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On the counter-intuitive nature of life

On the counter-intuitive nature of life
By Tom Littler - Notion & myKanban • Issue #29 • View online
Why the shrewd negotiator doesn’t care about the outcome (at least on the surface), capitalist simping, a new place for kanban.

It never ceases to amaze me how counter-intuitive life is.
As I get older I just realise more and more that things I knew intuitively as true, aren’t true at all.
I don’t know why this is the case, maybe it’s down to groupthink, an excess of type-1 thinking, or perhaps life is just very complicated. Maybe I’ll try and get to the ‘why’ another time, for now, I just want to share with you a few ways I’ve realised life to be incredibly counterintuitive.
Counter-intuitive things about life
In human relationships, whoever wants it most loses.
This is heuristic is probably something most of us are familiar with. When you are young and naive you probably think the best way to get a great business deal is to put in as much effort as you possibly can. To prepare, to do as much as you can to impress the other party, to jump through any hoops sent your way.
In my experience, this just isn’t the case. In any negotiation, it’s the person who cares the least about the outcome, who puts in the least effort, who will often come out on top.
The classic example of this, of course, is romantic relationships. How many of us have that friend who gives absolutely everything to their significant other, are, on paper, the model partner, but end up consistently losing in their relationships?
Again I’m not trying to ascertain why this is the case (although I have many theories) it’s just an interesting way life doesn’t make intuitive sense.
A lot of things we think are good for the planet are actually pretty terrible.
If you were to ask me a couple of years ago how we’d combat climate change, I’d of probably given you some rhetoric about more organic farming, less fossil fuel consumption, and of course, switching to oat milk.
The thing is organic farming is pretty destructive to the planet, simply due to the fact it takes up a tonne more space. If you get a yield of say 10 energy units per unit of land using organic methods, but 15 using non-organic, you are much better of using non-organic, and using less land, and then just not farming the leftover area. Leaving it free for Bambi and bees.
The same is true of bio-fuels - terrible for the planet when compared to fossil fuels, and don’t get me started on oat-milk.
I’m not sure why most of us have got such a poor handle on the environment, heck I have a chemical engineering degree and still have only an acute awareness. Perhaps it’s group-think driven by false PR and marketing. Who knows?
The more you aim for happiness, the less happy you’ll probably be.
Optimising for happiness is probably a mistake unless you are incredibly self-aware and truly do know what makes you happy.
I hear a lot of people talking about ‘lifestyle design’. How can you construct your life so it’s maximising your happiness? How will you spend each minute of your day? What car will you drive? What holidays will you go on?
I thought when I started working from home, when I didn’t have to go through the drudgery of commuting, the boredom of lengthy meetings, or the social commitments that come with working in an office I’d be more happy, after all, I’d have more time for me!
I can’t help but think it’s all a bit of a scam. I can’t really remember any external factors that have significantly changed my happiness. In fact, the more I’ve put an emphasis on being happy, the less happy I’ve been.
Happiness seems more like a by-product of other things, rather than anything that can be aimed towards.
I’m currently trying to compile a list of counter-intuitive things about life. If you have any examples, please just respond to this email!
This Week on Youtube
What I'm Reading
We only hate the results of people. But people, Henry, aren’t just results. They’re a process.”
Capitalist simping at it’s finest. Ridley argues that things are only getting better and better for humans, and that, as we evolve things, things will most likely continue on that trajectory.
There’s some great arguments in this book but Ridley completely fails to address any of the more existential issues facing youngsters of today. He fails to address the reducing role of community, presence and relationships in the modern world.
Still, a good read.
myKanban
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Cheers,
Tom
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Tom Littler - Notion & myKanban

Hey, I'm Tom, a product manager and startup founder living in London.

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