Wisdom | Dafacto

The personal website of Matt Henderson.


This page attempts to distill the life lessons I’ve come to believe important:

  • The Golden Rule — Treat others the way you want to be treated. So much derives from this one little rule.
  • Be trustworthy — Trust is not something that exists by default, but is earned over time. Life is great when people *know* they can trust you. And a lifetime of built trust can be lost in a moment.
  • Be humble — Humility is one of the most valuable characteristics a person can have. Arrogance, on the other hand, is one of the most detrimental. Be below average.
  • Understand important vs urgent — We tend to spend too much time on the urgent, and not enough on the important. The important is what has long-term value.
  • Focus — I believe distraction will be the challenge of the generation of my kids, and an ability to focus will be a huge advantage.
  • Communicate well — Writing well requires effort and practice. It is one of the most underrated, yet valuable skills a person can possess. When I look to hire someone, written communication skills are at the top of my list.
  • Appreciate design — A basic understanding of the fundamentals of design will dramatically improve your written and visual communication abilities. Read Robin Williams’ Non-Designers Design Book
  • Plan daily — Don’t end the day without planning the next.
  • Understand financial freedom — Once you have saved 25 times what you need to live, you are financially free, and you money, if well invested, will never run out.
  • Learn about investing — Take the time to learn the fundamentals of investing. Read books by William Bernstein, or my own for free. Almost any young person who invest with discipline, will become wealth. It is the responsibility of youth to turn human capital into financial capital, which will be needed later in life.
  • Beliefs — Be aware that culture, family and our particular moment in history tend to shape our beliefs. Be particularly careful to distinguish beliefs and truths, when raising children. Don’t confuse an incomplete theory of one hypothesis as evidence for another. Avoid discounting a hypothesis due to your own inability to understand it. Avoid falling prey to Pascal’s wager. Encourage individual thought, and reason.
  • Don’t worry — As I get older, I see that my experience is the same as many others: Very few things (if any) I’ve worried about ever became reality. Clearly, we should worry less, but it seems evolution has determined that our survival is better served by overestimating risks.
  • Be present — The essence of “mindfulness” is “awareness”, i.e. being mentally present in the moment, rather than in the future or the past, and aware of the separation of consciousness from thoughts. The practice of mindfulness, though meditation, helps one to maintain tranquility.
  • Stoicism — Stoicism, the objective of which is tranquility, is a useful branch of philosophy because of its practical applicability.
  • Circle of control — A useful recommendations of Stoicism is to continually remind oneself to distinguish between those things we can control, and those which we can’t.
  • Consistency — Small, consistent daily efforts are the reliable path to long-term success.
  • Rule-based living — Long-term objectives are more achievable when your daily decisions are driven by rules, than if they are made based on in-the-moment evaluation. (“I’m going to run today because it’s what I do.” vs “I don’t feel like running today, and it’s no big deal if I skip it.”)
  • Religion — Among many other reasons, I do not understand how anyone who studies quantum physics, which is the area of knowledge we most consider “truth” and in which phenomena happen that are completely foreign to our human experience (like “something coming from nothing”), can have religious beliefs.

Less certain:

  • Diet — Reading “Good Calories / Bad Calories”, understanding the science and mechanism of fat accumulation, the myth of “calories-in/calories-out”, learning about the body’s problems with gluten, seeing the convincing relationship between sugar and cancer, and reflecting on all this in the context of evolution, everything fits, the question of nutrition seems simple.

Wisdom from others:

Questions or comments? — Feel free to email me using the contact form below, or reach out on Twitter.