Sometimes you simply forget how many wonderful things life can offer. Usually when you most think you’re on a productivity streak — when you code for 12 hours every day to make that app-idea happen, or when you immerse yourself in learning about a new topic for weeks with almost no sleep — is when you forget what made life worth living in the first place.

Then you wake up one day confused. You’re motivated and you feel purpose, but all of a sudden you realize that life used to be about more than chasing a dream. Your friends don’t call you as often as they used to, and your days simply don’t feel as joyful anymore. When was the last time you laughed?

This has happened to me many times. What I realize is that much of what’s beautiful in life are forgotten when you bury your head in work. At times like these it’s good to have a check list — a list of ingredients — to sprinkle your life with at times of dullness or too much work.

MUSIC

When was the last time you went to a concert?

The tunes are the first to go when I focus on achieving my goals. Whenever I get the chance to listen to something, it is podcasts on what I’m currently trying to learn.

If enough time goes by without it, you forget it exists. But once you bring back music into your life there is an automatic feeling of pure happiness that returns, and it’s felt throughout your body.

Turn on your favorite song, bring the volume up, and get moving. It’s like you were thrown into a scene of a movie, and everything else melts away.

You’d think this would be obvious. But I’ve forgotten it so many times. And it’s always great to find your way back after a long pause.

Bring back the soundtrack of your life.

NATURE

Go outside

And in the hectic storm of phone-calls and to-do lists and note taking and creating and building and answering emails, you suddenly realize that you have not been outside in weeks. Well, you’ve been outside, walking from office to an Uber to home. Home to the subway to a client. Client to lunch to drinks to bed.

But when was the last time you were outside just to be outside?

The Japanese have a concept called Shinrinyoku, which is loosely translated to ‘forest bathing’. There have been studies that found that simply being in nature, has physical benefits to your health.

For me, time feels different in nature. And being present is easier. If you’re not alone, conversation becomes easier, and better. And the views and sounds and smells never disappoint.

I make a point to do this at least once a day. It could be for only 5 minutes. I have the luxury to live close to a lake and forest. So it’s relatively easy to get close to nature. If this is not an option for you, I strongly recommend making sure you have an outlet of nature close at hand in the future. It makes life so much more pleasurable.

COMEDY

Laugh more

So you’ve ticked off your habit tracker three weeks in a row. Your project is well on its way and you’re practicing gratitude every morning like a robot who’s thanking customers at the exit of a restaurant.

But when was the last time you laughed so hard that you sounded like a pig?

Comedy is taken for granted often. Friends make us laugh if we’re lucky. Social situations can bring jolly moments. But we rarely actively chase comedy, as comedy is a waste of time when you’re pursuing your goals, right?

One day after a long period of not laughing that much, I got stuck in an evil YouTube vortex of funny videos. I just couldn’t stop. I clicked on the next, and the next, and the next. And I laughed and laughed and laughed. Lately, I had been feeling stiff in social interactions. Like I just didn’t get the jokes, and I was certainly not the funny one in the group, even though I take on that role frequently. But at a dinner after that night of funny videos on YouTube, it all just came back to me.

I smiled more. I kept making joke after joke, and I delivered them with more gusto than I usually do. At one point I caught myself imitating the mannerisms of one of the comedians I had watched the day before. This change in behavior turned out to be very appreciated and my friends even pointed out that the night felt like the good old times again. Not only that, I was also having a great time, and the warmth from all the laughter would last for many days.

It’s easy to but comedy in the waste-of-time-folder. But when we’ve made our millions, spent years in a cave meditating, or saved the planet — what is it all good for if we then can’t spend our days laughing and being silly with our friends and family?

RELATIONSHIPS

Just give someone a hug

Speaking of friends and family, when times get rough, when your business is invisible and nobody buy your products or services, when you’re hit with writer’s block, or when you stop making progress at the gym for weeks, they are the ones that we’ll be there and support you. They are also the people you’ll ultimately share everything with, the people you’re doing it all for.

So why do you neglect them?

I have had long bouts of time dodging calls from friends as I’ve felt I simply don’t have time. Anxiety has been building up in the background. I’ve dreaded calling them back as I’ve imagined they’d be hurt or not wanting to speak to me anymore.

But every time I finally went and got back in touch, I’ve never been disappointed.

I read somewhere that relationships are currency. If you need to renovate your house, you can pay professionals to help you, or you can simply ask someone you know with those skills if they are willing to help you. Another classic example is moving. There are people in my life I would never say no to help, because I know they’d do the same for me.

In the book Happy Money, Ken Honda explains that if you know 52 people that would let you stay on their couch for a week, you could in theory stay one week at each friends place for the whole year, and then start over again. That way you’d never pay for accommodation. It simply shows that relationships are more powerful than the money we never stop chasing. And unlike money, relationships can actually buy us happiness.

MOVIES

In general, watching things on the screen has gotten a bad rep lately. And true enough, people are spending too much time in front of screens.

But when I say movies, I mean a proper high-quality film, that completely immerses you for 1-2 hours, and leave you inspired. A film that make you feel strong emotions.


Strong emotions are key for all items on this list. Emotions are what we forget when we loose ourselves in the pursuit of something. Emotions will only get in the way of our productivity. But if it goes on for too long, and we are without emotions for too long, we loose touch with ourselves as humans, as emotions are what we are, and what makes life worth living.

This article was originally posted on www.stillstupid.blog

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