100 Word Essays

When I was 16, I wrote a ~15,000 word novel and scraped it entirely (rightly so, it was bad). For the next 2 years, I clocked almost 100k words per month writing random freelance content and earning peanuts.


Writing has served two very big purposes in my life:

  1. It gave me my first rupee and then some more to help me kickstart my career.

  2. It became a go-to medium of expression, towards others and myself.

As I stopped writing professionally and became happier in life (not correlated), I didn't have anything to write about. I love writing, I know I should do it often but I don't (reminds me of another dear habit called exercising).


I've realized that if you try committing to a habit along with a friend, it's a lot easier. So in February this year, along with my friend Suhas, I planned to write atleast 100 words a day for 20 days. I managed to do 10, and below are those random 100 word essays stringed together.


Decision Making


Instead of starting from scratch for every decision, create a system to make decisions. Often, we spend a disproportionate amount of time making decisions that don't matter much. It's worth thinking that a lot of time and mental energy can be saved if we delegate decision making to well thought-out frameworks. Take a lot of time and figure out the best frameworks to make the most common decisions. Course correct and tweak your frameworks when your decisions lead to poor outcomes.


Reinforcing Beliefs


If you attribute a quality to someone, they're more likely to try and live up to it. This only works as a reinforcement if they believe in it themselves too. The reason why this works is that a lot of us often tend to self-doubt and suppress our own virtues. When another person affirms to something we would like to believe about ourselves, we often try and live up to that. This is a great tool to instill positive traits in the people you love and work with. If you tell them they work super hard or are disciplined or smart, they'll make an attempt to not contradict these qualities in front of you.


Actionable Advice


Everything you say in a direct conversation triggers a feedback loop for the other person. In long-lasting personal and work relations, honesty is essential. However, a lot of what people say under the guise of brutal honesty is often useless for the other person. There is nothing actionable they can do to be better. So, avoid saying it altogether and replace it with what the other person might find useful.


For eg. "This idea is stupid" might be an honest, but useless statement that will achieve nothing. Instead, sharing your perspective on why you think the idea might not work would be a better thing to say.


Secure Relationships


What does it mean to be secure in a relationship?

It's like when a baby naps on your shoulder, they want nothing else in that moment, they're just content to be in your arms. And when they're done, they go and play on their own with complete freedom and no inhibitions. It's only possible to play without any worry if they know in their heart that you'll be there for them. They can come back and nap on your shoulder whenever they want. This is what being secure in a relationship feels like.


Learnt from Esther Perel's episode on Shane Parrish's The Knowledge Project


Bravery & Stupidity


If we were to attribute an action as brave or stupid without knowing the outcome, how correct would we be? Often, they look so similar at the onset that there's barely any difference. We shape the narrative once we get to know the outcome. If it works, it's an act of bravery. If not, it's stupidity. To the person in the ring, risking what he's playing for, the only thing that matters is minimizing regret. Irrespective of how stupid or brave something seems in the beginning, if you're going to regret not doing it later, do it.


Listening Better


We're terrible listeners. More often than not, our mind is abuzz trying to put our point across rather than listening what the other person has to say.


3 ways to become a better listener:

  1. Remove yourself from the equation. Stop taking things personally and comprehend it from their POV, without involving you.

  2. Don't interrupt others with your thoughts. Interrupting is not just speaking over someone, it's also when you're too busy in your thoughts to actually listen.

  3. Don't assume, ask. We're so bad at predicting how others feel, it's better not to do it, ask them how they feel.


Preset Benchmarks


Do you know why you want to earn more money or do you just want to do it for the sake of it? At times, having an illusory goal can be taxing. The constant chase without knowing the destination is often times a way to keep ourselves busy and fit in with how the world works. If we think deeper and understand the outcome for which we're working hard, it'll lead to a more meaningful pursuit. This also helps in optimizing for the right things and then working towards it, rather than being on auto-pilot over a preset benchmark.


Comfort as a Service


Some doctors have this insane ability to take you from a state of panic to a state of comfort within minutes.


How do they do this?

  • Converting uncertainty to certainty

  • Taking control of the situation

  • Promising hope

  • Not indicating worry (even after potentially knowing consequences)

A large part of it is also because we trust them unreservedly. We don't worry about us knowing better than them at any point of time.


Now, can you be this person for your loved ones? Can you offer comfort as a service to the people you care about and help them live a better life? Most of us often can.


Moral High Ground


There's a popular argument that our generation's best minds are working on how to make people click ads (or working on other 'frivolous' outcomes). People fail to understand that their demand commands the top talent and dictates what they spend their time working on.

"If we directed as much resources towards curing cancer or something noble, the world would be a much better place"


Yes, it would be. But would you trade using Instagram for a noble volunteer effort every weekend for a few hours? If the answer is no, then engineers at Instagram would rightly get paid top dollar for what might seem like a frivolous pursuit. There is zero consequence in reality with us thinking about how things should be rather than doing something about it.


Entertainment and things deemed frivolous add as much value to people's lives everyday as a scientific breakthrough that leaps humanity every few decades.


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Thanks to Suhas for pairing up and reigniting the writing bug. Thanks to Jelam for diligently pushing me to publish this post.