On November 15, 2016 I posted this answer on a Quora to the original question: “How do I get better at life?”
As a debut blog post, I thought this would be a good kick-off. I originally planned to fix the typos and style issues, but then I couldn’t help but expand on certain points with a few additional thoughts. That literally opened the floodgates and I added more points to the list and it quickly got out of hand. So, I simply decided to post it As-Is, because the perfectionist in me would keep trying to “fix it” till doomsday. The best advice in starting any creative project is to simply go ahead with it, even if it’s only at 85% and you have that procrastination demon gnawing at your inside asking you to get it to 90%, which magically never happens. So I have decided to postpone posting any thought expansions on these points for later in separate blog posts.
Ok, so let’s get the ball rolling. I hope you enjoy this.
I will answer this question as I would to my own son. This is my gift to you.
1- READ. A LOT. When you read a book you consume the thoughts and life experiences of smart people which they managed to get preserved on paper for everyone else to learn. Read the classics to get a cultural background. Read philosophy to get a proper mental software for how to live a decent life. Read in business, science, marketing, or any other field you know next to nothing about, to expand your mind. If you are struggling in a certain aspect of life, find the books that discuss that specific issue and swarm-read everything you can find about it until you get a proper understanding of what you need to do. Remember, you will remember only 1-2% of every book you read. Imagine there is this big puzzle in your brain which you are trying to solve and complete. You will retain the thoughts corresponding to the next piece of the puzzle you need to fix that issue you are trying to solve. Sometimes you find the next pieces of the puzzle in another book or even when you revisit that same book (if you really like it) you will find more puzzle pieces that you’ve missed the first time around (Sometimes, this could be years apart).
2- Write every day. Start a journal. When you get an idea or a thought, write it. It will ease your restless “monkey” mind and chain those thoughts to the paper and limit how they nag at you when you’re trying to do something productive. Write 10 ideas every day to train your idea muscle. Write your top 25 most important goals in a list from most important to least important, then only focus on the top 5 and never waste your energy on the rest ever again. Commit your goals to paper, it gives you a material medium to look at. Write every day. Words are extremely powerful. How you label anything and give it a name is of immense power. Learn to write properly. Take creative writing courses if possible. And read a lot. Reading makes you a better writer.
3- Learn public speaking. It is a skill you will need countless times in your life. Learn to get over and manage your stage fright as early in life as possible and you will do yourself a great service.
4- Exercise. Make it a daily activity. Break a sweat every day. Get your heart rate up. Play a competitive sport or team sport. Learn Martial Arts. Exercising dissolves fear in you. Stress is just an eloquent term for fear. Anger is just fear wearing a scary mask. Exercice is not a luxury, it is essential to your proper mental state and it will get you to be calm under pressure.
5- Take long walks to think clearly. No, walking isn’t exactly the same as exercising, it serves a different purpose. If you have something you need to figure out right now, go on a walk and think it through. Human beings are physically made to walk efficiently and for an extended period of time. It is physically and mentally therapeutic. Walking is a form of meditation. Take a walk often. Make it a daily habit if possible.
6- Listen more than you speak. You learn everything you need to know about a person through their words, their communication style, how they present themselves and their body language. Learn to understand how people communicate non-verbally.
7- Learn to ask questions. Ask all the questions to which you feel you need to get an answer to help you understand something. Never be afraid to ask stupid questions, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Most of the questions you have in your head are shared by everyone else around you, only they are too timid to ask them in fear of being judged or ridiculed. Those who ridicule people asking questions will remain ignorant, and over time, will become irrelevant. Knowing the How and the Why are at the very core of knowledge. Ask about everything that interests you and learn all the answers. This is how you level up in life. Be curious, seek new topics, new knowledge, new experiences and ask questions.
8- Always seek expert advice. Know that everything you hear people say is opinion. Period. Even scientific facts stay facts for as long as they are valid, that’s until we know more to falsify them, ratify them or destroy them all together. Everyone around you has their own opinion and view the world through the lens of their knowledge. Sometimes people use very poor lenses to look at things. Some are of low quality that don’t give a clear picture. Some use cracked lenses made with nonsense they believe are facts. Some have their lenses going through filters of prejudice, bigotry, misogyny, racism or egotism. Learn to ask EXCLUSIVELY for the opinions of Experts who have shaped their lenses with substantiated knowledge and critical thinking. Pay for it ALWAYS. The best advice is NOT for free.
9- Know that people change. They grow into a different version of themselves. They evolve or devolve depending on the knowledge they feed their minds and the experiences they go through. Your path will not be joined by the same group of people from start to finish. So so do not be fazed by what everyone in the world thinks of you. Avoid the paranoia of thinking there’s an imaginary audience that keeps track of your every thought, word or gesture. Nobody gives a fuck. People care only about their own self interest. Keep a list of maximum 3-5 people whom you care what they think of you with the explicit stipulation that they have been vetted as seasoned expert players in the that specific arena in which you are soliciting their opinions. It also helps if they are people who care deeply about your well being and your best interest.
10- Remember: Not everyone who wants to help actually knows how to.
11- Remember: People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you.
12- Remember: You are what you read. You are what you tolerate. You are who you surround yourself with. You are what you eat. You are what you keep your attention focused on.
13- Get a mentor. Get to be an apprentice and learn from an expert. It will set you on the right path and save you lots of time.
14- Remain a student. Always be a student learn something new every single day. Remember, people can never learn what they think they already know.
“As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” – John Archibald Wheeler
15- You are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. Choose your friends and company carefully. Always try to be the least smart person in the room. Intelligent people, purposeful people, accomplished people raise you to their level if they become your crowd. Vain people, ignorant people, careless people stoop you to their level if you keep their company. Cut people who are not raising your game level from your life immediately and ruthlessly. Do it Now.
16- There’s no such thing as multitasking, it’s attention shifting. Multitasking is bullshit. Focus, focus, focus. Stop push notification on your phone Now. Keep your attention exclusively focused on one single task until completion.
17- Meditate. Deep Breathing exercises are excellent. Taking a long walk is excellent. Sitting on the beach staring into the sea or being surrounded by nature of any sort, mountains, desserts, snow, ranches, forrests, the sky, space… all these settings get you connected to the bigger picture. You are part of this universe which is in constant motion. Reflect on the immensity of the universe and remember: Countless Emperors, Kings and Conquerors have roamed this earth and amassed literally unimaginable amounts of wealth and power, yet they’re all gone now and their past existence is irrelevant to you except for the historical lessons their lives can teach you about your own. Reflect often and stay connected to nature.
18- Habits. Cultivate excellent habits always. Good habits replace bad habits and vice versa, so be mindful of what habits you maintain. Your life is made blissfully easier if you create the best set of habits for yourself. Habits reduce the clutter in your brain and give you serenity and focus. The less time you spend processing trivial decisions consumes valuable time and takes away from energy you can use to make more important decisions.
“Losers have goals, winners have systems.” -Scott Adams
19- Your will is a scarce resource. Don’t exhaust your will power trying to go against temptation. Obliterate temptation in your life and use your will conservatively.
20- Learn to negotiate.
21- Learn to sell (stuff and yourself).
22- Sleep 8 hours a day. Fuck those who undermine the value of sleep. Sleep does essential and crucial physical maintenance on your body and your brain. You need it as a performance enhancer. It is not wasted time. Sleep.
23- Learn to manage your ego. Ego destroys people. It prevents you from being properly prepared for your aspirations. It hinders your ability to persevere through resistance you will meet on your path. Ego will keep you down when you fail and fall on your knees. (READ: “Ego is the enemy” by Ryan Holiday).
24- Chew your food more. Stop eating stuff that is laced, wrapped or dipped in sugar, salt or palm oil. Stay away from any processed food product that came in a plastic branded bag that you got from your supermarket shelf right now. Eat more vegetables and fruits straight from the source. Eat meat/poultry/fish that hasn’t been through a grinder and make sure you actually see the fibers. Drink more water. Stop dosing your brain with an insane amount of sugar, it’s fucking you up.
25- Value experiences over possessions. Things get damaged, lost, stolen or sold. You can move to a different country and leave everything behind. What you will ultimately retain in life is your experience. Value that and seek experiences that will enrich your life and expand your mind.
26- No one has all the answers. No one has everything figured out. We are all work in progress. Some of us are simply further along than the rest.
27- Time is the most valuable and most scarce commodity in the world. Save it, invest in it and use it wisely.
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