This Virtual Soldier's Speech Explains How to Have True Purpose in Life Cover

This Virtual Soldier’s Speech Explains How to Have True Purpose in Life

Humans are agents of change.

From the moment we are conceived, our body begins to evolve. It grows until we’re born, and then it grows some more. Our bones, cells, muscles, even our brains — they constantly renew themselves. Day after day, month after month, year after year. It all changes until it can’t change anymore.

In time, we start to decay. Decay, too, is change. It’s not a bad thing, you know? As Steve Jobs said, “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

We don’t change just on the inside. Between birth and death, we change everything we interact with. We change nature, culture, and others. Throwing a rock is change. Discussing remote work is change. Patting a friend on the back is change. Even sleeping is change.

Change is the most human thing we do — and the most powerful way to enact change is through purpose.

Read More
Someone Will Save You Today Cover

Someone Will Save You Today

If his mom hadn’t called him about the suicide book he’d ordered from the library, Tim Ferriss might not be here today. Thankfully, most of us will never need such a chance encounter or staged intervention. Why is that?

Why don’t we all require literal life-saving, given we all fight the same existential battles? I have a theory: You’re already being saved. It just happens differently than you imagine, and you don’t realize it does.

Every day, tiny parachutes protect you from falling. You don’t know who made them. You don’t see them on your back. All you know is you’re okay, and that’s the part that matters.

When I was 13, I felt angry. I don’t know at who or why. Every morning, I listened to Linkin Park. It was soothing to hear another man yell at the top of his lungs. One day, my anger just…went away. Did Linkin Park save me? I think it did. Not in a dramatic, literal way, but with countless tiny parachutes — one song, three minutes at a time.

Right now, something is saving you too. Maybe it’s a song. Maybe it’s a joke. Maybe it’s a friend listening to your troubles. We can’t always see it, but, all through our lives, a stream of invisible, helping hands carries us. Microscopic sparks of salvation, sprinkled like stardust across our days. It is thanks to this stardust that we don’t need a more radical and tragic kind of saving.

Art is salvation. Kindness is salvation. So are joy, laughter, and motion. Whoever bestows them upon us is our savior; whoever makes us laugh, smile, or calm down becomes a helping hand.

We too are a hand carrying others. We’re all doing our part, even if we don’t notice. It’s a magnificent contradiction: When it comes to the big things in life, no one will come and save you. You are your own light. You must be. No one will make you rich, happy, healthy, or fulfilled. That torch only you can bear.

At the same time, you are constantly being saved. Every day, billions of humans send trillions of ripples across the universe. Some of them will always reach you. Some of them will carry you forward.

Saving is for all of us, and yet saving, like everything, is part of the great balance. Every day, we’re both the savior and the saved.

By the time you rest your head on your pillow tonight, you will have been saved. You’ll also have saved someone else. Neither of you will know who did it. Neither will have seen the other pull it off.

All you’ll know is you’re okay — and that’s the part that matters.

If You Can’t Beat the Fear, Just Do It Scared Cover

If You Can’t Beat the Fear, Just Do It Scared

Glennon Doyle knows what fear is. The fear of eating, fear of drinking, and fear of speaking. The fear of saying what she wants, changing her mind, and admitting her marriage isn’t working.

Doyle struggled with bulimia, alcoholism, and other addictions. Her ex-husband was unfaithful. How should she raise their three daughters? How could she explain she now loved a woman?

More so than most people, Doyle needed her own advice: “If you can’t beat the fear, just do it scared.”

I hope your fear won’t come with as much trauma as Doyle had to go through, but I do know this: Today, fear rarely tell us what’s dangerous — it tells us what matters. If you follow the fear, you’ll find the growth. In fact, it’s one of few things reliably pointing in the right direction.

The scariest thing for a blogger is to write a novel. The scariest thing for a developer is to quit her job in hopes of better. A month-long solo trip for a busy stay-at-home dad? Blasphemy! And yet, they’re all steps towards our true north.

When you feel the fear, can you lean forward? At least don’t run away. It’s the better of our usual two options — to escape or wait until the dread fades. While you’re waiting, consider the fear won’t dissolve. Why won’t it subside? Well, how could it? It’s here to show you the way.

Whenever you’re ready, fear will lend you a hand. Oh, it’s coming. You bet. Ain’t no solo seats on this ride. Once you accept that part, you can let fear do its job. Make it your guide instead of your game over.

Welcome the skepticism. Cherish it. Use doubt to keep your head on straight. And always keep growing towards the scary bright light.

Today Is Gonna Be Your Day Cover

Today Is Gonna Be Your Day

You wake up. You’re eight years old. It’s your birthday. How excited are you?

I’ll tell you how excited you are: Right now, your zest for life is an 11 out of 10. Heck, it might be a 15. I think you should live your life as if it’s your eighth birthday every day. At least once a week.

Psychologically, there’s no reason you can’t. That’s all life is. Psychology. Identifying, managing, changing your emotions — and then projecting what you have procured upon the world. Seriously. Try it.

Smash your alarm with the force of Thor’s hammer. Don’t roll over in bed. Jump out! JUMP! Try the 5 second rule: 5…4…3…2…1 — GO!

Play music. Pick a song that makes you feel unstoppable. Like this one. Or this one. Or this one. Blast it on repeat. Put on headphones. Don’t stop. You’re a train of joy, and you’re just leaving the station.

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Open the window. Can you feel it? Can you feel the fresh air hijacking your life? Let it!

Make some coffee. Smell it. Realize what a privilege it is. Wonder about the origins of this miracle. Appreciate its journey. Isn’t it worth more than gold?

Speaking of which: If you want something shiny, look in the mirror. Why should the sun rise if you don’t? Make it! Let a smile radiate from your face. Post a selfie. Wave at the postman. Can you feel the warmth? I assure you they can.

Get dressed. Not in that lousy lounging equipment. Wear some actual pants man! Remember those? Go out with pants on. You won’t believe how empowered you’ll feel.

I guarantee you will strut. You’ll parade the sidewalk as if you own the whole block. It’ll be amazing. Fantastic. Bigly. See? When you’re eight years old, even Trump can make you laugh — for all you know is he talks funny.

Infect the world with your laughter. Laugh for no reason. Laugh while waiting at the traffic light. Grin to yourself like the Cheshire cat. For every one person who thinks you’re crazy, nine more will laugh too.

Buy the food you never buy because it’s $2 more than your average meal budget. Isn’t that stupid? Especially on your birthday. It’s $2! And you only have one life! Treat yourself. Make it count.

Learn a new skill. Stop watching piano covers. Buy an app! Get some sheet music. Press your first key. No eight-year-old worth their salt is content watching others. They must do. Try. Replicate. Playing a song feels ten times better than listening to one — and if listening is already that awesome, imagine how high playing will take you!

Take a break when you’re tired. Hell, take a nap! You can, you know? No one’s stopping you. When rested, you’ll spin our planet with twice the gumption. That’s what we need: A force like the one in Star Wars. Energy! A little divine inspiration; a strike of lightning that can come entirely from within if you want it.

Use it to start a new project. Or don’t. Be extra nice at work. Love your job twice as much. If you don’t, pretend you do for the day. Watch how it’ll transform how you feel about it. Has that lightning kicked in yet? Any lightbulbs flaring up?

This day — today — truly is yours, you know? Always has been. Always will be. There’s no one in your way. Look in the mirror. Step aside. There. Your biggest obstacle has fallen. Poof! Jokes on you! It was all in your head.

Don’t be the villain in your own story. You’re supposed to be the hero!

Life is not a sharp object you try to feel out in the dark. It’s Play-Doh. You can mold it however you want. Channel it! Take whatever wants to flow in, and then redirect it according to your desires. Don’t forget to hand out some to others. It’s more fun to play together.

I know it’s hard to remember sometimes, but if you search deep inside, I think you will find: Once upon a time, you were invincible — and just because you’ve grown up does not mean you can’t bring back that feeling.

Today is gonna be your day. I can feel it.

30 Lessons Learned in 30 Years of Life Cover

30 Lessons Learned in 30 Years of Life

Yesterday, I turned 30. When I was 18, I thought by 30, I’d have it made.

My 20s were a long, slow grind of realizing “made” does not exist. “Made” is past tense — but you’re never done! The only finish line is death, and, thankfully, most of us don’t see it until we’re almost there.

Instead of the binary made/not made distinction, I now see life as round-based. You win some, you lose some, and different rounds have different themes. There’s a carefree-childhood season, a teenager-trying-to-understand-society season, an exuberant-20-something season, and so on.

At 30 years old, I’ve only played a few seasons, but each round feels more interesting than the last. If that trend persists, I can’t imagine what one’s 60s or 90s must be like. By that time, you’ve seen so much — and yet, there’ll always be new things to see.

Most seasons last longer than a year, and there’s plenty to talk about with respect to the important, defining decade from 20 to 30 alone, but today, I’d like to do something different: I want to share one thing I’ve learned from each year I’ve been alive.

Read More
The Japanese Art of Kintsugi: How to Practice Self-Improvement Without Judging Yourself Cover

The Japanese Art of Kintsugi: How to Practice Self-Improvement Without Judging Yourself

I still remember the commercials: “Clearasil Ultra Face Wash — and in three days, they’re gone!” “They” are the pimples, of course.

Each ad played out the same way: A teenage boy hides from his crush because he has acne. His friend reminds him of the party in three days. “You can’t go with that face!” The boy uses Clearasil, shows up, and gets to kiss the girl.

As someone who suffered three long years of intense acne in high school, those ads hit me right in the feels — first with hope, then with misery. After I tried the product and it didn’t work, Clearasil continued to erode my self-worth in 30-second increments by reaffirming a false belief I held about myself: As long as I have acne, girls won’t be interested in me, so there’s no point in even trying.

Every year, millions of teenagers share this experience, and it reveals a pattern deeply ingrained in Western culture: Find a flaw, worry about it, try a quick fix, and if it doesn’t work, go back to worrying. Repeat this cycle until some magic pill works or you find an even bigger inadequacy. While this may lead to some improvement, in the long run, it inevitably leads to self-loathing.

You wouldn’t think a pimple commercial reveals so much about a nation’s culture, but if you watch a few Japanese skincare ads for reference, you’ll see — because unlike Clearasil, they do clear things up.

The Japanese Perceive Problems Differently

The first thing you’ll notice about Japanese beauty commercials is that they’re not directed at teenagers. There’s no Justin Bieber claiming zits are intolerable, no before-and-after pictures, and no shrill voice prompting you to “get acne out of your life.”

All you’ll see is adults going about their day, feeling good because — and this is the part the commercials focus on — every day, they practice their skincare routine. Pimples aren’t presented as a flaw to be overcome, just a part of everyday life. “If you consistently take care of your skin, acne might still happen, but it won’t have enough power over you to ruin your day.” That seems to be the message.

This is radically different from how we approach obstacles in the West, and it’s no coincidence. The Japanese perceive problems differently. They don’t view them as stumbling blocks to be eliminated. Instead, they see them as stepping stones on a never-ending journey. They empathize with problems.

The Japanese cultivate this worldview at an early age, thanks not just to their commercials but also their teachers.

“He did it!”

Jim Stigler is a psychology professor at UCLA. He once observed a fourth-grade math class in Japan. Surprisingly, the teacher called the worst student, not the best, to the board. The task was to draw a three-dimensional cube.

Every few minutes, the teacher would ask the rest of the class whether the kid had gotten it right, and the class would look up from their work and shake their heads no. At the end of the class, he did make his cube look right! And the teacher said, ‘How does that look, class?’ And they all said, ‘He did it!’ And they broke into applause. The kid smiled a huge smile and sat down, clearly proud of himself.

Imagine this scene in a Western classroom. Based on 13 years of going to school in Germany, I can tell you: It would not have gone this way.

Usually, if a student is called out and doesn’t immediately get it right, they are branded as stupid — if not by the teacher, then at least by the other students. They’ll return to their desk with their head lowered in shame and, instead of discovering the solution, go back to worrying about their pimples.

In Japan, mistakes are seen as valuable. There’s not just something to learn, there’s something to learn for everyone. Instead of being left behind, people who struggle are pulled into the light. Solving the problem becomes a joint effort, and if the student succeeds, everyone wins.

You might say, to the Japanese, mistakes are worth their weight in gold — sometimes literally.

Kintsugi: Don’t Fix — Integrate

Kintsugi is an old Japanese art. It is the craft of repairing broken pottery using seams of gold. Instead of trying to hide the object’s cracks, it accentuates them. The message is simple but meaningful: Our trials and flaws are not scars on our character — they are the very fabric that makes us human. Each obstacle, each mistake becomes a building block of a better tomorrow, thus making us a little more unique and beautiful.

In the West, we tend to throw things away when they break. Each year, millions of perfectly usable products end up in landfills. To some extent, we do the same with people. This is sad but unsurprising, given the perpetual message in our education and media: If you struggle in even the slightest, you’re not good enough. You can buy some Spanx, muscle supplements, or an online course to fix it, but until you have, don’t bother, and definitely don’t bother others with your problem.

But what if our mistakes are just for learning? What if our flaws aren’t flaws at all — just puzzle pieces that make us different and, thus, lovable?

There’s a difference between fixing and integrating: One is done to compensate, the other to move forward. When we obsess over correcting our flaws, we may succeed, but we’ll never feel content. It takes a general appreciation of life’s transience to focus on learning, accept what we can’t change, and even see beauty in our little imperfections.

The Japanese call this appreciation “mono no aware” — an empathy toward things, a sense of impermanence. Mono no aware is at the heart of kintsugi, and it can make the difference between a laid-back, joyful pursuit of growth and a never-ending spiral of self-flagellation — just like a golden thread can make a repaired plate look more beautiful than it was before it broke.

Summary

From your skin to your mind to your bank account: A desire to improve your life is a wonderful thing. It’s less wonderful if that desire leaves a constant taste of “I’m not good enough” in your mouth.

Not always but often, Western self-help wants you to feel self-conscious. The industry points out your problems, twists the knife, and then happily sells you a plethora of quick fixes to combat them. Whether they work or not, in the long run, this will damage your self-image.

While it’s good to confront our problems head-on, the Japanese aim to do so without negative connotation. They stress consistency and effort in their marketing, parenting, and education. Mistakes are a valuable source of learning for everyone, and our flaws are not just not so bad, they make us unique and beautiful.

The next time you spot a pimple or give the wrong answer, remember the art of kintsugi: Don’t fix. Integrate. As long as you make them steps to something bigger, not a single one of your obstacles will go to waste.

Funny Shower Thoughts Cover

44 Funny Shower Thoughts That Will Snap Your Mind in Half

On any given day, your brain is either growing or deteriorating. There is no such thing as “maintaining” your mind.

When you don’t challenge your brain, that day, your mind will shrink a little. When you solve a problem or entertain a new idea, your mental ability will grow.

If you do the crossword every day, at first, it’ll make your brain sweat. Eventually, you’ll have memorized all the coded prompts, and it’ll only be a rote memory exercise. So how can you keep stretching your mind?

The answer is not to read a book a day or work crazy hours. Your brain would soon overload and demand a long break. Neither complete stagnation nor excessive learning is the answer.

What you can and should find time for, however, is five minutes a day to engage with new ideas. That’s enough to get new combinations of neurons to fire together, and that’s what mental growth is all about.

Ryan Lombard can help you do just that. Ryan has a series he calls “Thoughts That Will Snap Your Mind in Half.” So far, he’s made 20 parts. Here are the first eight, totaling 44 funny shower thoughts, ideas, and mind-bending questions.

Some made me think deeply, some just made me laugh, and some I didn’t understand at all (yet). I’m sure a few of them will send your mind in new directions.

Here are Ryan Lombard’s 44 “Thoughts That Will Snap Your Mind in Half.”


  1. If you weigh 99 lbs and eat a pound of nachos, are you 1% nacho?
  2. If you drop soap on the floor, is the floor clean, or is the soap dirty?
  3. Which orange came first — the color, or the fruit?
  4. If two vegans are arguing, is it still considered beef?
  5. When you’re born deaf, what language do you think in?
  6. If you get out of the shower clean, how does your towel get dirty?
  7. If Apple made a car, would it still have windows?
  8. When we yawn, do deaf people think we’re screaming?
  9. If you’re waiting for the waiter, aren’t you the waiter?
  10. How do you throw away a garbage can?
  11. If you buy a bigger bed, you’re left with more bed room but less bedroom.
  12. Why aren’t iPhone chargers just called “Apple Juice”?
  13. If you work as security at a Samsung store, does that make you a Guardian of the Galaxy?
  14. When you feel bugs on you even though there are no bugs on you, are they just the ghosts of the bugs you’ve killed?
  15. When you clean a vacuum cleaner, aren’t you the vacuum cleaner?
  16. Nothing is ever really on fire, but rather fire is on things.
  17. If life is unfair to everyone, does that mean life is actually fair?
  18. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
  19. Why is it called taking a dump when you’re leaving it?
  20. Being down for something and being up for something mean the same thing.
  21. If you’re in the living room, and you pass away, did you die, or are you just knocked out?
  22. Why is the pizza box a square if the pizza is a circle and the slice is a triangle?
  23. Why is it called a building when it’s already built?
  24. How does a sponge hold water when it’s full of holes?
  25. The blinks of your eyes get removed from your memory.
  26. What would happen if Pinocchio said, “My nose will grow now?”
  27. Actors pretend to work.
  28. People who need glasses just got bad graphics.
  29. Why is bacon called bacon and cookies called cookies, when you cook bacon and bake cookies?
  30. Do clothes in China just say, “Made down the road?”
  31. If your shirt isn’t tucked into your pants, are your pants tucked into your shirt?
  32. If you’re invisible, and you close your eyes, can you see through your eyelids?
  33. A fire truck is actually a water truck.
  34. Why are deliveries on a ship called cargo, but in a car, it’s called a shipment?
  35. If one teacher can’t teach all subjects, why is one child expected to study all subjects?
  36. Are oranges named oranges because oranges are orange, or is orange named orange because oranges are orange?
  37. What happens to the car if you press the brake and the accelerator at the same time? Does it take a screenshot?
  38. The youngest picture of you is also the oldest picture of you.
  39. If we have watermelon, shouldn’t we also have firemelon, earthmelon, and airmelon? The elemelons!
  40. Why do we drive in parkways but park in driveways?
  41. Your burps are just your puke’s farts.
  42. If it rains on a Sunday, does that mean it’s now Rainday?
  43. Clapping is just hitting yourself repeatedly because you like something.
  44. Your alarm sound is technically your theme song, since it plays at the start of every episode.

Some of these questions don’t make sense, others have fairly obvious answers. Some are just jokes, while others seem like they can’t be answered at all.

The more of these “shower thoughts” you consider, the more patterns of creative thinking you’ll spot.

There’s the “flipped logic,” as in the cookie vs. bacon example, the “circular reasoning” of being a vacuum cleaner, and the paradox of life being fair by being unfair. There’s the “incomplete set” of the elemelons, the “chicken vs. egg” problem of the orange, and the “all roads lead to Rome” behind your youngest picture also being your oldest.

Once you recognize such patterns, you can think about where else they apply and come up with your own examples. The latter is the ultimate creative exercise, and it proves: It only takes five minutes a day to grow your mind instead of shrinking it.

Don’t waste this opportunity. Just like we must share joy in order to grow it, we must snap our minds in half to double them in size.

If You’ve Never Written Before, Don’t Charge for It Cover

If You’ve Never Written Before, Don’t Charge for It

Three weeks into studying abroad in the U.S., I started missing German bread. I love American food, but when it comes to “Brotzeit,” those pale, floppy slices of toast just don’t cut it.

I wanted a loaf. I wanted rye. I wanted the sour, moist-yet-crunchy freshness only German bread can provide. Unfortunately, it was impossible to find.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, and so eventually, I became desperate enough to decide to bake my own. Since my baking skills are on par with a nine-year-old, this was a much larger-scale effort than it might seem.

Read More
If You’re an Intellectual, Act Like One Cover

If You’re an Intellectual, Act Like One

In seventh grade, my history teacher asked if anyone knew what the huge, fancy, painting-like carpets covering the walls of the Palace of Versailles were called. His question was met with silence and puzzled faces.

Eventually, I raised my hand and said: “Gobelin.” My teacher was thrilled. So was my neighbor. “Ooooh, go-be-liiiiin, Mr. I-know-everything.” The class erupted in laughter.

There’s something to be said here about shaming intellectuals and about a system in which being fun is cooler than being smart, but at 13 I was oblivious to both of those things — so I too erupted in laughter. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

Read More
No One Is Coming to Save You Cover

No One Is Coming to Save You

Your parents aren’t coming to save you. They’ve done that often enough. Or maybe never at all. Either way, they’re not coming now. You’re all grown. Maybe not grown up, but grown. They’ve got their own stuff to take care of.

Your best friend isn’t coming to save you. He’ll always love you, but he’s knee deep in the same shit you’re in. Work. Love. Health. Staying sane. You know, the usual. You should check in with him some time. But don’t expect him to save you.

Your boss is not coming to save you. Your boss is trying to cover her ass right now. She’s afraid she might get fired. She’s fighting hard to keep everyone on the team. She’s worried about you, but she has no time to save you.

Read More