I write to teach myself and hit “Publish” when I think it might help you.

You Don’t Need Extreme Self-Discipline

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In the gap between who we wish one day to be and who we are at present, must come pain, anxiety, envy, and humiliation. — Alain de Botton

The demand for online courses industry has shot through the roof.

In 2015, the global market for such courses reached $107 billion. Just two years later, the market grew to $255 billion — a whopping 138 percent growth within 2 years!

But there’s something more. And it’s not good.

A study revealed that the average completion for Massive Open Online Courses — MOOCs — is a dismal fifteen percent.

I’ll admit. I’m part of the 85 percent. Barring a couple, almost every online course I’ve signed up for has stalled at the halfway stage. …


Go to bed wiser than you were when you awoke every day.

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When rats began dying because of rodenticides, the animals developed strong neophobia — a reluctance to eat foods they did not recognize.

Norway rats, in particular, prefer foods they recognize either from having tasted them or from having smelled them on the breath of other rats. After all, any food a living rat has eaten has not killed it.

Rats follow this heuristic even if the rat whose breath is smelled is sick. Recognition dominates illness information.

Human beings don’t depend on such elementary systems to decide what to eat or how to live. But we follow a similar pattern in many areas of our lives. …


Life is not just about increasing joy, but also reducing suffering.

why we suffer in life and how to avoid it
why we suffer in life and how to avoid it

Life is tough for various reasons. But the biggest reason is its unpredictability.

Most of us hope that life will follow a linear path, but it always has other plans. It twists and turns, curves, and shatters in unexpected ways. And we helplessly oscillate between joy and suffering.

Suffering is our perception of pain. It’s that little extra, like butter on top of whipped cream. When it recedes, so does our emotional pain. As a result, our mind can respond to events better, as a painless body responds to physical demands. We improve our awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. …


Short answer: Nothing good.

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In 2007, Merlin Mann introduced Inbox Zero, a technique to process and organize emails that would help people reach — and maintain — zero unread emails in their inboxes.

The concept spread like wildfire across the corporate world. Finally, here seemed a plausible solution for a long-standing problem of managing emails, which often pulled people away from work and caused tremendous anxiety. Not just at the workplace but also outside it.

Books got written on the subject. Millions of articles got published. Almost everyone was talking about it. …


how to not ask stupid questions
how to not ask stupid questions

What is a stupid question? It’s one that people ask without thinking. Is it harmful? Hell yes! For two reasons.

First, nothing puts people off more than a lazy bum. And a person who asks questions without thinking, who expects others to do the mental heavy-lifting and present him with answers on a platter, is a lazy bum.

Second, a person who asks without thinking almost certainly believes any answer because he doesn’t know what to think. In the process, he develops many toxic beliefs.

We see this all the time. People rely on tips to invest in stocks. They buy things they don’t need just because others own them. Or they sign up for a myriad of up-skilling courses during mass lay-offs without any idea about the courses’ relevance or about their own strengths and interests. …


Or, how to not screw up your life.

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Can your attachment to your thoughts make you do things you’ll regret for the rest of your life?

This question lies at the heart of the 1996 film, Primal Fear.

Martin Vail, a defense attorney who loves the spotlight, takes up a case to defend 19-year-old altar boy Aaron Stampler, who is charged with murdering an influential Catholic Archbishop. (Spoilers ahead.)

As the trial begins, Vail discovers that the Archbishop sexually abused and videotaped Aaron and other children. …


Why good sleep is integral for you to achieve your goals.

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We have so much to do today. Working, up-skilling, Netflix-ing, browsing social media, taking care of the family. Sleep appears like a luxury we cannot afford.

It makes sense to catch up with everything while you can. You can sleep when you’re dead, right?

Not really. Avoiding sleep ensures that you end up dead. Literally and figuratively. Here’s what I mean.

Thanks to our always-connected lifestyles, we take longer to fall asleep and to go back to sleep after waking up at night. (Touching our phones each time we don’t get sleep only compounds this problem).

Such irregular sleep patterns make people twice as prone to cardiovascular diseases than people with regular sleep patterns. …


A powerful lesson from an old mythical tale.

how to learn to be happy by yourself
how to learn to be happy by yourself

A poor man badly wanted money. He heard that if he could get hold of a ghost, he could command him to bring money or anything else he liked. So he went searching for a man who could give him a ghost.

At last, he found a sage with great powers and sought his help. The sage asked the man what he would do with a ghost.

“I will make it work for me. Teach me how to get one, sir. I desire it very much,” he replied.

“Don’t bother, go home,” the sage said.

The next day, the poor man returned to the sage. He wept and begged, “Give me a ghost. I must have a ghost to help me, sir.” The sage felt disgusted and gave in. …


And how you can build them.

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Our thoughts impact our actions, which, in turn, impact the outcomes. Our responses to those outcomes form our beliefs, which feed back into our thinking.

Depending on whether our thoughts are positive or negative, it’s a virtuous or vicious cycle. At its center of this cycle lies self-awareness.

The term self-awareness means different things to different people. To some, it’s the ability to monitor their thoughts. Others think of it as a temporary state of self-consciousness. Yet others see it as the difference between their self-image and external image.

To summarize all these views, self-awareness is the ability to know who we are, how others see us, and how we fit in the world. …


A better approach is to not be stupid.

strategy to succeed in life
strategy to succeed in life

“Vishal, I’ve got the job!” she squealed. “I’m going to be the BEST in the workplace. In my first appraisal, they’ll rate me five stars.”

Six months later, she quit.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Nobody does any work there,” she complained. “I tried hard to get people off their lazy butts. I even pushed some of their work forward along with my own. Then everyone began to dump their work on me.”

My friend had the noble intent to prove her money’s worth to her managers. She worked hard to shine like a brilliant light. How did her bosses and peers reward her? …

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