We all have to make decisions. Some are small, like what to eat. Some are big, like where to live. Ultimately, we are responsible for choosing how to spend our limited time.

To help make these decisions, and to avoid living life on auto-pilot — it’s good to clear on what you value. When you start to make decisions, prioritize around, and act upon your values you get closer to the life you want to live.

When I first thought about, “Well, what exactly are my values?” I had little to say. The generic ones like kindness, fairness, and authenticity…


I was recently inspired by one of my favorite writers to think about what “ideas” have been the most impactful for me. Since writing is just a thinking exercise, I thought a breakdown of my own would help coalesce my personal philosophy and help expand others.

Here are 8 ideas (in no particular order) for you to chew on.

1 — There is no objective reality

It seems unintuitive but it is fact. Once you understand and integrate this, so much opens up to you.

A simple example: color isn’t real. Yes, there is a wavelength of light that we experience as red, but particles of light…


I’ve long been interested in the science of decision-making. We make hundreds of them every day, yet we often don’t think about the processes behind them. There are times when decisions feel so right, so clear that we don’t even have to think about them. There are other times when the stakes are high, outcomes uncertain, information unclear that we have to think a lot about them.

In either case, it helps to be aware of how our minds frame and make choices. When it’s easy, we should be wary of automatic (yet flawed) processes taking over. When it’s difficult…


I’ve been a bit of a pessimist for a while now. Even publicly.

My argument then was that it was both an accurate and thus practical way to encounter the world. Basically, a lot of things are out of our control and can go wrong. Our belief that they won’t (optimism) has no impact on the outcome. We should be willing to embrace difficult emotions to interact with a more accurate model of the world. Nobody wants to feel inadequate, doubtful, or like they’re going to fail. But screw what feels nice and warm, get real. …


When I was 12, I joined my first travel soccer team. It was around that time that I started to take health and fitness seriously. In those 15 years since I’ve been educating and experimenting with how to be fit in the most efficient way. For most of those years, I did most things wrong. I made some progress but it was either short-lived or at the expense of another part of my health.

To save you valuable time, and help you reach your health goals, take these lessons from me. There are more important lessons, but those you can…


I’ve never done one of these year-end reviews, but this is no normal year. My usual philosophy on this is that calendar time is a relatively recent human construct, and you can be reflective or set resolutions at any time. Yet, when things slow down and with the calendar providing a neat framing this is as good a time as any.

Like many, 2020 has not been so good for me. I had a failed career transition. I broke up with two people. I had an awful, scary experience on a solo-hike. I had multiple canceled trips. …


Work on anything long enough and you will start to develop a theory, a philosophy on the how and why of it. Play a sport for years, and you will develop a system of which attributes and strategies are best. Play an instrument, and you will also find techniques and styles that best suit you.

Work for a while and a set of guiding principles will emerge as well. For better or worse, work is the single thing that will take up more of our time and almost certainly the most mental energy throughout our lives. …


For a lot of us, we struggle to grasp the level of appeal that Donald Trump has. Even as he looks set to lose the Presidential Election this time around, he got 63m votes in 2016 and will have more in 2020.

Sure, for ohhh ~15% of people his personality and policies align well with their preferences. The problem is how do you explain the rest? The evangelicals who support a thrice-married philanderer who can’t name a bible verse. The poverty-stricken who vote for a man with a golden toilet and gives tax breaks to the bosses that exploit them…


Do you feel good when you engage with politics? I don’t mean afterward, a lot of us feel worse after reading the news. I mean, when you decide to read an article in the New York Times, or a think-piece in The Atlantic, or tune-in to the debates. Doesn’t that feel good?

It should. After all, you’re fulfilling a kind of societal obligation as an intelligent, worldly person. Paying attention to political developments, developing an opinion, persuading others. It’s all part of a healthy democracy! The more we all do it, the better!

It is all well-intentioned, I don’t deny…


Let me paint a few pictures of a normal(ish), hypothetical Saturday for you:

You’re sitting on the beach, toes between the sand, breeze against your face. You gaze at the waves as they crash, producing that calming score as the white sea foam that races up the beach.

White…? Isn’t the ocean water some hue of blue? Ah, but something changes when the waves become foam. Oxygen is added, the sand and shells distribute other materials into the mix, something like that.

The real illusion is that there was no color to begin with. Waves of light have no color…

Thomas Sloan

Hi. I’m Thomas. I like to think about thoughts, and then write for clarity. Not everything here is a fully formed belief. Let’s talk :)

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