After 6+ years and 400+ posts on this site (including 100+ book summaries and 100+ newsletters), it’s time to curate a top-10 list of the most life-changing ideas I’ve discovered to date.
Whether you’re new to Sloww or have been following for years, this is a great place to jump in.
Happy learning and living!
10 Most Life-Changing Ideas I’ve Discovered after 400+ Posts
🌀 Sloww Stage 1
The first two ideas are related to: Sloww Stage 1: How do I design a lighter life?
1. Slow & Simple Living
Of course, we must start here! The discovery of the concepts of slow living, simple living, voluntary simplicity, and downshifting completely rocked my worldview. Prior to this discovery, I had no idea there were people out there intentionally choosing slower and simpler lives. These ideas I discovered in late 2015 and early 2016 planted the seed for all things Sloww.
Supporting Posts on Busyness:
- Busyness 101, 201, & 301
- Why do we FEEL So Busy when Research says we’re NOT Busy?
- Why Busyness is the Current Status Symbol (According to Research)
- The Busy Spectrum (High Busyness): What You Need to Know about Workism & Hustle Porn
- The Busy Spectrum (Low Busyness): What You Need to Know about Bullshit Jobs & Performative Busyness
Supporting Posts on Slow Living:
- Slow Living 101, 201, & 301
- 15 Slow Living Synonyms to Help You Slow Down
- “In Praise of Slowness” by Carl Honoré (Book Summary + 🔒Premium Summary)
- “Slow” by Brooke McAlary (Book Summary)
- “Chasing Slow” by Erin Loechner (Book Summary)
Supporting Posts on Simple Living:
- What is Downshifting? How to Transition into Simple Living
- Voluntary Simplicity: “Listening to the Quiet Revolution” (Thesis Summary)
- “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin (Book Summary)
- “The Value of Voluntary Simplicity” by Richard Gregg (Essay Summary)
- “The Quest of the Simple Life” by W. J. Dawson (Book Summary)
2. “Web of Goals” Lifestyle Design
I’ve realized that much of intentional living comes down to lifestyle design. And, when it comes to lifestyle design, nothing has been more impactful for me than Jacob Lund Fisker’s work on Early Retirement Extreme. He’s applied systems thinking to lifestyle design, and it brilliantly covers all aspects of life. The most impactful idea I’ve taken from him is to design a “web of goals.” This concept helps you set up your life in a way where you have mutually-reinforcing positive goals and byproducts (maximizing synergy) while also reducing/eliminating negative byproducts (minimizing waste). The “web” focuses on the connections between your lifestyle choices and includes everything from health to wealth to wisdom. An example would be a web where you live within walking/biking distance of work and the grocery store—your commute doubles as your daily exercise (maximizing synergy) while eliminating the need for a car and saving money (minimizing waste). The “web of goals” idea is presented in much more detail in the 🔒Early Retirement Extreme Synthesis.
Supporting Posts on Lifestyle Design:
- Lifestyle Design 101: What is Lifestyle Design? (& 35+ Questions to Ask Yourself)
- 🔒Behind the Scenes: A Look at My Personal Lifestyle Design
- Blue Zones: How Ikarians Live Simply for 100+ Years
Supporting Posts on FIRE/ERE:
- “Early Retirement Extreme” by Jacob Lund Fisker (Book Summary + 🔒Premium Synthesis)
- FIRE 101: A Beginner’s Guide to FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early)
- What is Geographic Arbitrage & 7 Interesting Ideas to Get Started
Supporting Posts on Money:
- “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel (Book Summary)
- How Much Income is Enough Money for Well-Being (According to Research)?
- The 80/20 Rule for Money: The 3 Ways Americans Spend Most of Their Money (& How You Can Save More)
- Money Mind Manifesto: Master Your Mind from the Mental Disease of More Money
- 🔒Behind the Scenes: My Evolving Relationship toward the “Money Middle Way”
🌀 Sloww Stage 2
The next two ideas are related to: Sloww Stage 2: How do I find higher purpose?
3. The Lottery of Birth
This idea is literally something that I now think about daily and has positively altered my worldview and how I interact with others in the world. If I could put anything on a billboard, this may be it. And, the best part is that the lottery of birth requires no science or spirituality to understand. What is the lottery of birth? It’s a reminder that you did not choose: to exist, your nature, your nurture, the location you were born into, the time you were born into, and so much more. No one did! And all of those shape you and your life path—just like they shape every other human. It may be the most simple, yet most profound, realization any human can have to lead to compassion for all. Pair it with the 🔒“veil of ignorance” thought experiment.
- The Lottery of Birth: All the Things You Don’t Control in Life
- The Ovarian Lottery: A Thought Experiment from Warren Buffett
- 🔒Stream of Consciousness: Do You Control Your Life Path?
- 🔒Stream of Consciousness: Do You Live Life, or Does Life Live You?
- 🔒Stream of Consciousness: Is Free Thinking Even Possible?
- 🔒Stream of Consciousness: What is Going On?
4. Ikigai Life Purpose
Ikigai was a concept I discovered either during my existential crisis in 2015 or in 2016 when I was discovering my purpose. But, my discovery of the viral 4-circle diagram led me down a path to uncover that it’s not really ikigai. Eventually, I put 5+ years of research on the subject into an eBook: Ikigai 2.0: A Step-by-Step Guidebook to Finding Life Purpose & Making Money Meaningfully (+ Bonus Workbook). This is the process I used to find my own purpose, and it’s still the approach I recommend to everyone who asks me the best way to find purpose. In my mind, you will not find anything more comprehensive (yet concise) than Ikigai 2.0.
Supporting Posts on Ikigai:
- The True Meaning of Ikigai: Definitions, Diagrams & Myths about the Japanese Life Purpose
- Ikigai 2.0: Evolving the Ikigai Diagram for Life Purpose (& Why and How it Needs to be Redesigned)
- My Ikigai 2.0 — A Detailed Personal Ikigai Example of How to Find Your Life Purpose
- Introducing “Ikigai 2.0” — A New eBook for Finding Life Purpose & Making Money Meaningfully
Supporting Posts on Purpose:
- I had an Existential Crisis! (+7 Ways to Positively Overcome It)
- What is Your Purpose in Life? 10 Deep Thoughts to Guide Your Hero’s Journey to Finding Life Purpose
- What is a Talent Stack? (& How I’m Thinking about My Unique Stack)
- 🔒Life Purpose Search Synthesis: I Googled “Life Purpose” & Read 100+ Articles (Literally)
- 🔒Stream of Consciousness: Can you be Selfish AND Save the World?
Supporting Posts on Monetizing Purpose:
- “The Almanack of Naval Ravikant” (Book Summary)
- “How to Get Rich (without getting lucky)” by Naval Ravikant (Summary & Infographic)
- 🔒Naval Ravikant Synthesis: How to Build Wealth by Being Yourself (+ Infographics)
- 🔒Monetizing Purpose Synthesis: How to Meaningfully Make Money from Your Life Purpose (+ Infographics)
🌀 Sloww Stage 3
The next five ideas are related to: Sloww Stage 3: How do I master the mind?
5. Brain Hemispheres & Polarity Thinking
Iain McGilchrist’s work is often described as “life-changing” for anyone who has read it. Both of his books, The Mastery and His Emissary and The Matter With Things, are on my full reading list. Needless to say, it will bust a bunch of brain myths you’ve probably believed for years. The brain hemisphere work pairs nicely with the concept of “polarity thinking.” Polarities are also known as: paradoxes, dilemmas, chronic tensions, positive opposites, interdependent pairs, wicked problems, dual strategies, yin and yang, etc. It turns out many things in life aren’t actually problems to solve; they are polarities to be leveraged.
- Left Brain & Right Brain: 20 Brain Hemisphere Differences from “The Master and His Emissary” (+ Infographic)
- “Whole Brain Living” by Jill Bolte Taylor (Book Summary)
- Polarity Thinking 101: An Introduction to the Power of Polarities (+ Visuals)
6. Lifelong Learning & Synthesizing Minds
This idea goes by many names: lifelong learning, synthesizing, multidisciplinary thinking, interdisciplinary thinking, etc. While those concepts do have nuanced definitions, we can also think about them as a single thing: never-ending learning that’s building networked knowledge. This topic is extra impactful to me because I now understand that it’s how I seem to be wired and how I can give myself to the world (aka it’s my ikigai/purpose). It’s been such a big realization that it’s even the topic of my first course!
- “A Synthesizing Mind” by Howard Gardner (Book Summary)
- Synthesizers: Why the Future Belongs to the Idea Connectors
- Combinatorial Creativity: The Art of “New” Ideas & Why Everything is a Remix
- “So, what do you do?” An Introduction to Synthesis, Integration, Interdisciplinarity, & More
- 🔒Maria Popova Synthesis: How to be a World-Class Synthesizer like “Brain Pickings” / “The Marginalian” (+ Infographic)
7. Mental Models & Memetic Immunity
Mental models seem to get a bad rap from a lot of people. It seems to be because many think learning about mental models doesn’t equate to applying them. That’s true. But, at the same time, no awareness of something is a guarantee that it will not be applied. So, I fully believe in being aware of all these concepts, learning about them effectively through tactics like spaced repetition and interleaving, and integrating and embodying them through consistent practice in your day-to-day life. To help with this, I’m working on a new product called “Mini Mind” that will email you one new cognitive concept per day for a year!
- “Super Thinking” by Gabriel Weinberg & Lauren McCann (Book Summary + 🔒 Premium Summary)
- “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli (Book Summary + 🔒 Premium Summary)
- “The Great Mental Models Volume 1” by Farnam Street (Book Summary)
- 25 Psychological Tendencies from “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment” by Charlie Munger (Speech Summary)
- 🔒Mental Mastery Cheatsheet: 500+ Cognitive Concepts Curated (Biases, Fallacies, Effects, Illusions, Heuristics, Mental Models, & More)
8. The Meta-Crisis
This is the newest idea on the list because it’s a concept that’s just now becoming self-aware. There are several ways to think about the “meta-crisis.” The simplest way is that meta often means “x about x” or “x of x” (e.g. metacognition = cognition about/of cognition). Therefore, meta-crisis would mean a crisis about/of crises. When you consider all of the interconnected crises humanity faces today, that phenomenon is the meta-crisis. Keep an eye on this evolving and emerging space. This idea is so big that I even created a side project about it: MetaCrisis.org.
- 50+ Deep Perspectives on Humanity’s Underlying & Ultimate Challenge (Hint: Ourselves)
- A Crisis of Crises: What is the Meta-Crisis? (+ Infographics)
- Introducing the “Meta-Crisis Meta-Resource”: A Digital Directory of all People & Projects in the Wisdom Web
- 🔒Daniel Schmachtenberger Synthesis: How to Think Holistically about Civilization
- The Consilience Project 101: An Introduction to the Catalyzing of a Cultural Renaissance
- 🔒The Consilience Project Synthesis: How to Think Clearly in the midst of Information Warfare
9. Human Development
The concept of human development (or psychological development, vertical development, stage theories, etc) has completely transformed how I view myself, others, and humanity as a whole. Of all the theories I’ve seen, Susanne Cook-Greuter’s work on Ego Development Theory has resonated the most. Why? Because I didn’t discover it until after I had already gone through several of the stages, and it was incredible how closely my own experience matched the stage descriptions. Stage theories have their flaws and fair share of critics out there, but I’ve found learning about them to absolutely be a net positive in my life.
Supporting Posts on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
- “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature” by Abraham Maslow (Book Summary)
- Maslow’s Holarchy of Needs: Should the Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid be Redesigned?
- What is Self-Actualization? Here’s what Maslow said about Self-Actualizers
- 🔒Self-Actualization Synthesis: How to be a Healthy Self-Actualizer (+ 2 Infographics)
- What is Transcendence? The True Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- 🔒Transcendence Synthesis: How to be a Self-Actualizing Transcender (+ Infographic)
Supporting Posts on Ego Development Theory & Integral Theory:
- An Introduction to “Ego Development Theory” by Susanne Cook-Greuter (EDT Summary)
- Humanity is Stuck in Development — Civilization’s Critical Evolution to the “Watershed Stage” in Ego Development Theory
- 🔒Behind the Scenes: My Ego Development Theory Self-Assessment
- “The Integral Vision” by Ken Wilber (Book Summary)
- “A Theory of Everything” by Ken Wilber (Book Summary)
🌀 Sloww Stage 4
The final idea is related to: Sloww Stage 4: How do I embody wisdom?
It’s only fitting that we finish the list on a concept that can hardly be described as a concept. While appreciating the mind, we simultaneously need to realize what’s beyond mind. The books and teachers below may just be “fingers pointing at the moon,” but they seem to be pretty good guides.
Supporting Posts on Tao & Zen:
- “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu (Book Summary)
- On Enlightenment: 3 Meanings of the “Chop Wood, Carry Water” Zen Quote
- Zen Stages of Enlightenment: The Ten Bulls or Ten Oxherding Pictures (Short Story)
Supporting Posts on Nonduality:
- “Being Myself” by Rupert Spira (Book Summary + 🔒Premium Summary)
- “Who am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi” (Book Summary)
- “Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing” by Jed McKenna (Book Summary + 🔒Premium Summary)
- “Awareness” by Anthony de Mello (Book Summary + 🔒Premium Summary)
- “The Power of Now” (Book Summary) & “A New Earth” (Book Summary) by Eckhart Tolle (+ 🔒Premium Synthesis)
What Sloww concepts have been life-changing ideas for you so far? Please let me know in the comments!
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