I recently came across a 1953 comedy act that made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in 4 months…

Abbott and Costello, “Who’s On First” (1953).

The funny thing is, the reason I was watching this was because I was sadder than I’d ever been in 4 months.

Gee, what got you in this mess of emotions?

Well, I’d been trying to painstakingly maintain relationships virtually during COVID-19 for 9 months. One day, I just stopped and thought of every friend I had. …

That thought hit me after the 60th afternoon sitting in my bedroom...

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

You see, I’m usually frantically dashing between classrooms at this time of day. That was until the COVID-19 lockdown came. Since then, school has been a series of Zoom calls. One tedious current of information after another… flowing slowly from my teacher’s screen to mine.

It was at that moment I realised that I hadn’t had an original thought in a




long time. 😨

But how does that apply to ME? I just decided what to eat myself!

And so had I. But those simple decisions weren’t the problem.

The problem was that it’d been a long time since I’d just STOPPED to look away from the screen. To observe the tiny details around me.

In grade 10, I met the best math teacher I’ve ever had. From hearing mythological stories with accompanying ambient lighting on Fridays to stopping a financial math unit to discuss practical investment advice… there was always something new to learn in his classroom.

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But when it came to math, my teacher was one of the most serious math-lovers you could meet. It’s only now that I start to look back at all his simple lessons to see their wisdom.

And the biggest lesson I remember…? …

Let’s say you’re stuck at the traffic lights on a Tuesday and a Friday.

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On Tuesday, you’re just driving to the mall. On Friday, you’re driving your child to a hospital right after they fell while roller-blading and fractured a bone.

Clearly, your intentions are much more benevolent on Friday: to decrease the pain of someone you love vs. going shopping faster.

So will the red light turn green faster on Friday vs. Tuesday? 🤔

The answer is an easy no. …

In today’s modern age, we feel like we’re living in a time of unprecedented intelligence and growth. Every day, we wake up surrounded in urban bubbles full of technological advancements. Every year, we’re surprised by the next new discovery created by our innovative minds hard at work.

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Photo by Tom Parkes on Unsplash

In this world, it’s easy to look back at past societies and earlier humans as primitive and ‘other.’ It’s easy to dismiss them as simply not being capable of the same intellect as we are.

But this is 1. false and 2. dangerous…

Why Past Humans aren’t Less Intelligent

Firstly, it’s false because our brains have been mostly the same in the past tens of thousands of years (except they’ve gotten a little bigger in the past 100 years due to better nutrition — Source). …

Growing up, my family was never one of the wealthiest ones around.

As immigrants to Canada, it was hard to find jobs and financial uncertainty was more common for us than my non-immigrant friends. Still, compared to the average person around the world and the average person from our native country (India), we were lucky enough to live a life of astonishing luxury. We always had meals on our plate and a roof over our head, even if we couldn’t have the same lifestyle as the average Canadian.

But growing up, during more financially prosperous years, I’ve also been lucky enough to travel. And while travelling, I’ve been lucky enough to see glimpses of what real poverty looks like. These glimpses have been memories that I’ve kept with me that have uniquely shaped the values I have. They’ve been constant reminders of how bad life can really get. They help me stay grateful for the fortune I do have, instead of feeling jealous of those around me. …

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When I was 8, I immigrated to Canada from India knowing limited English, not understanding social norms, and not having the same lunches that the cool kids at school would every day 😁

Suffice it to say, I did NOT have an easy time making friends when I immigrated (although at least I still loved Indian food 😉). I remember my teachers pairing me up with ‘school buddies’ that would show me the way and were my first friends.

Over the years though, I’ve met a lot of good people that helped my family and I through our immigrant experiences… including some pretty good friends. …

If you’re like me, you hate networking events.

For people like me, networking is an adventure called, “Who can get to the corner of the room where we don’t have to talk to anyone else the fastest” 😅 This one time, I even managed to find a hidey-hole surrounded by barrels and a nice elderly librarian who I talked to about jazz music for an hour at Shopify’s Waterloo HQ

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I went to a networking event here 2 years ago (and spent the entire time in my hidey-hole) — Source

Anyways, my game of hiding-in-the-corners-of-not-talking-to-people while networking isn’t the ONLY game I like to use at these events. Another fun one is observing-people-while-not-talking-to-people! …

Ray Dalio has this saying:

“Every problem is another one of those”

Translation: life has a habit of bringing up the same problems over and over again. You can just skim over that and look for the next grand message. Or, you can pause for a second to think about what that actually means for your life… 🤔

And what it means for your life is profound. It means that every failed project, every ruined relationship, every risk in vain, and every regretful decision in your life have a pattern to them. …

Most people have had the experience of scrolling through Youtube or Instagram feeds to have their gaze fall upon another self-help guru telling them to overcome their fears to succeed. If you’re like me, you might have scoffed at this content and moved on to something more entertaining. 🙄

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Well, at least until I was lucky enough to meet mentors like researchers and entrepreneurs that were actually successful… and they told me the same thing.


Madhav Malhotra

Cofounder at The Plastic Shift. Learning how to create a sustainable planet. Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/madhav-malhotra/

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