Words of Advice to My Younger Self
My first thirty years on this planet have been a storied, turbulent roller coaster ride. I’ve made more mistakes than I’ve made good decisions. I’ve failed far more than I’ve succeeded. I’ve been wrong more than I’ve been right. But throughout my life, I’ve learned some stuff that I’ve determined to be true and valuable in optimizing for good decisions, success, and being right.
Below you will read what I’ve discovered and compiled in the couple of months since turning 30. It’s raw, unedited, and perhaps repetitive. I’m not sharing this because I believe myself to be any more intelligent, wise, or learned than other 30-year-olds, but because my younger self would have been well-served reading this and taking it to heart. Perhaps I’ll give it to my kids one day.
A lot of this may be similar to something you’ve read or heard before — and it probably is. But this is the wisdom I’ve validated through personal experience. A lot of aphorisms, saying, and wisdom are horseshit.
With that said, let’s get started with: there’s no such thing as an original idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s what you do with that idea that matters.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Actually internalizing this will save you a lot of grief.
A bit of skepticism never hurt anybody.
As we say in crypto: don’t trust, verify.
A broken clock is right two times a day. Just because somebody was right about something once does not make them experts.
Anybody that calls themselves an expert, unless they have a doctorate, is an asshole or a fraud, and usually both. Yes, once can be an expert with “10,000 hours” dedicated to a subject matter, but be cynical about such self-anointed titles.
Give mind to people’s feedback and advice, but don’t let it control you. Only you can decide for yourself the best path in life.
Life is too short to be spent meeting other people’s expectations. So either exceed their expectations or defy them.
Moreover, set expectations or standards for yourself that you refuse to budge on when it comes to matters of integrity and morality.
Be a good person.
Like, lust and love are can be deceivingly similar feelings. Don’t conflate them. Take the time to figure out how you feel.
It’s ok for love to be fleeting.
It’s ok to have your heart broken… multiple times. It makes you grow. Never stop loving.
Nobody has enough time for hatred. Feel those feelings, and then let them go, or they will eat away at you like a plague.
Forgive, but don’t forget. I can say from personal experience doing the first part, but not the second, is one of the most painful lessons you’ll ever learn.
Being a leader can be empowering for yourself and those you lead, as long as it’s done with virtue, qualified thinking, and good intentions. But shun “followers.”
Followers feed the ego but kill the soul.
Surround yourself with people who push you to be better. Anyone else is a detriment to your personal development and happiness.
Read all the fucking time. Magazines and the news are good but push yourself to read novels, long-form writing, and academic journals. Print is better than digital. Kindle is fine as well.
Avoid digital screens as much as you can. Unfortunately, they are inescapable in today’s society, so you have to be intentional about minimizing screen time.
Use social media as little humanly possible.
Turn off your phone, put it in another room, or enable “do not disturb” and learn to be present whenever you can.
Presence is everything.
Go into nature without your phone.
Appreciate the earth.
Allow yourself to go inwards instead of perpetually occupying your brain with fleeting distractions.
Get cardiovascular exercise every day. No excuses. Do jumping jacks, run up and downstairs, but ideally get outside. You need to pump oxygen into your brain.
Everyone looks for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment, but very few actually give their minds and souls the time, space, and oxygen to do so.
Try everything once. Actually. (Unless there’s some existential consequence like death or serious jail time — but don’t even necessarily dismiss those.)
Think about death at least once a day. Back in the day, folks used to keep human skulls in their living rooms as a reminder– it’s worth considering (I do it.)
Believing you’ll live forever is arrogant, obnoxious, and removes the meaning from life.
The Bwiti people of Gabon (practitioners of the psychedelic Iboga) have a saying:
“Dwelling on the past is depression.
Worrying about the future is anxiety.”
All you can control is the here and now, what’s in front of you. So take charge of your life by operating in the present.
Embrace or, at least, accept your past, for better or worse, and view it as a stepping stone towards progress, no matter how painful the stuff behind you is.
Most people only care about themselves.
Altruism, by its definition, does not exist.
Humans are slightly evolved monkeys — animals, and thus self-serving.
Effective altruism, which means figuring out how to most efficiently help others, is real and should be practiced.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
If you want to get the most out of people, put yourselves in their shoes. Interact with them in a way that fulfills their needs while also finding a way to meet your own.
No matter how hard it is to do, being honest is almost always the best choice. Of course, a white lie may be the best course of action on a rare occasion, but come clean as soon as is practical.
Nothing in life will consistently get you further than being perceived as authentic and genuine in today’s superficial world.
That being said, being honest doesn’t mean saying what you think all the time. Don’t use honesty as an excuse to be an asshole. Being honest means saying what needs to be said — nothing more or nothing less.
As Churchill quipped: democracy is the worst form of government, besides everything else we’ve tried.
American politics, government bureaucracy, and the current capitalist system are deeply broken at so many levels they will require a full system reset to be remediated. But, on the other hand, nothing could be more dangerous to the sanctity of this nation than such resets.
If you want to have an impact and make money simultaneously, pick a systemic problem, identify a particular fix, and develop a solution that can be implemented with limited resources.
Nothing worth doing is easy.
Anything worth doing will likely be harder than it looks.
If you’re not struggling, you’re probably not developing as a person. They’re called growing pains for a reason.
Great, trusted friends are better than lots of friends.
Popularity is shitty.
Cherish, foster, and protect the love of those you love. Everyone else is peripheral.
Accept the negative, but reject the negative energy. Develop the ability to discern the difference.
The obstacle is the way.
Stillness is the key.
Embrace stoicism to whatever extent you can.
Learn about different religions. They have good lessons to learn and help you understand other perspectives.
Immerse yourself in different cultures and learn other languages to the extent that you can. Travel as much as you can.
Expand your consciousness as much as possible. There’s no surer route to personal fulfillment.
Meditation and breathwork are easy today with guided apps that can enable mindful states with relative ease. Do it. Breathwrk, Calm, and Headspace are all great.
Psychedelics, particularly mushrooms and ayahuasca (plant medicine… even though mushrooms aren’t technically plants), are a shortcut to doing the personal work you need to do if done right, with intention, planning, and proper integration. You can accomplish in eight hours what may have otherwise taken twenty years in therapy. Just do it responsibly; your life will be better because of it.
All those generic positive habits that you read about: eating well, brushing your teeth, taking vitamins, exercising, writing, etc. — really fucking work. Invest in yourself, and build good habits. The sooner, the better. The older you are, the harder it becomes to develop them — waiting on this was the biggest mistake of my twenties.
Trust your gut when you’re making a critical decision that can’t be evaluated on a purely quantitative basis. Generally, trust your gut. Not your brain, not your heart, not your genitals — your gut. When faced with the decision, sensing that immediate instinctual leaning in your stomach — lean in. Your brain, your heart, and most certainly your dick (can’t speak for women) will trick in you in the most treacherous ways, but your gut will not.
If you learn when to trust your gut and your instincts, you’ll be able to navigate the most precarious personal predicaments like a pro.
Learn how your body works — how it responds to certain activities and behaviors, and always listen to it. Then, if you don’t like how it works in certain ways, train it. We are very adaptable monkeys.
If you realize you have a toxic relationship (friend, lover, business partner, doesn’t matter), get out of it. You will be tempted to remediate because if it’s truly toxic, the toxins seep into your soul and make you seek more of it.
You don’t need to record everything you do or think. If it’s worth remembering, it will be remembered.
Material objects won’t make you happy. Coming from a rich fuck without many personal belongings of value, who knows a lot of other rich fucks with expensive cars, clothes, and jewelry — they don’t substantially increase the quality of your life. They often diminish it.
Be frugal, travel
There’s no such thing as coincidence, only serendipity. When something happens that feels wildly improbable, that is not a statistical anomaly. That is god. It took me a long time to come to terms with this, and I don’t expect this to convince anyone.
Say less, do more. Actions speak louder than words.
Dance as much as you can, and like no one is watching.
BUT Be careful who you dance with. There are few quicker ways to alienate someone without knowing it by dancing with someone they’re interested in.
Sing when you feel like it (unless you’re around other people and your voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard)
Kiss a lot, but be selective about who you sleep with.
You can always make more money, but you can never make more time. A life well spent is more important than money well spent.
When it comes to making personal decisions, your gut instinct will l almost always be right. Of course, there are times to use your brain and times to use your heart, but it’s often best to trust your gut.
Violence is not the answer and should be avoided, but sometimes it’s the solution.
Loyalty should never come before integrity, or you will pay a dear price.
Manifestation is real. Put your dreams and intentions out into the world and act as if possible, and they can become so.
Nobody will give you permission to live the life of your dreams, and nobody will create it for you. That’s on you. And if the life of your dreams requires a ton of money, you have the wrong dreams, respectfully.
Be respectful of other people’s time and space — it’s an easy boundary to cross.
Be a nihilist. In a world where nothing matters, everything matters — choose what to focus on and ignore the rest.
Those who think see life as a comedy, those who feel see it as a tragedy.
It’s better to be wrong and grow from your experience than to always be right and never grow at all.
Most of life is a marathon. So pace yourself accordingly because you never know when you’ll need to sprint.
Being tall imparts authority. It’s fucked but true.
Being short can lead to inferiority complexes (napoleon syndrome.) it goes without saying nobody’s competence should be judged by their height.
It’s ok to be hypocritical as long as you acknowledge your contradictions.
Sleeping with beautiful people isn’t impressive (though I wouldn’t discount it as an accomplishment.) what’s impressive is finding beautiful people with good values, intellect, ambition, and integrity.
Integrity is what you do when nobody is watching.
Call out bigotry and prejudice wherever you see it. It doesn’t matter if it’s uncomfortable. It’s the right thing to do. Be an ally.
Talk to people who have done what they do for a long time. The wisdom is incredible.