1. Remember that you are limited to exactly one life.
Only one. There is no refill. There is no do-over. It doesn’t matter if it is short or long. It is one, and it stands alone, separated from all other lives, comparable to none. It is the most private and profound experience you will have. It is the only experience you will have.
2. See the unbroken path that will be your life.
Your life may take an infinite number of paths, but you can only choose one. That makes every decision, every event, every thought, every moment — awake or asleep — as essential as the next, the previous, the first, the last, and every point in between. Your time alive will not miss a beat.
3. Be brutally honest with yourself.
Never, ever, ever lie to yourself, especially about the things that hurt. You are human, so you will try to keep yourself from injury, and you will only allow the things that harm you more time to gain strength. The moment you tell yourself the truth is the moment you can begin to face it. Shorten the moments of self-delusion again and again, until self-delusion doesn’t exist within you.
The truth will come as an enemy if we do not welcome it as a friend.
4. Claim yourself.
You, your mind, your dignity, your body, all this is yours to claim, but it is a claim you must make every morning when you wake and every night as you go to sleep, so that it seeps into your dreams. You are your own emperor. Claim every atom of yourself. You are yours, from the first breath to the last.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
5. Preserve your self-claim at any cost.
Don’t ask permission. Don’t even ask forgiveness. Do not cede your conscience to anyone, anywhere, for any reason. Don’t accept another’s concession of themselves either, because in taking control of them, you are becoming master of two, and weakening your attention on your original responsibility: yourself.
6. If your surroundings work against your self-claim, change your surroundings.
If you are in an environment that won’t allow you to claim yourself in peace, either wage war on it, or escape it, and confirm your claim elsewhere. Leave those who diminish you. Leave any room you aren’t welcome in.
7. Embrace your desire to improve.
Your strengths are not so impressive. Your weaknesses are not so fatal. All that matters is that drive in you to be better. Challenge yourself. Smile as you do it. Fail with joy. Recover in good spirits. You are indomitable, because you will not allow yourself to be dominated.
8. Play only to the audience of yourself.
You are the only audience that matters. You are the actor, the director, the costumer, the playwright. You are theater itself. The defendant, the plaintiff, the jury, the judge, the court itself. Pay attention to how your life is impacting your only audience member.
9. Develop and practice an instinct for physical courage.
Acknowledge your inner resilience — your invincibility. Regularly test the awesome limits of your spirit. Always be ready to fight. Take responsibility for your health. Eat well, use your body, be preventative.
10. Train yourself to speak, debate, and write effectively.
To be able to express yourself to those around you is crucial to safeguarding your self-claim and the life you wish to build. Practice these. Lean towards cleanliness and brevity. Speak with control, debate with logic, and write to motivate.
11. Jump into the fray of the world.
The sidelines are not for you. Be the first to volunteer. Be always ready to help. Don’t look for others to come to aid, you are the person.
12. If all is well, let others be.
If a man is dancing to music you can’t hear, harming none, let him dance. Respect his self-claim, his right to be strange.
13. Avoid groups.
In general, avoid groups. They almost always seek to diminish your individuality. We are social creatures, but we are also remarkably individual creatures. We benefit from solitude and self-reflection. Try to join only in those groups that respect this need — this demand — for individualism.
14. Don’t share yourself with an anonymous, uncaring world.
It is tempting to share everything, to seek applause for every achievement, to share every experience — but it is impossible. Your life is yours and yours alone. No amount of sharing will allow another to live your life. Keep the joy and mystery of being you to yourself, and avoid diminishing the beauty and wonder of your life.
15. Don’t waste time on useless people.
Ask yourself always, “Does this person add or detract from my pursuit of the life I want?” There is no such thing as a neutral relationship. You cannot afford to waste time, and people who are useless are unfailingly experts at wasting your time.
16. Don’t feel the need to explain yourself to others.
They won’t understand. Why would they? Each of us, intentionally or not, are living dense, complicated inner lives. To ask someone to understand the nuances of yours is simply asking too much. Be willing to listen to others try to share their souls, as a kindness to them — but don’t fool yourself into thinking that we can ever fully explain ourselves to others.
17. Reserve the right to disregard advice.
Everyone has an opinion on how you should live your life. Many will share theirs with you. Some will even insist you listen. Listen if you’d like, but take your own counsel last and with the utmost importance.
18. Let the other person speak.
Too often we are eager to share our thoughts, and we forget to listen. You already know what you know. Think of the sheer advantage of letting the other person speak. You already know what you know, and them sharing their thoughts is only free information, for you to use how you please.
Don’t let this spill over into a waste of time. Only listen as long as the listening provides value. There are other things to do.
19. Be genuinely generous.
Don’t expect anything in return. In a crowded bus, get up and leave your seat open for another person. Share a meal without being asked. Leave a tip without making sure they saw it. Generosity is the mark of a free and fearless person — the kind of person you deserve to be.
Never suppress a generous impulse.
20. Let others be generous to you.
If offered a small gift, recognize that it is rarely about the gift itself, but the offerer wanting to provide something for you. We are creatures geared towards kindness and friendship, so let them exercise their kindness. Accept the small gift, even though you don’t need it, to give them joy.
Be wary of gifts that are meant to weaken your self-claim. Be ready to return any gift swifter than you received it.
21. Don’t live for others.
There is no inherent heroism in prioritizing the lives of others over yours. In most cases, it’s only confusing and pathetic. Let others live for themselves and you for your own.
There is heroism in sacrifice if it reaffirms one’s claim over themselves. Even here, you aren’t and shouldn’t be doing it for them, but for the obligation you have towards yourself.
22. Know who you love.
Know intimately who you love, at what level, and what you’re willing to sacrifice for them. Be able to recite their names at once, and admit to yourself the level of love you have for them. It will simplify your thinking.
23. Commit fully.
If you do commit to something, truly commit. Give it your all. Half-heartedness has the tendency to seep into all of our actions. It’s easier to be soft and weak-willed. We are creatures tending towards comfort. Don’t let this make its way into the commitments you choose. Give yourself wholly to it, or don’t do it at all. No heart is better than half.
24. Acknowledge the temporariness of all relationships.
All relationships are fleeting. Friends move away. We all die. Recognize this element of any relationship between perishable creatures, and consider the value this lends to all our relations. If something can only exist for a small amount of time, it is by definition rare, more precious. Treat the relationships that matter to you with the kindness and admiration that you treat a flower, just as prone to expiry, just as worthy of our love.
25. Be ready to share your thoughts and feelings with the people you love and trust.
There is no glory in burying our hearts. We are wonderfully emotional beings, and we owe it to ourselves to live a life rich in expression and mutual sharing of these feelings. But take care not to be a tell-all, eager to share every little detail with every person they meet. Share where the sharing matters, with the people who matter to you. And share shamelessly. Reach into your own depths and give to those who will give back to you. This is how we grow.
26. Take responsibility for your emotions.
How you feel is almost always affected by things outside of your control. Sometimes, it entirely originates from outside your control. But in every instance, that feeling is your possession, in the realm of your total control, assigned to your responsibility. It’s a price you pay for sovereignty. Don’t offload the responsibility of your feelings to someone else, because you may as well surrender your self-claim altogether. What you feel, you own, for better or worse.
27. Respect your emotions.
Our emotions far precede our higher faculties. They exist for a clear reason, and they serve a crucial purpose. They help us survive in the world, and may often be our best guides to action, particularly in moments of unclear information. Respect these feelings you have, and give them a fair hearing. See what they have to offer. Try understanding where these feelings are coming from, and what value they offer you. You feelings are worthy of your own consideration.
28. Avoid compounding emotions.
A pitiable sight is a person who feels based on other feelings, then feels some more based on those. Our immense capacity for emotion makes us prone to exaggeration and internal amplification. Be careful. Don’t feel angry because you are sad. Don’t be sad because you’re anxious. And certainly don’t be angry because you’re sad because you’re anxious. None of those emotions are then given the respect and consideration they deserve. Instead, feel the first emotion, and feel it fully. Let it breathe. Learn from it. Don’t layer on top of it.
29. Let facts advise your emotions.
A healthy person is a maelstrom of emotions, and must remind themselves to regulate their feelings with the reality of things. If afraid, consider the facts. If excited, consider the facts. If apathetic, consider the facts. Any emotion is well-served with a reassessment of things as they are, and you’ll never find a moment of life made cheaper or less romantic by a clear-eyed view of the factual world. If anything, it makes your feelings purer, and raises them to higher heights.
30. Develop emotions into actionable knowledge.
The best outcome for an emotion is become actionable knowledge. When feeling a feeling, examine its origin, its interpretation of reality, its implications, and see what you can make from it. See how this feeling that you have felt can influence your behaviors, and perhaps make the world around you better. Or perhaps this emotion can lead to an experiment. Don’t let a feeling go to waste.
31. Practice suspending emotions.
As emotional as we are, we are rational creatures, too. And this rationality requires us, on occasion, to simply switch off our emotions, and to live momentarily in a world of cold facts. Practice this. Demand that the storm of feelings in you stop for a moment, and take in the information around you cleanly, with as little bias as possible. This practice will come in handy particularly during emergencies and moments of high stress, when utmost attention to the facts is demanded of you.
32. Take responsibility for your thoughts.
What we think, we are. The power of outside forces to influence our thoughts makes it even more important to claim responsibility for the activities of our mind. You will find no shortage of those who would wish to borrow and keep the responsibility for your thoughts. They start their onslaught when we’re young. Often times, they succeed, and have captives for as long as a lifetime. If you find others claiming ownership of your mind, then this is your only current priority: break free. Claim your thoughts. They are yours and only yours.
33. Learn to judge the derivation and quality of your thoughts.
Thoughts can be of varying quality, and more often than not this variation is due to the source from which these thoughts were derived, and how they were derived. The best thoughts are derived from ample, unbiased information, contemplated over time in a safe environment. The worst thoughts are usually made hastily, based on corrupt information or unexamined feelings, and allowed to go unchallenged for far too long. There are countless levels of quality in between, and it’s our individual jobs to determine which thoughts we deem to be higher quality, and to practice creating more of them.
34. Reject extremism.
Avoid fear-mongering and alarmism. Avoid complacency and apathy. Avoid the extremes which, by their very definition, leave little room for scrutiny and improvement. Always reserve the right to question a deeply-held belief. If in an environment that doesn’t allow this interrogation, change your environment. Don’t be swayed by the clamor and pressure of the people around you. Even if they mean well, they do you an injustice by not letting you examine your thoughts and feelings in a way that you find to be true. Avoid extremism, especially in moments of crisis.
35. Constantly assess the facts.
Though it takes substantial mental energy, the sheer strength of our mind and the abilities within all of us demand that we be in a constant state of assessing the facts around us. Mentally tabulate the things you know to be reasonably true. Build within your mind a sort of bureaucracy that efficiently handles each incoming piece of information, and separates the reasonable from the questionable from the ridiculous. Study the rules of logic and the types of biases, so as to make this mental sorting more accurate.
36. Move swiftly between quantities and proportions.
Keep your perspective well-aligned by practicing switching between a quantitative assessment with a proportional one. Start with quantity, which compares the thing to zero. For example: This, in front of me, is a cup. This is a unique cup. Then, consider proportion, which compares the thing to all other things. I.e. this cup is also one of billions of cups on my planet. This planet is a beautiful planet going around a remarkable sun. That sun is one of the 200 billion trillion or so stars in the Universe. Practice this switch. Keep your mind nimble.
37. Consciously choose between modes of thinking.
Use deductive thinking by default, inductive thinking when creating, and comparative only when towards a purpose. Deductive thinking may be the default, as it is always applied in a simplified world. That chair should go there, because that part of the table has no chair. Inductive thinking is beneficial in the act of creating. That chair can be made more comfortable with the addition of a cushion. Then, comparative thought can help us make decisions or put things in perspective. I prefer this chair to that one, as I like a softer seat. The latter mode of though is most prone to overuse and abuse.
38. Question everything, all the time.
Every. Single. Thing. Nothing gets a pass. Don’t feel the need to question out loud, or to question others directly, but perform this constant questioning in the arena that matters most: your mind. If helpful, even assume it’s a lie by default, unless you can prove its truth. Never stop. If someone attempts to get you to stop, question why they are trying to do so. Keep going. Keep questioning.
39. Especially question bullshit, vocally.
If it sounds like bullshit, it probably is, and if the bullshit is causing harm, then it’s your job to confront it. This doesn’t always mean confront the person, but you must confront the idea. An ideal way to do this is to simply ask for elaboration. Most weak ideas fall apart when allowed room to speak. And leave open the possibility that it is not bullshit after all — we aren’t perfectly judging creatures and we are prone to external influences. The safest policy is to question.
40. Learn to laugh at the ridiculous.
There are certain statements that are so ludicrous that they don’t merit more than a laugh. Unless a ridiculous idea is causing harm, move around it. Some minds — way more than we’d like to think — simply don’t work well.
41. Reject the supernatural.
The supernatural has no legitimacy. Stick to the real, reasonable, provable, and tangible. If an idea requires you to suspend your responsibility to think critically, that idea has already lost its right to be considered. Leave foolishness to fools.
42. Turn thoughts and emotions into action.
Thoughts and emotions are most useful when converted to action. Conversely, thoughts and emotions that stay in that state are usually of little use. Actively seek ways to convert what you think and feel into a thing you can do. Let your new beliefs become new actions. Let your new ideas become new experiments. Do.
43. Assume that all can be overcome.
All problems can be solved, either through human effort, or the merciful fact that all of our lives are limited. Use this to enter the world with courage. You will figure it all out, or die trying.
44. Choose battles wisely.
To be able to solve everything means we have to be judicious in what we choose to focus on. We are given limited amounts of time and energy, and so we cannot be lackadaisical in our choice of challenges, whenever we can choose them.
45. Practice drastically changing perspective, in time and space.
We have a tendency to lose perspective of our place in the physical and temporal world. Regularly challenge yourself by changing the scale of your perspective, from the human to the universal to the sub-atomic. Do this for time and space both. Shake yourself out of the mental proportions you have placed yourself in. Make yourself a behemoth and a speck — a brief moment and an eternity.
46. Use history.
History is indispensable to our understanding of our place in the world, and the procession of events that have led to the present moment. Approach the subject not as facts and figures to remember, but the collective memory of our species. Seek out in it lessons and patterns. Identify the biases of the historians and counter it with a strict adherence to good logic.
47. Use current events.
Current events are useful as an extension of history, and allow us to see the larger trends of human activity. It is important to not be taken in by emotionally charged interpretations of events, and instead to seek out the sources that attempt in good faith to be unbiased. Seek information before interpretation, and interpretation only in the pursuit of developing your worldview, for which you and only you are responsible.
48. Use art.
Art teaches us how to be human, by enabling us to investigate and express the usually hidden parts of our soul. Engaging with art gives us better understanding of ourselves, and that in turn strengthens the claim we make of ourselves. use art as a mirror into your own soul. Take the opportunity of someone sharing the most intimate part of their selves to ask your self the same questions burning in their heart.
49. Use fiction.
Fiction’s greatest function is that it relieves us of the otherwise constant demand from truth. By admitting from the beginning that it is a fraud, fiction empowers our thoughts and emotions to soar — and we should make it a point to let it soar regularly, to the heights of its own pleasure. Watch movies. Read books. Fall in love with things that never were and never will be.
Make stories of things. Our mind will do it anyways, so it is beneficial to do so intentionally. Notice what narratives you are building, and ensure that they serve a purpose. Be brave and lose yourself in these stories you create, but stop well short of lying to yourself. Just because the facts are plain doesn’t mean you can’t arrange them to your liking. Cathedrals are made of bricks.
51. Adopt an optimistic worldview.
Approach the unknown with a reasonable expectation of goodness. This is only rational. Anything that is unknown to you implies that you are there, and anywhere you have a heartbeat means that you have a chance, however slim. And that is reason enough to smile. Not everything works out. That is never the point.
52. Cultivate a sense for nobility of spirit.
Even if you cannot reach your own lofty definition right away, merely creating a standard in our mind is enough to get us started — to offer yourself a goal to attain, a reward to reap. How does that noble person stand? Perhaps start standing like that. How do they speak? Most important for the purposes of imitation: how does that person think?
53. Use heroes.
Certain people will strike you as far above the rest. Find out what makes you feel that way about them, and for a select few, cautiously elevate them to the role of your heroes. See how you can be more like them and further investigate whether what you find most admirable about them rings true over time. I advise plenty of caution, as people are always flawed. Study the flaws of your heroes, and be more than willing to remove the title of hero from anyone. In fact, do this as a matter of practice. Don’t use a person’s heroic qualities to justify their failings.
54. Take responsibility for your actions.
Your actions are yours alone. Whether good or bad, do not ever concede this claim. Influences are just that. Coercion and the like can be influencing factors, but never excuses. You, and only you, are the determiner of your actions. Own it. Suffer the consequences, and bask in the glories.
55. Define your happiness.
We are obliged to define our own happiness. Perhaps no other question merits our attention as much as this. What is your happiness? Where have you seen it in your life? What did it feel like? See if you can find it somewhere else right now. See if it is sustainable, and if it is not, consider if that temporary thing is truly a part of your definition of happiness.
56. Pursue your defined happiness.
Pursue your happiness with every breath. Whatever you have defined it as, march towards that. Shape your life, your actions, your thoughts towards that pursuit. You will find that as you march towards it, it changes shape, and your route to it. Adjust your definition, align your route, and continue marching. That is the only destination.
57. Refrain from comparing happiness.
There are simply too many factors that go into one human being’s definition and experience of happiness. To even say that a person is happy or not is to make a severely dubious claim. We cannot understand the happiness of others, and even if we could, it would be useless knowledge, as the odds of it applying to you would be negligible.
58. Keep your happiness private.
Don’t feel the need to share the fact that you are happy with the rest of the world. Truth is, your happiness — like any other emotion of worth — will only ever be felt by you. Trying to put it into words is rarely helpful.
But that is not to say there is never a moment for it. With a person you trust, in a moment of intimacy, sharing this terrible secret — that you are happy — can kindle the fire of joy in them, too.
59. Make kindness your default.
Stop well short of stupidity and gullibility. Don’t assume the other person will be kind in return, but acknowledge that generosity is good for your emotions and mind. Only the strong can afford to be welcoming, to smile, to offer warmth without a prerequisite. Be a titan in this regard. Don’t credit malice where ignorance will suffice.
60. Smile freely.
Smile not for others, but rather for yourself. The act of smiling not only expresses joy, but creates it in turn. It allows us to feel our contentment, and to not feel the need to hide it. In doing this, we have the positive effect of sharing our joy with others, perhaps reminding them of the joy they feel within.
Don’t force it. If your heart says not to smile, don’t. Any superficiality is wasteful.
Note: always smile at babies. There is never a reason not to smile at a baby.
61. Engage civically.
Our personal freedom relies in great part on the society we find ourselves in. To engage in that society is to play an active role in our self-preservation. Vote. Attend meetings of civil organizations. Speak with those around you. Call out demagogues. Ensure that the quieter voices still have their say. If you find yourself with free time, volunteer. Be a proud part of the life of the community you choose.
62. Embrace our monoamorous nature.
I am unsure what depth love can reach, but I am sure it cannot be reached in a lifetime. Presented with this challenge, many run away, and have the misery of occasionally seeing glimpses of the depth that love can offer. The braver soul marches into this unknown, and commits to the trek, knowing that there is no destination. The wiser soul takes their time to ensure that this is the wilderness they wish to invest in. Choose one person, and love them ’til the end of your time.
63. Be sincere in sex.
Make their pleasure your pleasure and you’ll always be pleased. Be a little innocent about sex. It benefits from mystery. Participate in the carnal world, but don’t let it be your main focus. We are designed by nature to be attracted to others, and this is a neutral fact.
64. Distinguish between wants and needs.
Develop an iron instinct for distinguishing between wants and needs. For wants, ask yourself without prejudice why it is that you want this thing. Then, investigate whether you value that reason. If the reason appears to be foundational to you, then perhaps it should be considered a need. As for needs, be absolutely brutal. Know that anything you need is a thing that pushes up against your claim to yourself. To eradicate these altogether is a noble, unattainable, primal goal.
65. Buy the good one that will last.
Of the things that are needs, buy only as many as truly needed, and buy the best and most durable. This will cost more, which in turn ensures that you do not ignore the cost. Naturally you will take better care of that item, and it will serve its purpose better. Don’t be duped by the name on the product or its colors or shine. Judge the product by its function and durability.
66. Make lots of money.
Money is a safeguard to our freedom. It allows us to purchase the things we need, to experiment and learn, and hire others to support us in our work. To be sure, it has many negative uses, and the blind pursuit of it can corrupt a person’s mind, but the thing in and of itself is a supremely useful tool. Secure a lot of it. Earn it honestly, because that helps ensure that it is not unjustly taken away from you.
67. Understand the economy you are in.
Understand the economy you find yourself in, and the way it is changing (it always is). See what the people around you are wanting more of — what goods and services they need — and simultaneously assess what you are able to provide, and how you may be able to evolve your abilities to better meet the needs of the people in your society. Do this not from greed, but from a place of curiosity and earnest desire to be of economic use.
68. Make preparations for the long term.
Within reason, we should plan for the long term. Life can be unexpectedly short, but odds are that you will live a long life. Make sure you are taking steps now to ensure health in the long run, both in mind, body, and checkbook.
Forego temporary pleasures if need be. Treat it almost as a challenge. Can you value your future self more than your present one? Does your present one appreciate any sacrifice the past you made?
69. Be constantly developing your skills.
Whether they give you joy, income, or — in an ideal world — both, develop your skills in such a way that those two strands of spiritual and economic benefit eventually intersect. If you find joy in pottery, perhaps learn what forms of pottery are in demand in your market. If you already make a living from pottery but don’t feel the passion needed for us to perform at our nest, then see if there is an evolution of the art that interests you, and can sustain your business. Always move forward. Always keep learning.
70. Negotiate fiercely.
As painful as it may be to gentler souls, we cannot afford to be meek when matters of financial exchange are involved. Be driven by a keen sense of fairness. Do not accept salaries far below that of your superiors, and absolutely not below that of your equals or — heaven forbid — inferiors in skill or rank. Don’t be fooled by too many benefits. Assess the cash value of everything offered, and whether they can be attained for cheaper were you to do it yourself. Encourage those around you to negotiate hard, too. Complacency leads to exploitation.
71. Be ready to leave a job.
Don’t get attached to a company. Be ready to leave. We are emotional creatures to be sure, but if in a question of dollars and cents, don’t let our passionate tendencies override your ability to distinguish between a good deal and a bad one. The world is a big place, and it is getting bigger by the second. Don’t let a company tie you down. If you are not thriving in an environment, change the environment.
72. Assess those around you.
Understand the strengths and weakness of the people you spend time with. See how they can be helpful and harmful. Notice the nuances of their speech, posture, temperament — most important of all: how they think. This knowledge will pay dividends as you continue to interact with them, and is a way of showing respect to the qualities of the individual.
73. Strengthen those around you.
Motivate others to be the best they can be. Applaud their victories and compliment them on their successes. After their failures, remind them of who they are and what you see in them. Raise them up, not in the hopes that they will do the same — they almost certainly won’t — but because them thriving means you are in a more thriving environment, which in turn leads to your success.
74. Study power dynamics.
Develop the ability to identify the balance of power amongst people. Whether this is in one room or the world at large. Notice who is trying to dominate, who is trying to have their voice heard, and who levels the playing field. Often times, the subtlest moves establish or transform the dynamics of power among people. We are only highly evolved primates, after all, and we should practice our intellect by observing ourselves interact with one other.
75. Counter bullies immediately.
Be ready to rectify an offense by the stronger against the weaker in an instant. Timing is crucial here, because if these offense are allowed to stand then they become legitimate by virtue of not being questioned. If you see the bully starting to work their tricks, call them out on it. And if there are others in the room, ensure that all are aware that you, for one, won’t let that behavior go on unchallenged. You’ll be surprised how weak bullies are.
76. Take time to assess upward conflict.
If a weaker person is initiating conflict with the stronger person, we can afford to take a while longer to assess the best route of action, by virtue of the stronger being able to fend for themselves. Don’t let this overcome you sense of right and wrong. A weaker person may be in the wrong just as well as a strong offender. The key difference here is the ability to take the time to understand the situation.
77. Maintain equality of respect.
Nature has made every one of us unique and given us each advantages over others. But it is crucial that in human affairs we approach our fellows as equal in respect. We should train ourselves to not surrender to the pompous, or take — intentionally or not — from the meek. As thinking beings, driven by respect for personal sovereignty, we are obliged to lead the world around us to a state of mutual respect and practical equality.
78. Be ready to lead.
Don’t be too eager to stand at the front — some of the most important lessons are learned from the middle or the rear of the pack. But in the situations that call for it, be ready to lead with competence and clarity of vision. Don’t let the group wander aimlessly. Don’t let overthinking stifle action. Empower your people to achieve what needs to be done — then return to your peace as a Cincinnatus.
79. Speak the thought.
Say what everyone is thinking. Let’s get it out in the open. Too often, the truth is ignored by a desire to not offend or instigate. Do it as tactfully as the moment allows, but what is crucial is that you do it. Say it. And if you see someone holding back from saying what they are thinking, encourage them to share out loud what’s in their hearts, so that we may fix what is broken and rejoice in the rest.
80. Do not judge others by qualities outside their control.
Train yourself to quickly and effectively determine what qualities of a person are within their control and what is not. For qualities that are combinations of the two, be able to split that quality into the controlled and uncontrolled parts. A person does not determine, say, their accent, but they do determine what they say. Judge them for the latter and never the former. Apply this to all qualities of a person, and when judgement of them is needed, judge them only on the factors in their control.
81. Recognize and harness the strength in diversity.
If two people on a team are the same in every meaningful way, chances are that one of them is unnecessary and should join another team. See that the teams you are in are versatile and contain people of different strengths and backgrounds. This makes for resilient groups of people, and should be encouraged. Don’t limit your definition of diversity to only the most basic categorizations of people. Look deeper. Assess what people are made of.
82. Come to terms with ambiguity.
Be comfortable with the unknown, as the vast majority of all knowable things are unknown to you. Enter into unclear situations with a sharp mind and a confidence in your primal ability to survive. Take solace in not knowing, and joy in learning and adapting. When you make a mistake — which should be often — take it in good spirit and try again. This is all play.
83. Address the important things early.
Don’t delay on addressing important matters. Stay up all night if you have to. Time is the only currency that matters, and to waste it when there are vital things to be discussed is inexcusable. So, when something important needs to be done, simply do it and rest later.
84. If unsure of harm, assume it.
If unsure of harm to another, better to assume injury and approach accordingly. apologize, make amends, and commit to ways to do better. It is far preferable to do this than to hope that the other person doesn’t feel harmed.
85. Return more than received of the good.
Remember the good that someone does you, and give them more in return. Be eternally grateful — there is no reason not to be. And if someone does you one good and a hundred evils, keep the gratitude for the first good intact. And if someone does you good after good, that is a friend, and they are worthy of the best you have to offer. Be generous in your gratitude, without cheap expectations of further benefit.
86. Remember and reorient to the bad.
Remember the harm that someone does you, and work to avoid it, and prevent them, as much as you are reasonably able, from hurting others. Pursue justice when the harm done is grave enough to merit the energy that a pursuit of justice requires. Often times, for petty things, it is best to make a note of the offense and move on. Other times, it makes more sense to go to war, though this is exceptionally rare. Use your best judgement.
87. Experiment constantly.
Design experiments in life, with the purpose of making valuable, survivable mistakes. To do this, you must first assess how much you can safely risk. Then, explore within yourself what you want to learn. Then set about creating for yourself opportunities to learn what you wish to learn, within a controlled environment, with an almost hyper-attentiveness to your experience, so as to properly learn from this experiment. When you have satisfied your curiosity, move on to the next experiment. This is a remarkably joyous approach to life.
88. Define minimum success and maximum failure.
This is a trick to curing the anxiety that comes with the unknown: hypothesize for yourself the lowest point you would call a success, and the lowest point you could fail to. You will quickly see that there is far more room for resounding success than failure. For instance, if you are to go into a dark, unknown forest, your minimum success may simply be emerging alive. Your worst failure would be to die. Knowing reality and yourself, you can probably say that you’ll come out alive than die. There you go. You are far more inclined to succeeding, because you’ve identified where success begins, and where failure ends. No need to fear.
89. Lavish praise, reserve criticism.
There really is no harm in praising the good that people do, including that which you have done. When complimenting, compliment wholeheartedly and as often as you’d like. If not impressed, it’s most often better to keep silent, if the cause of dissatisfaction isn’t liable to harm others.
90. Make a sincere effort to win.
It makes every game more fun and rewarding. A healthy person is naturally attracted to competition, not because of a desire to dominate others — as fun as that may be — but mainly to see what they themselves are made of. Competition reveals our strengths and weakness and opportunities for improvement, and that knowledge is best gotten in its purest form. When competing, compete with all your heart.
91. Despise mediocrity.
There is no such thing as harmless mediocrity. All so-so parts of a design actively harm the great parts, by undermining the quality of the whole. If worried about failing, fail boldly.
We have to be careful to not apply this rule too much to ordinary people doing their best. Excellence for one of lesser ability might be mediocrity for another.
92. Opt for courage.
The option that will expose you to more danger and teach you more. There is usually a thick wall of information marking where foolishness ends and courage begins, but if that wall is nowhere to be found, then dare to be foolish. Go for it. Confirm that you have taken the precautions available to you but then go for it. You are more capable than you will ever realize, and the world needs people who march ahead.
93. Value your time.
Make plans for how to spend your waking hours, even marking out hours you wish to waste. Time is the most valuable resource we have, infinitely more useful than whatever may be second. Do your best to ensure that your waking hours are being spent intentionally. Write out your tasks. Apply your energy to time to get the outcomes you want in this brief life. If you feel you are becoming too rigid in your timing, schedule in time to waste time.
94. Waste intentionally.
You will certainly waste resources. The best you can do is waste resources intentionally. If you feel you strongly that you must have a piece of chocolate, pay a little extra to make it a better piece of chocolate, so that your desire will be confidently satiated. If you are finding yourself lazing about the house, go find the best part of the sofa to laze on. You will, by virtue of being an animal, not always spend your time and money wisely. So when being unwise, know how you’re being unwise, and guide it to the best possible positive impact for yourself.
95. Indulge in leisure on occasion.
Have fun. Be funny. Dance, not for others, but if it adds to your joy. Buy flowers. Enjoy a good meal. The world was meant for us to enjoy. We have a keen sense of when we are overdoing it, so don’t be afraid that genuine leisure will lead to debauchery or sloth. As long as you are maintaining a policy of brutal self-honesty, you will know when it is leisure for yourself, and when it is leisure for leisure’s sake. The latter is intolerable for any thinking person which, by reading these words, you are proving yourself to be.
96. Be kind to yourself.
Recognize yourself for the flawed, ever-improving being you are, and have mercy on yourself. When you make a mistake, respond to yourself with blunt truth, soaked in kindness. You are, at the end of the day, a wonderful creature. Simply seeing that you have the option to be cruel or kind to yourself means you are one of the few conscious creatures in our inexplicably vast universe. You can always improve. That is a judgment, a demand, and a mission. Be nice to yourself on this journey, surprisingly brief.
97. Allow yourself to hurt.
Allow yourself to waver. To hurt. To cry. To maybe even pity yourself, for a while. You do not need permission from others to do this. In fact, you should disdain the idea of giving another person the authority to tell you when you can and cannot feel bad. Feel it when you feel it, and feel it wholly. And if someone asks you about it, decide whether you trust them to share what you are allowing yourself to feel in that moment. If not, to hell with them. This is your pain. This is your suffering. And the joy you will feel on the other side of it can only be yours.
98. Suffer with vigor.
When in the depths of emotional turmoil, keep moving, either downward, upward, or sideways. Don’t stop. Keep exploring your feeling. When you wallow, you lose the lessons. Cry the hardest you’ve ever cried. Despair the most you’ve ever despaired. And keep track of what you are feeling. Try to understand them. Try to understand yourself. You’re all you’ve got.
99. Make your own prayerbook.
Memorize sayings and ideas — your own and others’ — that will accompany you to the depths and the heights. Write them down, because who knows when a knock on the head will jumble your memory. Old age will do it for you anyways.
Cherish the words that give you courage — the ideas that make your hair stand — and treat them with veneration. Compile them somewhere safe, and try to carry them with you, in your mind at least and your pocket at best.
100. Embrace action.
Do the thing. Right now. There is no other time. Let your actions lead to ideas and further actions. Work up a flurry of movement, whether in your mind or outside of it. And when you need to rest, perform the act of resting. Do what is necessary. At the very least, do.