Ideas That Changed My Life

Morgan Housel posted an article titled “Ideas that Changed My Life”.  See



I really like the idea that there are these great ideas that change your life.  I decided to sit down and try to write up my own list of the ideas that influenced me.  Here is my first draft (ordered from most influential to least):


1) Practice makes you better.

2) You can make decisions that affect the rest of your life.

3) Programming (the idea that many procedures can be broken down into precisely defined steps which can be done by a computer.)

4) People are mostly kind.  women are somewhat more likely to be kind than men.

5) Your conscious mind can make changes to your brain and your body.  You can exercise.  You can teach yourself like or dislike things more.  You can change your habits.

6) You can learn skills from a book or other written materials.

7) The idea and laws of probability (including Baysian)

8) The ability to estimate (Fermi Questions).

9) Information Theory and  Kolmogorov Complexity (Algorithmic Complexity)

10) Polynomial and Exponential Growth  (related to Black Swans)

11) You can use algebra to solve for one variable given a few equations

12) Calculus (Esp Fundamental Theorem of Calculus)

13) Object oriented Programming (Inheritance, Polymorphism)  

14) Mathematical proof – the idea that you can take a bunch of axioms and use logic to reach many amazing and useful conclusions.  Furthermore, you can have a high degree of certainty that the result (theorem) is true especially if it is verified by another mathematician or a computer.

15) Game Theory (The Nash Equilibrium often exists and it (or they) can often be found.)

16) Energy and Momentum are both conserved.  That fact arises from the symmetries of the universe (invariance under translation by space time, and rotation (see Emmy Noether)).

17) Optimization ( many problems have an optimal solution and often calculus or math can be used to find it.)

18) You can guess many of the formulas of physics

19) Thermodynamics (Laws of Thermodynamics)

20) Recursion

21) Extending the idea of the Pythagorean theorem   (Application of Hilbert Spaces)

22) Category Theory

23) Declarative Programming