction, they are acting mean towards Group/Person B, causing Group/Person B to be equally mad at Group/Person A. Most identity conflicts are byproducts of Group/Person 1 defining and thinking of themselves as narrowly as possible (only based on their best views/takes/actions/people), and viewing their opponent as broadly as possible (largely oriented around their worst takes/extremists/dumbest actions). Whenever you are in a conflict, try to figure out the underlying dynamics that lead each party involved to continue thinking they’re right/good and the other side is wrong/bad.
  28. The world is filled with unfathomable horror and tragedy. While you could spend time thinking about every single innocent child who dies per day, your life will not be well served if you do so. Nearly every other societal problem is less severe than this and should heed the same advice.
  29. Learn to embrace getting wet. If you get soaked, who cares. If you put on a good rain jacket, you can spend the whole day outside warm and with a smile on.
  30. Every person is bad at most things; it’s important to do things which you are bad at and outside your element.
  31. Documenting and taking photos of things is a really important tool to help integrate experiences into your future memory, which is where most of the value is.
  32. Most people you encounter lack the authority to assist or support you, nor do they possess the framework to consider the appropriate perspective to understand your viewpoint or value. When speaking with someone from customer support, HR, or anyone else who is essentially not in charge, realize that these individuals are quite constrained. You often need to circumvent them to find those with the real authority or discretion necessary to achieve what you want. Yelling or pleading with them won’t help you.
  33. What you experience and feel matters exponentially more to you than it does to anyone else, except perhaps your partner and children. Do what is best for you, not what you think others would enjoy for you to do.
  34. Every country or culture believes they have something that is the best, and every movement that is known has its merits. You will benefit greatly by understanding what other people find valuable about these things.
  35. Most of the great things in the world are recognized by many others, but not necessarily by those around you and in English. You often have to go far outside of your environment to learn what other groups or parts of the world consider great.
  36. Having taste is a generalizable skill and one of the most important things to nurture in life.
    1. If, for whatever reason, the Beatles weren’t popular, and you discovered them, would they become one of your favourite bands that you would tell all of your friends about? If not, then work on your self-confidence and calibration until you would.
  37. Nearly every activity is fungible; most of what really matters is maintaining an adequate level of health (including a good diet and abstinence from bad vices), fitness, friends, family, some sort of hobby, and some outlet for growth or purpose. The rest is commentary.
  38. There is significant variation in the subjective qualia of humans. How much pleasure one gets from sex or music, how satiated they are from eating 800 calories, how annoying loud noises are, how much running hurts etc. all vary tremendously and have a huge impact on incentives, discipline, and behavior.
  39. Most conclusions are drawn from an average, yet it’s common to underestimate the importance of individual variation. For instance, while most scientifically-backed medicines are effective, they may not work for a considerable number of people; conversely, some medicines deemed scientifically ineffective still prove beneficial for many.
  40. Most people don’t accept that others can have better or worse lives, and one’s actions can directly lead to better or worse outcomes; embracing this is a prerequisite for taking initiative in one’s life.
  41. Just like investing, the returns to positive life momentum compound and are where all the good stuff comes from.
  42. The upside of finding anything that can add value to the rest of your life (or some lengthy period of time) is so enormous that it makes experimenting, learning new things so much more important than most people appreciate.
    1. If you learn how to cook a new staple meal, that can be eaten thousands of times in your life.
  43. Anything you will positively remember or take advantage of 5+ years in the future is likely worthwhile.
  44. Many people do not have the ability to think of an event/idea in terms of systems, consequential impact — if you do, it’s a superpower. Understanding that others can’t is key to understanding why things are as they are.
    1. People who wear backpacks on crowded public transportation don’t realize they are doing anything wrong.
  45. In most environments, a few small big things matter orders of magnitude more than everything else (YIMBY, malaria, exercise etc.). We often give too much bandwidth to what doesn’t matter and not enough to what does.
  46. Almost all the easy and medium difficulty problems have been solved (because they’re easy), meaning, we disproportionately see the really intractable problems, which biases us to think we are exceptionally bad at solving problems.
  47. Most recommendations or advice are ways to signal or to boost one’s own stature or preferences; most gifts given are really about what the gifter likes and not to actually optimize what’s best for the recipient.
  48. Embracing costless failure/discomfort is like getting a free lottery ticket (good, but ultimately, not likely to have such a high payout), but embracing costly failure/discomfort is harder but significantly more important.
  49. Arbitrary norms can deprive both you and society of a great deal. The majority of women who have lived never experienced an orgasm, and now, even though technology exists to ensure nearly everyone can, many women still won’t due to its taboo nature. In the West, male sex toys are taboo, whereas female sex toys are accepted. In Japan, the situation is reversed. If taboos and social norms can prevent someone from ever experiencing an orgasm without realizing they are constrained or missing out, consider all the smaller things that taboos and norms may be making off-limits for you.
  50. There are under-appreciated benefits of being rich:
    1. By actually experiencing what others aspire for, you can know if you care about it or not, and then move on to what you actually care about. For those who have never experienced it, it’s much harder to know it isn’t actually worth it and get consumed with the path to attaining it.
    2. You can take the higher expected value, but higher risk bet, without worrying about it all blowing up in your face, every time. Most of being rich is not having to buy a form of insurance in every decision, and nearly all insurance is, on net, bad.
    3. For the above two points, both of these can often be achieved without actually being rich.