Some people write because they want to help others. I don’t. I write to help myself.
If whatever comes out also helps someone else, great. But if not? That’s okay.
Today’s exercise for helping myself is writing out reminders of 25 behaviours that always blow up in my face. Behaviours I should stop doing. Right Now. They aren’t doing me an ounce of good. They are robbing me of the meaningful relationships I have with others. Even worse, they are robbing me of the most important relationship of all: the one I have with myself.
1. Ramming your opinion down everyone’s throat
The best happiness and productivity hack is having strong relationships, and every time you ram your own agenda down someone else’s throat instead of taking the time to learn about theirs, you are weakening them.
So stop telling people what you think and start asking them what they think.
“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” — Theodore Roosevelt
2. Building castles in the sky
Nobody cares about your plans.
Nobody cares about your projections.
Nobody cares about your tomorrow.
Get real and stop time traveling and start living.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” — Jim Rohn
3. Arguing about meaningless stuff
How many times have you changed your mind when you didn’t want to because someone said you were wrong?
Most people aren’t much different, so stop treating them like they are.
The fastest way for people not to listen to a word you say is by insisting on getting the last one in.
So the next time you feel you are about to say, “I am right and you are wrong,” ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
If it isn’t, concede.
“Stubbornness is the strength of the weak.” — Johann Kaspar Lavater
4. Reading what everyone else is reading
Life is all about dot collecting, then figuring out how they best connect.
This can’t happen if today you pick up the same name as yesterday.
And it certainly can’t happen if you are only reading the same books as everyone around you.
You want to grow?
Stop reading about the people who share your same worldview and go read the opposite.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” — Murakami
5. Defining people by what they did without considering who they are
How would you feel if everyone labeled you only by the mistakes you’ve made?
Why do the same to others?
We are all ugly.
We are all beautiful.
It is up to you to decide which version you want to see.
So stop looking for the bad and start letting in the good.
“I am not the worst of what I’ve done.” — Jay-Z
6. Ignoring the needs of the people around you
If your partner had a bad day, do not rub your great one in their face. Instead, sit down and shut up. Your news can wait.
And when I say shut up, this includes saying, “I know how you feel,” “It will be better tomorrow, you’ll see,” or any variation of trying to solve their problem.
More times than not a supportive ear beats a running mouth.
After all, love is felt.
“Success is when the people you love actually love you back.” — Warren Buffett
7. Chasing shiny things
If you do what you do only so you can buy a fancy car, you have already lost.
Take time to think about what really makes you happy, then design your life around it.
You may just find you already have the right ingredients but were following the wrong recipe.
Chase stuff that lasts—friendships are a good place to start.
Simple is the new cool.
“Nothing gold can stay” — Robert Frost
8. Questioning things that work
If you want to lose weight, don’t look for a hack; move more and eat less.
If you want to form a writing habit, don’t ask people about theirs; follow the lead of Kris Gage and sit down and write.
If you want to be more productive, don’t read a blog post; turn off your phone, sit down and get to work.
Stop making things harder than they have to be.
“The obvious answer is the answer.” — My dad
9. Ignoring the magic that comes from being bored
If your calendar is filled all day, every day, you are doing something wrong.
Your mind need time to breathe.
Your body needs time to breathe.
You need time to breathe.
And when you do this, you may be surprised how fast your calendar fills up with things you actually care about.
So stop being so damn busy — it isn’t impressing anyone.
“When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
10. Holding grudges
Most people do not wake up and think to themselves how they can wreck your day.
And not forgiving them robs you of one of the beauties in life: seeing people come in and out of your life.
So when it comes to holding grudges, just let go.
You can’t move forward if you can’t move on.
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” — Paul Boese
11. Complaining about things you are doing nothing about
Nobody likes complainers. Especially those who never do anything to improve their situation.
So instead of talking about how bad your first world life is, open your ears, identify the needs of the people around, and do what you can.
You may learn that helping people fix their problems is the key to minimizing yours.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” — Maya Angelou
12. Talking over people
The second you interrupt someone is the second you lose them.
The world would be a much kinder place if people just learned how to shut up and not just wait their turn, but actually listen until it is their turn.
The next time you feel the urge to jump in on someone, just breathe.
You might learn something.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey
13. Feeling like you need to solve everyone else’s problems
“I need to talk” is not the same as “I would love your opinion,” so shut up and let people talk.
Being there for someone is enough.
So stop trying to be their answer.
“Entonces cállate la fucking boca.” ― Junot Díaz
14. Comparing yourself to others
When you stop thinking about what everyone else is doing and you start focusing on what you can do is the exact moment when “anything is possible” can actually become possible.
If you are running someone else’s race, you will never win.
So stop running someone else’s.
Run your own.
“You don’t want to be like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.” — Austin Kleon
15. Saying “It’s either a hell yes or no” — life is not that simple
If you are constantly saying “no” to things that scare you because of fear, lack of experience or lack of knowledge, you are missing out on becoming the person you are capable of being.
Growth was not meant to be easy.
It was meant to hurt.
Waiting until tomorrow only makes it more painful.
So stop quoting successful people who have done the work you haven’t.
“Life is a hellavu lot more fun when you say `Yes’” — Richard Branson
16. Following your passion
Passion is not something you follow.
It is something you bring.
Stop trying to make something great and instead focus on getting great at the making.
Your career will thank you for it, as will your attitude.
“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset and instead adopt the craftsman mindset”—Cal Newport
17. Pointing your finger at others
Blaming others is a loser’s strategy.
It not only makes other people feel bad, it makes you look bad.
The people that run the world own themselves.
This includes their mistakes.
So stop pointing fingers and start offering solutions.
“Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”– Abraham Lincoln
18. Accepting one person’s opinion as fact
A glaring pattern arises when you study the lives of people you admire, and one of the most glaring is that they got to “yes” by fighting through “no.”
The most important muscle you can grow is your resilience.
So stop letting one simple opinion determine the value of your work.
In an ideal world, the right people find us, but for most mortals, we have to get out there and find them.
“Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment.” — Colin Powell
19. Taking criticism personally
You cannot grow into the person you want to become without being realistic about who that person actually is.
So stop shying away because it stings.
What hurts holds truth.
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” — Tim Ferriss
20. Thinking the world owes you something
Having a career and a life you love is a privilege, not a right.
And it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.
No one is going to save you.
No one is going to throw you a line.
What we get out of life is a direct reflection of what we put into it.
So stop thinking you deserve better and get to work.
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” — Mark Twain
21. Ignoring the basics
Successful people did not achieve their success because of one thing.
They achieved their success because they focused on the little things.
The moment you think you can cut corners is the moment you put your momentum in jeopardy.
So stop ignoring the basics—they are your foundation.
“The details aren’t the details, the details are the thing.” — Charles Eames
22. Keeping your gratitude to yourself
Writing what you are grateful for is a sound way to start the day.
But it is not nearly as effective as actually showing it.
If you wake up one day and you are grateful for a friendship, let them know.
If you realize during the day how incredible your partner is, let them know.
If you think about how lucky you are to have someone in your life while eating dinner, let them know.
Gratitude on its own is good.
Gratitude shared is better.
So stop keeping it to yourself. Your life will be better for it. So will someone else’s.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”—William Arthur Ward
23. Relying solely on your first impression
You have something to learn from absolutely everyone, and rarely will that happen on the first go of things.
People need room to show themselves.
So stop passing judgement and start withholding it.
“I don’t know if you have ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” — Lemony Snicket
24. Wearing a mask
The very things you are fighting to hide are the very things that best connect you to others.
You will never please everyone.
So stop trying to and let your uncool self shine.
You may just find that by doing so, the right people think you are very cool.
“Being honest about the existence of a blemish can enhance your offerings true beauty.” — Daniel Pink
25. Ignoring the good that is right in front of you
The moments that stop the world only happen when you stop and appreciate the world.
So stop thinking about what you could have and start appreciating what you do.
Not only will your relationships thank you for it, so will your sanity.
When looking over this list, some themes become apparent: there is real value in looking for the good, there is real value in living in the present, and there is real value in putting in the work.
However, the underlying theme to all these pursuits is learning how to shut up.
Most people react.
Don’t be like most people. Stop, listen, and then act.
Your relationships with others will thank you for it, and so will the relationship you have with yourself.
“People who listen more than they speak should impress you. People who listen to all viewpoints before speaking should impress you. People who say, `I don’t know´ rather than pretending they do, should impress you.” — John Mashni
Everything is choice.
Make them wisely.
Today is yours — so shut up and enjoy it.
Ah and before I forget , stop eating crap for lunch.
It isn’t helping.