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The Most Important Skill You Can Cultivate (medium.com)
49 points by maikch 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

I beg to disagree. You need to be careful with what you accept. Little by little, small things pile up and make a big difference.

Some examples:

* Nasty managers. You go on accepting one issue here and other there and the guy will just get worse and worse.

* Collapsing countries, such as most of Latin America and Caribbean. You go on accepting some crime because "shit happens" until you are in a place where you just can't raise your kids without fear.

I used to think like that when living in South America. But when my oldest son was born I just said to myself: enough is enough, gotta get out of here; I don't want this as a future for him.

If you read the article he's not saying you should put up with bullshit but that the bullshit you have to put up with should not bring you down. The distinction is huge. I'm pretty sure that he'd agree with your point that allowing BS to accumulate is not a good way to live your life.

I'm on board with that, but I find that many (most?) people "reason" by estimating the magnitude of emotional impact.

That is, if I'm "zen" when people do things they shouldn't, to me or to people I care about, then people take that as "I only kind of care". I can politely spell out that it's not OK, that it needs to stop, etc., but some people do not think you are serious unless you are in some sort of heightened emotional state.

So, because they don't see an emotional escalation, when request turn into repercussions (like quitting a job or dis-inviting a guest), then people feel blindsided because I didn't communicate well in their terms (emotionally).

I'm not sure how to resolve this phenomenon. Could I escalate externally while staying innerly peaceful? Do I spell out consequences, basically laying down ulitmatums?

I think that's something that you'll have to find out for yourself. One potential outcome would be that you lose your inner peace in an attempt to display your lack of control over a situation (or whatever emotions people believe you display).

But you bring up a very important matter, which seems to be more pronounced now with ubiquitous social media (more people having an outlet to act): many people seem to believe those who act "emotional" - eg. frightened, angry, happy - even if that act is a fraud. I think this is a major problem. Those acting the lie would disagree, but it can result in our resources being directed towards dead-end or harmful ways (such as efforts that benefit the deceiver most of all), especially at a time when our collective priorities matter so much.

My humble opinion would be to be true to yourself, and direct your attention and energy towards constructive actions, whenever possible.

There is a distinction between making rational decisions based on events and being negatively emotionally affected by them.

You can leave your manager or country while laughing at the absurdity of the situation and being grateful for having had a unique experience.

Acceptance is not the same as complacency.

I think the article is suggesting that accepting your current situation puts you in a better mindset to tackle it full-force if it's going to cause you problems down the road.

"Ok, so we're here--now what?"

The most important skill is the meta-skill: the skill to acquire and improve skills. This requires resilience, patience, self-critical thinking, etc.

A beginning hacker uses tools. An advanced hacker improves tools. A great hacker invents tools. An enlightened hacker sees (and invents/improves/uses) himself as a tool.

I started working on resilience about a month ago after reading a post on HN regarding stoicism. I didn't know about stoicism prior to reading the post. In a short time it has had a positive impact on my life. Certain things just don't seem so stressful anymore.

Pragmatism, stoicism, resilience. morality.

It's the mental "gym" for living a healthy, happy life.

"If depressed people would just stop whining they wouldn't be depressed" - person without psychology background who has never dealt with depression

TL;DR: Resilience.

For many years prior to the current mindfulness wave, I have been practicing and preaching what I call "weather transferance". We humans do not become angry when harm comes to us because of weather, and so to avoid useless negative feelings, I suggest regarding annoying people as a form of bad weather. For example, I frequently find myself saying "What a shame. Too bad it is raining morons today".

Reminds me of the song "Disposition" by Tool.

Short but great advice from this. Keeping things simple. Focus on the current moment. Undertstand there are things beyond our control. Work on things even when they seem difficult. Life skills. That's all there is to it.

I don't know how many of you have read "10% Happier", but it was a bit ahead of the curve with the current mindfulness / stoic fad that's been floating around the Internet.

Toward the end of the book, Harris talks about how being zen is great, but also not terribly effective in the modern world, specifically in the modern workplace. So it's ok to be chill about some things, but there are other things you absolutely can and should get mad about. Otherwise, you're not living your life, you're just being a zombie.

> Toward the end of the book, Harris talks about how being zen is great, but also not terribly effective in the modern world, specifically in the modern workplace. So it's ok to be chill about some things, but there are other things you absolutely can and should get mad about. Otherwise, you're not living your life, you're just being a zombie.

I admit my exposure to Zen is as an interested outsider and dabbler/dilettante, not as a practitioner, but this seems to betray a significant, fundamental misunderstanding of Zen.

Unless we're just using "zen" as a colloquial synonym for "hella chill".

Agree. Terms like "Zen" and "Mindful" are being seriously misused. Whatever we call "zen" is not "zen" in the Buddhist sense.

Wait... so care remote codes have been broken and the hack is so common that low level criminals have it?

Also beg to disagree. The most important skill you can cultivate is wisdom. How you cultivate it is another story, though.

Yes, wisdom is vital, but if you don't have it then it's hard to develop. How are you supposed to bootstrap? It's like learning with no feedback.

Basically you find someone who is wiser than you and learn from them. Repeat. How do identify that person? Really depends on what kind of wisdom you are after.

I have great resilience, my wife doesn't. I know enough to say that you just can't learn resilience (nor ask another person to). It's also a personality trait, resilient people tend to think about what could go wrong; my wife gives me weird looks if I put a raincoat in the car on a sunny day.

> I know enough to say that you just can't learn resilience

So based on your anecdotal experience you have concluded resilience cannot be learned? I find this statement ridiculous, especially considering science shows the opposite.

> The good news is that positive construal can be taught. “We can make ourselves more or less vulnerable by how we think about things,” Bonanno said. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus. You can train people to better regulate their emotions, and the training seems to have lasting effects.


Hmm I'd put the raincoat-in-the-car anecdote in the "neuroticism" category. I think of resilience as the ability to weather issues that you don't foresee.

>The curious thing is that I wasn’t so upset about what happened. Almost not upset at all. I set aside an emergency fund for such cases, so financially it wasn’t really a problem

I think the two go hand in hand. You can't practice it if you're not prepared somehow for that eventuality. Having 2 child seats stolen while living paycheck to paycheck can be pretty devastating.

Resilience is about toughing it out when things go wrong. Wisdom is applying what you learn so you don't need to lean on resilience.

That said, I wouldn't wish financial hardship on anyone.

Resilience isn't something you learn directly, it's something you acquire indirectly by living a life that requires it. Almost anyone with a positive outlook who puts themself in a situation that requires resilience will get it eventually.

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