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Welcome to another Mindf*ck Monday, the only weekly newsletter that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Each week, I send you three potentially life-changing ideas to help you become a slightly less awful human being.
1. What you all learned from this year – A couple weeks ago, I asked readers of this newsletter to send me your biggest life lessons from this year. Nearly 1,300 of you responded, some with multiple pages of thoughts and experiences.
After going through them all, I highlighted the ten most common themes and insights from you all and combined them into an article. Check it out.
2. The best books I read in 2020 – Every year, I do a year-end review. I cover what I did that year, give updates on my writing projects, list every book I read and then review my ten favorites.
This year I read 81 books—a personal record (thanks COVID-19). I read more history this year than usual. History books were kind of my therapy for understanding the craziness going on in the world. Each book reminded me, “this isn’t new; this has happened before.” Then my blood pressure would drop.
Anyway, you can see the year-end wrap-up and my ten favorite books below.
3. Altitude training – Keeping the email short and sweet this week, as it’s the holidays and I imagine we’d all like to be away from screens. But I’d like to leave you with one parting thought for what has been an incredibly tough year for everyone.
As long-time readers know, I spent most of my 20s living abroad. I was single and because my business was online, I could work from anywhere. I took advantage of this by spending 6-8 months at a time living in various countries, soaking up foreign cultures, bumming around beaches and partying in various languages.
While exhilarating and amazing, these trips could also be incredibly difficult (you can read about one such episode in this article). I was spending most of my time alone in foreign countries where I didn’t speak the language, and where I knew nothing about the culture or systems. Some of the countries were highly dysfunctional and corrupt. Some were extremely poor and dangerous. Some had bad attitudes towards foreigners.
A couple times a year, I would return home to the US for a month or two to recharge, see family and friends, and work on my business. And what I noticed each time I came home during those years was something quite spectacular.
In athletics, there’s a term called “altitude training.” It’s where athletes work out and practice at a high altitude where the air is thinner and it’s more difficult to breathe. They do this so that once they return to sea level, everything feels incredibly easy to them.
Coming home from these long excursions abroad felt like a mental and emotional altitude training. Each time I came back, I felt more confident, secure, and self-assured. Stuff that used to faze me no longer fazed me. Social situations that used to make me anxious no longer made me anxious. Risks that would have intimidated me no longer intimidated me. It was coming down to sea level for my heart and mind.
I believe that 2020 is going to be our collective altitude training. If all goes according to plan, by next June/July, most of the world should be relatively back to normal. And after spending 15 months holed up, scared, frustrated, broke, bored, and hostile, I believe that the return to normalcy is going to feel unexpectedly light and easy for most of us—both as individuals, but also economically and culturally. It will feel as though we have a wind at our back in everything we do. Social situations that felt like a drag will no longer drag. Problems that used to vex us will no longer vex us. Controversies that used to shock us will no longer shock.
And we’ll all ultimately be better for it.
See you in the new year,