2019 July Update


  1. I've been in the hospital and on sick leave most of the month.
  2. Because of it, I had a hard time doing any work and focused on getting better and reading books.

New posts #

Books I've been reading #

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns #

It is the foundational book about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It's proven that reading it helps depressed people without any other therapy. I highly recommend it even if you're not depressed as you can learn a lot about emotions and thought patterns. Most striking for me was how much it contradicts typical self-help and productivity books.

Thoughts determine feelings.

It is the underlying rule of CBT. Only your thoughts have any impact on your feeling. Some of those thoughts are easy to notice, like when you did something stupid and blame yourself. Unfortunately, a lot of them are automatic and so fast that you might miss them swept off by the feelings they bring. You have to stop and pause to notice those thoughts.

I'll probably work on an extensive review, but in the meantime I strongly recommend you giving it a try! I can recommend a short introduction to CBT at the end of this email on Erik Baker blog.

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World by Rutger Bregman #

Short and insightful book. I like how it fights the culture of long hours from the political and economic point of view. We can afford to work fewer hours as a society. It was enlightening to see that giving money directly to the poor is the best method of helping them as well. Lastly, I've learned about Overton window — how the radicals influence public opinion and discussions.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson #

I was looking for more practical advice, but I'm pretty happy with the book nonetheless. The most important lesson is to share what you've learned - even if it's not perfect. Leonardo notebooks would shake Europe if he published them as books. Most likely, he lacked a partner to do that.
His advice about learning reminded me of reasoning from first principles. He had an analogy of learning a subject is like reading a page in a book. You don't understand the whole page at once. You read it a word at a time — understand sentences and paragraphs until you can say that you understood an entire page. Going off-topic to build better understanding will help you in the long run.

Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done by Josh Davis #

Reminds you that we're not machines and that you can't work all the time. The best thing about it is that all the advice in the book is scientifically proven. Most people heard about the benefits of meditation or exercise, but it's great to know what exactly we know about their influence. There is a lot of hacks you can use to work more effectively. For example, if you have focused work to do, then you should work in silence, and white-blue light will help you. On the other hand, coffee shop and dimmer light will help more with creative tasks.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou #

It's a book I would recommend to everyone as an example of a pathological organization. A fish rots from the head down.

Elsewhere on the Web #

I can recommend an article by Eric Baker:
This Is How To Rewire Your Brain For Happiness: 4 Secrets From Research. Especially the "Cognitive Therapy 101" part. It will give you an idea of what the book "Feeling Good" is about.

Biking #

I've bought a gravel bike to move a little more and later on to ride to work. So far I'm pretty happy with riding outdoors.

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