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Mind as a garden
Welcome to the Smarter.Blog Newsletter, a newsletter for improving how we think and act.
A useful and interesting mental model to have about your mind is to think of it as a garden where you spend your entire life in.
You have control (mostly) over what grows in the garden and how your garden is laid out. Are you letting weeds to get hold of it, or are you encouraging beautiful flowers to bloom and trees to bear fruit? Is the garden growing haphazardly, or are you putting in effort to see to it that everything is organized well. Are you watering your garden regularly, and not throwing in all kinds of food for your plants and trees, but only the best? Are you pruning regularly and throwing away what you don’t need to make space for what you need? You reap what you sow.
The mind is like a fertile garden in which anything that is planted, flowers or weeds, will grow.
- Bruce Lee
Books work great as seeds for the garden (also see my earlier post on Why read books). But you have to be careful how you pick and choose. You can think in terms of Curves of Competence to figure out whether you want to strengthen existing ideas or grow new ones. Oftentimes, reading the news feels like sowing weeds (and so I actually read as little as possible/necessary).
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You realize there are corners of the garden that you have not been to for a long time. They look neglected. There are also corners that appear to be dark and scary and you are not sure what is lurking in there. You don’t even want to get in there to make amends.
Your garden is a walled garden. Only you live there, and nobody else. Nobody can come in, but they can take a peek inside to see how the garden looks. People passing by, and especially those you are close to, seem to constantly throw things into your garden. You try to clear things as much as possible, but sometimes an idea gets planted and it germinates. And sometimes it grows into something beautiful or sometimes it starts to take over. Every now and then, someone tries to set the garden on fire with hate and rage. Are you able to quickly extinguish it, or do you let it burn your garden down?
You are ultimately responsible for your garden.
I am always struggling with my garden: trying to get it to grow in some areas, hitting my head against the wall because some plants wouldn’t grow well, and putting off fires that catch periodically.
What about you?