Great Books: 7 Days’ Worth of Wisdom and Life Advice From Marcus Aurelius, Eric G. Wilson, Dan Millman, and More…

The following "Life Advice" was re-published from my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books", which you can enroll in by clicking here. Enjoy!

You'll hear me say this quite often: 

In many ways, great books are like puzzle pieces.

If the “puzzle” you’re trying to solve is the fundamental nature of reality (which is the most fascinating puzzle around, to be honest), how to live courageously in the world, how to achieve worldly success, or whatever else, then reading the best books will help illuminate your path.

To continue with the metaphor that I’m inordinately pleased with myself for having thought up on my own, the best books are like “edge pieces” that help you develop your macro-level worldview, and the lesser (though by no means unimportant) books serve to fill in the details of whichever puzzle you’re trying to solve.

The edge pieces give you an idea of how big the puzzle might be, what its basic structure looks like, and then, if you want to dive deeper and really “fill out” your knowledge, you can keep doubling down on your reading and read more books on the puzzle in question, even if those additional books aren’t as paradigm-shattering as the edge pieces you started with.

Follow me?

The funny thing is though (albeit maddeningly frustrating at times) is that you’ll soon realize how much you didn’t even KNOW that you didn’t know!

If you think of what you “know” right now as one giant room, each book you read leads you into an entirely different room.

And once you get to THAT room, you’ll find that it opens up into three ADDITIONAL rooms that you didn’t even know were there.

Clearly, reading is a giant rabbit hole.

You’ll never find all the edge pieces (because most of them haven’t even been written yet), you’ll never be able to explore every room, and you’ll never get to the bottom of the rabbit hole.

But the attempt itself is the intellectual adventure of a lifetime.

Myself, I’ve set the worthy goal of reading 1,000 books before I turn 30, but I’m quite sure that there are probably tens of thousands of books that are WORTH ​​​​reading.

So, with some measure of sadness concerning the finitude of human life and the immensity of available knowledge, I decided to launch a (free) daily email course where I discuss what I believe are the greatest “edge pieces” that I’ve read so far.

If I were to mix my metaphors, I would say that these edge pieces are the books that pack the strongest one-two punches I’ve ever experienced in all my years with the printed word.

I'd love it if you enrolled in the free email course and received these lessons from me via email, but even if you haven't signed up to my mailing list, I still wanted these discussions to be available to you. 

I love nothing more than to push books into people's hands, and running the course benefits me too, because I've realized that the best way to learn this stuff is to teach it to others.

Below, there are 7 days' worth of course material, free as always, on the books we covered that week in the email course. 

If you like what you read here, please don't hesitate to sign up for the REAL email course and get individual lessons sent DIRECTLY TO YOU dealing with the "Great Books" of human civilization. 

And while I have your attention, I will say that ALL of my book notes from every single book that I've ever read are available on my Patreon page.

My study-notes include thousands of pages of quotes, insights, lessons, etc and I've also distilled the BEST notes from each book into one "master" document that is now over 400 pages long! You can get all of that on my Patreon, and I update my notes monthly as I read more and more books.

My daily email course, however, is absolutely free; all I ask is that you never, ever stop learning, and that you never, ever, stop asking questions.

Anyways, enough of all that. Let's get to the books!

From My Notes:

"How do you know you haven't been asleep your whole life?"


Fair question.

And I don’t mean in some sort of Matrix-style dream-state or “Simulation Argument” computer simulation which is rendering your conscious experience right now as you read these lines.

Of course, that’s still an option, and I’ve written about Nick Bostrom’s famous “Simulation Argument” paper here for High Existence.

But setting aside those philosophical, brain-in-a-vat arguments, the real question remains: have you been letting life “happen” to you, or have you intentionally charted the course of your life up until this point?

How do you know?

Have you ever really thought about it?

A lot of times, we think that our beliefs are our own, that we made our choices without any outside “assistance”, or that we are really directing our own lives.

But a lot of times, we would be wrong.

Now, it’s not always due to some sort of “evil plan” set in motion by someone who wants to control us, but then again, sometimes it absolutely is. Exploitation occurs every day, in many places all over the world. 

Basically, you need to remain conscious.

Not in any sort of paranoid way (maybe the inventors of tinfoil made up those conspiracy stories in order to sell more hats haha!!!), but in a reflective way.

You’ve probably heard Socrates’ aphorism “the unexamined life is not worth living”. 

Whether it’s worth living is up to you, but maybe it’s worth it to check in with yourself from time to time (or every single day of your life) to find out what YOU think, to find out what YOU believe.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


From My Notes:

"Whenever my children complain to me about the state of the planet, I say "Shut up! I just got here myself!""


I’ve given this a fair amount of thought, and I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that we’ve come a LONG way in a relatively short amount of time with respect to ethics and fairness and interpersonal relations.

Steven Pinker wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read (and probably some of the best books I haven’t read yet) and in the one I'm talking about, he documents the STEEP decline of human violence over the last few thousand years.

Anyone who listens to the news today will be given the impression that we have it worse now than it’s ever been, and that violence is rampant all over the world, compared to the “good old days”.

But let me dispel that myth once and for all:

THAT’S NOT TRUE!

We in the West used to burn people alive (or worse) for believing that the earth was more than 6,000 years old. 

The Aztecs ritually sacrificed 1.4 MILLION people in the span of just a few centuries, and their method was to dip people in a pit of fire, pull them out, and then stab a knife through their still-beating heart, right before tearing it out of their chest.

This happened not that long ago.

Life is difficult and people sometimes behave appallingly, but we haven’t been here that long as a civilization.

And furthermore, when you’re talking about an individual LIFESPAN, there is hardly any time at ALL to learn what you need to know, to fight against ingrained biases, and to actually meet other people on their level.

Even when I’m 60 or 70, I will NOT have read all the books I want to read, learned all the lessons I need to learn, and I CERTAINLY won’t have become a “good person” by then either.

It’s just not enough time.

So people are getting better, and we’re trying, and we should definitely NOT give up, but we have to cut people a break. We’re doing the best we know how to do, and there’s a lot of learning we all have to catch up on.

It doesn’t mean that we look the other way when injustice is perpetrated on another; it just means that we need to retain some optimism about the future.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


From My Notes:

"If one man is unjust for his entire life yet thought to be just, and another man is just for his entire life and thought to be unjust, which is happier in the end?"


I find this question difficult to answer, but I know which answer I'd LIKE to give.

I'd love to be the kind of person that philosophy has tried to make me, to be indifferent to public opinion and instead practice virtue for virtue's sake.

To not care about what others think of me, and to only strive to be good in my own eyes.

But I find it hard to believe that I, as I am now, would be capable of being happy if everyone thought I was a total jerk. 

Or worse. 

Eventually, I want to become the kind of person whose self-image as a just and temperate man is strong enough so that even if I lost everything, I could still hold myself in high regard.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I've never been truly tested. 

I've never had everyone hate me, even though I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing. I've had good intentions that have backfired, but I've never been reduced to nothing in the public eye.

So I can't honestly answer whether I could remain unfazed if the entirety of public opinion were turned against me. But like I said, I know which answer I'd LIKE to be able to give. And it's the project of a lifetime to become that sort of person. 

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


DAY #4: "Your Erroneous Zones" By Wayne Dyer

From My Notes:

"You are the sum total of your choices."


This book came to me at a critical juncture in my life where I was starting to learn about personal responsibility. 

Some people have an "internal" locus of control, and others have an "external" locus of control, which basically means that some people (usually) consider themselves either the authors of their own fates, or alternatively, always feel that life is happening TO them, and that they are NOT really in control of anything that happens.

Happy, tranquil, successful, fulfilled people, almost with exception, have an INTERNAL locus of control.

They decide what the outcomes of their lives are going to be. They're not content to be blown around by the winds of fate, but rather, they see themselves as utterly responsible for their own choices and thus, for the consequences those choices lead to in their lives.

Now of course, this is not to say that someone struck by a drunk driver "brought it on themselves" or that bad things don't happen to good people.

Rather, what I am saying is that we always have a choice in how we respond to events, and we always have the ability to chart our own course in life.

The only things that actually ARE under our control are our own choices. We can't make decisions for anyone else, but we are utterly responsible for everything that we do. 

Maybe our choices will have unintended consequences (they usually do), but the power to choose rests with us.

And eventually, who we become will be a result of every single choice we have ever made throughout our own lives. For better or for worse. 

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


From My Notes:

"I for one am afraid that our American culture's overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations."


Fronts have backs. 

Below "up" you'll inevitably find "down".

Try isolating East from West.

Just like you can't have space with solid and solid without space, happiness and sadness are inextricably connected. 

Authenticity is indeed sacrificed when we favor happiness exclusively over sadness, because then we're only living half our lives. Maybe we can aim for more happiness than sadness (I can't find anyone who is chronically happy and wants more sadness in their lives), but sadness is coming for us.

Put in the starkest terms, life is suffering. 

Everyone you know is going to die; your parents, your friends, your enemies, everyone. That's of course only if you don't die first, which is a very real possibility. 

But even before THAT happens, you're going to be subjected to a lot of EXTRA suffering, and a lot of it is going to be unfair. 

You're not always going to get the good things you deserve, people you thought you could trust will lie to you, and, well, accidents can happen to everyone. 

Life is spectacular in a whole lot of amazing ways, but life also comes with immense suffering that you won't be able to escape. Suffering is part of life, and if you want to live truly and authentically, you're going to have to be prepared for that. 

For my own part, I choose to possess a "courageous" happiness that knows sadness. I don't want an easy life; I want the strength to endure a difficult one. 

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


From My Notes:

"Don't stop doing things after they start to work for you."


You see this all the time whenever someone starts to get a little success. 

They stop doing the things that MADE them successful in the first place!

Olson's idea here in this book is that there are small actions we can take every day, and that if we did them every day, would eventually lead to massive success in our chosen field of endeavor. 

This is demonstrably true across all disciplines. Bodybuilders eat 7 meals a day for 10 years and they get huge. Doctors study medicine every single day at school for 10 years and they can perform heart surgery. 

And me, well I read at least 100 pages a day, usually every single day, and I just finished my 100th book of the year last night. Reading one page at a time, hour after hour, eventually led me to this point. 

That's why bodybuilders still eat 7 meals a day even after they get 18" arms. They're going for 19" and beyond.

And doctors don't stop studying after they learn what the a pulmonary valve does, or else they'd never learn how to perform life-saving surgeries. 

These people, myself included, all started seeing results after putting in hours and hours at their chosen craft. We didn't stop working just when we started making progress.

And yet so many people do. 

So Jeff Olson's advice would be to keep pushing. Congratulate yourself on how far you've come, and get right back at it tomorrow. Because you're not there yet. 

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


From My Notes:

"You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, say, and think."


We never really know how many moments we have left. 

We really don't.

I know that for us death seems so far off and distant, but it's potentially closer than any of us normally realize. Myself included, of course. 

We simply cannot know how many days we have left, and how many projects we are going to have to leave unfinished. Our last goodbyes could very well be our last goodbyes EVER, and I don't think people give enough weight to that proposition. 

And of course, I'll always throw myself into the mix of people who too often take today and tomorrow for granted. 

We're not even guaranteed the end of TODAY! The end of this BLOG POST! 

It's a constant, delicate balance between taking action to secure a better future for ourselves, and living intensely and intentionally in the present moment. 

This is notoriously difficult. 

We forget that death is so close. That we aren't guaranteed ANYTHING, and that we are so incredibly lucky to be alive at all. 

I hope to be able to put these thoughts front and center in my mind as my life goes on, day after day, and I hope you can do the same. 

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

Want More? Click here to get thousands of pages of my personal study-notes on every single book I've ever read. Organized so that you can find what you're looking for simply and easily.

Also, click here if you would like to enroll in my FREE daily email course on the "Great Books". It's basically in this format that you're reading now, except sent directly to your email.


EXTRA CREDIT:

I also finished my 100th book of the year, and I've posted about it in The Bouncer's Book Club on Facebook. Check it out! 

Christmas at our House!

The Bouncer's Book Club

This is a Facebook group I started where we discuss books and ideas. You're welcome (and encouraged) to join, but spamming the group will get you kicked out. I AM a nightclub bouncer after all.

My Patreon Page

Here's why I don't have time for a girlfriend: I take notes on every single book I read, and over the years, those have grown into a collection of thousands of pages of study-notes on hundreds and hundreds of books. I've even distilled the best notes from each book into a "master" document that is now over 400 pages long. 

You can get ALL of my notes by clicking here, and these are updated monthly. I read around a dozen books per month, so this collection of notes is growing all the time. There are some other cool rewards on this page too. Check it out!

Blinkist

Don't have time to read for 7 hours a day like me? Well have no fear! Not only can you get my OWN notes by checking out my Patreon page, you can also use a handy app called Blinkist, which gives you access to thousands of excellent non-fiction books, and distills their key ideas into 15-minute summaries.