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I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. For my best articles & book updates, go here: https://niklasgoeke.com/

The world does not rest on your shoulders

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You know the Atlas statue? The one in front of Rockefeller Center in NYC? It’s magnificent. Cast in bronze, Atlas stands strong. Knees bent under pressure, arms spread wide, he carries the entire world on his shoulders.

The story of Atlas goes back to Greek mythology. Fun fact: He’s not actually holding the earth. He’s holding the sky, or what the Greeks called “the celestial sphere” — an orb made of a 5th element (quintessence), contained in which are all the stars.

So why does Atlas have to hold up the heavens? Well, he was on the wrong side of…


Especially when they’re not things but people

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If you haven’t heard, femininity is toxic. Masculinity is too. So are feminism, individualism, and positivity. Spirituality is toxic, as is your family, and many other things that end on y. Diet culture, the friend zone, even digital design — life is one giant nest of snakes.

Your boyfriend is probably toxic. Or girlfriend. Your friends surely are. And your boss? Definitely. Even your UX manager might be toxic. Didn’t see that coming, did ya? Your coworkers, on the other hand…that’s obvious.

Your habits are toxic, and so is your ego. Throw in your personality for good measure. Don’t get…


10 common flaws in bestsellers — and 3 reasons to read them anyway

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When I first discovered non-fiction books, I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. Whatever problem you could possibly have, there’s a book out there to help you solve it. I had a lot of challenges at the time, and so I started devouring lots of books.

I read books about money, productivity, and choosing a career. I read books about marketing, creativity, and entrepreneurship. I read and read and read, and, eventually, I realized I had forgotten to implement all the advice! …


We need open minds more than ever, right when we’re least likely to have them

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I. Pagliacci

In the movie Watchmen, the character Rorschach tells the following story:

Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”

The uncertainty the poor clown feels closing in around himself is a major theme of the movie — an exploration of existential dread and how to…


Nothingness is not empty — it’s essential

Photo by ÉMILE SÉGUIN 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

Living is exhaling.

You wake up, jump out, and make your bed. You brush teeth, get dressed, and race to the breakfast table. Phew!

You work. You type. You work harder. You type faster. Pheeew.

You buy groceries. You sort your bills. You tuck your kid in. Pheeeeeeeew.

You watch Netflix. You doomscroll. You listen to a friend yap for hours. Phew, phew, pheeeeeeeeeeeew.

By the time your head hits the pillow, you are exhausted. You’re wheezing.

What happened? Simple: You forgot to inhale. That’s also living.

Matthew Inman says creativity is like breathing: “When you make stuff, you’re exhaling…


Start with the story, then let your actions follow

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Why is America “The Greatest Country in the World™?”

Unlike Italy (Caesar), Greece (Alexander the Great), and Mongolia (Genghis Khan), America never ruled half the known world. In fact, America is only 200 years old. It’s one of the youngest countries of all.

So why do they get that slogan? America gets that slogan because for all 200 of those years, they’ve been yelling it at the top of their lungs. When the founding fathers put their signatures on that document, they said: “This is what makes a country great.”

Ever since, America at large has been saying, “Look! This…


You just don’t know who or how

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If his mom hadn’t called him about the suicide book he’d ordered from the library, Tim Ferriss might not be here today. Thankfully, most of us will never need such a chance encounter or staged intervention. Why is that?

Why don’t we all require literal life-saving, given we all fight the same existential battles? I have a theory: You’re already being saved. It just happens differently than you imagine, and you don’t realize it does.

Every day, tiny parachutes protect you from falling. You don’t know who made them. You don’t see them on your back. …


Every now and then, take a few minutes to decompress

Photo by Ju Ostroushko on Unsplash

Your mind has many layers. All day, you keep jumping from one to another.

There’s the work layer, which contains your to-do list, your career goals, and a million process workflows.

There’s the organization layer, which reminds you to do grocery shopping and keep your adult life together.

There’s the social layer, which sends a friend’s joke into your ear mid-lunch and prompts you to call your mom.

Each of these layers breaks down into a million smaller sheets, and you’re Tarzan, trampolining from level to level inside the bouncy castle of your mind. That can be exhausting. …


“All that matters is what you choose.”

Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

If you could vanish from society and start a new life, what would you do?

At 83 million viewers in the first month, 6 Underground is Netflix’ 4th most popular release of all time — and it asks us this very question.

Directed by Michael Bay, the movie sees six self-appointed action heroes toppling a cruel dictator in the fictional country of Turgistan. Led by a nameless billionaire, played by Ryan Reynolds, they do so in Bay-typical fashion: with lots of guns, cars, one-liners, and explosions.

Despite its over-the-top action and straightforward plot, there’s a deeper meaning behind the films…

Niklas Göke

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