Advice to myself

I read a lot. I have had periods in my life in which I read hundreds of non-fiction books per year, writing notes about them, trying to apply them, and trying to absorb them. Sometimes I go back through my notes of advice for life, work, and relationships and I inevitably think “damn, that could have helped me just yesterday with X and last week with Y! If only I could keep this in mind…”.

This is a really hard problem. Just like math teachers that regularly play the lottery, we are really bad at both a) remembering useful advice and b) applying it in different domains.

Inspired by Derek Sivers “do directives” I recently started iterating over some advice for myself, compiled from what I learned in many different ways. I read it every morning, and I change it a little bit from time to time, depending on what do I need or what doesn’t serve me anymore. Below is the current incarnation of it, as of November 22nd, 2017.

The content itself might not make sense or be helpful to you as they are to me, but the practice of writing this down and evaluating on a daily basis has been a very powerful tool in keeping myself happy, healthy, and even productive in a very difficult period of my life. Try it yourself!

Advice to myself

  • The past doesn’t matter and the future is not here yet. Focus on the present moment.
  • Lower your expectations and be grateful for what is.
  • You can’t make yourself happy; you can only let yourself be happy.
  • Disregard physical posessions. Freedom and health are the most valuable things you can “have”.
  • New information, new games, new books, new gadgets… you already have more than enough to be informed and entertained for years.
  • Eat meat and vegetables. Drink water. Walk. You don’t need much effort to be healthy.
  • Ask yourself: “Have I simplified enough?”
  • Ask yourself: “Does this bring me joy?”
  • Everything is impermanent. Everyone will die. Nothing matters. Have fun!

“If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem & one minute finding the solution.”

Albert Einstein

“John Maynard Keynes predicted that in the future we’d only work 15 hours a week because he didn’t anticipate that we’d all be mentally ill.”

Ron Charles

“‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m doing it right. These other guys seem to know.’ No, they don’t know. None of them know. That’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward.”

Robert Rodriguez

“Your life is a firefly that blinks once in a night. You’re here for such a brief period of time. If you fully acknowledge the futility of what you’re doing, then I think it can bring great happiness and peace because you realize that this is a game. But it’s a fun game..”

Naval Ravikant

Keeping momentum

It’s being increasingly hard to keep up with my daily creative output habit. When I started this I was on vacation and had 6-12 extra hours per day to do anything I wanted; I could do all those activities in a much more relaxed rhythm and concentrate more on doing and less on being efficient at it.

Now, when I finish work I’m usually drained and don’t want to do much else… at least until I start doing it.

Inertia is a powerful thing. I can procrastinate all day long on opening LMMS and starting to play around, but when I actually do it, it’s very easy to lose track of time and enter a state of flow.

Around 6 years ago I took on the habit of journaling (which is a fantastic tool to refine thinking, and very useful to revisit when evaluating life decisions, but I can talk about that in some other post); I tried many different things to make it work until I reached the final solution: every night before going to bed, I’d put my personal laptop on the kitchen table, with wi-fi turned off and everything closed except Emacs (which I used to write at the time). When I woke up, the first thing I’d do is open the lid and start writing.

That worked really well, so I’m going to test the same strategy for my current / soon-to-be habits. Every day I’ll put my personal laptop on the kitchen table with wi-fi turned off and the required apps already open and set up on new documents / projects. I’ll see how that goes and post the results here in a few weeks!