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10 Ways to Keep Life Simple

Always remember: Simple doesn’t mean easy. Some of the simplest things to do are often the most difficult.

1. Don’t expect too much: Not everything will ever go your way. Something will always seem like its missing. The moment your emotions get a grip on you, you start to create grand assumptions. And then you lose. Expect the worst, the best, and at the same time, nothing at all.

2. Don’t criticize: There’s a quote in one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby:

Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.

Very true. It’s easy to criticize, but much harder to realize that the reason why you’re criticizing is probably out of fear or jealously or because you’re bored.

3. Be present: If you’re exercising and you’re feeling the pain — feel the pain. Don’t ignore it. Don’t mute it with music. Live in that moment. Be aware of everything that you’re doing, feeling, and telling yourself. Learn to fight through it. Learn to stop making excuses every time your body feels discomfort. Learn to do this with everything that you do.

4. Be kind: It’s simple. If no one likes you, you probably won’t get too far in life.

5. Dealing with idiots, arrogance, the like: “That’s interesting. Let me know how that works out for you,” is a great answer to give to avoid meaningless arguments with people who probably won’t change their mind, no matter what you say. We are a biosphere of mostly insane humans — there are people out there who wake up and step in the same shit every day, instead of walking around it or simply removing it from their path. They blame everyone but themselves. Insane, I know.

6. Tell yourself a different story: There was a quote in Mad Men said by the leading character, Don Draper:

If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.

This goes for what you say to others and what you say to yourself. It’s that simple.

7. Redefine everything in your life: Chances are, you’ve been told lies about success and power and living a good life. Things like success were already defined for us — nice car, good paying job, finish college, 6-pack abs, whatever. Those things are not success. They can be, but they don’t have to be. The American Dream may not work for you, but it may work for someone else.

I finished reading Hugh Macleod’s book, Ignore Everybody (good read), and he said this:

Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

Very true. Redefine what success means to you. Redefine what life means to you. Redefine all the lies that were instilled in you to keep you a safe consumer, destined to follow someone else’s dream. Once you know what you truly want, go and earn it.

8. Ask why: Ask yourself why you do the things that you do. If you have trouble coming up with a meaningful reason, then chances are you shouldn’t do it. For example: I used to have a Facebook and had about 700 friends. Maybe 10 of them were my real friends, yet I continued to log into this world for no real reason. I would observe the lives of others and focus on them, rather than focus on me and my work and my true friends. Be very clear on why you do what you do, and if there’s a true purpose behind it, ask yourself how you can do it better.

Sometimes the best questions aren’t the ones we ask others, but the ones we ask ourselves. With honesty and care.

9. Here’s all the productivity tips you need: 

  • Don’t watch T.V (or at least, minimize your intake of entertainment drastically).
  • Identify all the distractions in your life, and without a magic wand, eliminate them. Have trouble eliminating them? I know why: Fear.
  • Ask yourself why you log onto Facebook 100 times a day, or ask yourself why you go on Twitter 200 times a day.
  • Focus on the things that help you grow as a person — learning, reading, gaining experience, doing your work.
  • Exercise your craft daily, whatever it may be. No days off.
  • If you attend meetings, keep it short, simple, and have a specified goal. No goal = hour long meeting of procrastination and a bunch of fearful individuals.

Lao Tzu said it best:

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’.

That’s pro.

10. Do you: Stop focusing and worrying about how other people live their life. Life becomes a whole lot better when you learn to shut out the outside noise, and focus on the noise going on in your own mind.

This man says it better:

A key point to bear in mind: The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve. — Marcus Aurelius

Life is joyfully simple. Let’s keep it that way.