Good Reads, This-Time-of-the-Year-Again Edition

It’s this time of the year again!™  Why not make it Christmas at your own pace – maybe for the first time in your life? Something like natale giusto

My Italian isn’t to be trusted, but the idea behind it would be having a suitable Christmas. Suitable for you, that is: No stress, no frills, no drama. Most certainly: No gifts, or at least less of them. (Giving gifts is great as long as it doesn’t freak you out. Let the gifts come from the heart rather than from a feeling of obligation. Tell your friends, too, and you’ll receive less stuff to clutter your house!)

In the meantime, good things have been published around the web. Here are some of my favorites from recent weeks. And you can immediately find out why I’d strongly suggest enjoying these articles with a good cup of coffee – by reading the first quote!

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“What I tell patients is, if you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can,” says Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. He’s even developed a metric for monitoring your dosage: If you are having trouble sleeping, cut back on your last cup of the day. From there, he says, “If you drink that much, it’s not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot.”

The case for drinking as much coffee as you like. (I’m getting nervous just by thinking about how much coffee I’m now offically allowed to have.)

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I don’t have a website. I’ve never tweeted. I’ve never even texted. I have a job. All young photographers want to be famous, but I came to the conclusion a long time ago that it was too much work. You always have to be out there selling yourself. It’s just something I don’t want to spend my time doing. I’d rather be drinking a beer on the patio watching fireflies than emailing people to show them my portfolio. I’m lazy when it comes to publicity and if it happens, it happens. I’m not adverse to talking about stuff, I just don’t want to have to go and pursue it.

Very interesting interview with Dennis Darling. What might look like just another grumpy old man to some seems more like a very smart person to me. Here’s to not becoming famous (and the advantages of under-the-radar fame, of course)!

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Thus, whenever I see people offering resoundingly negative reflections on the lack of money in online writing, I cannot help but feel somewhat upset. Perhaps there is little money, but that is not the only source of profit you can elicit from writing. Nor should it be the focus of it.

Anything you earn whilst writing — be it money, friends, connections, or otherwise — is a gift that you would not have had otherwise.

This quote by Matt Alexander somehow hits into the same direction as Darling above: It’s not all about frontpage fame and sensationalism, nor about making boatloads of money. Or at least it doesn’t have to.

What always strikes me as funny is how people go crazy about converting their passion into a business, only to then become addicted to external recognization (money, fame) – hence, ultimately, losing their passion rather than building up on it.

This is a longer discussion though, and I’ll probably better get back to it in a separate post.

Anyway, Matt’s other lessons learned after one year of writing are also worth reading.

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Maybe one more addition to the issue of fame (and marks), provided by the wise William Deresiewicz: What are you going to do with that?

A couple of years ago, I participated in a panel discussion at Harvard that dealt with some of these same matters, and afterward I was contacted by one of the students who had come to the event, a young woman who was writing her senior thesis about Harvard itself, how it instills in its students what she called self-efficacy, the sense that you can do anything you want. Self-efficacy, or, in more familiar terms, self-esteem. There are some kids, she said, who get an A on a test and say, “I got it because it was easy.” And there are other kids, the kind with self-efficacy or self-esteem, who get an A on a test and say, “I got it because I’m smart.”

Again, there’s nothing wrong with thinking that you got an A because you’re smart. But what that Harvard student didn’t realize—and it was really quite a shock to her when I suggested it—is that there is a third alternative. True self-esteem, I proposed, means not caring whether you get an A in the first place. […]

Here are some oither quotes that I loved from that piece:

If you’re going to invent your own life, if you’re going to be truly autonomous, you also need courage: moral courage. […]

People don’t mind being in prison as long as no one else is free. But stage a jailbreak, and everybody else freaks out. […]

Who wants to let a 12-year-old decide what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives? Or a 19-year-old, for that matter? […]

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So what do we do to not let that 12-year-old decide what we’re going to do with our lives? We simply decide to live more than just one life. How about eleven?

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Around those eleven lives, lots of goodness from J.D. Moyer: A System for Exploring Life Purpose and Setting a Primary Goal. Don’t let that descriptive headline put you off. It’s a very smart post on a topic many of us struggle with. Read it and act on it. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ll just say this — if you haven’t taken the time to understand and define your own purpose in life, why set goals at all? If you don’t know where you’re going, “no wind is the right wind.” I realize it might feel overwhelming … you could choose to dedicate your life to literally anything. But what is most important of all, to you? To love? To learn? To teach? To create? To explore? To thrive? To help those in need?

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Last but not least, it looks like people called J.D. are on a roll these days! Here’s digital ascetic, J.D. Bentley publicly thinking about the direction his (last) life has taken. This is such a good example of fine writing on the blog, and how not all great blog posts have to be immediately actionable (and include a top 10 list):

Cooking is both mechanical and poetic. There are a set of rules I know to be true. They provide a framework. Inside of that framework is the possibility for endless variety. You can take someone else’s idea—usually called a recipe—and make it your own. All it takes is some purposeful experimentation, or some laziness, or some forgetfulness, or some half-assing, to create the most delicious dish that has ever existed and may never exist again.

That’s the thrill of it. This might be the best steak the world has ever known and there’s a 90% chance that I won’t know why and a 90% chance I’ll never be able to reproduce it.

Go read the whole thing.

Comments 3

    • Fabian December 2, 2012

      Yes, the bias is part of the fun of linking to these articles. I was just to lazy to look up all the studies backing the dangers of coffee! :)
      Have a nice day too, Harry!

  1. R. Silver December 6, 2012

    Thanks for sharing, Fabian! I’ve found a couple of good reads in here, especially the Harvard essay. Very interesting.

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