How I live

Values inform principles. Principles govern action.

Principles are “rules” that you follow whenever you’re about to make a decision. You make hundreds of them every day, both consciously and unconsciously. It’s important you revisit your rules. I revisit mine whenever I feel the need to. They are in a different tone of voice because when I wrote them I wasn’t writing for an audience, but addressing myself.


#1: Emulate the masters

Keep your ego in check or you will make an enemy of yourself. Self-control is the road to all mastery. Make it about the work, not accolades. Observe the masters of your craft closely. Seek their counsel wherever you can find it. The life you live is directly proportional to how much you’re willing to suffer for it.

#2: Live slowly, deliberately

If you want to be at peace, do less. You can not expect to master anything without deliberate and consistent practice. Rest in the presence of loved ones or nature. Take comfort in knowing that you will improve if you keep at it. Choose freely and justly and find yourself slowly becoming happy by not needing happiness.

#3: Build from first principles

Reduce complexity by eliminating whatever is unnecessary, to understand whatever lies underneath. Simplify. Transform the unfamiliar into what is familiar. Be verbose in your search for truth, but terse in your methods. Once you have mastered the basic building blocks, you are free to create anything you want.

#4: Seek intermittent solitude

Remove yourself from public view and return to your precious values whenever disaster strikes. Weigh them. Insist on their perfect execution. Destroy what is no longer prudent. Brace yourself for inevitable malady. Be poised, unwavering, patient. Master the art of self-control and let right action follow right reason.

#5: Audience of one is enough

The world’s attention is fickle. The ‘emptiness of applauding hands’ will not sustain you. Whatever you do, never stop creating just because you lack an audience. Do it to feel alive. Decide for yourself each day what activity brings you closer to achieving the greatest good and find joy in those moments of creation.

#6: Don’t solve problems you don’t have

When stuck, your first objective is to wander aimlessly. Embrace boredom and the quiet moments of your life. Learn how to be by yourself. That’s how you get unstuck. Your second objective is to eliminate the inessential. The struggle lies in what to say no to. Take care of the present and the present will take care of you.

#7: Don’t fear being wrong

Learn how to live well in a world you don’t understand, by prioritizing strength of character over everything else. You aren’t the ideas you cling to. Remember, ‘to accept correction is a free act too’, and worthy of respect. Your sole duty is to be a kind and gentle soul to those who are suffering, including yourself.

Last modified on March 31, 2022
Published on September 14, 2018