"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

Notes on- The Willpower Instict

This was a pretty short read, a bit boring at times, and some of the content was anecdotal, but still useful to know. The author has given many talks on willpower and helped students get their bad habits under the control, so this book is a list of things that help with self discipline.

First off, it is important to know that the brain is extremely plastic, gray matter can grow as you exercise different regions of the brain: the physical layout of the brain changes as willpower does (mainly in the pre-frontal cortex region of the brain).


The brain wants dopamine, somewhat like a drug, anything that spikes dopamine production in the brain, can be addictive. The brain looks for dopamine as a reward in any daily activity (from social media to food).

The pleasure center of the brain is linked to the dopamine release center. However, this is actually a seeking behavior: a loop that never ends.

The pleasure center, releases pleasure, dopamine does not. The dopamine center creates the illusion that an activity will be pleasurable, but it never actually is, since the brain always wants more dopamine. We are driven to chase dopamine at all costs: online time-wasters, video games, social media etc.

Dopamine causes us to chase an activity regardless of what pleasure this will actually generate in the future. A study at movie theaters, found that selling stale popcorn had no effect on sales. People didn’t care that the popcorn was stale. The dopamine center was active due to the smell and people still ended up buying.

Marketing departments are aware of this. For example, scents at stores can cause us to want to shop, or can evoke unconscious feelings in us that make us spend more.

An other example to illustrate...

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My Top Five Books For 2018

As 2018 winds down, here are my top five books for the year. These are the most insightful books I’ve read this year; they are listed in no particular order.

Principles: Life and Work

This book is a brain dump of Ray Dalio’s principles on running his company. It can be a bit dry at times, as Ray Dalio goes through his various principles, listing and describing them one at a time. I found his principles on life, earlier in the book, and his principles on management, later in the book to be the most insightful.

He started Bridgewater Associates in 1975 in his own home. As he grew the company to be one of the top five hedge funds in the U.S, he has been through many failures in business, including a period where he had to fire many of his employees. These failures helped him develop various principles to hold him and everyone in his company accountable, and to prevent them from repeating the same mistakes.

As he begins to step down from his role as CEO, he wanted to leave his employees with his vision for running Bridgewater, and the reasoning behind his principles. Hence, he wrote this book with his employees in mind, but also as a way to share his ideas with the world.

The book mainly contains the principles, and rules that Ray developed to guide him through his personal life while running his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. He delves into his financial principles briefly, i.e on investing in markets, but has another book dedicated entirely to understanding the economy.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book gives a really good framework to understand the way the human mind works. It starts with the story of two psychologists who questioned the conventional wisdom...

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