Philosophy Means Love of Wisdom

That’s ‘wisdom’ – as a verb.

The old philosophers treated their bodies and brains as the object that wisdom would act upon. They treated wisdom as something transformative: something that would change the way they thought about themselves and the world.

And that’s exactly what wisdom is supposed to do. Wisdom is that which changes the way you think about yourself and the world.

Philosophy really means love of change. Love of transformation. Love of growth. Love of curiosity. Love of the person you are, and the person you could be.

But now, we’re getting dangerously close to turning wisdom into a commodity. Post a hashtag about how many books you’re reading this week, and you’re guaranteed at least ten hits of dopamine. I can’t tell if we’re rewarding people for discipline, or for taking pictures of well-known books.

It’s not hard to be wise. I can teach you how to be wise on one step.

  1. If everyone around you is thinking the same thing, think about something else if it’s appropriate to do so.

Correct: While everyone gets angry at the problem, you think about how to solve the problem.

Incorrect: While everyone cries at the funeral, you daydream about that Chipotle Burrito you ate for lunch yesterday.

I sat down with my buddy Pranav Mutatkar to talk about wisdom, where to find it, and why we should read old philosophers in a short (20 minute) conversation. Pranav is an excellent podcast host. He’s curious (the most important part), quick, smart, and knows how to hold a conversation no matter what format.


(*Pretend I didn’t write this in the middle of the lockdown.)

The Wrong Way to Read and the Meaning of Insight

Your mind, like your body, needs the nutrients and vitamins of good ideas in order to survive and thrive. But as we grow older, our ego turns our head away from good ideas like the child avoiding the choo-choo train of a spoonful of peas.

Good ideas aren’t found out there. They’re found in here, in you. Wisdom means nothing to those who don’t listen. To really read a good book, you first need to actually want to read it. Your own inclination comes from within, not from without.

Therapy is a waste of time (for the client and therapist) to the person forced to go to therapy. “I, according to so-and-so, need help.” That never works. The same is true of reading.

You need to understand your motivations for reading a book. Are you thinking of buying this book because Barnes & Noble says everyone in your town is reading it? Do you want to read because that’s what smart people do? Is the self-improvement regime court ordering you to read a book because if you don’t, then you must be a loser? Or do you want to read because there’s something you need to figure out?

There’s a mistake in assuming all answers come from the outer world. Yes, good books help, but how you approach the bookhow you read the book – matters more than what the book is about. Are you reading so that you can show off to your friends? Are you reading just to confirm your barely stable mental model of the world? Or are you reading because you’ve been wearing a dunce cap your entire life, and you’d like to be less of a dunce?

Ask yourself: are my actions in the outer world strengthening, harmonizing, feeding my mind with the proper nutrients?

The outer world nourishes your inner world only when your inner world is understood, and by understood I mean that it is respected: your inner world — your psychology — is never fully understood.

To have insight is to question your reasons for doing anything other than eating, drinking, defecating, and breathing.


P.S: I turned 26 yesterday. Thanks to all who sent me birthday wishes, and big thanks especially to those who sent me some good books. I super appreciate it.

You means you!

Man, this You guy could do anything he wants,” I thought as I flipped through the pages of self-help book number 45.

The message flew over my head.

If a self-help author starts talking about you, they mean you — not some other guy named You.

Yes, you.

“What? Me? Oh, no — there must be a mistake. I couldn’t –“

Yes. Really. I mean you. You could start a business. You could learn to roller-skate. You could memorize 2,000 Kanji in less than a year. You could start a podcast and interview your favorite writers.

But only if you want.

How far you lean in when someone starts talking about your potential correlates to how much faith you have in yourself*. When you ignore them, stuff your head up in the clouds instead of paying attention, it means you’re not ready. Not ready to face the harsh reality of having a 1 in 8 billion gift. The gift of your perspective, drive, passion, and care.

How do you feel when you talk about your goals? Do you stumble over your words? Do you hunch over to defend yourself from an attack? That means you’re not committed. There’s still a part of you that’s stuck in the past. A part of you that thinks you’re still not capable.

You are capable.

Go make stuff.


(*I don’t have any statisticians to back me up on this, so I need you to go accomplish your life’s mission.)

The highest benchmark for every creator

Two friends asked me if content creators should have separate channels. One channel for business content (whatever that means). Another for personal content.

If you think your personal life is more interesting than your job (content creation is a job), yes.

And if that’s true, then you must know that you’re boring yourself and your audience with your content. Listen to the voice that’s begging you to do something totally off the cuff. Don’t make your audience navigate extra links. Deliver the goods up front.

If your job is to tell good stories, no. All good content creators know this. Their job is to tell good stories. Their job is to express themselves through stories about people, places, products, and ideas.

Not everything personal needs to be about you. John Daub makes personal YouTube videos even though he rarely talks about himself. John Daub loves Japan, and so he makes videos about Japan. He doesn’t have a separate channel about his life. Japan is his life.

The highest benchmark for every creator isn’t a million subscribers or followers. No, the highest benchmark is a story you never get tired of telling.

“If you can tell a good story, you will always have a job”

John Daub

PS: A job should be challenging, rewarding, and something you’re proud of. I spoke with John Daub a few weeks ago about what it means to have a job that hits all 3 of those qualities. It’s one of the shorter episodes of the podcast, but one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve ever had. I hope you’ll have a listen. It’s magical.

Always more than this

Your favorite song is more than a song. It’s an expression of who you are. It’s why you get defensive when somebody says they’d rather put their ears to a jackhammer. And yeah, you can share the same favorite song as somebody else.. But what the song means to either of you is the difference between chocolate and vanilla.

Your favorite song is your favorite song for reasons that are unique to you.

And what about your life?

Here’s a few what if scenarios.

What if your life was your favorite song? All the exciting chorus lines, all the downcast harmonies — what if you could learn to love it all?

What if your life is an expression of who you are?

And what would happen if these questions were no longer thought experiments, but practical standards?

You’re not here to merely live. You’re here to do something else.

Waking up on purpose

You open your eyes as the alarm shrieks you out of your dream. Or maybe you’re one of those freaks who “rises with the sun,” as if your body is in a perfect cosmic alignment with the universe. Either way, you’re awake.

On a typical day, say, on a regular ol’ Tuesday, what does the first 15 minutes of your morning look like? Do you flood your psyche with information? Do you allow buzzers, bells, and airhorns to occupy your mind? Or do you employ silence as the canvas on which you will draw the roadmap of your day?

Whatever you choose, airhorns or canvases, you’re choosing intentionally. There’s no use blaming anyone but yourself for your muddy thinking and directionless days.

The smartest people I’ve ever met are those who intend to wake up on purpose.