About Refilling the Cup
The secret to living well is in books and all around us
In my life, every time I’ve had a new skill to learn I’ve turned to books and articles and courses. I’ve done it in my career, in my art, and as a parent. It makes sense. When we don’t know how to do something, we educate ourselves. We don’t just blindly start trying things, hoping we’ll figure it out. Sure, you might eventually figure it out. Or you might not. But the point is, if the resources were all around you, why wouldn’t you use them?
But, for some reason, when it comes to the most fundamental of skills — living — most of us assume we can just figure it out. We go through life, either going through the motions, or perhaps even more dangerously, we adopt a certain set of rules and guidelines that are handed to us, and then we never question them again.
My goal with this series is to apply the same kind of rigour that we apply when learning other skills to learning how to live.
Refilling the Cup will focus on sharing practical lessons on how to live a better life that come from philosophy, history, science, literature and more.
About the name
There’s a Zen parable about a “learned man,” who meets a Zen master. Every time the master starts to speak, the man cuts him off and tells him about his own experiences and opinions instead. As the man is droning on, the Zen master starts to refill his tea cup. However, even as the cup is filled, the master continues pouring until tea is spilling all over the table. The following exchange goes something like this:
“Umm… Mr. Zen Master, Sir, the cup is full. You’re spilling tea all over the table,” says the know-it-all.
“You are like this cup,” says the master. “How can you hope to accept new knowledge when your cup is already full?”
The man in this story is me. And if we’re honest, it’s probably most of us. We get to a stage where we get so caught up in what we believe we already know that we become closed to new lessons. When we approach life like an empty cup, it’s incredible how much more we realize that there is to learn.
So, the goal of this newsletter is to refill the cup, even though we know that the cup will never actually be full.
First and foremost, I’m a family man. I’m also the CMO of LANDR Audio. Prior to that, I was a Marketing Director at Airbnb. My other job titles have included: Director of Product, Counsel of International Affairs, and Bartender, to name just a few.
I’ve always thought a lot about what it means to lead a good life. But I started searching for answers in earnest at the beginning of a difficult period in my life that began with the death of my father, and led to severe bouts of self-doubt, depression, and anger.
I am not an expert at living a better life. You should NOT listen to anything I have to say on this topic. In fact, this newsletter exists because I’ve been so wrong about so many things.
Instead, this newsletter is basically a weekly digest of lessons from smarter people in the areas of philosophy, science, history and more.
If you want the long(er) version of my bio, I invite you to check out https://www.adamdistefano.com/
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