Friday Finds (Dreams, Math, Listening, Horses, Goals)

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Hi friends,

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa!

Travel teaches you as much about your home as the place you're actually visiting. Every time I go abroad, I see just how much American bookstores have been infiltrated by business books and celebrity memoirs. In America, the covers are brighter, the images are bolder, the philosophy sections are smaller, and the books feel more like business cards than true intellectual endeavors.

Anyways, I'm back to writing a bunch. This week, I published two articles:

  1. Sensitivity Isn’t Static: The sensitivity of our senses ebbs and flows based on who we’re with and where we are. If you’re looking to be more perceptive, start by changing your environment.
  2. Learning to Actually Listen: I've been listening the wrong way my entire life — with only my ears. This piece argues for a deeper and more embodied kind of listening, and I've already found that it makes me more conversationally aware.

I'm also jazzed about the countdown to Write of Passage Cohort 10, which is now open for enrollment. On April 17, hundreds of curious, driven students will start of five-week sprint filled with conversation, writing, and feedback, supported by our team of 35 trained editors and mentors. It’s like a music festival for ideas.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing stories and writing-related lessons in a series of separate emails. To hear from me about the course, click the button below. And if you’re considering Cohort 10, apply for a scholarship.

Today's Finds

Setting Good Goals: Read if you lead an organization. Goals seem so simple, but a little bit of added contemplation can lead to huge differences in clarity and team alignment. For starters, keep your goals simple. Everybody on the team should be able to memorize them. Otherwise, they won't be able to help your team avoid distractions and focus on what's important.

Why Dreams Matter: People don't take their dreams very seriously these days. Maybe we're missing out. Fortunately, Kristin Posehn has been studying her dreams for the past 25 years. This is her plea for us to take our dreams more seriously. For starters, one issue with prescription medications like SSRIs and sleeping pills is the way they inhibit deep sleep and thereby suppress our dreams. Dreams operate at the periphery of consciousness. The way they reveal patterns in the mind outside our conscious control may also by why so many famous innovators had breakthroughs in their dreams. Posehn writes: "Friedrich Kekulé first glimpsed the structure of benzene, Dmitri Mendeleev saw the periodic table, René Descartes intuited the basis for his Scientific Method, and Otto Loewi, the father of neuroscience, conceived of an experiment to demonstrate the conduction of nerve signals (making it even more amusing that neuroscience now treats dreaming as expendable)."

Ramanujan's Dreams: How an enlightened subconscious fueled one of history's greatest mathematicians. By following the compass of his dreams, Ramanujan made wildly original discoveries and pioneered multiple branches of mathematics, in fields such as elliptic functions, infinite series, modular forms, and hypergeometric series. To date, neither historians or mathematicians haven't been able to understand his intuitive methods. Even weirder, his peers at Cambridge barely bothered to ask about his dreams. The author, Kristin Posehn, argues that they suppressed or plain ignored aspects of Ramanujan's character and creative process that didn't fit their worldview. They stressed reason and rigor, not his divine subconscious — even though he once said: “An equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of God.” Beyond the world of numbers and formulas, he was religiously observant and based many of his actions on the Hindu goddess Namagiri. Though we tend to see religion and science as polar opposites, it might be time to reconsider that intuition.

Predicting Horse Races: When it comes to predicting the future, too much information can be a bad thing. This transcript tells the story of a study done by a world-class psychologist named Paul Slovic in 1974 and shows how horse gamblers can deceive themselves as the amount of information increases. Substitute horse gamblers with investors and this article becomes even more interesting.

A World Split Apart: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist and critic of both communism and the Soviet Union. In his 1978 commencement speech, he warned against the West’s wholehearted embrace of individual rights and the decreasing responsibilities towards God and society. Today, voluntary self-restraint is almost unheard of. Sexual and economic norms have been forgotten. Ideas like sacrifice and selfless risk aren’t celebrated like they once were. Instead, in the name of liberation, the West has caved to the allures of consumption, hedonism, and short-term thinking.

Have a creative week,

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