How many people do you need to change the world?

How many social activists does it take to change the world? No, this isn’t the setup for some lame joke. It’s a question no one really knew the answer to. Until now.

Marcus Aurelius on Life

“The only thing that isn’t worthless: to live this life out truthfully and rightly. And be patient with those who don’t.”
– Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on Mortality and the Key to Living Fully

A Case for Solitude and Stillness

When you surround yourself with moments of solitude and stillness, you become intimately familiar with your environment in a way that forced stimulation doesn’t allow. The world becomes richer, the layers start to peel back, and you see things for what they really are, in all their wholeness, in all their contradictions, and in all their unfamiliarity.

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You

Sitting Quietly in a Room Alone

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
– Blaise Pascal

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You

Successful Human Relationship

“If you mount two clock pendulums side by side on the wall, they will gradually begin to swing together. They synchronize each other by picking up tiny vibrations they each transmit through the wall.

Any two things that oscillate at about the same interval, if they’re physically near each other, will gradually tend to lock in and pulse at exactly the same interval. Things are lazy. It takes less energy to pulse cooperatively than to pulse in opposition. Physicists call this beautiful, economical laziness mutual phase locking, or entrainment.

All living beings are oscillators. We vibrate. Amoeba or human, we pulse, move rhythmically, change rhythmically; we keep time. You can see it in the amoeba under the microscope, vibrating in frequencies on the atomic, the molecular, the sub-cellular, and the cellular levels. That constant, delicate, complex throbbing is the process of life itself made visible.

We huge many-celled creatures have to coordinate millions of different oscillation frequencies, and interactions among frequencies, in our bodies and our environment. Most of the coordination is effected by synchronizing the pulses, by getting the beats into a master rhythm, by entrainment.

Like the two pendulums, though through more complex processes, two people together can mutually phase-lock. Successful human relationship involves entrainment — getting in sync. If it doesn’t, the relationship is either uncomfortable or disastrous.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin

Telling Is Listening: Ursula K. Le Guin on the Magic of Real Human Conversation

(Thank you Michelle)

A Real, Effective Apology Has Three Parts

A real, effective apology has three parts:
(1) Acknowledge how your action affected the person;
(2) say you’re sorry;
(3) describe what you’re going to do to make it right or make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t excuse or explain.

Read full post.

6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong

Can you recycle coffee cups or greasy pizza boxes? If you’re tossing things in the recycling bin out of sheer hope, you might be an “aspirational recycler.” 6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong

The Internet Stopped Being Fun

“What happened is that the internet stopped being something you went to in order to separate from the real world — from your job and your work and your obligations and responsibilities.”

I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore, by Dan Nosowitz

The Perogative of Adulthood

“We aren’t in relationships to suffer in silence or fury; we may have come from unhappy muzzled childhoods, but it is the prerogative of adulthood to be able to complain; we simply need to give ourselves the space and compassion to learn to do so successfully, which means, with an absence of sarcasm or rage.”

How to Complain So a Partner Will Listen

How We End Things

“If you can change one thing about yourself then please be kinder and change how you end things because it matters way more than how you begin them.”
– Sartaj Anand

How We End Things, by Sartaj Anand

Beer Can

“This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful – as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.”
Jon Updike

Originally appeared in The New Yorker (Jan. 18, 1964).

(via Clay)

Several Kinds of Love

“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-improtance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you – of kindness and consideration and respect – not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
John Steinbeck

Read the full letter. It’s delightful.

The End Goal

“The goal isn’t credit. The goal is change.”
– Seth Godin

When your ideas get stolen.

How To Email Busy People

“If you want a meeting, ask for a meeting. Provide some time options and ask for a specified length. If you want an introduction, ask for an introduction. If you’re looking for funding, tell him you’re currently fundraising and ask to meet to show him your pitch. Don’t be sly. Don’t hint. Make the process ridiculously easy by just asking for what you want.”

How to email busy people, by Jason Freedman

Future of Content

“The future of content, in my opinion, is all about creating context. We are bombarded with so much information from so many channels every single day, that people crave editorial that can actually help them make sense of everything. We get so much of our “content” in these little bursts now — be it an email, a tweet, a blog post. But it’s always this little bite-sized, isolated bit of information. We rarely understand how it actually fits into our lives.

Given this, I think what’s needed are curators, editors, writers, filmmakers, etc who can really zoom out from that narrow perspective and take the long view. Who can do some of that sense-making for people so that they understand how this political development fits into the long arc of history, or how developing this particular habit will give their life more meaning in the long run. The future of content is about creating a rich, well-thought-out context that makes it possible for people to really process and synthesize ideas in depth — not in this surface-y way we’re all accustomed to now.”

– Jocelyn K. Glei

This interview with my friend Jocelyn really made me think.

Ideas You Consume

“What you think is a function of the ideas you consume.”
Faris

Excellent read: How to balance your media diet.

The Love You Put Into Something

“I strongly believe that the amount of love and care you put into a project is always apparent. Even if people are not conscious of it, they can sense when you have paid attention to every little detail.”
– Jocelyn K. Glei

I wholeheartedly agree with Jocelyn. Read the full interview.

Every Opportunity Comes with a Cost

“As much as we’d like to be nice people, we owe others a lot less of our time than we believe we do. It’s your business, you’re allowed to be a little selfish with it, especially when the net result of saying “yes” to everything to be “nice” is that you have less time to actually spend on your business and serving your customers.”
Paul Jarvis

(via my favorite newsletter)

Grace Bonney on The Art of Thoughtful Emails

“It’s important to own your content in the sense that you take responsibility for it. I’m proud of most of what we produce at Design*Sponge, but I’ve made a lot of publishing mistakes over the years. And owning those mistakes and talking about them publicly (and hopefully helping others avoid those pitfalls or mistakes) is a part of that accountability and trust you have to build with your audience. So I want to make sure that I can go to bed at night knowing I did my best to protect and celebrate the people we’re writing about and that when that goes wrong, I take responsibility and people reading know that we care and are doing our best.”

Taken from Grace Bonney’s interview on The Art of Thoughtful Emails and Clear Communication in Collaboration, part of CreativeMornings’ and WordPress.com’s #OwnYourContent campaign.

Previous articles: John Maeda & Kat Holmes on Designing for Inclusiveness and Ryan Merkley on Licensing Creative Work and How Attribution is Gratitude.

Stay Awake

“Here is the hardest thing for many people about adulthood: Staying awake. That is, resisting the somnambulance that will grow like weeds over any state of habitual life, excepting acute crises. You have to actively invite experiences into your life that will interrupt the smallness of your story and the calcifying generalizations you make about the world based on your own private universe.”

not in any particular order, and not exactly a gospel, but

The People You Spend Time With

“The people you spend time with literally co-create who you are, down to the near-cellular level. You’re building a life. The ones you build it with will be critical to your professional success, not because they’ll be in your field, but because they’ll be in your corner. The good ones will give you a kind of emotional buoyancy and a head-shrinking perspective that will nourish the person you’re trying to become—and yeah, that’ll enhance your job performance immeasurably.”

not in any particular order, and not exactly a gospel, but

Community

“Communities are not built of friends, or of groups with similar styles and tastes, or even of people who like and understand each other. They are built of people who feel they are part of something that is bigger than themselves: a shared goal or enterprise, like righting a wrong, or building a road, or raising children, or living honorably, or worshipping a god. To build community requires only the ability to see value in others, to look at them and see a potential partner in one’s enterprise.”
– Suzanne Goldsmith

How We Define Community: A Collection

Irony Doesn’t Scale

“Eventually I realized that success is not about big hits. It’s actually in the opportunity to improve. How could our sales pipeline be better managed? How could our team be coached on client interaction? Who seems frustrated, who could use coffee? How could our meetings be more efficient, and in lesser quantities? Do we need more plants?”

A interesting piece on the highs and lows of becoming a leader. Irony Doesn’t Scale

(via Jocelyn)

How to Become an Adult

“We start on the path to genuine adulthood when we stop insisting on our emotional competence and acknowledge the extent to which we are – in many areas of our psyche – likely to be sharply trailing our biological age. Realising we aren’t – as yet, in subtle ways – quite adults may be the start of true maturity.”

How to Become an Adult