On rigor + persistent mental training + the continued chance allowance of one's otherwise misspent heartbeats.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, I've been giving a lot of thought to what makes human beings better. For some, this will probably seem like a ridiculous point of departure, one with answers either too obvious or too elusive to warrant pursuit. But I don't think it is. At least not yet. And if I do ultimately reach that conclusion, I will at least be able to more clearly explain why. Right now, I have only my intrusive thoughts and feelings on the matter. Some of them are presumably valid and rooted in experience or evolution. But others are just vague impressions that found their way, somewhere and somehow, into my roving bag of chemical fireworks. And because I, like you, am in no small part this crude and idiotic carrier of aging human components, I am also inexorably cracked and fallible. And so it seems reasonable to me to suppose that I'm probably wrong about a few things in this life, perhaps even a small galaxy of them.

In any event, I can't think of a better way to spend my time than trying to be a better person. And by my time I of course mean my life. Time's sum total. My days are already filled with other things to do. My few goals for the year that I noted in my last post are just the ones that were most prominently on my mind on that particular morning. There are others, and each heartbeat is yet another tick of the clock, so there simply won't be enough time for them all, I know. But the beauty about spending one's time trying to be "a better person," my definition of which will unfurl and grow as my exploration does, is that it's just another layer to be applied over everything else. It doesn't take away from anything. And it's my view that it should actually add to most things. It should make one's own existence fuller, while also making one's involvements in life more advantageous and effective, in turn making one's surroundings also fuller. It should be a positive-sum game emerging from one's rigor + one's persistent mental training + the continued chance allowance of one's otherwise misspent heartbeats.

I'll start the definition there. But I'll be continuing it and my exploration of this topic at The Better Being Experiment. So please subscribe to that newsletter if you'd like to follow along, as I intend to keep it separate from Think List moving forward.

Only loosely related to my writing here, I encourage you to listen to Tim Ferriss' recent conversation with Jerry Seinfeld on his systems, routines, and methods for success (below). I didn't have the time this week to transcribe the parts that resonated with me most. But I found plenty of useful nourishment in it and plan to give it a second listen. So, if you're at all able and interested, please take a one-point-five hour break from your troubles and crack it open.

Brian Leli, January 2021

Jerry Seinfeld — A Comedy Legend’s Systems, Routines, and Methods for Success | The Tim Ferriss Show