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Guest Post: Greatness and Humility

A few days ago, I wrote an open letter to a good friend of mine - "I Think Greatness is Something You Are, Not Something You Do" - I said to him, I'm not a great man, just a normal man working on great things. Greatness is something you do, not something you are.

To give you some background, my friend Brendon is just one of the most amazingly good people in the world. He takes care of everyone around him, his mind, body, and spirit are sharp. He's a black belt, an excellent programmer, a philosopher, a Shodan in Go (actually, even stronger than that - he's a Shodan under the Asian rankings, so probably even higher in America), a hard worker, extremely loyal, a clear and free thinker, widely read and knowledgeable, and again - an amazingly good guy. I've learned a lot from him (notably, he taught me how to play Go, sysadmin Linux, understand basketball at a very high level, improve at martial arts, improve my fitness, and other good stuff - we'd usually go drink green tea and play Go at Samurai Restaurant in Boston, go fight in the park, talk philosophy out at nightclubs, do stuff like that).

He wrote back to me about greatness and humility. I think this is a really beautiful piece, so I asked him if I could gently edit it and put it up. He graciously agreed. It's long, but go ahead and just start it and give it whatever time you have - there's a lot of amazing insight in here.

A Quick Favor Request - if you learn from this or it helps you, please send Brendon a quick email to mail@bobz.in - he was actually a little gun-shy about having such a personal piece put up with such raw power in it. He only agreed when I told him how many people it could help - so please, drop him a short line to say thanks if this teaches you as much as it did me.

Without further ado...

Monday (Mid)Morning Musing: Health

On like an apple

Last week I listened to a podcast of psychology scholar Jordan Peterson's Slaying the Dragon Within Us. In it, he uses storytelling as a device to make a key truth clear: the fears we run from control us. I thought it was great.

I wanted to read more about him, and found he has a website (with others) encouraging "self authoring," i.e., telling your story about yourself and your life, to yourself. What has all of this to do with health? Well, an introductory paper explaining why an activity like writing your story out, slaying your inner dragons, would benefit a person, was all about health. Physical health, as well as mental well-being. And it really strikes me as true:

Individuals assigned to write about a stressful occurrence in their own life typically experience improvements in general physical health, compared to those who write about trivial events. These improvements include fewer consultations with physicians, greater long-term psychological health and improved immune function.

Other benefits include faster re-employment for recently dismissed professionals, and higher grade-point averages for students.

[It has also been] recently demonstrated, as well, significant increases in working memory among participants in two well-controlled studies, attributable to a decrease in anxiety and depression-related intrusive thoughts. These results appear robust, and have been demonstrated in over two-dozen studies, using a number of populations around the world.

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