The Root of Wisdom

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    92 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Two things for you to think about

    Never base your identity on politics—the world will eventually change, but you won’t.

    Wisdom is when you stop over-investing in every shiny new idea, feeling, or person that comes along.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Three things for you to ask yourself

    Where have you gained wisdom throughout your life? Chances are the amount of wisdom you have in an area of your life is proportional to the depth of your failures and pain in that area, as well. Is that true?

    Now, ask yourself: where in my life do I likely have the least amount of wisdom today?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Simply be aware of where in your life you’ve accumulated some wisdom and where in your life you lack it. Then adjust your behavior accordingly. This will not only make you more effective, but it has the side benefit of preventing you from coming across as an asshole.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    New This Week

    I Visited the Most Depressed Country in the World – In November, I visited Korea—an incredible country with a vibrant culture, but also frighteningly high levels of suicide, anxiety, and depression. In this documentary-style video, I investigate the historical and cultural reasons behind arguably the worst mental health crisis in the world. Along the way, I talk to a number of Korean psychologists, visit the DMZ, hang out in a cat café, and eat one of the spiciest things I’ve ever had in my life. Check it out.

    5 Life-Changing Lessons From Visiting 75 Countries – In the latest podcast episode, I talk about maybe the least-discussed influence on my philosophy and ideas—my 10 years spent abroad in over 75 countries. I promise, this is not your typical cliché-ridden travel blog. I discuss how traveling to poor countries influenced my views on happiness, informed my understanding of human values, and completely changed my perspective on what a “good life” actually is.

    Last week’s breakthroughs (and a question answered)

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to distance yourself from the people who don’t want to see you do well in life. Margaret had to make a difficult choice: her own well-being, or her marriage:

    In 2021, I decided to pursue recovery through a twelve-step program. My husband was skeptical, to say the least. After 44 years together, he thought we had a perfect life, but I didn’t.

    As I threw myself more intently into my own recovery, it became clear that he was more and more uncomfortable with the changes in my behavior. It eventually became clear to me that I could either pursue my recovery, or stay in my marriage, but I couldn’t do both.

    I chose recovery. We’re divorced now. I’m continuing to change, and it’s become clearer and clearer who my real friends are. The ones who supported me and are happy for me now are the ones I appreciate, and those who don’t have fallen away.

    Adam’s choosing his circle carefully:

    Looking back, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my ‘friends’ wished me harm. It’s more like: If I wanted to go for a run on vacation, I would be met with ‘why?’ Or they might say, ‘I could look like you but wait until you get to my age.’

    Rather than applauding the dedication and drive it took to become a better version of me at 44, through a divorce, through an emotional siege, they chose to make themselves feel better.

    But that’s really it, isn’t it? Time is our most precious commodity and in the finite and fleeting moments you have, how will you choose to spend this most irreplaceable resource? I know what I have chosen, and I am richer and more at peace because of it.

    People tend to judge us for the things they secretly judge themselves on. It’s easier to knock a friend down a peg than to ask, “Why can’t I do that?”

    To end, a question from a reader struggling to cut loose a family member who’s not growing with them:

    Why does it hurt so much to outgrow these relationships? Why is it so hard to let them go?

    This email comes at a time I’m realizing my brother doesn’t want to grow like I think he can. It’s tiring listening to him, I’ve set my boundaries, but I miss him. I wish he had the clarity to do better, to see his patterns of self-sabotage, I want to be there for him…

    I know it’s the right thing to do, but why am I so attached?

    Intimacy is proportional to the potential for pain. The more intimate (and therefore, more meaningful) the relationship, the more it hurts to disentangle ourselves from it.

    It’s simply part of the bargain. Want a life full of love, joy, and meaning? Then you need close, emotionally attached relationships. But if somehow one of those relationships becomes unhealthy for you, then the pain of leaving that relationship will be proportional to the closeness you once felt with that person.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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