I want to be with you,Charles Bukowski (via unculturedmag)
it is as simple,
and as complicated as that.
I want to be with you,Charles Bukowski (via unculturedmag)
it is as simple,
and as complicated as that.
He calls it flow: the experience we have when we’re “in the zone.” During a flow state, people are fully absorbed and highly focused; they lose themselves in the activity.
But while we know intuitively that tasks we find interesting can feel effortless, what does it actually do to our mental gas tank? Can interest help us perform our best without feeling fatigued? Myresearch with the psychologist Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia of Michigan State University, which we published recently in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests that it can.
In our research, we asked a group of undergraduates to work on word puzzles. Before they began, we had them tell us how exciting and enjoyable they thought the task would be. Then they read a statement that framed the task as either personally valuable or of neutral value.
At an entrepreneurial boot camp in Silicon Valley, they’re churning out billion-dollar ideas — whether we need them or not.
Starting a business is not for the self-doubting. Or even usually the self-deprecating. The first thing you have to sell is yourself — like dating, but with a greater chance of landing in debt. Alex Blumberg tells the incredible, sweat-stains-and-all saga of a man fumbling through starting a new business, and the man is: himself.
So what’s the real reason there aren’t more Googles? Curiously enough, it’s the same reason Google and Facebook have remained independent: money guys undervalue the most innovative startups.
The reason there aren’t more Googles is not that investors encourage innovative startups to sell out, but that they won’t even fund them. I’ve learned a lot about VCs during the 3 years we’ve been doing Y Combinator, because we often have to work quite closely with them. The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how conservative they are. VC firms present an image of boldly encouraging innovation. Only a handful actually do, and even they are more conservative in reality than you’d guess from reading their sites.
I used to think of VCs as piratical: bold but unscrupulous. On closer acquaintance they turn out to be more like bureaucrats. They’re more upstanding than I used to think (the good ones, at least), but less bold. Maybe the VC industry has changed. Maybe they used to be bolder. But I suspect it’s the startup world that has changed, not them. The low cost of starting a startup means the average good bet is a riskier one, but most existing VC firms still operate as if they were investing in hardware startups in 1985.
Howard Aiken said “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” I have a similar feeling when I’m trying to convince VCs to invest in startups Y Combinator has funded. They’re terrified of really novel ideas, unless the founders are good enough salesmen to compensate.
But it’s the bold ideas that generate the biggest returns. Any really good new idea will seem bad to most people; otherwise someone would already be doing it. And yet most VCs are driven by consensus, not just within their firms, but within the VC community. The biggest factor determining how a VC will feel about your startup is how other VCs feel about it. I doubt they realize it, but this algorithm guarantees they’ll miss all the very best ideas. The more people who have to like a new idea, the more outliers you lose.
I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.Roald Dahl (via unculturedmag)
There’s something about water that draws and fascinates us. No wonder: it’s the most omnipresent substance on Earth and, along with air, the primary ingredient for supporting life as we know it. For starters, ocean plankton provides more than half of our planet’s oxygen. There are approximately 332.5 million cubic miles of water on Earth—96 percent of it saline. (A cubic mile of water contains more than 1.1 trillion gallons.) Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface; 95 percent of those waters have yet to be explored.
From one million miles away our planet resembles a small blue marble; from one hundred million miles it’s a tiny, pale blue dot. “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean,” author Arthur C. Clarke once astutely commented.
That simple blue marble metaphor is a powerful reminder that ours is an aqueous planet. “Water is the sine qua non of life and seems to be all over the universe and so it’s reasonable for NASA to use a ‘follow the water’ strategy as a first cut or shorthand in our quest to locate other life in the universe,” Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, told me. “While it may not be the only solvent for life, it certainly makes a great one since it is abundant, it’s liquid over a broad temperature range, it floats when solid, allowing for ice-covered lakes and moons, and it’s what we use here on Earth.”
Whether searching the universe or roaming here at home humans have always sought to be by or near water. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within sixty miles of the coastline of an ocean, lake, or river. Over half a billion people owe their livelihoods directly to water, and two-thirds of the global economy is derived from activities that involve water in some form. Approximately a billion people worldwide rely primarily on water-based sources for protein. (It’s very possible that increased consumption of omega-3 oils from eating fish and shellfish played a crucial role in the evolution of the human brain. And, as we’ll discuss later in the book, the seafood market is now global in a manner that could never have been imagined even a few decades ago.) We use water for drinking, cleansing, working, recreating, and traveling. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, each person in the United States uses eighty to one hundred gallons of water every day for what we consider our “basic needs.” In 2010 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared, “Safe and clean drinking water is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life.”
Our innate relationship to water goes far deeper than economics, food, or proximity, however. Our ancient ancestors came out of the water and evolved from swimming to crawling to walking. Human fetuses still have “gill-slit” structures in their early stages of development, and we spend our first nine months of life immersed in the “watery” environment of our mother’s womb. When we’re born, our bodies are approximately 78 percent water. As we age, that number drops to below 60 percent — but the brain continues to be made of 80 percent water. The human body as a whole is almost the same density as water, which allows us to float. In its mineral composition, the water in our cells is comparable to that found in the sea. Science writer Loren Eiseley once described human beings as “a way that water has of going about, beyond the reach of rivers.”
We are inspired by water — hearing it, smelling it in the air, playing in it, walking next to it, painting it, surfing, swimming or fishing in it, writing about it, photographing it, and creating lasting memories along its edge. Indeed, throughout history, you see our deep connection to water described in art, literature, and poetry. “In the water I am beautiful,” admitted Kurt Vonnegut. Water can give us energy, whether it’s hydraulic, hydration, the tonic effect of cold water splashed on the face, or the mental refreshment that comes from the gentle, rhythmic sensation of hearing waves lapping a shore. Immersion in warm water has been used for millennia to restore the body as well as the mind. Water drives many of our decisions — from the seafood we eat, to our most romantic moments, and from where we live, to the sports we enjoy, and the ways we vacation and relax. “Water is something that humanity has cherished since the beginning of history, and it means something different to everyone,” writes archeologist Brian Fagan. We know instinctively that being by water makes us healthier, happier, reduces stress, and brings us peace.
In 1984 Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University biologist, naturalist, and entomologist, coined the term “biophilia” to describe his hypothesis that humans have “ingrained” in our genes an instinctive bond with nature and the living organisms we share our planet with. He theorized that because we have spent most of our evolutionary history—three million years and 100,000 generations or more — in nature (before we started forming communities or building cities), we have an innate love of natural settings. Like a child depends upon its mother, humans have always depended upon nature for our survival. And just as we intuitively love our mothers, we are linked to nature physically, cognitively, and emotionally.
You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.
— Alan Watts
This preference for our mother nature has a profound aesthetic impact. The late Denis Dutton, a philosopher who focused on the intersection of art and evolution, believed that what we consider “beautiful” is a result of our ingrained linkage to the kind of natural landscape that ensured our survival as a species. During a 2010 TED talk, “A Darwinian Theory of Beauty,” Dutton described findings based on both evolutionary psychology and a 1997 survey of contemporary preference in art. When people were asked to describe a “beautiful” landscape, he observed, the elements were universally the same: open spaces, covered with low grass, interspersed with trees. And if you add water to the scene — either directly in view, or as a distant bluish cast that the eye takes as an indication of water — the desirability of that landscape skyrockets. Dutton theorized that this “universal landscape” contains all the elements needed for human survival: grasses and trees for food (and to attract edible animal life); the ability to see approaching danger (human or animal) before it arrives; trees to climb if you need to escape predators; and the presence of an accessible source of water nearby. In 2010 researchers at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom asked forty adults to rate over one hundred pictures of different natural and urban environments. Respondents gave higher ratings for positive mood, preference, and perceived restorativeness to any picture containing water, whether it was in a natural landscape or an urban setting, as opposed to those photos without water.
Ira Glass is a writer, producer, storyteller, performer, and a familiar voice. His show This American Life has set the contemporary standard of nonfiction radio shows, and has influenced and inspired countless others to grab a mic and give podcasting a try.
Ira Glass: noisy introvert