DanRiley.org

Aging:

  • The first thing to go when aging is imagination.
  • Most people say “this is who I am now” around 30, and stop growing.
  • Most meet most of their friends before 25.

Conversation:

  • Life is a dinner conversation.
  • For many, people are space-fillers once a phone’s dopamine hit subsides.
  • The best conversationalists never lost childhood's wonder and beginners mind.
  • Amazing what one honest conversation can do.
  • Want better conversations?  Prepare for them (e.g. with articles, ideas, recommendations).
  • Good listeners are conversational scientists.

Decision-making:

  • Knowing what to do next takes time.
  • Commit only to what you can sustain.
  • Rationalizations cover for emotional reasoning.

Friendship:

  • Friends see your blind spots, and show you.
  • Buying someone a meal never disappoints.
  • Avoid humorless people.
  • For every gathering of 4+ people, over three hours in length, take a picture.
  • Seek friends you admire, but do not envy.

Health:

  • Most misery is self-made.
  • For the affluent, the most common addictions are stress, a salary, and a pro-doing compulsion.
  • Depression arrives when growth is hindered.
  • A tip that someone is depressed: they continue to complain, but do nothing to change.
  • The key symptoms of a technologically hijacked mind: greater anxiety, stridency and distraction; less self-awareness, fewer friends and worse company.
  • Pagers used to be seem as annoyances, an intrusion into private life - people are now pinged dozens of time a day and wonder why their anxiety is up.
  • People return to their baseline happiness.
  • Productivity - perpetual work - becomes its own addiction.
  • What people want is to feel good; a positive mood changes everything.
  • Want mood improvements?  Anonymously buy coffee for the person behind you, or pick up the dinner tab when out with friends.
  • For a clear mind, fast.
  • The most abused substance is alcohol.
  • Sleep is nature’s doctor.
  • Shocking the body - with temporary, extreme heat or cold - is nature’s anti-depressant and mental enhancer.
  • Focus, a long attention span, un-distractibility, and a non-ideological worldview are the new mental superpowers.
  • Treat food like medicine.
  • The worst emotional pain is from breakups, like a death, whose meaning is not appreciated until gone.  And avoiding necessary breakups is a primary source of human misery - its symptoms revealed by resentment, chronic annoyance, and, to those who have known the individual, a dimming of their inner brightness.
  • Most men have no real confidants because they fear facing the truth of their pain.
  • Indignant? Ask: is your object of scorn, or the reality of life, to blame?
  • Who’s nervous, anxious or uncomfortable? Look for the shaking foot.
  • Poor mental health is the ultimate foe.

Human nature:

  • The sign of an insecure know-it-all: in small groups, they lecture, rather than converse.  A slight tension is in the air.
  • Social climbers are dismissive and harsh towards those beneath them; subservient and fake to those above them.
  • To predict someone’s future behavior, observe their past actions.
  • The human mind is a rationalizer - more lawyer than scientist.
  • With trust, put-downs indicate love and affection between men; without trust, the opposite.
  • If there's a difference between what someone says and what they do, believe what they do.
  • No reaction is as seductive as indignation.
  • We are two minds: the experiencing self and the remembering self.
  • Use negative visualization as a hack against insatiability.
  • Many male groups only talk while doing other things.
  • People vote with their feet.
  • Humans like stress, when controlled.
  • Familiarity breeds un-appreciation.
  • Genes play an under-appreciated role.
  • Human's unique trait: our ability to tell each other stories.
  • There are more differences within groups than between groups.
  • Having everything you want, all the time - sex, food, affection, control - leads to coddling and laziness.  Enjoy it, but limit it.  Relish some struggle.
  • Watch body language for truth.
  • If a deep hope matches a firm conclusion, odds of delusion are 10x.
  • Those who are too nice, too appeasing, violate a rule of healthy relations: equality, and mutual skin in the game.
  • The passive aggressive are sensitive souls, dying to stand up for themselves.
  • Reasonable people can disagree.
  • Everyone is selfish - to some, selfish acts are pro-social and natural.  These are the “good people."
  • You hate in others what you hate - and notice - in yourself.
  • Confirmation bias: an intellectual's highway to overconfidence and self-deception.
  • Most advice and opinions are projections.

Lifestyle:

  • Luxury has diminishing returns; a "world-class" resort, car, or home, is 10x the price and is 10% better.
  • Getting up early casts a vote for the day’s momentum and growth.
  • You want to be a bit of an addict, to the right habits.
  • Mute your phone, and turn off notifications.
  • People who think tattoos are unwise often recommend marriage.
  • Marriage - and having children - should be the exception, not the rule.
  • You'll likely do your best creative work - and have your most profound insights - alone.
  • The result of wisdom and wealth is the ability to pursue intrinsic enjoyments, indefinitely.
  • At a point, very intelligent people working exceptionally hard is a cover for inner turmoil.
  • Enjoying solitude gives you ultimate optionality.
  • No man reads the same book twice.
  • Resist cynicism - there is so much to appreciate.
  • Ideas, thoughts, and creativity blossom in silence and solitude.
  • It may not be that you need someone fully out of your life, just in smaller doses.
  • Never lose your ability to seek and identify what you like: your preferences, your desires - people lose their lives when they mute that inner voice and conform to please others.
  • When scheduling plans, ask: would I want to do this tomorrow?
  • If at first you think it’ll take 30 minutes, add 15 and say it’ll be 45.
  • Stuck?  Go for a walk, a run, or go to sleep.
  • Once you can, create a home or a place just for you.
  • An empty calendar is a peaceful mind.
  • Notice, over time, what puts you in a good mood, what endures - and set up your life to maximize that environment.
  • For items you use every day (e.g. computer, phone, coffee maker), buy the best.
  • Once you can, don’t see or talk to anyone before noon; these are the golden hours for thinking and creativity.
  • Set up recurring chats with your favorite, far-off people.
  • New stuff brings temporarily euphoric comparison - then you acclimate (it’s a trap!).
  • Think deeply about your chosen habits - they compound and quickly become who you are.
  • Rights, autonomy, and power are much more about the ability to say "no" than "yes".
  • Caffeine is the world’s best drug.
  • Have the courage to go your own way.
  • Work like a sprinter.
  • Goals and desires are plentiful - discern and focus on those that endure.
  • You can leave something you love for something else you love.
  • Encourage the wondering inner child.
  • No matter the house size, people spend the vast majority of their time in three rooms.
  • Less is more: what you want is quality.
  • Try, fail, tinker, and iterate - the pathway to success.

Men and women:

  • When dating, find someone that falls into your “must-have” attraction zone; then, pick for character and personality.
  • People want to be desired; this, mostly, is what makes a great lover.
  • Men are best appreciated by older women, slightly past their prime.
  • People acclimate to relationships, just like things.
  • A common cause of divorce and breakups: a significant shift in dating market value.
  • A dating filter: is this person's company better than solitude?  Or could it be better than solitude?

Organizations:

  • Benevolence or malice, leadership or its abdication, trickles down from the top.

Questions:

  • Is your “love” just obsession by another name?
  • Do people have ideas, or do ideas have people?
  • Compared to what (when assessing the quality of any system)?
  • Is something deep in you being violated?
  • What are the lies society tells to keep the order?
  • Does civilization work for us, or do we work for civilization?
  • Is this serving you?
  • Is your power being used to undermine the things you care about?

Philosophy:

  • "Know yourself" - the First Amendment of every autonomous person.
  • The ultimate power is the ability to say "no."
  • You want to be known for signal, not noise.  This is what a truly good reputation means.
  • All prescriptions create their own traps - what you want is freedom from desire.
  • Many brilliant people identify with an “ism” in their early years - and never escape ideology.
  • What you should not do is often clearer than what you should do.
  • 90% of people root for the same sports teams as their parents; about the same register with their political party.
  • Admirable people preach what they practice.
  • To win, don’t look for the best conceivable outcome, just the best possible one.
  • Accept difficult truths early in life.
  • Steel man your opponent’s arguments; get to know your idea adversaries.
  • When you win one game, play a different one.
  • Enjoy being wrong; you may not have understood before, because you weren't prepared, wise, or informed.
  • The best thinkers are clear thinkers.
  • Understanding over judgment.
  • Kindness: the only God.

Relationships:

  • For couples, emphasize growth, not fusion.
  • The best friends, lovers, family members bring out and encourage the best in you.
  • Your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself; surround yourself with those who respect that, and don’t ask you to sacrifice authenticity or autonomy.
  • When considering entering into a relationship, ask: does the desire stem more from celebration and excitement or surrender and longing?
  • In human relations, maximize freedom - let people walk away and remove neediness (and demand the same in return).
  • Silence: the most underrated tool in strategy and seduction.
  • If it's good today, it'll be good tomorrow.
  • We give the most to those who need us the least.
  • Couples who "fight well" are really just skilled relationship "problem solvers."
  • You know what matters by what emotionally moves you.
  • Fantasy utopias - in government, relationships, business - don't withstand reality's collision.  
  • Seek the best tested outcome, not the best conceivable one.

Society:

  • To flourish, merge the best of modernity with the best of our ancestral foragers.
  • The modern rebel resists cheap dopamine, relishes silent solitude, and cultivates a long attention span; technology is their slave, not the inverse.
  • Politicians lambast identity politics, then castigate "the Democrats" or "the Republicans."
  • Workaholism: the most undiagnosed psychopathology; a socially-sanctioned addiction to fill an absence of acceptance, meaning, and love.
  • "Breakscreen": the moment at which a black mirror is first consulted - decreasing creativity and increasing anxiety by 90%.
  • The danger of the past was too little information; the present, too much.
  • Treat texts as you used to treat emails - respond, but with a respect for your time and energy.
  • News confuses the anecdote for the enduring.
  • By definition, in anything, half of people will be below average.
  • Benevolent people approach every interaction with the possibility for a positive-sum relationship.
  • Self-discipline is resisting the dark side of human nature, a hallmark of civilized people.
  • Religion is mostly belief in belief.
  • In a healthy hierarchy, power is earned and assented by those beneath.
  • When people couple up, everything changes for those outside the pair.
  • For race relations, MLK said it best: to judge not by the color of one's skin, but by the content of one's character.  Equal, not better.
  • Identity politics turns the mind to cabbage, a single-outlook perspective free of nuance.
  • Fear the mob.
  • Much of today’s acute political tribalism is fueled by echo chamber technology - arguable views held by both sides, each talking past each other.
  • Learn history to know who sacrificed for you, and what they sacrificed for; we're living in the best of nation-state times.
  • People fear mobs - and are easily enticed to join them.
  • Equality of opportunity is the goal.
  • Liberate yourself.
  • You can tell the quality of a conversation - and connection - by how often an iPhone is consulted.
  • Liberals falter when confusing the ideal for the real.
  • Too much ambition can kill your relationships.
  • Some people have inevitably stressful, intense jobs (e.g. E.R. doctors, teachers at difficult schools) - they need understanding, and god help their children.
  • The social cost of asshole-dom has drastically decreased with technology.
  • Antiracism pseudoscience works on well-meaning people who don't consistently witness genuine interracial love.
  • Amazing that universities - by crippling its student's ability to afford its services - is encouraging America socialism.

Truth:

  • The trouble isn’t knowing the truth, it’s learning how to deliver it with decency and courage.
  • More informed does not mean better educated.
  • Beware of teachers who complicate; genius is in simplicity.
  • People tend not to skew towards the truth, but to what’s incentivized.
  • Today, nearly all censorship is self-censorship.
  • Trust your own experience.
  • Pain is often the best, and the only, teacher.
  • Beware of the smartest person in an echoed, small group.
  • Notice how one's views on climate change map perfectly onto those about gun ownership?  Tribalism at work.
  • People's views are usually those of the smartest, most articulate person they know or watch.
  • Once you learn it, you see that the self serving bias is everywhere.
  • Learning obtained but not used or documented is wasted.
  • Learn the major cognitive biases.
  • Don’t equate eloquence with truth or wisdom.
  • Focus on the basics - let them sink in.

Wealth:

  • Time is the most valuable thing you can buy.
  • Have a “Mr. Market” view of stocks.
  • What you want is leverage - time and nature working on your side.
  • In investing, the only price that matters is the price on the day that you buy and on the day that you sell.
  • The best investors set it and forget it.
  • 99% will be in the 99%.
  • Competition is overrated.
  • The ultimate wealth is time wealth.
  • The purpose of money is autonomy.
  • To grow wealth, continue to use skills learned when young (frugality, appreciation of simple food and pleasures, free activities) when advancing financially.
  • Most wealthy people have given something great to the world.
  • Choose time over money.
  • To create wealth and space for asymmetric risks, extend the early 20’s lifestyle for 15 years.
  • Tinker until the world gives you a signal.