Exciting news! Last night I hit the “Publish” button on Amazon to launch The Gifts of Solitude into the world. Like all new Amazon ebooks, it is currently being quality reviewed, and should go live within 72 hours. I’ll send out a newsletter with the links as soon as it is available.
Meanwhile, here is another excerpt…
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali
There is a question generally attributed to the British after the World War II: “Did you have a good war?”
While war, like pandemics, can never be said to be good, the question’s meaning was more like, “Did you manage to make the best of a bad situation?”
When I was on my rowboat, the days felt very long. Even a single rowing shift seemed to go on forever, and the tedium could be almost unbearable. I was absolutely desperate to get to the other side, but the more impatient I got, the slower the time seemed to go.
I never doubted that I would get to the other side, but at times I didn’t know how I would get there without driving myself insane. I would get thoroughly sick of myself, bored to tears with my repetitive thoughts, and feel like I wanted to be able to crawl out of my own skull and be somebody else, somewhere else, for just one day — or even just one hour — of relief from myself.
The Present Bias
Here we run into another cognitive bias, the present bias. It is usually demonstrated in an economic context, as the preference most people have for a smaller financial reward now, compared with a larger financial reward later. Another way of describing it is instant gratification, and our entire developed world and economy have evolved to give us what we want, as soon as we want it (ideally before we realise we didn’t actually need it at all). Some entrepreneurs may take time to build a company slowly and carefully, but many are dreaming of the buyout before they’ve even registered the domain name.
We used to operate on longer timescales. If our ancestors wanted blackberries (the fruit, not the smartphone), no matter how desperately they wanted them, they had to wait for blackberry season. If they wanted a house, they had to build it. If they wanted a woolly sweater, they had to shear, and spin, and knit.
We’ve got so used to getting what we want, when we want it, that we’re worse than we’ve ever been at deferring gratification. During this pandemic, it has been interesting to be reminded that reality doesn’t always conform to our wishes. It might be frustrating to be forced to wait, or not to be able to buy what we want, or to have to postpone pleasures and plans.
But some things are worth waiting for.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Fun To Be Fun
A wise friend, a solo sailor called Adrian Flanagan, helped me reframe my situation, from one of frustration to one of fulfilment. He sent me a message…
There’s more! This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Gifts of Solitude.
If you want to know what words of wisdom Adrian had to offer, I would be most grateful if you would go to the full article on Medium.com, which will earn me a few cents in these financially challenging times. I believe the algorithm gauges the number of people who read it, and for how many minutes, so please read slowly!
Please also check out the new videos and podcasts at the Gifts of Solitude website.