Via Negativa

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3rd Oct, 2021

When asked what it takes to win a Nobel prize, Francis Crick said, “Oh, it’s very simple. My secret has been I know what to ignore. Avoiding can be more important than finding.”

I recently read somewhere that we spend the first half of our lives adding things, and the second half subtracting most of them.

Somewhere in mid age, we realize that most of our choices were mistakes, and then we start subtracting vigorously.

Lest you lose out on the positive compounding timeframe, you will do yourself a world of good by respecting and practicing this lesson – of saying no to most things, of not adding a lot of unwanted stuff early.

Most people immediately look at what they can create or add to something to make it better. Very few people consider what they could remove.

Yet, there is immense power in improvement by subtraction – an idea called Via negativa.

Via negativa is essentially the study of what not to do.

The idea comes from a Latin phrase used initially in Christian Theology to explain what God is by focusing on what he isn’t.

Naval Ravikant uses via negativa to help him make decisions.

In The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, he says: “I don’t believe I have the ability to say what is going to work. Rather, I try to eliminate what’s not going to work. I think being successful is just about not making mistakes. It’s not about having correct judgment. It’s about avoiding incorrect judgements.”

This Sunday, practise via Negativa, look at all the things you don’t want to do rather than the things you want or need to do & stay blessed forever.