If you want to learn more about why I started this journey you can find out here: The First Step
Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
THE RULES OF THE ROAD
Let me start by saying that rules is a little over the top. But it does make it easy to remember! Guidelines, clues, cairns, touchstones, fundamentals. Call them whatever you like, these are the foundation of the thinking you will find here. I like to think of DTR as a road map and this list is the legend or the key. And this list is going to be fluid. Philosophy is an activity. These ideas are a process.
So if you have any ideas that would improve or clarify the list, please share them. To get updates about these kinds of ideas and where they fit into your life, sign up for the free newsletter.
(FYI – some of the links below are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage of the sale if you choose to buy something. Two quick things about this. I only recommend things I truly love and have impacted me in some way. There is no additional cost to you at all.)
START FROM WHERE YOU ARE, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
You already have everything you need to take the first step. Your ability to read this alone mean that you have an internet connection and a device of some kind to read on. So whatever it is that you are waiting to begin, a new business, a novel, exercising, learning another language….anything….start now. The tools are in your hands. There has never been a time in the history of the world where such amazing resources are at your disposal. Learn about my start here: The First Step. Or here is another great start read to inspire you: zenhabits
WHAT YOU HAVE AND WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW IS ENOUGH
This goes along with the above. But it goes deeper. You have to love yourself in order to love and help others. If you want to make a ton of money (million, billion, zillion and so forth), go for it. But do it from a place of curiosity, problem solving, or fun. To do something for the money will only make you unhappy. Anytime I have tried to do something just to make money it has made me feel crappy. I don’t like feeling that way, so now I am trying to take action from a place of service to others. And so far it’s working out, I am not always able to be in the head space but I am getting better. And who you are is not dependent on what you have or what you do. You are a child of the universe and in the whole of creation there has never been another you. Embrace all of the things that make you unique among the multitude.
FORGIVE YOURSELF, FORGIVE OTHERS
It sounds so easy to do as I type this. Forgive. You have heard this a thousand times and you will keep hearing it over and over again. But damn is it hard to do. Our lives are very short and everyday we face innumerable uncertainties of all kinds. So don’t put it off until tomorrow. Do it now. And if it doesn’t stick, try again. And again. Make this part of your daily mediation/practice/habits and see how much lighter you feel.
QUESTION EVERYTHING, USE FIRST PRINCIPLES
Whether you are new at something or have been doing it for a long time, it always helps to come back to this. Don’t be afraid to call into question the most basic ideas that you carry with you. They may be holding you back. First Principles means that you start with what can be established at the most basic level of whatever it is you are doing and work up from there. You do not hold onto old assumptions and you test any new ones that you come up with. You do not fit the data to suit your own cognitive biases. You start over. And you move up the ladder one rung at a time once you have solid footing. And yes, you may have to start over a lot. But at some point you will move up a level. A video game analogy would work really well here. This is much harder to do than to talk about. Once the reading list is up I will try to point to some resources to help out with this.
DO NOT LET PERFECT BE THE ENEMY OF GOOD, PRACTICE THE 80/20 RULE
Herein lies my downfall. I want everything I do to be as amazing as it can possibly be. But there comes a point when working with the goal of perfection in mind is a detriment to the outcome. Think MVP. A good example is this list. I am stopping here to get this thing up (well there was a little on the next one so I left it up). Below is a list of other ideas I have for it but I want to get the ball rolling! Check back soon for more here….
THERE IS NO FAILURE, ONLY FEEDBACK
Well actually there is lots and lots of failure. I love Noah Kagan’s failure olympics. But what you call something and what it is are two different things. In my mind failure and feedback are the same thing. But it is the meaning you attach to something that gives it power over you. Think back to a time you have “failed” (for me it was yesterday – I wanted to be a better father after coming home from work but I dont think I was). Now view it through the lens of “feedback” – I could have been a better father if I had been able to exercise more patience. Maybe I needed to take a few minutes before I walked in the door and clear my head. (I try to do this when I get home – but it’s easy to open the door and forget and by then it’s too late!). So did I fail? Maybe. But I also got feedback. And if I view the experience as feedback instead of failure then I will not attach the word to who I am. Someone who fails or is a failure. I am someone who learns from feedback. Now maybe all you need to do is think of failure as something you do and not who you are ( dont attach it to your identity) and you will be fine. Still working on this one…
YOU ARE NOT ALONE ON YOUR ROAD, FEELING SEPARATE IS AN ILLUSION
But no one else can walk it for you. The path before you is yours path yours alone. If you lean too much on others then you will never know the true strength that lies within. However, we are all here to support each other lift each other up when we stumble. We all need help sometimes and the highest good we can do in this world is give that gift to someone else. It is so easy to get caught up in our own reality that we forget about the other 7 billion people who surround us, each with their own struggles and their own visions for what their lives can become. We all share a commonality that is easy to overlook, so take a moment each day and smile at a stranger and really look them in the eyes and know that we are all in this together.
LEARN YOUR PEAK TIME CYCLES, AND YOUR PEAK FUELS
This one will take some experimentation. What time of day are you most productive? When you eat a certain food, how do you feel? When you are around a large group of people do you go home and flop down onto the couch out of sheer exhaustion? Knowing these kinds of things about yourself will allow you become better at everything you do. Armed with this self-knowledge you will be able to set up your environment to maximize your potential. If you are awesome in the morning then do your most important tasks of the day then. If you find that you do your best work at night (I tend to write at night) then set up your life as best as you can to make this happen (I know how hard this can be with the unpredictability of small humans in your house). Whatever you can do to make your life works for who you are is worth the time it takes to figure it out. We are all different. Thinking that every life hack you read about online should apply to you is like thinking that every shoe is good to run a marathon in. After a few miles you will realize that high heels may not have been a good call. Change shoes and move forward.
SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
We all want people in our lives who get us. Who laugh at the same things that make laugh. We all want someone to listen to our stories and connect the dots and say, me too! But if we are always looking for someone to understand us, then we are never trying to understand anyone else. So step back for a moment and try to see the what the world looks like from the vantage point of your best friend, of your mom or dad, your child. This is a skill that will not only make you a better person who has more empathy for everyone, but as your begin to do it more you will start to realize that you don’t need people to listen to your stories as often. By listening carefully to the stories of others, you will begin to hear your own story told in the voices of everyone you meet.
Brene Brown wrote an amazing book about this idea called Daring Greatly and I highly recommend it, as well as her TED talk. This has become so important to me over the last few years, mostly because I have failed so miserably at it. And yes, I mean failed, I did not take the feedback and put it into practice. But I am trying very hard to change that about myself. Being open and honest with the ones you love is the most important thing you can ever do and it is the one single thing that I most wish I were better at. (How’s that for vulnerable?) But all jokes aside, I mean it. If I could be an expert at anything it would be this. I truly believe that so much of the suffering in the world comes from our inability to show our weaknesses to those who are most willing to embrace them. And we pass these fears and worries onto the next generation by not showing them how weakness can become strength. We pass this on by not showing them how letting our guard down can open us up to more love than we could have ever imagined possible.
With everything you have and everything you do, be generous. Give more than anyone would ever think is possible. Share what you have with others and it will be returned to you in abundance. If you live with a mindset of scarcity then you will never have enough. But if you share what you have, no matter how large or small it is, then you will never worry about having enough because the act of giving has more benefits than the any act of hoarding ever will. But yes, you can be too generous. This is an easy one to over do. If you are too willing to give too much then you can burn out. One of the best books I have read about this idea is Give and Take by Adam Grant. And if you want to dig deeper into the idea of altruism, I would highly recommend Absence of Mind by
This word evokes such potential to me. Quotes from some of the greatest minds in history include the word curious or curiosity.
Start with why.
Luck favors the prepared.
Focus on what you can control.
Everything is on its way to becoming something else.
Things work until they don’t.
Create the opportunity for small wins.
Do not try to covert other people to your way of thinking. It is a waste of time.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Life is a complex system, treating any one part in isolation with yield inferior results.
You must create your own systems or be enslaved by those of other men.
If you are creating a system, design it to be antifragile.
Love others for who they are, not who you want them to be.
Don’t focus on the problem. Focus on the solution.
Less is more.
Not my circus, not my monkeys.
Choose a compass over a map.