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Expand the Box

Hey friends,  In a recent podcast, my brother and I discussed the concepts of invisible shackles, the
Expand the Box
By Ali Abdaal • Issue #81 • View online
Hey friends, 
In a recent podcast, my brother and I discussed the concepts of invisible shackles, the hidden scripts we follow through our lives. We discussed the analogy of The Box (ie: our cultural norms) and how the boundaries of the box limit our thinking. For example, I never imagined that a ‘cycling holiday’ is a thing, until I spoke to friends who go on 'cycling holidays’ twice a year with their families. They grab their bikes, go to France, and follow a cycle route, stopping off at campsites along the way. That’s awesome. 
Life becomes richer when we expand our box. We can do that firstly, by travelling. Seeing how others live their lives is an effective way of showing us what’s possible, that might be different to what we’re used to, thus expanding our box. We can also expand our box by hanging out with people from different walks of. life. But if we’re students or we’ve got jobs, travelling for extended periods of time can be tricky, and it’s surprisingly hard to make. time in our daily lives to actively seek out different people. 
I’d like to propose that the easiest ways to expand our box are to (a) read books, and (b) listen to podcasts. Earlier this year, I could never have imagined doing an extended hiking trail, but having spoken to a friend who’s done several, and listened to loads of podcasts with people who regularly hike very long trails, it now seems very possible, and in fact something I’m actively planning to do next year. I’ve expanded my box. 
Equally, the other day I met up with a reader called Jake. He was talking about how he’s been reading a tonne of books and listening to a tonne of podcasts over the past few months, and so he was in the process of starting a personal blog. When he mentioned this to his mum, her response was “Why would you start a blog?”. Jake was so deeply ingrained in the culture, his box was so expanded that he was baffled by the question - “Why wouldn’t you start a blog? It’s just such an obviously good thing to do”. The stuff that we consume (our information diet) ends up hugely influencing our world view. We could choose to consume the breaking news, teaching us that the world is a terrible place and bad things happen all the time. Or we could choose to listen to engaging discussions between people doing entirely different things to us. We could expand our box. 
Have a great week! 
Ali 

Stuff I enjoyed this week
1 - Article - The case for checking a bag. An incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking read about travel tips.
2 - Lecture - In 1944, author CS Lewis gave a lecture at Kings College, London. His talk was called The Inner Ring. I read a transcript of it this week, and was reeling for about 30 minutes at the implications of it. Well worth a read.
3 - Podcast - Million Dollar Brainstorm. “Host Shaan Puri and The Hustle CEO Sam Parr sit down and discuss what side hustles, trends and big business ideas that’s keeping them up at night”. Definitely interesting to hear two minds at work - reminded me of some of the conversations I used to have at university with my friends who were also into the whole entrepreneur thing.
Kindle Highlight of the Week
If success causes happiness, then every employee who gets a promotion, every student who receives an acceptance letter, everyone who has ever accomplished a goal of any kind should be happy. But with each victory, our goalposts of success keep getting pushed further and further out, so that happiness gets pushed over the horizon.
From The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor. Resurfaced with Readwise.
This week's video
Study with Me + How I take Notes
Study with Me + How I take Notes
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Ali Abdaal

Hey friends, I'm Ali, a Cambridge medicine graduate now working as an FY2 junior doctor. I spend most of my spare time making YouTube videos, but every Sunday I send out an email 'newsletter' with some thoughts, life lessons and interesting articles I discover on the internet.

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Ali Abdaal, Cambridge, UK.