Relative Thinking

We naturally compare things. The circles in the center are the same size, but they appear different because we compare them to the surrounding circles.

You may think it’s just an optical illusion, but Dan Ariely conducted an interesting experiment and discovered that people act irrationally because of this phenomenon:
“When contemplating the purchase of a $25 pen, the majority of subjects would drive to another store 15 minutes away to save $7. When contemplating the purchase of a $455 suit, the majority of subjects would not drive to another store 15 minutes away to save $7. The amount saved and time involved are the same, but people make very different choices.”

People think in percentages. The subjects were willing to travel to save 28% (7/25), but not willing to travel to save 1% (7/455), even if the cost savings are the same.

Charlie Munger refers to this tendency as contrast-misreaction” and discusses how this bias can impair clear thinking and have detrimental effects on people’s lives:
“Small-scale damages involve instances such as man’s buying an overpriced $1,000 leather dashboard merely because the price is so low compared to his concurrent purchase of a $65,000 car. Large- scale damages often ruin lives, as when a wonderful woman having terrible parents marries a man who would be judged satisfactory only in comparison to her parents. Or as when a man takes wife number two who would be appraised as all right only in comparison to wife number one.” Charlie Munger, Harvard University, 1995

December 3, 2023 mental-models

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload means gradually increasing the weight you lift to build strength. Avoid lifting weights that are too heavy, as it can lead to injury and impede your progress. Likewise, lifting weights that are too light will not sufficiently challenge your muscles for growth.

Similarly, when choosing a book to read, you want to choose a book that sits at the edge of your ability. It shouldn’t be too difficult or too easy. Or, if you want to learn to code as an absolute beginner, then you probably want to start by building a website with HTML and CSS. Then you can build an application with JavaScript.

Progressive overload is key to growth. We grow by continuously pushing our limits.

November 14, 2023 mental-models

Deterministic Thinking

Deterministic thinking is often used to simplify things into black or white” that are more appropriately shades of grey.” For example, when we ask Is he a good person?”, I assume most of us answer with Yes.” or No.” How good” someone is would more appropriately be modeled on a scale of zero to ten or, better still, as a multi-dimensional model. A deterministic thinker reduces it to good” or bad” with nothing in between.

Another example is gender. Our society divides us into two distinct categories, but sex is not binary. Male and female just represent two sides of a broad spectrum of type. It’s a lot more complex than what you might imagine. We are all plotted somewhere in a spectrum of two types. You could be 80% women, and 20% men. Also, there are those who fall in the middle of a range. Gender is a continuum rather than an either/or proposition.

A black-and-white thinker wastes their time by discussing other topics such as introvert vs. extrovert or regulation vs. deregulation. I guess this is because it’s easy to be at the edge of a see-saw: you don’t have to balance. Whereas, it’s difficult to be somewhere in the middle because you constantly need to keep your balance. Sustaining doubt is harder work than sliding into certainty.

Deterministic thinking is also used as an excuse. Some people reject to become vegan because they cannot go 100% when they can just consume diary products moderately.

April 29, 2023 mental-models

Randomness in Plain English

You might think that 32535354 is more random than 00000000. After all, the first sequence of numbers appears to be completely arbitrary, while the second seems to repeat the same digit over and over. However, the concept of randomness is not always as straightforward as it may seem.

Suppose there are 100 potential events, and if their likelihood is evenly distributed, meaning no outcome is more likely than the others, we consider them to be random. Conversely, if the chance of a specific event, let’s say A, is 90%, then it’s no longer deemed random. Randomness is about probability distribution.

When you roll a dice, the probability of getting any particular number from 1 to 6 is 1/6. This probability is equally distributed among all the possible outcomes. Thus rolling a dice can be seen as random events.

So even though 00000000 appears less random, if the probability of getting 00000000 is the same with that of getting 32535354, then there isn’t much difference between them in terms of randomness.

April 9, 2023 mental-models

Compound Exercises

A good idea can solve one problem. A great idea can solve more than one problem. Compound exercises are a great idea in the realm of workout.

Compound exercises use multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. These exercises are generally more effective than isolation exercises as they work several muscle groups simultaneously, meaning you can target a larger number of muscles with fewer exercises. Additionally, focusing on compound exercises can help prevent muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injury compared to isolation exercises.

Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, or bench presses can activate multiple muscle groups. Whereas dumbbell curl or tricep extension activate only one muscle group.

It is generally recommended to master compound workouts first because they are more efficient in building overall strength and muscle mass. Also, compound exercises are often recommended at the beginning of a workout menu as they allow more efficient use of time and energy, resulting in a greater calorie burn and overall muscle development.

April 6, 2023 mental-models

Home-Office-Gym Proximity

During my stay in Paris one summer, I discovered something unexpected: when my office, home, and gym are all within walking distance, I am at my most productive.

If I have a gym near my house(ideally in the same building), I can hit a gym right after I wake up. It doesn’t matter if it is cold outside or not. After working out, I drink a protein smoothie, shower, and head straight to work.

I have also found that having my office within a 10-minute walking distance is incredibly helpful. I no longer have to worry about the stresses of rush hour traffic, and I can use my walking time to clear my mind and think before starting my workday.

April 5, 2023 mental-models