This week, I'm sharing a simple yet nuanced idea. So, I've started running again, as one of my respites from being stuck in one place. And during my run yesterday, I realized something about life. We are often told that "life is not a sprint; it's a marathon."
However, it dawned on me that life is neither exclusively, but rather both together. I think life is a marathon of sprints. You need to think and act long-term, but make progress toward your long-term goal in a series of short bursts.
So, I completed 4 miles at an average pace of 9 minutes. (For those who may not know, pace is the number of minutes it takes to cover a mile.) However, my pace wasn't 9 minutes all throughout. It fluctuated between 10, 11, and even 7 minutes. On some points, I sprinted; on others, I jogged.
This got me thinking about what my mentor once taught me about fitness. He said something along the lines of this:
- Your body should not adapt to your exercise.
- The moment it does adapt, you should know that you could have made more progress, but you didn't.
- Since we seek patterns in nature, the body seeks patterns as well. And the moment it adapts to a particular exercise rhythm (ie when it knows what the next move is going to be), the body intelligently accustoms its response so that it does not exert itself.
- In short, you should always surprise your body.
That is what I was doing in my run yesterday. I was surprising my body with short, intentional sprints, right when it was accustomed to my heart rate.
In life, then, I will apply this learning as follows:
- I will have a fixed routine that I aspire to achieve, but will also embrace short-term variability.
- Anytime I think I'm habituated to a specific kind of food, song, artwork, entertainment, genre of books, or anything for that matter, I will actively break my habit to do the opposite or try out something different.
- Every now and then, I will try to question my "life principles," actively engaging with contrarian viewpoints.
- I will read books both for and against any particular idea. For example, since we're talking about fitness, I will first read about why we should always be running and then read about why running is the worst thing one could do to their body.
These are just some of the life equivalents of sprinting and surprising your body with occasional, short-term surprises.
To quote Taleb, "Any work you do in the comfort of a routine risks being taken over by a robot." Similarly, the moment we become habituated to anything, we risk expanding our minds.
Patterns and routines are great, but occasionally breaking them for the sake of it is even more so.
✍🏽PS: Thank you for reading this! If you liked this, I'd really appreciate if you could spread the word and ask others to subscribe here and read the past issues here. Also, feel free to respond to this if you'd like to chat :)
Sorry I had final exams last week so I quickly recorded a casual, low-effort guitar cover lol. It's American Pie by Don McLean.
Half A Thought
This week is going to be active on the pod again. I'll be interviewing Salman Ansari tomorrow, so stay tuned for that episode. Ali and I have also figured out a new plan for recording episodes going forward. Meanwhile, here is an episode from the archives on accents.
Description: In this episode, we talk about what makes our accents unique and why, in general, accents make a difference in our way of expression.
Our Commonplace Book
I promised last time that I will share notes from Tan Liu's The Ponzi Factor. Here they are.
And this article by Tim Urban on Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy really struck a chord with me. With cute little stick figures and in his simple, honest style, Tim Urban talks about how we millennials think we are special and entitled, something that leads to our unhappiness. A great read for anyone willing to confront their deep-seated beliefs. :) (I'm in Generation X btw lol.)