The Ancient Art of Turning Walls into Doors
Raptitude
by David Cain
2d ago
Last year I wrote a post asking readers to consider how much they’d pay for a hypothetical miracle medicine that lengthens your life, makes you happier, reduces anxiety, lowers risk of disease and injury, increases personal confidence, and literally makes you more attractive, along with dozens of other benefits. The only catch is that you can’t pay money for it, not directly. You gain and maintain access to it by doing a few hours of manual labor per week. The punchline was that this miracle medicine deal isn’t actually hypothetical; it exists in our world and is available on precisely the ab ..read more
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Where All the Time Went
Raptitude
by David Cain
3w ago
Time always feels like it’s speeding up, but you might feel like time has been going exceptionally quickly these past few years. The first few days of a new month quickly become the 11th, then the next day it’s the 23rd, and then your credit card is due and it’s a new month again. It might also be hard to remember, when people ask, what you did with those weeks and months. “Oh, I’ve just been, uh, working and stuff, I guess” you might say, when you bump into an acquaintance at the grocery store. For some of us, the 2020s have also come with a certain lingering mental fog, or poor memory, whic ..read more
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The Shortcut is Probably Too Long
Raptitude
by David Cain
1M ago
For a few years in my 20s I was determined to learn French. This endeavor began one day when a friend and I were camping, and our campsite was sandwiched between those of two German backpackers and a French tourist. Sitting around a fire with our new friends that night, they told us to visit them if we ever came to Europe, and we said we would. My friend and I promised each other that he would learn German, I would learn French, and we’d make a trip there a few years later. My friend did not learn German and to my knowledge never gave it another thought. (In hindsight I remember one of the Ge ..read more
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How to Feel 20 Percent Better
Raptitude
by David Cain
1M ago
On a whim I decided to commit to three small changes for the remainder of Lent, not because I’m religious, but because I like the idea of temporarily renouncing things. I kept the changes small because small is easy, and might still be worthwhile. First I renounced the scrolling of Twitter and Reddit, because I kind of got into that again over the winter. I just took five minutes to block them on my phone, and I don’t miss them. I also started drinking more water again. I’m not sure when I got away from actively drinking water, but now that I’m doing it again I feel more energetic. Lastly, I ..read more
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There is No Future, and That’s Good
Raptitude
by David Cain
2M ago
Next month I’m going on a trip to the US, but I won’t know the destination until I’m in the cab on the way to the airport. A friend and I hatched this “surprise trip” idea a few years ago. One person chooses the destination and books flights and hotel, staying within a certain budget and other agreed parameters. The other person packs for any destination in the United States, and doesn’t find out where until shortly before going through airport security. Most people probably wouldn’t want to travel like this, but it works for us. We both like surprises, and we both know how to have fun almost ..read more
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The Two Ways of Doing
Raptitude
by David Cain
2M ago
Imagine two friends, Steve and Fred, chatting at a New Year’s party. Both of them resolve to abstain from alcohol for January, and attend the gym regularly. They shake on it. They don’t want to let each other down, and they both fulfill their commitments. Afterward, Steve keeps up his routine, and Fred soon drifts back to too much beer and not enough exercise. Even though they accomplished the same thing, an astute third-party observer might have noticed a difference in how each man went about his goal. It was definitely hard for both of them; they both woke up at dawn, drank club soda while ..read more
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When You Go Straight Towards Your Kryptonite
Raptitude
by David Cain
3M ago
The first time I tried an oyster, I was six or seven and my parents had company over. I immediately gagged and spit it out on the plate. It was the worst thing I ever had in my mouth. A few months ago, at a restaurant, my friend ordered some oysters and offered me one. I said thanks but I don’t like oysters, and then realized that I wasn’t sure if that’s true, because I had only ever tried one, in 1987, for one second. So I tried it. It was fine. I get why people eat them, but I’d rather order something else. Mostly I felt silly for steering clear of them all this time, based on barely an eye ..read more
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Appreciate What Happens, as a Rule
Raptitude
by David Cain
4M ago
One time my friend came over with a candy thermometer and we made homemade fudge. I remember eating a lot of it. At one point my friend was telling me an anecdote, and while I was listening I was absentmindedly devouring a wallet-sized slab of fudge. “Whoa, slow down!” she said. “You’re eating it like a sandwich!” This happens to me with sweets sometimes. Some deep, primordial impulse is driving me to physically incorporate the food substance into my body as efficiently as possible, like an ancient jellyfish subsuming a paralyzed sardine. This impulse conflicts with a more complex, more human ..read more
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Nobody Has Seasonal Affective Disorder
Raptitude
by David Cain
4M ago
Several billion years ago, a cosmic accident occurred that would eventually make some of us periodically unhappy. According to scientists, an gargantuan space object hit the earth during its formation, knocking it into a tilted, wobbly spin, which is the reason there’s a summer and a winter. Under this strange condition, Earth’s creatures evolved and thrived. Eventually, some of them became philosophers and poets, who described this condition and its meaning to the rest of us. They noticed the way the sun’s arc changed throughout the year, and mused about the flamboyant moods and cycles of na ..read more
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Personal Goals Have to Happen Now
Raptitude
by David Cain
5M ago
Personal goals are generally expected to happen later. If you’ve always wanted to make short documentary films, for example, or zero all your inboxes, or write a detective novel, it probably doesn’t seem like that could happen now. You will do it later, when life is different than it is now. Maybe when you’re on holidays, or when things slow down, or once you’ve dealt with a particular looming thing, life will begin to present the large spaces of unused time needed to finally get to your worthwhile but non-essential dreams. The reason it’s hard to get going on personal goals is that you’re al ..read more
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