Your Life Is Not a Movie

I’m looking forward to sharing some ideas and (hopefully) relaxing content with you:

🤔 What I’ve been thinking of

One of the most interesting lessons in Yuval Noah Harrari’s book “Sapiens” is that we humans have, to a large extent, evolved to dominate earth through storytelling; We’re hard-wired to pass on knowledge through stories.

Today, this hasn’t changed one bit, on the contrary: Stories are everywhere. People who want to convince and charm tell stories, be it politicians, salesmen or speakers. This is why non-fiction books don’t straight up tell us the essential lessons but usually start with a detour about Churchill, Victor Frankl or whatever (which is sometimes annoying to me –  but it almost seems like the only way we can really internalize information is through stories). Marketing does the same: “This product helps you lose weight because it suppresses your hunger” isn’t nearly as powerful as “Steve was depressed and poor, until he found our product and turned around his life!”

Here comes the big BUT, though: This propensity of our minds to listen to and create stories can be a dangerous trap.

With our story-creating brain active, a single, plain event can easily become the biggest nightmare ever that could launch us into a full-fledged depression.
A missed flight might be turned into “this already happened to me 2 years ago – it’s only a matter of time until everybody figures out that I’m a total mess, I’ll be fired and land on the streets”. And a cancelled date becomes “she hates me, and I will never be loved in my life. I’ve always known it, it already started in school when my crush ignored me. I’ve always known that I’m ugly and unlovable.”

Our brains are pattern-recognition machines and meaning-seeking machines – we try to understand why things happen in our lives and make sense of it, mainly to avoid pain in the future. But more often than not, the stories we come up with are inaccurate and biased. If you talk to depressed or mentally ill people, you will get a glimpse into the stories they tell themselves and how crazy and detached from reality they often are (e.g. an anorexic women being convinced in her story that she’s still “way too fat”).

It all started when I was born

In Peter Attiah’s great podcast with Ryan Holiday, best-known for his writing on Stoicism, Ryan summarizes this phenomenon quite well:

Stories are a great way to learn lessons about other people. But stories are a bad way to think about your own life. I see many people who believe they’re in a movie or novel. They’re going through life as if they’re performing for an imaginary audience. This is a dangerous, egotistical and often misleading tendency (…) It comes at the expense of actually living in that moment.

Ryan Holiday also thinks that this is why Social Media has exploded and why it’s so addictive: We’ve always kind of wished we had an audience applauding what we do, some call it “delusion of grandeur”. But with Twitter or Instagram, we actually do have an audience that reacts to us, gives us praise and makes us believe we’re important.

This is the perfect precondition for the ego to run amok; You might end up thinking you’re the new Messiah, or the biggest piece of shit if your online audience starts turning on you.
Most importantly: Our lives aren’t that exciting. This becomes a problem if we feel like our life should be a Hollywood movie. But at least for me, life isn’t one big carnival filled with travel, adventure, sex and parties – the vast majority of days is just me getting up, working, doing one or two fun things like taking a walk or watching a movie, then going to sleep. Our “my life has to be an awesome exciting masterpiece” expectation will clash with reality sooner or later – and unmet expectations always lead to discontentment and depression.   What I concluded for my own life: I’m very cautious when my head starts getting into “story-mode”, trying to connect the dots of how the past is linked to what’s happening now, how I should be somewhere else in life, how my childhood has traumatized me and why the world is unfair. These are all stories that I tell myself, and they have three things in common: a) they’re irrational and blown out of proportion, b) they’re linked to my ego, and c) they make me feel bad, at least in the long run.

So, what should we do instead instead of “storifying” our lives? Here’s my take:

  1. The first step is just awareness: Catch yourself when you’re “storifying” – it’s very likely that these stories are wildly inaccurate and “made tragic” (a story that isn’t dramatic or tragic is boring, after all, right?)
  2. Second, if there’s an issue, figure out if there’s a way to solve it, or if it’s just pointless rumination. If there’s a solution, go ahead and solve the issue
  3. If it’s something you cannot solve, assess if your interpretation of this event is accurate (“the Work” by Byron Katie or Tim Ferriss’ “Fearsetting” are good tools for this)

🤔 What I’ve been thinking of

Intentional ASMR Picks:

  • I love discovering unique ASMR, like this beautiful soft spoken Inuit Woman (the language is called Kalaallisut) on the channel ASMR Chess. There’s an older video with her, too
  • I haven’t featured Marno ASMR yet (I like his Skandinavian name and looks), and I enjoyed his recent video with few props but nice old-school triggers like tapping and crinkling
  • The Turkish Barber Anil Çakmak made a great soapy back massage video (I like his setup: he has small mics attached to his arms)

Of course I can’t forego these “blockbuster” videos, both very long and without talking:

Funny sidenote: Mainstream has discovered ASMR for marketing purposes, this recent example is quite well done: Here’s Netflix’s Sex Education Cast Making ASMR.

I’ve added these videos to my “ASMR Favorites” Playlist“, again.

Unintentional ASMR Picks:

Here’s some great Unintentional ASMR that I’ve collected for you:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my (second) Unintentional ASMR channel where you can find all these videos

I’ve also added a video to my German Unintentional ASMR channel with a nice Turkish Michelin-chef making Börek.