As I wrap up the last weekend of my 30th year on this planet I wanted to reflect back and talk a bit about the lessons that I’ve had the opportunity to learn along the way.
There is nothing original here and I would never take credit for having “discovered” these things. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from thousands of others. Friends, mentors, bosses, subordinates, authors, guys who make videos on YouTube, people who have kicked my ass, people whose asses I’ve kicked, kids, old people, girlfriends, my ex-wife, and all of the tiny interactions and experiences I’ve had in my life.
This list is basically a compilation of what I’ve taken from those interactions and experiences, applied to my life, all the while trying to make sense of the results.
So here is the list. 30ish things I’ve learned in my 30 years.
- Long term relationships are complicated. They really are. Dating is easy. If you find someone attractive, you go out on a date. If you have chemistry, you keep going out and enjoy your time together. That’s it. But eventually that phase wears out. The masks are off, the attraction has faded and it’s just the real you and that other real person. There isn’t a clear way forward. If you aren’t building something together what are you doing? I haven’t figured it out yet, but I believe that if you ask, “What will we do when the attraction goes away?” and you don’t have a good answer then you probably shouldn’t get into a “relationship” with that person. At least not yet.
- Everything popular is wrong or at least badly flawed. The mainstream media exists to entertain you not to inform you. And even if they try to inform you they dumb things down to be much simpler than they are. Any complex subject has subtle nuances. So, any popular advice which may have had some truth to it in the beginning is no longer useful. Go deeper into subjects and search for sources that give the whole story.
- Live drastically below your means when it comes to luxury and comforts. Almost everything today is a luxury. And after driving a BMW for a week it just feels like a Honda. Spend on your health, your personal growth, contributing to others and eliminating time wasters from your life. Luxuries are almost always high priced sugar highs.
- Money can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a trap to a terrible life of trying to keep up with Jones’s. An indicator of false status. It can be a ticket to intermittent freedom. It can be a by-product of good service or a resource to change the world. After we have enough to meet our needs for basic survival money is simply a story we tell ourselves.
- Your surroundings drastically influence your outlook, wants, desires, and actions. Surround yourself with the people and resources that will help you grow and live the life you want, and cut off bad relationships and habits at all costs.
- Everyone has a story to tell. You don’t have to like everyone. And they don’t have to like you. But everyone is the product of their life up to this day. So, don’t judge people. You have no idea what their life has been up to this moment in time.
- Don’t take rejections or failure as a personal attack. It’s just feedback and more data for you to use.
- Travelling and language learning are great teachers about people. How similar we are. How brainwashed we can become hanging out with only our own (same country, color, profession, religion, etc.) Experience other people and see that it’s okay to have different views.
- Travelling also teaches you about rules. It teaches you that different places have different rules. And that you shouldn’t blindly follow what your government, religion, and teachers taught you. Use common sense and realize rules don’t exist. Only actions and consequences.
- Travelling is also awesome. Because the world is fucking beautiful….
And full of life….
- Training Brazilian jiu-jitsu makes you realize that you’re not so tough. It’s easy to pretend to be a tough guy. Especially if you go to the gym and you are big and strong. Until a 130-pound disabled guy plants you face down on the mat and chokes you into submission.
- We are tiny, tiny specs of dust in the universe and that is scary. We are also gods that can change everything. And we can choose which story to live out.
- A man can never cross the same river twice. It’s not the same river, and it’s not the same man. We are constantly changing and so is our environment. Our future is quite literally the product of our past+present. Understand that you are always evolving whether you like it or not so if you want to choose your future self you need to bring intention into your present.
- You may get far in life trying to please others, but you’ll never get far enough.
- The process of learning is beautiful. Today I don’t know something. I work on it hard. Tomorrow I know it.
- When you practice the same skill over and over you are not repeating, you are improving. Micro-improvements happen with each iteration. Repetition is for the mindless. If you focus and pay attention you’ll notice new smaller and smaller details each time.
- Wherever you go you’ll be there. Meaning that if you’re a super happy, positive person you’ll stay that way even in the shittiest, darkest conditions imaginable. If you’re an unhappy cunt, you can win the lottery, and the only thing that will change is that you’re now an unhappy cunt with a Ferrari. If you seek real change, look inside yourself first.
- In 2017 there are still people who don’t have the most basics of the basics. It fucking sucks. And helping those people at least get something to eat and an internet connection to help them learn and grow themselves should be a top priority.
Like this kid in Oman…
- But I don’t give money to beggars. I spent many hours walking the streets of Luanda, Angola and have been asked for money thousands of times. Sometimes to the point of assault. I don’t give money to beggars. But if I see that person is willing do something (to work) for money, without education, without resources, and even does something as simple as getting a kit to shine your shoes and offering that as a service. That person can make a dollar.
- Opportunities are everywhere. They’re called problems. The bigger the problem to solve the bigger the opportunity. And I think we really need to train ourselves to choose the right problems to work on rather than avoiding discomfort and expecting everything to be given to us.
- Over-achieving and victim mentality are 2 sides of the same coin. It took me a long time to realize this. Victims hate their current situation and blame their past (their father, their boss, the school that didn’t let them in, their bad luck, etc.). Over-achievers hate their current situation and are constantly looking to the future for salvation. I’ll finally be happy when I have XX dollars in the bank, that house, 6 pack abs, blab la bla. No, you won’t. Both people are using the illusion of time to avoid improving the only true thing that matters. The present moment.
- Your cell phone with an internet connection can be an incredible resource but it can also make you it’s attentive little bitch. Learn how to use Do Not Disturb and Airplane Mode most of the day.
- Everything is better with a good group of friends.
- Never stop learning. You’re never done learning in today’s environment. The days of getting a college education and working a job until retirement are over. The idea of a university degree will probably be extinct pretty soon and retirement systems are going broke all over the world. Things are changing rapidly and the only way to keep up is to stay on top of them.
- So, choose a profession or area that really interests you. Not for the money, not for the status. Not for any result. Something that interests you on the day to day basis. Because your entire life is made up of the day to day.
- Life is a big juicy steak. Thanks to Coach Adam for this. Life is a steak. Enjoy that shit. Savor every bite. Don’t be thinking about what you need to do afterwards when dinner is over. Don’t rush through it. Because the steak is all there is…. when it’s done, it’s done.
- If you’re not making mistakes, looking stupid and getting ugly you’re not trying hard enough. Comedians try 1000’s of variations of jokes before they appear on HBO. Dancers and performers fall flat on their face in practice. Ultimate performance is achieved by constantly doing things wrong and making tiny adjustments every day for years.
- If you can’t come up with 10 ideas. Come up with 20. Thanks James Altucher. This problem has the same root as #27. Fear holds you back from creation because you’re afraid it won’t be good enough. Forget about being good enough, or looking stupid. The fastest way to have a good idea is to have a lot of bad ideas. So, start having bad ideas.
- Knowing something intellectually is different from knowing it experientially and incorporating it into your body. When you train Brazilian jiu-jitsu the first week of class you learn how to choke someone from the top. You “learn” the how-to of the technique. But only through the physical act of doing it over and over years later will you experientially “know it”.
- We act based on what we feel, not what we think. Agreeing logically with something is different from having emotionally embodied the idea. You can think it’s a good idea to not eat cheesecake. You can know it’s a good idea to save some money for a rainy day. But we do the opposite because it takes more than logical agreement or knowledge to shape our behaviors. However, real power arises when we learn to emotionally embody the ideas we want to act on. Not an easy task, but worth it. This has made a big impact on how I approach changing my habits and thank you Brad Hart for helping me understand this.
- Dancing is fucking awesome. I wish I knew this when I was younger. But I’m making up for it now. Developing the skill of learning to truly connect with someone on the dance floor has a profound impact on all areas of your life.
- Obsession is under-rated. I´ve gotten obsessed with various subjects at different times during my 30 years. Bodybuilding, Poker and Gambling, Social Dynamics, Photography, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Sales and Negotiation, Dance. I’ve found that going extremely deep on one subject you’re passionate about teaches you truths about all things. My obsession with bodybuilding as a teenager taught me lessons I later used in things totally unrelated like sales training, and photography. Mastery is the ultimate form of intelligence. While living a balanced life is the fastest way to be average “incompetent” at a lot of things.
- So, find what you’re passionate about and get obsessed with it. Nothing else matters. What you’re passionate about may evolve over time and that’s okay. But take whatever it is that is calling to you right now and go all in. There are only 2 reasons not to. You are afraid of failure? You are afraid of success?
- Fear is not real. Worry is a disease. Fear is created when we project a future that hasn’t occurred yet and imagine a situation that threatens our sense of self. Will I lose all of my money? Will she leave me? Will I look stupid? It doesn’t exist in the present moment. You may have a situation to deal with. An investment to choose, a conversation to be had, a speech to be given. But in no circumstance, does worry or fear help your performance in that situation. It only hurts it.
- Emotional strength can be trained through repeated practice like a muscle is trained in the gym through repeated exercise. If you like to get angry or afraid all the time know that little by little you can stop that shit. You can train yourself to be happier, more appreciative, more loving. But just like a weight needs to be heavy to make a muscle grow. Plan to feel uncomfortable consistently to make this happen. But it’s the same mechanism a small dude uses to become a big muscle bound dude. Discomfort + repetition = change.
- Life is most interesting when it’s uncomfortable. I’m not sure at what point we decided that comfort was important. I like fluffy pillows too but I’ve found life to be infinitely more interesting and satisfying when shit is wild.
And a little dangerous…
- Every time I’ve listened to my gut things worked out well. I’m not sure why. But it seems my body is smarter than my mind.
- You can’t control what will happen to you. But in my experience if you do everything within your power to get what you want things will usually work out favorably.
- Watch Standup comedy. It’s good for your heart.
13 Books that changed my life at the time. (In no particular order).
- The 4-hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss (2007,2012)
- The Truth – Neil Strauss (2015)
- The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin (2013)
- Models – Mark Manson (2013)
- The Game – Neil Strauss (2006)
- Sex at Dawn – Christopher Ryan (2016)
- The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle (2007, 2016, 2017)
- A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle (2016)
- Movement – Gray Cook (2013)
- Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand (2008)
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport (2014)
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill (2003)
- The Education of Millionaires – Michael Ellsberg (2011)
Thanks for reading. If you have any important life lessons you’d like to share please feel free to add them in the comments below. And if want to connect with me feel free to send me an email or hit me up on facebook or youtube.