library of congress; Washington DC ceiling

Embrace the Extremes #philosophy

Why I am anti-moderation:

library of congress; Washington DC ceiling

Dear friend,

A fun philosophical inquiry — why is it that all these philosophers say that moderation is good? I thoroughly disagree that moderation is good. For example, one would never give a child a “moderate” dose of cocaine — no matter how moderate it is! Instead, I believe that there must be some things which we strictly restrict, things we wholly eliminate, and totally abolish from our lives, thoughts, diets, and day to day activities.

My suggestion:

Embrace the extremes.

Or in the words of Nassim Taleb, the “barbell” approach to life.

The basic concept is this:

Better to indulge in something to excess (and fast the rest of the time) instead of doing things in “moderation”.

For example, when it comes to food, I believe it is better to fast during the day and feast like a monster at night, instead of having “regular” meals throughout the day.

Or, better to drink a lot of alcohol once a week (until you get really drunk, and perhaps get a hangover), instead drinking the “moderate” 1-2 glasses of wine everyday.

Of course this concept of “embracing the extremes” shouldn’t be applied to everything in life. It’s just a heuristic or “rule of thumb” to best maximize your potential, joy, and happiness in life.

For example, drink as much coffee you want during the day, but abstain from caffeine in the evening.

Work like a motherf*cker during the day, and “go hard”, and allow yourself 100% rest and recovery in the evening.

At the gym, give it your 110% effort, and then for the rest of the day walk slowly, and leisurely.

With dinner with friends, either give them 100% or your attention, or 0% of your attention (ignore them by using your phone). So when meeting friends, best to turn off your phone, leave it in the car, or switching it to airplane mode).

With knowledge, I like to barbell between extreme reading and studying, then barbell it with extreme writing (and almost no reading).

For example, I’ve gone through phases where I would do nothing else but read for 6-8 hours a day, and write nothing— and then a month later seems 6-8 hours a day, and reading nothing. To me, embracing the extremes of reading + writing has been more effective than “moderate” reading and “moderate” writing.

Embracing the extremes are also more fun in life!

For example,

  1. Better to abstain totally from eating during the day, and allow yourself to feast like a beast at night, with 0 ounces of guilt.
  2. Better to totally absorb yourself into “time wasting” video games one day a week, and don’t touch it at all the other days —actually building your gratitude to playing video games.
  3. Better to have dinner with a friend once a month and talk for 5-6 hours over dinner, than send shallow text messages regularly throughout the day.
  4. It would be best NOT to consume porn everyday; instead, let yourself go unlimited once a…. however you want.

Other random ideas:

  1. Live an extremely frugal life in terms of your food, diet, drink, lifestyle, but buy really expensive camera gear and flight tickets to travel and make photos.
  2. Read classic literature and philosophy (the older, the better) and read celebrity gossip, instead of reading pretentious pseudo-intellectual stuff like The New Yorker.
  3. Abstain from sugar, carbohydrates, and starch 100% for all days of the month, except for one insane “cheat meal” (once a month). But for me, absolute abstinence has seemed like an easier policy.
  4. Extremes with social relationships: Some of the day go into zen monk mode and be extremely social in the evening.
  5. Extremes with Internet: Abstain from Internet during the evening, and allow unlimited internet use during the day. Or vice-versa if possible!
  6. Extremes with devices: unlimited device use during the day, and no device use at night (turn off your phone once you get home).

Once again, this concept of “embracing the extremes” is just a philosophical concept, and idea that can help simplify our lives. It’s a heuristic that works 80% “good enough” and “satisfices” (satisfy/suffices) most scenarios not all scenarios.

Experiment, have fun, and try it out on your own life. See what helps, what hurts, and seek to know wisdom for your own sake —then share with others what works with you!



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