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67 Life Lessons from Writers on Medium

(All photos of my kids by me)

There is no certainty.

The world is a spinning ball of perpetual chaos, but it is not incorrigible.

I mention this as a cautionary warning. Just as the past has contained moments of collective euphoria and panic, so will the future.

We might not be able to control the world, but we can control our bodies. This theory couldn’t have come at a better time — the world seemed to be falling apart.

That we have to defend truth, that we have to state over and over again that truth matters, is the stuff of The Twilight Zone, but we’re living it.

Something is wrong.

In a time of crisis or conflict, your priorities and your voice need to be strong. You find the words to say “not in my house”, “hand me the keys,” “‘No means no”, “that’s not funny” or whatever your words are that define the line where you break away.

What we allow will continue. What continues will escalate.

How much you truly “believe” in something can only be manifested through what you are willing to risk for it.

We can choose order over chaos.

The whole lesson of history is that the sum of you and me is positive — if only we will choose the hard work of adding ourselves to one another.

Stop whining and learn to lose yourself in your thoughts.

All you need is an idea.

Writing can reveal a lot about the world and ourselves.

Writing is, in fact, important work. Some of history’s great geniuses have been writers: Plato, Shakespeare, Montaigne, the Brontës, Proust, Hemingway, Foster Wallace. All of them geniuses because of their exceptional ability to string together words in such a way that provokes acute emotions, ideas, and images. That’s a skill as fine as any other.

Even if your primary source of income is not writing, becoming a good writer can lead you to success in any area.

The ability to create is the highest form of learning.

We’re bad at most things by default. The only way to overcome the deficit is with the right kind of practice.

People probably cringe at the sight of my dance moves, but you gotta do what makes you happy even if you make a complete fool out of yourself.

Lesson learned: each day is preparing us for the next.

You need to make sure you get enough sleep, eat good food, and have a positive social life. These three things are necessary for your energy levels, and any great and satisfying life will be built on top of these three pillars.

Don’t strive for “balance.” It’s an illusion. Instead, strive for the self-awareness required to evaluate tradeoffs.

Take a selfie. Because, damn it, you matter.

Draw more.

Art is to make the unfamiliar seem familiar, without it feeling old.

My belief is that in the deviation lies the art. If I wanted an exact copy of an animal I’d use a camera. The artist’s interpretation of that animal is what I’m interested in.

Art doesn’t always mean being good at drawing or painting. I’m not exactly an ~amazing artist~, but as long as I put a little bit of my personality in each piece, I think it’s a good start.

Leave room for surprise. When was the last time you were surprised? It’s easy to forget that many discoveries start out as complete surprises. The big bang, the microwave, fireworks, and pacemakers all came as surprises to the people who discovered them. If people had avoided those things that surprised them instead of being curious about them, we’d be living in a very different world.

Experience the world through the eyes of a child. Surrender all expectations and be fascinated with uncertainty and ambiguity, the source of creation.

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We all have the same amount of time to work with. What differentiates us is how we use that time.

Busy doesn’t always equal productivity; often, it’s the opposite

I can’t take any more odes to “the hustle”

Pressure to take a “no days off” and “hustle harder” approach to work decreases productivity and actually makes employees dumber.

Memento Mori” — Remember you are mortal.

Any amount of time spent on #Covfefe is too much.

The warm air, sunshine and growing plants have been the best fix to my slump. I feel refreshed, calm and ready to take on my next week, so long as I get my nature fix.

A proven method to promote ideas is physical exertion. Whether it’s daily running, cycling or walking, it helps you to move around. When we do these activities in nature, it not only helps us to get oxygen into the brain, but also helps us to be able to observe our environment. If we always just sit in our own apartment and spend 24 hours a day there, we lose the ability to absorb the charms of our surroundings. Variety is the keyword.

The obnoxious folk are, of course, correct. Once it’s over, exercising has virtually no downsides. I did have more energy. I did enjoy knowing I’d gotten that crucial part of self-care out of the way.

Get ready to say “I don’t know” and be okay with it.

~Ask for help~ It doesn’t make you weak, because you are human and you want to continue to learn, so suck it up and ask for others input.

Don’t lecture people. Instead ask questions.

The best question to ask is “how can I help?”

Einstein and Da Vinci, like many other effective people, were driven primarily by asking rather than answering, and it was the strength of their questions that ultimately shaped their lives.

I learned how to smile when meeting someone, shake their hands, and talk about the weather. More important, my father taught me to listen. Because that’s the real secret of being polite: You say nice things because it buys you time to listen and, in turn, to think. Only assholes talk without listening and thinking first.

Leave politics out of your conversations about God altogether. Why do the two have to involve one another at all?

The thing I kept on forgetting became clearer than ever: social interactions are all about giving and receiving.

Be quiet. Hide yourself away; spend time becoming absolutely indispensable. Don’t build your own stage; let people find you.

…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying.

We, all of us, feel and crave the sensations known as love and companionship. We all struggle with the daily tug-of-war between selfishness and generosity. We all try balance the attraction of physical comforts with the emotional rewards of helping others and contributing to society. We are all grateful when we feel the warmth of sunshine or a cool breath of fresh air on our skin.

Because here’s the absolute miracle that we cannot allow ourselves to ignore: out of the billions of years that earth has existed for, you and I ended up alive at the exact same time.

Thanks for the photoshoot, Dan Barrett

Identity helps us make otherwise difficult choices by offloading willpower. Our choices become what we do because of who we are.

Never resist temptation when you can eliminate it instead.

Makes me wonder about what else I am holding onto that I need to accept, reject or embrace.

A great life begins with a great environment. Environment is even more important than effort. Environment is your base. It shapes your lifestyle before you get a chance to do it yourself. Environment change should be a foundational first step of any change attempt.

I’ve long believed that there’s no better medicine than a good book and a hot cup of tea.

The observer is active, not passive. The message is Go further: the meaning is not on the surface, it’s beneath it.

Love is about the day to day, not the magical weekend.

There’s always someone with more likes.

There is more than one way to be influential, and it doesn’t have to be rooted in extroversion.

A life lived for others is a life well-lived. Maturity is recognizing your gifts and talents, and using them toward a purpose outside of yourself and your own self-interests.

That crying baby on the airplane? Offer to help the mom. Do some yoga in the hospital surgery waiting room, and encourage others to join in. Pay the toll for the car behind you in line. Ask to speak to the manager, then compliment the waitress or the cashier who helped you. Tell that teacher on a field trip to the museum they are doing great work. Tip live musicians. Bring bagels to the fire department. Stop at a Little League field and root for whoever is batting, or watch a 5k and cheer for random runners. Buy a box of classroom valentines then sign them “with love” and drop them at the Veterans’ Hospital or nursing home. Eat at local diners and coffee shops, buy art and jewelry at craft fairs, frequent bake sales and farmer’s markets and lemonade stands. You know: be warm, be kind, smile more, hold the door, be a freaking decent human. Trust me on this: someone, right now, needs you to be a freaking decent human, and you have all the equipment you need to do it.

One of the foremost thoughts in my mind, something I feel that I want to express loudly and often… is that reaching a certain point along the career trajectory does not assure that your life will suddenly get easier, or better.

There’s never a “happily ever after,” something that comes after one final boss battle. Life, it turns out, is a series of humps we must continually be prepared to conquer.

Hey, don’t go off the deep end. I’m not saying quit your job.

The only valid comparison to make is between you and you six months ago.

And realize: This thing I never even thought I’d be able to do, I did.

PS

Words still matter.

These are quotes (with links to read more) with lessons from 67 Medium articles. Contributions from:

Johny vino, Joel Michael Herbert, DHH, Jessica Wildfire, Stella J. McKenna, Nir Eyal, Abby Norman, Ev Williams, Roxane Gay, James Bridle, Martino Pietropoli, Sílvia Bastos, Katherine Fugate, Alex Mathers, Todd Brison, Kristina Adams, renee tarantowski, Timeline, Joe Varadi, Alida Miranda-Wolff, The Angry Therapist, Elizabeth Wawrzyniak, Kris Gage, Brent Gohde, maureenlewis342, Eleni Eisenhart, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Jason Fried, John Fawkes, Zat Rana, Annie Atherton, Rad Snails, Adrian Zumbrunnen, Simon McEwen, Zaron Burnett III, Jeff Goins, Wyatt Massey, M.G. Siegler, John DeVore, Kate Jones, Steven Sinofsky, Nicholas Barrett, Jason Hreha, Chelsea Fagan, Jenny Odell, Alex Danco, Gail Boenning, jlelse, Brad Stulberg, Drake Baer, Mick Stahlberg, Nate Miller, Matt Paolelli, Haley Velez, The Mission, John McCain, Jamie Johnson, Patrick Ward, Tony Fahkry, Jonathan Ely, umair haque, Angela Masajo, Annah Horst, Samantha Obrochta

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