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Some Lesser-known Rules for Life

Monday August 23, 2021

  • Personally I’m making this list because it’s fun to examine life. I hope you’ll read it in the same spirit.
  • If you’re learning from other people, that’s a pretty good start to an educated life. It may seem a bit shallow in comparison to starting from first principles, but it’s usually a broad way to learn. Keep in mind that what you are doing is breadth-first learning.
  • If someone gives you exciting advice, try to ride that first big wave of emotion knowing that it will eventually flatten out, and maybe come and go over time. It probably feels exciting because it’s brand new. Later on, if you persevere, you may have the opportunity to exchange excitement for lasting satisfaction. But if not, don’t worry, because just about anything in life can be made exciting.
  • A lot of people can’t learn as easily from other people, and they can still be smart. Eventually they’ll have to learn why other peoples’ smarts are helpful though, or they’ll feel less smart.
  • If you want to feel extra smart, ask every dumb question that baffles you. Act as if it doesn’t really matter that you didn’t know this already, and go find out the answer.
  • People who learn things get smarter by organizing those things. You look at an average bookcase and see books, information, and resources. An above-average bookcase employs some unique method of organization, and is really its own proprietary technology.
  • A lot of people don’t realize it but they are afraid of closing 100+ tabs because they have actually sifted through loads of crud and created a masterful collection of research and insight in those 100+ tabs, and their browser software simply has no way of knowing that. It is not wise to blame humans for this issue.
  • You can do a lot worse for yourself than sneaking out of a boring lecture. A good lecturer will understand.
  • If you can’t be logical and constructive, get emotional and destructive as soon as possible. Develop your own personal way of getting it all out, to make room for your constructive side again.
  • Please make time to take a walk by yourself. This way there will be more of us out walking by ourselves, and it’ll seem like more of a normal activity.
  • If you have to bring all of the groceries from the car into the house in one trip, make a mental note to sit down and set some boundaries with your time today.
  • If you get stuck in any project, or just stuck in life: Identify the set of things you either do like/want, or don’t like/want, and rank them.
  • Always leave yourself enough energy and time to take a few pictures along the way.
  • Don’t take a nap so you feel rested. Take a nap so you can see life from your most skillful and energetic perspective again.
  • If someone teaches you that life has to be about something, and that the something is only one thing in particular, be very careful. It is almost certain that you are being taught to close your mind, even if it’s not out of harmful intent.
  • If you want to grow old, learn an ever-expanding set of ways to take really good care of yourself. Over time, get familiar with a reliable set of personal standbys for self-care.
  • If you want to learn to take care of yourself, learn about the kind of person you are.
  • If you want to learn about the kind of person you are, make a list of the interests you keep coming back to in life. Make it very specific, and over time, add even more specific interests to come back to.
  • Some of your interests will probably be calculated to make you seem powerful, smart, or popular. But a huge chunk of your interests should through that same lens seem weird, silly, and vulnerable.
  • If you want to learn where personal growth may await you, keep a list of others’ interests that you don’t like.
  • If you keep a list of things you don’t like, sort it by least-to-most disliked. Then when it’s time to grow and adapt, the task will seem less daunting.
  • If you want to defeat fear, call it something else. The more names and descriptions you have for fear, the more likely you can beat it.
  • If you want to defeat procrastination, call it something else. The more names and descriptions you have for it, the better.
  • If you want to do something very hard, start calling it something else. The more names and descriptions you have for it, the better.
  • To enjoy a hobby more, track and organize your progress in it, and always know where your tracker is. Keep a set of questions there too.
  • You can learn a lot, and solve more problems, by making your own map of a place.
  • You can learn a lot, and solve more problems, by making your own map of an idea, or a person.
  • If your map needs to change, change it as soon as possible, even if the change isn’t beautiful or perfect. A living, changing map of something important is practically its own energy source. Conversely, an unchanging map of a dynamic and important place or topic is painful and draining.
  • Being able to predict things is a unique skill. Not many people appreciate it. A lot of people fear it. If you find yourself predicting things a lot, be careful of how much you do this when socializing.
  • For a lot of people, raw prediction isn’t that helpful and is even perceived as harmful or snobby. Especially if it isn’t accompanied by a specific plan or a set of next steps.
  • A big part of relationship success depends on how much you can be in the other person’s way without them minding. Beyond that, it’s important to learn to get out of the other person’s way.
  • To be in someone’s way more often, without them minding as much, keep track of times when you felt like you got in their way, and make a note of a different approach you could try next time, or ask them.
  • To get out of a person’s way, stop sharing so many of your gifted perspectives (use them with yourself or with others who want access to them), keep your physical distance light and extended, and generally go find something else to do.
  • A lot of people think that sharing their gifts and skills with the other person ought to make things better for the relationship, when in fact it often makes the other person feel incompetent and undermines co-creativity. Thus the need to get out of the other’s way.
  • If you want good, healthy people to like you more, get out of their way and find ways to make them feel good about the way they like to solve problems.
  • If it hurts you to have to get out of someone’s way, either find someone else to be around, or change your focus to your personal, inner world. This should include an abiding interest in your own hobbies and goals.
  • You can do a lot by taking an expansive viewpoint. For example, you can take over a country, or join a traveling circus, or set new and proper boundaries for yourself, or discover a new, exciting book you didn’t know about. But keep in mind that some of these things are more likely to lead to an unfortunate and early death than the others.
  • One way to save a lot of money is to make a spreadsheet. Another way to save a lof of money is to learn all about yourself. Someone with financial wisdom ought to be aware of both of these perspectives, and more.
  • The worst advice you will ever get will probably start with the word “just”. The amount of raw, inexperienced naivete which cowers behind the word “just” will someday be fully recognized…but likely only after it leads humanity to the brink of extinction.
  • Be sure to take breaks when writing long lists. They do tend to get depressing after a while.

(OK, so I guess that’s it. For now. —Marc)

Filed in: Essays /52/ | Thinking /70/ | Productivity /119/ | Interests /111/ | Control /110/ | Goals /52/ | Therapeutic Practice /144/ | Energy /120/ | Coaching /27/

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