10 Thinking Hacks I Learned in 2022

Sharing out the best meta-thinking tools I’ve learned this past year.

Robert M. Vunabandi
8 min readJan 15, 2023

If you’re anything like me, you think A LOT. Maybe too much. I overanalyze everything, and what comes with overanalyzing everything is being slow and frozen a lot of the time. However, over the years I’ve started collecting these “thinking hacks”—primarily from books and personal experience—that help me make decisions and think faster.

In 2021, I wrote a blog about this titled “Thinking Frameworks | 2021”, and this is 2022’s version. These hacks are ordered inverse chronologically based on when I learned them. So, let’s begin.

Photo by Chris Linnett on Unsplash

2022 Hacks

1. Wisdom Comes From Experience

Though this is obvious, it is the implications that matters. More specifically, teaching wisdom to someone is extremely hard, so you might as well not try and instead acquire wisdom through experience. I learned this from reading The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt and wrote about it here.

How this helps me: When I’m thinking about whether something is worth it and especially when it comes to things I’ve never done, it helps to realize that the only way I’m going to learn something from them is by doing them. In other words, this hack is one that makes me more inclined to doing new things and saying yes to new experiences.

2. I Am Wrong

I learned this from reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Closely related to the lesson about wisdom, Mark argues that everyone is wrong but that by pushing yourself and seeking the truth, you can become less wrong. However, you can never be right, so there’s always ways to go to get to a truer version of reality.

How this helps me: It is humbling to know that I’m wrong. This tells me that whenever I think I’m right—especially when it comes to having an argument, I’m wrong and therefore should be more open minded. That way, I can learn and become less wrong. The net effect is that a bit less attached to what I think or believe and open to differing ideas.

3. Don’t Overcorrect

In a video titled “It's Not Working Because You're OVER-CORRECTING”, former Navy SEAL and author of Extreme Ownership Jocko Willink argues that “being balanced is usually the best way to handle things”. In the video, Jocko explains how sometimes when people receive feedback, they overcorrect, and he gave an example that has happened in the Navy saying, “[sometimes you tell a new recruit], ‘Hey, you need to check yourself’, then they don’t move” (in Jocko’s military-like voice). Instead, Jocko is saying that it’s better to not overcorrect so much and instead, move just a little bit towards the feedback you just have received.

How this helps me: I can think of two classic scenarios that have happened in my life where I’ve failed to follow this principle: (1) getting feedback from my manager at work and (2) how I’d react in a relationship if I ever get critiqued. Instead of overreacting and overcorrecting, I should check myself, listen to the truth in the feedback that I’m getting, and move just enough in the direction of the feedback. In addition, if I am in an argument, the way I should respond to a new point is to ask myself, “what part of this idea do I agree on,” and in this way, I can be more balanced.

4. Differences Are Natural and Expected

This is something I just realized, though I can’t remember exactly what triggered it. Essentially, everyone grows up differently and therefore, you can expect that no one shares the same experiences as you.

How this helps me: I wrote a blog about this drawing the conclusion that I should disagree more. The idea is that knowing that I’m different from other people, there’s no reason why I should expect to agree on everything with everyone. This makes me feel at peace with being disagreeable—not because I want to be disagreeable but because it’s normal to disagree.

5. When It Comes to Passion vs. Purpose, Choose Purpose

I’ve never though about the difference between passion and purpose before, but Ego is the Enemy, a book by Ryan Holiday, taught me the difference, how to recognize it, and why purpose is the better way. The book says, “Passion is about. (I am so passionate about _____.) Purpose is to and for. (I must do _____. I was put here to accomplish _____. I am willing to endure _____ for the sake of this.) Actually, purpose deemphasizes the I. Purpose is about pursuing something outside yourself as opposed to pleasuring yourself.”

How this helps me: This helps me realize that having a passion comes with ego, and ego driven decisions and actions are often—as I learned in this book—not worthwhile. This also helps me reframe my thinking around what I want to do with my life. I ask myself, is this about me or is this for something greater?

6. What Bothers Me Says Something About Me and What I Want

I found this idea in Robert Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature. The idea behind this is simple: if something is bothering you, it might be because it’s touching an area of your psyche or sense of self. It could be an insecurity or something you desire.

How this helps me: Armed with this new perspective on things that bother me, I feel more compelled to ask deeper questions about what bothers me. This thinking hack is not about the everyday nuisances and more about subtleties and people. Example: at the gym I work out at, there’s this guy that acts really weird—he basically dances in a freaky way before every set of exercises that he does, and I remember being annoyed at that. Upon reflecting, however, I realized that the reason this bothered me was not because he was “weird” but more so because I was jealous of him—jealous because this guy does not care what people think of him when he dances in the gym in this unconventional way whereas I still think a lot about what those around me are thinking. This helped me realize that what I really want is to also not care, and as a result I no longer find him weird.

7. Others Are More Interesting Than Me

This is another idea from Robert Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature. The premise behind this idea is to stop spending so much time thinking about oneself and instead think about others. Robert recommends thinking of people as whole islands to explore because there’s so much to a person.

How this helps me: Sometimes, I get lost in what I’m doing in the day, and because of that I don’t take the time to appreciate the connection and conversations I have with those around me. Reminding myself that others are more interesting than me helps me get out of my head and develop an attitude of curiosity towards others.

8. Factify People

One last hack from Robert Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature (if this isn’t recommendation enough to read this book, I don’t know what is). Robert writes, “First you must try to get rid of the natural tendency to take what people do and say as something personally directed at you, particularly if what they say or do is unpleasant. … See people as facts of nature. They come in all varieties, like flowers or rocks.” This hack is given in the chapter titled “Change Your Circumstances by Changing Your Attitude”, and in thinking of people as facts, you are changing your attitude towards something more productive (or something that at least helps you see things from a different lens).

How this helps me: I use this in various kinds of scenarios. It could be when I’m being self-conscious, or it could be when someone does something particularly annoying (e.g., there was a guy that spilled soup on a shirt I was wearing). I also sometimes use it as a way to try to understand people. Overall, by treating people as “facts”, I get less emotional and turn that negative energy inward towards what I can do to improve my own circumstances (or solve whatever situation is bothering me). When I see people as fact, I think, “this is just how this person is, so how should I respond knowing that?” It helps me take accountability and responsibility.

9. Filtering

Filtering is something I discovered while having a discussion with some of my friends. Filtering is an idea under the framework of working smarter, not necessarily harder, and it goes like this: if you want something, instead of brute-forcing your way into getting it, you should try to filter for things that brings you closer to that thing.

How this helps me: The easiest way to see this is in the context of dating. If I wanted to be with someone with a particular quality (e.g., someone that works out because I also work out), then I shouldn’t go out in the wild looking for that person with no plan. I should ask myself, “where can I find this person?” and “where can this person find me if they’re looking for someone like me?”, and then go there. There are many other scenarios besides dating where to apply this hack. Another instance is, say, to start a business. If one can get access to a business owner (someone who has done it), they are much better off learning from them instead of trying everything from scratch without help—i.e., finding a mentor in what you are trying to achieve.

10. Ladder Thinking

Finally, ladder thinking. I discovered this hack on my own through life experiences. It happened in the context of relationships of all kinds—friendships, coworkers, and even dating. Ladder thinking is the idea of taking baby steps, similar to how you go up stairs. In addition, it’s the idea of getting feedback after each steps you take on the ladder. You should continue to move up only when you’ve received the right feedback from the step you’ve taken. Ideally, someone reciprocates the step you’ve taken. However, I do think that this is a highly contextual rule and should not just be followed all the time.

How this helps me: I’ve gotten much better about this, but I used to want to move fast in many of my relationships with people. I have a bad habit of getting too zoned in on the current moment and not thinking about the bigger picture. I see relationships as something (1) that evolves over time and that (2) requires both parties to contribute to a somewhat equal degree in a non-toxic way. How ladder thinking helps me is first to see the bigger picture (the entirety of the ladder). Then, it helps me take small steps in the relationships (it could be inviting a friend for lunch or catch up), and finally to seeing how they reciprocate. Just to be clear, it’s not about keeping count to make sure the relationship is equal, it’s more about noting whether someone appreciates the efforts you make into spending time with them and whether they want to do the same. With this way of thinking, you can safely go up the ladder, you know not to take too many steps on the ladder at once, and you know when to stop climbing (or perhaps even climb down).


As I said, I spend a lot of time thinking, so it helps me tremendously to have these hacks. I need ways to cut through the fog of my thoughts because they’re all over the place sometimes. With these hacks, I find that I can think more easily and more efficiently. Each hack applies to different scenarios, and it helps to have all of them in my tool belt so that I can use them whenever needed. With that said, I hope you can take away some of these too and that they are helpful to you.



Robert M. Vunabandi

Learning through life experiences and books, I share my ever-evolving understanding of the world and the niche-sphere of life that I live in.