The Long Game 5: Mental Health & Wealth, Psychedelics, Apps & Happiness, Inversion, New MVP, Signaling as a Service

🌆 Civilization-States, Science of Progress, the Fermi Paradox, Peter Thiel, the V.I.P World, and Much More!

Hey there, and welcome to The Long Game — my take on health, wellness, and better living.

Welcome to the new subscribers since the last episode! If you're reading this but haven't subscribed yet, it's easy! Just sign up, sit back, and enjoy!

It's is my last week in Vienna after spending three months in this beautiful city. I look forward to coming back and explore more, hopefully in a better global context!

If you missed past episodes, you can catch up here (Episode 1Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4); otherwise, let's dive into all the exciting content this week had to offer!

The architecture of Vienna is very particular. I find it elegant!


🥑 Health

🧘🏻‍♂️ Mental Health in 2020

I have been thinking a lot about mental health recently. It has always been essential to pay attention to mental health problems in society, but I think the current situation will contribute to a greater awareness concerning these problems. A recent study looked into the levels of stress and anxiety in April 2020 compared to data from 2018.

What they found tells a lot about the impact of COVID-19 on society:

In April 2020, 13.6% of US adults reported symptoms of serious psychological distress, relative to 3.9% in 2018. Among the subgroups examined, in April 2020, symptoms of psychological distress were highest among young adults aged 18 to 29 years (24%), adults with household income of less than $35 000 per year (19.3%), and Hispanic adults (18.3%). The corresponding prevalence estimates for these 3 groups in 2018 were 3.7% , 7.9% and 4.4%, respectively. The lowest prevalence of serious psychological distress among the subgroups examined in April 2020 was observed in adults aged 55 years or older (7.3%). In April 2020, 13.8% of US adults reported that they always or often felt lonely.

💰 Mental Wealth, by James Beshara

I'm all about the preventive approach, whether it's about health or anything else. James Beshara transposes this idea to mental health in this enlightening piece.

We might benefit from approaching mental health like we invest in anything else in our lives (finances, relationships, careers, physical health, etc), where one builds wealth in this area by continuous, conscious investment.

Estimates say that 83% of us will be hit with a mental health crisis in our lives, we can all make the choices to invest wisely in this area to improve our ‘mental durability’ to deal with it properly.

My research and interest in learning more about this topic lead me to read about how psychedelics could change mental health for the better.

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, here is a great article:

🍄 Business gets ready to trip: How psychedelic drugs may revolutionize mental health care, by Jeffrey M. O'Brien

A long-form article on how and why Tim Ferriss invested himself in the psychedelics field.

The other psychedelic agent most commonly being studied, MDMA, commonly called ecstasy or molly, has in some scientific studies proved highly effective at treating patients with persistent PTSD.

I went into psychedelics as pretty much a skeptic. The level of unbridled enthusiasm made me suspicious. By no means did I think we would find what we have found—Roland Griffiths, Director of The Johns Hopkins Center For Psychedelic & Consciousness Research


🌱 Wellness

📱 App Ratings, by The Center for Humane Technology

As I focused on mental health this week, I found this excellent piece on how the apps we use every day affect our happiness.

I realize more and more how the information diet we consume affects how we think and how we feel. It doesn't shock me to see how unhappy Instagram makes its users. The app can be valuable in some cases, but it's fundamentally stressful to see so many realities, "perfect" lives and "flawless" people every day.

I reduced my time on Instagram to an extreme minimum over the last year, and I found it had a significant impact on my wellbeing.


🧠 Better Thinking

Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You, by James Clear

Most people are focused on how to achieve success. What if we focused instead on avoiding failure? This article explains the principle of inversion.

Inversion is counterintuitive. It is not obvious to spend time thinking about the opposite of what you want.

Inversion is an essential skill for leading a logical and rational life. It allows you to step outside your normal patterns of thought and see situations from a different angle. Whatever problem you are facing, always consider the opposite side of things.


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⚡️ Startup Stuff

The New MVP, by John C. Palmer

There is a crucial principle that a startup should follow when building a minimum viable product (MVP). Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, popularized this concept:

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.”

This article by John C. Palmer rethinks the notion of MVP in the current tech world.

Today, there's so much capital in the startup ecosystem, and so many tools that make it cheap and easy to ship a product, that baseline applications have become a commodity. Most users can intuitively feel the cheapness of the average product today, and their app fatigue is at an all-time high.


📚 What I Read

📡 Signaling as a Service, by Julian Lehr

Most of our actions can be traced to some form of signaling or status-seeking. This piece will show you that software is no exception. From the $30 monthly subscription to the email app Superhuman to how Tinder monetized signal amplification, this article is a must-read!

🌇 The Attack of the Civilization-State, by Bruno Maçães

This piece studies the fail attempt from the West to impose its values worldwide. What works in western counties isn't necessarily what's best for eastern powers. The values held as "universal" by European countries may only be one alternative among many others for different civilizations.

Nation-states are a Western invention, naturally vulnerable to Western influence. Civilizations are an alternative to the West.

“By accusing Western political ideas of being a sham, the defenders of the civilization-state are saying that the search for universal values is over.”

🚂 We Need a New Science of Progress, by Patrick Collison and Tylor Cowen

There are many voices raising concerns about the slowing down of progress. Patrick Collison and Tylor Cowen are two of them. This article calls for a new science of progress. It’s crucial because we need progress to keep improving society, cure diseases, solve climate change, promote equality, predict and mitigate natural disasters.

Progress itself is understudied. By “progress,” we mean the combination of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organizational advancement that has transformed our lives and raised standards of living over the past couple of centuries. For a number of reasons, there is no broad-based intellectual movement focused on understanding the dynamics of progress, or targeting the deeper goal of speeding it up. We believe that it deserves a dedicated field of study. We suggest inaugurating the discipline of “Progress Studies.”

To stay optimistic, here's a list of the major innovations of the last decades:

🎯 Pre-Suasion, by Robert Cialdini

If you like everything related to human psychology and how it impacts decision making, you will like this book.

“In deciding whether a possibility is correct, people typically look for hits rather than misses; for confirmations of the idea rather than for disconfirmations. It is easier to register the presence of something than its absence.”


🍭 Brain Food

🌞 The Fermi Paradox, by Wait But Why

If extraterrestrial life is something that you find mind-boggling, we are two!

The science world isn’t in total agreement about what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity)—opinions typically range from 5% to 20%. Going with the most conservative side of that (5%), and the lower end for the number of total stars (1022), gives us 500 quintillion, or 500 billion billion sun-like stars.

There’s also a debate over what percentage of those sun-like stars might be orbited by an Earth-like planet (one with similar temperature conditions that could have liquid water and potentially support life similar to that on Earth). Some say it’s as high as 50%, but let’s go with the more conservative 22% that came out of a recent PNAS study. That suggests that there’s a potentially-habitable Earth-like planet orbiting at least 1% of the total stars in the universe—a total of 100 billion billion Earth-like planets.

So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. Think about that next time you’re on the beach.

The article then covers ten scenarios to explain why we never recorded life on another planet. You won't regret immersing yourself in this great piece!


🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week

Peter Thiel on The Portal, by Eric Weinstein

Peter Thiel is famous, but his ideas are usually misinterpreted or unclear to most people. This in-depth discussion with Eric is perfect to understand more about his views on major issues.

The key takeaways are:

  • Innovation in science is stagnating.

  • The automation story has been oversold.

  • "In the last 40-50 years, things have been slow, but we've been told things are about to accelerate like crazy. That may be true, and I hope it's true. But if one was simply extrapolating from the last 40-50 years, perhaps the default is that we should be more worried about the lack of automation than excess automation."

  • "I always come back to thinking the problem of political correctness is our biggest political problem. We live in a world where people are uncomfortable saying what they think."

For more about Peter Thiel:

👠 Ashley Mears on Status and Beauty, Conversations with Tyler

A fascinating and original discussion to understand the V.I.P world.

Ashley is the author of Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit joined Tyler to discuss her book and experience as a model, including the economics of bottle service, which kinds of men seek the club experience (and which can’t get in), why Tyler is right to be suspicious of restaurants filled with beautiful women, why club music is so loud, the surprising reason party girls don’t want to be paid, what it’s like to be scouted, why fashion models don’t smile and more.


🔧 The tool of the Week

🎵 Endel Sound

While most of us are working from home, it can get hard to focus. Endel makes it easy with its personalized sound environments created to help you focus, relax, and sleep. Their app design is also a big plus, making the whole experience very enjoyable.


🪐 Quote I'm Reflecting On

Strong convictions, loosely held.

A quote that's particularly important right now.


EndNote

Thanks for reading!

I will see you next week; If you're finding this newsletter interesting, I would like to hear your feedback, you can respond to this email or tweet at me!

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Have a great day,

Mehdi

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