How to overcome fear and anger, when to listen to other people’s opinions, and why science says happiness is good for your heart

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

​Insight 1: Remember it will end

When was the last time you let fear stop you from doing meaningful work?

Or when was the last time you got angry or were ungrateful?

What if I told you there’s one cognitive reframe that would help you push past fear and experience deep gratitude?

There is.

But before you can address either, it’s important to understand what fear and anger do to us…

Often, fear and anger cause us to have tunnel vision. All we can think about is the thing we’re afraid of happening, or the thing we’re pissed off about.

So the solution, logically, is to widen our perspective.

Here’s an exercise to help you develop a wider perspective, so you can push past fear and experience deep gratitude:

​Insight 2: Don’t ignore people’s opinions

Which is better: To be impervious to what other people think about you, or to be acutely aware of what they think?

I typically lean toward the no-fucks-given camp.

But this article by Sam Altman has me rethinking my position…

“[The most impressive people I know] generally care about other people’s opinions on a very long time horizon—as long as the history books get it right, they take some pride in letting the newspapers get it wrong.”

This adds a nuanced element: Time.

So it’s not just, “Should you care about what other people think, check yes or no.”

It’s “On a long enough timeline, whose opinions are worth considering?”

Answering this question is how you play long-term games with long-term people to build long-term legacies.

Because maybe the majority of people don’t get it, and you and a small group of contrarian deep thinkers see the potential of an idea.

If you’re wrong, no big deal. No one will remember your weird idea.

But if you’re right, and you stick together with other people whose opinions matter, you could usher in a new age for your industry.

​Insight 3: Practice happiness

What if I told you it’s important to be happy, or at least practice getting into a more positive headspace?

Obvious, right?

But how often do you actively, intentionally practice putting yourself in a positive headspace?

Or are positive emotions more of a fleeting blip in an otherwise stressful day for you?

What if I told you, according to science, happiness can protect your heart health?

According to a recent Psychology Today article by Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a positive outlook on life has been shown to reduce heart disease and heart attack by as much as 22%.

And if you’re a skeptic, Dr. Goldsmith has some advice:

“Even if you don’t believe that happiness will keep you from becoming ill, is it going to hurt you to try to be a little happier? No matter how disgruntled, busy, or skeptical you may be, engaging in things that bring you joy is going to make you feel better.”

So what do you have to lose?

Worst case, you’ll get a few more fleeting blips of happiness a day.

Would that really be so bad?

​Question for the Week

Think about the work you’re doing on a day-to-day basis…

Are you optimizing for the history books, or the newspapers?

Meaning, are you focusing on building a legacy or chasing trends?

​Coaching Corner

Today’s question comes from Adrian:

“You say perfectionism is different than having high standards. Please elaborate on the difference, like where does one end and the other begin?”

I get this question a lot from people who believe perfectionism is the secret sauce to their success.

It’s not.

At best, you succeed despite your perfectionism—not because of it.

Here’s why…

Perfection is unattainable.

Nothing and no one is perfect. It’s an ideal, not a reality.

Perfectionism is expecting yourself to attain the unattainable.

See the problem?

Perfectionism isn’t the same as having high standards.

Everyone wants to reach their potential and put out their best work.
​But expecting yourself or anything you create to be perfect is a recipe for disaster.

Especially if you’re unwilling to publish or launch your thing until it’s perfect.

If you start to miss deadlines, stay stressed the fuck out all day every day, or end up working way more hours which takes you away from your family, etc.—you’ve crossed from “just having high standards” into perfectionism territory.

If you’ve ever created anything, it was imperfect.

So if you’ve ever published an article or launched a product, you succeeded despite your perfectionism, not because of it.

Hope that helps.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

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My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person you think would find it valuable.

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Until next time—memento mori,


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