reflections on 2021

March 09, 20226 min read

  1. I can go faster than I thought. In fact, I’m happier when I’m going faster.
  2. I’m happiest in New York City or San Francisco, then second happiest in Palo Alto. The main determinant of my happiness is my social life, which is dependent on the quality of my friendships in a city, as well as how easy it is to meet people I vibe with, and the infrastructure of the city. I’m not happy in Berlin. I get bored in Phoenix.
  3. Retreats, with the right people, can be a huge boon to my happiness, and make my life feel magical. I like being able to “turn off” for an extended period of time, and I’d like to do the same this year, although I’m not yet sure in what context.
  4. Trips should have a purpose. Either a retreat, a conference, or some compelling reason that I want to go. The purpose can be hanging out, but in that case, think about how long you actually want to “hang out” for. Long trips are overrated, especially if you are enabling the long trip by “working” while you are traveling. Most places are not as comfortable as being at home. My social life is worse, I don’t get to go to Vital Climbing, I may have to deal with a language barrier or having trouble eating in a way that doesn’t give me stomachaches (I have a very sensitive stomach).
  5. [My favorite Discord server] has a strong positive effect on my happiness. That said, it can easily take up a lot of time, and it’s important to put it aside during the work day.
  6. Despite being self-employed, I work best with a “work day”. The standard 9-5 works well, or 10-6.
  7. Trusting my employees is very efficient. As long as I am thoughtful about how and who I hire, I can allow people to work with little oversight, and they’ll grow and contribute in bigger and bigger ways. This saves lots of time. Better to default trust people and then let them go if it’s not working out.
  8. Social learning is absurdly effective. When I was young I didn’t realize this because I had poor social skills,and by the time my social skills had improved, I wasn’t surrounded by interesting people to learn from. But it turns out I learn really well through conversations, being taught by others, or just doing stuff with others rather than by myself. It’s also more fun to do stuff together, which gives me endless energy and lets me maximize my learning.
  9. Coaching is worth paying for. I’m super happy that I hired Malcolm Ocean as my coach this year. Sessions consistently brought me clarity on problems I was working through and enabled me to find creative solutions. I also started taking a group guitar class, but the class is structured such that I get a little bit of one-on-one time with the teacher each week. Even though the one-on-one time is short, it’s hugely helpful. He often points out something I hadn’t been paying attention to like “Oh you’re having trouble with that chord because your thumb is too high. Move it lower and you’ll get it.” Bloom’s Two Sigma problem seems to apply to Priyas.
  10. It’s really hard to strike the right balance between over-committing and just-right-committing. If you just-right commit, you are doing so much fun and engaging stuff all the time, which grants you endless energy and every pursuit improves every other pursuit. If you over-commit, you are doing too much stuff and everything stops feeling fun and feels like an obligation. And you get stressed because you aren’t moving fast enough on some thing(s) you care about.
  11. I can change people’s lives pretty easily based on my current life experience. For example, I helped D negotiate and he got a much better offer, and I got J a job that will probably change his life forever, even though I only knew him for a total of 45 minutes.
  12. One thing I’m very good at is providing a home.
  13. Training a dog teaches you a lot about leadership and confidence. I’d like my kid to train a dog at a young age. (Note: I haven’t trained a dog yet, but I watched my best friend do it)
  14. My goals are much easier when I am loud. People want to help me. People are helpful. Extroversion is just better.
  15. “Don’t treat people as bad as they are. Treat them as good as you are.” - Kevin Kelly.

    There’s such joy in seeing the good in people. Even when they can’t always reciprocate. In just forgiving. Mostly that means forgetting (like not letting a slight ruminate in your mind), sometimes that means confiding in or complaining to someone else until you can get your feelings out of your system and be the bigger person again. Also it’s so satisfying to watch people grow, and you’ll definitely witness this on a long enough time scale if you treat people well and are supportive of them.

    That said, I don’t have time for everyone and generally want to engage with people I really like, when I have the choice. But when I don’t (as with family, or people who are in a community I’m in), or when I really love someone despite some issues, then this is a great strategy.

  16. You only get to see one side of people, because you see how they act when they’re around you. It’s the observer effect, but for social dynamics.

    I’ve learned this lesson a few times, but it really hit home when I was circling with E, R, A and others. E and R (both male) were reflecting on how they viewed A (female) and they viewed her SO differently than I viewed her. And my initial instinct was to be skeptical of their point of view, to think that they must be blind in some way. But there was a reasonable explanation, which is that A acts differently with them than she does with me.

    I think one of my weaknesses is being skeptical of other people’s experiences. I learned a similar lesson the first time i did psychedelics, at 17, when I learned that J actually did feel things deeply, and wasn’t just performing. I hadn’t felt anything deeply for years so I assumed other people didn’t either, and feeling was a social function you performed. A reminder to myself to probe other people’s experiences more: what is that like for you? how do you think about that?

  17. Don’t scold or moralize if someone does something “bad”, just devise a system so that it doesn’t happen again. I internalized this lesson when I was at a retreat and forgot about my cleaning shift. The Cleaning Czar never scolded me, but she devised a system so that if it happened again (by me or others) there would be consequences. It’s a lesson I’ve since applied to communities I lead. Most of the time, people aren’t malicious. Scolding kills the vibe, systems maintain the vibe.