Originally published on 18 January 2021
You’ll have to excuse the brevity of this week’s newsletter.
I’ve always been a curmudgeon when it comes to pets, I used to roll my eyes when people posted about them on social media.
But after I held our little Phoebe for the first time, all those past hesitations vanished.
We’re currently in the process of housebreaking her in. I spent last night sleeping on the floor by her crate so she wouldn’t feel too lonely. She slept great, I on the other hand, not so much.
If there’s any lesson to take away from all this, it’s that the power of net happiness can have a profound impact on you.
Anywho, here’s what we’re learning this week.
Who are you?
What if, when someone asked you “Who are you?” you answered with your life story instead of your name?
While researching for my next book project, I serendipitously came across this lovely short film aptly named, Who are you?
It’s been awhile since my college film critique days, but I’ll give it my best shot…
The film is beautifully illustrated. The writing is simple but deep, delivering profound nuggets of insight in its short 13 minute span.
Even the comment section is surprisingly positive. “’The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ – Mark Twain,” one viewer reminded us.
I watched the film a couple times this weekend, each time taking from it another insight or thought.
But I think the biggest takeaway from the film is the potential for us to remind other people of who they are.
Sometimes it’s the best gift we can give them.
Moderate your information stream
Author James Clear said recently that he’s spent well over 100 hours deciding who to follow on Twitter.
Because choosing who to follow is choosing how you’ll think in the future.
The information that flows from your screen to your eyes and into your brain has a profound impact on the way you think and see the world.
“I can’t go onto Twitter right now and not come out with three or four or five ideas,” Clear says.
Last week, I took my first big step towards curating my information stream by unfollowing everyone on Twitter.
The reason? I didn’t want to rely on Twitter’s algorithm to fire-hose me with content.
Instead, I created “Lists” – a nifty feature on Twitter – which allows me to curate a list of accounts based on certain interests without having to follow said accounts.
This is just the first step. The hard work – the 100 hours in James Clear’s case – will be deciding who goes on these lists. That’ll take some time.
And I’m slowly concocting my own decision matrix to help me curate my lists:
- Is this person generally a pleasant person?
- Does this person think deeply about things?
- Does this person challenge my thinking?
- Does this person have a greater agenda or are they sincerely trying to help others?
My decision matrix, as well as my lists, will change and evolve over time. But I can honestly say that after a week of relying on my lists, I’ve doom-scrolled less and Tweeted more.
I’m making an effort to use social media in a productive, not passive way.
Is it just me?
I’m fascinated by Architectural Digest’s “Open Door” series on YouTube.
If you’ve never seen one, I recommend the Andrew Rea from Binging With Babish home tour as a start.
The premise is simple: AD takes a small film crew into a famous-ish person’s home and said famous-ish person gives them a tour.
As I watch these “Open Door” videos all I can think about is: how is everything so impeccably clean?
Where’s the half-finished laundry? Where is the pile of mail that you need to sort but never do? Where are the toys on the floor, the unfinished dishes in the sink, and the throw pillows nobody uses?
I have a hunch, actually it’s not a hunch, Andrew Rea admitted it in his tour, that what these famous-ish people present is a polished, organized, and unrealistic representation of home life.
Either that, or their home life is really boring.
I have a half-written article – that I’ve set aside but am considering returning to – about Happymess or the joy of clutter.
With minimalism becoming the interior decorative norm of our times, I’m slowly realizing that there’s a coziness to the little messes of daily living. The stacks of books. The ruffled blankets. The empty coffee cups. They remind us of life actually lived.
And when you have two rambunctious boys like I do, this realization is on full display every single day.
So when I see these spotless homes and question their authenticity, I keep thinking about how grateful I am for the mess-makers in my life.
As always, I’m grateful for your continued readership. I’m trying to get better at a few things this year. One of those things is asking for help when I need help.
Keep learning. Keep growing.
Until next week,