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M&Ms: The Right Thing
One of the most amazing things I've observed first-hand that I like to remind myself of from time to time:
It doesn't matter if you believe in God, Allah, Jesus, Muhammad, Budha, fate, karma, and so on, doing the right thing seems to set the forces of the universe in motion to give you peace and happiness.
But how can "doing the right thing" bring you peace and happiness?
To understand why doing the right thing works, we need to invert and look at what not doing the right thing leads to.
Let's say someone does wrong and happens to have an unclean conscience. Well, that is like storing acid in a container not meant for it. Given enough time, odds are, it might leak through. But even before it leaks through, it'll do a number on the container itself—their body and mind. If one was involved in shitty things, nightmares, and demons might torment them.
50 Cent, in one of his best songs, said the nightmares might be around for a long time:
"Every night I talk to God, but he don't say nothin' back
I know he protected me, but I still sleep with my gat
In my nightmares, people keep pullin' TECs on me
The psychic said someone done put a hex on me
I ain't going to spell it out for you dudes all the time
Are you illiterate, man? You can't read between the lines?
In the Bible, it says what goes around, comes around
Someone shot me, three weeks later he got shot down"
I knew someone who never did me wrong but messed some other people up badly. He had his demons and nightmares he wrestled with. Then, one day, completely sober and out of the blue, he smashed his vehicle and died instantly. Sometimes, the internal demons win. It's worth doing the right thing, even going back and trying to make right, just so there is never an internal battle. A great deal of unhappiness seems to come from doing wrong.
But it doesn't even have to be that dramatic.
Not doing the right thing can show up and sabotage in more subtle ways, too. It did for former President Nixon, who, in a speech before Congress during the Watergate scandal, outed himself, "It is time to get rid of our discredited president . . . I mean the present welfare system." And why did Nixon keep all those tapes? Even Nixon seems to have had some internal moral and ethical struggle. We all seem to know what the right thing is. And it is when we betray this internal moral compass that the abstraction seems to leak the most.
Warren Buffet once said in a Berkshire Shareholder meeting, "You will eventually get the reputation you deserve. Everyone does. It might take until your 50s or 60s, but you’ll get found out for who you are eventually."
The animal meat shell we reside in, and its subconscious, seems to break down unexpectedly when we've been a part of wrong or done wrong.
Take this story about a different animal by Tara Brach:
"This is a story about a tiger named Mohini that was in captivity in a zoo, who was rescued from an animal sanctuary. Mohini had been confined to a 10-by-10-foot cage with a concrete floor for 5 or 10 years. They finally released her into this big pasture: With excitement and anticipation, they released Mohini into her new and expensive environment, but it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. She paced and paced in that corner until an area 10-by-10 feet was worn bare of grass..." (*)
Be in the wrong situation long enough, and we become wrong. Pick up the wrong habits, and wrong might never leave us.
That old saying from 1736, when Benjamin Franklin advised fire-threatened Philadelphians with, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true. Do the right thing because even if no one is watching, you are watching. Your subconscious is watching. Doing the right thing seems to be the ounce of prevention for the self, the conscious, and the subconscious. And by the way, I don't always get things right, which is why I like this reminder.
So do the right thing, but you don't have to do it for the world. Do it yourself because it'll conspire the forces of the universe to bring you peace of mind and happiness. Do the right thing because, as Naval Ravikant famously said, "a clean conscience is something you can't buy," even if you have the money later.
A Small Promotion From Me:
Last week, Daniel and I ran a free webinar all about The Small Bets Community and its evolution. The Q&A and our motivation behind some of the things we are doing may be interesting to you.
In this, we introduced our new lower-priced “One Year Membership” for $99. This is not a subscription where we will charge people again. It is almost like a one-year trial of the community that one could buy.
If you’ve been on the fence about the Small Bets Community, this new “One Year Membership” is the most affordable offer we’ve had.
And this month, November, has our best pricing of the year, even on the lifetime membership.
Three Things from Others: Running from Philosophy, Learning from Wrong, Potato Paradoxwrote a wonderful piece on how Effective Altruism and pleasure maximization in the aggregate, like 4D chess for philosophy, lead to some terrible ethical things with SBF.
SBF, of course, had his own bad habits and demons that caught up to him.
My heroes kept it simple and did the right thing, so it’s what I strive for.
A great post by David Senra. We can learn a lot from those who didn’t do the right thing.
A paradox that our friend Hassan Osman from the Small Bets community solves for us.
I think about this when it comes to other drops in society, like people moving out of cities. Or population drops in general.
My gut instincts say the effects economically will not be so easy to predict.
Three Memes: “Yes, But”, Coffee Gets Me, AI Doom
Everyone is very concerned with blocking out their computer camera and seems to forget that the phone is a computer, too.
I, too, love coffee, and I am not sure this anti-coffee ad makes me dislike it one bit.
It appears we might be safe from AI taking over the world, at least for a little while.
My brother tweeted tonight that a new Google research paper, the folks who invented this tech in 2017, shows LLMs are struggling to learn anything beyond the initial training:
P.S. You can reply to this email; it will get to me, and I will read it.