Girish Joshi


Charlie Munger’s Operating System

While reading The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, I came across an article by Farnan Street on Charlie Munger. In Charlie’s words, the article describes How to Live a Life That Really Works — Charlie Munger’s Operation System. Here are some of my key takeaways:

  • To get what you want, deserve what you want. Trust, success, and admiration are earned.
  • You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.
  • Learn to love and admire the right people, alive or dead.
  • Without lifelong learning, you are not going to do very well. You can only progress when you learn the method of learning.
  • Attain fluency on the big multidisciplinary ideas of the world and use them regularly.
  • Problems are frequently easier to solve if we turn them around in reverse. Learn to think through problems backwards.
  • Avoid sloth and unreliability. Be reliable. Unreliability can cancel out the other virtues.
  • Avoid intense ideologies. Always consider the other side as carefully as your own.
  • Get rid of self-serving biases, envy, resentment, and self-pity. Self-pity is close to paranoia, and paranoia is very hard to reverse. When you tell the stories of your self-pity, tell yourself: “Your story has touched my heart, never have I ever heard of anyone with as many misfortunes as you.”
  • Allow for self-serving biases in others who haven’t removed them. If you really want to persuade, then appeal to the interest not to reason.
  • Avoid being part of the systems that preserve incentives.
  • Work with and under people you admire, and avoid the inverse.
  • Learn to maintain your objectivity, especially when it’s hard. Checklist routines avoid a lot of errors.
  • Concentrate experience and power in the hands of the right people — the wise learning machines.
  • You’ll be most successful where you’re most intensely interested.
  • Learn the all-important concept of assiduity: Sit down and do it until it’s done.
  • Every mischance in life is an opportunity to behave well, every mischance in life is an opportunity to learn something new, and it’s your duty to not get submerged in self-pity but to utilize this terrible blow in a constructive fashion.
  • In your own life what you want is a seamless web of deserved trust. And if your proposed marriage contract has 47 pages, my suggestion is do not enter. The highest reach of civilization is a seamless system of trust among all parties conc

What kind of baby are you?

Imagine three babies in a room with their mothers around. They look happy, smiling even, like babies do when you leave them in the company of their favourite toys, their nappies dry, their stomaches fed, and their mothers around. On the surface, other than the level of their cuteness, there isn’t much difference between these three babies. They are oblivion to adulthood and sufferings of life. But these three babies are not the same. They are different in the way they are attached to their mothers.

When the mother of the first baby leaves the room the baby starts to cry, howling even, like babies do when you leave them alone feeling insecure. To a baby, the world revolves around her mother, and as long as she’s around the baby can be sure no one can do no harm to her. Much like how we feel around our romantic partners when we are deeply in love. When the mother of the first baby returns, the baby is still crying. She holds her in her arms, trying to pacify her by singing a lullaby, but the baby is still crying as if the baby is punishing the mother for leaving her behind. This type of attachment of the baby to her mother is called anxious attachment.

When the mother of the second baby leaves the room this baby too like the first one begins to cry like babies are supposed to. Having his favourite toys, his dry nappy, his full stomach means nothing to him if his mother is not around. When the mother of the second baby return, the baby on seeing her stops crying. He’s happy to have her back, she looks at her and smiles and he looks at her and chuckles like he’s telling her: mother, would you please take me with you when you go away from me next time? She holds him in her arms, and he plunges his head on her shoulder and closes his eyes. This type of attachment of the baby to his mother is called secure attachment.

When the mother of the third baby leaves the room the baby cannot care any less. He seems undisturbed by the fact that his universe has left him behind for the loo. He’s busy with his toys and as long as his nappy’s dry and his stomach’s full he doesn’t really need the life-giver. On the surface, he looks fine, but if you put instruments to measure his heart rate, you’ll find it elevated. He’s just trying to protect himself from the hurt. Like some of us do with our lovers, when they leave we learn to be cold. When the mother return, he doesn’t even look at her, he’s still busy in his own world. When the mother takes her in her arms, he smiles, his eyes telling nothing about the last five minutes when she wasn’t around to watch over her but the mother can feel his heartrate. He’s calm. This type of attachment of the baby to his mother is called avoidant attachment.

So, what kind of baby are you?

What I found after meditating for 45 days?

I have been meditating from last 45 days and here are a few things I’ve learned about the mind:

1. It is extremely difficult to be in solitude doing nothing, thinking nothing. Human mind invents ways to keep itself busy: daydreaming, scrolling the newsfeed, reading a book, talking to friends, working on a thesis, building a business or any other activity that we do we are always inventing ways to avoid ourselves. This is probably the reason we have achieved so much as a species because we are always doing something.

2. When I try to focus and not think anything particular I end up thinking about my insecurities. When I let my mind free and let it do what it wants to do, it does nothing and stares at me the abyss.

3. You cannot stop thoughts no matter how hard you try. It’s like putting a dam on a flowing river or holding your breath, in the end, it will burst. What you can rather do is observe your thoughts as they come and go. Don’t chase your thoughts, let them come and let them go. Make a note of how you does that make you feel.

4. Do not chase your thoughts or indulge in thought-trains. Imagine you are on a highway and you see cars blazing by provoking you. You can choose to run behind those cars, trying to get hold of the situation, dwelling too deep. Or. You can just decide to sit on a cornerstone with both your hands holding up your face and observe how those cars come and go.

5. As a part of the exercise, I was asked to make a mental note whenever I was about to sit down or stand up just before I was going to do that. If I could do that two-three times a day I would have been successful. I could do that exactly zero times in the last 45 days. Sounds so simple, yet so tough to be mindful.

Note: I have taken a break lately. I want to start meditating again. It’s an amazing tool for self-reflection. I’m using the Headspace app.

Outside the Window

While I was always looking outside the window for the rainbows when it rained, all the colours were right there within me.

I thought I’d be the happiest man once I’ll have that job, car or girlfriend. It’s not that our thoughts are delusional but rather we are conditioned to be delusional when we are taught to pursue happiness. As if one can, as if one has to be entitled to be happy, as if one has to deserve to be happy.

Televisions are busy selling us happiness. Friends keep telling where to find it. Society defines what happiness is. From the day we born we are asked to pursue it relentlessly. We believe that someday we will be happy and for that day we must make sacrifices today. We let our hearts ache and we leave our mind on wars that were never meant to be fought in the first place. Even if we end up achieving the goals that society has set for us. Even after getting what we were pursuing. When the burst of dopamine subsides we realize that happiness is still far away. While in reality, it was always around in form of companionship, in form of joyful work, in forms that we wish it to be. Happiness is always around and it is always a choice that we can make to ourselves. Happiness was never meant to be pursued. It was meant to be ensued.

Probably that’s why I didn’t feel happy when I got the job or when I bought a brand new car. While I was always looking outside the window for the rainbows when it rained, all the colours were right there within me. It was already past midnight but I was still awake. Unusual for someone like me, even though my eyes were burning my hands wanted to write what I wanted to say.

Happiness is a choice.

You can choose to be happy.

Happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue.

I will not let anyone or anything take away my happiness from me. It’s my decision and I shall guard it against my life. 

I will not look for it outside the window. 

Honestly, at the end of the day all that matters is that are you happy?

Are you happy?

The Discovery of India

She is a heterogeneous and anisotropic reservoir. Fractured and faulted whose pores are saturated with multiple phases. All the odds have always stacked against her. Even her cohesion has long remained a question yet she never has perished. She is a complex process, not a supercomputer can simulate. A book that is unputdownable. A story that has been told, retold and untold by different narrators time after time. She is unprecedented in her approach and way of life. She isn’t about sharing the common history and the common geography. She is a concoction. She is a conundrum. She is a concept. She is India. Not a country she is for the forces that make a country has remained far away from her. Her nature is not permeable to conventional ideas; man she is difficult to handle and difficult to understand.

Therefore in schools I believe, they should teach a subject called India. India is not a country but a concept. Concept weaved by the great men and women who took birth on her soil, who toiled her soil, and for whom she bored all her fruits. The thing about concepts is that they need to be beautifully explained, otherwise they lead to confusion. And history has taught us well what a bunch of confused people can do. Without a doubt, the standard textbook for this subject should be The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru. His articulation of the concept India is should be read by every Indian. Not only has he articulated it well but also he has envisioned it.

A subtle twist in the history, a butterfly flapping her wings somewhere, would have changed the entire course. An evil thought in the minds of her leaders would have resulted in catastrophe. The gift we have today of distinct unity and diversity would have been snatched away and India would have turned into a country and her concept would have been forgotten.

Indian freedom struggle was a gift for the future. It wasn’t only about getting rid of the imperial rule, rather it was a quest for the meaning India would possess. It was about understanding this woman and learning to love her despite all her faults and fractures. Despite the fact that she wasn’t exclusive to one phase. Despite the fact that she wasn’t perfect but full of heterogeneity and disharmonies. The freedom struggle was about finding the melodies in her sounds and making peace with her smell.

Happy Independence Day.

Bus Not Taken

I stood there under the sun for the Volvo bus meanwhile nine ordinary buses arrived and departed. I boarded none. Those were nine opportunities for me to reach my destination but I decided to wait for the most comfortable one. And now sitting in the Volvo, flipping the pages of Arvid Adiga’s The White Tiger in my Kindle, I wonder. What if this bus would never have arrived? What matters more to the man? The end or The means? I choose the easiest means because I could. When the world only glorifies the man who reached his end does the mean really matter?

The nine buses that I had not taken didn’t go empty. Many dreamers boarded them with the hope of reaching their end. How am I different from them? We all reached our end only our means were different.

The point I’m trying to make is that often in life we skip opportunities for the right one. The reality is that there are no right opportunities. We keep waiting for that right one while letting all others slide. For some this waiting is worth cherishing and for some, well.

Bus Not Taken in a funny accent.

Savouring Your Coffee: Life Lesson From Drilling Professor

If you like tea, Girish, but l gives you coffee. What do you do?

I don’t know, maybe I’ll just drink coffee then.

No. You don’t just drink coffee. You savour it Girish. Let the caffeine do its magic. You can waste all you time longing for the tea, but that would just make your coffee cold. If you savour your coffee instead, Girish, you’ll be able to feel its texture and enjoy its smoothness. You’ll learn to differentiate between Cappuccino, Latte, and Espresso. You’ll find yourself sitting in Starbucks reading your next favourite novel or sipping coffee in a German Café on the bank of Ganga in Rishikesh. If you just drink coffee Girish then a lot of what this cup of coffee has to offer you will remain disguised.

I looked at my cup of coffee and then looked at him. Life is all about savouring your coffee and forgetting tea, he said.

What Should I Believe?

Next time when someone tells you what a Giraffe sounds like. Don’t trust your friend, visit the zoo. Watch around, learn from others experiences too but not their beliefs.

As a kid I asked my father, why should I not fear ghosts? He said since you have never seen one, there is no reason to fear. They simply don’t exist, and perchance if you find one, tell it about your father. His confidence was enough to shoo away all my fears but there was a subconscious lesson he taught me that day. He taught me to believe only what I can see. When I look back today I think that lesson got sunk somewhere only to rise up again today when I saw the movie, ‘Ankhon Dekhi’.

I’ll be honest, there was a reason that lesson could not float. I believed what made my life easy and simple, and not what I saw and understood. I believed because that gave me an illusion to live with. That I know how things work. That I know that lions roar. That I know how it feels when the cold wind blows on your face. That I know how revolutions end. That I know how miserable life is. That I know there can never be two consecutive nights. That I know everything will work out. That I know there will be another day.

I knew nothing. I believed everything. It wasn’t my truth that I was living with but the truth I was told and I chose to believe. There is a lie in believe, do you know why? Because when you start believing, you stop questioning. When you stop questioning, there are no answers. When there are no answers, there is silence. There is nothing to find, know, and learn. Since you believe in everything; there is nothing to go out and experience. Isn’t such a life only a lie? Aren’t we all living such a life?

I cannot say that for you, because I don’t know you. That would be believing. I want to question. I want to reason. I want to experience it. What happens if we all stop believing?

Next time when someone tells you what a Giraffe sounds like. Don’t trust your friend, visit the zoo. Watch around, learn from others experiences too but not their beliefs. Because belief is a lie we tell ourselves to comfort. Believe what you see and experience for yourself and not others. Let them have their own experiences, their own beliefs, their own truths. Let them find a perfect shoe for themselves and you find one for yourself.

Be ready to be mocked and disdained because they won’t like it when you don’t believe in things as they do. Try being a misfit for a while and believe me (please don’t) they won’t be able to ignore you. After all, hasn’t this world been shaped by non-believers? Gallio never believed the earth was flat. Jobs never believed that computers were only meant for businesses. Elon never believed that humans are only meant to live on earth. What is stopping you from not believing? It’s fear. Fear of not knowing. Fear of being in the dark. Fear to reason everything up from first principles. Give away this fear and stop believing, and start experiencing. There are no ghosts.

Ankhon Dekhi is one such soul-stirring story of a man who decides to believe only what he has seen. Although ridiculed by the family and friends he holds his ground in his pursuit to experience what he hasn’t seen. He finds his own beliefs and steps into his own shoes.  The movie starts with the protagonist narrating about him living his dream. He’s flying. He can feel the wind blowing on his face. He takes us to the flashback to tell his tale. How he gave upon believing what he hasn’t seen. Highly inspirational flick or was it? Because the movie ends with him jumping off from a cliff.

Don’t believe me, just watch the movie.

Living with Eyes Closed

The Beatles fans would know where this is coming from.

Strawberry Fields Forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.

As Lennon would sing, ‘It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out.

I’m just using these lines to set up the premise of what I was wanting to say for a long time. About my thoughts on living with eyes closed, living the life of an ignorant. In a world that is opinionated and dogmatic, living with some open-mindedness.

Recently a railway station was rebaptized in India. My friends started putting forth their opinions. One said it’s for symbolism, symbols are needed for societies to sustain and glorify history. The other one said, but this would only provoke unrest and bring communal disharmony. The debate got furious, accusations and blames were made. They vs Us dynamics was established. Past references were brought up. Religions were pinpointed. Nasty opinions were enforced. Meanwhile, I stood and stared. They asked for my opinion. I kept silent.

Another day while I was scrolling through the Quora feed, I came across a discussion on the increasing population of Muslims in India. I could hear dogma screaming in solidarity. I could sense fear in their tone. When they asked for my opinion. I kept silent and scrolled ahead.

Indian mythology taught me that names are powerful. The name Ram commands respect and honour. If you carve Ram on a stone, it would float. I thought it was a myth, but then I saw governments floating and drowning. I saw leaders spending all their might to build Ram Temple while million of homeless kids were starving while living an illiterate and unhealthy life. No one talked of building hospitals, schools, and kitchens. Elections in my country were never fought on these issues. They asked for my opinion. I kept silent.

Someone was lynched in my country a few years back over some pity and piety issue. A lot of writers came forward and returned their awards in form of protest. Instead of questioning the mob, they questioned writers. There was a debate, and this time I was part of it. In conclusion, I said.

Workers protest by putting their tools down.

Doctors protest by putting their stethoscopes down.

Soldiers protest by putting their arms down.

Mobs protest by putting their peace down.

Writers protest by putting their pens down.

When are we putting our dogmas and opinions down?

There were claps and frowned faces. We could win the debate but not people. I kept silent thereafter. They talked of building temples, infusing hatred, instilling fear, and renaming a railway station. I kept silent.

Humans have this overwhelming habit of believing in something. As a part of our survival instinct that probably comes from evolution. We love creating societies and communities, and they have been instrumental in our growth as a species. We believe in what we see, what we hear, and what we understand.

We see what we are shown by the media.

We hear what we are told by the government.

We understand what is simple as religion.

Religion is simple because it preaches the concept of good and evil. Religion reconciles our notion of They vs Us. Us are elites, righteous, and good. They are evil, demonic, and satan. Us feels united because They exist. If They are not there, there is no Us.

Media constantly tells you about the dangers of They. How They are growing in numbers. How They will take away your freedom. How we must stop They. Making you feel the fear is real, the danger is real, and Us must unite.

Us should unite for what? Why should Us fear? So they vote for the government that promises to protect Us from They. Only this government thinks of Us. Only this government can save Us.

This is the narrative that we are told.

I was watching a stand-up comedy show and the comedian asked, ‘If there wouldn’t have been Pakistan, would you still feel patriotic?’.

Interesting question. I asked myself when do I feel most patriotic?

War Time.

When do you feel most religious?

War Time. Bonds grow stronger when you are told that there is a devious enemy out there to ruin you. They are growing in number. They’ll take your country from you. Religions grow and prosper on They vs Us. TRPs rise on They vs Us. Governments are formed on They vs Us.

When I say living with eyes closed. I don’t ask you to be blind, hold your vision and see beyond. All I’m saying is not to accept what you are told. Don’t believe what you see and what you hear. Things going around are a part of a narrative being told. Every time you indulge in the arguments, the narrator gets strong. Every time you fight back, the narrator gets strong. Do you know what storytellers crave for most? Attention. Don’t give it to them. Be ignorant. Live with eyes closed. You’ll see all the misunderstanding that’s going around.

Throw away the concept of They vs Us. It’s hard not being someone, but it will all work out. It has to work out. With too much narration going around, it’s time to live with eyes closed.

Do you know what happens when you ignore a pompous kid crying over a stupid demand?

He stops crying.


Understanding Corruption by First Principles

A lot has been said on corruption, a staggering number of articles, case studies, opinions flooding the internet, endless hours of debate, deliberation, discussions on influencing forums, and yet no redemption. Today is another ordinary day and I’ll try to pen down my thoughts on something that has become absolutely unfashionable now—corruption.

Let’s try to attack the problem with the first principles, instead of ranting on what’s obvious, let’s make an attempt to see under our nose.

How does corruption starts?

Fundamentally. It starts with me. It starts with the notion of mine and not mine. We think what is mine is more important than what is not mine and there is always an urge to acquire what is not mine. We are taught this way and we are fed on this belief as good students, we have all learnt the art of corruption from our families.

Something happens to your child, a minor accident maybe, and you get all emotional. You’d dissipate all your energy to bring your child out of misery. The boy on the other street hasn’t had a decent meal in years and this fact doesn’t move you at all. Why? Why do you prefer your child over that poor boy?

Because that’s my child, you idiot. I know you’ll say that. You are right, but like your politicians, you too are corrupt. It’s just that your sins and their significance won’t bring advertisement revenues.

Corruption starts when we associate, either with ourselves, our families, our communities, our race, our religion, our society, our nation, or our world. Just the level is different, the act is the same. This is the reason corruption is cancerous, not only it is deeply seated but also on multiple levels and it only grows over time.

Communist. When I’m a student. Socialist. When I get employed. Capitalist. When I’m married. Corrupt. When I have a child.

Does power corrupt?

Power is bewitching, hideous, and most importantly expressive. Power can make a benevolent person express his benevolence, an intelligent person express his intelligence, and a corrupt person expresses his corruption. It would be wrong to say power corrupts for it only glorify what we truly are. It’s not power that made your politician, policeman, or passport officer corrupt. It only gave expression to who they truly were as individuals. Power sure does become instrumental for their actions but it would be wrong to blame the gun for the murder.

What is the solution?

There is none. There is no utopia. As long as our acts of kindness will include some and exclude others, as long as we divide on them and us, as long as we’ll fight for mine and not mine. As long as we’ll love some more than others, we’ll remain corrupt. These things will not change. Men will be men and humans will be humans.

No. But can my nation improve on corruption ranking?

Again. See my nation. I said we won’t change.

We’ll obviously solution lies in technology. Removing humans where they are not required. Making systems without loopholes. Implanting the fear, better grievance redressal. Better education for students and educators themselves. Transparency.  A lot has been said.