On Compounding

The powerful effects of compounding on life, beyond just money

In his Almanack, Naval Ravikant speaks of how “all returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”

I’ve been able to notice the benefits of compounding in many ways throughout the year. Curiously, money was not the primary one.

Knowledge compounds at an impressive rate. After a few days or weeks of studying and researching a topic like crypto, things seem to make less sense than they originally did. But, after a few months or years, you begin to connect the dots much quicker than you were previously capable of.

This becomes most apparent when I speak to different people about a topic I’ve learned a lot about. Explaining things to people that are relatively ignorant of that particular subject is always a great test. If, for example, I explain something technical to someone much older, wiser, and experienced, I notice they catch up relatively much faster than I imagined and also make their own dot connections.

Relationships compound much slower. For me, it takes years to really trust someone and understand how a person truly thinks or feels. Beyond time, though, several elements can help accelerate this, like shared cultural and socio-economic backgrounds or overlapping interests.

Once relationships have compounded, however, you begin to surround yourself with long-term people. It’s almost like you grow new limbs. People become an extension of you, and you of them. It’s extremely powerful.

Exercise compounds very quickly. Every year, I spend 4 weeks in the summer with my grandparents in Istanbul. I swim, run, cycle, and play tennis for up to 5 hours a day. In 2017, I also spent 4 weeks learning Muay Thai in Thailand and training for up to 5 hours a day. Both experiences were in high heat and high humidity, and I only ate healthy, home-cooked, and locally sourced food.

After 4 weeks, my recovery period in the gym declines from 60 seconds to 30 seconds. Supersets begin to feel like regular sets. Better core and cardio strength also begin to reflect in other areas of my life – I’m calmer, I sleep better, I’m more disciplined, and I find it easier to learn new sports or movements.

Meditation. I’ve been pretty irregular at meditating since 2017, and it’s difficult to experience the benefits of compounding without keeping a daily habit of meditating.

I’m currently on a 26-day streak of meditating for 10 minutes each morning. I’ve begun to retain a certain equanimity and detach from my emotions and look at them objectively. Experiencing this makes me want to push this habit much further. I want to explore meditation retreats, extend my daily sessions, and meditate twice per day.

Money does compound, but I believe most people have an inverse relationship with money. Personally, I try to view money as a tool or a language rather than something to strive for or as a measure of success.

I believe that if you seek knowledge, cultivate long-term relationships, and consistently love and maintain a healthy body and mind, you will be happy. If you happen to acquire knowledge and use it in an area where the market values it, money will also follow.

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