What in my life is opaque?

May 2013

in Clarity, Questions

This is the first post in a series on the idea of clarity and, specifically, what it is, why I want it, and how I’m developing it.

Clarity vs. Opacity

Clarity is awesome and I want more of it.

I use the word clarity in a pretty broad way:

Clarity is coherence; intelligibility; sharpness; ease of seeing, hearing, knowing; transparency.

Having clarity about your physical fitness would mean knowing exactly how fit you are, what is improving your fitness or not, your standing and active heart rates, etc.

Why want clarity?

Well… because it’s pretty obviously badass.

I want clarity in every part of my life. I want to know what makes me happy (and do more of those things), how my body language affects my social interactions (and make sure it’s positive), how my mindset affects my life (and how to change it), how to make and save money (and how to best spend it), why certain situations annoy me (and how to avoid them), what causes me stress (and how to deal with it), where anger comes from, how to make good decisions, what my priorities are, etc. etc.

Why? Because it’s interesting, but also because it’s useful: you can’t make things better without knowing how they are in the present.

I wanna know this stuff, both intrinsically (for its own sake) and extrinsically (because it’s useful to achieving the other things I want and living a generally better life).

(If you don’t share this desire, you probably won’t enjoy the rest of this post, or this series.)

Clarity isn’t knowing everything. A big part of clarity is being aware of what you don’t know (which is a lot of stuff). It’s about having a very grounded awareness of the way things are: what exists in your life, what’s around you, what’s going on in your brain and other brains. I don’t just want the comfort that comes from thinking I know all these things, I want real, useful, practical accuracy.

Opacity is the polar opposite of clarity:

Opacity is cloudiness; blurriness; haziness; a lack of transparency; obscurity in meaning; dullness; unintelligibility; incomprehensibility; abstruseness.

You get the idea. Opacity sucks. I want as much clarity in my life as possible.

So, what in my life is opaque?

I figure this questions is a good starting point for this entire project, because it will help give some direction and organization to my future posts.

Here are a bunch of examples of the things in my life that are opaque—or at the very least less clear than I would like them to be:

Physical (External)

  • What do I own, and why do I own it?
  • Do any of my possessions hold me down? What can I get rid of?
  • What things should I buy to make my life better?
  • How mobile am I? How mobile do I want to be?
  • How much money am I making?
  • What is my minimum acceptable income?
  • What is the current state of my finances?
  • Where am I spending my money?
  • When should I be trading time for money, and vice versa?

Physical (Internal)

  • How healthy am I?
  • Which things drain my energy the most?
  • What is my peak physical performance?
  • What is my standing heart rate?
  • What is the quality of my sleep?


  • How skilled am I at extroversion?
  • What do other people think of me?
  • What body language do I use?
  • How does my clothing/style affect my social interactions?
  • How do social interactions affect my energy levels?
  • Do I communicate well?
  • Do I correctly interpret others’ physical and non-physical communication?
  • What relationships do I currently have?
  • How good are they? Are they worthwhile? How can I make them better?


  • What in my life is opaque?
  • What do I actually value?
  • What do I give a crap about?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What are my core values?
  • What are my favorite memories?
  • Where am I likely to confuse the map and the territory?
  • What should I be working on right now?
  • What am I avoiding?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do I overly dwell on the past?
  • Have I given up hope for a better yesterday?
  • What makes me angry?
  • What causes me stress?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What motivates me?
  • What excites me?
  • What inspires me?
  • Am I distinguishing importance vs. urgency?
  • How much productive time do I have in a day?
  • What drains my mental energy quickest?
  • What’s my low-hanging self-improvement fruit?
  • Am I focusing on limitations instead of opportunities?
  • Do I notice cognitive dissonance as it occurs?
  • How often am I overconfident?
  • How well-calibrated is my uncertainty?
  • What is my default mindset?
  • Am I taking responsibility?
  • How should I make decisions when there is a lot of uncertainty?
  • Am I asking valuable questions?
  • Do I seek true beliefs or merely reassurance?
  • Do I make effective plans?
  • Am I strategic?
  • Am I treating all failures as feedback?
  • Am I sweating the small stuff?

This is a very rough list; merely a starting point. As time goes on I plan to systematically answer as many clarity-related questions as I can. I’ll be starting with some of the easier low-hanging fruit, and the things that I’ve already made some progress on, before delving into the more challenging opacities.

Summary: I want clarity in my life, because it’s awesome. This list is a first-pass brain-dump of questions to answer in the pursuit of clarity.