I love the idea of The Deep Life.
From Cal Newport’s blog: The Deep Life
Over the past fifteen years, I’ve covered many different topics in my writing that all seem to roughly orbit ideas around productivity, technology, and meaning. Some of my readers have taken to unifying this prescriptive worldview with a simple description: the deep life. Giving its foundational role in what we do here, I thought it might be useful to summarize how I think about this philosophy at the moment.
To me, the deep life is about focusing with energetic intention on things that really matter — in work, at home, and in your soul — and not wasting too much attention on things that don’t.
Those who embrace the deep life often push some of these efforts to a place that seems radical to outsiders, but it’s exactly in this extremeness that they find the deep satisfaction. A life focused intensely on the things that really matter — even if it’s riddled with ups and downs — trumps a comfortable life that unfolds with haphazard numbness or excessive narcissism.
Modernity is focused on shallowness, newness, speed, and the constant pursuit of more.
So you do the opposite: focus on what’s not new and what’s slow, and you go for depth rather than breadth.
Read old books, watch old movies, and spend more time with content that has stood the test of time (the Lindy effect).
Build things with your hands. Appreciate the slow, measured path.
Then savor each moment.
First principles as a way of life
The insidious thing about modern life is its detachment from first principles.
The first principles of health, happiness, longevity, and everything else are buried under shiny objects, dopamine, cheap food, and other addictive modalities that plague modern humans.
We have never been able to push a button and satisfy our every desire. And this power represents our greatest challenge as a species in the modern environment and the single factor that is leading to the ruin of so many today.
Darwin observed long ago that a few would adapt and thrive and outcompete the less adaptable species.
Nature rewards adaptation because the fundamental principle of the universe is that change is the ONLY constant there is.
This makes adaptability the most significant factor in survivability.
This is 1 + 1 = 2.
Do less but better
One aspect of the Deep Life that inspires me is the pursuit of less is more.
Less things, but better.
A few great things over a sea of average, forgettable whatevers.
In work, where the 80/20 principle is everywhere, the constant pursuit is finding the vital few that move the needle.
It’s really hard to do.
You’ll get it at times, and then it’ll slip away, and you’ll have to find a way back to it.
On and on, the cycle goes.
This is how simplicity, focus, and less help you. It reduces the clutter that gets in the way of finding your path back to what matters.
(This is true in all parts of life, not just business or work.)
You’re a desiring machine.
Desires kept your ancestors surviving and procreating.
And they are what keep you doing the same today.
The difference is that you live in an environment where your desires are not checked like they used to be. So your desires run rampant.
The single most important thing you can do to thrive today is control your desires. Develop a low-time-preference (long-term) mindset. Save, invest, and build as your default rather than consume, spend, and waste.
How to do it
You start all this by first understanding the principles of life.
The more you know, the better your life is and continues to be.
If you develop a growth-minded, learning mindset, your life gets better with each passing day because you get better with each passing day.
This is why the few that understand get such outsized results compared to the rest that don’t get it.
As you internalize these principles and build a value system around it, your decisions reflect that. Decisions are the bootloader for results.
So when your decisions reflect an understanding of principles, your results reflect an understanding of principles.
Rinse and repeat
As this becomes your operating system, the rest is a matter of time.
As long as you keep going, you’ll do great things in your life.
Because you’ll become something great by virtue of the better decisions you make. This grows over time.