There’s this cute George Bernard Shaw quote:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

If defeating age is really that easy, why would anyone stop playing? Injuries for one. Lack of time and general fatigue for another. Those two elements will be hard to hard to overcome, especially the first one.

A more malleable variable is the simple fact that we tend to turn less excitable in age. And it is excitement that undergirds playing – you play because you are excited to play.

The easiest path to excitement is novelty. In youth, experience is limited, which means there are many more firsts, which means there is a greater capacity for novelty, which all means you are less likely to fall into a jaded state of “been there, done that.” Still, the world is very large, so there’s always more to see. But BTDT tends to move beyond the literal – I’ve actually seen that movie and it’s bad – into a general dismissal of exploration – I’ve seen enough to know there’s nothing to see in that thing I’ve never actually seen.

Youth also equals innocence, an innocence defined by not having realized the downsides of risks. Once you have been burned enough times – an inevitable part of aging – BTBT is but one of many defensive moves used to remain safe. The status quo, however bad it may be, feels preferrable to change, since change can bring lower floors of negativity; the potential for higher positive floors is obscured by the possibility of loss.

It’s not that any of this is unreasonable. In fact, it’s the outright reasonableness that makes the logic so appealing to a mature person. But when rationality leads you to undesirable place, it’s worth considering alternatives, for rationality is often less a single thing than it is post hoc explanations proffered to make one’s decisions palatable. In this case, you now know that you are now biased to focus on downsides. This focus both makes the bad outcomes less likely and, if they do occur, more tolerable. You are indeed better prepared than you were in youth! So use this preparation to your advantage and let your mind wander toward enthusiasm and excitement. 

EV Positive Rules

Unless you buy face value, don’t buy any ticket to anything until a minimum of 36 hours before the show.

when there isn’t anger tied to the thing. Aggrievement, perhaps more than any other emotion, keeps thoughts endlessly circling. Like, it’s believing you’ve been wronged that makes “heartbreak” so devastating. How could she do this to me? TO ME? Similarly with contentious ends to jobs, friendships, events, etc.

What about regret? Wishing to have done differently certainly serves as a driver of many sleepless nights. But the solution is self-forgiveness, which is a bit easier than forgiving others, especially when those others should be apologizing and aren’t. Yet like self-forgiveness, the choice to forgive others can be made without any outside participation: free yourself from the frustration not because the other person is right, but because you sensibly desire mental tranquility.

Personal Fearlessness

Try playing with not being immediately identified as the thing you most like being identified as. If your identity is true – you like being seen as smart and you are indeed smart – it will be revealed in time. By getting there RIGHT NOW, you (a) close off the possibility of being other things and (b) pay less attention to your surroundings.

(a) Again, you still are what you are, but by aggressively leaning into your favored identity, other parts of your self are left underdeveloped. Those underdeveloped parts will induce some fear and discomfort. You’ll want to run back to the sanctuary of what has worked well for you. Hence the bravery of this experiment. The upside is a world expansion that comes from uncustomary perspectives and positions.

(b) When you are comfortable, you don’t have to pay much attention. You can hum along smoothly hitting the same beats you always hit. Your mind can wander. You’ve done this before. No big deal. When you jump out of a plane for the first time, your attention is razor-sharp.

  1. Lie
  2. Be laughably hypocritical
  3. Pretend you can read minds and generally project a level of certainty you don’t deserve, especially considering there are some fairly obvious questions you are ignoring.

We Are All Hypocrites

There you are with your shoulders a little too upright and a smile that’s a little too preening. This self-assurance stems from a belief that you are on THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY. Like, you’d never kill a black man or grope a coworker. You know how to choose right and you do … at least in hypotheticals that will almost certainly never occur. Congratulations!

A rectangular sign. It’s not complicated like tax codes or quid pro quos. Three English words shine clearly in bold, black print. With a faux aura of naïveté, you slip the collar off your dog and prove to everyone you are the fraud we thought you were.

Love simply means

caring about someone else as much as or more than oneself.

Remote work

is yet another instance where we opt for convenience over all else. It has become both our culture’s master value and its greatest temptation. “Productivity” and “getting back time” and “making my life less stressful” and “enjoyment” are the most common defenses for convenience: all reasonable defenses. But then what with all the time? You never have to leave the house so you can do what exactly? Are you actually more capable of filling that time well when your creative skills have eroded from all the external creative solutions? Isn’t something ineffable being missed?

Lines Offer Opportunities

Pause. Don’t instantly follow. There is probably a better way. Ask. Look. Test. Lines are chances to prove your on-the-fly thinking prowess. Begin by not being upset about the line. If you do that, your mind will narrow to negativity. You need an expansion to fully tap your powers.

“Just be yourself”

is solid enough advice if it is given divorced from external outcomes. Because, yes, it will be hard to ever be internally tranquil if your social persona is critically divergent from your “true self.” But out in the world, no, “being yourself” guarantees you nothing. Maybe you come across as more “authentic” or “at ease.” So? That doesn’t mean any external problems will be solved by you really being you. What if your “true self” sucks? Is super weird? Cares about things society ignores? Ignores markers society deeply values? 

What is true here is probably true for many bits of cliche advice: if you only want to follow the wisdom because you think it will get you something, the wisdom won’t prove all that wise.