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.

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.

Don't Wait Cover

Don’t Wait

If you want to learn the piano, press one key today.

If you want to write a book, write one paragraph today.

If you want a better relationship, make one confession today.

Whatever you do, don’t wait. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Not again. Not now. It’s time. Take the gloves off. This is it. One life, one time. No do overs. Don’t wait.

If you want a new job, learn one new thing today.

If you want a big money cushion, save $1 today.

If you want to feel inspired, study one inspiring person today.

Objects can’t move without momentum. You have to be in motion to stay in motion. It doesn’t matter how small — it only matters that it’s there.

Imperceivable growth now brings exponential growth later. You have to trust the imperceivable. Do the small things first. Do what feels ridiculous. You must crawl before you can run — but you must not wait.

If you want to run a marathon, run for ten minutes today.

If you want to be a chef, make scrambled eggs today.

If you want to teach children, help one child today.

Urgency isn’t coming. No one will kick your butt in gear. Urgency isn’t the postman. It’s not reliable. It won’t show up each day at 3. But if you’re already checking the door, you might as well go for a run. You show up at 3.

You must be the one to bring the urgency. You must understand that life is finite. You have to allow for that to click. And you have to do that today.

If you want to start a business, send one email today.

If you want to make friends, ask one person to have coffee today.

If you want to be a thought leader, post one idea today.

Regret is a sneaky bastard. Always late to the party. When regret shows up, it’s time to go home. Too late already. “Nothing to see here folks, just another human on a trip down misery lane.” Ugh. You again. Regret. Asshole.

If you want to read a book, read one page today.

If you want to paint a mountain, make one stroke today.

If you want to bury the hatchet, call one relative today.

The river of time carries all of us away. Redemption makes for a nice story, but it’s not guaranteed. The only promise you have is today. Don’t wait. Use today.

If you want to find freedom, choose peace of mind today.

If you want to make history, take a stand today.

If you want to be a better human, do one thing differently today.

Whatever you do, don’t wait. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Not again. Don’t wait.

How to Not Waste Your Life Cover

How To Not Waste Your Life

If you’ve wasted your whole life, can you make up for it in a single moment?

This is the question at the heart of Extraction, Netflix’s latest blockbuster and, at 90 million viewers in the first month, biggest film premiere ever.

Following Chris Hemsworth as a black market mercenary trying to rescue the kidnapped son of India’s biggest drug lord, the movie is full of car chases, gun fights, and a whopping 183 bodies dropping at the hands of Thor himself.

At the end of the day, however, it is about none of those things. It’s a movie about redemption.

After freeing his target, 15-year-old Ovi, from the hands of a rival Bangladeshi drug lord, Hemsworth’ character Tyler shows true vulnerability in a brief moment of shelter.

When Ovi asks him if he’s always been brave, Tyler claims he’s “just the opposite,” having left his wife and six-year-old son, right before the latter died of lymphoma.

Sharing the kind of wisdom only children tend to possess, Ovi replies with a Paulo Coelho quote he’s read in school:

“You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.”


You’re not an ex-special forces agent. Your life is not a movie. There will be no obvious signs. No excessive violence. No rampant drug abuse.

Just a slow, steady trickle of days, each a little more like the last, each another step away from your dreams — another day submerged in the river.

The river is pressing “Ignore” on the reminder to decline a good-but-not-great project request. The river is saying, “When I’ve done X, I’ll start writing.” The river is postponing asking your daughter about her dance hobby because today, you’re just too tired.

The river is everything that sounds like a temporary excuse today but won’t go away tomorrow.

Trust me. I’ve been there. It really, really won’t. No matter how much you’d like it to.

At first, it doesn’t feel like you’re drifting. You’re just letting go for a bit. You’re floating. The river carries you. It’s nice. Comfortable. Things happen. Time passes. It’ll keep passing.

Eventually, the river leads into a bigger river. You’re in new terrain. You’ve never seen this place before. Where can you get ashore? Where will this river lead?

Soon, you don’t know what’s ahead anymore. You can’t see what’s next. The river could become a waterfall. It might send you right off a cliff. You’ll stay submerged forever.

There won’t be a big shootout at the end. Just a regretful look out the window. A relative visiting. “Oh yeah, that. I never did it. I can’t tell you why.”

All rivers flow into the sea. If you don’t push to the surface, if you don’t start swimming, that’s where you’re going.

No one is coming to save you. You won’t get an extraction. No one will beat you into writing your book or asking her to marry you or being a good mother. No 15-year-old boy will serve you the answer in a quote from a book.

The only way to not waste your life is to do your best to not waste today.

Write a sentence. Make a hard choice. Pick up the phone.

We all fall into the river from time to time. But we can’t stay submerged in it. Don’t let small regrets pile up in silence. Take one step each day. One stroke towards the surface.

You’re not a soldier, and no single brief can save you. No standalone mission will define your legacy.

Don’t hope for a shot at redemption. Redeem yourself with your actions.

Redeem yourself every day.

Tomorrow Can Be a Good Day Cover

Tomorrow Can Be a Good Day

The last note on Avicii’s phone reads: “Spread positivity through my music and message.”

Robin Williams once remarked that, “Comedy is acting out optimism.”

In his last speech to fans at a concert, Chester Bennington said: “The one thing that can’t be defeated is love.”

I’m a writer. Every day, I structure my thoughts and emotions. Each session is therapy. The articles are just the reports. I take the result of my self-treatment, package it how I think will be most helpful, and release it to the world.

I wish everyone could do this. I wish it’d work for anybody. Sadly, that’s not the case. For Robin, Chester, and Tim, one day, the therapy stopped working.

Even before I started typing, I’ve always held this one belief. I’ve known it for as long as I can remember, and I don’t have any other lens to view life through. It’s as simple as it is powerful, and I can describe it in one sentence:

Tomorrow can be a good day.

If I had to erase everything I’ve ever written, if I had to go through my archive, pick one idea, and decide that’s the only one I’ll leave behind, this would be it.

Tomorrow can be a good day.

I can’t tell you how desperately I want you to believe this. I wish I could hold your hands when you feel at your worst, look you in the eye, and say it:

“Tomorrow can be a good day.”

When I was six, I fell off my bike and tore my chin. We had to wait at the ER for hours. A guy was wheeled in on a stretcher. Motorcycle accident. I don’t know if he made it. But as I was licking on my ice cream, I wholeheartedly believed that — both for him and I — tomorrow could be a good day.

When I was 13, a girl broke my heart. Then again at 14. And 15. And 16. It happened again and again and again. Sometimes, I thought I’d die alone. That I’d never find a girlfriend. I cried over it. But I always believed that, no matter how sad the music I was playing, tomorrow could be a good day.

When I was 26, I lost faith in myself. I wasn’t sure if I could go on working so much. If I could complete both my degree and get my business off the ground. I was burned out, desperate, and didn’t see the point of it all. But I still believed that, even if it all went to hell, tomorrow could be a good day.

I know these are laughable stories. They’re nothing against rape, war, drug addiction, abuse, and depression. I don’t know what those feel like. I can only imagine, and I know imagination doesn’t quite cut it. But I think daring to imagine without having lived through it is exactly where my strength is.

If being free of life’s heaviest burdens allows me to spread positivity, act out optimism, and remind you that love can’t be defeated, then that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. The only thing I will do. The reason I was put on this earth.

Tomorrow can be a good day.

Writing it makes me tear up a little. I believe in it so much. I can’t tell you how it works. I can’t tell you where I got it from. I just know that, as long as you want me to, I will be here. Repeating it for you. Again and again and again.

When your boyfriend breaks up with you, I’ll tell you that tomorrow can be a good day. When your doctor says you need surgery, I’ll tell you that tomorrow can be a good day. When your boss fires you, your landlord kicks you out, and your dad won’t lend you 50 bucks, I’ll tell you: Tomorrow can be a good day.

Please keep going. Just a little. One more day. One more night. One more time. Sunshine is coming. No matter how dark it feels right now, the light is not far away. It might be right around the corner. Keep walking. Talking. Take one step at a time. One step is enough for today. And tomorrow?

Tomorrow can be a good day.

One More Time Cover

One More Time

You ate all the candy and told your parents you didn’t. Oh, that damned first lie. But eventually, you forgave yourself. One more time.

You said you’d be home by ten, but you weren’t. They were worried sick. Your stomach twisted as you lay in bed. But eventually, you forgave yourself. One more time.

Your boyfriend said he was seeing someone else. How could he do that to you? What did you do wrong? Nothing. So eventually, you forgave yourself. One more time.

The girl you liked was never into you. You just refused to hear the message. When it finally sank in, you broke down and cried. All this time, wasted. But, finally, you know. So you forgave yourself. One more time.

You felt lonely and isolated. Why didn’t anyone understand? One day, you realize you never told them. That you pushed them away. But time heals all wounds, even if not all bridges can be rebuilt. You found a new start, a new chapter, a new life. And forgave yourself. One more time.

You knew you weren’t fit to work. But you showed up anyway. You wanted to look professional and strong. Of course, the project went sideways. You blew past the deadline. The final number was wrong. Your boss ripped your head off. Worse, she was right. But you could do better next time. Take the day when you’re sick. So you forgave yourself. One more time.

The voice in your head said “no.” That you couldn’t do it. Who should believe you? Why would anyone care? It brought up some nasty things, and you surrendered. To the couch. To Netflix. To ice cream. But you’d still be here tomorrow. You’d have a chance to try again. But to take it, you had to forgive yourself. One more time.

You were supposed to be so much farther by now. More money. A family. The job you really wanted. You don’t have any of these things, and, yet, life is still beautiful. There’s so much more to it than this. Maybe, it’s a sign to forgive yourself. One more time.

You don’t have to do it all alone, you know? Whatever it is, someone out there feels the same. But if you don’t raise your hand, they won’t see you. Can’t help you. Can’t tell you they’re going through the same thing. Don’t stay quiet. It’s okay. You can forgive yourself. One more time.

Whatever happens today, or tomorrow, or 36 days from now, promise me one thing. Promise me, you’ll forgive yourself. One more time.

You're Still Here Cover

You’re Still Here

You were born as an accident. Or during an accident. Or with an accident. You were definitely born through great pain and suffering. But you’re still here.

You were raised in a poor home. A dysfunctional home. A home that clipped your wings and left you with deep scars you had to mend much later. But you’re still here.

You had a tough childhood. You were the runt of the litter. The middle child. The big brother with all the pressure. Maybe, you were all alone. But you’re still here.

You didn’t always get what you wanted. The other kids in school were mean. The boys never called back. The teachers had it in for you. But you’re still here.

You wasted a lot of time growing up. You couldn’t figure out what you really wanted. You dealt with disease, disadvantage, depression. But you’re still here.

Your body never gave you an easy time. It didn’t gain weight when it should have or lost any when it shouldn’t. It doesn’t want you to be fit and lean and healthy. It craves junk food and ice cream and popcorn. But you’re still here.

You were rejected when you put yourself out there. You showed vulnerability and honesty and compassion, and someone else spat in your face. But you’re still here.

You’ve inherited your dad’s gambling problem. Or your mom’s excessive spending habits. You struggle to make rent, to save money, to keep your dollar bills together. But you’re still here.

Your company failed. So did the big event at work, the 5th grade dance recital, and the opening of your art gallery. But you’re still here.

You made a mistake. You know you messed up, and you know it’s your fault. You don’t even know how to fix it. You just know you feel like you have to. But you’re still here.

You don’t know how to be happy. Life is confusing. It’s big and complicated and there are way too many options for everything. But you’re still here.

Life is and sometimes it isn’t. But it’s short for all of us. It’s a unique and crazy experience, and there are no do-overs, no second season, no late-night rerun tickets.

Every day is special. A once-in-a-lifetime chance. Another reason to be grateful. And you’re still here. So today is a good day.

Thank You For Being You Cover

Thank You For Being You

You know what I miss? Unconditional gratitude.

Not even unconditional support, which, if you’re really lucky, you might get from your parents, one friend, or your partner. Just unconditional gratitude.

Everyone always wants something. Most opportunities are disguised requests. Because even the people closest to you don’t think about your needs first. That’s human nature. We think about our own and then hope that, maybe, our needs will align with those of others. And, sometimes, they do.

But, most of the time, they don’t. So we’re not really helping. If I ask you to join me at an event, is it because you’ll benefit or because I don’t want to go alone? If I want to spend more time with you, do I want to infect you with my joy or hope you’ll soften my misery? We can genuinely want to help and think we do, but might still end up projecting our own fears and ideas on another.

The majority of even the nicest things we do is, ultimately, about us. Not the recipients of our generosity. Go through a couple of incidents in your head. It’s true. And it’s shocking how deep this runs.

Since this “feature” has been hardwired into our brains in times of ancient survival, it has lasted us all the way to modern office warfare and is, thus, almost impossible to rewire. But we can choose not to use it.

We can just say “thank you” instead. No further questions. Not this time.

That’s how I want to end the year.


Thank you for being you. For all the mistakes you made and the flaws you found that you wanna change. For the times you did and the times you could not, for one day they will all add up.

Thank you for showing up. To work. To sports. To parties, dates, and family events of all sorts. To your morning run, to your friend’s emergency, to anything fun, and to all kinds of catastrophes.

Thank you for trying your best. I know it didn’t always do, but it’s really nothing but a test. A test of courage, patience, grit, faith, perseverance, and humility. A test designed for all of us each day, including you and me.

Thank you for keeping it together. At least most of the time. We all struggle in bad weather, we all want the sun to shine. Thank you for not losing hope when it was gone, for hanging in there in the night, waiting for the dawn.

Thank you for choosing yourself. For saying “me first” to save your sanity and health. Sometimes, it’s hard to listen to the voice inside, but when we look back it’s what fills us with pride. You at your best is what best serves us all, so there’s nothing to gain from your playing small.

Thank you for supporting the groups you’re a part of. The groups you’re the heart of. Humanity is one big band but on few shoulders every day we stand. Thank you for gluing together those friends, for tough conversations, inside jokes, and lending a helping hand.

Thank you for shaping the future. For growing into it one day at a time. We need your contribution. We need yours as much as mine. It’s something we build as much as we find, to do either takes a present mind.

Thank you for losing your shit. For flying off the handle when life needed a hit. It might not always spin the right direction, but when it stops spinning we’ll drift into regression. Sometimes, to keep going you have to fall apart. Sometimes, it takes shattered pieces to reassemble a broken heart.

Thank you for feeling with all you’ve got. For living your emotions and trusting your gut. For embracing sadness, happiness, frustration, and joy. For leaning in when you could’ve leaned away.

Thank you for mourning what you’ve lost. Life has different prices, but in the end, we all pay a cost. A sacrifice, a bad encounter, a careless attempt or an honest mistake. Different reasons, different times, but no one gets around being, seeing, learning too late.

Thank you for spreading your light. For celebrating, sending out sparks, and shining very bright. For motivating, for inspiring, for pushing others without tiring. Our energy is plus or minus, thanks for ditching bad and choosing kindness.

Thank you for abandoning good in search of better. For breaking rules instead of following them to the letter. For leaping high outside the bowl, aspiring to some higher goal. You mightn’t score in the first round, but jumping helps catch the rebound.

Thank you for being you. I don’t even know your name. But forever be you regardless. Because without you, the world would never quite be the same.

Thank you for being you.

The Wonderful Thing About Broken Promises Cover

The Wonderful Thing About Broken Promises

One of the most important things to remember about other people is this:

They won’t.

Your school teacher says she’ll take the class for ice cream. But she won’t.

The store clerk says he’ll gladly refund you if the shoes don’t fit. But he won’t.

Your old acquaintance says she’ll text you when she’s in town. But she won’t.

The guy handing out loans says he’ll see what he can do for you. But he won’t.

Your classmate says she’ll send you her essay when she’s done. But she won’t.

The professor says he’ll only use class material for the exam. But he won’t.

Your waitress says she’ll be right back with your drink. But she won’t.

Your date says they’ll call you. But they won’t.


One way of looking at this is that it’s just sad. The fact that humans don’t value their own word must be one of the biggest reasons the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I, too, wish we could all grow up without losing that spark of hope in our six-year-old eyes and never be disappointed. But we can’t.

What we can do is change our perspective to at least try and turn this weight into a stepping stone. So here’s another point of view: Every broken promise is a chance to be compassionate.

An opportunity to think “I hope he’s alright” instead of “he’s dead to me.” A shot at considering they, too, might’ve been given nothing but broken promises all their life. A wonderful excuse to reduce your expectations of flawed humans in a world we all struggle with.

Practicing this is hard. But compassion is the right answer. How do I know?

Well, here’s another change of perspective: You are other people’s ‘other people.’ To them, you’re the one who ‘won’t.’

We all fail to follow through sometimes. No one’s perfect. But my guess is you, like most of us, don’t make promises and break them on purpose. Do you?

People are good at heart. It’s how we’ve come to be so many in the first place. We do look out for one another. That horrible picture of human nature the news continue to paint was never accurate. Still isn’t. If it had been at any point, we’d long be extinct. Therefore, the odds of being in the wrong when you forgive others are so low, it’s not even a risk worth taking.

When you give others the benefit of the doubt, you can also more easily extend this graciousness to yourself. Because whenever you break a promise, that’s also an opportunity: one to show yourself compassion. Maybe, you needn’t shoulder all that much. Maybe, you don’t have to make so many commitments. To live up to all these self-created obligations.

Promises are hope manufactured by humans. And we tend to oversupply.

Let’s switch perspectives one last time: Life doesn’t make any promises. We’re all born with high hopes, but none of them were ever advertised to us as guaranteed to come true. None of them. To no one.

In the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient, spiritual text of Hinduism, Prince Arjuna is led into battle by his guide and charioteer Lord Krishna. There are many interpretations of it, but Arjuna likely stands for humanity, while Krishna represents a higher power. The battlefield reflects the many struggles of life.

At one point, Krishna tells Arjuna we have “the right to our labor, but not its fruits.” You can take this literally, of course. Love the process, but don’t get attached to the outcome. Given the broader context of the scripture, however, I think it’s worth projecting:

The only reward we get out of life is being alive itself.

This includes beautiful, sunny days, on which you’ll eat way too much ice cream and fall asleep in your dream partner’s arms, as much as it includes the days you break down crying in the subway, because you’re broke, desperate, and that partner just left you. Gratitude for being able to experience both is the one gift that keeps on giving.

But it’s a gift we must learn to keep receiving and that itself takes a lifetime. Our own failure to accept this that we’re truly disappointed with when others don’t keep their word with us. Not that our friends were five minutes late. It is out of this universal disappointment that individual anger arises, which we throw at whoever happens to feel like a close, appropriate target at the time.

No, people won’t always keep their promises. And you won’t either. But if you can remember that it’s neither what we do nor what we say, but the time we spend here together that makes life worth living, even broken words will weave the fabric of the experience.

Everything Popular Is Wrong Cover

Everything Popular Is Wrong

We remember Oscar Wilde as a poet, a playwright, a player who’d write. Most of us associate him with drama, both in his work and life. The Picture of Dorian Gray, a few pithy lines, an early death.

But when I look at the sea of thoughts that unravels when you click on the author of the most popular quote on Goodreads, I see none of that. I see a philosopher, full of contrarian ideas, paradoxes, and lots of new angles to look at life from.

They remind me of the beliefs of a philosopher we can still talk to: Naval Ravikant. After reflecting on an interview he did with Shane Parrish, I can’t help but notice that some of the most popular sentiments floating around Medium and the web are, well, just sentiments.

“Everything popular is wrong.” One of Wilde’s many polarizing statements. It may be hyperbole, but it’s a starting point for originality. In the echo chamber of self-improvement, some ideas have been circulating for so long, we’ve stopped questioning them.

What if we considered the possibility that these ideas are false?

1. Diversified Learning

The general consensus is that you should learn as much as you can, from as many sources as you can. When it comes to money, food, work, and material possessions, we all readily agree that more isn’t better. Why shouldn’t that apply to books? Illacertus thinks it should.

We rage against materialism, but we condone mental overstimulation. If you want to read 52 books each year, isn’t that just as much of a rat race as assembling a huge shoe collection? Why not pick your sources carefully and deeply understand them?

Maybe some of history’s greatest and time-tested books — the Bible, Tao Te Ching, Don Quixote, each hold all the advice you could ever need. Maybe, you just have to keep re-reading them. For almost all modern bestsellers, you can find a book that’s 50, 100, 500 years older and says the same thing – except it usually does it better.

The same applies to people.

2. Surrounding Yourself With Great People

We’ve all heard it a thousand times: “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” We’re encouraged to keep running around, trying to find the best five people.

In reality, the only person you’re surrounded by 24/7/365 is you. Life is a single player game, as Naval puts it.

“Socially, we’re told, “Go work out. Go look good.” That’s a multi-player competitive game. Other people can see if I’m doing a good job or not.

When it comes to learn to be happy, that’s completely internal. No external progress, no external validation. 100% you’re competing against yourself, single-player game. We are such social creatures that we don’t know how to play and win at these single-player games anymore. We compete purely on multi-player games.

The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single-player.”

How many of your greatest insights, your most blissful moments, your most trialing challenges, how many of your “holy shits” and “oh my gods” and “I don’t knows” have happened in group sessions?

Mentors, teachers, motivators, these are all overrated. Learning to be with yourself and compete against yourself? That takes a lifetime.

3. Constant Growth

If you’re now scared because you think “Really? Living in my own head? Fighting my demons, all the time? Won’t I go mad?” then that’s an indicator for another common piece of advice gone awry. Because there’s so much motivation out there, we feel like we constantly have to keep working on ourselves.

But you know what? You don’t. You don’t need to move forward all the time. You can stand still, too. It’s just that no one tells you that’s okay. But maybe you want to take care of your kids, or your spouse, or help a friend. Or even do nothing for a while. What’s wrong with that?

What’s more, even when it comes to your bad habits, sometimes, you can just accept them. Make tradeoffs. I bite my nails while writing, all the time, but at least I write good stuff. I’m not gonna stop writing, even if it means I never stop biting my nails.

But maybe one day, I’ll stop both. It’s not like…

4. You Need an Identity to Have a Life

The reason we’re so easily sold on perpetual self-improvement is that we’re assembling a puzzle of who we are, and personal development feels like we’re filling in the gaps. With each new habit comes a new label you can put on yourself.

“What we do is we accumulate all these habits. We put them in the bundle of identity, ego, ourselves, and then we get attached to that. I’m Shane. This is the way I am. I’m Naval. This is the way I am.”

But that’s really all habits, goals, accomplishments are: Labels. The more proudly you wear them, the less you’ll be able to take them off when you need to.

Just because I’m introverted does not mean I can’t walk into any room and be the life of the party. I’m writing right now, but that doesn’t make me a writer for life. The more pieces you add to your identity construct, the easier it breaks. Identity is fragile. You aren’t.

If you put down the labeling machine, you can stay flexible and change your mind at a moment’s notice, if that’s the best option.

Who was this man? We’ll never really know.

5. Leaving a Legacy

Now, you might say “But who I am is important, because that’s what the world will remember me for.” It’s the ultimate reward for constantly growing, for shaping an identity worth admiring: legacy.

How ironic. We jump through all these hoops to get more control, to focus more on the knobs we can turn, to shape who we are, only to try and shoot for something that is completely out of our grasp. Isn’t that absurd?

No one cared about you for thousands of years before you were around and no one will thousands of years after you die. What difference does it make whether your book sells for 10 or 50 or 0 more years after you’re dead?

Imagine you couldn’t leave a legacy. Wouldn’t that allow you to focus more on what we need right here, right now? The only thing that’s guaranteed is the time that you’re here. Nothing that happened before, nothing that’ll happen after.

Maybe not even that.

6. Freedom Equals Happiness

If we’re not hustling for legacy, we’re hustling for freedom. Freedom to spend our time where we like, how we like, with whom we like. I’m guilty of this. We think all we need is money, health, and maximum choice, and then we’re free.

But maybe that’s just another self-constructed prison. Maybe there are diminishing returns to freedom. As Barry Schwartz explained, we experience anticipated regret whenever our pool of options grows too big. It hurts us even more than regretting a bad decision:

“Anticipated regret is in many ways worse, because it will produce not just dissatisfaction but paralysis. If someone asks herself how it would feel to buy this house only to discover a better one next week, she probably won’t buy this house.”

So mostly, we’re looking for the wrong kind of freedom. In the long run, travel won’t make you happier. First class seats won’t make you happier. An empty schedule won’t make you happier. But maybe not desiring those things will.

Naval says that’s because we can’t find true freedom on the outside:

“My old definition was ‘freedom to’, freedom to do anything I want. Freedom to do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. Now I would say that the freedom that I’m looking for is internal freedom.

It’s ‘freedom from.’ It’s freedom from reaction. It’s freedom from feeling angry. It’s freedom from being sad. It’s freedom from being forced to do things. I’m looking for freedom from internally and externally, whereas before I was looking for freedom to.”

You could be a wage slave or an actual slave, but still find happiness. Don’t put your discontent on a lack of external freedom. But maybe, even getting rid of that inner resistance is a mirage.

7. Happiness Is the End Game

I don’t like the word ‘happiness’ because it conjures such a distorted image. We connect it with excitement, with passion, with euphoria. It’s a state, a feeling, ‘happy,’ but turning it into a noun makes it feel permanent.

We now think we can reach a stage where we’re always in that state and that’s just not true, nor would we want to live that way.

“Happiness to me is mainly not suffering, not desiring, not thinking too much about the future or the past, really embracing the present moment and the reality of what is, the way it is. Nature has no concept of happiness or unhappiness. To a tree, there is no right or wrong. There is no good or bad.

Nature follows unbroken mathematical laws and a chain of cause and effect from the big bang to now. Everything is perfect exactly the way it is. It is only in our particular minds that we’re unhappy or not happy and things are perfect or imperfect because of what we desire.”

I think we should replace ‘happiness’ with ‘balance.’ It’s not about constant positivity, but about cultivating the belief that nothing’s missing. And there’s never anything missing.

The Only Thing That Remains

Sir Ken Robinson once explained why all children are geniuses:

“Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

“Everything popular is wrong.” No wonder we love kids. They misstep all the time, but they do it with bravado. What’s genius about this is not that they come up with so much original stuff. It’s that their default behavior remains the same in all of life’s situations: be true to yourself, whoever that is in any given moment.

What you learn, who you’re with, how fast you’re going, what people know you for, who will remember you, how free you are, and even whether you’re happy, none of these things matter.

What does is the one thing no one can ever take away from you: You are. Right here, right now. And it’ll always be this way.