The Best of Farnam Street
20+ most popular Farnam Street articles, as voted by our community.
Mastering the best of what other people have already figured out and thinking about thinking at http://fs.blog
Farnam Street on Better Living
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day: Arnold Bennett on Living a Meaningful Life
Arnold Bennett’s How to Live on 24 Hours a Day explores a meaningful life by addressing the age-old question: how can we make the best use of our time?
«What you learn today becomes the scaffolding to solving tomorrow’s problem.»
The Winner's Edge
A lot of otherwise talented people are too pessimistic to actually do anything. They are paralyzed by risks that don't exist and greatly exaggerate them where they do, preventing them from being one…
«not all risk is the same; over-estimating risk can be as costly as under-estimating it.»
Farnam Street on Decision Making
The OODA Loop: How Fighter Pilots Make Fast and Accurate Decisions
The OODA Loop is a four-step process for making effective decisions in high-stakes situations. It involves collecting relevant information, recognizing potential biases, deciding, and acting, then…
«OODA” stands for “Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.»
The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions
A guide to making decisions covering how we can intelligently prepare to improve our thinking, avoid stupidity, and make better, smarter, decisions.
Farnam Street on Habits
Habits vs. Goals: A Look at the Benefits of a Systematic Approach to Life
The power of habits comes from their automaticity. This is why they are more powerful than goals. Read this article to harness the power of habits.
«First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit is persistence in practice.»
We tend to assume that the worst that has happened is the worst that can happen, and then prepare for that. We forget that “the worst” smashed a previous understanding of what was the worst.
«“A year from now, you will wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb»
Farnam Street on Learning
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
Don't set goals. Passion is bullshit. Mediocre skills are valuable. These are just a few of the unexpected truths you'll discover in Scott Adams' new book. Here are 10 more takeaways.
«You can’t be generous to others if you’re not in a good place. Adams argues that once your needs are met, you can focus on the needs of others.»
The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything
The Feynman Technique is a simple method of learning that unlocks your potential and helps you learn anything.
«There are four key steps to the Feynman Technique: Choose a concept you want to learn about Explain it to a 12 year old Reflect, Refine, and Simplify Organize and Review»
Farnam Street on Listening
Active Listening: The Master Key to Effective Communication
Active listening, as the name implies requires effort. It is much more than simply "hearing" what is being said. This article will show you how to improve your listening skills to make you a better…
«Adler recommends taking notes during key conversations. Although this may be disconcerting to a speaker, it is relevant in some situations.»
Carolyn Coughlin: Become A Better Listener #157
Acclaimed executive coach and leadership development specialist Carolyn Coughlin discusses tips to help you become a better listener, including why the language we use with each other and with…
Farnam Street on Mental Models
The Map Is Not the Territory
The map of reality is not reality. Even the best maps are imperfect. That's because they are reductions of what they represent. If a map were to represent the territory with perfect fidelity, it would…
«A model might show you some risks, but not the risks of using it. Moreover, models are built on a finite set of parameters, while reality affords us infinite sources of risks.»
The Pursuit of Worldly Wisdom
Charlie Munger explains how worldly wisdom can help you go further and faster than experts. You don't need to outwork if you can outsmart.
«From each discipline the thoughtful person draws significant mental models, the key ideas that combine to produce a cohesive understanding»
Farnam Street on Problem Solving
Understanding your Circle of Competence: How Warren Buffett Avoids Problems
Understanding your circle of competence allows you avoid problems. As we can learn from Warren Buffett, avoiding problems is easier than solving them.
«Over time, work to expand that circle but never fool yourself about where it stands today, and never be afraid to say “I don’t know.”»
General Thinking Tools: 9 Mental Models to Solve Difficult Problems
While there are millions of mental models, I find these the most useful in solving difficult problems. These general thinking tools should be taught in every school.
«Thought experiments can be defined as “devices of the imagination used to investigate the nature of things.”»
Farnam Street on Productivity
How a Decision Journal Changed the Way I make Decisions (Template Included)
A decision journal helps you learn from your past decisions, think through current decisions, and avoid problems before they happen.
«By and large, your success will be the sum of the decisions you make over your career. The problem is it’s not easy to get better at making decisions.»
12 Life Lessons From Mathematician and Philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota
The mathematician and philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota spent much of his career at MIT, where students adored him for his engaging, passionate lectures. In 1996, Rota gave a talk entitled “Ten Lessons I…
«Reciprocity is remarkably persuasive. Sometimes, how people respond to your work has as much to do with how you respond to theirs as it does with the work itself»
Farnam Street on Psychology
Illusion of Transparency: Your Poker Face is Better Than You Think
We tend to think that people can easily tell what we’re thinking and feeling. They can’t. Understanding the illusion of transparency bias can improve relationships, job performance, and more.
«Our tendency to overestimate how much attention people are paying to us is a result of seeing our own perspective as the only perspective.»
The Psychology of Human Misjudgment, by Charlie Munger
The Psychology of Human Misjudgment, a speech given in 1995 by legendary investor Charlie Munger, opened my eyes to how behavioral psychology can be applied to business and problem-solving. Munger,…
Farnam Street on Reading
How to Remember What You Read
The benefits of reading are negated if you forget remember what you read. This article discusses a tested system to increase retention. Learn how to use active reading to remember more from books.
«We shouldn’t read stuff we find boring. Life is far too short.»
The Top 3 Most Effective Ways to Take Notes While Reading
The most effective way to take notes while reading is to follow this simple three step process that I've tested and honed on over one thousand books.
«I rarely listen to books but if you are listening to a book, create a new note for that book and type in notes as you are listening»
These are some all-time favorites with Refind users.
Focus to Win
Since focus requires saying no, it also means really smart people and good competitors are saying no to really good ideas.
«This sounds really simplistic, but it still shocks me how few people actually practice this, and it’s a struggle to practice, but is this issue of focus.»
Bias from Liking/Loving: Why We Comply With Those We Love
The tendency to judge in favor of people and symbols we like is called the bias from liking or loving and it affects how we make decisions. Let's explore...
«And what will a man naturally come to like and love, apart from his parent, spouse and child? Well, he will like and love being liked and loved.”»
Thought Experiment: How Einstein Solved Difficult Problems
Read this and learn how the mental model of thought experiment, helped people like Albert Einstein, Zeno, and Galileo solve difficult problems.
«“We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.” Vladimir Nabokov»
Daniel Dennett's Most Useful Critical Thinking Tools
We recently discussed some wonderful mental tools from the great Richard Feynman. Let's get some more good ones from another giant, Daniel Dennett.
«Biological evolution proceeds by a grand, inexorable process of trial and error–and without the errors the trials wouldn’t accomplish anything.»
The Surprising Power of The Long Game
In everything we do, we play the long or the short game. The short game is easy, pleasurable, and offers visible and immediate benefits. But it almost never leads to success. Here's how to play the…
«It’s easy to overestimate the importance of luck on success and underestimate the importance of investing in success every single day»
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