Life in lockdown presents an opportunity to slow down and reflect. So does turning 30.
Some people fear ageing but I genuinely enjoy getting a bit wiser with every passing day. I aim to grow old and wise, rather than just grow old.
I hope you enjoy the 30 learnings below that I’ve picked from my three decades on this planet. What have you learned? I’d love to hear your pieces of wisdom.
- You don’t need to be good at everything. Nobody can do everything well. Would you want to have Einstein on your basketball team?
- Don’t take things personally, it’s probably not about you. Don't attribute to malice which can be explained otherwise.
- Avoid developing a taste for expensive things. It's wonderful to maintain a low bar for what gives you joy. An inability to enjoy anything but 'the best' is no way to live.
- Life is far more random than we appreciate. Chance plays a huge role in determining our life's trajectory.
- Always ask people how they are. It's nice to be nice.
- Journal daily (eg. The Five Minute Journal). Regularly recording things you are grateful for is scientifically proven to increase your happiness.
- When in a new setting, ask staff for recommendations eg. when trying out a new restaurant. They know the best and most popular options!
- Sit abreast in restaurants when on a date. It's more intimate and easier to chat. Bonus: If you sit at the counter you may be able to skip the wait, and watch the food and cocktails being prepped!
- Take rehydration salts before bed after drinking alcohol. Bonus: Nights out have diminishing returns after a certain point, after which you're just stealing happiness from the next day.
- Develop a love of learning, you will never be bored or need to 'kill time' again.
- Developing a reading habit is amongst the best ways to continue learning after you leave formal education. All the great wisdom of humanity is written down somewhere. Start here.
- Get a Kindle. It will drastically increase the likelihood of you developing a reading habit. An affinity for 'the feel of the paper' is a poor excuse for remaining a luddite.
- Share your learnings with others online. Teaching others reinforces your own learning and attracts those with similar interests.
- Exercise hugely influences happiness and mental agility. The energy boost from morning exercise transforms the day. A day that ends well is one that starts with exercise.
- Be a front seater. If you've made the effort to attend an event, why not maximise your enjoyment of it!? (Note - I don't apply this thinking to comedy gigs!)
- Check-in last minute for flights. When checking-in online many airlines 'randomly' allocate passenger seats, with the middle seats often assigned first so that passengers are tempted to pay extra to change their seat!
- Calculate your hourly rate to understand how much your time is worth. Hire others to do tasks you dislike and avoid dealing with customer service where the money at stake is small. If you have enough money to solve a problem, you don't have a problem.
- Consumerism never brings lasting happiness. Humans are unhappy in large part because we are insatiable; after working hard to get what we want, we routinely lose interest in the object of our desire. (Explore Hedonic adaptation to learn more.)
- Don’t worry about stuff outside of your control. Focusing your attention on what you can influence drastically reduces your worries.
- Strong views loosely held. Be firm in your beliefs, but open to changing your view when you hear new evidence.
- Don’t read the news. The vast majority is negative, is outside of your control and has no impact on your life.
- Everything takes longer than you think, even when you add in a buffer to account for this fact!
- Your 20s are for learning. Don't optimise for salary. Focus on gaining valuable experience.
- The delight is in the first bite. Enhance your dining experience by turning every meal into tapas and sharing many plates with others.
- Better to be looking at it than for it. If in doubt when determining quantity, get more than you initially think. Particularly applicable for time-boxed events, like when buying food and drinks for a party.
- In contrast, be a minimalist and strive for less! Constantly question what you own, why you own it, and whether you could do without. Bonus: Apply the one in, one out rule for clothes. Every time you purchase something new give an existing piece of clothes to charity.
- Comparison is the death of happiness. If comparing your life to others you have to be prepared to trade it ALL with them, not just the specific things in which they excel. Elon Musk may be the CEO of multiple successful companies but if you envy his successes you must be prepared to trade everything, including his troubled family life and multiple divorces.
- Understand your personality preferences. By understanding yourself you can shape your life to increase the frequency of things that bring you joy and decrease those which don't.
- Act on illness quickly, don’t suffer through no matter how small. Listen to your body, and rest or take relevant medication immediately when an ailment strikes.
- There is no need to care what others think about you. Nobody cares. You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.
Bonus: Your emotions and reactions to events are caused by the mental filters through which you see the world. As Shakespeare phrased it, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
In the spirit of #20, which of these resonates with you? Or which do you have a different take on? What learnings have shaped your world-view?
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