How Can We Become Lucky?

What I’ve Learned from Reading Antifragile

Simon Li
4 min readOct 5, 2023

If something is antifragile, not only does it not break in the face of chaos, stress, shock or volatility, but also overcompensates and gain from them. The book Antifragile by Nassim Taleb explains this very interesting phenomenon, and is full of nuggets of wisdom.

Bottom-Up Is Antifragile

The antifragility of a collection comes from the fragility or volatility of its elements.

The author talks about how Switzerland’s lack of centrality actually makes it stable. Cantons, the municipals of Switzerland, are left to their own device. Residents argue, debate a lot. It doesn’t seem harmonious. And yet, this very volatility at the municipal level protects the society against the romanticism of utopias, and leads to the stability at the upper level.

The historical decline of Chinese science is also discussed in the book. As the Chinese society became less bottom-up, the Chinese people lost their hunger for trial and errors . Because they no longer had the drive to tinker like the Europeans, they missed the opportunity to invent the spinning machine, even though China at that time already had all the means to do so.

I can see how bottom-up can instill a sense of agency and empowerment within…