A New Earth Summary

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A New Earth outlines a crazy and destructive place we call home, but not without showing us that we can all save it together, by looking into our minds and detaching ourselves from our ego, so we can practice acceptance and enjoyment.

You most likely know Eckhart Tolle from his book The Power of Now, so I bet you’ll be surprised to hear that this one sold almost twice as many copies. This might have been mostly due to Oprah selecting it for her book club, which led to a series of 10 webinars with her and Tolle, which 35 million people attended (around 10% of which in turn bought the book).

Nonetheless, this book describes some of the central problems humanity faces today and gives individuals like you and me a place to start changing that.

Here are 3 lessons from A New Earth to help you make the world a better place, by making your mind a better place:

Religion won’t help us save the world, because it always carries part of the problem.

Be a duck – don’t overthink things.

Acceptance leads to enjoyment, which is the only way to an enlightened life.

Wanna come and save the planet? Let’s think ourselves to a better earth!

Lesson 1: Religion won’t help us save the world, because it always carries part of the problem.

Tolle first describes that all religions already accept pain, chaos, madness and suffering as part of life in one form or the other. Therefore, religion can’t possibly solve the problem.

Buddhism, for example, mentions dukkha as the mind’s natural state, which translates to suffering or pain. If you translate “sin” from its original, Greek source, it comes out to “missing the mark.” Thus, Christianity also has its own bucket for those, who are lost causes and just miss the point. Hinduism integrates death and rebirth into a perpetual cycle of pain and relief.

You see, turning to religion, no matter which one, can’t possibly truly liberate us.

Most of these problems with religion have emerged over time, because as religions grew older, their messages have been twisted, changed and distorted, making them part of the problem, instead of the solution. Just think of the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lesson 2: Overthinking is detrimental, so be like a duck.

Tolle uses a cool Zen story to make this point.

Tanzan and Ekido, two Buddhist monks, travel along a muddy road, while heavy rain is falling. They spot a beautiful woman in a kimono, who’s unable to cross an intersection, because of the bad weather. Tanzan picks her up and carries her to the other side, setting her down. They travel on for hours, and only when they reach their destination at night does Ekido speak about what’s been bothering him the entire time: “We monks aren’t allowed near females, so why did you do that?”

Tanzan replies: “I left the girl there. Are you still carrying her?”

So simple, but perfectly makes the point. Tolle compares someone, who doesn’t overthink, to a duck. When ducks fight, they quickly swim in opposite directions afterwards, immediately moving on with their lives.

Only humans feel compelled to collect bad feelings, resentment, hurt and suffering over time and then unleash it upon the world.

Don’t be like Ekido. Don’t carry things with you longer than you need to. Be like a duck.

Lesson 3: You can live an enlightened life only through enjoyment, which you can find by accepting things as they are.

So here’s the solution Tolle proposes: Accept every moment as it is. Do whatever you have to do in any given moment, but do it peacefully, without judgement and keep an open mind.

Not all tasks are great, not all days will be wonderful, but once you simply accept what you’re doing, you take responsibility for your own state of mind and can find enjoyment in the present.

The more you seek to find this enjoyment in your life, the more it’ll become your source of motivation for doing things, instead of a desire for some material thing or other peoples’ approval.

Always acting out of pure enjoyment is what Tolle describes as enlightenment, and acceptance is the only way to get there.

My personal take-aways

I think this book was even more successful than Tolle’s first one is that it works with the concepts he previously described, but places them in a much larger context. Not only are his ideas about living in the present the key to your own happiness, but they just might help us all make the world a better place.

I’d suggest you read the free preview on Amazon and then make up your mind. Tolle is known for being a complicated read, so the blinks might help you understand this book a lot better and thus make a good supplemental read.

A Brief History Of Time Summary

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A Brief History Of Time is Stephen Hawking’s way of explaining the most complex concepts and ideas of physics, such as space, time, black holes, planets, stars and gravity to the average Joe, so that even you and I can better understand how our planet was created, where it came from, and where it’s going.

I’ve only heard some of the ideas from the book quoted by Tai Lopez so far and haven’t seen the new movie either. The blinks have been sitting in my library for a while, so it was about time to let one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world, Mr. Hawking, speak.

First published in 1988 this book resembled Stephen Hawking’s wish to make the most important theories, discoveries and phenomena from the world of physics accessible to everyone with a basic 8th-grade knowledge of math and physics.

Here are the 3 things I’m personally taking away from it:

  • Theories can never be proven.
  • Time is not fixed, due to the speed of light.
  • There are 3 reasons why time can likely only move forward.

Ready for some physics? Let’s go!

Lesson 1: Theories can never be fully proven.

As children we’re all scientists. We constantly come up with theories, and then test them. For example as a toddler you might have had the theory that a glass will easily survive its fall from the kitchen table

A theory, which you probably quickly went on to disprove, much to the frustration of your Mum and Dad.

Nowadays, since we’re grown up, we don’t see theories as what they are any more: educated guesses.

If you come up with the theory that your software startup needs 1,000 clients to thrive and start turning a profit, you almost instantly accept it as true, which leads to lots of disappointment, should you fail in spite of reaching that goal.

Hawking says a theory is nothing more than a model, which correctly explains a big number of observations.

This has 2 great benefits:

You can make definite predictions about the future.

The theory can always be disproven, if evidence against it comes up.

For example, a commonly accepted theory until 1903 was that nothing heavier than air could fly. That’s what kept 99% of people from driving their carriages over cliffs and jumping out of windows with wings attached to their back.

According to the theory, they wouldn’t be able to fly, and some of the people who tried added credibility to that theory.

However, on December 17th that year, Orville Wright stayed in the air for 12 seconds in the gasoline aircraft he and his brother had built. When he half crashed half landed after 120 feet in the air, the theory was disproven.

Hawking loves the fact that theories can always be proven wrong in the future, and so should you. Stop assuming so much, and start finding evidence!

Lesson 2: Due to the constant speed of light, time is not fixed.

If you’ve ever wondered what Einstein’s theory of relativity was all about, you’ve come to the right place.

The general statement of this theory is that the laws of physics are the same for all freely moving observers and objects.

Because the speed of light constantly being 186,000 miles per second is one such law, it means that no matter where you are or where you’re going, the speed with which light reaches you is the same.

However, time is always determined by dividing the distance something has traveled by its speed, right? For example if you take your car and drive for 100 miles at 100 mph, it will take you exactly an hour to get to your destination.

But if one person travels 186,000 miles towards a ray of light and another travels 186,000 miles away from it, but the speed of light is constant, the light would reach the first person 2 seconds faster – that is at a different point in time.

That’s the reason why time is relative and why Mr. Einstein has become so famous.

Lesson 3: Time can most likely only move forward, for 3 reasons.

Different times for different people is one thing, but how about time travel? Can time move backwards?

Hawking says it’s not impossible, but unlikely, for 3 reasons.

1. Time only moves forward thermodynamically.

Entropy is the tendency to increase disorder wherever possible.

For example your coffee mug only stays in mug form, because force is holding it together. As soon as you drop it, it’ll be happy to increase its entropy in the form of a whole bunch of shards. However, it would never spontaneously reassemble itself on its own (and thus decrease entropy), so thermodynamically, time only moves forward.

2. Time only moves forward psychologically.

You can never “remember” the future. For example after your mug breaks you can remember what it looked like before, but you can never know the exact position of the shards on the floor before you break it.

3. Time only moves forward cosmologically.

As the universe expands, its entropy increases. Since entropy constantly increasing also means that time moves forward, due to reason number 1, this adds to the point.

However, the universe could start contracting again, after reaching its maximum extension, thus reversing entropy and also time.

But Hawking says that we wouldn’t know: our bodies rely on entropy to break the food we eat down into its particles, which give us energy.

So if time were to ever start reversing, we’d have to die first.

But then again, who knows if that’ll ever happen, right?

After all, it’s just a theory.

My personal take-aways

Holy cow. If you want a book to wonder, marvel, think and scratch your head at, this is the one for you. I’m really glad I read this in blink-form first, because my theory (hehe) is that the blinks make it even easier to understand.

Book, movie, articles, videos, I can already picture today turning into a full-blown Stephen Hawking research day.

But I can’t. At least not right now. Time only moves forward, after all (or does it?).

If you’re curious about the universe we live in, go read the blinks and then make up your mind about the book. I feel like an entire world of amazing things to learned has just been opened up to me, and I can’t wait to jump in.

21 Lessons For The 21st Century Notes

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21 Lessons For The 21st Century highlights today’s most pressing political, cultural, and economic challenges created by technology while helping us prepare for an uncertain future.

How do you prepare your children for the year 2050? Or even the year 2100? It’s a great question, especially because nowadays, no one knows what the world will even look like then. Historically, humans could make at least decent assumptions about where the world was headed. But in today’s fast-paced, technology-fueled civilization? Forget it!

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth giving our best to prepare for an uncertain future. In 21 Lessons For The 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari helps us do just that. After his previous bestsellers Sapiens, which explored the human past, and Homo Deus, which focused on our distant future, his latest book is about our biggest challenges in the here and now and how we can deal with them.

Here are 3 from his 21 lessons to help us and future generations thrive in the 21st century:

Whoever owns the data wins, which is why everyone struggles for it.

We don’t know, we just think we do – and that’s a problem.

Education must show us how to navigate information, not give us more of it.

Are you sometimes worried about the future? Don’t fret, let’s prep!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Lesson 1: Data has become the most valuable asset, which is why technology disrupts all our systems.

Different ideologies have always shaped how humans see and steer the world. Whichever one grabs the most people tends to determine our history for decades. In the 20th century, fascism, communism, and liberalism fought for that privilege. Liberalism ended up being the clear winner.

Depending on which ideology dominates, different assets grow in value. Whatever’s most valuable is the thing politicians and nations will fight for, thus deciding what future the world progresses towards. So far, in the 21st century, technology seems to have all competitors beat. It’s the thing we most believe in.

With technology being our prime ideology, data becomes the most valuable asset. That’s why politicians struggle for their nations to win the giant tech race. The problem is that this time around, no one fully understands the implications of our ideology. Just look at the financial markets, where algorithms already do most of the work, with very few traders grasping what’s actually happening.

For politicians, this lack of understanding quickly becomes a threat. People are frustrated, feel ignored, and realize the representatives they elected don’t deal with the most important topics.

And yet, we know just as little about technology as they do.

Lesson 2: We believe we have a lot of knowledge, but we don’t and that’s dangerous.

I rarely talk about politics with my family, but when we do, we like to joke about the “genius” of certain policymakers. In Germany, it’s common for the minister of economics to suddenly become the minister of health. Highly specialized offices are swapped like Christmas presents, which makes no sense. How could someone be an expert in both medicine and military defense?

In reality, this problem befalls all of us, however. That’s why we talk so much about cognitive biases on Four Minute Books. To help us think a little better. One of them is what Harari calls ‘the knowledge illusion.’ Basically, we think we know a lot more than our ancestors when, actually, we know less in many regards.

For example, we all rely on many experts to live our everyday lives. We can’t hunt our own food, build our own shelter, or make our own clothes. We think we’re smart, but just because we can access all the world’s knowledge doesn’t mean it’s already in our head.

Instead, we should stay humble, be thankful, and do our best to never stop learning.

Lesson 3: School needs to start teaching us how to think, not what to think.

Neil deGrasse Tyson once gave a great speech on the value of knowing how to think vs. just knowing what to think. Sadly, our schools only teach us the latter. Even higher education still very much centers around cramming as many facts into your head as you can, only to spit them out once on a piece of paper, then forget them again. That’s a problem.

A basic understanding of history, biology, math, and other subjects is important, no doubt. But beyond that, it’s more important that we learn how to navigate the modern sea of information, how to filter out the important, and how to determine what’s downright false, than just remembering more facts.

With more data being created now in a single year than the past few millennia combined, future workers won’t need to know as much as possible, but how to find out only that, which they really need to know. For our kids to have a thriving future, that’s what we must teach them how to do.

My personal take-aways

I’d rather read one book like 21 Lessons For The 21st Century each year than consume any news. With this, you know about everything important that’s going on and can decide how to act on which information. Some topics, you won’t think further about, others might even change how you raise your kids. With 21 Lessons For The 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari once again captures interesting aspects of humanity in enlightening stories. A truly informative read.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

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Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago). These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics). These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.

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The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant

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Over the course of history, human behavior has changed, but not human nature. No matter who is in power, the rewards gradually accrue to the most clever and talented individuals. Ideas are the strongest things of all in history because they can be passed down and change the behavior of future generations—even a gun was originally an idea.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond: Summary

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Some environments provide more starting materials and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions and building societies than other environments. This is particularly notable in the rise of European peoples, which occurred because of environmental differences and not because of biological differences in the people themselves. There are four primary reasons Europeans rose to power and conquered the natives of North and South America, and not the other way around:

1)the continental differences in the plants and animals available for domestication, which led to more food and larger populations in Europe and Asia
2) the rate of diffusion of agriculture, technology and innovation due to the geographic orientation of Europe and Asia (east-west) compared to the Americas (north-south)

3) the ease of intercontinental diffusion between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and
4) the differences in continental size, which led to differences in total population size and technology diffusion

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Free Will by Sam Harris

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We do not have the freedom and free will that we think we do. Yes, you can make conscious choices, but everything that makes up those conscious choices (your thoughts, your wants, your desires) is determined by prior causes outside your control. Just because you can do what you want does not mean you have free will because you are not choosing what you want in the first place.

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Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

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he United States is engaging in a modern form of slavery by using the World Bank and other international organizations to offer huge loans to developing nations for construction projects and oil production. On the surface this appears to be generous, but the money is only awarded to a country if it agrees to hire US construction firms, which ensures a select few people get rich. Furthermore, the loans are intentionally too big for any developing nation to repay and this debt burden virtually guarantees the developing nation will support the political interests of the United States.

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