Aidan's Infinite Play 21 How I'm Balanced Amidst The Chaos

Aidan's Infinite Play 21 How I'm Balanced Amidst The Chaos
Photo by Alex Padurariu / Unsplash

Hello players!

The last two weeks back at Cornell University have been some of the busiest of my life. Let me recount to you everything that I'm doing:

  • Taking 4 classes and TAing for one
  • Interviewing to become a Research Assistant
  • Uploading a weekly newsletter and YouTube video and a biweekly blog and podcast
  • Creating a digital course with fellow YouTuber John Mavrick helping University students reignite their childhood curiosities inside of Obsidian
  • Participating in the Cornell Speech Club, the SKITS Comedy Club, the Board Game Club, and the Outing Club.
  • Maintaining a healthy social network seeing friends every day and continuing to call my parents and brother
  • Growing my relationship with my girlfriend
  • Developing a stand up comedy bit with my brother
  • Continuing to explore curiosities in random books for fun


After hearing that, I wouldn't blame you for being concerned for my mental wellbeing. But I'm not telling you this to flex my productivity skills. It's to highlight a key point.

I feel balanced doing this insane amount of work.

I don't feel like I'm burnt out. In fact, I feel great! Creative, energized, calm.

The secret: peanut butter. Eat once every two hours.

To explain why I don't feel overworked we need to dive into some Ancient Chinese Philosophy, mainly the philosophy of Taoism founded by Lao Tzu and one of its fundamental concepts, The Tao.

In Taoism, the Tao is generally defined as the ultimate force underlying all of the Universe. One of the major concepts inside of the Tao is that everything in life has a balance point that comes through the interaction of the Yin (female) and the Yang (male) with each other. Chaos and order, black and white, water and fire. Inside of each of these interactions there is some balance point.


Fun fact, if you squint the Yin and Yang image looks like a Moon Cookie. But a sugar rush at 9:37 a.m. is probably not a good idea. Maybe another day.

According to Lao Tzu, living a good life comes with following the balance point in all of your lives activities. In other words, learning to respect the Yin and the Yang for everything. He calls this process finding your Way. Importantly, the balance point is not only different for different people but it changes throughout your life. In other words, The balancing point in the Tao is not static. As you grow and learn you will inevitably change your values, roles, and goals you want to follow. This in turn will change the balancing point for each activity in your life.

What I'm trying to say is that while I'm doing an insane amount of stuff right now, I feel I'm following the Way; I'm inside of my balancing point. I feel creative, energized, and calm. I feel like I'm realizing my potential.

But importantly, I also understand this will change in the future. My values, roles, and goals will change and in turn so will my priorities. Maybe in the future I'll go through a period where my balance point means playing Minecraft for a few hours every day again. Maybe I'll start a goat farm with my girlfriend and sit around reading novels all day. Maybe I'll lose someone important to me and my balance point will involve not working myself too hard so I can give myself room to cope.

My takeaway message: I'm aware of my balance point right now and that it could change. That's very different from working incredibly hard but not being aware.

There seems to be a notion in contemporary society today that you should always have work life balance. I think that's crem. First, your work is fundamentally connected to your life. Secondly, you can and should have periods where you are doing insane amounts of stuff as well as periods where you aren't doing much.

Too much order creates routine, depriving your life of novel stimuli and making time pass unconsciously. Too much chaos and your life feels overwhelming and stressful. You don't have the cognitive space to reflect and feel content with where you have come.

Follow your balance point.

My question for you is where you think your balance point in life is right now on a higher level as well as in your individual activities. Has it always been there? Reply to this email! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Here's what I would like to share this week.

πŸ“ΈNews From The Channel!

​How To Gamify Your Life to Enter Flow More Consistently Part 2: In the first part of this series on gamification and flow, we discussed how games foster the seven elements of flow in the acronym ACTIONS. In this part, we will discuss how we can gamify our real lives to enter flow more consistently.

​Matthew Dicks: Why And How To Find, Develop, And Tell Stories: Matthew Dicks is an internationally bestselling author, columnist, blogger, podcaster, playwright, and teacher. A 53-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 7-time Moth GrandSLAM champion, Matthew teaches storytelling and public speaking to individuals, corporations, universities, entrepreneurs, religious institutions, and school districts worldwide. We talked about why to tell stories, how to find stories, how to organize and develop stories in your Personal Knowledge Management system, how to make time for stories, and finally, how to tell better stories.

​7 Things Professional Chefs Do that Help Me as a College Student: Chefs are some of the most productive people on the planet. Just for dinner, they have to prepare, process, and cook food for sometimes hundreds of people in two hours. In this blog post, I analyze how the best chefs have given me insight into how to be a better college student.

πŸ’‘My Best Insights:

πŸ“–Book - Drive by Daniele H. Pink: this book highlights the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Pink shows that intrinsic motivation is often more powerful than extrinsic motivation when it comes not only to the quality of work done but also the long term commitment to the work. That isn't to say that extrinsic motivation is useless but people in modern day society rely on it way to heavily. Luckily, he gives many incredible tips for how you can increase your intrinsic motivation to do things in the book.

✍️Blog Post - The End of Organizing: with the rise of new AI Models like ChatGPT and other AI language tools, some people are talking about the idea that organizing will become irrelevant in personal knowledge management systems. AI systems will be able to automatically tag and link notes, enrich them and synthesize them into new things, and resurface key information from previous notes for notetaking. While I understand the usefulness of help with organizing from AI systems, I don't think they will ever replace the usefulness of organizing some things yourself. One of the reasons organizing is so useful is it helps you deeply process the information. It takes work figuring out the best way to connect a piece of information to other pieces of information.

πŸŽ™οΈPodcast - Derek Sivers on Life Advice, Writing and Entrepreneurship: one of the most important ideas is to not let your life get ahead of you because of the Paradox of progress. In other words, don't let the activities you love doing grow into something you actually hate. This resonates with me because as a content creator I love part time content creation. But this doesn't necessarily mean I will love full time content creation.

πŸ“œAcademic Article - Self-inflicted pain out of boredom: I'm of the belief that boredom is one of the most powerful human motivators. We simply weren't evolved to sit still and do nothing. One study that showed this incredibly well was Selfinflictedpain. In the study they had participants watch a monotonous, sad, or neutral film segment. In the room they also left a shock device participants were told they could use at any time for a harmless shock. Participants in the boredom condition administered significantly more shocks than those in the neutral or sad condition. Boredom can litterally get you to shock yourself out of curiosity.