What is the end-goal for me?

There is no end goal. These meaning of life questions are nonsense questions. Any end goal will just lead to… another goal. We just play games at life. You grow up, you’re playing the school game, then you’re playing the social game, then you’re playing the money game, then you’re playing the status game and these games just sort of have longer and longer and longer-lived horizons but at some point, I believe that these are all just games. They’re games where the outcome really stops mattering once you kind of see through a game.

Perfecting your desires

One of the things I’ve learned relatively recently in life is that it’s way more important to perfect your desires, if you want to do something, then it is to try to do that thing when your desire is not a hundred percent.

An example would be, self-discipline. When we say okay, I want self-discipline: like to eat healthy food. You might be constantly fighting with yourself, oh I just ate unhealthy food, oh I just ate healthy food… But I think if you look at the desired component… if you had a desire to eat the healthy food… then I think then you would do it effortlessly.

You wouldn’t need the self-discipline and so what that means is it’s way more important to figure out one of the tastiest healthy foods that you like and making sure that it’s always available to you. As opposed to just having to constantly self-discipline while putting yourself in environments where the tasty healthy food isn’t around. I think that, that observation applies to a lot more things and I’ll probably be reusing it more.

Having goals in life vs being present

I choose to be present. At least for me, goals come too easily so I’m not looking for more goals, I’m not looking for more things to do… it’s hard for me to be present. I’m very much stuck in the future, so at least for me, I know that the quality of my life improves if I’m being present.

Also, the last year of my life was probably the one where I was the most present, I did the least work out of obligation, I was very selfish with my time, and I probably had the most productive year of my life.

It was kind of ironic. The less you want something, the less you’re thinking about it, the less you’re obsessing over it… the more you’re going to do it in a natural way. The more you’re going to do it for yourself the more you’re going to do it in a way that you’re very good at it. The more you’re going to stick with it and the people around you will see if the quality of your work as higher.

When is your quiet time?

Usually in the mornings. It hasn’t been true recently.

Can you live without internet?

No. Thank God I grew up post Internet. I do remember life before the Internet, I am that old, it was a really boring. Life before the internet… was really really boring for introverts and I’m an introvert.

Best classic book – philosophy?

An intro, for someone starting out I love Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. For someone who’s more advanced Jiddu Krishnamurti– I like his Total Freedom book. Osho’s–Great Challenge. Michael Singer’s–Untethered Soul. Marcus Aurelius–Meditations.

Do you have any practical tips for removing your sense of identity?

If I did… I would have done it already. With myself, I think it is literally one little layer at a time. It’s just observing yourself.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about child development?

I think kids are fascinating, could talk about that for a long time.

Why am I doing this?

For me. I do everything for me. I don’t do anything for other people. None of us do. I think we all like to pretend like we’re doing everything for other people but the reality is we’re always just doing it for ourselves. That is just the truth. Whenever people ask me why did I do X or Y or Z it’s always for me that’s why I did it.

What are three things you would tell your younger self given what you know today?

Eat healthier, work out more and the biggest one would be to just have better emotional control. Do all the same things you were going to do anyway but do them with less emotion.

Homo Deus Book

Homo Deus, successor to Sapiens, it’s good but nowhere near as good as Sapiens. Sapiens I think is the best book of the last decade that I have read. I loved sapiens and I highly recommend it for everybody here.

Homo Deus is a sequel and I think Yuval Noah Harari is a genius but the issue he had was you know he had decades to write Sapiens and then his editors probably said “wow that made a lot of money so can you please crank out you know a second book right away” and so he had come up with one in a year or two.

Homa Deus is very insightful and very clever and very smart but it’s basically got one big idea at the center and when you figure out that one idea you don’t need to finish the whole book, whereas with sapiens there’s lots and lots of great ideas in there and it’s just full of them.

What’s your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is that I’m going to die without having really lived and I think everybody has that fear at some core level. Thank you for asking that, that’s an insightful question.

How many hours do you work in a week?

I probably work 10 to 20 hours a week right now and I’m very very very effective the rest of the time.

I’m also doing what most people would consider work but I don’t consider it work… so my definition of work is a set of things you have to do that you don’t want to do… and I’m slowly eliminating as many of those as possible from my life

Is this work?

No, this is not work. This is fun. The moment this stops being fun I’ll stop playing it.

Life extension?

Not my thing. I think a lot of that is kind of a quest for immortality, it’s just a new one because nerds need religion too.

How do you measure effectiveness?

I don’t measure effectiveness at all. I don’t believe in self-measurement. I feel like this is a form of self-discipline, a form of self-punishment, it’s a form of self-conflict.

Most efficient ways to build new mental models?

Read a lot, just read… it’s all been written down.

Is this the opposite of I don’t do coffee?

Well I don’t do coffee is basically a domain idontdocoffee.com and I used to proudly have an email address at idontdocoffee.com but I don’t have that email address anymore.

It was basically just trying to get people to stop doing coffee with me to build relationships. I don’t believe in these empty relationships that you build over coffee. Most of my relationships unfortunately or fortunately are just real… there’s usually a common shared interest it could be a business interest, it could be a specific business interest or something of that nature.

I don’t like building empty relationships so I don’t do coffee that is true. This [Q&A session] is not like I don’t do coffee, this is sort of just one-to-many.

How important is solitude?

Solitude is important and underrated… I need more of it for sure but everyone’s different. I think it depends if you’re on an inner journey or an outer journey and people go through both in life, usually outer first

so if you’re going to the outer part of your journey then you know you want to be outside, you want to be meeting people you want to be active.

If you’re on the inner part of your journey you need solitude. One thing that I have never found useful is meditation yoga gets converted into these multiplayer games where it’s like you’re doing it with other people and it’s kind of socialization and connection thing… which is fine, that has merit, but I prefer the single-player game.

Have you learned how to learn?

Just read that’s all there is to it just read whatever you can. Fall in love with reading.

Favorite Feynman book?

Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman is what sucks you in, but they’re all good… I like Six Easy Pieces.

Is love important in your life?

Yes, but not as important as it is in most people’s lives. I mean I don’t use that word much I think it’s an overloaded word. It’s like love and friend… you know these are words for which we should have like 50 different words but we only have one or two.

Happiness is another one of those… you can say happy to 20 people and they each have about 20 different images in their heads they’ve, heard 20 different things.

What is your schedule like?

Scheduling is so overrated. I wish I could have a completely on-schedule life. That would be something nice to shoot for.

What is your perfect day?

I don’t have a preconception of a perfect day because if I did then it would kind of ruin the day that I was living.

A few habits everyone should follow in day-to-day life

Work out, keep healthy food near you. That’s it. It’s hard to do commonalities for other people.

How to become a great conversationalist

Read a lot. You can also regurgitate things you’ve learned from books and people think you’re smart.

Hacks on being present

Oh, there are lots of those. I can give you my hacks but they’re not going to work for you. You have to develop your own because your monkey mind works in a different way than mine does. Every mind is unique and observation is sort of a gateway into that. So you observe your own mind as a gateway.

One hack you could do is just say alright I’m done for the day, I’m going to turn off my mind for the next few hours. I don’t need it and any idea/ any observation I need to do… anything that comes up is invalid. I commit to not following up on it. I commit to not writing it down. I commit to forgetting it. I commit to throwing it away.

If you sort of tell your mind that the next hour is useless and you credibly tell it that you’re not going to follow through on anything… it comes up with you’re not going to tweet it… you’re not going to write it down… you’re not going to fix it… you’re not going to solve it. Then the mind has no choice but to go away. That’s an example of one hack that I use.

How do you deal with anxiety?

I remember that “mother died” memento mori as they say… it’s hard though, anxiety is the human condition. It’s probably the single most pervasive emotion, I don’t think people understand how deep anxiety runs. If I conquered anxiety I’d be the Buddha, so would you if you conquer anxiety.

What are our deepest human emotions?

I mean love is a very deep one. Anxiety is very deep but I don’t know if there’s a way to compare them.

How do you deal with difficult people that you have to work with?

Well, I’m lucky in that these days, I generally tend to walk away from them.

If I have to, and I have no choice? You suffer through it but I try and change that situation as quickly as possible.

How to manage anger?

It is to observe that when you’re angry that anger is a loss of control over the situation. It is a contract that you’re making with yourself… that you’re going to literally be in physical and mental and emotional turmoil and you’re going to signal that as strongly as you can to the other party… until they [understand] it, until they get that you’re capable of violence, so anger is a precursor to violence.

There’s a Buddhist saying that anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while you’re waiting to throw it at somebody. I think that’s a great visual image because it essentially burns you. I think the way to deal with anger is to do it selfishly… to realize the damage that it is causing you. When you become aware of the damage, and the misery, and the pain, and the suffering, and the wasted moments that anger causes you, you’ll stop being angry or you’ll learn to just be less angry because you don’t want to hurt yourself.

Can you bottle the key ingredient for motivation?

Everyone’s motivated, it just depends on the thing. Everyone’s motivated for something. Even the people that we say are unmotivated are suddenly really motivated when they’re playing video games. I think motivation is relative to the thing so you just have to find the thing that you’re into.

What is freedom to you?

It used to be freedom to do whatever I want but that’s not realistic, so now I’m trying to cultivate more freedom from things… freedom from obligations, freedom from emotions.

On hurting other people

If you hurt other people because they have expectations of you that’s their problem, if they have an agreement with you it’s your problem… but if they have an expectation of you that’s completely their problem… I have nothing to do with you and they’re going to have lots of expectations out of life the sooner you can dash their expectations the better.

How does one know when they understand something?

When you can explain it in simple words from the bottom up.

What is love?

I don’t know. Oneness…. a feeling of the genes being passed onto the next generation.

Good story?

Library of Babel by Boris is one of the most mind-blowing stories ever written especially if you know the history… how he was a professor of literature he managed the Argentine national library then he went blind in this library and wrote this amazing story about a library in which all the letters and all the books are kind of jumbled.

Do you believe in God?

I don’t know probably not… not in the sense of one model of God… like if you say Christianity right, and according to Christianity I’m supposed to believe that like a white Jewish guy is running the world running the universe and died for my sins. So I find all organized religion to be ludicrous, but I do feel like there may there’s definitely something bigger than us and in the sense of like the combination… he doesn’t care about us, probably not… are we components of it? Yes… is there life after death, I have no idea, I wouldn’t count on it.

Free will

I think it’s kind of a nonsense question if there’s free will, because you know the universe is an unbroken chain of particle collisions from the Big Bang till now…

So you’re not going to alter that… you’re part of that collision pattern, so in some sense, you don’t have free will because your particle collisions.

There’s no like special spirit or soul which is guiding you. On the other hand that doesn’t mean that what’s going to happen next is known, that doesn’t mean it’s all predetermined, it still has to unfold and play out because you can’t simulate the next step in a complex system without a system of equivalent complexity.

You cannot create a model of the universe that predicts what’s going to happen next without creating the universe itself. So we may not have any free will, everything may be deterministic but that does not mean that things are predetermined.

Was no goals part of your philosophy before after you became financially independent?

Probably after, I mean I wanted to be financially independent that was a big one for me after that.

If not hard work, then what?

I mean the hard work is important don’t get me wrong. You have to care about what you do, and you have to sink time into it because there are other people out there really working just as hard or harder than you…

You have to put in the time but more important is the direction you’re heading in. That matters more than how fast you drive… we live in the modern age of leverage… we’re leveraged to machines, we’re leveraged through media, were leveraged through money, were leveraged to people working with us.

So picking the direction that you’re heading in, for every decision, is far far more important than what force you apply. Pick the right direction to start walking and then start walking.

10 Curated Resources

Book recommended by Naval for those interest in classic books about philosophy.

Another classic philosophy book recommended by Naval

As the subtitle states, this book is about exploring the world within us.

A New York Times bestseller. Many readers claim it transforms the way you think.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard, accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”

Naval really vouched for this book as one of the best in the last decade.

The next book written after Sapiens. Naval said it was could, but believes it was rushed compared to Sapiens.

“Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums; painting a naked female toreador. In short, here is Feynman’s life in all its eccentric―a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.”

Also written by Feynman. Naval says it is one of his favorites by Feynman

Naval says this is a mind-blowing book. You should definitely look into the history of its story.