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An Honest Conversation About Debt in America

"Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced."

After filing for bankruptcy herself, photographer Brittany M. Powell is traveling across America to interview other people struggling with unexpected debt. I love this multifaceted, non-judgmental project (originally on Kickstarter -- now closed after a successful end).

Debt Portrait #28, Detroit, MI 2014 88a282cf5ab0f7c6-DebtRamon-4578 Through the camera, Powell is starting a conversation about debt—something many people experience alone but never talk about because of the shame and stigma that can be attached to it. How does debt effect us and our daily lives? Are people as alone in this struggle as much as they feel?

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What Does It Mean to Be Rich?

When you’re a kid, you don’t have much concept of what true wealth is—so you tend to relate it to experiences, or at least I did. In my case, I understood wealth in the context of fast-food restaurants. I used to eat at my favorite restaurants, McDonald’s and Burger King, as often as I could.

I’m writing from the W Hong Kong, where I just arrived after beginning my latest Round-the-World trip. The W here has one of the best hotel breakfast buffets in all of Asia, which for all practical purposes means all of the world.

My breakfast is comped, thanks to my elite status with Starwood. As best I can tell, it costs approximately 10x what a meal at McDonald’s would. But if it wasn’t comped, I’d gladly pay. It’s so good! And I’m having so much fun waking up early, drinking unlimited macchiatos, and thinking about the world.

The lesson? Well, I’m jet-lagged, so you might have to wade through the muddle. But aside from not eating fast food, I think the lesson is to figure out what makes you feel rich—and it’s best if such a thing is somewhat obtainable.

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Annual Review 2014: A Big Batch of Reader Reports Is In!

Hey everyone! Thanks as always to all who read the blog and all who participate in some fashion. The December 2014 Annual Review was a long one. I spent 6,000+ words compiling a ton of lessons from the year, as well as plans for 2015. You can catch up on some of the posts here:…

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Writing With Adderall: A Personal Case Study

Short version: I recently started taking the prescription drug Adderall (the brand name for amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) to help with an increasing inability to focus. Overall, it’s been working great, and here’s the whole story of my experience. If you’re in a similar situation, this might help you, but don’t skip the details and disclaimers.…

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A Man Saw a Ball of Gold In the Sky

A man saw a ball of gold in the sky; He climbed for it, And eventually he achieved it — It was clay. Now this is the strange part: When the man went to the earth And looked again, Lo, there was the ball of gold. Now this is the strange part: It was a…

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Arbitrary Numbers, Part II

After publishing yesterday’s post, I realized I also wrote about arbitrary goals in The Happiness of Pursuit. Here’s the story: I use an app on my phone to track my running, especially the longer runs that I do most Sunday mornings. On a recent eight-mile run, I noticed that my pace was consistently around 8:34…

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Blogging for an Audience of One

This summer we encountered some delays in building the blog’s redesigned pages. Basically, we got behind. It was stressful but then it was okay, as it usually is. The most important thing is having a great product in the end. During the delay, I spent some time working away on stuff that no one would…

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Nostalgia for the Opposite

Jez Butterworth on writing a play about navigating the zero-sum world of opposing choices: He described it as a kind of psychological holding place as ‘nostalgia for the opposite.’ Holding two options in one’s mind simultaneously enables an emotional state—of freedom or evasiveness, depending on one’s view—in which Butterworth’s characters tend to reside. ‘The idea…

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Units of Momentary Happiness

“Everything we need to be happy is easy to obtain.” -Epicurus I’ve long advocated that happiness is not entirely related to a feeling of a precise moment. Instead, it’s more closely related to the overall life we live, as well as the life we hope to have in the future. If you quit smoking, you…

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