The Art Of The Good Life is a simple, 52-essay guide to living well. Inspired by psychological research, Stoicism and the advice of value investors including Warren Buffett, the author offers up a varied mix of practical wisdom for leading a happier life.
The Art Of The Good Life by Rolf Dobelli
The Art Of The Good Life is a toolkit of practical wisdom for better living.
Organised in 52 short, narrative-led chapters, Rolf Dobelli takes inspiration from philsophy, psychology, economics, investment, literature and philosophy to distill down uncommon common sense advice for modern living.
Below are some of the key ideas I took from this book:
- We can use mental accounting to shape our responses to profit and loss in order to smooth out the natural ebb and flow of good and bad fortunes.
- Humans overestimate the value of plans and underestimate the process of planning.
- Inflexbility can be used strategically to achieve better results in life. Burning boats or making absolute pledges can achieve total commitment.
- Every mistake improves your life but human nature doesn’t see things that way, so use black box thinking to look at life objectively and make changes for the future.
- Timesavers are often timewasters. The average speed of a car (all things considered) is actually 4mph walking pace. Likewise email costs £1 of time cost per message. Productivity aids are often counterproductive due to human nature.
- Living a good life is more often about avoiding unforced errors then hitting winners. The same logic applies for value investment advice.
- All things considered, success is often a matter of luck (ovarian lottery) but most people lack the ability to take see this conclusion and respond accordingly.
- The introspection illusion suggests that our emotions are a poor guide for living a good life. We have to learn to discipline our emotions.
- As a result of this, living authentically is often poor advice for living well.
- It’s important to say ‘no’ to most entreaties in life. Use strategic neglect to avoid entanglement with other peoples problems and commitments.
- The focus illussion suggests that our decisons are shaped irrationally by emphasis or focus. For example, believing that sunny weather will make our daily life better in Florida compared with NYC.
- The things you buy leave no trace. The best days of owning a yacht is the day you buy it and the day you sell it because perception trumps reality. Instead focus on savouring everyday experience over consumption.
- Fuck you money is the tipping point of money’s diminishing marginal utility. This occurs because money is relative to others and situations. How much would you pay for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd glass of water in the dessert?
- Domain specific knowledge more important than general knowledge. Who can know everything about everything? What value is something about everything?
- Boring investors make more money then speculators as boring people are often happier then thrill seekers due to the nature of happiness/pleasure
- A higher inner scorecard is often more important then an outer scorecard of external validation.
- Setting goals is the only way to achieve them. But setting goals that are achievable is a better route to happiness.
- There is a difference between your experiencing self (3 seconds) and remembering self. Both should be in balance as a guide for better happiness.
- However, experience tends to trump memory as a result of the peak-end rule. Consequently, it’s important to Be Here Now.
- The human brain is programmed to construct narrative in order to save space, thereby we live constantly under imperfect/false consciousness
- Self-pity serves no value. When you self-pity you end up hurting yourself.
- Meaningful actions (e.g marriage, kids) and enjoyable actions (e.g. spa break, sex) should always be balanced against one another to produce happiness.
- A Circle of Dignity serves to solidify life purpose and promote happiness.
- Maladaptive worry doesn’t serve us in modern life. It’s better to have courage for what you can change, understand what you can’t and wise to know the difference.
- Stop having opinions. 90% of opinions are unnecessary or poorly formed.
- Envy is a sure fire route to unhappiness. It’s a bad response based on the focus illusion.
- Turn off the news. You are not responsible for the bad things that happen in the world.
- Focus, time and money are the most important resources in the world, but most people give away their focus unknowingly.
- Ideologues always oversimplify things due to narrative-bias and the knowledge illusion.
- Mental subtraction can help you realise the things that are important and become grateful for what you have (It’s a Wonderful Life)
- Narrative-bias creates the great man illusion of world history / inventions.
- Most people fall for cargo cults, copying idols without understanding their success.
- Happiness is more often found along the road less travelled where other are not arms racing to increase the metric of success.
- It is better to know a Van Gogh outsider then to be a Van Gogh outsider
- The 100 secretary problem suggests that our sample sizes in life are often too small before we make profound decisions.
- If you want to be happy, simply lower your expectations in life.
- Sturgeons Law suggests that 90% of everything in life is actually bullshit
- Authentic modesty is an excellent strategem for happiness in life
- You input matters more then your results when it comes to happiness in life.