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The Dark Side of White Lies

The Dark Side of White Lies

sam-harris-lying

Books rarely change my behavior but this one has. Sam Harris’ “Lying” is my favorite book for two reasons. It is short and, although I wasn’t in the habit of lying before I read the book, it has provided a rationale for doing the right thing, therefore making it easier to persuade others to do the right thing themselves.

In a book that can be read in about an hour, Sam, in his eloquent style, displays a philosophical, yet practical stream of consciousness about the impact of lying on our lives. We all know it is bad to lie, but we have all done it at some point. Paradoxically, we probably believe ourselves to be honest people anyway.

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The Joys of Meaningful Suffering

The Joys of Meaningful Suffering

WhiteCollarBJJ

I reached the peak of my skateboarding career while being drunk. It was when landing my first kickflip. What is weird about it, is the fact that I had already quit skateboarding for a couple of years after a very unsuccessful two year period of having it as a hobby, age thirteen to fifteen. I hope it is apparent how bad I was at it by the fact of considering one kickflip a highlight.

I thought a lot about why no tricks worked. Every time I failed to land something, I would automatically think about what principles I might be missing. What are the moves I haven’t considered? What is left uncalculated? All that burning of brain matter never led to anything and as I now realize, I spent way too much time thinking when I should have been acting. The one time the kickflip worked was probably because alcohol had shut off many of the mental blocks I would normally think myself into.

My natural tendency is to overanalyze. I love science, take part in debates and have easily spent a hundred hours watching TED. All of that contributes to scrutinizing way too much. I remember even thinking to myself that sports is a waste of time, since unlike acquired knowledge, any athletic gains I achieve through practice will be lost with age, and therefore learning stuff is a better investment of my time. Looking back at that opinion now, I recognize it to be a whine dressed up as a clever insight. Merely a justification to postpone.

At age twenty two I had fallen into a bit of a routine with studies I did not like and a job I did not enjoy. I thought of ways to escape the boredom and because sports was something I had never done consistently, it made a lot of sense to get into it as a way of escaping routine. The choice in favor of martial arts was immediate, because the skills gained through martial arts are transferable beyond the gym to a much greater extent than anything I would learn through “working the ball” whatever shape it may be. Karate was my first choice because I had heard the name so many times, but I quickly changed my mind after learning about two key attributes of Jiu-Jitsu. Firstly, its effectiveness is proven since the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993 where Royce Gracie, a man with a surprisingly unimpressive build dominated opponents from other fighting styles purely through his skills in Jiu-Jitsu. Secondly, unlike with martial arts that involve kicking and punching, you can go full speed in every session of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). That is way more fun if you are doing it as a hobby and not possible if striking is involved – any sane person would lose their appetite if teeth had to be replaced twice a week.

Like with learning anything, you accumulate a set of meta-qualities besides the techniques provided by the discipline itself. In addition to chokes and clinches, Jiu-Jitsu allows me to experience a set of mental states that I would like to touch upon in this article. But before I dive in – one cautionary note. Up to now I have spent two years of my time on the mat practicing Japanese Jiu–Jitsu (with a bit of other styles that include striking sprinkled throughout the training calendar to mix things up) and two more years practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I am still far from being even average at either Brazilian or Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. I am merely sharing insights that far precede mastery.

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