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Principles (to live by)


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A while back I read the book Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. The book was pretty decent, even if I came away with the strong feeling that I wouldn't like working for Dalio very much (he seems like an ##### and a weirdo).

One of the best things about the book was that it suggested that each reader come up with his or her own set of operating principles. Doing so in a thoughtful way is almost certainly better than following those written by somebody else in some self-help book.

While I don't pretend to have life all figured out, I do think I came up with a decent set. I have been refining them for a while. I am not sure what the purpose of posting them is, other than the fact that I haven't ever written them down or explained them to anybody. So I guess I am checking my own thinking and inviting discussion.

So, here they are. They are roughly hierarchical, which means the higher they appear on the list, the more precedence they have.

1. People are the most important thing in this life, so endeavor to be decent.

Being decent doesn't means being perfect. But it does mean showing empathy and treating others the way you would want to be treated. In Christianity that is what is known as the Golden Rule, but most major religions feature similar teachings. It is more generally known as the Ethic of Reciprocity.

2. Live up to your commitments.

This includes both very simple ideas (do what you say you will do, pay your debts) and slightly more complicated ones. The slightly more complicated version is to fulfill your implicit commitments. Like doing your duty to your spouse to be a good partner, doing your duty to your kids to be a good parent, etc..

3. Seek the truth and embrace reality. 

Try to understand what is really happening in the world around you and avoid self-deception. "Seek the truth" may sound high falutin', but it is essential to me in terms of challenging myself to really understand what is really going on and what matters. It can be applied in current events, office politics, family dynamics, or anywhere else. I tend to apply something called "Bayesian thinking" to seeking the truth. In essence, it entails starting with an estimate of the probability that any claim, idea, or hypothesis is true, then continuously updating that estimate as new information becomes available. It is a really useful mental model when applied in an unbiased fashion. 

Self-deception is incredibly damaging because it can lead to complacency or, worse still, rationalizing behavior that is self-destructive or harmful to others.

4. Be as honest and direct as possible in your dealings with others. 

Honesty is important to me, but I won't pretend that I never tell a lie. Under these principles, "little white lies" are permissible. Because if telling the truth would violate the principle of decency, you shouldn't do it. But lies to avoid living up to your commitments would be prohibited by two principles, so they really aren't okay.

The direct part is more challenging for me, but something I am working on. I grew up in an almost pathologically non-confrontational household and I can say with certainty that acting like that can cause real problems. But directness needn't mean tactlessness. In fact, if being too direct would violate the principle of decency, you shouldn't do it. 

 

That's it. These principles are both simple and flexible. They work for me, but they can be challenging to follow. Though I didn't intend for this to be a political post, I have also found that for me they essentially have replaced having any set ideology. 

I have no idea if anybody else will find this interesting, but it is something I have thought a lot about on and off over the last year or so.

 

ETA: If you are interested in some non-statistical examples of the use of Bayesian thinking, these blog posts are pretty good. Link Link

 

 

 

 

Edited by RedmondLonghorn
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Just now, RedmondLonghorn said:

I would imagine he owns multiple islands.

No doubt.

Only interesting thing to me...he intentionally put three design firms together with very different styles and approaches just for the glorious trainwreck possibilities.

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2 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

No doubt.

Only interesting thing to me...he intentionally put three design firms together with very different styles and approaches just for the glorious trainwreck possibilities.

Sounds about right. As I said, he is a weirdo and seems to be a bit of a richard. 

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1.  Never put yourself in a situation where she gets half

2.  Try to bet underdogs and unders when in doubt

3.  Both political parties have loons

4.  Socialism can/will be the death of America

5.  Live your life now, you never know when your time is up

6.  Materialism is for the insecure

7.  Share your wealth if you've been lucky enough to accumulate it

8.  Stop drinking in your 30s, or at least drink in severe moderation...take care of your body, you only get one

9.  Travel not just to see, but to experience

10.  Stay out of the politics forum, and spend more time in the FFA, where people are generally better versions of themselves

Edited by TripItUp
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1 minute ago, TripItUp said:

1.  Never put yourself in a situation where she gets half

2.  Try to bet underdogs and unders when in doubt

3.  Both political parties have loons

4.  Socialism can/will be the death of America

5.  Live your life now, you never know when your time is up

6.  Materialism is for the insecure

7.  Share your wealth if you've been luck enough to accumulate it

8.  Stop drinking in your 30s, or at least drink in severe moderation...take care of your body, you only get one

9.  Travel not just to see, but to experience

10.  Stay out of the politics forum, and spend more time in the FFA, where people are generally better versions of themselves

I like 90% of these!

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9 minutes ago, rockaction said:

Good thoughts, and generally not misplaced. I'd bet doing it from scratch and on your own helped out with your own clarity of thought and outlook afterwards as opposed to just reading it out of a book. 

Definitely.

Experiencing some real hardships (loss of both parents, career issues, problems with children) over the last couple of years was helpful to that process as well.

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7 minutes ago, RedmondLonghorn said:

Definitely.

Experiencing some real hardships (loss of both parents, career issues, problems with children) over the last couple of years was helpful to that process as well.

Sorry to hear that, Red. I hope you find peace in your personal life and that that which you cannot resolve you turn over. 

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1 hour ago, TripItUp said:

1.  Never put yourself in a situation where she gets half

2.  Try to bet underdogs and unders when in doubt

3.  Both political parties have loons

4.  Socialism can/will be the death of America

5.  Live your life now, you never know when your time is up

6.  Materialism is for the insecure

7.  Share your wealth if you've been luck enough to accumulate it

8.  Stop drinking in your 30s, or at least drink in severe moderation...take care of your body, you only get one

9.  Travel not just to see, but to experience

10.  Stay out of the politics forum, and spend more time in the FFA, where people are generally better versions of themselves

If there was more 6 and 7 we wouldn't need 4

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Just read it...Nice, RL.

Having not thought about this, all of what you've written resonates.

I'd add that I've always told my kids...and try myself... In every situation possible, to try to make the world a better, not worse, place as a result of your actions- even of it means not gaining anything personally. Be aware and considerate of your surroundings and those in them.

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1 hour ago, TripItUp said:

5.  Live your life now, you never know when your time is up

 

I've been trying to do this for about 10 years now it has made a big difference on some of my priorities. Things that probably should not have been priorities to begin with.

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1 minute ago, kutta said:

Good list.

I’d add - forgive. Realize that people are human and we all make mistakes. For someone carrying guilt and shame around, some true forgiveness can be life changing for both parties.

Sure. I agree. It probably falls under #1, but worth highlighting.

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11 minutes ago, rustycolts said:

I've been trying to do this for about 10 years now it has made a big difference on some of my priorities. Things that probably should not have been priorities to begin with.

What helped you do this?  Something I try hard to do but constantly lose focus on it. 

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4 minutes ago, Otis said:

What helped you do this?  Something I try hard to do but constantly lose focus on it. 

A good friend of mine died of brain cancer shortly after she retired she worked all her life but for what? So when I start to fall back into any of my old habits fiscally socially or otherwise I try to remember we are not promised another day on this earth so make it count. Thinking of her helps me remember. Plus my wifes fight with breast cancer has been an awakening. Every time I walk out the door I try to be right with my family my friends and the lord.

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3 hours ago, RedmondLonghorn said:

 

3. Seek the truth and embrace reality. 

Try to understand what is really happening in the world around you and avoid self-deception. "Seek the truth" may sound high falutin', but it is essential to me in terms of challenging myself to really understand what is really going on and what matters. It can be applied in current events, office politics, family dynamics, or anywhere else. I tend to apply something called "Bayesian thinking" to seeking the truth. In essence, it entails starting with an estimate of the probability that any claim, idea, or hypothesis is true, then continuously updating that estimate as new information becomes available. It is a really useful mental model when applied in an unbiased fashion. 

 

 

ETA: If you are interested in some non-statistical examples of the use of Bayesian thinking, these blog posts are pretty good. Link Link

the book Superforecasting and the good judgment project/forums are really good on these topics

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There are three rules that I live by:

1) never get less than twelve hours sleep;

2) never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city

3) never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. 

Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese

Edited by belljr
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15 hours ago, DaVinci said:

If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

Speaking of Handy:

I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it.

Love is not something that you can put chains on and throw into a lake.

It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man

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Just now, Leroy Hoard said:

Speaking of Handy:

I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it.

Love is not something that you can put chains on and throw into a lake.

It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man

those are some deep thoughts, Jack ...

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31 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Great thread.

Quick one that I've fortunately been able to avoid:  Regret is awful. 

Determining the balance of avoiding regret with self awareness and reality is hugely important. 

Thanks Joe.

Unfortunately I know a lot about regret. I’ve been through a failed marriage, a divorce, career ups and downs, and estrangement from my kids.

i have a tendency to feel guilty about things that I didn’t necessarily have control over though. So trying to be really clear about separately the things that I could have and should have done differently from the bad crap that just happened helps. Some, anyway.

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1 hour ago, belljr said:

There are three rules that I live by:

1) never get less than twelve hours sleep;

2) never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city

3) never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. 

Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese

such a fine line between cream cheese and curdled milk...

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