Adrian Stobbe

How To Live - Derek Sivers

13 minutes (3219 words)
Table of contents

🔗 Link : Goodreads

⭐️ Rating: 9/10

🔗🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. There is no one answer on how to live well.
  2. Our attittude and perspectives on what feels right change within the different life phases.
  3. All the conflicting ideas have in common that they bring intention to how we live.

🔗🎨 Impressions

It was maybe the most thought provoking book I’ve read this year. I had several epiphanies; moments where I got excited: “Yees, that’s it to the point… Wow, I never thought about it like this..”. There were also many ideas that did not attract me, but I still found it interesting to consider them. I also recognized many ideas and found connections to other books, which gave the pleasant feeling that I took something from the other readings.

🔗How I Discovered It

I was a Sivers fan before

🔗Who Should Read It?

The book is a compilation of ideas on how to live a good life. It’s thought-provoking has many conflicting ideas that each have their appeal. It takes you on self exploration to find which attitudes and life principles attract you. Sivers writing is very concise, making it a quick-read. You will most likely spend much more time thinking than reading. Highly recommend!

🔗☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

Personalities are fluid. I don’t need to stick to past traits just because that’s how people know me. The impediment for change is just in my head. I can be who I want to be and what feels best right now.

The commitment to have a routine got reinforced. I want to reserve the morning for learning, work during the day, do exercise in the afternoon, and journal in the evening.

I want to be more social. I want to talk to more people, invite people for a meal. I want to build a deeper connection with my family. I got reminded again that building deep friendships require effort, but that it is worth investing. I noticed how some people make me feel more comfortable being myself. They are open and revealing about themselves.

I want to commit more and stop trying to find something better. I often find myself indecisive about trivia. I realize that it only matters how you feel about a choice and not whether it is objectively the best. This also applies to love. I’ve been idealizing it too much, always finding something that is not optimal or “missing”. I think happiness in a relationship is more about commiting to it. A partner does not need to connect on all levels (there are other significant others). It’s really about finding someone full of kindness who is committed to putting you in the center of their life. Maybe the only additional requirement is a shared core value set.

🔗📒 Summary + Notes

My notes are quotes from the book, since it is difficult to put it even more concise..

🔗Be independent

Never agree with anything the same day you hear it, because some ideas are persuasively hypnotic. Wait a few days to decide what you really think.

Friends are great at the right distance. Just like you can’t read something if it’s pushed up against your face, or too far away, you should keep your friends at arm’s length — close but not too close.

Have more than one romantic partner, or none. To avoid emotional dependence, never have just one. Don’t worry about being lonely. Nothing is more lonely than being with the wrong person.

You can’t be free without self-mastery. Your past indulgences and habits might be addictions. Quit a harmless habit for a month, just to prove you can.

When you say you want more freedom from the world, you may just need freedom from your past self.

Be a perpetual traveler, living out of a suitcase. Give away everything you haven’t used in a week. Ownership binds you to the past. Don’t get invested in any one thing.

Own your own business with many small customers to avoid depending on any big client. Offer products, not a personal service, so your business can run without you. Create many sources of income like this.

Don’t sign contracts. Be willing to walk away from anything.

You can appreciate everything from a healthy distance. You can appreciate your country from abroad, once it’s not your only option. You can appreciate family, once they’re not forced upon you.


If you’ve ever been confused or distracted, with too many options… If you don’t finish what you start… If you’re not with a person you love… … then you’ve felt the problem. The problem is a lack of commitment.

You can stop seeking the best option. Pick one and irreversibly commit. You make it the best through your commitment to it.

When a decision is irreversible, you feel better about it. When you’re stuck with something, you find what’s good about it. When you can’t change your situation, you change your attitude towards it. So remove the option to change your mind.

Don’t overthink trivial choice like which desert or bread to buy. Just decide on one and go for it.

Let go of every unnecessary obligation.

Choose your home. Stay there for good. Get to know everything about it. Hire a local expert and learn about areas you haven’t explored.

Find a community of like-minded people. Don’t waste your energy fighting norms.

The pursuit of mastery helps you think long-term. It keeps your eyes on the horizon. You resist the temptation of what you want now. You remember the importance of what you want most. You spend time intentionally. Every month has a milestone. Every day has a goal. The most rewarding things in life take years. Only bad things happen quickly.

Passion come from “pati”, meaning “to suffer or endure”. To be passionate about something is to be willing to suffer for it — to endure the pain it’ll bring.

You’re defined by what you do repeatedly. Your habits create your character.

You need ritual, not inspiration. Every day, no matter what, you must practice. It’s the highest priority. A routine triggers inspiration because your mind and body learn that ideas emerge at that time.


Trust helps your happiness more than income or health. Invite your neighbors over for a meal. Make friends. Make the effort. Borrow and lend. Trust and show you can be trusted. Let them know they can lean on you because you’re here to stay. They’ll reciprocate.

The more social ties we have, the happier we are. The bond of friendship is one of the deepest joys in life. Notice those words: ties, bond. These are words of commitment. We say we want freedom, in theory. But we actually prefer this warm embrace.

If you want a successful network of connections, what matters is not how many people you know but how many different kinds of people you know.

After age twenty, you need deliberate effort to make new friends. Friends are made, not found.

Humor means using your mind beyond necessity, beyond reality, for both noticing and imagining. It shows you quickly looked at something from many angles, found the one that amused you the most, and considerately expressed it to someone else.

Small talk is just a way of matching the other person’s tone and mood. It helps them be comfortable with you.

Whenever you’re thinking something nice about someone, tell them. A sincere compliment can put a lot of fuel in someone’s tank. People don’t hear enough compliments.

Ideally, when with others, be the same person you’d be when alone. Keep communicating instead of shutting down. We think walls protect us from enemies, but walls are what create enemies in the first place.

Don’t text when you should talk. Avoid habitual comebacks and clichés. Admit what you’re really feeling, even when it’s uncomfortable.

The more you really connect with people, the more you learn about yourself: what excites you, what drains you, what attracts you, and what intimidates you.

Notice who makes you feel more connected with yourself — more open and more honest.


Not love, the feeling, but love the active verb. It’s not something that happens to you. It’s something you do. You choose to love something or someone.

If you have feelings for someone, and you don’t let that person know, you’re lying with your silence. Be direct. It saves so much trouble and regret.

Instant obsessive love is a bad sign that you’re thinking of someone as the solution. Projecting perfection onto someone is not love. You say “I love you” but really mean “I love this”.

Love brings the pain of attachment. If you avoid pain, you avoid what you really want.

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is harder. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

Marry someone full of kindness who is committed to putting you in the center of their life. Marry someone you don’t want to change, who doesn’t want to change you. Someone that doesn’t punish you for mistakes. Someone who sees you as your highest potential. Commit completely.

Marriage is for getting through the times when you’re not in love. Expect things to get bad. Your mutual commitment gives you the security to weather the storms, knowing they won’t destroy the relationship. Be loving even when you’re not feeling loving. Commitment gives you peace of mind. When you commit to one thing, and let go of the rest, you feel free. Once you decide something, never change your mind. It’s so much easier to decide just once. Commitment gives you integrity and social bonds


Maximize your inputs. See all the places. Eat all the food. Hear all the music. Meet all the people. Kiss all the beauties. Be insatiable.

Be systematic. Follow guides. “Top Places You Must Visit” “Greatest Movies of All Time” “Best Restaurants in Town” Go through them all. That’s the optimized way to experience the most, without repetition.

Experience pain, anger, sorrow, and more. Don’t judge them as bad. Notice how they really feel.

Practice seduction. Be with a different person every night. Every lover is different.

Practice feeling emotions intentionally, instead of using actions to create them. You don’t need marriage to feel security. Marriage doesn’t make you secure.

Move to a quiet place with lots of nature and no ambition. Doing nothing is normal there. Walk and appreciate nature for hours a day. Your life and mind will be tranquil and serene. Peace is the absence of turmoil. You won’t need the media, the internet, or a phone. Your cost of living will be hardly more than local eggs and vegetables

You can’t see your own culture while you’re inside of it.

Go make memories. Experience the unusual. Replace your routines. Live in different places.

Journal every day. Write down your activities, thoughts, and feelings for future reference.

Turn your experiences into stories. A story is the remains of an experience. Make your stories entertaining, so people like to hear them.

When talking with people, ask deep open-ended questions — like “What’s your biggest regret?” — that will lead to unexpected stories.

Do a ten-day silent meditation.

Visit Singapore, Jakarta, Addis Ababa, Lagos, Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Silicon Valley.

Move to South Korea, and keep an apartment in Songdo, Incheon. South Korean culture places the highest value on what’s new. Work as a futurist Watch the greatest movies of all time. Read the classics. Listen to the legends. These things have lasted because they work so well. Time is the best filter.

If you’re not embarrassed by what you thought last year, you need to learn more and faster.

When you’re really learning, you’ll feel stupid and vulnerable.

Talk with people you usually avoid.

Get out of your room and try out a new skill in the real world. Go to the physical place where it’s happening, and put your ass on the line with something to lose. A vivid, visceral feeling of danger will teach you better than words.

Great public speaking comes from great private thinking.

Go light-weight camping for a week.

When something bad happens, ask, “What’s great about this?” Instead of changing the world, just change your reactions.

Visit your favorite places. Listen to your favorite music. Taste your favorite food. Touch your favorite people. This might be the last time you do all these things, so appreciate each moment fully.

Spend your social time meeting new people. You’re not the same person you were last year or even last week. Old friends and family see you as you used to be, and unintentionally discourage your growth.

🔗Decision making

Let “No” be the default answer. People mistakenly say yes to work, people, and places they don’t like, then need to escape to get away from their mistakes. People make bad decisions because they felt they had to decide. It would have been wiser to do nothing.

When a problem is bothering you, it feels like you need to do something about it. Instead, identify what belief is really the source of your trouble. Replace that belief with one that doesn’t bother you.

When someone asks you to decide, just refuse. The longer you go without deciding, the more information is revealed. Eventually, the choice is obvious and made without an agonizing decision.

Just because somebody asked you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer it. Dramatic people are fueled by reactions. When you stop reacting, they go away.

If an action feels necessary, and you can’t let it go, just write it down for later. Everything seems more important while you’re thinking of it. Later, you’ll realize it’s not. But if it still feels necessary, adjust your time frame. A year from now, will it be important? Ten years from now? Zoom out as far as you need to make it unimportant.

Don’t convince yourself your home is an asset. Your home is an expense, not an investment, because it doesn’t put money in your pocket each month.

Only spend money on things that do long-term good, like education. In other words, never spend, only invest. The earlier you start, the better, since time is the multiplier.

🔗Be uncomfortable

Choose pain in small doses to build your resistance to it. Set a daily challenge to feel uncomfortable.

Whatever scares you, go do it. Then it won’t scare you anymore.

When you make a big mistake and want to learn its lesson, deliberately amplify the pain, the deep regret, and the consequences.

Everything good comes from some kind of pain. Muscle fatigue makes you healthy and strong. The pain of practice leads to mastery. Difficult conversations save your relationships.

Avoid pain, and you avoid improvement. Avoid embarrassment, and you avoid success. Avoid risk, and you avoid reward.

Socially, try to get rejected. Learn about “rejection therapy”. Make audacious requests that you think will be denied. This removes the pain of rejection. And you’ll be surprised how often they say yes.

Be absolutely honest with everyone. Stop lying, completely. You lie when you’re afraid. You lie to avoid consequences. Always say the truth. Take the painful consequences.

Indulging is common. Refraining is rare.

Comfort reduces your future happiness. You get upset that your meal doesn’t come as ordered, or angry at your phone for having an imperfect connection. You lose appreciation. You forget the perspective of how bad things could be.

Practice being uncomfortable, even in small ways. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Skip eating for a day, or sugar for a month.

Shallow happy is having a donut. Deep happy is having a fit body. Shallow happy is what you want now. Deep happy is what you want most. Shallow happy serves the present. Deep happy serves the future. Shallow happy is trying to conquer the world. Deep happy is conquering yourself. Shallow happy is pursuing pleasure. Deep happy is pursuing fulfillment.

🔗Be present

Live today and forget about the future. If you want to do something, do it now. If you don’t want to do it now, then you don’t want to do it at all, so let it go.

Focus on whatever fascinates you now. When you’re happy, you think better. You’re more open to possibilities and connecting ideas. You learn better and are more creative. So forget the future and past.

People with severe amnesia are surprisingly happy. They can’t remember the past, and they don’t try to predict the future since they have no trajectory. They have only the present moment, so they enjoy it without burden. Follow their example. Forget the past and future.

Never make plans. When someone asks, just say you can’t know until that day.


Following your emotions is not freedom. Being free from following emotions is freedom.

Random stuff happens. All you can control is your response. Every day, you’ll practice how to react to chaos: with dignity, poise, and grace.

An undisciplined moment seems harmless, but they add up to disaster. Without discipline, the tiny things in life will be your downfall.

Your self-control is highest in the morning and diminishes during the day, so review your book’s rules every afternoon.

Ignore everything new. Let the test of time filter everything. Value only what has endured

Ignore all marketing and advertising. Nobody is pushing what really matters. Friendships, nature, family, learning, community. The best things in life aren’t things.

Expecting life to be wonderful is disappointing. Expecting life to be disappointing is wonderful.

Rules may keep you from some stupendous heights, but they will always keep you from falling too low.

Schedule everything to ensure balance of your time and effort. Scheduling prevents procrastination, distraction, and obsession. A schedule makes you act according to the goals of your highest self, not your passing mood.


Boring industries have little competition, since most people are seeking status in glamorous new fields. Find an old industry and solve an old problem in a new way.

Avoid difficult business problems. Your time is more profitably spent doing what comes easily to you.

It’s better to create something bad than nothing at all. You can improve something bad. You can’t improve nothing.

Embrace what’s weird about you, and use it to create.

Separate creation and release. When you’ve finished a work, wait a while before you release it to the world. By then, you’re on to something new. The public comments won’t affect you, since they will be about your past work.

Share your stories from all your mistakes for the benefit of the world.

Every time you hear a song, watch a show, or read an idea, think of how you’d change it or combine it with something else. Keep your tools handy to rearrange, remix, and edit what you encounter. Then share your alterations.

🔗Via negativa

Most of eating healthy is just avoiding bad food.

To have good people in your life, just cut out the bad ones.

What do you want out of life? That’s hard to answer. What don’t you want? That’s easy. More than anything, we want a lack of negatives. A life with no pain, no injury, no regrets, and no disaster is a good life. It’s easy to find joy in everyday things, if you can just avoid the bad.