(The original post attempted to link to the horrible FTX situation. This was done in good faith - we wanted to channel the compassion to something useful. However, based on feedback this came across as headline-grabbing and it seemed too much like a promotion. We substantially rewrote it. We're sorry for any upset we may have caused some of you. Sincerely.).
We've seen many people benefit from personal development and practical wisdom. Concretely, we've seen this among our clients (we're coaches for EAs), friends, and in our own personal lives. However, not everyone has access to good ways of benefitting from personal development and practical wisdom. This could be due to a lack of awareness or financial means. While we think coaching is particularly promising (see here and here) we'd like to introduce a different (and free way) of pursuing personal development and practical wisdom. Concretely, we'd like to introduce a service called optimize.me (part of Heroic) as we've found that ~10 people within EA have benefitted non-trivially from it. We'll share a brief background on Optimize.me (Heroic) and then continue with a curated list of high EV recommendations.
Heroic, founded by the exemplary Brian Johnson, seeks to create a more virtuous and flourishing society. Concretely, they seek to cultivate heroes and pursue the audacious vision of positive psychology - 51% of the world’s population flourishing by 2051. At some point during the last year, they decided to make part of their service (optimize.me) free and we'd like to enable others to use that to add value to their lives.
How might optimize.me add value to your life?
There are three sources of value that we and ~ 10 others can personally attest to:
- Masterclasses: Long-form videos (1-2 hours) on essential domains of human life (e.g., conquering digital addiction, sleep, and productivity) that tend to be neglected in our current society and/or where the framing of these domains are highly suboptimal compared to what they could be.
- Philosopher’s notes: 6-page PDFs and associated 10-20 minutes videos on hundreds of books on personal development and practical wisdom.
- +1’s: Two-minute videos and associated notes providing wisdom in an engaging and bite-sized way.
Please bear in mind
- The epistemics of the videos aren’t peer-reviewed science but rather relatively nuanced personal experiences, largely drawing on hundreds of books and creating connections between ideas, thinkers, and practitioners.
- Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Brian’s content has substantially improved the lives of many people, including truth-seeking EAs. So while you might experience him as annoying, overly "American" or bombastic, you might be able to distill valuable pieces of information.
- Masterpiece days 101: It provides a motivating framing on how to think about your entire day as a potential masterpiece. Importantly, it introduces concrete cornerstone habits - e.g., deep work, shut-down complete, and digital sunset.
- Greatest Year Ever: How to set ambitious yearly goals, embody your ideal self, and a generally useful framework for how to view and seize your precious time.
- Conquering digital addiction 101: Shows the harm of digital consumption, perhaps a blindspot eating away at your well-being and productivity, and also provides helpful models and tools to cultivate healthy digital behavior.
- Movement 101: Moving is an essential part of healthy and productive humans but is often neglected. This class points out the negative consequences of under-investing in movement and provides concrete practical advice on how to integrate more of it - beyond just going to the gym.
- Goal-setting 101: Thorough and practical lessons on how to best set ambitious goals, avoid second-guessing, and use some best practices to reach them.
- Anti-fragile 101: Key ideas on how to constructively respond to challenges and approach life, namely by seeing obstacles as opportunities to grow (“Bring it on!”). The class also links to growth mindset and highlights the importance of applying insights and big ideas, especially when it’s difficult.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport (Focus)
- Atomics Habit by James Clear (Behaviour Change)
- Flourish by Martin Seligman (Positive Psychology)
- Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow (Psychology of Personal Development)
- Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (Peak Performance)
- Man's Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl (Practical Wisdom)
How to integrate these ideas
In the following, we briefly outline a form of how to engage with the Heroic content and how to start integrating ideas into your life.
Engaging with Heroic content is straightforward: create an account and access the content for free via the Website or mobile app. We suggest engaging with (1) the +1’s daily and (2) longer formats on the weekend or unhurried evenings. The wisdom nuggets in the form of +1’s can fit well into a lunch break or morning routine. On Sundays, for instance, you can watch and process a Masterclass. Certainly, you know best how to fit educational and inspiring content into your schedule.
The key move, though, is pick up ideas that resonate and start applying them (as opposed to mindlessly consuming the content).
When you have identified an idea or set of ideas that inspire you, let's bring them and their associated benefits to life. Rather than just consuming ideas and collecting them (like a librarian), the most important move is to take action and apply them in practice (like an applied philosopher). To deepen the understanding, we suggest bringing ideas into your life via the following pathways:
- Journal on the idea:
- Elaborate in your own words: What is this idea about?
- How does this link to your knowledge or previous experience?
- What area or current pain point does it address?
- Set up an experiment:
- In which way are you going to apply this idea?
- How long does the experiment run?
- Monitor and review:
- How do you keep track of your intention to apply this idea? Consider using a simple spreadsheet.
- How did your experiment go?
- What are practical takeaways?
Facilitated: You may feel inspired to discuss ideas with someone that helps you on your personal journey, for instance, a coach, mentor or therapist. Ask them to facilitate understanding the idea better and putting it into practice.
Social: You may feel inspired to share and discuss ideas with friends and peers that are interested in wisdom and personal development. While intellectual engagement is encouraged, your aim should be to translate the idea into a practical mini-experiment.
Conflict of interest
Sebastian ($316) and Henning are symbolic founding investors in Heroic, which raised money through crowdfunding in 2021. On the one hand, that means you should probably assume that we're biased. On the other hand, it might signal that we actually think this is a valuable service and we'd like more people to benefit from it.
As a moderator, I think this post is too close to promotion and reads too much like an advertisement.
When posting a resource on the forum, please don't try to sell it and make the connection to effective altruism clear.
Hi Lorenzo, thanks a lot for giving us feedback! That enables us to understand why it might not have been received in the way that we had hoped - namely to enable EAs to benefit from a resource that we think could probably be quite valuable to others. :) We significantly rewrote the post - hope this makes the communicative intent clearer.