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Ask HN: What is your favorite motto?
212 points by MrXOR 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 453 comments
You need mottos. There's nothing like a good motto to keep you directed toward your goals [1]. What’s your best motto? Thank you!

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201508/9...

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

- Steve Jobs

And in similar vain:

Are you moving one step in 20 directions or 20 steps in one direction?

I collect a few of my favorite mottos/quotes here: https://nikitavoloboev.xyz/likes/#quotes

Most of these mottos and quotes are just pretty versions of my more generalized and practical rules I wrote for myself:


"Are you moving one step in 20 directions or 20 steps in one direction?" - in 20-dimensional space I may still be moving forward, even though I'm changing direction with each step ;)

For God's sake that's the ultimate motto! :)) But really, I prefer one step in 20 directions because at the end I want to be a human being who has tried to be better in many dimensions of life, not the popular superhero at X who is a freak!

You have a great website. I was especially curious about your minimalism section and how you list all of your possessions. May I ask; do you truly not own any bedding? I'm similar to you such that I find extreme value in being able to pack up my things and go somewhere else with relative ease.

I do own bedding, just didn't think to mention it. Same for chair or a table. It mostly lists things I would take with me if I were to move to a new place.

"Are you moving one step in 20 directions or 20 steps in one direction?" So what if I'm moving one step in 20 directions but I'm enjoying each one of them? Isn't preferrable to enjoy the journey and never reaching nowhere rather than reaching your destination whatever it takes on each step? :D

If your goal is simply "enjoy the journey" then yes that's fine - you're successful in what you're trying to do.

The analogy is useful when someone's goal is "start a business" but shiny object syndrome keeps them from focusing on actually starting the business.

Thank you for this.

Regarding your last link:

I have something similar scattered all over text files in multiple drives and very rarely see them. Yours is organized, in one place and easy to see your intentions if you need to.

Maybe everyone should look at your list once in a while. Just reading them has a very strong emotional effect for me.


Thank you

I love the quotes and learnings section!

I get a vibe from it like 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son


EDIT: going back through this old blog, beware, it has not aged as well as one would have hoped.

580. Spend time with your mother. She’s cooler than you think.


When I was in my 20s I lived on a bicycle for a year, going around the lower 48 and Canada, and then up to Alaska. I lived for two weeks in Joshua Tree with a guy named Tom, who slept in a cave the whole time.

One morning we were sorting our gear and a piece of paper fell out of his wallet. As I handed it back to him, I read the three lines on it:

Work hard.

Be strong.

Don't complain.

I asked him about it, and he said that was advice his grandfather had given him. He wrote those lines down and carried them with him to remind him of what his grandather had told him. Those words have echoed in my mind for decades now. They're not absolutes; there are times to let go of work, to let yourself not have to be strong, and times to stand up and complain and protest loudly. But the spirit of that advice has certainly been a guiding force in my life.

4. End up living in a cave

That’s exactly the principles my grandfather thought me. But I tend to discuss, if it is still valid today.

How are those principles not valid today?

It's hard to imagine this advice being given to a young woman during the grandfather's time, or even today. It comes from a time when there was a tremendous amount of hard work that needed to be done and existential wars to be fought. These burdens were placed upon the men of the society while the women were tasked with the more social and emotional work of actually keeping our families glued together and raising the next generation.

This advice would have been good advice then, but today gender roles are much less rigid, and a well-rounded human understands how to balance hard work and purposeful relaxation, how to be strong and persevere and when to lean on others and be vulnerable, and knows the right time to speak up and voice one's grievances.

The grandfather's advice is one formula for a certain type of masculine stoic life, but if you were to follow it too rigidly, you'd miss out a lot of the emotional richness that modern life has to offer.

Is this really great advice? What if you don't feel strong? What if working hard makes you unhappy?

I often don’t feel strong enough, but I still have work to get done, kids to raise, a wife to support. Sometimes (most times for most people) we have to do things that don’t make us happy. Chores, bills, work, difficult conversations, break ups, supporting others who need it.

That’s exactly what this advice is for. You don’t need to be reminded to be strong or work hard when you feel strong and want to work hard.

It's great advice if you don't have the luxury of being a 1st world free loader.

At a Christmas lunch in 1996 - I was 12 - My nan told me and my sister.

"Some bugger will always have a faster car, a flashier house, a glitzier watch - but you were the only kids that ever had me for a nana".

I've used variations on the same theme throughout most of my life!

As a new parent who wants the best for my baby, this really resonates with me!

I like this one.

so sweet ! love it !

"A witty saying proves nothing."

-- Voltaire

The world is far more complex than any human could possibly fathom, and reducing complex subjects to witticisms usually works against those subjects, whether intentional or not.

L’ABBÉ. — Madame, madame, un bon mot ne prouve rien.

LE COMTE. — Cela est vrai ; mais un bon mot n’empêche pas qu’on ne puisse avoir raison.


The Clergyman -- Madam, Madam, a witty saying proves nothing.

The Count -- That is correct; but a witty saying doesn't prevent being right.


First I've heard of an anti-motto

Here's another:

It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims. - Aristotle

That is extremely astute.

Aristotle is nothing if not astute. If you’d like more, I highly recommend Nicomachean Ethics.

I wonder if he was silly and weird. :)

But the writings that survived the gauntlet of written history have done extremely well.

(thank you I will investigate!)

It was perfect as a senior quote in my yearbook!

Indeed. I contend that posting quotes to look smart or profound is stolen intellectual valor.

yep, that's a well known quote from Mark Twain if I'm not mistaken /s

This is why I use my quotes and note collection as a set of reminders and stories. The result is that my collected notes have each become longer over time; early quotes are one or two sentences, now I rarely save anything less than half a paragraph. The quotes are mostly useless to anyone else, unless our interests intersect. They are for my enjoyment and understanding.

Yeah. The world is so chaotic

Hah. I love this one!

I don't think I have a motto, and I don't particularly want a single one. Instead I rely on a broad set of ideas and rules which guide my decisions. Here is one quote that guides my thinking about science and philosophy:

“Nell did not imagine that Constable Moore wanted to get into a detailed discussion of recent events, so she changed the subject. "I think I have finally worked out what you were trying to tell me, years ago, about being intelligent," she said.

The Constable brightened all at once. "Pleased to hear it."

“The Vickys have an elaborate code of morals and conduct. It grew out of the moral squalor of an earlier generation, just as the original Victorians were preceded by the Georgians and the Regency. The old guard believe in that code because they came to it the hard way. They raise their children to believe in that code– but their children believe it for entirely different reasons."

They believe it," the Constable said, "because they have been indoctrinated to believe it."

Yes. Some of them never challenge it– they grow up to be smallminded people, who can tell you what they believe but not why they believe it. Others become disillusioned by the hypocrisy of the society and rebel– as did Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw."

Which path do you intend to take, Nell?" said the Constable, sounding very interested. "Conformity or rebellion?"

“Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded– they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity.” - Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age

> "Conformity or rebellion?"

> “Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded– they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity.”

This is very interesting as I've been thinking a lot lately on the subject.

What Nell chose is really the third way which is in no way better (or worse) than the other two. I don't know how to call it, but it's basically independent open minded.

Let me explain why, from >40 years of being that way. Not because I'm complex minded or anything like that, that's just my personality. Rebel on one issue, trust the tradition on the other, change my mind on past choices, choose the middle ground and upset both sides, and any other variation you can think of.

To keep it as short as possible I will have to simplify: you really only have 3 choices: lead, follow or get out of the way. For lead and follow you need other people and people only get together if they have a common way of thinking. So those options are only available for people who are (or appear to be) conformists or rebels. So what's left for individualists? Just to get out of the way and achieve pretty much oly what 1 person can achieve - not much. You can also fake going with one side or the other for a time being, but you can't form life long relationships (which are also required for important stuff) so it won't last long. And this society aspect is just one example. Another quick simple one is you tend to keep reinventing wheels.

So yeah, being independent open minded is just as simple minded as the other options. In reality none of them are simple, they are just personality types each with pros and cons. Each can overcome some situations and fail in others just as likely. No mental model inside of one persons head can keep up with reality (even reduced to only society interactions). Any attempt to classify one model as being superior is just trying to feel good about one self and superior to others, and that IS simple-minded.

First 3 would be:

- You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. (David Foster Wallace / Infinite Jest)

- 90% of everything is crap (Sturgeon’s Law)

- If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time. (Shimon Peres)

Rigorous application of Sturgeon's law to all my information sources gave me a lot of peace of mind. Before that, I was always anxious about missing something important and my reading and learning list just kept piling up. After trimming things down, I am able to organize better and with proper prioritization, I can get more things done.

I always loved Frank Herbert's quote about fear in Dune:

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.”

In fact, this quote resonates with me so much that I've been using it as my desktop background for the past 8 years.

It also has been my experience with fears in the past years, especially with those fears that come with decisions that you have to make for yourself: Once you face those fears and permit them to pass over you (e.g. by being mindful about the emotions), you give yourself the possibility to learn and grow, and a lot of times you will find yourself in situations which you could not have imagined in the first place.

Dune has a lot of good stuff: “Show me a completely smooth operation and I'll show you someone who's covering mistakes. Real boats rock.”

Yes, I too watched the new Dune trailer yesterday ;)

If that quote resonates with you, then you've never felt true fear.

That's a bit of a shallow dismissal (see HN guidelines). You'd do everyone a favor if you'd explain what your experiences were.

lmao leave it to HN to gatekeep fear

Could you explain what you mean?

English is not my native language, so there's a possibility for me to learn how to rephrase it; maybe resonates with me is not the right word :) I'd appreciate it!

If I may I think I know/feel what he meant: If you've experienced massive fear to the point of panicking, then you'll know that this kind of quotes were written by people who've never faced fear.

It's possible to face it, it's possible to address the issues...But fear/panic will always be there, you can learn to live with it, but it's not a "monster you can kill".

So when it's said "Only I will remain": well...the thing is fear/panic is part of you, again you can control it sometimes/most of the time, but it will probably never "go away" or "be destroyed".

That's the whole point: fear comes to you whether you want it or not.

But I am saying that because I am "in the middle of it"...maybe people end up being able to remove completely their fears at some point...

> But fear/panic will always be there, you can learn to live with it, but it's not a "monster you can kill".

This is not true.

Fear, like all emotions comes and goes. This is one of the first things you learn when you have a consistent meditation practice.

By clinging to an emotion, feeding it with conscious energy and identifying with it, you prolong the suffering it causes. The quicker you disidentify with it, the quicker it passes, just like every other emotion.

It may come back again, but that's not the same as "always be there" and the better you get with not associating and identifying with it, the less intense it becomes over time.

I don't think you are right.

I have been in position where I was at the brink of panic. That tingling sensation that slowly build up to feeling of total doom.

That quote was always an ancor point for me. Not fear but panic is a killer. A total emotional overload is something that will kill you when in dangerous position.

I agree fear is part of you and can be useful when handled well.

Panic is fully negative state when fear takes over and you are running on pure emotion.

And that's what I always considered this quote to be referring to. Uncontrolled fear will paralyses your decision making making your life worse.

I agree with you. Fear of leaving your bed because of anxiety is not the same as fear of having a gun pointed to you. You can be happy to be able to overcome your small fears, but get out of your bed is not really bravery.

You could understand it as growing up. Only in your twens, your prefrontal cortex fully develops and can overrule the flight response of the amygdala. Most teens are thus dominated by their emotions like fear (or anger).

I don't remember the context in Dune. But I read it to be about irrational fear of something that is not life threatening.

Obviously "overcoming your fear" by putting your life in danger in a situation where you are almost certain to be killed or injured is probably not an idea most people can seriously claim to live by.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

And also:

"Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks."

Lazarus Long, from Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love"

> Specialization is for insects

This is literally why we are talking over internet and not using smoke signals.

That's the joke! The quote is meant to be absurd. I've seen this quote generate some interesting discussion before. People seem divided into two camps over whether to take it seriously or as absurdist humour.

I'd be very interested to see your source on how this is supposed to be a joke.

hehe, You never know these days.

There was a term for it, when something is so absurd you can never be certain if its a parody or serious i.e. flat earth society.


"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article." -- Nathan Poe

The quote doesn't say insects aren't useful.

yet... sometimes it makes sense to leave some things to a pro. you should be able to ask for help.

I remember - a long time ago - reading the 7 habits book and the stages of maturity were - dependence, independence and interdependence.

So being a completely independent self-contained person is only stage 2.

It's a good stage though - personal sovereignty where you can do ANYTHING - but the next step is to do bigger stuff with others.

Everything in moderation, including moderation

I sort of cycle through and meditate on the below quotes a few times a week.

"Humanity has no forgotten how infinitesimal, how impermanent and how ignorant it actually is. Ptolemy has been ridiculed for conceiving the earth to be the center of the universe, yet modern civilization is apparently founded upon the hypothesis that the planet Earth is the most permanent and important of all the heavenly spheres. Ignorant of the cause of life, ignorant of the purpose of life, ignorant of what lies beyond death, we devote the precious span of our earthly years to the futile effort of establishing ourselves as an enduring power in a realm of un enduring things." - anon

“It is not necessary for a man to be actively bad in order to make a failure in life; simple inaction will accomplish it. Nature has everywhere written her protest against idleness; everything which ceases to struggle toward an ideal, the constant effort to get higher and further, which develops manhood and character.”

― James Terry White

"How we spend our days is how we spend our lives"

“Concentrate every minute like a Roman— like a man— on doing what's in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions." - Marcus Aurelius

Discipline = freedom

This guy Jocko Willink talks about discipline = freedom, I think he wrote a book or two (retired NAVY seal).

The guy above you just said "discipline loses to interest every time"

"This too shall pass."

Sure, it's kind of cheesy. But it has so many meanings. The bad and sad times will eventually pass, so take it in stride. The good times will pass too, so enjoy them while they're here. You won't always be the person you are now, and neither will others.

It seems to give some additional perspective when applied to any situation.

Along the same lines, memento mori, emphasizing not only that this will pass, but reminding you to consider that in the context of your own teleological end (whatever you consider that to be)

Sic transit gloria mundi -- "thus passes the glory of the world"

"slow is smooth, smooth is fast" - not sure where the origin is, perhaps military, but some of my friends/coworkers have laughed when I said this before. To me, personally, it has always turned out to be true. When you're working on something, don't rush it, take the time to do it right. This typically saves time in the long run because you tend to avoid rework.

I used to race motorcycles, and there were plenty of instances of "you have to go slow to go fast".

For example two linked turns and a straight.

If you went fast through the first one, you might have to go slow through the second one and the speed onto the straight would be slow.

But if you slowed way down for the first turn and then accelerated from there through the second turn, your speed entering the straight would be much greater and then speed over distance would lower your lap time.

This one has really been growing on me too. Right up there with the good old serenity prayer ("God grant me the strength...") and "a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor" and "once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it" for me.

Variations of this motto are said regularly in my office, particularly around prject integration points. I find the truth as well- it is one of my favorites. Much more time is wasted finding a mistake than is saved by making it.

Definitely heard this a ton in the US Army. Specifically around reloading your weapon.

I think it applies to individual and team movement too?

Yup definitely. Reloading was just top of mind. There's another part to it also.

"Too slow is dead"

"If you don't have time to do it right, make sure you have time to do it again"

--My great-great grandfather

It's very much in the spirit of my coworker's complaint about the agile 'process' we followed.

"We never have enough time to do it right, but we always have enough time to do it twice"

> It's very much in the spirit of my coworker's complaint about the agile 'process' we followed.

> "We never have enough time to do it right, but we always have enough time to do it twice"

Which is a totally valid tradeoff if "doing it right" will take three times as long.

Or, if after "doing it right", you're still going to have to do it over because you anticipated the wrong problems.

"Buy cheap, Buy twice" I think seems related :)

Similar: “cry once, buy once”

Wow. This is what I needed right now.

I love it! Thank you.

‘If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. ’

- Kierkegaard

More quote than motto but something that has guided me through the years

Sounds horrible to see potential squandered again and again.

"People work jobs they hate to buy shit they don't need." -- Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

That had a lot of influence over me when I heard it in High School. Something about it really clicked for me, and set me on a path to enjoying life for what it is instead of always chasing after money and possessions.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

From Dr. Spencer Johnson's book, “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Often what is holding us back from doing something is fear. The fear might be important, but asking yourself what you would do if fear was not involved has helped me a lot over the years.

Given my interest in motorcycles, I'd probably be six feet under

On a similar note, when anxious I ask myself, “What am I afraid of right now?”. It helps me to take more control over my anxiety.

This gave me the cold chill. I think I will print it and put it on the wall.

"I am not a visionary. I'm an engineer. I'm happy with the people who are wandering around looking at the stars but I am looking at the ground and I want to fix the pothole before I fall in."

- Linus Torvalds (TED Talk 2016)

Linus Torvalds:

> I am not a visionary. I'm an engineer. I'm happy with the people who are wandering around looking at the stars but I am looking at the ground and I want to fix the pothole before I fall in.

Apollo 11 engineers:

> ok boomer.

Funny thing about this is that the time of the Apollo program, Boomers were the young punks.

"Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind."

(Ecclesiastes 4:6)

This is the NIV version. The Dutch version I'm more familiar with would translate more like:

"Better one handful of rest, than both fists full of labour and chasing after the wind."

"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."

-- George Bernard Shaw

I would add that all atrocities depend on unreasonable people. Reasonable people keep the world running smoothly.

It cuts both ways. You're not wrong, and yet atrocities frequently depend on people following orders, which is something that only an unreasonable person won't do.

Basically, for good or ill, history pivots around the unreasonable people. The reasonable ones might be bystanders or accomplices, but in either case, going with the flow is simply the reasonable thing to do.

Yes, exactly. I just dislike the value judgment about what unreasonable people do.

In addition a society/culture made up of solely unreasonable people would quickly fall apart. While a society/culture of entirely reasonable people, if they had an excellent rule of law, would thrive.

"You can only change yourself" (internet pop wisdom)

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

That’s one of my favorite aphorims, and usually attributed that way—but he never said it. It is a manufactured quote paraphrasing a passage from one of his books.

These days, people would settle for RSU or Stock Options.

+ free snacks and massages in the office

"Always be nice twice"

This has been my motto for about 20 or 30 years now and helped me enormously (I think this is from an Irving book).

The idea behind is that you should give yourself and the other party a chance after a failed first impression. People have bad days, a tough meeting before, personal problems, ...

I met a few wonderful people and one very close friend after a horrible initial meeting. If I just told myself that they are assholes and I am an angel we would have missed a lot. I rather thought "they may be great and I may not have been great".

One word of caution: some people will take this for weakness.

Weeks of coding can save hours of planning


A couple of months in the laboratory can frequently save a couple of hours in the library. -Frank Westheimer

This can be taken to extremes. Some years ago, a popular historical novelist told me something along the lines of "I often talk to people who say 'I'm writing a historical novel', at which point I'm wondering whether this could be a potential competitor, '...but I'm still doing the research', at which point I realize that there's not a lot to worry about." Looking into background and what others have done is valuable, but it's pretty easy to let it prevent you from ever taking action yourself.

It's a tricky balance, though...

I have heard this before as : "Days of doing can save months of thinking"

isn't that the exact-inverse?

Amusingly, both are useful and valuable statements.

I particularly like wearied experience dripping from 'Weeks of coding can save hours of planning' :)

I live life by the following words:

"If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room"

I disagree so much with this popular motto that I have difficulty putting it into words. It reeks of egoism. Please, please replace it with:

"If you are the smartest person in the room, teach until you no longer are."

Funny, I always took it to mean that you’re in a room by yourself.

It's nice but one cannot always teach people to be smarter. You can distribute knowledge, but that's a different thing.

Nah. Teaching doesn't make people smarter. Challenging yourself does.

There's a fundamental divide between those that think the best of us are only here to help the less fortunate. And those that think, the best of us should be out there expanding the frontiers.

Especially since the 'less fortunate' sometimes can be that way by laziness.

There is a fundamental divide, but it's not the one you draw. The fundamental divide is between those that view life as a solo race and those that think of it is a group endeavor.

And more that those of course. So its not all ego; its a different outlook. We're not all born teachers.

Thank you so much for rephrasing that terrible original motto, it always has bothered me as well.

It reeks of egoism.

Or sarcasm.

Damn, this whole world is wrong.

I should find better mottos/quotes to adopt, but my favorites are, in no particular order:

* I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to. - J. R. "Bob" Dobbs

* The road to hell is paved with good intentions

* You can hope in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills the fastest. - My dad.

"It'll never be easier than right now"

People just want to be done with a task or not deal with it now.

* If you're already in a section of code and familiar with it, clean up a bit of technical debt. Even just write a couple comments. If you're not feeling patient enough to deal with it, add a #TODO comment with a couple brainstorms on how to deal with it so that next time it's easier to deal with.

I cleaned up an admittedly small (~1,000 LOC) but messy Excel macro codebase this way. Much of it was generated by the Macro Recorder, which makes anyone who has developed in VBA wince at the thought. While I never did refactor large sections as were needed because of other priorities, fixing things when they broke was far easier with intuitive variable names, nice function/sub names, and comments outlining generally what's happening or why this odd looking loop exists.

* If you disassemble something and there's rust, deal with the rust. The rust will make more headaches later and you're right there. It'll truly never be easier to sand it down and treat it.

* If you think you might need something for a project, just grab it. I was replacing brakes on my car recently and needed to remove a screw that was tight enough a normal screw driver was stripping it. I bought a $2 converter to let me throw a phillips head onto a wrench, a $15 set of Phillips drivers with socket backings, and a $99 impact driver. I broke the $2 solution, but the $15 solution worked great. I took the $99 solution back and saved myself ~25 minutes if the $99 solution was neeeded but not purchased.

* If your car engine with 120k miles on it is already disassembled to fix an issue and you can afford it, it might be worth doing the 125k maintenance items a bit early.

Interesting question. I believe that mottos can change the fortune of both institutions and people.

A motto when internalised can be very powerful. It becomes something you do;Something you are.

Some of my favourite are: Sapere aude and Acta non verba.

An excerpt from a blog https://leveragethoughts.substack.com/p/mottos-ideals-and-su...

" In 1662, The Royal Society, which was formed in 1660, was given a royal charter by Charles II. Its motto is Nillius in Verba which means take nobody’s word for it in English. This motto was intentionally chosen; At this time in the west, the objective of most educational institutions objectives was to pass on knowledge from ancient Greece. But here we had the Royal Society, at that time, choose a motto which means that evidence is the cornerstone of its existence. Evidence requires repeatable experiments in science. This was not the norm in the mid 17th century."

Festina lente.

Or Latin for "make haste slowly."

Augustus deplored rashness in a military commander and one of his favorite phrases was such that "that activities should be performed with a proper balance of urgency and diligence."


"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

(Howard Thurman)

From Patrick Collison's advice page (https://patrickcollison.com/advice):

"More broadly, nobody is going to teach you to think for yourself. A large fraction of what people around you believe is mistaken. Internalize this and practice coming up with your own worldview. The correlation between it and those around you shouldn't be too strong unless you think you were especially lucky in your initial conditions."

"Life passes most people by while they're making grand plans for it."

Not one, but a couple I utter everyday (to my kids):

1. "You get what you get and you don't get upset" 2. "Don't worry about that which you cannot control"

The last is the deepest one which I struggle the most with: "When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place!" - attributed to Churchill, but looks unlikely as he also said "It’s a good thing for an uneducated man to read a book of quotations." - https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/mar/08/viral-imag...

I live somewhere where "pen" == "pin" in pronunciation, so it's, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

first thing I thought of when I read this: 'Git-R-Done' by Larry the cable guy


Did you read the 'Enchiridion' (Epictetus)?

Thanks for pointing to that - I don't think I remember that specific reference, but there may have been some commentary to or about it when I was reading 'Meditations' (Marcus Aurelius) or one of the books on Stoicism where I picked it up from.

Everybody lies about two things: money and sex!

I can't recall who said this to me as a teenager, but at the time it felt wrong! I had not yet much experience with either. Navigating the adult world changed that, but I didn't grow beyond a vague feeling of the need for caution in delicate human matters. It was only when I learned about crypography, security and distributed systems, that I understood the value, and indeed necessity, of having attacker models. I realised that the social world, too, has benign and adversarial parts (and many shades inbetween): for example you can trust your mathematics teachers nearly 100% when they talk about mathematics, but you should probably be prepared for being taken advantage off in financial transactions, whence the aphorism.

"If you're going through Hell, keep going."

I _think_ it was Winston Churchill who said it.

But I like that it can apply to all kinds of situations. A stressful time a work? Hard times in personal relationships? Feeling depressed? The quote applies to any difficult situation I've ever found myself in.

> "If you're going through Hell, keep going."

> I _think_ it was Winston Churchill who said it.

Contrast with: "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

This is my favorite one:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Ideas that keep coming back to me:

A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.

It is what we read [and watch and listen to] when we don’t have to that determines what we’ll be when we can’t help it.

The quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our life.

It is not enough to say you work hard, so does the devil work hard

"...perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away..." - Antoine de Saint Exupéry


"Perfect is the enemy of good" - Voltaire

Not a life motto, but I also like:

“Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.” - Bruce Lee

“Motivation follows action”

Waiting for motivation to take an action often means you’ll wait forever.

Dont structure for the sake of structure. Structure to enable. Release the guardrails in execution.

In military ops in the mission field... these were some of the most surreal human experiences where the structure that trained us was no longer in place when we were executing. It's not a about dress-right-dress in execution... we were already enabled for what we needed to do & trust was instilled.

You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

Make love, not war. as a rule of thumb for social stuff.

When I was raising my kids, I went by the rule of thumb "All is fair in love and war -- and this is love." to justify making up our own rules for games (like "youngest goes first") and generally making life more pleasant, and to hell with what other people thought we should be doing as a family.

"Perfection is usually expensive and frequently impossible. Settle for excellence."

"Real laziness is doing it properly the first time."

-Instructor at a field bus training course I did sometime around 2000.

Love this one :D

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

I don't have a single favorite motto, but here's what I'm striving to live like, described in two minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4

Ships in the harbour are safe, but that’s not what ships were made for

IT Related : "Morty relax, it's just a bunch of ones and zeros out there, you're gonna be fiiiiiine"- Rick Sanchez in Dota 2

"We choose to go to the moon and do these other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard" - JFK

"If you want to succeed, increase your failure rate" - Thomas J Watson

"Dead fish go with the flow" - Andy Hunt

"Be hard to beat, but easy to like" - Me :)


«Πάν μέτρον άριστον»

Everything in moderation. Can’t say I manage to get by following it.

A more modern extension: Everything in moderation, especially moderation.

> A more modern extension: Everything in moderation, especially moderation.

Yeah, too much moderation causes an excess deficiency, that's really bad.

- The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.

- When you try to replicate someone's life, you don't live yours.

Inscribed on the inside of my wedding band: Ηθος Ανθρωπος Δαιμων (ethos anthropos daimon) which means "Character is destiny", to remind myself that my character (and the values I choose to live by) will drive my destiny.

“Until you stalk and overrun, you can’t devour anyone.”


A young man of my acquaintance has on the headset of his bicycle

   "There's only one way to get home".  
Something his father told him during a long bike ride once, when he was in despair of ever finishing.

one time my roommate called me from ... very far away... He said "come get me, I've biked too far".

and I drove for like an hour or more to bfe and got him.

"What you do at 8PM matters [...] what you do at that time will determine what you'll be in 10 years."[1], back then I was playing video games at 8PM, or watching Netflix, probably until 2-3 in the morning, I sold my gaming computer and replaced that time with learning new things, working on my side projects, reading, or sleeping. Every time I feel like getting some cheap dopamine shot I simply remember that quote, and immediately get motivated to do something better for myself.


I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific. -- Andy Rooney

“By searching, you can always find someone who made a well-sounding statement that confirms your point of view--and, on every topic, it is possible to find another dead thinker who said the exact opposite.” — Nassim Taleb

Related to this, I've always loved how the article on Epistemic Learned Helplessness[1] on SSC turns "well, you can prove anything with arguments!" from a joke to something to seriously consider.

[1]: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/03/repost-epistemic-learn...

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood" - Daniel Burnham

Or the more complete quote;

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty."

My favourite moto is very hard to translate from French. It’s a quote from Chateaubriand. “Il faut etre econome de son mepris tant les necessiteux sont nombreux”. Clumsy translation that misses the elegance of the formulation: “one must use disdain sparingly given how numerous are the needy”.

Also eternal truths passed on to me by my various managers:

“The more you climb in the hierarchy, the more you realise it is the same idiots at every level”

“The optimal number of people in an organisation is 3. As soon as you add one more you lose efficiency. So passed 100,000...”

“Assumptions are the mother of all fuckups”

This isn't particularly profound, but when I find myself getting distracted, I say "One thing at a time." to myself to reset my focus on the task at hand. Pretty simple, but it seems to help.

I’ve co-opted Nike’s motto, and say it to myself in my head when I’m trying to get something done and am stumbling over anxiety, distraction, procrastination, perfectionism, etc.

Just do it.

May be trite, but it can be helpful for me.

I like Lance Armstrong's words along those lines: "People ask me what I'm on. What am I on? What am I on? I'm on my goddamn BIKE, that's what I'm on. I'm on my bike 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. That's all it takes. That, and the drugs."

Maybe I'm misremembering his exact phrasing, but if it works, it works...

Play iterated games. - Naval

All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.

Why does the navy care about iterated games? I guess you can think of war and international affairs as an iterated game, but it seems weird.

naval is the mononym for Naval Ravikant, a well known investor

It "...never gets easier, you just go faster." -- Greg Lemond

About the refusal to be at ease in your comfort zone. If it's easy for you now, you better push harder before the competition catches-up.

I recall those land speed guys who ride a bicycle behind a pickup breaking the wind on the salt flats. Basically eliminated air drag... and ran right into rolling friction.

"Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything." Chris Hadfield -- Canadian astronaut

"A person becomes a person through other people." -- philosophy of Ubuntu (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_philosophy)

Something along the lines of

Face the world with an open heart and good things will happen / life will pay you back.

Asking someone to play cards on the train or simply gifting someone a smile can give you a positive feeling for the day. People usually mirror how you approach them, I believe being kind will make your life so much easier because others will respond with kindness (at least in the moment).

This one encouraged me to speak to strangers as I'm rather introverted and I've been carrying the idea in my heart for quite some time now.

A dirty mind is a joy forever.

My dad. I miss you.

Non-native english speaker here, can you elaborate? I can only find a sexual meaning to it...

I am a native speaker and I can't really see a non-sexual meaning. Which is fine, it's a thought-provoking motto.

Ah, ok :D

Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin F. Of course it depends on what one sees as essential

Almost everything I know about the world, I learned through consuming mass media. One of the things I learned from the mass media is that the mass media cannot be trusted.

“If you’re not willing to go too far, you’ll never go far enough.”

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

I like it because it has wide applicability outside of literal violence; all of life is a struggle, and the more prepared for that one is, the easier life can be made.

That more generalized version could be that of the Boy Scouts - "Be Prepared".

... also popular in the socialist version of scouting across the iron curtain. In russian it became "Всегда готов!"

Young Pioneers à la Norman Rockwell: https://yablor.ru/blogs/valeriy-barikin-pionerskiy-pin-ap/61...

(if you prefer video format to surrounded-by-ads, they're all visible in the title roll for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpMndf0RPgQ&t=40

Line printed Vyssotsky samizdat hiding under Pravda @ 52:04. I see "Abba" and "Boney M" clearly on the camp counselor's tapes in the subsequent shot, but can't read the groups on the other tape.)

Bonus track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP_lVuPRIaY (Analogue Dance Music may not be the most precise genre, but it is, by definition, 100% DRM free.)

Guess this is not very popular with the contemporary hippy crowd. Personally I do find that it applies to everything really.

This is a fun thread. Here are some I thought of:

"envy is ignorance...imitation is suicide" --Emerson. For me it's about embracing your own weirdness

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self" --Hemingway. Similar to above.

"regression to the mean" - The idea that any outcome that is especially good or bad is more likely an outlier than a predictor of future outcomes.

"what you see is all there is" - people always have a kind of tunnel-vision and will always need reminders to be aware of anything

"extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" - a non-theist's mantra

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" - such a bold declaration of human value from the 1700s

"These are the times that try men's souls" - an eloquent way of framing an age

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" - pacifism is not a great strategy, but this statement is inspiring.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" - idealogical fervor and often leads to the best and worst in humanity

"measure twice, cut once" -- an actual motto

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth" --Tyson. Defeating opponents is satisfying.

"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."

"change is the only constant" - for when things change

Few worthwhile efforts are successful on the first attempt.

Some people like mottos that are steeped in historical depth or psychological meaning. I'm much more simple... mine is from the 2015 film, Cinderella: "Have courage and be kind".

Means all sorts of things... have the courage to; stand by your decisions, own up when you made the wrong decision, follow a path, take a different path, be yourself, be something else, put others first, etc. etc.

And there's nothing wrong with being kind.

Wherever something is wrong, something is too big. -- L. Kohr

My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: "my gang yay, your gang boo!" It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics. -- War Nerd

All things come into being by conflict of opposites. ― Heraclitus

More often than not what's new isn't good, and what good isn't new.

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

"There is the great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast,' that a thing must be loved before it is lovable." Gilbert K. Chesterton

"Why do it right when you can do it twice?"

I use it sarcastically when people want to hack things together so I don't think it counts as a motto.

> "Why do it right when you can do it twice?"

Elsewhere in this discussion I observed that it is a good tradeoff if "doing it right" takes three times as long, or if after doing it right you're still going to have to do it over because you anticipated the wrong problems.

I sometimes use: Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?

I remember I really liked this one as a kid, and of course its corollary "don't put off until tomorrow what can be put off until the day after". And I still use this as part of my prioritisation - if something is not at all time sensitive, either act on it now, or let it go. Snoozing this stuff doesn't really help; if it's valuable it'll come back to your mind on its own.

What is today but yesterday's tomorrow?

- Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants

"The Future Begins Tomorrow", motto of Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems [1], from the film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

[1] https://www.flickr.com/photos/spookytreasures/7162735516/in/...

What a colleague always told be before I asked him a question: "Remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people" :D.

"Adapt and overcome."

Motto/mantra from my time in the Marine Corps. I think, officially, it was "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome." but rarely was the first word included in my exposure.

Related to that mantra's concept was: "Semper Gumby - Always Flexible."

Both are useful in acknowledging that 1) Change is constant and 2) To thrive, you must be able to work with that change.

Another from the Marines, although not quite a full fledged motto, it still sees a fair bit of play in my house: "If you can't be smart, you're going to be strong."

Here is one...

Semper Fi, devil dog

There are two kinds of people who never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else.

The short poem "I will not die an unlived life" by Dawna Markova has had a profound impact on me. I don't think about it often, only when I am making big decisions, but it has convinced me to take some of the biggest and most rewarding steps outside of my comfort zone, including living in Germany for 6 months.

“If you can piss while you walk, why not shit while you run?” —Aesop

Be yourself. It's easier and you won't get found out.

Ad augusta per angusta.

Ars longa, vita brevis.

We had a dictionary, Petit Larousse 1989, and I used to read it a lot, learning new words and their origins. It was the equivalent of a Wikipedia rabbit hole. There was a pink section in the middle that contained many latin phrases. I loved reading those as a child and they stayed with me.

'Mercy triumphs over judgement.' (James 2:13, NIV)


'Esse quam videri'. "To be, rather than to seem"

'If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.'

'In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.'

'If' by Rudyard Kipling was a compass of mine for a long time, practically every line is a motto.

Praxis Tendatum Docebit!- C.F. Gauss Translation: "Practice will teach those who try"

"We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time." T.S. Eliot

"What one fool can understand, another can." R.P. Feynman

A few personal favorites:

Nil Magnum Nisi Bonum - from Life of Pi by Yann Martel Translates roughly to No Greatness Without Goodness

Ars longa, vita brevis - Art is long, life is short

“He who is afraid to ask is ashamed of learning.” — Danish proverb

"Fortune favors the prepared mind." -Pasteur

“Champions behave like Champions before they are Champions” - Bill Walsh

A ship at dock is safe but that is not what ships are for.

Some off the top of my head:

“Oh my soul don’t aspire for immortal life but exhaust the limits of the possible” -Pindar

“Man is nothing without the gods.” -Odyssey

“Why ask my age Diomedes, very like leaves upon this earth are generations of men. The old the wind cast to the ground, the young the greening forest bears as the spring comes in. So mortals pass one generation flowers as another dies.” -Illiad

“That which you see as righteousness and unrighteousness, beyond this cause and effect, beyond what has been and what is to be—-tell me That.” -Upanishads

“Get up and fight.” -Bhagavad Gita

“To every man on this earth death comes soon or late, what better way to die than to face fearful odds for the ashes of our fathers and the temple of our gods.” -Horatius

“My lord my rock, prepares my fingers for battle and my hands for war.” - Psalm 144:1

I think a lot about this quote as of late No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. James Baldwin We seem to be in a period of history with many pure hearts

Trust the process

Anything worthwhile takes time and persistence - you need to think long term and trust your decisions, even if in the short term you don't see the results.

As any NBA fan knows, this is the de facto motto of Philadelphia 76ers - a team that was in a very bad spot some years ago and hired a general manager with a long term vision. They went through the "process" of rebuilding - based on rational, long term decisions - which is not what sport franchises usually want to do. In 3 painful years, they went from a mediocre team with no future to a team build to compete for the championship for the next decade. Here is the resignation letter from Sam Hinkie (the said general manager) - https://www.espn.com/pdf/2016/0406/nba_hinkie_redact.pdf - he left at the moment when the foundations for the future were in place. It's pure gold - it feels like reading Warren Buffett letters.

PS. Here is a funny video of one of the best Phili (and NBA) players who calls himslef the Process -> https://twitter.com/SBNation/status/915208453760614402.

PS2. Here is short excerpt from Sam Hinkie letter - you really should read it:

To begin, let’s stand on the shoulders of Charlie Munger, a giant to me. He is a man that’s been thinking about thinking longer than I’ve been alive. Let’s start with him and his approach. His two-part technique is:

1. First, what are the factors that really govern the interests involved, rationally considered?

2. Second, what are the subconscious influences where the brain at a subconscious level is automatically doing these things—which by and large are useful, but which often malfunctions?

To do this requires you to divorce process from outcome. You can be right for the wrong reasons. In our business, you’re often lionized for it. You can be wrong for the right reasons. This may well prove to be Joel Embiid. There is signal everywhere that Joel is unique, from the practice gyms in Lawrence, Kansas to Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania to Doha, Qatar where he does something awe inspiring far too regularly. We remain hopeful (and optimistic) about his long-term playing career, but we don’t yet know exactly how it will turn out. The decision to draft Joel third, though, still looks to me to be the correct one in hindsight given the underlying reasoning. But to call something that could be wrong (“failed draft pick”) right (“good decision”) makes all of our heads hurt, mine included.

"Whenever the word 'they' enters your consciousness, ask yourself, 'what is the distribution?'" -- my psychology professor

Overgeneralization about groups of people is one of the most pernicious natural biases.

"If you can pay it with money, it's cheap".

It means that if you can use money istead of family, health, sanity, etc... it is going to be easier for you.

It comes from the Valencia expression "Si es paga amb diners, barato!"

When was the last time you really pushed yourself?

Another one: (I forget who this is about, but someone famous, apparently on their death bed said this):

What a wonderful life I have had. If only I had realized it earlier!

I love Aphorisms/Quotes/Mottos/Sayings/Passages and have a collection of books in that vein. The reason i like this format is the high S/N ratio; the pithiness really challenges your mind and forces it to consider different interpretations under different contexts which leads to wisdom.

As an example, the sayings of "Wolf Larsen" from "The Sea Wolf" by Jack London have had a profound influence on my thinking.

Here is a passage;

Do you know, I sometimes catch myself wishing that I, too, were blind to the facts of life and only knew its fancies and illusions. They’re wrong, all wrong, of course, and contrary to reason; but in the face of them my reason tells me, wrong and most wrong, that to dream and live illusions gives greater delight. And after all, delight is the wage for living. Without delight, living is a worthless act. To labour at living and be unpaid is worse than to be dead. He who delights the most lives the most, and your dreams and unrealities are less disturbing to you and more gratifying than are my facts to me.” He shook his head slowly, pondering. “I often doubt, I often doubt, the worthwhileness of reason. Dreams must be more substantial and satisfying. Emotional delight is more filling and lasting than intellectual delight; and, besides, you pay for your moments of intellectual delight by having the blues. Emotional delight is followed by no more than jaded senses which speedily recuperate. I envy you, I envy you.” He stopped abruptly, and then on his lips formed one of his strange quizzical smiles, as he added: “It’s from my brain I envy you, take notice, and not from my heart. My reason dictates it. The envy is an intellectual product. I am like a sober man looking upon drunken men, and, greatly weary, wishing he, too, were drunk.” “Or like a wise man looking upon fools and wishing he, too, were a fool,” I laughed. “Quite so,” he said. “You are a blessed, bankrupt pair of fools. You have no facts in your pocketbook.” “Yet we spend as freely as you,” was Maud Brewster’s contribution. “More freely, because it costs you nothing.” “And because we draw upon eternity,” she retorted. “Whether you do or think you do, it’s the same thing. You spend what you haven’t got, and in return you get greater value from spending what you haven’t got than I get from spending what I have got, and what I have sweated to get.

1. Love is the only truth, everything else is illusion

2. Ubi vera amicitia est, ibi idem velle, et idem nolle. Which roughly would be: A genuine friendship is found in same likes and same dislikes.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

Don't believe everything you think.

I like this one, similar to another one I like. Don't connect the dots that aren't there.

unironically "Git Gud".

It boils down to stop complaining and better yourself, stop being mad - don't get angry - and just work to surpass the problem/wall.

The only thing you can reliably change is yourself.

I like this one ;)

“Time is money friend” - greedy goblin in world of Warcraft

No but seriously that’s a precious advice. Don’t waste your time, our time in this earth is limited, better make the most of it!

"Everybody lies." ~ Gregory House

"Talk is cheap; show me the code." ~ Linus Torvalds

"To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program." ~ Alan Perlis

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28

In this verse I have grown in confidence that by desiring to become a good person, God is going to help me in all aspects of my life, ALL of them. Not just finances, or my career, or health, EVERYTHING. It is very powerful [essential] to have this belief; it carries me through life and will until the end.

Not "by desiring to become a good person", though - instead, "those who love God", which isn't exactly the same thing.

Mottos (or just quotes) I remember from medical training:

“There is no problem that can’t be made worse with surgery” - a cautionary phrase to counter “a chance to cut is a chance to cure”

“Never be the first or the last to do something” - in regards to the countless new widgets, fads, techniques etc that are all the rage at the time

“50% of of our current understanding is wrong, but we don’t know which 50%”

“A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others”

Don’t forget nothing. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning.

"The years don't come without the days."

1. what does not kill me makes me stronger 2. Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. 3. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. What we’re plagued by these days isn’t any blocking of communication, but pointless statements.

It's just life. Don't take it so seriously.

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” ―Stephen Covey

Character is destiny. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become. ― Heraclitus

A decision is either easy, or it doesn't matter

That's a saying that I find incredibly wrong viewed in crisp binary logic but better through the lens of fuzzy logic (that is, on its face it's a giant case of the fallacy of the excluded middle, but if you phrase it as “a decision’s fuzzy membership in the set of easy decisions is the fuzzy negation of it's fuzzy membership in the set of consequential decisions” it's not as flagrantly wrong (it still ignores curable informatiom problems, though.)

I'm surprised by this one. What about things like marriage or a career change?

If you are doubting whether to get married, then apparently, both options are roughly equal. Hence the difference between either decision is small, not in outcome but in expected 'desirability'. Hence the decision 'doesn't matter much' insofar as there are no real wrong choices, just a slightly more right one.

> ... apparently, both options are roughly equal.

But that's the thing, they aren't really roughly equal in any meaningful way. I think Anscombe's quartet [0] is a good illustration of the issue, only in this case there are very many dimensions involved, with huge uncertainty in each, leading to vastly different risk profiles for the different alternatives.

> ... no real wrong choices ...

This is a matter of philosophy of course, but more objectively, there are many many people actively regretting their choices.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anscombe%27s_quartet

> This is a matter of philosophy of course, but more objectively, there are many many people actively regretting their choices.

I think this is a part of the power of the quote. It essentially says, don't judge your decisions with hindsight. And remember that having made the other choice could equally well have turned out bad as far as you knew back then.

I kind of take the quote to mean “if it isn’t a hell yes! Then it’s a no” sort of a thing. If I don’t say “hell yes!” To the prospect of marrying my girlfriend, then perhaps proposing to her now is the right move.

"Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness." (Wittgenstein)

It's easy to get stuck in problem-solving because you think things have to be a certain way. By letting go of the felt-need to think "realistically", you can reach a more complete view of the situation. You can always reclaim your worries later.

my mates will burn me on this one but "if it doesn't spark joy, get rid of it" - marie condo. i blame my wife for getting me hooked on organizing our whole house. but it applies to real life situations too. for example, last year i was contemplating quitting my job. i asked myself if it sparked joy and with that i quit the next day. lol

I'm not sure of the exact definition of a motto, but I'll give it a try:

1. The Devil is in the details.

2. You never hit rock bottom, it can always get worse. Someone is always worse off than you, truly, so stop pitying yourself. Self-pity is a mean downward spiral - most people don't realize it's potential to cause havoc.

3. Nothing's ever so bad, it's good for nothing.

I don't remember where I got this, but this has been my working philosophy for the past couple years:

> Make it work, then make it better.

Follow your curiosity. Don't listen to people who say you're spreading yourself too thin. In time, you'll find you've out-paced your detractors, because while they were forcing themselves to focus and be disciplined, you were working on things that interested you, and discipline loses to interest every time.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because in the end those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter.”

~Dr. Seuss

If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you will learn the things you never knew you never knew. - From the Pocahontas song.

I reminds me that I don't even know what I don't know. There is a complete unknown out there of which I can't even guess at its existence. It's a humbling thought, makes you reserve judgement.

I am smart and i am ready to do leg work. Alot of it.

What i am and what i am gonna do has nothing to do with what i was

Do what you made for

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Learning by Anne rice after reading Franz Kafka work.

If at first it doesn't work, force it.

I used to like, "if at first you don't succeed, don't tell anyone you tried!"

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