And take control back into your hands.

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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Fashion photographer Bill Cunningham was known to decline payment for some of his magazine jobs. When a young student asked him about it, he said: “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid.”

This was Cunningham’s way of keeping his artistic integrity.

But you don’t have to work in the world of art and glamour to be familiar with these compromises. We are constantly pressured to give up control over our life and work in exchange for advancement.

Some Compromises Demand Too Much From Us

My business partner and I decided to bootstrap our startup. …

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Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”

— Socrates

During my first job, I had a coworker who always seemed annoyed by me. The guy couldn’t stand my guts and it showed.

There was just one minor problem: we had to work together on a daily basis and every time I said something he’d roll his eyes. He never asked me if I wanted a coffee even though he’d bring everyone else a cup. He would always answer my emails a few hours later than I needed them answered. It was an office atmosphere straight out of hell.

What on earth had I done to him? I knew I wasn’t exactly the king of charm myself but I wasn’t all that bad either. …

Pay attention to the subtle red flags.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

During my first few weeks at college, I made friends with a guy who seemed really smart and proactive. We barely knew each other but we got along well — we exchanged notes, drank coffee between lectures, I lent him some of my CDs (yeah, those were still a thing at the time). But there was one thing about him that kept pecking at the back of my mind and I couldn’t quite make sense of it.

Whenever I asked him about the time, he would give a vague approximation. For example, if it was 3:20, he’d just say it was 3. If it was 6:35, he’d say it was 7. …

And get through the rest of 2020 without screaming.

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Photo by Rabia from Pexels

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. — Herman Melville

I’ll be honest: I never made it all the way through Moby Dick. But this sentence is right on the first page and it struck a chord with me. …

Reduce anxiety and regain focus

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Photo by Connor Danylenko from Pexels

I’ve noticed that reading the news for hours on end leaves me furious. All that rage has to go somewhere, so I get short-tempered with my family. Other times, I become distant and I sleep-walk through my day.

I don’t want to stick my head in the sand. But I also don’t want to let the news consume my life.

The news is filled with propaganda — and even when it’s not, it blurs our perception of what matters and what doesn’t.

Studies show that spending several hours a day watching the news puts us at a higher risk of heart attacks. It causes health issues that last for years. It impacts our dreams — who hasn’t had a pandemic nightmare this year? …

Are you a loser for regretting past decisions?

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We all have that one relative who is extremely annoying on Facebook.

I’m not talking about the bigots or the conspiracy theorists, I just mean the relentlessly cheerful weirdos. The ones who irritate us like a minor but persistent toothache.

Well, mine posted something the other day about how regrets are for losers. Don’t waste time looking back, nothing in life is worth regretting, and so on.

If a stranger had posted this, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

But this is a cousin I’ve known all my life. In fact, I’ve been to all three of his weddings. His kids barely talk to him. At one point, ignoring everyone’s advice, he made an awful investment that undid a decade of careful budgeting. …

The path to success is paved in mosaic

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Source: Needpix, royalty-free

A few years ago, out of sheer boredom, my wife and I came up with a challenge: whoever scored higher on an IQ test would do the chores for an entire week.

We took the same test, and I won.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t gloat when I got my score. It wasn’t until I was washing the third load of dishes that I realized that winning the bet meant I was stuck with all the work.

In all ways that matter, my wife won that round.

You wouldn’t believe the level of brilliance packed into such a tiny woman. She’s one of the most gifted multitaskers I know. She also handles our finances with particular ease and pragmatism. Her conversation skills are miles ahead of mine, and so are her day-to-day coping mechanisms and resourcefulness. …

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

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Photo by Chitto Cancio on Unsplash

As a dad, I keep thinking about the mistakes I made in the past. If I can turn my regrets into useful advice for my kids, that makes it all worth it.

Of course, this is a work in progress — I keep finding new ways to think about my own strengths and weaknesses. I also keep making new mistakes. But here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. You can’t avoid making mistakes

We all want to be flawless. Even when saying ‘Nobody’s perfect so don’t sweat it!’ — secretly, we wish we were a little closer to perfection.

But the only way to gain true knowledge is to learn from your mistakes. Sadly, you can’t skip the embarrassing, dispiriting parts of life. …

No one is entitled to love and happiness — we just want it.

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Photo by Taras Chernus on Unsplash

If I knew the meaning of life, I’d probably be a monk in Nepal instead of an entrepreneur.

But I had my fair share of ups and downs, just like anybody. I picked up a lesson or two along the way, and I’d like to share them with you.

1. Helping someone doesn’t mean they’ll help you

Do you sometimes feel that you’re giving more than you’re getting back? We’ve all been there.

People (even our friends and family) may take our help for granted and give nothing in return. No amount of love can nor should make up for that imbalance.

What I’ve come to realize is that it all depends on whether you’re helping them the right way.

(but only if you really want to)

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Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash

I’ve been reading about the baffling developments coming out of the US political scene. A question that keeps popping up in discussions: how much kindness do you owe to someone you hate?

Personally, I don’t think you need to go out of your way to be kind to every asshole you’ve ever heard of, least of all to politicians. It’s natural to gloat when an awful person gets what’s coming to them, especially if they are in a position of power that they didn’t earn.

But real life is way more complicated than the theatre of politics. For the sake of getting things done (in life, at work, in our communities), sometimes we need to get along with people we hate. I’d like to share my recipe for cultivating kindness towards people who don’t deserve it. …


Eric Sangerma

Dad, Husband, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Wholistique. Connect with me on LinkedIn:

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