Scott H Young

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How to Become More Curious

Learning is a lot easier when it’s interesting. And it’s interesting, to a large extent, because you’re curious about the subject. Yes, the carrot of career opportunity and stick of exam failures can motivate. But if you really want to learn something, nothing beats curiosity. Yet it’s boredom, not curiosity, that dominates student life. Research shows...

Are You Missing This Essential Foundation for a Good Life?

Recently, I shared my list of foundational practices—the basic things everyone should do to live better. Of course, my choices are personal. Your list might differ a little from mine. Most people, however, tended to agree with my choices. Foundational practices should be obvious. If they weren’t, there would be some controversy over how useful they...

Live Chat on the Science of Motivation (and Q&A)

This week I’m going to do a live conversation discussing some of the findings in my recently published Complete Guide to Motivation. The conversation is going to be held at 2pm Pacific Time on Friday, November 20th. The presentation will be free to attend. It’s not a pitch or warm-up to any kind of product (the guide I’m discussing is also free)....

The Paradox of Effort

Where does the motivation come from to improve your life? At first glance, this seems like a strange question: why wouldn’t you automatically want things to be better? But the good life is hard work, so we often fail to do the things we know would make our lives better. Cal Newport told me that, while in grad school, he noticed a lot of people became...

The Complete Guide to Motivation

Why do you do what you do? Why do you feel motivated to do some things, but not others? How does your environment, experiences and personality impact your motivation? Can you change your motivation and alter the direction of your life? Motivation matters. But it’s also mysterious. We all know what it feels like to be driven to act, but we don’t...

The 10 Foundational Practices for a Good Life

If you want to improve your life, where should you start? Years ago, when I started working on myself, I tried lots of different things. Some helped a lot. But a lot didn’t matter. Filtering by trial-and-error works, but it can be slow and discouraging. Knowing what I know now, I’d recommend different practices to my younger self. The typical person,...

How Much Can You Change Yourself?

How much can you change your nature? Your personality? Your intelligence? Your life? This is obviously a hugely important question. The world where our natures are fixed is a vastly different place from the world where we can bend ourselves into any shape. Unfortunately, this is also not a question with easy and obvious answers. Many thinkers...

Fearing Forgetting: Should You Try to Maintain or Relearn Knowledge?

How much should you worry about forgetting things? In one sense, forgetting is a very real problem. How many of us could still pass exams for classes we took in college? How many dust-covered books sit on your shelf which you’ve forgotten the plot? Knowledge, like all things, decays with time. It would be nice if there were a simple procedure for...

Life of Focus: Focused Work Update (Month One)

Last month, Cal Newport and I released a new course, Life of Focus. The course covers three months dedicated to cultivating focus in three areas: work, life and mind. One thing that makes a course like this different is that it centers on month-long challenges. Thus even if you’re already relatively focused, you can use the course as a tool to train...

The 7 Essential Rituals for Focused Work

Focus is incredibly important. But often we struggle to turn it on when we need it. The right rituals can help a lot. The human brain is a giant association machine. As neuropsychologist Donald Hebb famously put it, “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Repeated patterns form stronger connections. Thus if you pair a consistent ritual with focused...

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