When life gets tough

There‘s this weird belief I have. I am convinced that I am physically, mentally, genetically, whateverly unable to be depressed. At least, I hope I‘m right.

Still, even I have shitty days from time to time. Ask anyone around me, and they will tell you that last December was especially tough.

What I can‘t stand when I‘m in this mood is that „be happy, just smile, everything will be fine“-crap. Most often, when I feel like shit, it's not because I am particularly sad but because I lost touch with what is essential. Life overwhelmed me with a shitload of petty things.

So don't give me that "just smile" bullshit. I need something different. That's why I wrote this blog post. What follows is a set of rules. Steps. Guidelines. Call them whatever you want. Their goal is to remind me what I think is important in life. You may not like them. You might think they are pretentious and overly narcissistic. They might make you angry. If you tend to be easily offended, you should close this tab.

Gone? Good. For the rest of you, I hope you can find some value out of what follows. But remember. I wrote this mainly for myself.

Live below your means

You don't need every shiny new object. Stop buying things hoping they'll bring you happiness. You don't need that shiny new iPad or camera. It won't make you a better human being.

„Love people, not things; use things, not people." Only Food and experiences (food is an experience) are worth your money. Be greedy.

So what should you do, when temptation is strong? You wait. Two weeks at least, though the more, the better. Still want that thing after a month? Good. Buy it. You can't remember what it was you wanted? Awesome. Invite someone to a restaurant. You saved a lot of money.

Oh, and if you decide to buy that fancy new gimmick, don't put it on your credit card, please. Or take a loan. If you don't have the money, don't borrow it. Especially not from credit card companies. Oh, and focus on paying off your credits before you buy expensive stuff.

Things you can't control are not worth it

According to the Stoics, you can divide life into three parts. There are:

  • Things you cannot control; They are out of your realm of influence. It isn't worth spending time and energy, as it will only lead to frustration.
  • Things you can control; They don't need too much effort. You should automate them whenever possible.
  • Things you can partially control; They should be what you focus on, as only these will be worth the effort. And focus on your reaction to what is happening around you. If you‘re not angry when someone attacks you, you won‘t feel any anger. It's as simple as that. (Simple, not easy.) Marcus Aurelius: „You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.“

Keep learning, as it is the only thing that matters

There are so many books you still need to read, so many languages you want to speak, things you want to learn and people you want to meet. Be a sponge, absorb everything and make it your own. Then you will be able to create new links and connections and create.

Read many books. Fiction or non-fiction. Doesn't matter. And if you don't like a book, skip it. I wrote a blog post on how to read more.

Take notes. Don't believe you are capable of remembering every thought you will ever have. Write! It! Down! Notebook, apps, doesn't matter. Write it down for fuck's sake.

Listen to people. Really listen to them. Keep your smartphone in your pocket and fucking listen. Don't look for smart answers while they talk. Don't try to interpret everything through your lens. Just listen.

Watch closely. A lot of what happens is non-verbal. Look at the people you talk to, or to those around you. You will pick up a lot of cues you might have missed otherwise. People pretending they are happy though they are not. People pretending to admire you when in reality they envy you.

Stop giving fucks (and save them)

People are always offended. So are you. People always hype things, so do you. Stop that. Don't give all those fucks. Stop scratching every itch. You don‘t need to form an opinion on anything and everything. Don‘t waste your time trying to keep up. FOMO is real but only if you feel that you can miss out. There is nothing to miss out. Life can happen without you knowing.

Safe your fucks, harbour them. And when you need to, spend your fucks lavishly.

Time is the only currency you can't multiply

People always want more money, yet it is rather easily obtainable. After all, banks are printing that shit as we speak. Probably some crooks too.

And yet, people spend their time as if it were money. As if they could get it back.

Be the master of your own time, save it (like your fucks) and only open the account when it is worth it. You have to say no to a lot. If it doesn‘t add value to your life or helps somebody (which is valuable even to you) don‘t do it. Don‘t do it because „we do things this way“. Don‘t do it because „it helps the company“ (while hurting the customer). Say no to say yes.

But what if you have to do it? Try to delegate. If someone else can do it at least 80% as effective as you, let them do it. Your „good enough“ may be their perfect.

Meditate daily

Meditate:

  • Like a Buddhist, while following your breath and observing your thoughts. On your cushion, in silence.
  • Like a Stoic, while thinking about fame, success, death, happiness, etc. Slow down and analyze your thoughts.
  • Like a writer, while day-dreaming and writing your own story. Be bored again. Don‘t fill every free minute with distractions. Let your thoughts roam and wander.

Focus on quality-time with yourself

You can't be there for others when you're never there for yourself. You should spend quality time with yourself (alone!) and focus on your wellbeing. Only then, will you be able to be at your best for those who need you.

Fifteen minutes daily is the absolute minimum. Even the most extroverted person has to be alone with herself regularly. I am that extroverted person. I need it. Especially needed it in December.

Stop your Ego

Reflect before you speak and analyze your thought-patterns. There isn't such a thing as free-will. Everything happens in your subconsciousness. Your consciousness has no insight in these processes. Most of what we believe in has been set when we were children. Also, we're all biased to think we're different, better than the others. But we're not.

Don‘t give in to your emotions. If you are angry, sad, or even too happy, you shouldn‘t speak nor react. Wait until you calm down before you do anything.

And seriously, stop thinking you‘re any different. You‘re neither worse nor better. You are like everyone else. Success is a mix of hard work, time and a lot of luck.

So if you are successful, don't think you're better than everyone else. And if you envy successful people don't think they have some unfair advantages, some natural born talent. They just did the work. You can do so though.

„Mens Sana in Corpore Sano."

Stop poisoning your body and drugging it with opiates (too much coffee, alcohol, sugar, fat). Stop poisoning your mind (news, trolling, hatred, shit storms, toxic people).

Be better by 1% every day

1%. That's all you have to focus on — no excuses.

It is called marginal gains:

  • 1% better every day: 1,01^365= 37,78
  • 1% worse every day: 0,99^365 = 0,03

Don‘t focus on the result. Only try to keep doing better every single day. And never skip two days in a row. Sometimes life gets in your way. That's ok.

The first skipped day is an accident. The second skipped day is a habit.

Not more but better

Slow down and trim the waste out of your life. There is too much clutter in all of it; be it belongings, people, thoughts, fucks. Cut them and focus only on the top 20%. If it doesn't "spark joy" (yep, I stole that from Marie Kondo), cut it.

Draw your own lines in the sand

You live your life, you set the boundaries and decide what to do. Don't let others have a say. It's your fucking beach. Don't try to impress anyone and pick your adventure.

Focus on what you need. Not what you think others might find impressing. They don't care. They are too busy with their own lives. Why should they care about how you dress, when you don‘t care about how they dress?