37 Life Lessons At 37
One doesn’t have to be a superstar to write one of these lists. We all learn from experience, and like most people who get older, I feel like a completely different person now than when I was in grade school and college. Without further ado, let’s dive into some the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
1. You need fiber. Soluble or insoluble, get both. My secret weapon for fiber are chia seeds. High in both fiber and omega-3s and easy to add to yogurt, cereal, or even ice cream. Of all the things I eat, fiber has made the most difference for consistently good gut health and it’s why I list it as numero uno.
2. You don’t need to lift weights. Wait, whaaaa did he just say? Yeah, that’s right, you don’t need to lift weights to be in shape. Your body is more than just muscle, you have connective tissue, and most of us are walking zombies. Extreeemely fragile. Until your bodyweight workouts are almost effortless (like you can do handstand pushups with ease, pistol squats all day, one-handed pushups without doing your impression of a split, and so on), you probably have no business lifting heavy weights. It’s very difficult to conquer the most difficult of lifts, the ego lift, and putting on muscle can be addicting. Bodyweight workouts have kept me feeling balanced and strong, and I never have any knots in my back or pulled muscles anymore. I haven’t had an injury since I started bodyweight training, and after a certain point of being unhealthy, you would rather feel less fragile and move your body around with ease than look heavy with muscle. I have also saved a ton of time and headaches by no longer needing to go to the gym. As a family man, I barely have enough free time as it is to read, write, worry about the state of the world, and interact with my loved ones. The gym takes a lot of time and is why many of us without much free time couldn’t keep up with a regular schedule. Rather than try and get up early, or go in after a long day at work, or go in late at night, why not try bodyweight workouts you can do at home? I suggest reading Convict Conditioning and getting started.
3. Count your calories. It’s an overused cliche, but you need to know how much you’re putting in and how little you’re burning. Calorie counting will eventually lead to eating healthier, since you realize you can’t eat as much as you think you can, and you don’t want to waste calories on something that won’t fill you up. For example, I stopped going to my favorite sub shop because I realized most of what I was eating was the dough and eventually I couldn’t justify spending so much money for mostly bread when I saw what made what in calories.
4. Whatever you have planned, it will take longer than you think. Things will come up and delay your plans (like a pandemic, for instance). You might find out you weren’t as gung-ho about something three months down the line as you were the first day you thought about it. Something else might come up and replace your plan. Seeing a plan through to its end is actually a rare thing, even if you write down every little detail of what you want to see done. You may even over-fantasize about your plan and then lose the appetite for it. Whatever it is you are planning, expect to not get it done in time and see if your plan can account for that. Also, don’t ever plan grind hours or grind days, they won’t happen.
5. If you don’t know how to have fun anymore, go back to what you did naturally as a kid. As a kid, I liked to think up of stories, draw, sit on a floor all day with a new book I cracked open, explore interesting things about nature, play sports, ride my bike, climb trees, run, and well, you get the point. The things you did as a kid, you will enjoy doing again as an adult. Forget the stuff you enjoyed as a teenager, you weren’t your authentic self then. As a teen I just sat around watching TV and played video games, or hung out with friends making stupid jokes. By the time you are an adult you have burned out on those things through overconsumption and need a healthy break. Do what you did as a kid.
6. Health is more important than money. Not just physical, but mental too. I quit a lucrative sales job so I could walk and use my body for work and have more time outdoors. The higher paying job was destroying me mentally; turning me into a different person. I didn’t let that continue. I also highly suggest getting in touch with your emotions for mental health. Some day I will write a post on emotional maturity and how much of a difference it has made in my life.
7. I no longer envy my golden handcuff friends and family. I know many people with great jobs who make a lot of money. They are not necessarily any happier than I am, nor do they seem to have much more life experience than I do. Some like their jobs, some don’t, but none of them can make an easy career change. If you’ve managed to avoid the golden handcuffs, see it as a good thing. You are free to do whatever you want, to be mobile, to be adaptable to changes that may force you to be poor for awhile. You are more capable of being poor for a bit to make a transition than someone who can’t quit because they’d lose their overpriced house, car, hobbies, or spouse.
8. Echo chambers exist for a reason. After awhile, people on the internet get tired of arguing and prefer to hang with their own. And if you’ve ever studied formal logic, you know there is very little real argumentation going on online. Save your arguing skills for yourself. You only need to know how to argue when you are in the process of changing your mind about something. I refuse to talk religion or politics in my social circles, it’s not worth the loss of a relationship, especially when there are times I am so apathetic to either topic I don’t even remember what I used to believe.
9. It pays to examine your own beliefs and to research answers from scholars whose job it is is to think about these things. You may be surprised by how little of your beliefs originate from you. And the ones that do, can often be from something you misunderstood, or didn’t pay enough attention to, or think about, but it solidified over time regardless. Just think about how often you think something through and diligently research all options with things on the table now. How many of your choices have been from the gut or a feeling and not from logical deduction?
10. Intellectuals and experts you respect can be wrong or confused sometimes. I’ll never forget when my daughter was born and every nurse we saw had a completely different theory on how a newborn should latch and start breastfeeding. I was incredulous! You mean to tell me the science isn’t settled on something we’ve been doing since the first people?! Maybe it was just a case of different people not having the time to be up-to-date and so they stopped somewhere along the way with what they thought was good enough. Still, I’m surprised by how many things don’t have an agreed upon standard.
11. Your attitude toward work trumps intelligence. Intelligent people can think of all sorts of reasons why they can’t do something, or why it will never work. The most successful people I’ve met have all had different kinds of intelligence, but one thing in common is they were all willing to put in the work over the long-run.
12. Nobody cares about you. People don’t think about you, they don’t care about what you’re going through, they are focused on themselves. Let’s say for a moment they show they are interested in you: it is fleeting. Most people are not set up to help others, financially or emotionally. If they are also going through something (and chances are they are) they have even less patience for your problems.
13. You have to be your own best friend, confidant, champion, advocate, and reliable rock. Self-reliance is more than just an essay, it’s a way of life. You have to take care of yourself because no one else will. You do not want to be in a situation where your family has to take care of you. They will resent you and lose respect for you (maybe, maybe not, why risk it?). You will also be shooting yourself in the foot a little, because you will be making it harder for yourself to become self-reliant down the road.
14. I now barely remember high school AND college. Both of those instances in my life were a lot shorter and less significant than I thought at the time. If you really think about it, you only played with toys for a very short time, yet we think our childhoods lasted for a long time. It’s true that you won’t use any of “this stuff” after school. Maybe by the time you will need it, so much time will have gone by that you’ve lost it. This still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn it, though because relearning will be a lot easier.
15. Ain’t nobody know what critical thinking is. It’s just something people say that makes them feel good about education. Even the definition from cirticalthinking.org is long-winded and vague and probably not what you’d expect people to say it is. Let’s get people to start THINKING first, and then maybe we can start talking about what the critical bit is.
16. You can read the same textbooks the professionals know. My wife had a lot of back issues and was seeing a lot of doctors. I decided to poke through a few physical and sports therapy textbooks and look up some articles. I’m a trained history teacher but I wouldn’t be able to know all the things someone reading a textbook would know while they’re reading the textbook. Even years of experience can muddle facts over time if someone isn’t constantly staying up-to-date. I’m not saying don’t trust the experts, but there comes a time and a place when you need to make sure you aren’t being pumped for more money or visits and you really do need to fix your problem. Find your answers where the professionals first went to get theirs.
17. Use alternatives to Google. I am a fan of Yandex at the moment.
18. Look up PhilHelper on Youtube and go through his formal logic course.
19. Cash in your hand is worth two in the bush. Try to always have a bit of cash ready for a quick purchase of assets or to buy the dip. I will never understand the folks who bring in what should be thousands and thousands above expenses every month and it all disappears (usually in food and eating out).
20. The single greatest upgrade to your life is to learn how to cook. I learned from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. I went from an idiot who could only make grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers to making perfect steaks, porkchops, eggs, chicken, fish, vegetables, and so on.
21. You should know about: mortgages, car loans, interest rates, car maintenance, HVAC systems, passive house (to know why and how homes are built the way they are), sales, copywriting, computers, household chores, tools, cooking.
22. I was extremely ignorant in my 20s, about everything. Except I didn’t think I was because I did well in school. I had learned nothing about responsibility, crises, making huge mistakes, hard times, panic and despair. School didn’t prepare me for life. It can sometimes trick someone into thinking it prepared them for life if they were able to get a good job straight out of school, but if that didn’t happen, you realize it did nothing for you. That’s why your parents always wanted you to get a good job with a steady paycheck, it will help you avoid all the nastiness life has to offer. Sadly, they were misguided about college. Education did not teach me how to become emotionally healthy.
23. If you still think college is a good investment, there is no hope for you. We’ve had over a decade of people talking about, and showing the math, of how bad a deal college is. I’ve gone from seeing colleges advertising that a college grad makes $million more in their lifetime over a high school grad, to advertising that 99.9% of their grads have jobs in their field (I want to see exactly how they got that statistic, for my alma mater I can’t find it). I’m old enough to remember when it was argued that college was for expanding your mind and making you a better person/citizen, not as a jobs program. It’s been a business gimmick for awhile. Just get a job and self-educate in a tech trade.
24. A lot of things are gimmicks. How many “Make $1500 a month writing articles” articles do you need? By the same guy? I learned the lesson about gimmicks when I sold cars. We all know the car business screws you one way or the other, but my first real lesson was when I learned all of the raffle items went to the owner’s niece or aunt or grandfather. The raffle was nothing more than a way to get leads. And I thought about this, and realized, if the raffle or auction wasn’t live, no one would have any way of knowing who won the prize. They’d just assume they didn’t win it so someone else must have, not even thinking for a moment the owner would be sleazy enough to pocket the prize for himself. In my last sales job, they had promised gift cards when they came out to give a quote. The salesman had the cards, but never brought them out or mentioned them unless the customer mentioned it. That way, they wouldn’t have to use all the gift cards they promised, the cheap bastards. We know these things, things like free gifts for a consultation or something, are gimmicks, I just want you to pay extra attention to that fact so you know who you’re dealing with and act accordingly.
25. Remember that part about nobody cares about you? It goes double if you’re a parent. No one cared about parents during the entirety of the quarantines and lockdowns. If anything, people were gleeful that some parents were writhing in anguish as they fought the terrible pandemic of cabin fever. Not only do people not really care much about the health of children (unless politically expedient), they care even less about the mental state of parents. You try being home all day every day with a toddler and see if you still care about anything at all beyond getting a moment of silence to yourself. Parents were the true heroes and warriors of this time, trying to keep their mental health together along with that of their kids. This pandemic thing broke families and no one batted an eye. So, the lesson is, if you want to be a parent, expect life to get even less forgiving.
26. The number one trait of a long-term partner is: *drumroll* Being a hard-worker! Yes, you want a hard worker. Not just someone who easily puts in 40 hours a week, but they also don’t complain about their job, they know it’s work, and if they do complain . . . they find another job! They also still get things done around the house after work, even when they’re tired, and they do this consistently, week after week, year after year. Why is this so important above all else? Because the opposite is a vector for pain and sorrow down the road. You don’t want to be in the position where you are shouldering all the burdens of a household because the other person broke down or turns out to be unreliable.
27. Style, a skin and hair care routine, new clothes, posture; all of these things are important because when adhered to you will convince yourself you are put together. This feeling of put-together is more important than you think. It was fine to be disheveled and homely in your school days, but to still be that way as an adult is downright ruinous. Unless you are very rich, you have to present as put-together, for your own mental health.
28. Early to bed, early to rise. This is the way. If nothing else, having a kid will teach you to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Unless you work a late shift, if you are up after 11pm, you are a child.
29. Journaling is very effective, well, because, you don’t really have that many people to talk to about your problems anymore. I don’t think social media is helpful for this either unless you are willing to lay it all on the line and potentially dox yourself. I have been able to dissect and discover many unresolved problems I’ve had through journaling, things that were sitting in my subconscious that required focused reflection to unearth.
30. Watch older TV shows. I am currently enjoying Murder She Wrote. There’s something relaxing and cathartic about an innocent show from simpler times. The same goes for older movies and I’ve been catching up on Peter Sellers and Jack Lemmon comedies.
31. The saying that you are your worst enemy is actually true. Sometimes it takes decades before you figure it out. While I do think a lot of our modern problems are outside of our control, our true mental problems usually come back to our thoughts and actions. One of the hardest things to overcome is getting out of that comfort zone we create and strengthen over the years. You don’t always have to be uncomfortable, but if you can’t tolerate even a little discomfort, don’t be surprised if your life starts to spiral downward.
32. There is no perfect partner. I believe we are generally compatible with a ton of different people. You can even have a successful long-term relationship with tons of different people, so long as both persons are willing to work things through and open up to each other, because it takes work, the work cannot be avoided. Again, this is why you want a hard worker, because they are more apt to work things out and know adversity than toss you away like an angry toddler. It’s important for someone to have been able to work through difficulties on their own. If you met someone and they have always had a parent or someone else solve their problems, RUN!!! Any two mature people could be compatible, in theory.
33. There is no difference between the incel and the chad. Both are sterile in the long run and fail to pass on their genes. Both are evolutionary failures. Neither help build and maintain a civilization. They are grasshoppers.
34. We are missing out by not believing in reincarnation, because if one believed that one will return again in a new life, one may have some reason to not be a grasshopper toward the planet, but instead be the ant who plans for a future (yes, yes, I know ants don’t actually plan and end up eating a lot of their own colony to avoid starvation, but the analogy is an old one). Maybe you will have to deal with an authoritarian government someday and eat bug meat. It does seem like certain segments of the ultra-wealthy prepare for their own lineages to maintain their wealth and power, but the average Joe does nothing of the sort. And, if you did come back, wouldn’t you want the world to be freer and better instead of more authoritarian or suffering through another cycle of civilization? Elites who want to live forever think they will be insulated from the rest of us, but if we all come back randomly in any part of the world, freedom and liberty would suddenly become a lot more valuable.
35. Your parents were just kids. They made mistakes, they probably damaged you, in fact they most definitely damaged you. They didn’t know what they were doing or they coasted or they believed in blind luck and hoped you’d turn out not so bad. You have to move on. Figure it out.
36. Learn what the Faustian Bargain is. Now, tone it down to a respectable level, and that is how most life decisions are. Whenever you choose to do something, or have something new, you are taking away from yourself something else. Before you make another life decision, consider its Faustian elements for some clarity.
37. Don’t seek pleasure, but have fun. Tally up all the little things you do on a day-to-day basis that are pursuits of pleasure. Was it fun to scroll social media for hours? Was it fun to get frustrated at a game? Was it fun to stare at your phone texting friends all day? Or were those things only cheap pleasures, quick dopamine hits. Remember that time you made yourself do something you knew was going to be good for you, but you were hesitant? Pleasure is something that takes no effort to do, like opening up reddit and looking at memes. But real fun can sometimes take effort, like packing up the van and having a picnic by a lake, paddle-boarding, cracking open a bubbly and chatting with friends, barbequing at the park grill, soaking in the sunshine and good times. Just remember, you won’t have memories of scrolling through social media or playing games. Your memories will be of things you did with people, or adventures you had on your own. Even the memories of your jobs will disappear in place of fonder things. If you realize that you are mostly spending your time with cheap pleasures and not doing anything fun that takes effort, you are going down a dark path that will only end up in depression and disillusionment.