Life Principle 4: “Understand That People are Wired Very Differently.”

I don’t feel like this title jumped out at me very much throughout the chapter, except for the parts about personality testing. He refers to a lot of neuroscience findings and brain development which is interesting but it just didn’t pop out really. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a lot of this kind of stuff before. If you haven’t done much reading on neuroscience and how researchers believe the brain evolved then it’s worth looking into. I do think some of that work has impacted the way I think about my behavior, which has been helpful.

I hope you find these notes useful, by the way. I’m enjoying writing them and then revisiting them several days later. I hope to come up with some kind of tool or routine for going over old notes on a regular basis but I haven’t created anything yet.

Page 215 Dalio refers to the importance of people all over the world contributing to the manufacture of complex goods. But many of these goods are designed with the available resources in mind. It’s not like someone had the idea for a car and so they looked for someone who made glass and rubber. These materials have evolved over time…(warning: this is a rabbit trail) I wonder how long it would take for us to get where we are today, technology-wise, if we retained all the knowledge of the raw materials we use to make things but we actually lost all the raw materials.

Imagine we discover that a cataclysmic event will complete reshape our physical world. We put together a team that will take all the knowledge that is available and launch them into space for the number of years it would take the earth to be livable again. Their shuttle lands and they begin living life. How long before they are on the verge of artificial intelligence again? How long before they have the infrastructure that supports wi-fi again? This reminds me of the uselessness of our devices without the potential to connect us to others.


We Are All the Same

This part on page 215 was interesting because it actually goes partially against the overarching principle that people are wired differently. Dalio references Robert Waldinger, director of Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study. I’ve heard this study referenced many times. This site has a summary of the study:

Here was a part that stood out of that link: “Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.” Regardless of being wired “very differently” there seems to be enough data to suggest that close relationships are what is biologically needed for all of us. Then why is it so important to understand the differences in us? I think it probably has to do with the fact that we all experience closeness differently. If we don’t take time to understand that others aren’t likely to respond to the exact same things as the next person then we will have trouble forming these meaningful relationships.

Clear Your Mind

Page 219 “Clearing your head can be the best way to make progress.” How do I clear my mind? How do I know it’s clear? How has this been measured? Can you ever claim to have had a clear mind? Is a non-clear mind the same as a cluttered mind? 

Random thought: People only want our advice when they trust us. I may be simplifying a complex issue like trust too much but this seems to be what it comes down to so often. It’s probably worth doing some more research on for sure!

Choose Good Habits

page 221 “Habit is essentially Inertia…” I love this. I’ve been thinking a lot about habits lately and Dalio is exhorting us in this section to choose our habits well. I guess that’s easier said than done! If I felt it was as easy as choosing my habits then I would choose them! But it actually is that simple, right? I came up with a new exercise that I’m going to try later. I’ve created a note on my phone titled, “My Habits by the End of 2019.” I’m going to write down my daily routine and now I’ll have a clear goal and I’ll be able to spend the whole year developing those habits.

This section also got me to thinking about my current habits. If I could change my 3 most harmful habits, what would I change? What are my 3 most harmful habits? What are my habits? Clearly, I need to spend more time on this.

Dalio references Daniel Pink’s Whole New Mind on the subject of right/left brain. I’ve never actually read any of Pink’s work but I have watched a few TED talks that I really liked. I’m looking forward to adding Whole New Mind to by reading list!

Do Personality Testing

Dalio references the workplace Personality Inventory on page 229. His description reminds me of part of the assessment I book at Fadely and DeBrota, which led to me going back to college to earn my teaching degree. Dr. Fadely sat across the desk from me and described my personality so well; it was very comforting that someone knew me and didn’t fear for my future.

Be True to Yourself

Page 231 “The courage that’s needed the most isn’t the kind that drives you to prevail over others, but the kind that allows you to be true to yourself, no matter what other people want you to be.” After thinking about this for a moment I’m reminded of the last lines of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew scriptures, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment,  including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:12b-14

What does it even mean to be true to ourselves? How can we be true to ourselves if we are constantly changing? But if God is the same, can’t we always be true to God? That does seem more reasonable.




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