WARNING! This is a LONG post, but it’s supposed to cover everything this blog is about, so feel free to scroll as fast as your well trained finger lets you, and stop wherever something catches your eye!
This post is about the 5 pillars I measure my life through. They are the backbone of this website, and everything I’ve written and probably will write in the the future. Still Stupid is a mantra for me. In pursuit after goals and fulfillment, Still Stupid is a reminder to remain humble. No matter how much you learn, no matter what you achieve: you are still a stupid human being. We don’t know why we’re here; don’t know that what we’re going after is our true purpose in life. But we do it anyway, blindly, as it fulfills us. If we remain humble, we can see other people struggling — trying to find their place in the world, and we can help each other. And it’s beautiful.
Below are the areas I’ve found give me that fulfillment. They’re the base of what I’m pursuing, the vessels I’m trying to fill and refill. They give me pleasure and happiness, as well as strength to affect and help others. The core of what this website is about. Let’s dive in.
As you might have figured out by now, I consider maximizing health crucial for a good life. Those who’ve been sick or injured know that if you don’t have your health, everything else than getting well become of little importance.
All the other pillars in this post could be related to health as well, but in this case, I’m referring to physical health. Here’s a summary of what areas to think about:
Man needs to eat to survive. What we put in our bodies transform into the fuel we use to do everything. If you’d fill your car up with milk it wouldn’t even be able to leave the farm. But people still have no trouble eating stuff that worsen their current state rather than improve it.
I’ve made a step-by-step-guide on what to start with first when trying to change your diet for the better. For another read on how to think about food, I recommend Michael Pollan’s great little book Food Rules, that takes a rational approach to it all.
Reading Mathew Walker’s Why We Sleep made me understand how sleep can make or ruin your whole life.
There are many ways you can go about improving your sleep — first step is to prioritize it.
A simple guide to sleep better: make sure you don’t sleep in to late, get sunlight and move during the day, and avoid screen-lights and thinking about work in the evening. Make sure your bedroom is your bedroom and not your TV/Reading/Looking at your phone-room, and make sure it’s cool and dark. That’s it.
Exercise is good. We all know that. It is the movement in exercise that is good for us. The lack of being still. Sitting down. So before you do anything else. Make sure you move throughout the day. If you haven’t found a way to exercise yet that you enjoy, don’t worry about hitting three HIIT-day every week at the gym.
Just go for a walk, you like listening to music, don’t you? If not, there are millions of podcast where you can learn almost anything from great people, and learning is why you’re here reading this post anyway, isn’t it?
Once you’ve started walking you can start looking for a more intense way of moving that you enjoy. What sports did you play when you were growing up? Maybe it’s time to get some of your old friends together and play again? What about making that walk into a short jog every few 100 meters? How many push-ups can you do? Test yourself. Just start small and gradually build up to find movement becoming a part of your life again.
And if you’re sitting for long periods of time during your days, remember to get up and move a little every once in a while.
An often forgotten aspect of physical health is where you decide to spend your days. The air in a crowded city is dangerous, yet people prefer to trade inhaling that toxic air for an abundance of restaurant and partner choices, as well as a job that pays a little bit more.
Using sketchy detergents or not having any plants at home could also affect your health.
Simply, if you live in the city, try to get away often, into nature preferably, and breathe in some fresh air.
Don’t let the word scare you. Spirituality doesn’t have to be connected to a religion or strange cult. With spirituality, I mean contentedness with the universe. Still too woo woo for you? Another word I use is emptiness. I wrote a bit about it here.
Spirit is what fills us when we create space in ourselves. In this time and age, that is difficult, and that’s why we need to take active measures to get it.
Here are the following areas I use to cultivate my spirit:
Whenever I spend time in nature, time passes differently. I could be in the woods for hours and just feel that time stands still altogether. All my problems become much less severe. Nature connects me to something greater. There is something primal, as well, that you can feel in your very core. It just feels right.
The air is cleaner, no people are running around being stressed, nobody is telling you what to do.
The Japanese call it forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku.
While you’re there, see if you can learn something, pick a mushroom or a berry, try see if you can name a few plants. Soon you’ll be looking for time to get out in nature more often.
Minimalism has gotten more popular lately. The idea is to learn to live with less. That the consumerist culture we’ve all taken on is bad for us. We need to let go of our wants and connect with ourselves again. We need to see what is truly important to us.
I’ve gotten into minimalism in the last few years and it’s made my life better in many ways. I feel I have more time, and I’m calmer. There are many books on the subject, like Thoreau’s classic Walden, that I’m reading a the moment, and it’s turning out to be one of my favorite reads ever. I also liked Goodbye, Things, by Fumio Sasaki.
There are two ways you can intemperate everything that happens to you in life. Good or bad. Gratefulness is not about interpreting everything as good. Sometimes awful things happen. But by cultivating gratefulness you actively fill your mind with more of the stuff you’ve chosen to interpret as good.
Take some time everyday to ponder what you are grateful for.
In our current society, with access to instant entertainment 24/7, people rarely pause to think anymore. Being bored hasn’t been a problem since 2007. But being bored could actually be fantastic sometimes.
Great storyteller Neil Gaiman famously states that his one cure for writer’s block is to be very very very bored.
When you simply do nothing, your mind starts to wonder after a while. Problems are being solved. And ideas come to you. I wrote a little more about it here.
I chose to put meditation last as for me it’s the most intense form of creating emptiness. You are actively focusing on your sensual input and your surroundings for longer periods of time. It can get intense. If you have no experience, I would start with the other points in this post. But if you’re curious, you can start with apps like Headspace and Calm to get an idea what meditation is all about.
Love. The most overused word, the most cliche theme of a movie. Many people think they don’t like love, that’s why they get nauseous when two people kiss on the street. But love is also our greatest reward. Loving other people, loving ourselves. In this post though, love is about connecting with the people around you. You are not on your own, even though it looks that way often.
In your teens, you could not think of anything more of a waste than spending time with your family. But as time passes, and friends come and go, and real problems start to occur, it’s less important that the popular girl in your class likes you, and more important when the last time you called your mother was. Your family stays when everything else in life is fleeting.
So invest some time in making your family connections better. The day your first close family member passes, this will come natural to you. But even before that, try to spend as much time as possible with them. You never know what could happen tomorrow.
This article by Tim Urban is a classic on the topic.
Your friends can often be taken for granted as well. But time can ruin relationships. When life happens, and work and projects and family start taking all your time, it can be difficult to maintain your friends.
Even though you feel you have no problem being by yourself for long periods of time (like me), whenever something happens, you’ll be able to come over it a lot easier with some help from your friends.
And the type of people you chose you choose to spend your time with also highly affect what your values and choices and personality will become in the long run. So make sure you spend time with people who are in line with what you’re trying to achieve.
Wherever we choose to live also greatly affect how our lives will look. People become friends with their neighbors, we train at the closest gym to home, we shop at the closest grocery store.
Making some effort to get to know people in your community is a great way of making sure your local existence improves. Once you know a few people you could get involved to improve parts of the community you’re in as well.
This is also how our society used to be structured a long time ago. It’s how we have lived for the longest period of time, and it’s therefore how we adapted to live. That is why we feel good connecting to our community.
The impact you have on the world is your legacy. How did you change humanity? Did you build a great business that solved a problem for millions of people? Did you take a part in saving the environment? Did you help unfortunate people through charity?
There are an uncountable amount of ways you can have impact, even on a much smaller scale. Just giving someone a smile could completely change their day for the better. But it’s hard to not consider sometimes what life is all about, if not to make impact? The only other answer seems to be some form of hedonist lifestyle — that at least I am certain — I don’t want to be a part of.
The saddest thing I could think of is seeing someone you haven’t met in 5 years.
And they’re the exact same person.
Nothing has changed. They might have been afraid to, or they’ve simply just haven’t stumbled upon anything world turning enough to change.
Learning changes this. I’m always looking for something new, every single day. Without exceptions. I’ll talk about exactly how I learn in another post, but mainly it’s books and podcasts. They are often the longest forms of arguments, so it’s better for understanding the whole picture.
Here are the areas I try to make sure I divide my learning equally into:
Learning about the world
History, Psychology, Science, Economics, Anthropology, and more lately topics like Computer Science, are all disciplines that directly inform us how things work, or have worked. It’s information we can use to make conclusions about the world around us. They also interconnect with each other, so the more you learn in a field, the easier it is to grasp matters in another.
Understanding the world makes us more humble and less reactive to outside factors. If someone cuts you off in traffic and you have a good understanding of the psychological processes that probably is going on inside that persons mind, you’ll be less likely to get angry. If your food goes bad, and you know the chemical reactions that happened, chance is you’d get more fascinated than disappointed.
Skills are the foundation which you build your utility to others on. So collect as many as you can. An area that most likely leads to failure at first, it’s another chance to prove your tenacity and grit to yourself. And you’ll get better with time. And you’ll learn more skills easier.
And it’s fun to be able to do stuff.
Learning about people
Psychology can help us understand people in general. But every person is different. Make a point to actively learn about the people in your vicinity. Ask questions that will help you figure them out. Observe them, study them. You’ll get along much easier. And the more people you get to know, the more intuitive you get.
Wisdom is hard to define. What is the difference between being intelligent, knowledgeable, and wise? I think wisdom is the knowing of what is ultimately good, as well as knowing the way to understanding it.
Wisdom is mostly acquired through years of experience, hence why wise people are depicted as old. But there is another way to collect wisdom throughout your life: accounts of other wise people that have already lived through the experience. Biographies and stories from your grandparents, for instance.
With that said though, there are many truths we hear from when we are very little. Proverbs and sayings from our cultures are usually wisdom passed from hundreds of generations. But we don’t take them in until we experience them, and truly understand them. But knowing this we can go back to them and take them more seriously.
Just following a silly proverb like “The early bird catches the worm.” has in recent years had a great impact my life.
Learning about yourself
It’s easy to miss, but sometimes we also have to look inward. We need to know ourselves before we can do anything else. Otherwise we will do what we later will regret. A waste of time.
Spend time in quiet reflection. Write in a journal. Ask people for feedback. That is how you grow.
Everybody knows how to consume. The abundance of products and services in the world make it easy to. And our culture encourages it. But once there was nothing. And someone had to create all those products and services.
We were once without anything but ourselves and our peers and the food we hunted or gathered. And then someone created a tool and made it easier to produce food faster. And then they used the surplus of that food to trade for other things someone else had come up a way of getting in a more effective way. And that is the beginning of the economy. And it all starts with someone creating something.
I think building things, whether it’s a house or a company or a garden, makes us happy through the core. There is something in our programming that just resonates with it. And when you’re not building or creating, you feel like life has less meaning.
And then there is art. Art is an understanding of what it is to be human depicted through a specific medium. As well as it is important to understand other’s art, it is also important to be part of the discussion.
This great commencement speech from Neil Gaiman (again) greatly explains why art is always a good idea.
Remembering that as no person has lived the exact same life as you, nobody have the exact same message to say as you. So your art will always be unique. Unless you plagiarize someone else’s work of course.
In the end, try to create/produce more than you consume. If everyone did, we would be able to keep this world of abundance. At the moment, 99% of us are doing the opposite, and that is why we are unhappy and why we will soon deplete the world of its resources. Dark and sad, but true.
This article was originally posted on www.stillstupid.blog
That’s it. The areas I find the most important for a good life. I will keep updating this post as I go with more resources and more comments. I felt I needed something to communicate what this website stands for. If you’ve read this far, thank you, and if you like some of it, please subscribe. My other posts aren’t as long, but they will go deeper into every area I’ve glossed over here. And please let me know if you have any ideas of improving this document. It would be awesome to together create something that we all can learn from!