maybe I'm wrong

Mental prompts. Every weekday.

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Small Cups
I wanted to drink less coffee in the morning, so I started using a smaller cup.

The cup seems so small and innocent so I fill it five times. I'm pretty sure I'm now drinking more coffee than when I started.

Maybe the size of the cup isn't my problem.



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The big menu
The big menu looks appealing. As you look through it, you see endless opportunity.

Of course, it's unlikely that a restaurant serving 30 different entrees has a specialty. And if they do, how exactly would I know what it is? And how long will it take me to sift through all these options? How might I feel when I'm leaving so much unexplored? After all, I can only eat so much. 

What if, instead of 30 entrees, you made 4? The kitchen would surely be more efficient and you could ensure those 4 things taste great.

Of course, you'd be passed over by the customers who think they want 30  options, but maybe that's a risk worth taking.
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Underwear
Most of us wear underwear every day. We don’t think much about it, but there’s probably one or two pairs that are better than the rest. When you put on one of these special pairs, you take notice. Maybe these moments are a pleasant surprise or maybe you even seek them out. It can even change your day.
 
In some of our mundane jobs where we deal with other people, each interaction can feel like underwear. People have to deal with us whether they want to or not. They may choose us, they may not, but here we are.
 
If we have to do it anyway, we might as well be the pair that feels like a pleasant surprise. 
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The Long View
What are you doing later this week?
How about next year?
How about next decade?
How about next century?

Maybe the survival of our species requires it to take a longer view than that of our genetic destiny.
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Monopoly
It's inconvenient to have to visit multiple stores for all the things I need.
It's inconvenient to have to log into multiple services to watch my movies.
It's inconvenient to have to open up multiple apps to play all my games.

Maybe monopolies are convenient, until they aren't.
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Hard Work
You work hard, don't you?

Surely you work as hard as the coal workers delving into the mines for 10 hours a day or the social worker who's heart is continuously in a state of breaking. And surely if you don't do something that is intensely physically or emotionally taxing, you'll be offended by the implication that I'm not referred to it as hard work.

Of course, it makes sense that cultures would gravitate towards the reverence of hard work. Those that are contributing the most to a tribe are more valuable - they ought to be admired and protected.

But now, with over 7 billion humans on the planet living in a complex, interconnected world of social technologies like government, bureaucracy, and currency, the societal value of hard work has been replaced with rare work (or perhaps, complex work). As a result, it seems the monetary value of the physical and emotional contribution of human work has almost evaporated entirely (despite the fact that we still call clearly see it as hard work).

Worst of all, maybe we've continued to conflate the status and symbols of hard work with actual contribution, as if they were still interlinked.
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Salad Eaters
What does a salad stop being a salad? What if you remove the lettuce? The fork? The bowl?

Maybe, if you're selling salads, your opinion on salad doesn't mean much. The only thing that really matters is what salad eaters think a salad should be.

After all, when you call something a salad, some people will take a closer look and others will skip right over it.

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Focal Range
One way of defining consciousness is as the ability to focus attention. Of course, my cat can focus her attention on her prey and my dog will focus his attention on whatever I command of him. But does their focus have agency?

Maybe intelligent consciousness requires not only focus, but a range of focal depth.

For humans, perhaps this focal range is so wide, that we've stumbled upon the self as a target of attention. Not only can we see the objects and beings around us, but we can begin to see us as separate from them. Of course, once the self is involved, we would rarely be inclined to focus on anything else.
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Unlimited Candy
If I give you half of my Twix, I have less. Sure, I can buy another one, but it'll cost me something.

Digital goods don't quite work this way - copying bits is practically free. On one hand, you have traditional gatekeepers that use a model of scarcity where it doesn't exist (see ebook publishing). And on the other hand you have consumers that aren't willing to pay for something they know isn't scarce (see gems on the newest mobile game).

Maybe in a world where scarcity isn't the constraint, we need to evaluate where the value lives, and who we're willing to pay for it.
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Did you make progress?
I, like most, have struggled to stay motivated and engaged in projects which aren't my primary source of income. The amount of work in my artistic graveyard is staggering and it's easy to get bummed out about that.

The truth is, projects are hard. The thought of the final product and the reminder of how far you are away from that vision can be daunting enough to never begin (or to give up shortly after). Over the years, I've found it enormously helpful to reframe my expectations by asking one simple question each day: Did you make progress?

The answer will only ever be yes or no, and, by the way, you're allowed to cheat. You can hop into a project and do the smallest amount of work to coerce this answer into a yes. Of course, when you do that, you'll often find that the work continues beyond the scope of the hack.

Maybe if we can decouple the discipline of sitting down with the weight of our guilt, worries, and ambition, we can actually start to make the progress we seek.
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