Some of his advice I like, and some makes him sound like an asshole. Here are the bits I agreed with or found worth thinking about.
Do not watch TV news shows or read any tabloid newspapers. Life, as it is, is terrifying enough.
Establish as many regular routines as possible… The point is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make about trivial matters. Save your energy for major questions that arise in our technological society. Regularize the trivial to cope with the significant.
Nowadays seems like technologists do this with “uniforms” which is maybe more important for CEOs and politicians who are judged on their appearance, while I work from home and don’t meet with anyone important so I just need to look passable on Zoom. But I can look for “templates” and routines to adapt in my life in the places I notice friction: keeping exercise consistent and the same time of day so I don’t have to decide what to do and when, or picking theme nights in advance for dinner to reduce the decision stress. Taco Tuesday is Taco Tuesday.
Avoid multiple and simultaneous changes in your personal life… Change is tremendously stressful, so control the amount of newness you must face.
Keep your opinions to a minimum… Although middle-class America seems to require an opinion on everything, you will find it liberating to say the phrase “I don’t know enough about it to form an opinion.”
Carefully limit the information input you will allow… As a general rule, do not take in any more information after seven or eight o’clock at night. You need protection from the relentless flow of information in modern American culture.
Seek significance in your work, friends, and family, where potency and output are still possible. Work, friends, and family are the areas where what you think and do matters… Information used to be an agent or instrument for action, but nowadays, information is often inert — you cannot act on it… Try to dump useless information from your head.
Divest yourself of your belief in the magical powers of numbers. Quantification has a very limited effectiveness. Any attempt to apply quantification to human affairs represents pure superstition of a medieval kind.
I’ve been into self-quantification in the past but numbers definitely can be a trap. And we’ve seen how reductive GDP is as measure of societal success, where the US has a huge growing GDP yet poverty and suffering are widespread while being largely avoidable if as a society we prioritized people directly over businesses. Playing out right now in the debate over upping the minimum wage. It makes me sick to think how many people believe it’s reasonable to pay a person less than ten dollars for an hour of their time. We all are worth more — and need more — than that. If your business can’t afford to pay people a reasonable amount, your business model is not viable (or you’re exploiting your workers to steal the profits).
Patriotism is a squalid emotion.