The answer sheet

I always wished I had an answer sheet.  A cheat sheet to a lot of my problems.  Well now I do.  But it’s all in my head.  I solved a lot of my problems by reading books and building models to understand how things work.  This is a cheat sheet.


If you have problems letting yourself connect with other people, making sense of why you do that, and moving past that is probably connected to vulnerability – daring greatly by Brene Brown (video).  If you want more – Read The Art Of Asking by Amanda Palmer.

If you have problems communicating what you want and need from people.  OR if you have problems with people demanding things from you – NVC (video) by Marshall rosenberg is what you need.

If you can’t seem to say things without them getting personal – look at Concrete instructions.  (It’s from NVC (video))

If you need to apologise to someone, read On Apology by Aaron Lazare (video). (If you don’t think you need to apologise then this isn’t the right resource)

If you need help understanding how to manage emotions, read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (plus NVC (video), guilt series).

If you want to closely connect with people in the present moment, read the Circling handbook by Marc Benetau, also probably information about mindfulness, and the book The Charisma Myth.

If you want people to feel important when around you (or you want to be a politician), read The Charisma Myth and Rethinking Narcissism.

If you want to get better at sex (any gender), read Come As You Are.  Also if you are anxious about if a thing is normal (P.S. it probably is, if it doesn’t hurt, if you like it – enjoy it.  If you don’t avoid it)


If you are finding yourself thinking that people have fixed traits like, “Bob is smart”, and “I am not good at maths” read Mindsets by Carol Dweck, then start adding “yet” to the end of every sentence that wants you to be fixed.

If you are finding yourself using fixed mindsets in your relationships like, “Dave is lazy”, and you want your relationships to do substantially better than the statistics – Read John Gottman’s 7 principles for making marriage work.

If you want to know how to coordinate a group of people…  If they are an anonymous crowd – read Swarmwise by Rick Falkvinge.  If they are a middle class crowd read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for radicals.  If it’s an open source collective read Jono Bacon – The Art Of The Community.  And if they are a business read Turn That ship around by David Marquet and also The Hard thing about hard things.

If you want to learn a skill in the realm of “difficult human” – that is, anything that humans find hard to do.  From musical instruments to sports, to arts – Read The Inner Game Of Tennis by Timothy Gallway

If you want to optimise learning – read Peak by Anders Ericsson, as well as A Mind For Numbers by Barbara Oakley, The Art of Learning, (Maybe skip The Talent Code).

If you want to become the best in the world at something, read Mastery by Robert Greene and if you are not convinced that you do want that then read So Good They Can’t ignore you by Cal Newport.

If you dream, daydream or imagine a lot of things and want to turn that into productive goal-oriented behaviour, read Rethinking Positive Thinking by Gabrielle Oettingen, If you don’t dream and want to dream more – Take B6 (warning it cause bad distracting dreams just as much as enjoyable fantasies and I don’t have advice on how to direct that dreamery).

If you think you have Autism and want to read the one current theory about Emotional Quotient and Systemising Quotient EQ/SQ, You might like to read The Essential Difference by Simon Baron-Cohen.

If you want to understand how people mature and grow over time, and how they relate to the world, read Robert kegan’s developmental theory.


If you have problems with negative emotions of guilt, or spirals of feeling bad about things that might be out of your control – The Guilt Series by Nate Soares is for you.

If you have problems thinking clearly in a world where you are unsure what you can trust, you might like to read Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.  If this is too boring and slow for you, maybe the hard mode of Rationality: from AI to Zombies is for you (alternate text version).  If that’s too dry, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is an easier read.

If you have the epistemics under control and you have problems being instrumental – stop trying to be smart about it and start doing the dumb and obvious things.  Much dumber people than you have done well in life, you are overthinking it.  You can read GTD for ideas.

If you want organisation systems, make your own FIRST, live with it for a week, THEN try Bullet journals, GTD, Secrets of Productive People, 7 habits of highly effective people, Eat That Frog, and other self-help books (see a list of some here).

If you have problems causing creativity to happen, watch this video of John Cleese, and read The Identification of Creativity.  Then read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

If you don’t know what to do with your life you might need to explore more and understand the exploration-exploitation dichotomy, or you might need to read Design Your life by Bill Burnett.

If you want more meaning in your life read Flourish by Martin Seligman, then read Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning for a similar but different take.  Then actually follow the exercises they set out.

If you want to be able to predict things, measure things, and generally get good at looking forward to a stable future, You might want to understand Revealed preferences, And read, How to Measure Anything, followed by Superforecasters, and brush up on Fermi estimates.

If you want to know how to change yourself, Read Right Weight, Right Mind for the being the best book on the Immunity to Change.  better than The power of Habit which covers similar territory.  If you want go for systems, not goals – read how to fail at everything and still win big.

If you want to understand meditation – read Sam Harris Waking up, Chad-meng Tan Search inside yourself, The happiness trap, this post about zen koans, the PNSE paper, and The Mind illuminated By John Yates.

If you want to understand the basics of a field read the 101 textbook.  Ask for recommendations from friends.

If you can’t seem to make a coherent journey out of your existence.  If goals, plans and intentions don’t seem to stick, read or watch Russel Barkley (video)Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. And track more things about yourself.  Also exercises like the List of Common Human Goals

If you need help with motivation, procrastination or akrasia, Read The Procrastination equation (Alex Vermeer has good notes).  Also my Procrastination Checklist

If you are wanting to balance several of your interpersonal relationships, read Robert kegan’s developmental theory, More Than Two By Franklin Veaux, NVC (video) by Marshall Rosenberg.

Heck for interpersonal problems read this post on Human Relationships and read some of those books.

If you want the laziest path to enlightenment look at  If it looks like gibberish, don’t worry about it.

If your sleep sucks, fix it.  A very long list of sleep maintenance suggestions.

I wrote an exercise for how to plan so that you have consistently good days.

If you have critical brain loops, where you get stuck in a loop of self criticism where lots of cyclical thoughts arise being critical of yourself, try taking fish oil.  Also look into The Call of the Void and the Strategy against it.

If you are upset about intrusive thoughts like “what would it be like if I jumped off this here cliff… Be less upset, it’s pretty common, and it’s not a suicidal thought.  The one paper on Call of the Void proposes another mechanism, and I propose a strategy to make intrusive thoughts not come back.

Unless your email inbox is your only to-do list, it should not be holding tasks as if it is a to-do list.  You should aim for inbox zero, it’s pretty easy with this method.

If you have problems remaining a fluid person over time and your emotions are unstable use an app like “how are you feeling” and track yourself with a form to get the hang of a more timeless understanding of who you are as a person.

If you don’t know what Time Management even means try out empirically assessing your time use.

If you are not sure how much risk to take in the process of learning I would propose Mistakes bad enough you learn, but not bad enough they kill you.


If you are uncomfortable with how the medical system deals with death, and you don’t yet support Voluntary Euthanasia – Read Atul Gawande’s being mortal.  Maybe fast-forward through some of the history though, it can be slow.

If you are in physical pain from your posture or conformation while exercising, read Kelly Starrett – Becoming a Supple Leopard.  And his other books.

If you want to do charity better read Doing Good better by Willam MacAskill.

If you want to understand better what science is – read Theory and Reality by Peter Godfrey Smith.

That’s enough for now.  This has been a few hours of effort to get these written down.

Cross post:

There should be more answers in the comments on the cross post.

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