As I promised in my first post, I’ll be keeping the style of this blog no-BS and practical. This post will be about things you’re absolutely not allowed to do if you want to build up. These are things you need to cut out of your life completely.
I am starting with things you should not do, instead of things you should do, because I believe not doing something is easier than doing something. There is no extra step for figuring out how not to do something — you just don’t do it. Yes, there are temptations do to things you’re not supposed to do, but there are also temptations to not do things you’re supposed to do, so there’s equality there.
This list is by no means exclusive; it is a guideline. You should come up with your list, and the idea is that anything that doesn’t help you must go away.
1. Computer games
In 2016 an average American 15 years and older spent around 15 minutes a day playing games. Now imagine if it would instead be working out, walking in a park, or spending quality time with friends and family! There are claims that gaming is good for your brain and body, but all of the good effects can be achieved in other ways at the same time.
I think gaming is a waste of time. Game companies design games to be addictive, so you spend more time and money on them. It’s their job, and they’re paid well for it, so you should believe that they do it pretty well. Instead of playing games, sign up for a martial arts class. If you like games where you’re in a battle, sing up for Brazilian jiu-jitsu or boxing class, and fight for real. Gaming and martial arts have a lot in common. At the end of the day, every martial art is a game — and it’s much healthier. If you like strategy games, try board games with friends or family!
The only time I allow myself to play video games is if I play them with friends and family. And here I make sure that the point of the activity isn’t to mainly play the game, but to bond.
2. Junk Food/Sugar
The human body is designed to crave sugar. In prehistoric times humans could end up going days without food, and therefore when the food was available, being able to store food was evolutionarily advantageous. Fast forward to modern times, where we can keep food in the fridge, and most of you who read this don’t have food scarcity.
Nowadays we have a lot of packaged processed food to satisfy our carbohydrate cravings. Just like with games, junk food is designed by brilliant people to be appealing. But junk food does nothing good for you, and there’s no reason to keep it in your life. It’s bad for health, has little nutritional value, and lowers your energy. Substitute it with natural juices, fruits and vegetables, and nuts.
3. Unnecessary Social Media
Ideally, you should follow digital minimalism, and reduce your digital footprint as much as possible. I can’t completely get out of social media, since I have friends located in different parts of the world, and Facebook and Instagram is the most optimal way I can keep in touch with them. However, I make sure I avoid pointless social media browsing. My rule is that I can check Facebook or Instagram only when I receive a notification, or once a day — either around lunch or in the evening. And I’m very conscious about every second I spend there, to make sure I obtain value from it.
I want to add meaningless internet discussions to this bullet point. By meaningless I mean the discussions where your objective of engagement is anything besides learning. These are mostly political discussions. There are two reasons to avoid these. One reason is that you’re unlikely to change anyone’s mind, and are more likely instead to strengthen the other person’s or your opinion. The other reason is that your views are likely to change over time, and hunting down your old posts to delete them is a painful task.
4. Unnecessary Purchases
Financial discipline is essential for building up. But besides financial discipline, unnecessary purchases also clutter your home and are bad for the environment. A cluttered home means a cluttered mind, and a cluttered mind isn’t completely able to focus on a task ahead.
Before buying something, I always ask myself if what I’m going to buy is going to make my life better, and I only buy it if the answer is a definite yes. Purchasing junk food and virtual gaming goods fall into this category. When I avoid junk food and gaming, I also look at it as a financial fight. I am not allowed to spend money on things that harm me. Cigarettes are the worst offenders.
5. Negative Emotions and Bad Attitude
Controlling your emotions is hard, but necessary. One way to do this is to increase your emotional intelligence and be able to understand why you have certain feelings and be able to detach yourself from them. Reading books about emotional intelligence helps. An important thing to understand is that our world has changed a lot in the last 10,000 years, yet the human body hasn’t evolved much since then. Our nervous system is designed to create and process emotions for survival, hunting, and passing genes. Modern societies are a lot more complicated than that, so we must be aware of the shortcomings of our biology.
On a practical note, here are a few tricks I use:
— Gratitude. I remember things I’m grateful for, and understanding that there are a lot of people in the world who wish they had my life. I believe this is especially necessary for people who live in developed countries. I’ve lived in both, and I could write a whole book about how awesome it is to live in a developed country. If you’re reading this, you probably have enough things to be thankful about; whether it’s things you have or people in your life.
— Envy. Don’t ever compare yourself to others. Other people have their battles. I have mine. My struggles and my life are what matters to me. The only person I compare myself with is me from yesterday.
Make sure not to compare yourself with others when you’re evaluating whether to do something harmful. There are a lot of successful people who smoke cigarettes. It doesn’t mean cigarettes are not harmful to you. It means those people are successful despite smoking cigarettes.
— Decision making. Avoid making decisions in an emotional state — these are very likely to result in sub-optimal decisions. It doesn’t mean that you should ignore your emotions. On the contrary, you need to understand why did you have the emotions you had, and factor them in when you make a decision. But the decision making itself has to happen in a calm state of mind.
— Physical activity. Whenever I’m feeling down, my first band-aid is to go exercise or go for a walk. Physical activity releases endorphins in our body, which are our natural anti-depressants. Physical activity is essential for many reasons, and your emotional well-being is one of them.