I was thinking tonight about several things I completed recently, and how they keep making life better, and mentally I made a list which I then expanded to include the last 15 years or so, which is a rate of about one new rule per year. In no particular order:
- EXPERIENCE: Live in the world, not the Midwest. Spend a year somewhere, living a daily, ordinary non-tourist life. Wherever you are is not the greatest place on Earth. The more places you live (not just visit), the more you can see things for what they are.
- HEALTH: Get well. Take supplements. Fix what’s broken. See iherb.com if you need a place to start. Everyone has a handful of things that either don’t work right, or could just be much better. Don’t spend years not fixing them.
- MONEY: Follow David Ramsey’s 10 Steps. Get out of debt. If you’re debt free, get a Roth. Track all bills & accounts. Use a spreadsheet if it’s a lot. Google Docs is great. Life’s too short to spend wondering where your money went.
- CHARITY: Give to the poor – start something regular. See globalgiving.org – you can start small. Nothing in life is worth much if it’s not something we share, innately, with other people. And that tells us how to help them.
- FREEDOM/SECURITY: Get a sideline or start a company. Be good at more than one thing. Find your vocation and follow it to the world of meaning. Our real and true work purifies the general derangement inflicted on us by the sedentary passions that fester in modern life. Find a way to dump the indignities of rush hour.
- LOVE: Dating sucks. Think long term. Be friends first. Stop playing or compromising. Be real, fix your own life, not break someone else’s. No one can really give general advice on specific relationships, like making a marriage better. But there’s excellent collective experience on messing up one’s life. Stop living in the chivalrous middle ages or the slimy 70s and grow up.
- HEALTH INSURANCE: Get control of your health care security. It’s too important to trifle with. Contribute to an HSA and get high deductable insurance. Supplemental/gap insurance if you can swing it.
- DEATH: Protect your loved ones with enough life insurance. Execute a Will. Execute Advance Health Care Directives and HIPAA paperwork. Think ahead, all the way to funeral arrangements. Chances of us all living to be 100 are slim.
- OPTIONS: Stay lean, agile, mobile. Rent, don’t buy, unless you’re willing to marry your location. Own only what you need. Don’t horde or collect. Ignore fashions. Reduce, compact, and slim the requirements of life to the essentials. Let them be defined by what you are doing with your life.
- TIME: Reclaim & control your time: buy online, don’t shop, drive less. Starve Facebook. Use a planning calendar. Optimize. Be amazing in what you can do compared to people who spend time casually.
- FOOD: Eat healthy – pay more for it. Dump fast food. Half your plate is vegetables. Go organic. Feel better, think better, live better, be kinder to the world.
- FITNESS: Exercise regularly. Sleep hard. Get more energy. Fight disease.
- ART: Read, challenge, learn, grow. Spend less time on ideology, more on creativity. A person with no literature is a person who can’t think and shouldn’t speak.
- RELIGION: Stop dicking around and do something consistent. If it’s easy, popular, about other people, or threatening, it isn’t real (just like with politics).
- MAKE PEACE: Remake your mind for peace. Find ways to resist your own temptation to control, correct, manage, intimidate, and use others. It’s not peace if you go to war against the non-peaceful – it’s hypocrisy. Strive continually to overcome the violence, fear and fearmongering, and the impulse to power over others the culture has planted in you. It may take all your life.
Some of these are from hard-won experience, some are advice I followed, some I discovered by ‘accident’ or providence, some I still fight to live up to. But these are the rules that keep panning out for me. Another way to think of them is the ethics of a life. They’re my version of that. Also, they’re 15 experiments which I rate a success, to the degree I carry them out.