💯 in 10,000

I was born just over 10,000 days ago. To commemorate this fun-but-entirely-inconsequential milestone I wrote this 💯 List.

The List consists of marginalia: fringe thoughts, foraged gems of wisdom and loosely held convictions that resonated enough to be written down. It’s driven by an observation that my memory is shockingly unreliable at best and outright useless at worst. It is an attempt to stall these thoughts from being permanently relegated to the memory dump.

1. Avoid Default

The majority of our lives are lived in a default setting. Do whatever you can to consciously choose your values and then take steps to align your life with them.

2. Enthusiastic Scepticism

Start projects or adventures that are likely to fail. Then, strive to be an enthusiastic sceptic from day 1. If the project refuses to die, keep going.

3. Climate Changed 🌍

For less than $50 you can offset your annual carbon emissions.

4. The Busyness Disease 😩

Being perpetually busy is not a badge of honour. It’s a badge that says ‘I haven’t taken the time to reflect on what matters most’. To cure the disease, consciously build pockets of time into your weekly rhythms for stillness and reflection.

5. Fake Internet Points 👍

Most of us spend an insane amount of mental energy trying to accumulate fake internet points, often from people we barely even know.

6. Happiness per 💰

Counter to our consumerist culture, experiences (or experience enabling purchases) top the happiness per £ spent charts.

7. The Ben Franklin Effect

Thanks to cognitive dissonance, asking someone you barely know for a small favour is a terrific way of getting them to like you.

8. Creative Constraints

Embrace your constraints! Be it time, resources or something else. Dr Seuss accepted a $50 bet that he couldn’t write a children’s book using only 50 different words. The result was Green Eggs and Ham.

9. Bored?

Mind-numbing work assignment? Sitting in an uninspiring lecture? Feast your eyes on this spreadsheet containing Every TED Talk Ever (2257 at last count).

10. Wise Rumours

Reading is a good start but wisdom needs to be earned. To paraphrase the Asaro tribe of Papua New Guinea: ‘Knowledge is only a rumour until it lives in the muscle’.

11. Meteoric Insights ☄

We spend a tiny fragment of time in which creative insights stand a micro chance of landing. Our perpetual busyness is like an atmosphere that burns up those meteoric insights before they have a chance of hitting the planet’s surface.

12. Play 🏓

We must not feel guilty for scheduling time to play. We must not feel guilty for scheduling time to play. We must not feel guilty for scheduling time to play…

13. Adventurous Mindset ⛺

Adventure is a state of mind. You don’t need to be rich or have oodles of time to make room for adventure in your life.

14. Run for your life 🏃

There is no better way to explore a new place, fight jet lag, and end up in places that you wouldn’t see otherwise. If you want to start a running habit, swap one of your trainers with a friend then arrange to meet in the park the next morning.

15. Human Connection

Look people in the eye when you’re talking to them. No matter who they are, where you are or how crappy you’re feeling.

16. Unstupidification

You can learn virtually anything for free on the internet. The more you discover, the more you realise how little you know.

17. Borderless ✈ Living 🌏

Earning in $USD and spending in Rupiah is fun. You can live like a king in Bali for 6 months with one month’s rent in London. Unsurprisingly, there are likely to be 1 billion digital nomads by 2035.

18. Mortigo ⌛

Talking about death is a taboo in our culture. According to FlowingData, a 27-year-old male has a 5% chance of dying before he reaches 50 years old.

Stef coined the term ‘Mortigo’ that refers to the feeling of adrenaline and confusion you feel when you are vividly aware of the shortness of life. Mortigo is a fast track to big picture clarity. When we die, the elaborate tapestry of priorities that we’ve spent decades weaving combusts literally into stardust. This is certain. Its time is not. So we’re left with the question: what should we do with the time we have left?

19. Being Interested

Everyone loves to be interesting, but the most interesting people are the most interested. They are relentlessly fascinated by the world. You can’t fake it, but you can choose to orientate yourself to be more curious.

20. Smugness

Nothing compares to the delicious smugness that comes from serenely sitting at an airport gate, watching crowds hustle and bustle to board the plane. You, however, sit there. Sipping coffee, wearing a permagrin smile like the Dali Lama squared — secure in the knowledge that yes, you will still be getting that elusive window seat.

21. Temporal Cartography ⏰

If you spend long enough in a place, your internal metronome will adjust to its rhythm. Tangible time is actually a relatively recent invention, in fact, seconds didn’t start appearing on clocks until the 1500s, and the second wasn’t formally defined as a scientific unit until the 1800s.

22. Buddhist Teaching

We spend so much time and mental energy fretting about ourselves, only to realise that in the end, there isn’t one.

23. Four Words

Language is a superpower. To quote the infinitely wise Albus Dumbledore “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

24. Language of Love

Our vocabulary of love is impoverished. The Greeks had six varieties. Curiously, they valued ‘philia’ or deep comradely friendship more highly than ‘eros’ which referred to sexual passion and desire.

25. Worthiness

Dr. Brene Brown interviewed lots of people about shame and vulnerability. Amongst other things she learned that “…the only difference between the people who feel a deep sense of love and belonging (and those who don’t), is they believe that they are worthy of it.”

26. 2.95 Degrees of Separation

According to Facebook, you might now be less than 2.95 degrees of separation away from every other human on the planet.

27. Amor Fati

Nietzsche’s formula for greatness in a human was ‘amor fati’. This translates to ‘love of fate’, that “one wants nothing to be different… not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it — all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary — but love it.”

28. Enlightenment

Enlightenment isn’t a cosy place of invulnerability. It’s a daily practise of showing up in the arena.

29. Ambition

We have a weird idea that people will love us based on what we achieve. This toxic definition of ambition, taught at school, should be reframed from getting ahead to coming alive.

30. Three-Step Formula for Greatness

Making a dent in the universe is simple. Step 1: Realise that everything in the world was first imagined by someone likely no smarter than you. Step 2: Identify a gigantic problem and conjure up an outrageous solution. Step 3: Commit yourself so much to testing this, such that backing out would have disastrous consequences.

31. Calendar > To-do lists 📆

Love to boost your ego with epic to-do lists? Open a calendar app and schedule everything into blocks. This helps to curtail the internal over-optimist and prevents tasks from expanding to fill all the time you have.

Escape the City’s Bookshelf. (Illustration Credit: Litographs)

32. Reading

Tempted to buy a book, do it. Paying £14.99 for a book that might have taken between one to three years for the author to write (and could expand your emotional and intellectual horizons) is surely worth it.

33. Empathy Chasms

There is a two-fold empathy gap in our world. We fail to feel compassion for others across national borders and are biologically disposed to lack moral imagination for future generations. The internet, however, through storytelling, enables us to ‘outrospect’ — to feel adventurous empathy for those outside our blood, religious, and geographical tribes.

34. $3340

According to givewell.org, $3340 is approximately how much it would cost you to save a life today. You have the opportunity to effectively save a child from the proverbial burning building.

35. Boldness → Magic

When you make a courageous decision, the universe has a funny way of conspiring in your favour.

36. Tomato Timer 🍅

Tempted to hire a girl to slap you in the face to increase productivity? Halt. Download the beautiful Pomodrone and outsource permission to give yourself a break. Single tasking for focused 25 minute sprints, lets you get twice the amount done in half the time.

37. Type Faster ⌨

Learning to type at the speed of thought or investing in the transition to the Dvorak layout might double the amount of work you’re able to do in a day.

38. Accountability

Set a deadline and a price. Put your ego on the line. Losing $50 is also a powerful motivator.

39. Boredom

15 minutes of enforced boredom is not the worst thing that ever happened to a human.

40. Genetic Lottery

Approx. 115 billion people have lived before you. 95% of the 7 billion alive today don’t have access to the resources, education, and people that most people reading this have been privileged to pick up through no effort on their part.

41. Kindness

Every time we do something good for someone else, we make a connection, and so our world becomes a slightly bigger place. Conversely, when we focus only on ourselves, our world becomes very small. Being kind matters more than being clever.

42. Passion vs. Curiosity

If you have found the one thing that lights you up, this is terrific, keep going! But if you’re still searching, put passion to one side and follow whatever makes you curious.

43. Genuine Gratitude

It’s phoney to say that you should be grateful for everything but in every moment there is always something to be grateful for. Taking five minutes to jot down three highlights from the day before going to bed makes a disproportionate impact on your quality of life.

44. True Freedom

Viktor Frankl had everything stripped from him in a WWII concentration camp, but even in some of the worst conditions imaginable he writes: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

45. Press Pause ⏸

Build pockets of stillness into your life to reflect on the trivial moments or seemingly inconsequential events that you might otherwise have steam-rolled past can unearth a buried treasure trove of subtle wonder.

46. Thought experiment

Imagine you are now the 80-year-old version of yourself. You’ve lived a great life, but your time is soon. Imagine how much that old man/woman would give to rewind the clock to where you are sitting right now with the opportunity to relive all those years and experiences.

47. Vous Ja De

Is the art of seeing something you’d seen many times before with fresh eyes.

48. Pain 2x

When we stub our toe we feel the pain twice. The first is the ‘ouch’, the second is the story we tell ourselves for being such a fool and kicking the corner of the table.

49. Learning to Receive 🍲

If someone really wants to pay for dinner, and you refuse them, consider that you might be robbing them of the chance to feel good about that gift.

50. Exhaustion’s Antidote

According to Irish poet-philosopher David Whyte, the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest, but wholeheartedness.

51. Befriend Fear

Living a fearless life would be painfully boring. Vulnerability and courage would be impossible. Strike up a conversation with your fear like it was a stray animal instead of shooting it down. Above all, strive to be real and remember that we are all gloriously frail creatures.

52. Taming the Elephant 🐘

Your mind is an elephant and a rider. The elephant makes the decisions, the conscious rider is able to influence these every so often. This accounts for why learning something intellectually is very different from internalising the same thing emotionally.

53. Enneagram

The Enneagram is an intriguing and somewhat useful collection of archetypal characteristics. What number are you?

54. Teenage Internet

In 2016, the internet resembles a small child’s brain and has a similar number of connections. If this is the case, it’s fun to imagine what character traits might we wish to infuse it with? Or what a moment of great insight might look like?

55. Last First Adventures

There aren’t all that many ‘first’ adventures left, but circumnavigating the world via the Taiga biome is one of them.

Illustration Credit: Maptia / Ella Frances Sanders

56. Epic Road Trip 🚗

One adventurous Redditor sketched this route on a world map visiting every country in the world with the shortest path.

57. Chase Waves 🌊

Rock climbing and surfing are both gyms, temples, and social clubs all wrapped up into one (there are many parallels between learning to surf and the entrepreneurial path).

58. Don’t Manage Your Time

Be aware of your mode. Often we run into problems when we’re trying to force ourselves into a mode that we’re not in.

59. Take Off 🛫

Even after decades of flying, you still feel like an 8-year-old kid every time you take off in an aeroplane sitting in the window seat.

60. Cognitive Biases

Humans evolved to deal with information overload in cunning ways and, most of the time, these mental gymnastics serve us. Except when they don’t. Gut instincts often miss the mark completely. We filter out a huge amount of information (some of which may be useful), and our operating system is designed to reinforce these errors. You can’t rid yourself of these biases entirely, but you can internalise an awareness of these innate mental biases.

61. New Ideas Machine

Patents are absurdly inefficient. Prizes, on the other hand, let innovators profit from their ideas without owning them. Could we combine the ‘1% for the planet’ idea to crowdfund a new ideas’ machine for the 21st Century?

62. Awesome Maps 🗺

Unlike Google’s, the best maps, like stories, are shamelessly subjective. They can be delightful, whimsical, and creative.

63. Overestimate Man

Give everyone and everything the best possible head start through making generous assumptions. Victor Frankl put it best: “If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if we overestimate him… we promote him to what he really can be.”

64. Dwelling in Perplexity

Spirituality is the art of dwelling in perplexity. No matter how much we achieve in life, in the end, it’s our inner landscapes that define us.

65. Fictional Obituaries

A team of journalists should track down the top oil company execs and write imaginary obituaries for them all in 30 years time. Perhaps like Alfred Nobel, a few of these thoughtless douchebags might wake up to the apocalyptic legacy they’re creating.

66. Book Bucket List

If you read more than most and get through one book every 4 weeks, at this rate, with a generous assumption that you live to be 80 years old, then you might have just over 700 books left to read in your life. So, choose wisely!

67. Deathbed Regrets

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent over a decade counselling dying people and concluded that the most common regret of all was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

68. Progress is Addictive

Incremental improvements are addictive. Short-term wins release dopamine. We enjoy making progress more than we enjoy finding the treasure at the end. Reframing life as a game in which you can earn points is a fun place to start.

69. Selfishness

Taking time to work on yourself, establishing your values, meditating or exercising is not selfish — it improves your capacity to contribute.

70. More Pixels 🖥

Investing in a 27” desktop screen could do wonders for your productivity (plus all those extra pixels really bring photos to life)

71. Steampunk Goggles

Our present states of mind are like temporary lenses — or steampunk goggles. The ‘real world’ goes through seven brain synapses before it is received. Aspects are deleted, distorted, and generalised into a story. Taking the time to be aware and craft awesome goggles is time well spent.

72. Meaning is Irrelevant

Joseph Campbell says that we’re not actually seeking an abstract meaning of life, but rather the rapture of being alive.

73. Days add up

Having a vision is great, but if you don’t wake up most mornings stoked with excitement, maybe reconsider. How we spend our days, as Annie Dillard reminds us, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.

74. Use Less

We take most things for granted. Fasting for 48 hours and your body will keep functioning superbly in ketosis. Most people can hold their breath for far longer than they think. It’s the CO2 build up not the lack of oxygen that triggers the need to the breath reflex.

75. Anti-fragility

In a nutshell: Resilient stuff resists shocks and stays the same; antifragile stuff gets better. This means in the absence of a challenge, even the best of the best will degrade.

76. Endangered Ethnosphere

The greatest moral tragedy of our generation is perhaps likely to be the cataclysmic loss of natural diversity and our ethnosphere. Future generations will envy the world we live in today for its abundance of natural wealth and diversity of culture.

77. Give First

Do what you can to give first and with the expectation of getting nothing back in return (it usually comes back to you).

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

78. Listening

Listening well is a craft. In most conversations, both sides are either lost in thought or waiting for their turn to speak.

79. Travel ought to be subsidised

Travelling is so important for the young that it should be subsidised by governments. Experiencing foreign cultures wallops our innate ethnocentricity; the fact that we only tend to hold the beliefs and values that are from our culture.

80. Passport Lottery

Not all passports were created equal. Nice work if you are born in Germany or Sweden, but travel would be a real headache if you were born in Somalia or Iraq.

81. Existential Risk

Generally, Artificial Intelligence will, in all likelihood, lead to our immortality or extinction in the not-too-distant future. This sounds like crazy talk, but it’s not. AI has been dubbed the last invention we’ll ever make. It’s almost impossible to fathom the potential impact this could have, and part will depend on whether or not they are conscious. Surveying experts in this field 75% expected this transition to occur within the next 30 years.

82. Better Photos Equation 📷

Stunning photos = stand in front of interesting stuff + zoom with your legs.

83. Meditation

The average human spends a whopping 47% of their lives lost in thought. Meditation helps stack the odds in your favour. It’s like taking a mind bath. If you can’t spare 15 minutes to meditate in the morning, then you probably need an hour.

84. Dairy is F*cking Scary 🐮

There is no good moral argument against vegetarianism. Dairy is f*cking scary and culturally acceptable only because out of sight is out of mind; both from an environmental standpoint and causing unnecessary non-human animal suffering. Moral progress is as Sam Harris defines it, “[the process of] embarrassing our descendants, just as our ancestors embarrass us.”

Illustration credit to Wendy MacNaughton

85. Write to get ideas 💡

Journal to figure out what’s under the surface of your thoughts. Every so often, you will overhear yourself thinking something insightful (it’s cheaper than therapy!)

86. Advanced Technology is Magic 📱

Imagine a conversation with your great grandfather and how his mind would be completely blown by everything that we now take for granted. You now have more computing power in your pocket phone than NASA had when they put a man on the moon in 1969 (that happened too). This “phone” lets you speak to anyone on the planet instantly, look up anything, take photographs, track your location, play music, and a whole host of other stuff that most of us can’t usually be bothered with.

87. Breathe

When we are stressed out our breaths shorten. Taking shallow breaths is like watering down a good espresso or single malt whisky.

88. Efficacy > Efficiency

Better to do an average job of right stuff than an exceptional job of the wrong stuff.

89. Eight Hours 🛌

The vast majority of human bodies need 8 hours of sleep to function well. Trading two extra hours of evening time only to feel sluggish for the entire next day is a shitty trade.

A hat or an elephant that has been eaten by a snake? Illustration from The Little Prince

90. Creative Living

Creativity amplifies your senses. It does this by making you feel like a child again. It expands your world through delight or sometimes overhearing yourself saying something you didn’t realise you knew. If you can learn to sit with uncertainty to enjoy not knowing what is around the corner, then creative living is possible.

91. Blame Elegantly

If you must blame your situation, your lack of time or money, then do so elegantly. Blame the situation for blessing you with creative constraints and challenges to overcome.

92. Buddhism

Buddhists believe that life is a ‘joyful participation in a world of sorrows’.

Illustration credit: Kate Gabrielle & Carl Sagan

93. Chirp of the Cosmos 🌌

In a land far far away, some very smart people have built a machine that can listen to the universe. As in actually hearing the cosmos.

94. Morning Pages 🌇

Nothing good has ever come from checking an iPhone within the first hour of waking up. Instead, spend 5 minutes (or longer) scribbling out a stream of consciousness.

95. Desk Top Trumps

Sitting is the new smoking, but standing is better. An indoor board beats standing, but escaping the office trumps them all.

96. Maker’s Schedule 📆

The great privilege of working from home is that you get to craft your own maker’s schedule. Mornings work for some, while others are night owls. Either way, a lack of distractions makes all the difference.

97. Information Dieting 📰

Avoid the News. The News doesn’t show you the world as it is; it shows you anything and everything (usually fear-based) that has been specifically designed to keep you watching. Curate your own online reading instead of binging on information junk food.

98. Giant Miracle Grass 🌴

Bamboo is a miraculous species of grass. It can grow 35m in 8 months, suck up 35% more CO2 than most trees, be used as charcoal, create fabric, and create stunning architectural masterpieces.

99. Flex Your Face 😀

The width of someone’s smile is a strong indicator of their lifespan. Plus you might make someone else’s day.

💯 The Art of Looking

What we conveniently call reality is a tiny fragment of the world. Yet, it takes a great conscious effort to discover the limitations of our ordinary looking. Going on a walk around your block is a great way to overcome these blinders.


p.s. Appreciation Debt 🙏

I’m absurdly grateful to bloggers and authors Tim Urban, Maria Popova, Krista Tippet, Kevin Kelly, James Clear Rand Fishkin, David Cain, Chris Guillebeau, Sam Harris, Derek Sivers, Ryan Holiday, Steve Kamb, david hieatt, William MacAskill and many others whose generous writing has literally reshaped the way I see the world. If you’re reading this, thank you!