50 pieces of unsolicited advice

I decided to try something a little different, inspired by two of Kevin Kelly’s blog posts.

I’ve brain-dumped a list of things I’ve realised about life and living recently, in the hopes it 1) inspires you to live a little more mindfully, the same way Kelly’s posts inspired me, and 2) inspires you to write your own list (also, the same way Kelly’s posts inspired me).


  1. When you go somewhere to fetch something, always try to drop something off on the way there (and vice versa). For example, when you make tea, collect dirty dishes on the way to the kitchen. If you have empty hands, fill them. You’ll thank yourself later.
  2. Don’t skip laundry days. There’s nothing more wonderful than fresh linen.
  3. When your pets want your attention, never be “too busy” to offer it. You don’t “need” to do anything else. That moment is an opportunity to slow down, and enjoy a really precious moment of your life — one that won’t be there one day. So take it.
  4. Make time to find new music. It’s a kind of therapy. There’s something so exciting about new songs: They give new energy. They help you to express whatever you’re feeling — and generally bring to the surface whatever you need to express right now.
  5. Also, hold dearly onto songs you already love. Create a playlist for songs you always find yourself gravitating back towards. Whenever you listen to a song that feels like it’s “one of those”, add it to your playlist.
  6. If you struggle to get rid of stuff in your house, take pictures of everything and upload the photos to an online album. That way, you can give the stuff away/sell it/throw it away, etc., and still be able to look at it whenever you want to, forever. It’ll never break or get lost, and you can access them from anywhere in the world, always.
  7. Nothing makes you feel anything. You are what makes you feel. So, even though you don’t always choose how you initially feel (stubbing your toe hurts), you do choose how you react to that feeling (do you sulk the whole day, and blame yourself for being an idiot, or do you just move the table so you don’t get hurt next time?).
  8. Don’t wait until you feel like doing something. Willpower is unreliable. Just start, and see what happens. Flow state is a symptom of starting, not a cause. You don’t need flow to start; you need to start to reach flow.
  9. Your actions tell you a lot about what you really value. Look at how you spend your time, and compare that to what you say you want to spend your time doing. If you’re not doing what you want to do, what are you waiting for? Or, do you really want it that much?
  10. Also, it’s OK to change your mind. And it’s OK to not enjoy things you used to. No one cares that much. Promise. We generally care a lot more than other people do.
  11. Leave your yoga mat out, and unrolled. You’re more likely to use it if you don’t have to fetch it from a cupboard or unroll it first.
  12. The most affordable and meaningful date idea is to just sit down, and have a conversation.
  13. Empty your change into an open container and keep it your car. Your wallet will be lighter, and you’re more likely to give car attendants, petrol attendants, etc., some spare change if it’s easy to reach.
  14. Fill a two-litre bottle of water in the morning, and keep it with you throughout the day (having it on your desk really works). You’ll never drink too little water again.
  15. Whenever you can, go first. Be the first person to say “hello”, the first to suggest an activity, the first to ask what’s wrong, the first to do that thing that no one else wants to, or that no one else thinks possible.
  16. Rather spend a little effort every day on doing things you don’t want to do, than spend a lot of effort later catching up on everything you ignored.
  17. In most cases, the time you spend looking for the cheapest option will cost you more in two ways: 1) The time you spend looking for the cheapest option could have been spent earning, and 2) the cheapest things tend to break the fastest, meaning you’ll need to buy multiple cheap things as opposed to one pricier, but higher quality thing.
  18. The things you dislike about someone else are generally related to the things you dislike about yourself.
  19. If you like the way your desk looks, you’re more likely to enjoy what you do there.
  20. The best gifts are ephemeral. Experiences activate multiple senses, making them more memorable. And they often result in unexpected and unplanned joys. Where-as experiences mature in memory, material gifts often just gather dust, and one day go missing in the attic.
  21. Making someone a cup of tea or coffee, before they ask you to, is one of life’s simplest pleasures.
  22. You cannot have too many plants. If anything, you’re helping nature along.
  23. Listen to understand, not to reply.
  24. A durable, comfortable pair of shoes is not a waste of money.
  25. You simply cannot expect yourself to do anything exceptional if you aren’t looking after your body: Eat well, sleep well, and get enough exercise first; then, and only then, can you do everything else.
  26. Most of the things you think you couldn’t live without, you can.
  27. Being wise means having more questions than answers (that one’s from Kevin Kelly).
  28. The secret to staying young forever boils down to three things: 1) Never do the same thing twice, 2) seek opinions that change your mind about something, and 3) don’t try to stay young forever.
  29. Growth is about chipping away at, not adding to, the whole. Like a marble sculpture, things become clearer the more you remove.
  30. Growth is also a life-long process, not a destination, and end, or an outcome. Those who think they’ve “reached” it are the furthest away from it. In the words of Alan Watts: “The reason you want to be better is the reason why you aren’t.”
  31. Send yourself an email once a week with something you’re grateful for. Not only is it a nice way to notice the things you appreciate but, after a while, you’ll have a long list of emails with everything good in your life that you forget about when you’re sad. And that’s a great time to read over them.
  32. Most people are just as insecure about that thing as you are. Thus, owning it and being vulnerable is leadership, not defeat.
  33. Most advice is given in a certain context. What worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you.
  34. Leave things better than when you found them. (Imagine how beautiful everything would be if everyone did this?)
  35. You can learn something from everyone — even your worst enemies.
  36. The greatest gift anyone can give you is feedback…
  37. … And feedback that hurts is generally the kind you need the most.
  38. When you dislike a certain food, it’s probably because you haven’t tasted it the way you’d enjoy it. So, instead of avoiding that food entirely, try being curious. Seek different preparation methods, recipes, and flavour pairings. The same can be said about almost anything we dislike.
  39. Most people’s intense emotions come down to fear, or insecurity. When someone gets angry with you, it’s not actually about you at all; they’re angry at the situation, and their own fear or insecurity. In that moment, the bravest thing you can do is to try and understand what that is.
  40. Simple doesn’t mean easy. Having a cold shower in the morning is simple: Turn the tap, get wet. But having a cold shower is not always that easy.
  41. You can control what you say and do, but not how someone responds. That’s not your responsibility; it’s theirs, and theirs alone. If you care about how they feel, then understand how they respond — but don’t attempt to anticipate, control, or prevent it.
  42. Speak to yourself like you would a friend.
  43. Whenever something sucks, find at least one thing that’s good about it. Just because your first thought is negative, doesn’t mean that’s all there is.
  44. Backpacks with lots of pockets will always be superior.
  45. Take more responsibility for your life. No one can “make you angry”; you chose to react with anger. And taking responsibility doesn’t mean being at fault: Someone can leave an injured cat on your doorstep, and even though it doesn’t mean it’s your fault that it’s there or that it’s injured, it does mean it’s your responsibility to choose what to do next.
  46. You don’t owe anyone anything. Period.
  47. It’s impossible to please everyone, all the time. It cannot be done. You’ll be much happier if you accept that 1) there will be people who dislike you, and 2) you will offend people sometimes (even if you don’t intend to).
  48. No one really knows what they’re doing. Everyone is winging it.
  49. Question the things you don’t agree with. Question the things you do even more.
  50. Given that we’re a tiny speck in an incomprehensibly large universe, and our time on Earth is a cosmically microscopic moment, ask yourself again: How much energy do I really want to spend worrying about this thing?

Photo by Pedro Araújo on Unsplash

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