40 Unconventional Pieces of Advice That Most People Ignore
Reading Time: 6 minutes
1. Most decisions are reversible. Don’t obsess about making the “right” decision. Define the problem, list out the potential solutions, and choose a path forward. Some decisions are one-way doors, but most are not.
2. Stop trying to feel happy. Self-help culture tricks you into thinking happiness is around the corner. But humans evolved to survive, not to be happy. If you’re going through a tough time or don’t feel joy at every moment, that’s normal. You’re human.
3. It’s not about you. If someone slights you or turns you down, don’t take it personally. Most people are too consumed with their own problems to appreciate what you’re doing or who you are.
4. Careers don’t exist. Don’t worry about the narrative of your “career.” Pursue your interests. Take care of your needs. Adapt to new circumstances. And be willing to reinvent yourself at any age.
5. Everything gets old. Life is full of diminishing returns. At some point, more money, fame, prestige, travel, or sex won’t make you any happier. Learn to recognize when you have “enough.”
6. Life is not “fair.” Life favors people already at the top. But regardless of where you started, you can improve your circumstances. Waiting for the world to be fair is a losing strategy.
7. No one knows what they’re doing. People come up with fancy stories about their lives, but no one has life figured out. If you’re confused or uncertain about your life, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
8. Ignore most advice. If you ask for advice, most people tell you what they would do. But you aren’t them. Learn to trust yourself. And check your thinking with the rare people who will take the time to step into your shoes.
9. Everyone can teach you something. Even your obnoxious political foe can teach you something. Learn to let go of your initial judgments and try to understand people. Talk less. Listen more. Get curious about how people came to be who they are.
10. Give back before you’re ready. No amount of money or success will make you feel ready to give back. Giving is a habit, and it’s one worth developing. Start giving today, and give more tomorrow.
11. Be grateful for what you don’t have. Life can always be much worse than it is today. Instead of obsessing about what’s going wrong, be grateful for all the horrible things that you don’t have.
12. Show up. Consistent and focused effort beats talent in the long run. Daily actions compound in remarkable ways. To excel at anything, pick a direction, make a little progress every day, and keep going.
13. Actions reveal your beliefs. You’re defined by what you do, not by what you say. Fancy words don’t make up for a sloppy character.
14. Speak with people older than you. Older people may not be up with the times, but they can teach you a lot about what actually matters in life. One day with older people can prevent a decade of wasted time on meaningless pursuits.
15. Write about your life. Journal often. Write about the mundane details of your life. You’ll forget almost everything that happens to you. But reading an old journal will remind you of how wonderful life can be and how much you’ve grown.
16. Say no to almost everything. Very few things matter on a 10-year time horizon. Get used to saying no to things that you don’t want to do. Life’s too short to please everyone.
17. Say sorry more often. When you’ve made a mistake, take responsibility. Listen to the person you slighted, give a genuine apology, and commit to being better in the future. If a relationship is important, apologize even when you feel like you’re not in the wrong.
18. Bad experiences often become good stories. Time heals most wounds. What seems unbearable in the moment often becomes something to laugh about in the future.
19. Choose optimism. Pessimism is more persuasive than optimism. But optimism in the face of a difficult situation is what motivates people to find a way forward.
20. Follow your energy. If something in your life feels off, listen to your gut. Leave a relationship. Change your career. You can’t always connect the dots forward.
21. Listen for the birds. Birds chirp everywhere in the world. But when you’re wrapped up with your inner drama, you won’t hear them. When you’re calm and present, you will. Pursue a life of inner stillness. The birds will let you know when you’re on track.
22. Go for it. Lead a daring life. Try new activities. Challenge yourself. Stop obsessing about what other people think. Just send it, but know your limits.
23. Read books. Books allow you to transcend the limitations of your direct experience. They help you tap into centuries of wisdom from the world’s greatest thinkers. Books teach you how to live, how to be a good person, how to lead, and how to succeed. Read more books.
24. Go for a walk. A long walk can free you from even the most vicious of mental prisons.
25. Slow down. Life passes quickly. Learn to slow down and enjoy what you have today, especially if you’re ambitious and driven. You can always get more done tomorrow.
26. Progress is motivating. Motivation is not predictable, so you can’t rely on it. The most powerful way to increase your motivation is to take action and make progress.
27. Be charitable in your views of others. Most people are good. They want the same things that you do. If someone has a bad idea or makes a mistake, they’re not a bad person. Assume that everyone is doing their best.
28. Don’t wait for the money. Waiting until you’re “financially free” to make the decisions you want is a mistake. Money unlocks more choices, but it doesn’t change the way you operate. If you want to do something, do it now. Don’t wait for the money.
29. Progress isn’t linear. Self-help wants you to believe that you always need to be improving. This idea sells more self-help, but it’s not how life works. Progress isn’t linear. Sometimes what you need most is to do nothing & chill.
30. Inner peace > external achievement. Many “successful” people are miserable on the inside. Avoid this trap. No amount of achievement will give you inner peace. Learn to be at peace with yourself, independent of what you have or what other people think about you.
31. Be around people who want the best for you. Be ruthless about removing negative and toxic people from your life. Especially during hard times, you need people who want the best for you.
32. Stop overthinking. If you want something, go for it. Don’t wait for someone to come along and move you closer toward your goal. Don’t try to think your way into the future. Decide what you want. And find some small way to inch closer to that outcome today.
33. Choose courage over comfort. Don’t allow the comfort of your present reality to stop you from striving to be more in the future. Experiment and fail often. Aim to live a bold life without regrets.
34. Focus on today. Everything you want to achieve starts with what you do today. Make plans for the future. But remember that what you do today creates the future. You only exist right now.
35. Choose your response: You can choose how you respond to anything you face in life. If an obstacle comes your way, try to learn something from the challenge. When negative feelings arise, try to see the good and naturalness in them.
36. Pay it forward. If someone helps you, pay it forward by helping someone else. Don’t underestimate the power of a small act of kindness.
37. Take care of yourself. Develop good habits. Spend as much time as you can walking, meditating, and playing. Never miss an opportunity to be with someone you love.
38. Balance the “doing” and “being” mind. The “doing mind” is about getting things done and achieving goals. The “being mind” is about accepting your reality without feeling pressure to change it. Find the right balance between these two modes of operating.
39. Feel your pain. Life is hard. Make friends with your negative emotions. Don’t cover them up with excessive food, booze, or other short-term remedies. Find the courage to sit with your pain.
40. Don’t take shortcuts. Commit to a life of choosing long-term respect over short-term popularity. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.