Hanoi, 2016 #cindyproject
Hanoi, 2016 #cindyproject

If you’re rigid, you will break and die.

If you are flexible, you will adapt, stay nimble, and survive.

The joy of flexibility

I love being flexible. I love being flexible with my ideas, theories, thoughts, schedule, lifestyle, travels, and clothing. I love the freedom that flexibility gives me.

I hate having a plan. When I have a plan, I feel like a prisoner. I feel that my calendar controls me; rather than me controlling my calendar.

When it comes to clothing and shoes, I prefer what is flexible. Having flexible shoes allows me to walk longer, with less fatigue, and more comfort. Having flexible clothes helps me move around quickly, be more free, and to have more movement.

Having a flexible mind means that I can always learn from others. That I don’t get trapped in the same theories or ways of thinking. I keep my mind nimble and prevent it from becoming fossilized, and closed-off. I try to stick to ‘beginner’s mind’ and avoid ‘expert’s mind’.

Be flexible and strong like bamboo

If we look at nature, we see that lady nature loves flexibility.

In a fierce storm, a rigid tree will break and die. But a flexible bamboo tree will sway and survive.

Even in modern architecture — old skyscrapers from the past are unsafe in storms. Newer skyscrapers are built to be flexible, and sway a bit— which prevents them from falling over.

How to be more flexible in life

How can we learn how to be more flexible in our lives?

The lessons I learned from Nassim Taleb: add more redundancy, avoid optimization, and add buffer.

When we try to optimize too much in life, we become rigid in a schedule. Because everything must happen within 5-minute increments from one another, or else the whole schedule gets screwed up. But we all know in life, nothing ever goes according to plan — because there are always things outside of our control that happen (a plane arrives late, there is a storm, a family member gets sick, we trip and break a leg, etc).

Furthermore, we need to have as many options open to ourselves as possible. If we buy a house with an expensive mortgage in a place, we become a prisoner to that place. However by renting, we suffer a lot less downside— because we have the option to move if we wanted to (if we got a better job offer somewhere else, if we wanted to travel, if we wanted to move to a different country).

You essentially want to avoid becoming a prisoner. You want to avoid anything that limits your options, that causes you to become trapped. You want some buffer-room in life, to become more flexible.

For example, whenever I actually do schedule something — I try to under-schedule whenever possible. I also try to schedule my meetings with at least 1-2 hours of buffer-time, because I know that I will always end up running late (and often the other person). Because there is always more traffic, complications, and unseen events that cause delays.

By adding redundancy and buffer— you prevent yourself from sailing too close to the wind. If your ship sails too close to the wind, your boat might sink. Similarly, if we schedule and optimize too much in our life, our plans will become ruined— and so will our days and lives.

Don’t be flexible with your ethics

Be flexible, open to change, but remain strong. Remain flexible on the details, but stay committed to your personal sense of ethics and morals. Never betray your ideals, keep those golden and sacred.


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