How to Live

A very unique and thought-provoking book. Meant for reflection as much as instruction.

113 incredibly succinct pages of profound insights. No philosophers are quoted. No -isms are named. Only actionable directives. The end result feels more like poetry than prose.

The following are just quotes. Best quotes from the book. So I didn't style them for readability. 

Here’s how to live: Be independent.

Don’t even rebel, because that’s reacting.

Instead, do what you’d do if you were the only person on Earth.

Never agree with anything the same day you hear it, because some ideas are persuasively hypnotic.

Wait a few days to decide what you really think.

Don’t let ideas into your head or heart without your permission.

Here’s how to live: Commit. 

Notice those words: ties, bond.

These are words of commitment.

We say we want freedom, in theory.

But we actually prefer this warm embrace.

Rockets use most of their fuel in the first minute of flight, to escape the pull of gravity.

Once they get outside that pull, it’s effortless.

Same with your habits.

Starting is hard.

The rest is easy.

Falling in love is easy.

Staying in love is harder.

Enthusiasm is common.

Endurance is rare.

Commitment gives you integrity and social bonds.

Commitment gives you expertise and power.

Commitment gives you love and happiness.

Committing is how to live.

Here’s how to live: Fill your senses. 

Be systematic.

Follow guides. “Top Places You Must Visit” “Greatest Movies of All Time” “Best Restaurants in Town” Go through them all.

That’s the optimized way to experience the most, without repetition.

How amazing that everything you’re doing is both the first and last time.

The thrill of the first.

The sentimentality of the last.

Here’s how to live: Do nothing. 

Actions often have the opposite of the intended result.

People who try too hard to be liked are annoying.

People who try too hard to be attractive are repulsive.

People who try too hard to be enlightened are self-centered. People who try too hard to be happy are miserable.

Your whole experience of life is in your mind.

Focus on your internal world, not external world.

To be wise, shut out all media and opinions.

No news, no gossip, no entertainment.

Most of it is not worth knowing.

Don’t accept the false stories people tell.

Things are neither good nor bad — they’re as neutral as a rock.

When people give opinions, add a question mark.

If they say, “Immigration is bad,” change it to, “Immigration is bad?"

Let the questions drift away, unanswered.

If an action feels necessary, and you can’t let it go, just write it down for later.

Everything seems more important while you’re thinking of it.

Later, you’ll realize it’s not.

Here’s how to live: Think super-long-term. 

Serve the future.

Do small things now with huge benefits for your older self, your descendants, and future generations.

Delay gratification.

Today’s discomfort brings future rewards.

When you have a clear view of the future, you won’t mind the small sacrifice.

You never regret not indulging.

Short-term thinking is the root of most of our problems, from pollution to debt, both personal and global.

When you make a big mistake and want to learn its lesson, deliberately amplify the pain, the deep regret, and the consequences.

Keep the bad feelings vivid and visceral.

Make the lesson memorable, so you won’t do it again.

Here’s how to live: Master something. 

Mastery is the best goal because the rich can’t buy it, the impatient can’t rush it, the privileged can’t inherit it, and nobody can steal it.

You can only earn it through hard work.

Mastery is the ultimate status.

Goals don’t improve your future.

Goals only improve your present actions.

A good goal makes you take action immediately.

A bad goal doesn’t.

A goal shows what’s right and wrong. What moves you towards your goal is right.

What doesn’t is wrong.

Big picture means head up.

The more you’re doing of one, the less you’re doing of the other.

If you’ve been head-down on a task for too long, lift your head up to make sure you’re going the right way.

You don’t get extreme results without extreme actions.

If you do what most people do, you’ll get what most people get.

Don’t be normal.

Society’s guidelines are for the lost — not for you.

You can’t take the blame for failures.

You can’t take credit for successes.

You can’t regret what you didn’t cause.

Here’s how to live: Let randomness rule. 

Randomness helps you learn acceptance.

You can’t take the blame for failures.

You can’t take credit for successes.

You can’t regret what you didn’t cause.

Here’s how to live: Pursue pain. 

But if you avoid pain, you avoid improvement.

Avoid embarrassment, and you avoid success.

Avoid risk, and you avoid reward.

Use it as your compass.

Always take the harder option.

Always push into discomfort.

Ignore your instincts.

Be absolutely honest with everyone.

Stop lying, completely.

You lie when you’re afraid.

You lie to avoid consequences.

Always say the truth.

Take the painful consequences.

Here’s how to live: Value only what has endured. 

The media focuses on what’s new, because that’s what pays.

Their attention makes new things seem important.

But only time will tell.

So the way to live is to ignore everything new.

All of it.

Let the test of time filter everything.

Value only what has endured.

Study history, tradition, and culture.

Get to know places that haven’t been homogenized by globalization.

When a person loses their memory, they lose their sanity.

When a culture loses its traditions, it loses its sanity too.

Here’s how to live: Learn. 

Don’t believe what you think.

Have questions, not answers.

Doubt everything.

The easiest person to fool is yourself.

Put it in your own words without looking up or referencing what others said.

If you can’t explain it yourself, you don’t know it.

To communicate clearly, you have to think clearly.

Teaching and learning are telepathy.

We can connect across oceans and centuries.

Words written by someone long ago and far away can penetrate your mind.

Share what you learn so it can be received by others, even when you are long gone.

Here’s how to live: Follow the great book. 

Don’t follow your heart.

Your heart has been hacked.

Your intuition is usually wrong because it’s just emotion, subliminally influenced by amoral inputs.

Emotions are a wild animal.

You need rules to tame them.

Your self-control is highest in the morning and diminishes during the day, so review your book’s rules every afternoon.

Define a good life as more than shallow pleasure.

A good life is contribution.

A good life is resisting temptation.

A good life is being the best you can be.

A good life is diligently following your book.

Here’s how to live: Laugh at life. 

Humor is the spirit of life—a sign of a healthy, vibrant mind and soul.

Here’s how to live: Prepare for the worst. 

Want nothing, and nothing will disappoint you.

Want nothing, and nothing is outside your control.

Want nothing, and fate can’t hurt.

Here’s how to live: Get rich. 

Money is nothing more than a neutral exchange of value.

Making money is proof you’re adding value to people’s lives.

Aiming to get rich is aiming to be useful to the world.

Speculating is not investing.

Never speculate.

Never predict.

Be humble, not arrogant.

Never think for one second that you know the future.

Remind yourself over and over again that nobody knows the future.

Ignore anyone that says they do.

When you’re rich, everything feels free.

A $5000 expense feels like it costs a dollar.

It doesn’t dent your bank account.

Money will be like tap water.

It’s always there.

You don’t need to think about it.

Putting a label on a person is like putting a label on the water in a river.

It’s ignoring the flow of time.

Here’s how to live: Love. 

Don’t exaggerate to be more entertaining.

Don’t downplay.

If you downplay your achievements to make someone else comfortable, you’re preventing connection with that person and even with yourself.

Just be honest.

If you’ve done something great, say so.

If you’re not doing well, say so.

Beware of the feeling that someone completes you or will save you.

You have wounds in your past.

You have needs that were ignored.

You seek someone to fill these gaps—someone that has traits you crave.

But nobody will save you.

You have to fill those gaps yourself.

When you’re going through an unstable time in your life, you latch on to whatever makes you feel stable.

Unless you are drops of liquid, one plus one never equals one.

You must both be free and able to live without each other.

Be together by choice, not necessity or dependence.

Love your partner, but don’t need your partner.

Need is insatiable. Need destroys love.

Here’s how to live: Intertwine with the world. 

The way to live is to create.

Die empty.

Get every idea out of your head and into reality.

Here’s how to live: Create. 

Creating is telepathy.

You speak directly to people across the world, whether days or decades from now, connecting your mind to theirs.

You send important messages to those who can hear it.

Let the deadline of death drive you.

Create until your last breath.

Let your last spark of life go into your work.

Die empty, so death takes only a corpse.

Here’s how to live: Make a million mistakes. 

Your growth zone is your failure zone.

Both are at the edge of your limits.

That’s where you find a suitable challenge.

Aim for what will probably fail.

If you aim for what you know you can do, you’re aiming too low.

Here’s how to live: Make change. 

Don’t accept anything as-is.

Everything you encounter must change.

Preservation is your enemy.

Only dead fish go with the flow.

Here’s how to live: Balance everything. 

Balance your political opinion.

Talk with smart people in the opposite camp until you’re not opposite anymore.