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Letter #23 from a Learn-it-all

6 min

Running 100K, August review, Good Will Hunting, breaking anxiety habits, empathetic communication

Hello fellow learner,

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

It's been a little bit of an odd week for me. I mentioned last week how I moved to a new neighborhood... I moved back to my old apartment because one of my roommates tested positive with coronavirus. I thankfully tested negative and am beyond grateful. It is deranged how your mind can play games on you to make you think you are symptomatic. I am headed back to Michigan to be safe rather than sorry.

Now, let’s drive into letter 23 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

Some things I’ve learned through…

🤸🏻‍♀️ Running

I ran over 100K this past month. This is by far the most I have run in my whole life. I didn't think this was possible! I now see how it overflows into other areas of my life as well.

Some little tricks that I have picked up on that have helped me:

🤔 Reflecting

I reflected on the past month. It's super simple and I highly recommend giving it a shot to recognize patterns in the actions that you take. Some highlights include:

What I have loved:

What I have lacked:

What I have learned:

🖊 Writing

This week I reinforced my daily writing habit and shared 5 Ship It posts. Each of the pieces is less than 400 words. I explained my rationale behind starting it here. I contrasted some different concepts. Math was my favorite subject during school, so I love making things formulaic with greater than and less than symbols. Enjoy these nuggets from my posts:

Learn-it-all > Know-it-all - The difference between a know-it-all and a learn-it-all is the framing of their realities. This is through the mindsets that they have. Know-it-alls have a fixed mindset about their abilities. Learn-it-alls see a setback as a challenge to overcome and get better.

Tortoise > Hare - There is no race. We can be as slow as we like and make progress inch by inch for the rest of our life. We test ourselves against our past selves.

Looking forward > Focusing backward - Reflection is key. You need to get your bearings. That shouldn’t come at the cost of not changing. The past is gone. There is no change left. Look at what you can change.

Memorable > Normal - It is a choice to be morphed into what society expects of us. Or we can venture down the road less traveled.

Curiosity > Knowledge - If a doctor gives you a pamphlet about your condition, the facts and figures are useless. Unless you are curious, the prescription helps to become better.

🎬 Watching

I watched Good Will Hunting after countless recommendations from friends. This is definitely a must-see! It was created back in 1997 and still has many themes that hold true today.

The mathematics professor (Stellan Skarsgård) accidentally discovers the hidden genius of janitor Will Hunting at MIT. He can solve all the problems from the professor in his sleep and is a complete know-it-all. The thing is that he doesn't want the gifts he was given because life would be simpler laying bricks in the southside of Boston with his friends.

I absolutely loved this scene where Will disses a Harvard student. He has a superpower of absorbing knowledge at lightspeed from books

Sean (Robin Williams) becomes his therapist. He finds a way to break through to Will and convince him that his troubled upbringing is not his fault. Some of my favorite quotes from Sean:

You'll have bad times, but that'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to.
You'll never have that kind of relationship in a world where you're always afraid to take the first step, because all you see is every negative thing 10 miles down the road.

My conclusion: I would love to have Robin Williams as my therapist. I am thankful to have laptops and eBooks so my office space doesn’t look like this.

🎧 Listening

I listened to the neuroscientist and addiction psychiatrist Dr. Jud Brewer get interviewed on How to Break the Habit of Anxiety Using Curiosity. If we don’t know how our minds work, how can we work with them?

I loved the example he helped a patient who went from being terrified of driving to becoming an Uber driver all while losing 100lbs and ridding his sleep apnea. His patient had anxiety-induced eating and panic from the thought of driving. Once the trigger of the uncertainty and fear of driving went off, he started eating. It was reward-based learning of the negative kind. Dr. Jud helped him notice this and become curious to then lead to his own cure.

On breaking the bad habit by dropping the reward value:

I told him [my patient] to start paying attention as he was smoking to really just notice what it's like to smoke. He realizes smoking actually doesn't taste very good. It helped him see what the current reward value was for this behavior, not when he was 13 when he was smoking to be cool, a rebel or takes us as few as 10 to 15 times for people actually paying attention when they do these behaviors for that reward value to drop.

His favorite quote is from Dorothy Parker saying, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is so cure for curiosity.

📖 Reading

I read the essay by Ben Bradbury on How To Leverage Empathetic Communication To Build Powerful Relationships. I had the privilege of helping to bring this piece to life.

Ben vulnerably shares how he struggled to build relationships while growing up starting at the young age of seven. He had a victim mentality and realized how empathy could change his life and for others. It became the solution to his problem.

The above five steps help are an overview of how to connect with the people that matter and live a more fulfilled life.

A couple of key quotes are:

The comfort zone is where great potential comes to die.
Before you can be understood by your target audience you have to understand yourself.

I highly recommend giving the full piece a read!

🔎 Word to define

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

Ben Bradbury believes that the difference between failing and succeeding to build powerful relationships is empathetic communication. It means messages that move past people’s heads and connect with their hearts too.

🌟 Quote to inspire

"Anyone who isn't embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn't learning enough." -Alain de Botton

💭 Question to ponder

What are the non-negotiables in your life?

I appreciate you reading this! If any of the ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve, feel free to leave a comment, replying to this email, or sending me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.

Never stop learning 😁

Until next week,


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