Maximize Your Life Function: Life(x)

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”
Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

1Live each day like it’s your last. We never know when we might go, so might as well live life to fullest everyday while we still have a chance to.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right. It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”- Steve Jobs

2Live in the Present. Living in the present doesn’t mean forgetting about our futures or our pasts. Imagine all of us as indiviudal little ships in the ocean of life. We all have to worry about the daily ship operations (steering, cleaning, etc…), but we still need a general direction of where we are going. Allocate some special time each day to plan for the future and to reflect/learn from the past. Spend some time to draw up plans and decide the steps necessary to acheive those plans. Outside of the designated time period, focus on being in the present. Oh and remember, there are no ordinary moments.

3Read. Read. Read. Expand your mind and your trove of ideas. You can learn in just a few hours all the ideas that the author has spent hundreds of hours collecting. In just a few hours, you can possibly grasp decades, even centuries, worth of experiences, failures, and successes. In just a few hours, you can learn all the lessons which someone has spent a lifetime accumulating. In his books, Nassim Nicholas Taleb stresses the importance of placing asymmetrical bets: bets with low risk and extremely high rewards. If reading isn’t asymmetrical, I don’t know what is.

Behind every stack of books is a flood of knowledge.

4Produce ideas. Ideas are the stuff of life. Reading hundreds of books won’t do you much good if you can’t form ideas for yourself and convert those ideas into reality. Practice coming up with ideas daily and soon you will be an idea machine. Dedicate some time each day to allow yourself to think or be inspired. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey said the best investement he ever made was, “Taking the time to walk to work every day. Five miles, one hour and 15 minutes.” He doesn’t listen to music or text; he simply clears his mind and draws inspiration from his surroundings. If Jack can spend one hour and 15 minutes a day to himself to think, then so can all of us.

5Practice Gratitude. Studies have shown that those who pratice gratitude feel more alive, sleep better, and have a higher sense of joy and interconnectedness. Being thankful for what you do have really puts life into perspective and allows us to feel a little lighter and happier. Go on, try giving at least one compliment to someone everyday and see what happens. Some more ideas on how to practice gratitude can be found here.

6Explore new ideas and seek new experiences. Our lives are too short to not explore the world to its fullest. My biggest fear is waking up when I am older and realizing that it’s too late to do the things that I wanted to do. Get into the mindset of doing things now. That restuarant you’ve never been to? Get dinner from there tonight. Are there different paths to work? Take a new one everyday. A book you never would have thought of reading? Try and read it. Leave no stone unturned.

“When I get old and slow down I want to look behind me and see all the fire and the wreckage and no stone left unturned.”- Aisha Tyler

7Embrace uncertainty. Nothing is ever 100% certain. Everything we believe we know has at least a tinge of uncertainty to it. It is impossible to make decisions with complete knowledge and certainty. George Soros, notable billionaire investor and philanthropist, champions this notion of fallibility and imperfect understanding. We are all imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world. If we waited to gather all the relevant information before making a decision, we would be confined to waiting for all eterenity. But all is not lost. According to the Pareto principle, or the 80–20 Rule, around 80% of the information we need will be contained in 20% of all the information. So gather what information you can and make a decision: most of the time, any decision is better than no decision. There is no shame in being wrong.

“Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.”- George Soros

8Be independent. Do what you want to do. Don’t let others tell you what is best for you: only you know what works for you. Each one of us is composed of such an intricate and unique cluster of thoughts, experiences, ideas, and feelings (and more, of course) that it is impossible for anyone to understand how we operate and function. Sometimes we don’t even know who we are. But it should be given that we ourselves are our own masters and we should not take orders from anyone else. Carve your own path. Stand apart from the herd. Be different.

9Be honest, forgiving, and open-hearted. Life is too short to bear hatred or ill-will toward anyone/anything. We all feel the same pain. We all endure the same struggles. Realizing this makes it easier to forgive the mistakes of others, and just as importantly, a little easier to forgive ourselves. There is no need for us to carry around extra burdens of any sort in our short trek here. We deserve to be at peace whenever we can.

10Make wherever you go a better place because you were there. See something out of place? Take a second to put it back. Get a chance to help someone out? Take some time and help them. Visibly see the world around you improve simply because you were there. But what if you want to make the whole world a better place? Start by making your room a better place. Then the house. Then the town. Then the state. And so on. It’s the small steps that eventually climb mountains.

“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”- Confucius

On last thing, a little summary ft. Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin & Hobbes © 2012 Bill Watterson

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