Home » Articles » The Almanack of Naval Ravikant (Eric Jorgenson) – Book Summary, Notes & Review

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant (Eric Jorgenson) – Book Summary, Notes & Review

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Impressions

Rating – 8/10

Fluff rating – 2/10 (very little fluff)

A high-level overview on how best to live your life in the modern age. The lessons are best interpreted in chronological order. The book teaches you how to get rich first and (then) how to be happy. The principles for the former don’t apply to the latter (i.e. judgement and planning matters when being rich but non-judgemental awareness and living in the moment is key to being happy).

This book gets an 8/10 purely for Naval’s timeless content but I’m not a fan of it’s structure. It’s quite disorganized even though it tries its best to create order from a bunch of Naval’s random tweets.

I also reckon the value of Naval’s advice depends on the stage and walk of life you’re in. This isn’t a bad thing – it means that you can re-read this book at any point in time and get something out of it. Just be aware that some of the advice can seem unhelpful (i.e. setting an aspirational hourly rate of $100/hour when you’re barely managing to pay the bills). Take what you need from this book as you need it – it’s not all or nothing.

🚀 TL:DR – the book in 4 bullet points

  • Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep (i.e. factories, money in the bank being reinvested etc.)
  • To be wealthy, productize yourself – build a product you can uniquely provide (with specific knowledge) that society can’t get yet at scale (using leverage in the form of labour, capital or code/media)
  • Happiness is the state when nothing is missing – where you embrace the present moment and stop living in the past or future
  • Happiness is a skill you can build by: trying things until you find what makes you happy, replacing bad habits with good ones, meditating, getting sunlight, surrounding yourself with positive people and avoiding zero-sum games

📑 Short summary – the book in 5 minutes

Honestly, the best short summary is probably Naval’s tweetstorm that originally inspired the book. But here’s one I wrote anyway:

PART I – WEALTH

  • Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep (i.e. factories, money in the bank being reinvested etc.)
    • It’s different to money – money is just how we transfer time and wealth
  • Seek wealth, not money or status
    – Building wealth is a positive-sum game – you can become wealthy without someone else needing to become poor
    – Seeking status is a zero-sum game – for you to be higher status, someone else has to become lower status
    – Avoid zero-sum games wherever possible
  • Creating wealth is more about knowing what to work on, who to do it with and when to do it rather than hard work
    • In an age of leverage, the quality of your judgement/decisions matters more than hard work so: think clearly, read lots, and collect mental models
  • To be wealthy, productize yourself – build a product you can uniquely provide (with specific knowledge) that society can’t get yet at scale
    • To find your specific knowledge (natural skillset), find what you did effortlessly as a child and pursue your passions/curiosity
    • To provide products to society at scale, you need leverage (in the form of labour, capital or code/media) to 10-100x your inputs
      • To get people to work for you (labour) or give you money (capital), you need to build credibility by being accountable (owning your decisions)
      • Code/media are best since they don’t need permission (i.e. you don’t need anyone’s permission to create a YouTube video or app)
    • Own things rather than working so your inputs (time) are unrelated to your outputs (money) – assets earn without you needing to work
  • All the returns in life come from compound interest
    • Spend a lot of time getting the big three decisions right – where you live, who you’re with, what you do
    • When you have good answers – invest deeply, be patient and stick with them for decades (to allow CI to kick in)
  • Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow
    • The best way to get there is not by having enough passive income or reducing expenses but doing what you love so it’s not about the money
    • Do things that look like work to others but feel like play to you and noone can compete with you

PART II – HAPPINESS

  • General definition – happiness is the state when nothing is missing and you stop living in the past or future
    • It’s about embracing the present moment and the neutral reality of what is, and the way it is (not judging or wishing the world to be different)
    • The only thing that exists is this exact point where you are in space at the exact time you happen to be here
  • Happiness is not something you inherit or choose – it’s a skill you can learn
    • Try things until you find what makes you happy, replace bad habits with good ones, meditate, get sunlight, surround yourself with positive people and avoid zero-sum games
  • Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want
    • Doing things is necessary for self-actualization (you can’t just meditate all day) but no external circumstances will make you happy forever
  • Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion (not success)
    • If you’re peaceful inside and out – you’ll eventually become happy
    • The real winners are not those who are successful (i.e. Elon Musk), but those who need nothing from anybody else, are healthy and at peace (e.g. Buddha, Krishnamurti)
  • The mind is a muscle that can be trained to be peaceful through meditation
    • Meditate by sitting still, closing your eyes and surrendering to whatever happens (i.e. not fighting your thoughts but embracing them)
      • Eventually, by not resisting your mind, unresolved thoughts and emotions come and disappear until all that’s left is peace and joy
    • Meditate for one hour each morning – anything less is not enough to go deep enough
  • Don’t subscribe to anything fancy because it was written in a book
    • Test everything and be skeptical – keep what’s useful, discard what isn’t
    • i.e. meditation can be verified to be good for you but the saying that there’s past lives that you’re paying off karma for cannot be verified
  • Noone else is going to save you/make you happy – save yourself:
    • Choose to be yourself (follow your own path instead of society’s)
    • Prioritize your health (diet, exercise, environment)
    • Build strong habits and systems so you fail in very few places
    • Read what you find genuinely interesting and learn fundamentals
    • Be free from expectations, anger, employment and uncontrolled thinking

📕 Chapter summary – the book in 30 minutes

PART I – WEALTH

Building Wealth

Understand How Wealth Is Created
  • Wealth is different to money (and you want wealth):
    • Money is how we transfer wealth – like social credits/IOUs
    • Wealth is assets that earn while you sleep (i.e. factories, robots, money in the bank being reinvested etc.)
  • Creating wealth is about knowing what to work on, who to do it with and when to do it
    • It’s more about figuring out what’s best to work on vs grinding/hard work
    • Don’t work hard at anything until you figure out what’s best to work on
  • To be wealthy, productize yourself – combine leverage (via a product) with specific knowledge and accountability (yourself)
  • Society will pay you for creating things it wants but doesn’t yet know how to get/create
    • If you want to be wealthy, figure out what you can provide (within your natural skillset) that society can’t get yet at scale so you can provide it for everyone
Find and Build Specific Knowledge
  • Specific knowledge is knowledge you cannot be trained for
    • It’s the result of your traits (DNA), upbringing & your response to it
  • To find what your specific knowledge is:
    • Find what you did as a kid/teenager effortlessly
    • Pursue your talents, curiosity and passions – not whatever’s hot/trending right now
      • If you’re not truly passionate about it, someone else who is will outperform you by a huge margin
  • Armed with your specific knowledge, you then need to search for who and what needs you the most
    • E.g. If you learn quickly and get bored fast, don’t seek repetitive, tedious jobs – look for something else that suits your unique talents
  • Escape competition through authenticity
    • When you compete with people, you’re copying them
    • Every human is unique, so don’t copy – noone can compete with you if you be yourself/build an extension of yourself
  • The internet enables any niche interest to the BEST person that can scale it out – you can make money just by expressing your unique self
  • The most important skill for getting rich – learn how to learn anything you want to learn
    • Getting a degree isn’t enough anymore – new professions go obsolete every 4 years so you need to be a perpetual learner
  • Learn the foundations so you can understand anything from first principles – basic arithmetic, numeracy, speaking skills, persuasion skills
  • But you do need to achieve mastery (“go deep”) in 1-2 things (that you’re obsessed about) to get what you want out of life
Play Long-Term Games with Long-Term People
  • All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest
  • When you find what you really want to do and who you really want to do it with – invest deeply and stick with it for decades (so compound interest can kick in)
  • When it comes to achieving your goals, only about 1% of your efforts pay off – the remaining 99% are wasted/learning experiences
    • E.g. all the people you dated until you meet your husband/wife
    • Note – the 99% is still necessary to identify what the 1% is
  • When you find the 1% of your efforts which won’t be wasted and you can invest in for the rest of your life – go all in and forget about the rest
    • E.g. the instant you figure out you’re not going to marry this person when dating them, move on
Take on Accountability

Embrace accountability and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity and leverage.

  • To get rich, you need leverage (in the form of labour, capital or code/media)
    • Labour and capital require permission (other people/their money)
    • Code/media is permissionless
  • To get permissioned leverage (labour and capital), you have to build credibility by being accountable when things go right (and wrong)
    • You risk failure and humiliation but you can’t build credibility without taking responsibility/being accountable
  • In modern society, the downside to being accountable is not that large
    • Personal bankruptcy is not that bad and people forgive failures if you gave it your best shot
Build or Buy Equity in a Business
  • The truly rich get rich by owning (equity), not working (no matter how high their hourly rate)
    • Without ownership, your inputs (usually time) are closely tied to your outputs (money)
    • You want your outputs to be unrelated to your time (you want assets that earn without you needing to work)
  • You can own equity by being a shareholder or starting a company yourself
Find a Position of Leverage
  • There are three broad classes of leverage:
    • Labour – other people working for you
      • the worst form since managing people is very messy
    • Capital – multiplying your decisions with money
      • better since managing capital is much easier than managing people
    • Products with no marginal cost of replication – e.g. code, media (podcasts, YouTube videos, tweets etc.), movies and books
      • best since you don’t need permission for these (i.e. you don’t need to convince people to follow you or give you money)
  • As a worker, you want to be leveraged as much as possible so you can 100-1000x your time/energy investment
    • Your judgement is more important than your time/effort
      • Coding the right app vs working 1000x harder on something that noone wants
    • You want to be in jobs where inputs and outputs are disconnected (e.g. selling and building) BUT not where they’re connected (e.g. customer service)
    • You want to be accountable for your decisions instead of avoiding all accountability and getting paid for your time
      • E.g. be the real estate developer instead of the contractor
  • The goal is to be in control of your time, with specific knowledge in a leveraged position where you’re tracked on your outputs (not inputs)
    • Start as a salaried employee and work your way up to get higher leverage, accountability and specific knowledge
  • IMPORTANT – Avoid the risk of ruin at all costs – don’t gamble everything – take rationally optimistic bets with big upsides
Get Paid for Your Judgement
  • The goal is to be paid for your judgement – and let robots, capital or computers do the work for you
  • Someone who’s right 85% of the time (vs someone who’s right 75% of the time) is significantly more valuable due to leverage

We waste our time with short-term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffet spends a year deciding and a day acting. That act lasts decades

Prioritize and Focus
  • Prioritize your time and energy by valuing yourself appropriately
  • Set a high personal hourly rate, stick to it and treat yourself that way
    • It should feel absurdly high – e.g. $5000/hour
  • Factor your time into every decision – If you can outsource something/avoid it for less than your hourly rate – outsource/don’t do it
Despising Wealth
  • Despising wealth prevents you from having the right mindset and optimism that is required to become wealthy and deal with people
    • People can sense your negativity when they do business with you
    • Never get into a relative mindset (hating others that do better than you)
  • There are two huge games in life that people play:
    • Money – to solve their problems (but money only solves your “money problems”)
      • This is a positive-sum game – you can become wealthy without someone else needing to become poor
    • Status – trying to be high status in the eyes of other people watching
      • This is a zero-sum game – for you to be higher status, someone else has to become lower status – someone has to lose for the other to win
      • Zero-sum games (like sports, politics and status) are necessary evils that should be avoided wherever possible
Advice for Younger People
  • The most important thing for younger people to do when starting out is to spend more time making the big three decisions:
    • Where you live
    • Who you’re with
    • What you do
  • These three decisions can almost completely determine the trajectory of your life (so spend lots of time on getting them right)
  • Say no to everything else and free up your time to solve these 3 big problems
How to Surround Yourself with Successful People
  • Figure out what you’re good at and start helping others with it
  • On a long enough timescale, if you are consistent with this, you’ll attract what you project (karma)
Find Work That Feels Like Play
  • The true end goal is freedom from money problems – retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow
    • You can get there by:
      • Having enough passive income to cover your expenses
      • Reducing your expenses to zero
      • Doing something you love so that it’s not about the money
        • Find the thing you know how to do better than anybody because you love it – this way, noone can compete with you
  • After “retiring”, your desperation to earn money drops and you start focusing on creativity/art
    • Art is anything done for its own sake e.g. loving someone, creating things, playing
    • Money becomes just a side-effect of art/creativity
  • If you do things you love/for their own sake daily, it looks like work to others but feels like play to you – and noone can compete with you
  • There’s no magic “number” of $ that will satisfy you – instead of chasing money, value freedom above all else
How to Get Lucky
  • There are four ways to get lucky:
    • Blind luck – something completely out of your control happens (i.e. fate, fortune)
    • Luck through persistence and motion – running around creating opportunity for luck to find you
    • Spotting luck – becoming sensitive to noticing lucky break opportunities and taking advantage of them
    • Unique luck – being the only person with a certain character, brand, mindset or skillset which causes luck to find you (i.e. if someone else finds treasure and you’re the only person in the world that knows how to unlock it – you take advantage of their luck)
  • To get rich without being lucky, we don’t want to leave it to chance – we want to create our own luck (destiny)
    • The best way to do this is through unique luck – being trusted, reliable, high-integrity so that people approach you because of your character and reputation
    • Build character and reputation by playing long-term games and making others rich (instead of just yourself)
  • To determine if you can trust someone, pay attention to how honest they are in words and actions
    – Stay away from low-integrity people at all costs
Be Patient
  • Generally, great people have great outcomes over a long enough timescale – you just have to be patient and stop counting the time
  • Apply specific knowledge with leverage and eventually, you’ll get what you deserve
  • You have to enjoy it and keep on doing it without keeping count/track of time
    • Note that making money will solve your money problems – but it won’t directly make you happy
    • The ideal way to be happy is to get rich first (just like the Buddha who was a prince at first), get fit and healthy and THEN get happy

Building Judgement

Judgement
  • In an age of leverage, one correct decision can win everything
  • Hard work matters much less than your judgement in the modern economy
    • But without hard work, you’ll develop neither judgement nor leverage
  • Judgement is wisdom applied to external problems
    • Wisdom means knowing the long-term consequences of your actions
How to Think Clearly
  • Real knowledge is intrinsic and built from the ground up
    • E.g. you can’t understand trigonometry without arithmetic and geometry
  • The smartest people can explain things to a child – if you can’t explain it to a child, you don’t understand it well enough
  • The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers that understand the basics
    • They don’t need to memorize – they rederive concepts from first principles
  • To think clearly, you need to see reality/the truth without being clouded by preconceived notions of the way it should be
  • Suffering results the moment you’re forced to embrace the truth/reality
    • It’s good – you can only make progress when you’re starting with the truth
  • To see the truth, get your ego out of the way – it doesn’t want to face the truth
    • The more desire you have for something to work out a certain way, the less likely you are to see the truth
Shed Your Identity to See Reality
  • Our egos are constructed in our formative years by our environment, parents, society
    • We then spend the rest of our lives trying to change the external world to make our egos happy
  • It’s important to be able to uncondition yourself from habits/behaviours you picked up from your past that no longer serve you
  • To be honest, speak without identity – always question any beliefs you take in packages (i.e. Democratic, American etc)
Learn the Skills of Decision-Making
  • To make clear decisions, discard memory, biases and identity and focus on the problem
    • Mostly, just focus on the long-term over the short-term
  • Be radically honest – say what you think and think what you say
    • Lying to anyone/yourself disconnects you from reality
    • But don’t volunteer nasty/negative things – praise specifically, criticize generally
    • To be honest effectively (which will be painful), develop charisma
Collect Mental Models
  • Your brain space is finite – load it not with memorized situations but full of mental models and principles that can help you make decisions in any situation
  • To find new mental models, just read a lot
    • Note – each mental model must be backed up by experiences else you’ll easily forget them
  • Examples of Naval’s mental models
    • Evolution – civilization exists to answer the question of who gets to mate and everything can be traced down to this
    • Inversion – it’s easier to eliminate what won’t work instead of what will
    • Complexity theory – humans are ignorant and terrible at predicting the future
    • Economicsi.e. supply-and-demand, labour-vs-capital, game-theory etc
    • Principal-agent problem – the more you feel like an owner (i.e. your compensation = value you create), the better job you’re going to do (and v.v)
    • Compound interest – your efforts greatly stack up over time in a way your brain can’t comprehend
    • Basic mathi.e. arithmetic, probability and statistics
    • Black swans – extreme probability tail events
    • Calculus – useful to understand rates of change and how nature works
    • Falsifiability – for something to be true, it must be able to be proved false
    • If you can’t decide, the answer is no – modern society is full of options – only say yes when certain to avoid being locked in the wrong path for a long time
    • Run uphill – for two relatively equal choices, take the path more difficult in the short-term – compound interest favours short-term pain, long-term gain
Learn to Love to Read
  • Reading 1-2 hours per day will put you in the top 0.00001% – it will have huge impacts on your life and intelligence
  • Read what you love until you love to read
    • The goal is to find the books that really speak to you and re-read those over and over again until you really absorb them
  • Don’t force yourself to read books you hate – if the book isn’t interesting, feel free to drop it or skip ahead a few chapters
    • There’s millions of books – find the ones that speak to you and leave the rest
  • The best way to absorb info from reading books is to explain what you learned to someone else
    • But note – you absorb books even if you skim-read
  • Ensure you have high quality foundations
    • Stick to science, math, microeconomics since they can be proven true (and so are unlikely to mislead you)
    • Stick to classics – any book that survives for hundreds/thousands of years has been filtered through many people and is more likely to be correct

PART II – HAPPINESS

Learning Happiness

Happiness Is Learned
  • Happiness is not something you inherit or choose – it’s a skill you can learn
  • Happiness means different things to everyone (e.g. flow state, satisfaction, contentment etc) and evolves with time
  • General definition – happiness is the state when nothing is missing
    • When happy, your brain stops running into the past or future – your brain is silent and content
  • It isn’t just about positive thoughts and actions
    • Every positive thought holds within it a seed of a negative thought (and vice versa) – i.e. if you’re happy, you were sad at some point
  • Rather, happiness is about embracing the present moment and the reality of what is, and the way it is
    • Reality is neutral and has no judgements – you have to move beyond the concepts of good/bad, happiness/unhappiness etc
      • Note – neutrality is not a bland state – you’re actually more likely to feel happy
    • Life is a set of sensory experiences and stimulations followed by death – how you interpret them is up to you (hence why happiness is a choice/skill)
      • So ensure you interpret everything in the best possible way
  • Believing you’re insignificant in the context of the universe helps a lot
    • Believing you’re important means having high expectations that you’ll inevitably fall short of -> you’ll be unhappy
    • If you view yourself as a bacteria or all your works akin to building castles in the sand – then you have no expectation for how life should “actually” be
      • You have no cause to be happy or unhappy – life is just the way it is
Happiness Requires Presence
  • A lot of our unhappiness comes from planning for the future or regretting the past
    • It’s best not to believe in anything from the past (i.e. no memories, regrets etc)
  • Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts – you achieve it moment to moment, not by sitting on a mountaintop for a long time
Happiness Requires Peace

A happy person isn’t someone who’s happy all the time. It’s someone who effortlessly interprets events in such a way that they don’t lose their innate peace.

  • “Happiness” doesn’t have a clear meaning – it’s more about peace than joy
  • If you sit down and truly do nothing, you’ll realise your mind is always anxious at a low-level – constantly thinking about where you should be/what you should do next
    • To combat it – don’t fight it, just notice your anxious thoughts and try and figure out if you want to have those thoughts or peace instead
Every Desire Is a Chosen Unhappiness
  • Doing things in the outside world is necessary for self-actualization – you’re not just meant to meditate all day
  • HOWEVER – the idea that changing your external circumstances is going to make you happy forever is delusional
  • Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want
  • Taking on more and more desires slowly destroys your happiness – it’s more important to choose the right desires than do things you don’t 100% desire
    • The trifecta is trying to have time, health and money at the same time
Success Does Not Earn Happiness

Happiness is being satisfied with what you have. Success comes from dissatisfaction. Choose

  • Once most people achieve what they want/get to a certain stage, they find the external doesn’t matter much – happiness and all real success is internal
  • Elon Musk vs Buddha
    • The real winners are not those who are successful at their respective games, but those who need nothing from anybody else, are healthy and at peace – winning or losing doesn’t matter to them
  • Happiness is not an emergent property of success, but rather peace
    • If you’re peaceful inside and out – you’ll eventually become happy
      • Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion
    • But peace is not ever guaranteed – it’s flowing and ever-changing – you have to just flow with life and accept it in most cases
  • The only way to get internal peace is by giving up the idea of problems (not by solving them)
Envy Is the Enemy of Happiness
  • Doing something because you “should” means you don’t actually want to do it – guilt or society is programming you to think you “should”
    • Expectations drilled into you by society/others destroys your peace of mind
  • Life is a single player game – you’re born alone and will die alone, your interpretations and memories are alone, and nobody will care/remember you after three generations
  • Envy is unproductive – you’re unhappier and the person you’re jealous of is still successful
  • You can’t just choose little aspects of people that you’re jealous of
    • If you’re unwilling to do a 100% swap with that person (i.e. with all their reactions, family, life outlook etc), there’s no point being jealous
    • Then jealousy fades away because you don’t want to be anyone else – you’re perfectly happy being yourself
Happiness Is Built By Habits
  • Peace & happiness are skills (just like building muscles), not things you’re born with
    • Since they’re highly personal, you have to trial and error what works for you
  • But the single most important thing is to be present
  • To build the skill of happiness:
    • Try things until you find what makes you happy
    • Replace your thoughtless bad habits (i.e. avoid alcohol, sugar, most social media, most video games, caffeine) with good ones
      • Choose long-term happiness over short-term happiness
    • Surround yourself with people who are generally positive, upbeat, low maintenance and who you admire/respect (but don’t envy)
      • If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day
    • Meditate – avoid judgement and try and be more aware of how your mind works and look for the positive interpretation of everything
    • Get more sunlight on your skin
    • Exercise – having peace of body makes it easier to have peace of mind
    • Tell your friends you’re a happy person – then you’ll be forced to live up to it
    • Minimize your use of phones, calendars and alarm clocks
    • Have less secrets
    • Reset your mood/get out of funks using meditation, music and exercise
    • Avoid screen activities – all non-screen activities are linked to more happiness
    • Spend more of your days doing things out of interest rather than obligation
    • Stay optimistic when reading the news (don’t let it make you anxious and angry)
    • Avoid zero-sum games (like politics, academia and social status)
Find Happiness In Acceptance
  • In any situation, you always have three choices – change it, accept it or leave it
  • If you want to change it, it’s a desire (and will cause suffering until you change it)
  • Acceptance means being okay whatever the outcome is – it’s looking at the grand scheme of things and realising what is happening is for the best
    • Every bit of suffering in your life brings growth and improvement
    • Most bits of suffering also have positive sides to them (i.e. being late for a meeting means you can relax a bit longer) – learn to be optimistic
    • To truly accept things you can’t change, embrace death rather than running away from it – so much of what we struggle for is essentially a quest for immortality
      • Fully acknowledge the futility of what you’re doing and realize it’s all a fun game

Saving Yourself

Choosing to Be Yourself
  • You don’t “need” to do anything – all you should do is what you want to do
  • Noone in the world is going to beat you at being you
    • Each person is uniquely qualified and has some specific knowledge, capability and desire noone else in the world has (due to DNA and experience)
  • Your goal – to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most
Choosing to Care for Yourself
  • Your number one priority in life should be your health – physical, mental, spiritual and your family’s health
  • The modern world steers us away from the way humans are meant to live
    • Diet – the more processed the food, the less you should consume it
    • Exercise – we’re meant to play instead of running the treadmill – be active every day – the best workout is one you’re excited enough to do everyday
    • Environment – perfectly sterile environment are bad for our immune systems
    • Socializing – we’re evolved to live in smaller tribes and constantly have family around us (i.e. never be alone) vs socialize via social media
    • Scarcity – we’ve evolved for scarcity but live in abundance
  • Make hard choices now (in diet, exercise etc) so that you have an easy, healthy life later
Meditation + Mental Strength
  • The mind is a muscle that can be trained and conditioned
    • Meditation is turning off society and listening to yourself (it only works when done for its own sake)
  • Your breath is a gateway into your autonomic nervous systems – hence why many meditation techniques use breathwork – relaxed breathing tells your body you’re safe
  • Different forms of meditation that Naval has tried:
    • Choiceless awareness – accepting the moment you’re in without judgement
    • Transcendental meditation – using repetitive chanting to create white noise in your head to bury your thoughts and quiet your mind
    • Doing nothing meditation – sitting still, closing your eyes and surrendering to whatever happens (i.e. not fighting your thoughts but embracing them)
      • By doing this, you can process unresolved pain, fears and desires built up in your life by not resisting your mind and letting them come up naturally
      • When there’s no unprocessed thoughts -> a state of peace and joy results
  • Ideally, you should meditate one hour each morning
    • Anything less is not enough time to go deep enough
  • You’re more than just your mind, habits, preferences – you’re a level of awareness
    • Think of your brain as a multilayered mechanism – there’s a core base kernel (consciousness) with applications running on top
      • The core base (consciousness) is always peaceful, happy and content
      • The applications (monkey mind) serve important purposes but it’s best not to activate them until needed (running them 24/7 is a waste of energy)
  • Cold exposure (i..e ice baths, cold showers) can develop mental strength
    • The pain of cold exposure teaches us that most of our suffering comes from avoidance i.e. the suffering from a cold shower is mostly from tip-toeing your way in
Choosing to Build Yourself
  • You become your habits – when we’re older, the thousands of habits we built as children are constantly running subconsciously
    • Strong habits take time to build and break (at least a 10-year journey)
    • You should always be internally ready for a complete change (never “try”, always do the habit – never procrastinate/lie to yourself)
  • Inspiration is perishable – when you have inspiration, act on it right then and there
    • Don’t waste time waiting if you have to do something – life is too short
Choosing to Grow Yourself

The current environment programs the brain, but the clever brain can choose its upcoming environment

  • Use your judgement to figure out the environments you best thrive in and then create an environment around you so you’re likely to succeed 999/1000 times
    • Set up systems so you fail in very few places
    • The goal should be to be successful while working as little as possible
  • When learning new things/subjects, stick to the fundamentals (i.e. science and math) and what you enjoy
  • Read what you find genuinely interesting – develop a love for reading for its own sake (instead of for social approval)
  • People seek social approval because they don’t want to make public mistakes
    • The smartest/most successful people started out as losers
    • If you view yourself as a loser/outcast, you’re more likely to do your own thing and find a winning path
Choosing to Free Yourself
  • Freedom is one of Naval’s core values
    • When he was younger, he wanted “freedom to” (i.e. do whatever he felt like whenever he felt like it)
    • Now, he looks for “freedom from” (i.e. feeling angry, sadness, being forced to do things)
  • Freedom from expectations (of yourself and others) – courage is not caring what others think
    • Don’t measure yourself or your effectiveness – it’s a form of self-conflict
    • If others have expectations of you (that isn’t an agreement with you) – that’s their problem and has nothing to do with you
    • Making yourself happy is the best way to make others happy
  • Freedom from anger – anger is a contract you make with yourself to be in physical and mental and emotional turmoil until reality changes
    • It’s its own punishment
  • Freedom from employment – live far below your means so you can control your own fate – never let anyone else tell you what to do
  • Freedom from uncontrolled thinking – live in the moment and break the habit of uncontrolled thinking by being aware of your monkey mind
    • Note – unless you’re enlightened, you won’t be completely free from it – just try your best

Philosophy

The Meanings of Life
  • There are three answers to “What is the meaning and purpose of life?”
    1. You have to find your own meaning – the question is more important than the answer.
    2. There is no meaning or purpose – anything you do will fade and be forgotten so create your own meaning
      • If there was a true meaning, you’d just say “Why is that the meaning?” and keep repeating “Why?” until there’s no answer you could give
    3. Humans exist to accelerate entropy until the heat death of the Universe
      • The second law of thermodynamics states entropy (disorder) only goes up
      • Living things locally reverse entropy by building complex systems (like computers, civilizations etc)
      • But these systems actually accelerate “global entropy” until there’s no concentrated energy and everything is indistinguishable (heat death)
  • Note – once you have a child, the meaning-of-life question gets answered – the most important thing becomes your child
Live By Your Values
  • Find your core values and live by them
    • Everybody has values – much of living your best life means living in alignment with these values
  • Naval’s core values (things he won’t compromise on and lives life by)
    • Honesty – being able to just yourself, avoid environments where you can’t be yourself or have to lie
      • If you disconnect what you think from what you say, it creates mental chatter
    • Long-term thinking – all benefits in life come from compound interest
    • Peer-relationships – don’t be above or below anybody
Rational Buddhism
  • Naval calls his philosophy ‘Rational Buddhism’ – reconciling Buddhism with science and evolution and rejecting all the pieces he can’t verify himself
    • i.e. meditation can be verified to be good for you but the saying that there’s past lives that you’re paying off karma for cannot be verified
  • Don’t subscribe to anything fancy because it was written in a book
    • Test everything and be skeptical – keep what’s useful, discard what isn’t
The Present Is All We Have
  • The only thing that exists is this exact point where you are in space at the exact time you happen to be here
    • Every moment is unique and slips by so quickly you can’t grab it
    • You’re dying and being reborn at every moment
  • All death really means is that there are no more future moments
  • The past is a fictional memory tape in your head