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The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Eric Jorgenson


If you have nothing in your life, but you have at least one person that loves you unconditionally, it’ll do wonders for your self-esteem.

Don’t partner with cynics and pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling.

There are no get-rich-quick schemes. Those are just someone else getting rich off you.

Technology democratizes consumption but consolidates production. The best person in the world at anything gets to do it for everyone.

Technology is the set of things, as Alan Kay said, that don’t quite work yet [correction: Danny Hillis]. Once something works, it’s no longer technology.

Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now.

If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking.

The less you want something, the less you’re thinking about it, the less you’re obsessing over it, the more you’re going to do it in a natural way.

The more you’re going to do it for yourself. You’re going to do it in a way you’re good at, and you’re going to stick with it. The people around you will see the quality of your work is higher.

If they can train you to do it, then eventually they will train a computer to do it.

You get rewarded by society for giving it what it wants and doesn’t know how to get elsewhere.

Think about what product or service society wants but does not yet know how to get. You want to become the person who delivers it and delivers it at scale. That is really the challenge of how to make money.

Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage.

You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.

Learn to sell, learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.

Be optimistic, be positive. It’s important. Optimists actually do better in the long run.

We spend so much time in a job, but we spend so little time deciding which job to get into. Choosing what city to live in can almost completely determine the trajectory of your life, but we spend so little time trying to figure out what city to live in.

An old boss once warned: “You’ll never be rich since you’re obviously smart, and someone will always offer you a job that’s just good enough.”

I would rather be a failed entrepreneur than someone who never tried. Because even a failed entrepreneur has the skill set to make it on their own.

Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.

Art is anything done for its own sake.

Lusting for money is bad for us because it is a bottomless pit. It will always occupy your mind. If you love money, and you make it, there’s never enough. There is never enough because the desire is turned on and doesn’t turn off at some number. It’s a fallacy to think it turns off at some number.

I value freedom above everything else. All kinds of freedom: freedom to do what I want, freedom from things I don’t want to do, freedom from my own emotions or things that may disturb my peace. For me, freedom is my number one value.

Trying to build business relationships well in advance of doing business is a complete waste of time. I have a much more comfortable philosophy: “Be a maker who makes something interesting people want. Show your craft, practice your craft, and the right people will eventually find you.”

If you can’t explain it to a child, then you don’t know it.

What we wish to be true clouds our perception of what is true. Suffering is the moment when we can no longer deny reality.

What you feel tells you nothing about the facts—it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts.

It’s only after you’re bored you have the great ideas. It’s never going to be when you’re stressed, or busy, running around or rushed. Make the time.

Cynicism is easy. Mimicry is easy. Optimistic contrarians are the rarest breed.

There are no permanent solutions in a dynamic system.

I would combine radical honesty with an old rule Warren Buffett has, which is praise specifically, criticize generally.

If you have a criticism of someone, then don’t criticize the person—criticize the general approach or criticize the class of activities. If you have to praise somebody, then always try and find the person who is the best example of what you’re praising and praise the person, specifically. Then people’s egos and identities, which we all have, don’t work against you. They work for you.

One theory is civilization exists to answer the question of who gets to mate. If you look around, from a purely sexual selection perspective, sperm is abundant and eggs are scarce. It’s an allocation problem.

If you have two choices to make, and they’re relatively equal choices, take the path more difficult and more painful in the short term.

As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time. (– Charlie Munger)

I have people in my life I consider to be very well-read who aren’t very smart. The reason is because even though they’re very well-read, they read the wrong things in the wrong order.

A calm mind, a fit body, and a house full of love. These things cannot be bought. They must be earned.

Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.

Every positive thought even has a seed of a negative thought within it and vice versa, which is why a lot of greatness in life comes out of suffering.

To me, happiness is not about positive thoughts. It’s not about negative thoughts. It’s about the absence of desire, especially the absence of desire for external things.

Everything is perfect exactly the way it is. It is only in our particular minds we are unhappy or not happy, and things are perfect or imperfect because of what we desire.

Happiness is what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.

We think of ourselves as fixed and the world as malleable, but it’s really we who are malleable and the world is largely fixed.

You can be a long-time meditator, but if someone says the wrong thing in the wrong way, you go back to your ego-driven self.

Real happiness only comes as a side-effect of peace. Most of it is going to come from acceptance, not from changing your external environment.

The mind is just as malleable as the body. We spend so much time and effort trying to change the external world, other people, and our own bodies—all while accepting ourselves the way we were programmed in our youths.

We accept the voice in our head as the source of all truth. But all of it is malleable, and every day is new. Memory and identity are burdens from the past preventing us from living freely in the present.

At any given time, when you’re walking down the streets, a very small percentage of your brain is focused on the present. The rest is planning the future or regretting the past. This keeps you from having an incredible experience. It’s keeping you from seeing the beauty in everything and for being grateful for where you are. You can literally destroy your happiness if you spend all of your time living in delusions of the future.

Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.

A happy person isn’t someone who’s happy all the time. It’s someone who effortlessly interprets events in such a way that they don’t lose their innate peace.

The idea you’re going to change something in the outside world, and that is going to bring you the peace, everlasting joy, and happiness you deserve, is a fundamental delusion we all suffer from, including me. The mistake over and over and over is to say, “Oh, I’ll be happy when I get that thing,” whatever it is. That is the fundamental mistake we all make, 24/7, all day long.

When you’re young, you have time. You have health, but you have no money. When you’re middle-aged, you have money and you have health, but you have no time. When you’re old, you have money and you have time, but you have no health. So the trifecta is trying to get all three at once.

By the time people realize they have enough money, they’ve lost their time and their health.

Happiness is being satisfied with what you have. Success comes from dissatisfaction. Choose.

Today, the way we think you get peace is by resolving all your external problems. But there are unlimited external problems. The only way to actually get peace on the inside is by giving up this idea of problems.

The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations, and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single player.

At the end of the day, you are a combination of your habits and the people who you spend the most time with.

First, you know it. Then, you understand it. Then, you can explain it. Then, you can feel it. Finally, you are it.

The sooner you can accept it as a reality, the sooner you can adapt to it.

Even if you can’t come up with something positive, you can say, “Well, the Universe is going to teach me something now. Now I get to listen and learn.”

We evolved for scarcity but live in abundance.

When everyone is sick, we no longer consider it a disease.

Your breath is one of the few places where your autonomic nervous system meets your voluntary nervous system. It’s involuntary, but you can also control it.

Impatience with actions, patience with results.

I don’t believe in specific goals. Scott Adams famously said, “Set up systems, not goals.” Use your judgment to figure out what kinds of environments you can thrive in, and then create an environment around you so you’re statistically likely to succeed.

The hardest thing is not doing what you want—it’s knowing what you want.

Courage isn’t charging into a machine gun nest. Courage is not caring what other people think.

If wisdom could be imparted through words alone, we’d all be done here.

Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now, and we will never be here again. (– Homer, The Iliad)

Inspiration is perishable—act on it immediately.