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The Art of the Good Life: Clear Thinking for Business and a Better Life

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#1 European bestseller: the indispensable new work from the author of the international and Sunday Times bestseller The Art of Thinking Clearly Have you ever... · Spent too long on a powerpoint presentation? · Lost sight of what makes you happy? · Failed to reach a long-term goal? · Become infuriated by queuing, tax or parking tickets? · Broken a promise you knew you'd #1 European bestseller: the indispensable new work from the author of the international and Sunday Times bestseller The Art of Thinking Clearly Have you ever... · Spent too long on a powerpoint presentation? · Lost sight of what makes you happy? · Failed to reach a long-term goal? · Become infuriated by queuing, tax or parking tickets? · Broken a promise you knew you'd keep? Since the dawn of civilization, we've been asking ourselves what it means to live a good life: how should I live, what will truly make be happy, how much should I earn, how should I spend my time? In the absence of a single simple answer, what we need is a toolkit of mental models, a guide to practical living. In The Art of the Good Life, you'll find fifty-two intellectual shortcuts for wiser thinking and better decisions, at home and at work. They may not guarantee you a good life, but they'll give you a better chance.


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#1 European bestseller: the indispensable new work from the author of the international and Sunday Times bestseller The Art of Thinking Clearly Have you ever... · Spent too long on a powerpoint presentation? · Lost sight of what makes you happy? · Failed to reach a long-term goal? · Become infuriated by queuing, tax or parking tickets? · Broken a promise you knew you'd #1 European bestseller: the indispensable new work from the author of the international and Sunday Times bestseller The Art of Thinking Clearly Have you ever... · Spent too long on a powerpoint presentation? · Lost sight of what makes you happy? · Failed to reach a long-term goal? · Become infuriated by queuing, tax or parking tickets? · Broken a promise you knew you'd keep? Since the dawn of civilization, we've been asking ourselves what it means to live a good life: how should I live, what will truly make be happy, how much should I earn, how should I spend my time? In the absence of a single simple answer, what we need is a toolkit of mental models, a guide to practical living. In The Art of the Good Life, you'll find fifty-two intellectual shortcuts for wiser thinking and better decisions, at home and at work. They may not guarantee you a good life, but they'll give you a better chance.

30 review for The Art of the Good Life: Clear Thinking for Business and a Better Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tariq Engineer

    Thought provoking. Some things I agreed with, some I vehemently disagreed with. The book boils down to be modest, have modest expectations, excel at what you do and don't worry about things you can't control.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sambasivan

    The life is a pack of cards and you do not seem to have a control over it. Therefore there is a need for a toolkit if you want to play well. Appropriately a 52 point tool kit is proposed by the author based on his life experiences. Each one is a gem. Even though one may not agree with all of them, they are worth pondering. Must read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    This book contains lots of wisdom, advice and short-cuts to living a life with happiness, wealth and success. One might not agree with all the advice but I am sure everyone will gain a handful or more good advice from the author. The book contains 52 pieces of advice. Each of them are written in a short, easy-to-read chapters. The author, Rolf Robelli, is an entrepreneur (co-founder of getAbstract), novelist and was an executive at a multi-national. He drew his ideas from three main sources: psy This book contains lots of wisdom, advice and short-cuts to living a life with happiness, wealth and success. One might not agree with all the advice but I am sure everyone will gain a handful or more good advice from the author. The book contains 52 pieces of advice. Each of them are written in a short, easy-to-read chapters. The author, Rolf Robelli, is an entrepreneur (co-founder of getAbstract), novelist and was an executive at a multi-national. He drew his ideas from three main sources: psychological research in the last forty years, Stoicism and philosophy of value investing. This book stands out from other self-help book in the author's unique philosophy. While a lot of other books advocate the readers to chase happiness, success and wealth, this book provides another take at achieving a good life. As the author said: "You can’t say exactly what the good life is, but you can safely say what it’s not. If you’re not leading a good life, you’ll know it. If one of your friends doesn’t have a good life, you’ll know it." While there are many good points out of the 52 listed in the book, if I were to list my top five, it would be the following: - Chapter 14, "THE CIRCLE OF COMPETENCE - Why It's Important to Know Your Limits". Everybody is unique and has his or her set of skills and expertise. If we are very clear about what they are, we can focus our energy and time in that uses our competency. At the same time, stay away from areas that are outside of it. Quoting from the author: What matters is that you’re far above average in at least one area—ideally, the best in the world. Once that’s sorted, you’ll have a solid basis for a good life. A single outstanding skill trumps a thousand mediocre ones. Every hour invested into your circle of competence is worth a thousand spent elsewhere. - Chapter 45, "IF YOU RUN YOUR OWN RACE, YOU CAN'T LOSE - Why General Knowledge Is Only Useful as a Hobby". Unlike in the Stone Age, where one could only survive as a generalist, in modern times, we can only survive as a specialist. And due to technology and network, the "winner takes it all" effect makes it even more important to if you carve out your niche and become the best - worldwide. The author argues that in today's age, the only way to emerge as a winner is to run your own race. - Chapter 6, "THE NEGATIVE ART OF THE GOOD LIFE - Do Nothing Wrong and the Right Thing Will Happen". On the surface, this advice seems counter-intuitive and appears conservative. However, reading this chapter makes me realize there is a lot of wisdom in it. I like the quote There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no bold old pilots. He author uses the analogy to amateur tennis, where matches aren't won, they are lost. Players just make mistakes (unforced errors) instead of hitting winners. So, those who make the fewest mistakes win at the end. This is true for life. Another reason is that it is hard to describe and equate to what is a good life, one can easily pinpoint and identify the negative ones, such as chronic stress, poverty, depression, poor sleep, dysfunctional marriage, addiction (all kinds), etc. (there are many more). If we can systematically eliminate the downside in our lives, we will have a good chance of achieving a good life. - Chapter 47, "MAKING FRIENDS WITH WEIRDOS - Get to Know Outsiders but Don’t Be One Yourself". Outsiders, those that do not conform with the establishments, tend to be quicker and earlier to make an impact than insiders. They also tend to have ideas and knowledge that are ahead of the curve. It is therefore wise to make friends with outsiders. Here's a bit good advice from the author - keep one foot firmly planted in the establishment, while let the other foot wander. This way, you get the advantage of the being part of the establishment but at the same time have the connection to the very next disruption. - Chapter 35, "THE FOCUS TRAP - How to Manage Your Most Important Resource". The fact that we have to manage our time and attention to focus on our high priority work and do to deep work is not a new idea (see books like Deep Work by Cal Newport and Irresistible by Adam Alder). However, at this day and age of constant interruption by emails, Facebook updates, tweets, text, WeChat moments, news, Instagrams and any other notifications that pops up on your smartphone, this idea resonates with me so much that I have to put it in my top 5 list. According to the author, focus, time and money are our three most important resources. Yet, we seem to be able to (or at least put a priority) to manage our money and time but most of us are so slack about managing our focus and very often fall into the focus trap. We shouldn't confuse what's new with what's relevant. Quote from the author: If you deliberately focus your attention, you’ll get more out of life. Be critical, strict and careful when it comes to your intake of information—no less critical, strict and careful than you are with your food or medication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    It started out a little slow but grew on me the more chapters I read. I found it enjoyable to start my day with 1-3 chapters and started looking forward to reading them and thinking about applications or examples in my own life. I am sure I will revisit it later as he suggested in one of his chapters! Good read! Now get on to the good life!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    2.5 There are some useful ways of thinking about things (& life) presented in this book, but it is very skewed towards a certain set of person (affluent but feeling they aren't as happy as they ought to be) and I found too much of the book was based on financial underpinnings (ie. A good investor is Warren Buffett/Charlie Munger and they are thus also very good at life) as life advice....and that has serious limitations, from my perspective. Fairly quick to read, short chapters, and some approache 2.5 There are some useful ways of thinking about things (& life) presented in this book, but it is very skewed towards a certain set of person (affluent but feeling they aren't as happy as they ought to be) and I found too much of the book was based on financial underpinnings (ie. A good investor is Warren Buffett/Charlie Munger and they are thus also very good at life) as life advice....and that has serious limitations, from my perspective. Fairly quick to read, short chapters, and some approaches worth pondering.

  6. 4 out of 5

    រ៉ូ | ro

    The Art of the Good Life is a collection of 52 mental tools that are derived from Stoicism and from the field of cognitive and social psychology. Each mental tool is introduced and explained in a short and concise manner (only 2-3 pages each) which make for a fun (& profound) read. Often when we talk about what makes a good life - such philosophical pondering can be very vague but I personally enjoyed the author’s use of imageries and analogies to cement his points. To give an example, a mental t The Art of the Good Life is a collection of 52 mental tools that are derived from Stoicism and from the field of cognitive and social psychology. Each mental tool is introduced and explained in a short and concise manner (only 2-3 pages each) which make for a fun (& profound) read. Often when we talk about what makes a good life - such philosophical pondering can be very vague but I personally enjoyed the author’s use of imageries and analogies to cement his points. To give an example, a mental tool that particularly caught my interest is in Chapter 2: “The fine art of correction - why we overestimate set up”. In life, we tend to overestimate set up - where we focus on arranging things perfectly at the beginning such as education, career, love life, family and we expect to reach our goals as planned. A classic example of set up overestimation and correction underestimation is when an apparently perfect marriage between two perfectly well-matched partners crumble (think all those shocking OTP celebrity divorces). It is much more helpful to think of life like a car - “even on a dead straight motorway, you can’t take your hands off the wheel without veering out of your lane and risking an accident”. Marriage is no exception, we need to constantly put in effort if we want to stay in the proper lane & the sooner we realize, accept and practice this, the better. A recurring theme of the good life is acceptance and chance. I personally agree with the author that everything in life is a product of chance (good and bad), and the moment I accepted this, the lighter I felt. There is nothing wrong in wanting to pat yourself on the back or credit yourself for a certain achievement - the key is to be humble about it. And there is no better way to be humble than to remind yourself that everything in life ties back to winning the ovarian lottery - your genes, environment, post code; a lot of circumstances go into play. You may think well what is the fun in that, if I can’t take credit for it? Just as much as you can’t take credit for the achievements, you also don’t have to blame yourself for the shortcomings. Personally, I think wow what a liberating feeling. In a lot of ways, there are many similarities in Buddhism’s teachings, particularly in attaining Nirvana “the ceasing of happiness and sadness”. It is easy to become tangled and anxious in the thought of there being no happiness, but it’s just as important to find salvation in there being no sadness. Another interesting takeaway is how the brain we are equipped with may have enabled us to survive the Stone Age but makes it very challenging for us to survive in the modern technological era. Viewed from this way, it makes sense why we continuously commit systematic errors. A classic example is anxiety. Evolutionarily, anxiety was a very useful tool that enabled us to survive all these years. If you were too relaxed, a saber-toothed tiger would have made sure that you were no longer part of the gene pool. However, in today’s time, we don’t have the same degree of danger that we used to have and yet are still ridden by anxiety - hence why it’s important to be able to manage anxiety, through understanding yourself one way or another (I find self-help books particularly helpful for this). Whether you agree or disagree with the 52 mental tools in the book, it’s still a thought provoking read. Definitely would recommend.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    A quick read that summarizes how one person implemented many of the ideas from behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology and stoicism. You could do yourself a lot of good implementing even half of the author's 52 ideas. I would also recommend reading the "source" material: Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment, and The Antidote: Happiness for People Wh A quick read that summarizes how one person implemented many of the ideas from behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology and stoicism. You could do yourself a lot of good implementing even half of the author's 52 ideas. I would also recommend reading the "source" material: Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment, and The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

  8. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Kubiak

    I almost gave this book 3 stars but after reading the authors note at the end of the book I changed my mind. In the authors note Dobelli explained the sources behind each of the different ways of thinking he described in this book which gave the concepts more substance for me. I felt that a few of the ways of thinking Dobelli described may result in people limiting themselves in what they try to achieve but I also think that it depends on your character and life experiences. I think this book is I almost gave this book 3 stars but after reading the authors note at the end of the book I changed my mind. In the authors note Dobelli explained the sources behind each of the different ways of thinking he described in this book which gave the concepts more substance for me. I felt that a few of the ways of thinking Dobelli described may result in people limiting themselves in what they try to achieve but I also think that it depends on your character and life experiences. I think this book is worth a read, particularly if you’re someone who finds that you put too much emphasis on things that don’t matter, put too much value in materialistic things, or generally have high expectations of yourself which may cause you to be competitive or have a big ego. I really liked how Dobelli started each chapter with an analogy to help you to understand the concepts behind the ways of thinking he was describing. That made each chapter a little funner and easy to understand.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Harshita Choudhary

    Rolf Dobelli provides 52 'tools' to help achieve the good life. His information comes from three fields - psychological research, stoicism and investment literature. I can't say how effective these tools can be in actually creating a good life, but the chapters are really well researched and snappy. He explains concepts like focus illusion ( when we focus on one thing, that things seems the most important - for example when we want to buy something new and feel like that will add value to our li Rolf Dobelli provides 52 'tools' to help achieve the good life. His information comes from three fields - psychological research, stoicism and investment literature. I can't say how effective these tools can be in actually creating a good life, but the chapters are really well researched and snappy. He explains concepts like focus illusion ( when we focus on one thing, that things seems the most important - for example when we want to buy something new and feel like that will add value to our life in many ways), the arms race ( everyone gets more efficient with time so net gain is not much - people just end up overworking themselves or overpaying for stuff), duration neglect ( the duration of an episode is not reflected in your memory of it) etc etc. A good read, a well edited book, I didn't find any repetition as is the case with other books of this genre.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tõnu Vahtra

    Until the very end I did not know clearly what to make of this book because the general structure did not make too much sense to me. The very last paragraph of the last chapter actually explained that the book is based on three main sources: modern psychology theory, principles of stoicism and principles of value investing (mainly from Charles Monger and Warren Buffett). The book consists of 52 small chapters (similarly to "The Art of Thinking Clearly" which is a less academic overview of cognit Until the very end I did not know clearly what to make of this book because the general structure did not make too much sense to me. The very last paragraph of the last chapter actually explained that the book is based on three main sources: modern psychology theory, principles of stoicism and principles of value investing (mainly from Charles Monger and Warren Buffett). The book consists of 52 small chapters (similarly to "The Art of Thinking Clearly" which is a less academic overview of cognitive fallacies from Kahneman's book) and I could not agree with several of them. When making notes I even crossed down the word good in the title at some point when making notes and replaced it with "modest", my definition of a good life is a little less boring and slightly leaning towards the extraordinary. Regardless it's still a good book and as one of the rules for good life states that "90% of everything is crap" and I would say that >10% of this book was good, some ideas were particularly interesting and presented in a novel way. I disagreed with the statement that one should read much less books but the idea of reading them "better" (twice or even three times) is very interesting and the logic that after first time you retain very little information from the book but after second time this already increases dramatically. When "lifehacking" this idea I will be adding Blinkist to the arsenal of my reading retention tools. I also liked the Notes chapter in the end of the book as it contained multiple interesting ideas although they were difficult to follow in such format. "Perpetual anxiety leads to chronic stress, which can take years off your life" "Stoics recommend the following trick to sweep away worry: determine what you can influence and what you can't. Address the former. Don't let the latter prey on your mind. Concrete strategies against anxiety: *Fetch a notebook and title it My Big Book of Worries - and write them down *Take out insurance and stop worrying about those things (I am using this one successfully myself) *Focused work is the best therapy against brooding. Focused, fulfilling work is better than meditation. "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened." Mark Twain "Stoicism is still the only branch of philosophy that offers practical answers to everyday questions" "The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude to things." Victor Frankl "Your time is more meaningfully invested in your circle of influence because it's there you'll generate the most value per day" "Drastically reduce your news consumption - especially when it comes to humanitarian catastrophes." "The effect of reading twice isn't twice the effect of reading once. It's much greater - judging by my own experience, i'd put it at a factor of ten." "Instead of thinking about all the things you don't yet have, consider how much you'd miss the things you do have if you didn't have them any longer." Stoics on mental subtraction. "It's better to be approximately right than absolutely wrong" - Warren Buffett "Research confirms that expectations have a profound impact on happiness, and that unrealistic expectations are among the most effective killjoys""Many of our unhappiest moments are down to sloppily managed expectations - particularly expectations of other people." "If you are not sure if something is bullshit, it's bullshit" ATRAXIA - tranquility of the soul "A life without goals is a wasted life" You can't exactly say what the good life is, but you cannot safely say what it's not. “As long as I keep the downside at bay, the upside will take care of itself.” (avoid for what you know that it does not work) “Buffett observes: “Charlie and I have not learned how to solve difficult business problems. What we have learned is to avoid them.” “good life is a stable state or condition. Wrong. The good life is only achieved through constant readjustment. Then why are we so reluctant to correct and revise? Because we interpret every little piece of repair work as a flaw in the plan. Obviously, we say to ourselves, our plan isn’t working out. We’re embarrassed. We feel like failures. The truth is that plans almost never work out down to the last detail, and if one does occasionally come off without a hitch, it’s purely accidental.” "Life is a game of chess, where the plan we determined to follow is conditioned by the play of our rival - in life by the caprice of fate. We are compelled to modify our tactics, often to such an extent that, as we carry them out, hardly a single feature of the original plan can be recognized." Arthur Schopenhauer "It is much easier to do the right thing a hundred percent of the time than ninety-eight percent of the time." "If somebody hands you a few million dollars and you don't change anything at all, you are living a good life"

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nitin Vaidya

    Though I did not agree with some of the stuff written in the book, I still found it to be utterly fascinating and totally engaging..I also felt that it was far better than the prequel - The art of thinking clearly...A must read for everyone...One more book which belongs in the shelf whose books which need to be read again and again at various stages of once life!!! Loved it!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Polina

    The most annoying book I've read in my life. Its not boring which is why I finished but it is deeply disturbing for many reasons. One of them being: it is written through a cognitive bias of a rich white man describing so many problems to avoid that don't even exist for the majority of people on this planet. "You should not be worried about volatility of Dow Jones as your assets won't be triggered too much in a long term". Congratulation to those who have a privilege to worry about their assets The most annoying book I've read in my life. Its not boring which is why I finished but it is deeply disturbing for many reasons. One of them being: it is written through a cognitive bias of a rich white man describing so many problems to avoid that don't even exist for the majority of people on this planet. "You should not be worried about volatility of Dow Jones as your assets won't be triggered too much in a long term". Congratulation to those who have a privilege to worry about their assets since most of people dont have any. "You should not volunteer! Just send the fucking money". Seriously? Volunteering and giving back to the community increases your sense of belonging which is essential for a good life. "You should wear a mask outside of your home and always present yourself as a super you so others cant tap into your vulnerabilities - Ministry of state" That's a direct way to neuroses and bad health. Putting in energy in creating an image of a personality that you are not is against the laws of nature and decreases your levels of self love and appreciation. Very manlish way of thinking about life which leads to massive problems all around the world. For those interested check Brene Brown and her amazing work on how showing vulnerability massively increases the quality of life for you and everyone around. The book is a guide on how to create internal conflicts, delude yourself from your true innerself and the meaningful life. Those who would take this book close to their hearts and will take it seriously are at the danger of having psychologically disturbed life. In my life-coaching practice I have worked with dozens of badly doing men who lived under the similar virtues. Cause good life can't be learned exclusively through the lense of stoics who never imagined the environment of the 21st century and rich investors who won the ovarian lottery. I agreed with some of the chapters upon which pretty much anyone will agree: yes materialism doesn't bring more happiness over certain amount of money and possessions, yes focus is important, yes dogmas are bad. But overall its a dangerous book and very unnecessary since the receipt for a good life is much more simple: be part of a community and make close supportive friends, learn to understand your and other peoples needs, spend time in nature, help others and find a meaning in life that will will fuel your life satisfaction. Better go read books like Erich Fromms the Art of Loving and Marshal Rosenberg's Non violent communication and neuroscience based approaches to life. Not old school manlish psychology with research and tests that were mainly done on white rich male students of Ivy league back in the 60-70-80-90s.

  13. 5 out of 5

    AnnaG

    This is 52 snippets of wisdom drawing on a three different philosophical ideas - mainly Stoicism, value investing and something else that within 2 hours of finishing the book I've forgotten what it was. Some of the chapters will no doubt speak to you and make sense and others will seem like daft ideas (or be completely forgettable it would seem). My reason for not rating this more highly is that it doesn't flow as a book should - the chapters don't build on each other, they don't lead to any conc This is 52 snippets of wisdom drawing on a three different philosophical ideas - mainly Stoicism, value investing and something else that within 2 hours of finishing the book I've forgotten what it was. Some of the chapters will no doubt speak to you and make sense and others will seem like daft ideas (or be completely forgettable it would seem). My reason for not rating this more highly is that it doesn't flow as a book should - the chapters don't build on each other, they don't lead to any conclusion and they really aren't tied together. The main theme is supposed to be how to lead a good life. In an attempt to stick to that theme and make it feel like a book rather than disjointed essays, the author/editor has added a sentence at the end of every other chapter saying "this will/will not help you lead a good life". It doesn't work in terms of tying the book together and gets really annoying by around chapter 19...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marie // Callisto

    DNF I stopped reading because it seems like I am not part of the audience the book is targeted to. Repeatedly it felt like the book is directed towards middle aged wealthy men and the advice given isn't quite that what I needed or was made to believe I needed. I appreciate what this book is trying to do and some points are thought provoking and made me think, however other points I simply couldn't agree with or they're really far away from everyday life. In general I thought this book might be mor DNF I stopped reading because it seems like I am not part of the audience the book is targeted to. Repeatedly it felt like the book is directed towards middle aged wealthy men and the advice given isn't quite that what I needed or was made to believe I needed. I appreciate what this book is trying to do and some points are thought provoking and made me think, however other points I simply couldn't agree with or they're really far away from everyday life. In general I thought this book might be more subtle than it was. I bought it based on the synopsis and was misled.

  15. 5 out of 5

    EunSeong

    While I didn't agree with everything the author suggested in the book, and a lot of the advice or suggestions seemed pretty obvious (spend less time on social media and more time with people and things that matter, focus less on yourself as being the centre of the universe and try to be more modest/humble, etc.) it was still written in a persuasive, short, and easily digestible way that made you nod your head in agreement. The author admittedly borrows liberally from Stoic philosophy, quotes fro While I didn't agree with everything the author suggested in the book, and a lot of the advice or suggestions seemed pretty obvious (spend less time on social media and more time with people and things that matter, focus less on yourself as being the centre of the universe and try to be more modest/humble, etc.) it was still written in a persuasive, short, and easily digestible way that made you nod your head in agreement. The author admittedly borrows liberally from Stoic philosophy, quotes from Warren Buffet and Charles Munger, and cites academic research to support his ideas. Overall, a fun, thoughtful, entertaining read on a question we've all asked ourselves at some point or another.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Dude really loves Warren Buffet. Like, REALLY loves him. Also seems to think all PAs are women. And that PA is the more politically correct way to call secretaries: "let's say you want to hire a secretary (sorry: a PA)". That was a weird moment.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vimal Kumar

    Insightful, challenging to established norms, and helping to think clearly.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ludditus

    I clearly had too high expectations from this kinda self-help book; I should have known better. Out of a whim, I purchased this paperback despite its idiotic cover instead of reading the e-book; either way, despite of the number of 52 reminding me of the cheesy (but much less patronizing) book Hot Lemon and Honey, I hoped to find inside a few “quick fixes” served as “here's what I think, with a minimum of logical argumentation.” Note that I didn't read The Art of Thinking Clearly yet. Note to sel I clearly had too high expectations from this kinda self-help book; I should have known better. Out of a whim, I purchased this paperback despite its idiotic cover instead of reading the e-book; either way, despite of the number of 52 reminding me of the cheesy (but much less patronizing) book Hot Lemon and Honey, I hoped to find inside a few “quick fixes” served as “here's what I think, with a minimum of logical argumentation.” Note that I didn't read The Art of Thinking Clearly yet. Note to self: next time I consider buying a book that has an afterword, better read the afterword first. In this case, the problem isn’t the next assessment, which is correct: “We’ve created a world we no longer understand. A world in which our intuition is no longer a reliable compass. A world full of complexity and instability. We attempt to navigate this opaque environment using a brain built for something else entirely—for the world of the Stone Age. Evolution hasn’t been able to keep pace with the rapid development of civilization. While our surroundings have altered dramatically over the past ten thousand years, the software and hardware of our inner world, the human brain, has remained unchanged since mammoths grazed the Earth.” The problem is this: “Warren Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger, are two of the most successful value investors in the world and considered (not just by me) some of the greatest thinkers of our century. For this reason I’ve taken the liberty of quoting them often.” The end notes add: “Bill Gates said of Charlie Munger: “He is truly the broadest thinker I have ever encountered.”” Yeah, sure. Right or wrong as his ideas might be, it’s preposterous to quote or cite Warren Buffet 12 times and Charlie Munger 10 times (24% of the ~90 citations from ~50 people), largely in front of Bertrand Russell and Daniel Kahneman (5 quotations each). This explains a lot, especially the mindset of a well-off or even wealthy person. (Note that he created an invite-only community, ZURICH.MINDS, only to be able to receive praise for his books from people like Gerhard Schröder, famous professors and authors.) Take this proof of arrogance: the acknowledgments section lists a plethora of people including, for the UK and the US editions, the two editors, but the actual translator, Caroline Waight, isn’t mentioned! “A huge thanks to my first-class editors, Drummond Moir for the UK edition and the highly professional Michelle Howry for the American edition. Translations are usually a chore for authors. Not so in this case. Working with Drummond and Michelle has been a genuine pleasure.” What an ass. The translator is not important, it's the bosses who matter! Should I have noticed that beforehand, I’d never purchased the book. Skimming through it reveals a few interesting ideas, but when you start reading you realize how much this guy's advices are inappropriate. Take “1. Mental accounting”: Dobelli can afford to set aside 10,000 CHF “for good causes,” of which he can pay the fines for illegally parking. This is preposterous. If you cannot park where it's permitted, use a taxi or public transportation, or park in a parking garage even if it means you have to walk 15 minutes! If not, consider the parking fine for what it is: the cost for not having to walk 15 minutes. The “set aside” fund is an aberration. This guy is an idiot. Also, adding 50% to prices doesn't make sense unless you're self-employed or otherwise you're receiving the gross value of your earnings, before any taxes. Otherwise, the price is just the price. “If a beer's two dollars more expensive...” (I suppose it was 2 CHF in the original) is another fallacy. “I save my energy rather than my money,” says the guy who can waste 10,000 CHF a year on fines and whatever else he shouldn't be paying if he were to stick to the laws and regulations. But that's because “the value of my stock portfolio fluctuates every minute by significantly more than two dollars.” My stock value is nil, nada, zero. In short, nothing to learn from the 1st chapter. “2. The fine art of correction”: surprisingly from a guy who flew himself small planes, he exaggerates a lot: “Thousands of times per second, the autopilot recalculates the gap between where the plane is and where it should be and issues corrective instructions.” This can't be. GPS readings are not that fast, and corrections can't be transmitted to the mechanics thousands of times per second; most likely a dozen times at most. Then, “3. The pledge” is even more idiotic. I don't care about Cortés, but the stupid Mormon professor Clayton Christensen's pledge of NEVER having desert makes absolutely ZERO sense! The “lesson” is that one shouldn't constantly evaluate situations, to avoid the “decision fatigue.” And a pledge to God was an easy fix for this guy. Unconditional principles are however NOT the solution. Only stupid people never ever change their minds. (As for Warren Buffett's refusal to negotiate an offer, that's his and his business partners' problem; in the Chinese culture, not negotiating is an insult!) Fortunately enough, after a false start, many of the chapters that follow are almost flawless, and some don't support any criticism, even from a grumpy reader like me :) Even so, the too often mentioning of Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger is a bad choice, reminiscent of the social status and wealth of the author. For instance, I liked this approach: “smart homes are a horror-movie scenario. I’d rather switch my lights on and off manually than use an app I have to install, connect to the internet and continually update. Plus, my old-fashioned light switches can’t be hacked.” Also, I applaud “the ovarian lottery” and “the introspection illusion”; while they presented no surprise to me, it would surprise many a people. Oh, let's just contradict myself. “The five-second no” (10) is actually a gross, unethical, and simply wrong thing. Why waiting 5 seconds just to say no? It makes no sense whatsoever. I understand that the reflex to help people might become at least unproductive, but our guy doesn't say “mull over for 5 seconds before answering,” it says “the answer is mostly no.” Note that the author himself shows in chapter 16 (“The Tyranny of a Calling”) the pervert effects of such an attitude: the author of “A Confederacy of Dunces” was turned down by all the editors—much like J. K. Rowling has been rejected by 12 editors with Harry Potter—so that he committed suicide. When his mother managed to get him published posthumously—the book won the Pulitzer for the best novel of the year—the foreword said that the guy reading the manuscript hoped to be able to reject it after the first paragraph! The 5-second rule?! How come people are so rude nowadays? (To the object: no one can get a manuscript read by a publishing house without the use of an agent; so instead of having the editor paying a couple of morons to read manuscripts, authors themselves have to pay some lobbyists called “literary agents.” That’s Mafia-like.) Starting with chapter 11 (the focusing illusion), the author starts again being right and commonsensical—for a number of chapters only. Because, say, what's a “circle of competence” (ch. 14)? What's Dobelli's? Being arrogant and millionaire? Quoting from Buffet and Munger doesn't make him “expert advice giver” and, generally, being successful in making money doesn't mean one is a good manager or even a good entrepreneur. Also, the advice to stick to your “circle of competence” is void: ab initio nobody has any competence, they're all acquired. Talents and obsessions (see the book) are a different matter though. The chapter is therefore a misnomer. Here's a funny part from chapter 15 that suggests that the stock exchange, the way it is now, should be abolished: “The stockbrokers are trying to make a profit through frenetically buying and selling shares. What’s behind the shares—a software firm in California, a copper mine in Peru—is irrelevant. What matters is that the share prices move temporarily in the right direction. Classic investors, however, buy shares in only a handful of companies, which they know as thoroughly as the backs of their hands. The opinion of the market means nothing to them. Their commitment is long-term. To avoid transaction costs, they buy and sell as infrequently as possible. Buffett and Charlie Munger don’t even seek out new investment opportunities. They wait for opportunities to come to them.” From chapter 20: “Because of our remembering self’s miscalculations, we tend to prize brief, intense pleasures too highly and quiet, lasting, tranquil joys too little: bungee jumping instead of long hikes, thrilling one-night-stands instead of regular sex with your partner, attention-grabbing YouTube videos instead of a good book.” From chapter 22: “Your life story is compact: if somebody asks who you are, you’ll have a brief, succinct answer ready. ... Compact, consistent, causal. ... Yet how realistic is the life story you carry around in your head? About as realistic as the portraits of me my three-year-old son does in chalk on the living-room wall.” From chapter 29: “our level of anxiety is no longer proportional to the actual dangers of living. You’re not on the savannah any more, where there’s a saber-toothed tiger lurking around every waterhole. In fact, ninety percent of your worries are superfluous—either because the problems you’re turning over in your mind aren’t really dangerous or because you can’t do anything about them anyway. Lying in bed panicking about global warming, market sentiment or life after death isn’t going to accomplish anything. It’s just going to keep you awake. Perpetual anxiety leads to chronic stress, which can take years off your life.” I tend to disagree to chapter 30's idea that you should stop trying to form opinions on matters that are “too complicated.” Dobelli just wrote a book on this, Stop Reading the News. While I understand what's to be understood, I don't buy the whole thing. Chapter 34 is another example of lack of empathy and lack of logic (his advice being to only donate money to the existing organizations): no, I don't overestimate myself, but I also cannot endorse the very structures that created this situation! So no, I won't just “donate generously” and look the other way. Google for articles such as “Red Cross Spent 25 Percent Of Haiti Donations On Internal Expenses” and “The Only Thing You Should Donate to Red Cross is Blood”; or, from the UK’s ten most popular charities, for every £1 given to St. John Ambulance, 87.3p goes on charitable activities, but in the case of the British Heart Foundation, only 26.2p go charitable activities, the rest being used for fundraising, and generating income (whatever that means). But Dobelli is the idiot who doesn’t care to get informed. The “voluntary’s folly” is only valid with regards to issues such as the one saying that instead of going to dig fountain pits in Sahara, better pay locals to do it cheaper and more effectively. Chapter 36: “Once you hit thirty, life’s too short for bad books.” Chapter 37: “Avoid ideologies and dogmas at all cost—especially if you’re sympathetic to them. Ideologies are guaranteed to be wrong. They narrow your worldview and prompt you to make appalling decisions.” And: “The quicker you understand that you don’t understand the world, the better you’ll understand the world.” Chapter 43: “Most people are deeply convinced that the world is fundamentally just.” Umm, no. I don't believe that. The world claims to make efforts towards establishing the conditions for a just society, but it's all a lie, for many a reason (I should write a book on this). Dobelli has then a good (and atheist) take on God and fate, but presents the wrong message with regards to the teacher who assigned grades randomly: “We could have wrung his neck.” No, you idiot, you should have brought him to a court of law; it wasn't a lesson on “life is unfair,” it was the laziness of only complaining to the headmaster—a common thing even nowadays, unfortunately. Chapter 45 is sadly true (and so is 46). “We know more and more about less and less. To put it another way, as our expertise gradually increases, our general ignorance practically explodes. ... A Stone Age person could only survive as a generalist. As a specialist they’d have no chance. Now, 10,000 years later, the situation is precisely reversed: people can only survive as specialists, and as generalists they’d have no chance.” (Scott Adams has a different idea: successful people have a “talent stack”; in Adams’ case, it includes drawing, business, writing and humor, so just drawing comic strips won’t do.) And take that: “Two million scientific studies are published every year. ... Academics are paid and promoted on the basis of the number of papers they have published and the frequency with which those papers are cited. The more other scholars publish and the more frequently they’re cited, the more everyone has to publish in order to keep pace. This competition is only loosely connected to the pursuit of knowledge. The profiteers are the academic journals.” The statistically correct (STATISTICALLY!) “secretary problem” (48) is totally unethical, and only spares time; should anyone want to perform a true selection, all candidates should be considered, and no final decision taken until the very last one was interviewed. In real terms, does the interviewer want THE BEST person, or just someone “good enough,” while being too lazy to conduct a proper interview? (Hey, how about the “5-second no” rule?) Chapter 50 is a joy: “90 percent of everything is crap. That is true, whether you are talking about physics, chemistry, evolutionary psychology, sociology, medicine—you name it—rock music, country western. Whether it’s exactly ninety percent … is debatable, but it’s not worth the argument, and it doesn’t matter. For simplicity’s sake, let’s stick with ninety percent. ... It bears repeating: ninety percent of all products are junk. Ninety percent of all advertising is tripe. Ninety percent of all e-mails are verbal diarrhea. Ninety percent of all tweets are nonsense. Ninety percent of all meetings are a waste of time. Ninety percent of everything said in those meetings is hot air. … In short, ninety percent of all the material and intellectual things put into the world are bullshit. ... new products, films, games, lifestyles, news items, personal acquaintanceships, leisure activities, holiday destinations, restaurants, sports competitions, TV stars, funny YouTube videos, political opinions, career opportunities and gadgets by the day. … The market isn’t an indicator of the relevance, quality or value of its wares.” Bottom line: do I recommend you this book? NO.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Madhulika Liddle

    Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of the Good Life is a self-help book. I am not a fan of the average self-help book (and any I’ve read have come my way not because I bought them, but because I was gifted them—as was Dobelli’s book, which was part of a Hachette India swag bag). Far too many self-help books tend to be sanctimonious, self-righteous, or indulge in a simple case of talking down too much. I don’t like being talked down to. Others are too full of hot air—too much fluff, too little substance (Rho Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of the Good Life is a self-help book. I am not a fan of the average self-help book (and any I’ve read have come my way not because I bought them, but because I was gifted them—as was Dobelli’s book, which was part of a Hachette India swag bag). Far too many self-help books tend to be sanctimonious, self-righteous, or indulge in a simple case of talking down too much. I don’t like being talked down to. Others are too full of hot air—too much fluff, too little substance (Rhonda Bryne’s The Secret is an example of this—to be of any practical use. Dobelli’s book, I found to my surprise, was somewhat different from the run-of-the-mill self-help book, mostly because it suggests practical ways of living the good life, as he calls it (it’s a different matter that Dobelli doesn’t actually define ‘the good life’ until the last page of the notes at the end of the book). Drawing from studies by psychologists and thinkers and businessmen (Warren Buffett is oft-quoted) as well as the writings of Stoics like Marcus Aurelius, Dobelli sets out a list of fifty-two ‘mental tools’ to help you live the good life. Some of these are obvious—like not devoting yourself to keeping up with the Joneses (or the ‘arms race’, as Dobelli dubs it), being humble, not letting technology rule your life, and so on. Others are things that didn’t immediately strike me as contributing to a good life, but which make perfect sense: building a circle of competence, for example. Or the five-second no, or the circle of dignity. What I liked most about this book was that it uses specific examples, everyday examples based on research, to show what works and what doesn’t. Plus, Dobelli’s style is readable: down to earth, interesting, relatable. On the flip side, some of his assertions seemed self-contradictory to some extent. He waxes eloquent about The Illusion of Changing the World and how it’s dangerous to put people on pedestals, but some of the people Dobelli writes about, and the way he writes about them, come across as having been put up on pedestals by Dobelli himself. I also couldn’t bring myself to agree with his suggestions about how to go about reading books (just ten a year?! I would go out of my mind), and some assertions seem to be simplistic. Donating only money to a charitable cause makes sense only if you can be certain that your donation is actually going to help the cause, not into the pockets of corrupt middlemen. On the whole, though, an insightful and thought-provoking book. Even if, like me, you don’t agree with all of what Dobelli writes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    I had initially given this a 4-star rating, but after a little thought, I brought it down to 3. Firstly, it is an insightful book and thought-provoking book with a lot of practical advice that is an interesting mix of (view spoiler)[social and cognitive psychology, stoicism and... value investing advice. (hide spoiler)] I noticed some people either abhorred the short snippet format or enjoyed it—I belong to the latter camp. It's a nice little guide that doesn't necessarily require you to dedicat I had initially given this a 4-star rating, but after a little thought, I brought it down to 3. Firstly, it is an insightful book and thought-provoking book with a lot of practical advice that is an interesting mix of (view spoiler)[social and cognitive psychology, stoicism and... value investing advice. (hide spoiler)] I noticed some people either abhorred the short snippet format or enjoyed it—I belong to the latter camp. It's a nice little guide that doesn't necessarily require you to dedicate an hour to get to the point. However, I felt that some of the advice did sound like they came from a place of privilege, which is why I brought the rating down to a 3. It's not necessarily a bad thing and one could argue that it makes the content more relatable to its target audience—I just find that it distracts from the real lesson of some of the pieces in the book (if you're prone to cynicism). Overall, an enjoyable read with some useful teachings everyone can revisit once in a while.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yuen Tan

    I love Rolf Dobelli’s earlier book, a very clear thinker! Whilst in The Art of Thinking Clearly he wrote mostly about cognitive biases, in this book he tries to offer mental toolkits to help living a good life (2 sides of a coin, hence my 4 star rating, not 5). Perhaps this should be called the art of living a good life as a Stoic :) No sir, I believe in God and relying on that to live my purposeful life - but really appreciate your toolkits! Note: short 52 chapters original for newspaper column, I love Rolf Dobelli’s earlier book, a very clear thinker! Whilst in The Art of Thinking Clearly he wrote mostly about cognitive biases, in this book he tries to offer mental toolkits to help living a good life (2 sides of a coin, hence my 4 star rating, not 5). Perhaps this should be called the art of living a good life as a Stoic :) No sir, I believe in God and relying on that to live my purposeful life - but really appreciate your toolkits! Note: short 52 chapters original for newspaper column, don’t expect continuing or “flow” but personally I feel best read slowly (in 1-2 chapters) and leave more time for pondering.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adham Elazhari

    Really good book the writer gives some really good techniques and tools to overcome bad perspective towards life events. and I really enjoyed the part when he write about how re-reading books is so beneficial ... and borrowing one of his sentences '' life is too short for two things : bad reading and hatred ''

  23. 5 out of 5

    Reza

    When Reading Dobelli's books, the first thing that grabs my attention is the simplicity of his storytelling. He uses the most laconic narrative to persuade the reader; No pestering, no commanding, no begging for reader's approval. Although there are things I can't agree on with Dobelli, I consider him a wise man and his work worth the time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed

    Generally, I like his way of thinking of what the good life suppose to be? He is a very rational and logical person I like most of the ideas in the book and I start already to implement it in my life because it is reasonable and easy to be done. I rated it 4 of 5 stars not because of the quality of the book contents but in some chapters, I don't agree with him and find his ideas some times offensive like in the envy chapter and sometimes passive and not motivational ideas like the illusion of cha Generally, I like his way of thinking of what the good life suppose to be? He is a very rational and logical person I like most of the ideas in the book and I start already to implement it in my life because it is reasonable and easy to be done. I rated it 4 of 5 stars not because of the quality of the book contents but in some chapters, I don't agree with him and find his ideas some times offensive like in the envy chapter and sometimes passive and not motivational ideas like the illusion of changing the world chapter. The book consists of 52 chapters that you can read each one separately without depending on the other chapter and you can read it without order but sometimes you find him mentions some chapters in the others. So, I'd like to share here the best chapters from my point of view: 1. The fine art of correction 2. The Pledge 3. The authenticity trap 4. The Focusing illusion 5. The Prison of Good reputation 6. Your two selves 7. The memory bank 8. The circle of dignity 9. The book of worries 10. The opinion volcano 11. Prevention 12. Cargo Cults 13. Making Friends with Weirdos 14. Managing Expectations 15. Inner Peace. and that does not make the other one less important or useful but I recommend those chapter for people want to pick some chapter not reading it from A to Z.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    an okay book

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dini

    Do what you can, not what you wish you could. You can change yourself, but not other people. Why your life isn't a Photo Album. Experience Trumps Memory.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Makis Karachristianidis

    A wonderful book, it makes you focus on the good aspects of your life.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amirmansour Khanmohammad

    Brilliant

  29. 4 out of 5

    Konstantinos Mirmigkos

    After reading this book you are definitely not going to master the "Good Life", but you will notice that some of Rolf's suggestions, might make you think wiser, make better decisions and focus on things that really matter. This might not lead to the "Good Life", but it definitely leads to a "Better Daylife".

  30. 4 out of 5

    Behrooz

    This text is not meant to be a summary of the book or a thorough critique, but it is only an endeavor to highlight those parts that I may not completely agree with or sometimes parts that remind me of some other thoughts related to them. I therefore comment when necessary and under the relevant chapter. Chapter 2: The second chapter on “constant improvement” reminds me of two Persian proverbs which are worth mentioning: “whenever you catch a fish it is fresh”, and “whenever you avoid loss you ha This text is not meant to be a summary of the book or a thorough critique, but it is only an endeavor to highlight those parts that I may not completely agree with or sometimes parts that remind me of some other thoughts related to them. I therefore comment when necessary and under the relevant chapter. Chapter 2: The second chapter on “constant improvement” reminds me of two Persian proverbs which are worth mentioning: “whenever you catch a fish it is fresh”, and “whenever you avoid loss you have won”. These proverbs suggest considering a fresh start after you have made a mistake and avoiding loss whenever possible. Both of these points are essential for constant improvement. These all seem quite obvious and trivial but in practice we may notice the times that we neglected these points. Chapter 3: The point about making decision while the brain is tired reminds me of a point that I came across in another book possibly by Robert Cialdini (forgive me if I am wrong) and that Dobelli possibly refers to the same book in which it was found that if you wish to ask for a promotion or something important for your career do not do it just before the lunch time. As the person in charge as a result of being hungry (or a tired brain) most likely makes the default decision which in most cases may be a straight no answer. Chapter 4: The author claims at the end of this chapter that problems are not solved over time. I cannot be so sure that some problems are not solved or get worse over time, at least in some cultures it is not so easy to predict this. I think there is no general rule on this case, but it is possibly true that those problems that got worse over a long period possibly continue to do so, although neither in this case I can be so sure. One thing that is worth to keep in mind is that, black-box thinking should not result in self-deprecation and loss of self-confidence. The mindset should remain positive throughout the learning process, otherwise it functions against its goal in the long run. Chapter 7: Dobelli in this chapter suggests that success is only a matter of chance, because people have no control over the place where they were born and raised (genetic, and environmental factors). And since these elements are critical to success there is no reason to think success is the result of effort or hard work. This claim reminds me of the book written by Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers, which is largely about the effect of timing of the birth on success. I think there is no doubt that genetic, environmental factors and the time we were worn affect our success. But imagine one claims, by the same token, that we are not responsible for our failures. Because it is only a matter of chance and it is beyond our control. This reasoning I think leads to “no one is responsible for nothing” mindset. Just imagine what will happen if we stop working hard and planning for success. It leads to failure. One may argue that these trends i.e. hard working and planning are also influenced by genetic elements and culture (early environment). But this conclusion assumes that human brain is just not changeable and is doomed to follow the genetic patterns and the early environment where he was raised, whereas neuroscience evidence shows that the brain is malleable and genetic is not the only factor influencing the future of a person. Obviously there are cases where genetic mutations cause detrimental effects on the health of a person and put him in a disadvantaged situation, nevertheless new circumstances make him develop new skills which might not have been developed otherwise. Unfortunately there is no statistics showing how many disabled people managed to overcome their disabilities and gain new skills, but neither is there evidence showing how generally our life style promotes development of such skills. This arguments can still go on by saying …OK… but our life style is also bound to genetic programming. Yes that is right to some extent. All I am saying is that genetic is important but it is not everything. For example the growth mindset put forward by Carol Dweck has shown that change of mindset can influence our success to some degree. Again this cyclic argument can go on as …OK… but mindset and its change is influenced be genetics….not quite sure about this. Furthermore there are some strong arguments and evidence on the effects of deliberate practice in improving a skill in the book “Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise” by Anders Ericcson showing how targeted practice together with adjustment based on receiving continual feedbacks leads to progress beyond what seems to be limited by genetic. There are other books like “The biology of belief” By Bruce Lipton and “The Genie in your genes: epigenetic medicine and the new biology of intention” by Dawson Church which describe how genetic is not the only determinants of our fate. There are other books more focused on the dichotomy of nature vs nurture such as: “Epigenetics: the ultimate mystery of inheritance” by Richard Francis, and “The epigenetics revolution: How modern biology is rewriting our understanding of genetics, disease, and inheritance” by Nessa Carey explaining how environment and genetic influence each other. Although we now know that genetic is not the only variable determining our success or health, we do not know “success genes” or “success epigenetics” if there are such things at all. If certain genetic or epigenetic elements affect our overall mental and physical capabilities more than others then defect in these genes or epigenetic elements may have more profound effects on our success and health than others. Because (to my knowledge) there is no research of this kind and possibly never be at least in the near future it is hard to know how much genetic, epigenetic, or generally non-genetic factors really contribute to one’s success, health and fate. Chapter 8: Dobelli says we can read other people’s emotion more correctly than our own emotions. This sounds contradictory. As far as I am aware of, empathy occurs at least to some degree through mirror neurons which means that we make sense of other people’s emotion by imitating those emotions in ourselves, and then we process these emotions through our senses. Therefore we heavily rely on our own perception in order to understand other people’s emotion. This implies that we can feel and describe our feelings correctly to a large extent. However if we assume Dobelli’s theory is right then it implies that we, being able to make sense of our own feelings (through mirror neurons), deceive ourselves by interpreting those feelings to what that seems more appropriate or in favor of our beliefs regardless of the truth. Somewhere towards the end of this chapter Dobelli resorts to a market analogy full of birds of different types to portrait his own feelings as birds but he says he would not invest emotionally in any of those feelings (birds) and he recommends us to do the same in order to detach from those feelings. This is not an easy task, because feelings almost always bring about emotions with themselves which make emotional detachment difficult. This practice however might be useful to deal with no so strong emotions but it falls short I think when one experiences emotional crisis. Dobelli also suggests not to pay so much attention to our own instinct as it may be misguiding. To me this is not a general rule and it is against what we have learned from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. Although Gladwell also reminds us that judgment based on our instinct may not always be accurate. I think it all depends on what the source of our internal perception is. Sometimes the source is a combination of our experience and our internal feelings. It may be that if the experience contributes to the source more than mere internal feeling, it is more likely that our instinct turns out to be true, but this is a relative rule and therefore may not always be true. Chapter 11: Generally I agree with the author’s agenda. But it is not that weather has no role in our feelings. That is particularly true when the weather condition is extreme such as the ones in north and south poles or equator. However it seems that people even get used to these extreme conditions. Therefore the effect of anything including weather in our feelings may be related to its exposure time. If long enough people may accustomed to it, otherwise it may have some negative or positive effect. There is a research that has been done on the effect of weather on the chance that girls may give their phone numbers to boys who approach them and ask for their numbers. It seems that on sunny days the chance of getting phone numbers is higher than on not sunny days (“Pay off” by Dan Ariely). The effect of weather on our feelings may also be extended to other variables in our lives. Chapter 13: One comment about Easterlin study: I do not agree with his conclusion. To reach a more concrete conclusion it would have been better if the people who lived in 1946 were given an opportunity to live a life similar to the life style in 1970 and vice versa. Obviously this is not possible, however a simulation of this experiment could be something like this: giving disadvantaged people a luxurious life of rich people and vice versa. This experiment to some degree may represent the original experiment suggested above. I suspect that poor people will enjoy the new life style while the rich will not. I think the whole idea put forward by Easterlin is just not right; it is not possible to compare the life satisfaction of people from different periods of history. Chapter 14: Dobelli claims one needs to focus only on strong points (things we are good at them) which he calls the circle of competencies. Against Dobelli’s idea there is another one saying that in the current not so stable economic situation when the idea of life-long job may not be feasible as before and instead non-permanent careers or even new kinds of careers or entrepreneurships are emerging, one must have multiple skills in order to fit into a new career if needed. And it is not essential to be master in all sets of skills required for a new career, although some level of competency is required. Even some new careers may require a strange set of seemingly irrelevant skills which are hardly found in a candidate. And if someone has those skills he may stand in a better stead to hunt the job compared with other candidates. Since science and technology progress at a fast pace it is not difficult to imagine such kinds of career particularly entrepreneurships. Chapter 18: Somewhere in the middle of this chapter Dobelli claims people will change in the future nearly as much as they did in the past. My personal experience does not support this claim. I have seen people around me, i.e. relatives and friends in their sixties and beyond that are more or less the same as the last ten years. In other words as people age I think they get less flexible to accept new ideas and change their behaviors. That can be reflected on the so called “generation gap” always seen across many cultures. And surprisingly the same youth who rebels against his parents and grandparents gets stubborn when he gets old. There are some exceptions for this of course but the exceptions are mostly those who intentionally commit themselves to keep open to new concepts and ideas throughout their whole lives. Elsewhere in this chapter Dobelli says that people cannot be changed easily. While I agree to some extent with this idea, again I think this is not a general rule. The example he gives is right to his point. i.e. it is not easy for one person to convert from introvert to extravert or vice versa. However there are certain attitudes that can be learned particularly if those new attitudes turned to be useful for that person. Sometimes peer or social pressure may facilitate certain attitude conversion. Furthermore scientists like Richard Thaler, Daniel Kahneman and Robert Cialdini have taught us how psychology can be applied to influence people’s mind in order to make changes in their behaviors. Overall I think it is too pessimistic to think that people’s attitude cannot be changed by right incentives. Chapter 19: Towards the end of chapter Dobelli suggests “choose your goals somewhat ambiguous intentionally. This enables you interpret the outcome as some sort of success in the future in case you have not reached those goals”. I disagree with this suggestion and think having clear-cut goals assists in at least two ways; first, it symbolizes a strong commitment towards reaching those goals right from the onset thereby making a robust impression on the mindset, and second having a clear goals helps one plan more decisively and act persistently. If you choose obscure goals you will keep your results open to any interpretation which clearly equals almost to self-deception. Although I believe one should pick up unambivalent goals, and take all the necessary steps to reach those goals, one at the end should be lenient on himself when he reflects on his achievements. And assessment should only be a means to help him adjust his actions according to his aims rather than be a tool for self-criticism. Chapter 23: If we at the end of our life journey think about our life as one experience I assume it may follow the pattern Daniel Kahneman describes in his book “Thinking fast and slow”. i.e. we only remember peaks and troughs as well as the end. Therefore whatever we experience at the end of our life may be a determining factor in how we describe our life as a whole. Chapter 29: Somewhere in the middle of this chapter Dobelli asserts meditation is only effective while one is doing it. I do not think this is entirely true. Meditation has long term benefits documented in Shamatha project. According to this research cognitive gains can last at up to 7 years. But this project has just recently published and there are some controversial papers about side effects of meditation. Part of the problem may be that meditation is understood or interpreted differently by people. Furthermore certain types of meditation may be suitable for certain groups. This topic therefore requires further investigation and certainly statistics. The other issue is that studies about the benefits of meditation should take into account the physical and mental health of the candidates at the beginning of study. This will help distinguish the effect of meditation on various diseases or otherwise health. Chapter 33: Dobelli suggests to focus on the worst case scenarios in our life for 15 minutes each week and find a solution for those problems in order to be ready for “just in case scenarios”. He provides extreme examples such as marriage break down, bankruptcy and heart failure. I think this is essential under certain circumstances as I describe below. However it is contradictory to what he has already mentioned in chapter 29 where he says in most cases our worries about life situation is base-less or not essential. I think his advice for worst case scenarios is acceptable only for those matters that are highly possible. Clearly there are cases in which at hindsight we wish we had thought about them in advance. But how many times this occurs in our life time. Of course we cannot predict many things in our life particularly those variables that are out of our control like inflation rate, peace and war, etc. but we have a general sense that whether or not our romantic lives and businesses are more or less in good condition or require adjustment. This may not be the case for all people but here we talk about an average person who cares about his life to some degree. Chapter 36: There might be no time to read all books we are interested in twice. A better trick might be reading it once and make notes of important points as a summary, or find summaries on internet as these days it is very easy to find book summaries on the internet. Reading book critiques may also shed some light on the contents. Alternatively there are podcasts about books which in some cases are freely available on the internet if someone prefers listening rather than reading. We may not need to read books page by page depending on our needs. If you read through pages you get a good sense of whether you need to read the whole book or parts of it or not at all. Even if you decide to read the whole book the reading style can be different. Speed reading and photo reading systems are alternative ways of reading. Another point is that if one puts into practice whatever he learns through book or else the learning will last for much longer period. This is particularly a useful strategy for remembering and learning the contents of “how to” books. Writing has a magical role in organizing what we have learned according to many people for example the author of “Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis” Joan Bolker. Although this book is about writing thesis, it shows how writing is useful in many ways. I highly recommend it for people aiming to write any material of any length. Chapter 38: I think there is no need necessarily to be religious or spiritual in order to express appreciation. Words expressing gratitude or tribute need not be directed to a particular non-material entity. Because these words ingrained in themselves such a positive feeling that it is almost impossible to not have a good feeling when one utters those words. This I think might be related to the “anchoring” power of these words with good feelings. We always associate these words with good feelings. Therefore even if one simply appreciates his health or whatever he believes is worthwhile that act will automatically invoke positive mood. Dobelli claims because of the power of habit, expressing appreciation will turn into a habit with no result in our happiness. I do not think this can ever happen. The reason is that our life is not filled with only good events, therefore there are times that we feel frustrated, tired, anxious, and pessimistic etc. Reminding ourselves to appreciate whatever we have whether it is only a minor thing can act as an antidote to those negative feelings. If we look for a long term strategy, “The power of now” by Eckhart Tolle can be considered as an option. Chapter 39: Again I disagree with clear-cut instructions about timing that Dobelli provides. In uncertain situations it is very difficult to predict whether future events will be in our favor or against it. Therefore it may be necessary to hesitate or wait till all the fog (or at least most of it) is removed from the sky of our situation. Nicholas Nassim Taleb in “Black swan” takes a more extreme position in that he says right prediction in many case is not possible. Chapter 46: The Dobelli’s claim in this chapter seems to be right to the point, but finding a field with no competition in it is almost impossible. Competition is way too common in our society. This to me is a white/black situation in that there is no way out of competition. It is only environment or culture in every organization that dictates the levels of competition. Our control on the level of competition is very minimal if any at all. Unless we exit that organization but then the question is where to go? Everywhere is almost the same. Even if like the author you find a field in which there is no competition, after a while there are others who want to compete with you. It is only a matter of time. Overall the book is based on sound reasoning and in most cases its points are useful. However at times the author makes some generalizations that may not be applicable all the time.

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