The Long Game 47: A Wearable for Mental Health, Beauty, Dark Force vs. Light Force Motivation, Staying Positive
🌍 Afrofuturism, The Art of Loving, Greenlights, China's Housing Crisis, Teza and Much More!
Greetings from Montenegro 🇲🇪
In this episode, we explore:
A wearable for mental health
Finding the beauty in life
Dark force vs. light force motivation
The Art of Loving
Let’s dive in!
🧘♀️ A Wearable for Mental Health and Wellness
I am fascinated by the future of wearables and the new era of health and mental health bio-feedbacks that’s coming. I’m currently working on blood glucose levels, and I read this preprint exploring the possibility of a mental health wearable to help people deal with chronic mental health conditions. It would be a game-changer for a lot of people and potentially help us optimize our mental health. Here’s the abstract:
Chronic stress has been associated with a variety of pathophysiological risks including developing mental illness. Conversely, appropriate stress management, can be used to foster mental wellness proactively. Yet, there is no existing method that accurately and objectively monitors stress. With recent advances in electronic-skin (e-skin) and wearable technologies, it is possible to design devices that continuously measure physiological parameters linked to chronic stress and other mental health and wellness conditions. However, the design approach should be different from conventional wearables due to considerations like signal-to-noise ratio and the risk of stigmatization.
Here, we present a multi-part study that combines user-centered design with engineering-centered data collection to inform future design efforts. To assess human factors, we conducted an n=24 participant design probe study that examined perceptions of an e-skin for mental health and wellness as well as preferred wear locations. We complement this with an n=10 and n=16 participant data collection study to measure physiological signals at several potential wear locations. By balancing human factors and biosignals, we conclude that the upper arm and forearm are optimal wear locations.
balajis.com @balajisWe have physiological data that shows the effect of nutritional diet on metabolism. You can see the glucose spike after a cookie. Do we have graphs that show the effect of information diet on neurology? Can we see the dopamine spike after a tweet? https://t.co/fXKj778L7H
📸 Finding the Beauty in Life
Recently, I started taking more pictures of the random things I find beautiful every day. I don’t remember where I heard about this habit, but it positively impacted my life.
This practice will help you recognize beauty. It's not that beauty is hard to find. It's that beauty is easy to overlook.
Somewhat related to beauty, another important idea I came across last month is that if you have something to say to someone, don’t wait too long. Any number of things can happen, pick up the phone and say what you want to say.
If you enjoy this newsletter, make sure to subscribe if you haven't!
🧠 Better Thinking
🏴🏳 Dark Force vs. Light Force Motivation
I’ve been thinking about motivation lately and the different types of motivations that lead people to achieve things. There are many ways to approach motivation, but today I want to explore a little bit the concepts of dark force vs. light force motivation.
First, what do we mean by this?
Dark force motivation: things like anger, rage, insecurity, need for attention, just accomplishment to show others I’m capable.
Light force motivation: I just love the work, or I love the people I’m doing it with or the sheer curiosity of the question, or I know I can make this better even if no one else notices.
Both of these motivations can be very powerful, but I tend to believe that you should be mindful of the ratio of these two you currently have in your life. I was fueled by more dark force motivation in the past, and I’m confident that, over the long run, dark force motivation is inferior to light force motivation.
Should you aim at no dark force motivation? I don’t think so. A little bit of dark force can be helpful, but you should keep an eye on your ratio. I personally aim at 90% of light force motivation. Working on something I’m deeply passionate about definitely helps.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🚂 Staying Positive
I greatly enjoyed this piece from Fred Wilson about the value of staying positive, even in hard times:
One of the gifts that I got was the ability to stay positive. I am grateful to my parents, my wife, and my genes (and anyone else responsible too). It is such a superpower.
I don’t just mean optimism. I mean saying nice things about people. I mean keeping a smile on your face. I mean positivity in all things. I do have my moments of negativity, but they come infrequently and go away quickly.
I definitely agree with him, and if I had to choose one real-life superpower, I’d pick staying positive without a doubt. We talked about The Upside of Stress and mindset interventions in The Long Game 39, and staying positive is exactly that: a mindset that will greatly improve your outcomes in life.
From The Upside of Stress:
A belief with this kind of power goes beyond a placebo effect. This is a mindset effect. Unlike a placebo, which tends to have a short-lived impact on a highly specific outcome, the consequences of a mindset snowball over time, increasing in influence and long-term impact.
If you’re curious as to how to implement a new mindset in your life (something I found incredibly helpful in the past), here’s how the author describes the way to do it:
The most effective mindset interventions have three parts: 1) learning the new point of view, 2) doing an exercise that encourages you to adopt and apply the new mindset, and 3) providing an opportunity to share the idea with others.
📚 What I Read
💒 The Art of Loving
After last week’s quote about love, my friend Dan Stern recommended the book The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. I read a short description of the book and decided to pause what I was reading to read it.
Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. — Interstellar
I’m very happy I read this book, and I consider it to be an essential read. It makes the case that love should be learned and that it’s a mistake to think love will happen naturally when you find the right person.
Here are a few notes I took:
People seek to be loved and forget about how to love.
People look at other people just as they look at things they can buy or own.
Another error people make: two persons fall in love when they feel they have the best in the market. Human love relationships follow the rule of the market.
There is confusion between falling in love (it doesn’t last) and being in love.
People don’t put in the time to learn the art of loving.
The theory of love: Love is the answer to the problem of human existence.
The more humans leave the realm of animals, the more intense the need to fight separateness becomes.
Ways to fight separateness: orgies, sex, drugs. These rituals lower the feeling of separateness, but it doesn’t last long.
The difference between motherly love and fatherly love: motherly love is unconditional, fatherly love is conditional.
Self-love: it’s negative for Freud (because he sees it as selfishness), but the author sees it as positive. Love for others can exist if one loves himself.
“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
To conclude this note on love, I really appreciated that Alexis Ohanian and Kevin Roses opened up and admitted that love is hard work. People should be more open about this: love and relationships are hard work and making things work requires sacrifices and compromises. There’s just no other way around this.
§AlexisOhanian 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ @alexisohanianPeople gotta be more honest about how marriage isn't bliss without work. I think it's even more work when it's interracial marriage (and most of the time it's on me, tbh). We need more sunlight these days, not less. Appreciate S for leading per usual. https://t.co/XDxKA0oMoY
🟢 Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey
Please do yourself a favor: go for a long walk and listen to Matthew McConaughey performing his book. It’s a pure moment of pleasure as he might be the most charismatic person on earth. It’s a surprisingly good book, full of thought-provoking stories, and, above all, full of the positive energy that the author is so good at transmitting.
“We all step in shit from time to time. We hit roadblocks, we fuck up, we get fucked, we get sick, we don’t get what we want, we cross thousands of “could have done better”s and “wish that wouldn’t have happened”s in life. Stepping in shit is inevitable, so let’s either see it as good luck, or figure out how to do it less often.”
A great article explaining how we might avoid a climate crisis—without placing all of our hopes on politicians.
Let’s be honest. The world’s governments might not coordinate to stop climate change.
Between bickering over which country is paying the bill, the fact that the major costs of climate change are decades away, and countless more urgent political problems caused by the sudden surge of populism around the world, it’s possible sensible policies like carbon taxes won’t be fully adopted in time.
I didn’t know, but scientists are trying to stave off catastrophic climate change—by resurrecting an Ice Age biome complete with lab-grown woolly mammoths.
🎁 Gifts and How Recipients Feel
I thought this research finding was good to have in mind, and it highlights the importance of understanding the culture and codes of the people you’re interacting with.
When a gift is given from a giver to a recipient, there is often an expectation that the recipient will reciprocate, for example, during the winter holidays. However, recipients do not always have gifts to return to their givers for such “reciprocatory occasions.” They might be unaware beforehand, for instance, that the giver will be giving them one.
This research examines whether givers accurately assess how uncomfortable recipients feel when they fail to reciprocate a giver’s gift for a reciprocatory occasion.
Several studies demonstrate that givers severely underestimate how uncomfortable recipients feel in such situations. This occurs in part because givers feel less strongly than recipients that the actions of the two parties imply an imbalance in appreciation. Moreover, in part because of this forecasting error, givers give gifts more often than recipients prefer when it is known before a reciprocatory occasion that a recipient would be unable to reciprocate.
🎙 Podcast Episode of the Week
I’ve been looking for different podcasts to listen to for a while without too much success. I love the most well-known shows as much as anyone, and I learn a lot through them, but I also like to get exposed to more underrated content that explores things I don’t know much about. I finally found some new shows to listen to:
As you can see, these are history shows. I haven’t been very interested in history for the last few years. Still, I start to understand I should pay more attention to it and take the time (it takes a lot of time!) to explore some historical periods I find fascinating (the history of India, Rome, the Egyptian civilization, and the Renaissance.)
🍭 Brain Food
According to Wikipedia, Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and history that explores the developing intersection of African diaspora culture with technology.
I got interested in Afrofuturism this week because after looking at the graph showing the population in 2100 and the massive increase in Africa, I remembered Noah Smith wrote a piece titled All Futurism is Afrofuturism.
Afrofuturism is a fun and interesting subgenre of science fiction and philosophy:, but I kind of chuckle every time I see the word, because all futurism is actually Afrofuturism. Africa is literally the future of the entire world. Here is one of the two or three most important charts you will ever see:
If you’re interested in this, I highly recommend the Africa Renaissance Black Paper that my friend Mwiya wrote. You can also listen to our conversation about the future of Africa.
If things go well, Wakanda may become a reality in this century.
I love these Afrofurism aesthetics.
🎥 What I’m Watching
🇨🇳 China’s Reckoning: Housing Crisis
This weekend I went, once again, down the China rabbit hole. This second part of China’s Reckoning by PolyMatter is great and will help you understand China's housing crisis.
More on China:
A new cold war? Bruno Maçães doesn’t think so.
Interview of Dan Wang about China, the US, and technology (Dan is one of the smartest tech analysts, I also recommend his 2020 letter.)
🔧 The Tool of the Week
I strongly believe that the future of search will be curated search. So often, when you’re trying to find something on Google, you only find basic, general articles and ads. You don’t find the gems you’re looking for. Recently I’ve been using more Twitter and Reddit to search for articles and ideas. Teza is a great tool because you can search for people and get a good overview of their work.
Our AI analyzes millions of public data sources – articles, videos, tweets and more – to give you actionable insights in seconds.
Find common ground and avoid landmines
Dive deep into opinions and worldview
Gain clarity by seeing the bigger picture
🪐 Quote I'm Pondering
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
— Isaac Asimov
If you enjoyed this newsletter, make sure to subscribe if you haven’t 👇
Thanks for reading!
If you like The Long Game, please share it on social media or forward this email to someone who might enjoy it. Podcast reviews are also gratefully received. You can also “like” this newsletter by clicking the heart just below this, which helps me get visibility on Substack.
Feel free to email me or find me on Twitter if you have any feedback or questions.
Until next week,
PS: Lots of newsletters get stuck in Gmail’s Promotions tab. If you find it in there, please help train the algorithm by dragging it to Primary. It makes a big difference.