The ancient Greek and Roman thinkers already knew it - the value of living guided by a practical philosophy. Back then the predominant schools were Stoicism, Epicureanism and Cynicism. Around the same time, we are talking about 500 BC, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism developed in Asia. With the rise of the world religions their popularity declined, but they have remained till today and so has the foundational value of having life principles. Yet none of these ancient philosophy, have convinced me to become a full-hearted adopter.
Inspired by the readings of Stoic joy and How to live, I decided to go on my quest to define my life philosophy. Motivated by Principles, I am making them public for everyone to see.
The first question is: what makes up a life philosophy? For me, it’s the core of beliefs that guide what I do, how I make decisions and how I spend my energy and time. It’s not a definition of lofty goals or beliefs that every good-natured human holds - you may assume this about me ;) My life philosophy is about those principles that define the core of my identity and deserve explanation by not being obvious. It’s the set of principles I hold now, but that are amenable to future changes.
I separate these principles into doing and being. Doing relates to my actions and how I spend my energy. Being relates to my personality, thinking, beliefs and choices.
Say no to work, people and places you don’t like. Be reluctant to commit. Say you come back later to make a decision. Most bad decisions are made impulsively under pressure.
The more you take on, the less you will achieve.
Think twice before committing to a plan. Even if it feels like “hell yeah” it’s often worth to give it another thought when you feel less emotional about it. Everything seems more important in the moment. Write it down for later. Time tells how things really are.
It seems appealing to do x, to learn y, but what’s the cost for your other priorities? Would you enjoy the process, or do you just want the outcome?
🔗Time is precious
I rather spend time with friends and doing exercise or hobbies than watching TV or playing games.
Money can save time: by saving commute time, paying for the extra service, delegating tasks that are not a good time investment.
Respect other people’s time and make an effort to be a good communicator.
Traditional 9 to 5 jobs go against the appreciation of time. Work should be measured by value and not time.
A day without learning is a lost opportunity.
Be curious and unfearful of looking “stupid”.
Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. Record them and review them.
Ask for critique.
Learning is broad: technical skills, soft skills, understanding thinking and feelings of others, self-reflection.
Learning is the path to growth, it empowers, and is the seed for positive change.
Share your knowledge - through writing on the internet, open-source projects. It might be useful to someone else. And what is knowledge worth if not shared / applied?
Provide value to society. Creating value without asking for anything in return is unsustainable.
Don’t sell yourself under value. Income is the path to financial freedom: the freedom to spend most of your time as you want.
Wealth is money not spent. Stay a Humble minimalist.
Settle for average returns from passive index funds.
Your home is an expense, not an investment.
Happiness is solving good problems.
People try to explain the world, but the point is to change the world.
Ideas without execution are worthless.
Suspend judgement from the first draft. Something bad can be improved upon. You can’t improve nothing.
🔗Plan and be intentional
Planning is time not spent doing, so don’t overdo it, but doing without planning is time poorly spent. Plan your day ahead to not be distracted by the unimportant and impulses during the day.
As an introvert, reserve time for yourself. You can’t be your best version for extended periods without time to step back and reconnect with yourself.
Schedule quality time with friends.
Reserve focused time to learn.
Do preventative health checkups.
Rely on routines to lower the need for willpower. Willpower is limited.
Practice self-control to avoid impulses that distract me from my bigger priorities. Resist sweets, checking the phone, urge to escape discomfort once in a while. Prove to yourself you can.
🔗Long term thinking
Avoid indulging in activities that trade short term benefits against the long term. Your energy and time should be investments: be it learning, work, finance, but importantly also relationships and friends.
I only want to be around people that I know I’m going to be around with for the rest of my life. I only want to work on things that I know have long-term payout. - Naval Ravikant
Say no to what seems appealing in the moment. There is no free lunch. Junk food and sweets gives instant gratification while paying for how you feel later and your long-term health.
Eat to feel good rather than eating yummy to feel bad.
🔗Filter and focus
Focus on the relevant. Most gossip and daily news are not worth knowing.
Do what you do wholeheartedly.
Find your skill to master. “People don’t fail by choosing the wrong path - they fail by not choosing. Passion comes after you start getting good.” - How to live, Derek Sivers
Focus your energy on a few friends rather than spreading it over a dozen.
🔗Don’t cave in - no regrets
Resist the pressure to conform and do things because of societies expectations.
Embrace to be an outsider who deviates from the norm.
Don’t take life too seriously. People usually care less, and we are the strictest with ourselves.
Ask what you want. Learn to be rejected.
Do what you want now and don’t postpone it for later. Later extends until it’s too late. Take reasonable risks.
Expect the worst. It’s outside your control how much time you have with loved ones, but you can enjoy the present and express gratitude today.
🔗Before adding, try subtracting
New things promise some upside, but what about the downsides? Addiction, scattered focus, wasted time.
Try not to fix things by swallowing that pill, but instead remove what is causing the pain.
Less is more.
Don’t try to be more right. Just be less wrong. Before adding niceties, avoid doing harm first. One terrible thing can destroy an entire relationship.
Most of being a good person is not doing bad.
Have as few possessions as possible. Anything additional is baggage. Keep it easy to move places and don’t be attached to belongings.
Happiness is a state without desires.
Minimize your dependencies. Reject consumerism and materialism. It doesn’t bring happiness, but just leads to a never ending spiral of desire for more.
By stoic ideals, appreciate what you have. Don’t admire rich people, but pity them for their high standards to feel happy. Being minimalistic means there is less to lose.
🔗Live with nature
Appreciate our natural habit. Preserve its beauty by foremost minimizing harm. Not to the extreme of severly compromising life quality, but by avoiding the unnecessary and compensating for the accepted burden. Avoid, reduce, compensate - in that order.
Move to a quiet place with lots of nature. Enjoy the surroundings. Nature is healing. It’s a reminder of what is too much in cities.
Care about the animals. Eat veggie.
🔗Live for others
Be an attentive listener and ask deep questions. Make the effort to feel and think how they do. Curiosity comes from the attitude that there is somethign to learn from everybody.
Focus on being helpful to others. Share what you know and might be relevant to them. Make them feel great. Most people don’t care about how happy I am or how passionate or proud I am of x. Admiration and appreciation comes from decency and deeds.
People with strong social ties are happier.
People don’t hear enough compliments. Tell people when you think something nice about them.
🔗Love and feel
“The first step to love is to give it your full attention and deliberately appreciate it” - How to live, Derek Sivers
Be wary of marriage. Dont make a life-long commitment based on an emotional state.
Love your partner more than your children. This is how they learn what love is.
Humans love to be understood. Don’t just try to fix problems. Listen and understand their feelings.
Notice who brings out the best in you and makes you feel more connected with yourself.
Admit what you are really feeling, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Make time for your relationships.
“Live among fellow freaks, where obsession is normal and ambition is rewarded” - How to live, Derek Sivers
Sincere appreciation and engagement with their interests is the foundation for friendship.
Long term thinking also applies to friends. Meet regularly to maintain and continuously grow the connection.
What’s worthy comes with pain: love comes with attachment, success comes with frustration and failures, deep connection comes from being vulnerable, exploration comes with fear. Make pain a choice rather than seeing it as a necessary evil.
Asking what you want comes with the potential pain of being rejected.
Being honest is uncomfortable and painful for our self-image. But deferring the truth is much more painful.
🔗Reinvent yourself regularly
Change becomes difficult after age 25. Neuroplasiticty decreases afterwards. Invest in your early personal growth.
Personalities are fluid. Don’t stick to past traits just because that’s how people know you.
🔗Accept and take responsibility
Embrace the present how it is. When something bothers you, find the causing belief and change it.
Many unfortunate events are outside your control. You can only control your reaction to them.
Don’t compare yourself with other more fortunate individuals. There are even more people who are less fortunate.
Don’t ask “why did this happen to me”. Everyone has their own burden. Do your best.
Taking responsibility instead of pin pointing to others feels empowering. You are in control.
🔗Life is storyworthy
Every day, pick a moment that is storyworthy. See life as a story. Stories are the remains of an experience. Make great adventures, but tell greater stories.
A long and healthy life you can’t remember is not worth much.
Pursue novelty. Live in different places.