It’s time for another episode of Three Takeaways (as I’m calling it for now), my Friday letter where I’ll be sharing 3 things: a Thought, a Word, a Tip. (The tip today might someday literally save your life or a loved one’s.)
Before we dig in though: a quick reminder that I’m taking this weekly letter to paid by the end of the year. It’s free until then, but you can lock in on a lifetime discount if you join early: (note: you’ll have to join again if you have before, sorry).
Okay let’s do this!
We are biased toward the extreme, the unusual or exceptional: it gets our attention precisely because it stands out. That’s important for our survival, because the exceptional might be exceptionally dangerous.
That’s also what makes it the info we are most likely to share. Whether it’s the news, social media or everyday gossip, we share the unexpected, not the expected. It’s the weird stuff that gets shared, not the everyday stuff.
But it’s the everyday stuff that’s really important for every day, not the weird stuff.
In a world of 24/7 news and always-on social media, there’s always going to be something exceptional, something unexpected. And there’ll always be someone telling you to freak out about it.
How different might your life be if you remind yourself, though, that people are often telling you about the exception, not the everyday?
We tend to place a lot of emphasis on our circumstances, assuming that what happens to us (or fails to happen) determines how we feel. From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes, such as whether or not you get a promotion or move to that nicer apartment. According to Gallagher, decades of research contradict this understanding. Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to. If you focus on a cancer diagnosis, you and your life become unhappy and dark, but if you focus instead on an evening martini, you and your life become more pleasant—even though the circumstances in both scenarios are the same. As Gallagher summarizes: “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”
— by Cal Newport, in Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
What3words is one of those apps everyone should have even though most won’t need it — because chances are you won’t be able to get it when you do need it: when you’re stranded somewhere with no internet and a phone about to die.
The concept is simple: every location on the planet is defined by a unique combo of three words (instead of a meaningless string of numbers and letters). What that means is you can locate any location anywhere to within THREE METRES! And the app only needs you to have mobile reception. It doesn’t require internet. (I actually tested this: it’s absolutely true, it works just fine if you’re offline.)
You probably won’t be able to get it when you need it, so get it now when you don’t, and share the app links with your family and friends.
Meanwhile feel free to share this letter — thanks!
PS. Don’t forget, you can lock in your lifetime discount by clicking this link