The Long Game 129: Embodied Exercise, Why is Modern Dating so Hard, Setting the Pace, Fermenting Great Ideas
🛠 Recovery Tools, The New Hypebeasts, Relationships, Class Divide, Peak Clickability, Evan Spiegel, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Why is modern dating so hard?
Setting the pace
Fermenting great ideas
Let’s dive in!
✨ Discovering Joy Through Embodied Exercise
I see a lot of discussions about what is “the optimal” exercise routine or what’s the “minimal effective dose” of this or that…
These conversations surely have their places, but what about the greater discussion about finding joy and happiness through exercising? Wouldn’t that better that instead of “having to exercise,” you were excited every day to get to exercise?
In my opinion, many conversations around finding the “optimal” miss that aspect, and finding what a person likes is often the most powerful factor in ensuring long-term consistency. So maybe, just maybe, the ‘80% optimal’ that you love ends up being ‘THE optimal for you’™️.
Sam Sager recently wrote a great piece about that:
As a child, I was obsessed with playing sports. I loved being on a team, competing to win, and striving to get better. During these years, exercise felt easy. I thrived on external motivation, tangible goals, and consistent progress. Yet, within a year of graduating college and "retiring" from baseball, I felt stuck. My body hurt. I lacked the motivation to exercise. I could feel my strength and energy decreasing by the day.
I have a vivid memory of standing in the gym one evening with a gnawing sense of pointlessness. I looked at the weights and felt empty. I asked myself why I should lift them and got no answer. I felt weak, both physically and mentally. My strength was decaying. My willpower was nonexistent. My spirit seemed broken.
The practice of “embodied exercise” could be an antidote to that feeling:
“Default” Running: You set a goal to run a 10k and sign up for a race. You tell all your friends to create accountability. You start pushing yourself to run further and faster to quickly achieve your goal. The pace feels uncomfortable but you force your body through it. Time goes by faster if you disassociate so you lose yourself in your thoughts or a playlist. Sometimes you get a “runner’s high” but it’s a vague satisfaction you can’t describe. Your mileage increases. You complete the race. Your friends are proud. But you’re not sure what to do next. Sign up for a longer race? Take a break because you hit your goal? You’re stuck in a loop of extrinsic motivation.
“Embodied" Running: You set an intention to fully experience the activity of running within your body. You ask friends for tips on technique to cultivate enjoyment. You start slowly and listen to your body. You explore how different paces and distances feel in your lungs, heart, and legs. You find that if you bring your awareness deep into certain places in your body you experience a flood of interesting sensations. Sometimes you stop thinking altogether, lost in the meditative flow of each foot hitting the ground. You’re intrigued, so you start running more often. Your runs get longer. You realize your pace has increased without even trying. You aren’t worried about what’s next because you enjoy the experience so much. You’ve become someone who runs for the joy of it. You’re effortlessly powered by intrinsic motivation.
This has the power to unlock motivation and joy on top of all the health benefits of consistent exercise.
As we cultivate deeper awareness and understanding of our body, we uncover previously hidden connections between mental, emotional, and physical states. Through these connections, we further connect to our inner desires, preferences, and patterns. This growing field of awareness unlocks more of our intrinsic motivation, for exercise and life more broadly.
From this space, we can build a deeply intuitive approach to exercise. Instead of looking to experts to tell us what we should do, we can listen to our bodies to hear what we want to do. Instead of forcing ourselves to rigidly follow a predefined schedule, we can cultivate space within our daily life that makes exercise inevitable. We can let go of grinding and discover flow. Exercise can feel effortless.
🤔 Why is modern dating so hard?
First, I strongly believe dating fully deserves its place in the wellness category. I’m lucky not to be dating anymore, but I see around me that it’s a big challenge for anyone dating at the moment.
Over the last months, I went on a deep rabbit hole of dating, SMV, blue pill, red pill, black pill, etc., but I’ll leave that for another time and maybe summarize my learnings here at some point.
Today I wanted to share an excellent piece trying to answer the one and only question: why is modern dating so hard?
I’ve been thinking about the challenges of modern dating a lot lately. Primarily because I have so many interesting, beautiful, smart friends—both men and women!—that are single and struggling fiercely to find a good match. It’s a multi-faceted problem that hits every stage of the dating pipeline: finding the right people, meeting them, courting them, maintaining/mining the connection, defining the relationship, entering a phase of exclusivity, and finally becoming “official.” It’s funny, because for most people, the end game of modern dating is the same as it has always been: end up with a life partner. But the process of getting there now is entirely different.
In no particular order, some of the elements that I think are worth thinking about:
Passion ≠ cool
“We live in an age of being “uninvolved.” Our generation says: it’s cool to seem uninterested, uncommitted to things. Being “open to new experiences” is oh-so-in, while being ferocious about one thing is, largely, alarming. Being into someone or something implies you have some sort of… passion for something.”
Options = good, commitment = bad
I’ve written a lot about the trap of optionality. The same is happening in dating.
“Dating is scary because it requires you to close doors, surrender your potential. This is the ultimate struggle of maturity: trading potential (possibility) for something tangible, and dating is the perfect illustration of the tight grip we have on our potential as young adults.”
Feelings are concealed—people are less willing to be upfront.
“In the throes of modern dating, people are generally tentative, shying away from vulnerability and unwilling to expose themselves, because there is an implied mutual pursuit of optionality.”
Getting validation is easier (mostly for women).
This is a HUGE factor, in my opinion. Women can routinely get a lot of matches on dating apps, which tend to inflate their egos. The opposite is happening for men; most men don’t get matches on dating apps, which ruins their self-worth.
I’ve also shared countless graphs related to online dating showing the extent of the disparity between women’s experiences and men’s.
Most people do not like the primary option for meeting potential partners: dating apps.
Can we blame them? I find dating apps to be a horrible concept, but if all of society is on them, can you escape them?
Everyone is on do not disturb irl (airpods + phones)
This makes cold approaches more complicated.
Pair with: The Truth About Online Dating & Mate.
🧠 Better Thinking
🍷 Fermenting Great Ideas
I liked this piece on the art of fermenting great ideas.
Whatever you pay attention to is being fermented by your brain. It doesn’t understand that refining your lysergic acid derivatives is more important than whether or not Shanae will find someone new before the next rose ceremony. If you pay attention to it, it’s going in the fermentation jar.
Every tweet you read, every newspaper you glance at, every show you watch, every email you skim, it’s all feeding your subconscious things to process. And whatever it’s fed, it will ferment into ideas and reactions. So if you want to come up with better ideas, you must get extremely strict about what you let in the door.
If you want all of the ideas that pop into your brain to be clever responses to that person who was WRONG on Twitter today, then, by all means, scroll Twitter all day. If you want all your mental RAM to go towards fearing for your life over this year’s new armageddon myth, go for it. But if you want to come up with useful brain farts that move your life forward, you will have to stop feeding your mailroom dog shit. Garbage in, garbage out.
This stresses once again the importance of a good information diet. The interesting point that Nat makes is that it’s not only about consuming great content; it’s also about constantly thinking about what you’re trying to resolve.
Removal is only the first step, though. You must replace it with the fresh juicy jalapeños you want your brain to be fermenting.
You’re probably assuming I’m going to say “read great books” or “read old stuff” here, but no, that’s not the answer. That helps shift your thinking in a more interesting direction. But it doesn’t necessarily help generate great ideas.
The most important food to constantly feed your brain is the problems you want it to be solving. These problems do not need to be grand like “solving world hunger.” Maybe one of your problems right now is what to get people for Christmas. You have to define clearly what those problems are and then constantly remind your brain to think about them. You need to be sending all-caps memos down to the mailroom fifty times a day saying COME UP WITH GIFT IDEAS!!! Otherwise, the mailroom is thinking about whether you’d rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck.
Personally, I apply this idea to build a great product at Vital. Most of my time awake is spent thinking or doing things that will help us improve Vital.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🏎 Setting the Pace
A simple reminder for this week: as an early-stage startup (or any size, really), speed is your most sustainable competitive advantage.
On that topic, I also liked this piece titled Setting the Pace.
A productive company culture is one with a clearly set pace. One with basic expectations around how long projects should take, what level of risk is appropriate to meet that pace, and what happens when teams or individuals miss. When the pace is right, you ship high quality improvements at expected intervals, and customers are pleased. When the pace is wrong, everything else falters.
This is why Shape Up – our development methodology at 37signals – starts with pace. We believe nearly everything worth doing at our company can be done in six weeks or less. Usually with just two people doing the work. That's our cadence. Projects that fail to ship within that timeframe are canceled. New employees know that everyone is expected to eventually find a way to keep up.
We've operated like this for years. There's nothing controversial about it, because we've repeatedly proven that it's possible to run at this pace sustainably, without constant overwork, undue stress, software defects, or other ill consequences. But to many other companies, running at a pace where major features are developed and shipped by teams of two in six weeks or less would seem crazy. And if they tried to set their pace to match ours from one day to the next, there might well be an internal revolt.
📚 What I Read
🤫 Here's Why Wellness Bros Are Sleeping With Their Mouths Taped Shut
On the trendy practice of taping your mouth while sleeping:
But Dr. Salas was skeptical of mouth taping’s grand promises. If you’re snoring, and you’re still tired in the morning despite getting plenty of sleep, the underlying issue could be something serious that tape alone can’t fix. Like obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where one’s airways are obstructed while they sleep, sometimes closing for 10 seconds or more.
“Sleep apnea has a ton of risks,” Dr. Salas explained. “Heart attacks, stroke, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, diabetes, erectile dysfunction. You’re five times more likely to get in a car accident. So if people are defaulting to self-diagnosing, or are just focused on the snoring and not seeking medical attention, they may actually be at risk for these bigger things.”
Pair with: People With Sleep Apnea Fight Death Every Night
➗ Class Divides and Political Realignments
This an interesting article examining the roots of the culture war.
First, colleges became very skilled at finding and sorting talent. These institutions became a very efficient sorting hat for IQ, conscientiousness, and inherited advantages (parental wealth, good habits, good schools, etc).
Second, this pool of elite talent started marrying each other in a process known as assortative mating. Assortative mating is when the top talent marry each other and produce children with inherited advantages.
Third, this elite talent began to consolidate in a handful of cities. This jacked up the cost of housing in these locations, which subsequently priced out most working class people from the area — further enmeshing the elites together.
If you were optimizing society around identifying the most talented people and encouraging them to live and work together, you’d be happy with this result.
But that begs the question: what happens to everyone else who isn’t elite talent? Well, they simply get left behind.
While this talent concentration had some positive effects, it also created deep-seated inequalities and an inherited meritocracy structure. The children of these elite got a huge head start because they were raised in a stable home, had the best-educated parents, and attended the best schools within the best neighborhoods.
✉️ 23-Year-Old Evan Spiegel's Leaked Email
I’m a huge fan & believer in Snap. This is an impressive email by CEO Evan Spiegel:
For Snapchat to capitalize on market conditions in next 3 years, it is imperative that we become a revenue-generating company. That will allow us to attract the best talent and prosper despite extreme scrutiny on traditional social media that will have failed to deliver on $$$ dreams. Team is working overtime to drive revenue and innovate on core product - we have a solid 3-year roadmap that we intend to follow.
As a profitable growth company with a focus on mobile we will not suffer from opportunities to raise capital at outsized valuations despite market conditions. Strategically it is important for us to keep expectations low with an understanding that Snapchat may be valued on revenues going forward and that $800mm valuation for a two year old company is remarkable and already more than enough to grow into. With 13-15 months of runway extended by minimally successful revenue generation activities I think we are positioned to capture the mobile communication market.
I disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that mobile will be forever fragmented - we are the only differentiated messaging service in the United States and we will continue to provide a unique and innovative product experience. Snapchat is not valuable in the long-term because it is used by teens or because it is a threat to Facebook. It is valuable because it has fundamentally changed the nature of digital communication inOur focus in the immediate term is revenue generation, growth and product development.
🖱 Has the Internet Reached Peak Clickability?
Chasing clicks is now a losing strategy—the rising stars on the web are creating a higher level of engagement.
It’s now clear to me that consumption of information on the Internet will evolve in a similar way. Even better, online music and the other arts will trend in the same direction. (I will write about that topic in more detail in the very near future—I’ll finally have a happy forecast to share about the music economy.)
It’s already happening. Legacy media won’t tell you this because they’re losers in this paradigm shift. They still have the McDonald’s mindset. As they shrink, they chase clicks more aggressively. And the more they chase clicks, the more they lose genuine engagement.
Perhaps that’s not really a surprise, because the old school media outlets have been shrinking for a long time. The strange new factor is that the huge web platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok—are now making the same mistake.
This is a signal that we have reached the endgame stage. And a new game is beginning with totally different recipes for success.
For the last decade the web has served up bite-sized information like cheap fast food. But the new web just might give us that nutritious gourmet meal we’ve been waiting for. And why not? For my part, I find the whole notion rather appetizing.
🍭 Brain Food
💊 Wastewater Analysis and Drugs — a European Multi-City Study
This fascinating interactive map lets you explore drug consumption in Europe thanks to wastewater analysis. For cocaine:
Cocaine consumption is rising in Europe: +180% from 2015 to 2021 (in a group of 8 selected cities.)
A relatively stable picture of cocaine use was observed between 2011 and 2015 in most cities. In 2016, there were initial signs that this pattern was changing, with increases observed in the majority of cities each year since then. The 2021 data reveal an increase in cocaine residues in most cities (32 out of 58) when compared to 2020 data, while 12 cities reported no change and 14 cities reported a decrease. An overall increase is seen for all 12 cities with data for both 2011 and 2021.
🎥 What I’m Watching
👟 The Scary NEW Fashion Hypebeasts…
👫 My complicated relationship with women.
I don’t agree with everything Nathaniel says, but it’s a well-done video.
🔧 The Tool of the Week
🛠 Recovery Tools
I’ve been going down the recovery rabbit hole (again) over the past few days. Here are some of the things I’m considering getting/or already got:
Bands (get quality ones!)
Bonus: if you’re lucky enough to have your home gym, specialty bars are extremely useful in preventing overuse (here & here.)
I’ll devote more time to recovery to ensure I reach my strength goals injury free.
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think.
— Marc Andreessen
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Until next week,
j'adore cette idée du embodied exercise! c'est drôle que tu en parles par ex depuis qq temps je fais la gym avec la pilates ball et je trouve plein d'exercices qui me rappellent la danse que nous faisons petites, ça me remémore des choses sympa et j'aime cette gym limite j'ai hâte de la faire le matin!! idem pour la marche, j'ai marché dans Anfa dans les ruelles, ombre lumière et c'était tellement peaceful, !! faut faire ce qu'on aime!!