Fifty-eight years are a terrible thing to waste. Next week is another birthday. Rather than turning them into narcissistic celebrations, birthdays provide a baseline for pondering the meaning of it all. The goal of this post is to avoid another insufferable and pretentious soliloquy bragging about one’s accomplishments. These words are targeted toward helping readers and maybe even changing their lives.
Birthdays make you think, and this one’s no different. As that old dead Greek guy said, The unexamined life is not worth living.
The point of aging is learning from past mistakes, figuring out what’s important, and passing this knowledge along. No need to make things more complicated than that.
Almost six decades of living provide heaps of raw material.
Here are some tips learned the hard way.
- Embrace impermanence. Clinging is the root of all suffering. Everything changes, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
- Happiness is overrated. Make Contentment your North Star. Temporary Dopamine rushes feel great but don’t last. Aim to avoid drama and toxicity. Equanimity is a superior goal.
- Neutral doesn’t exist; you’re either going backward or forwards.
- Breathe through your nose. Mouth breathing is the source of numerous ailments.
- Plant more flowers and vegetables and less grass.
- Give up multitasking. Take extended breaks from your phone.
- Don’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Hear people out and give them the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions.
- Read books. Paper ones. Stop reading books that don’t interest you and reread the ones that do.
- Try eating 5-8 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
- Go to bed at roughly the same time each night and rise similarly.
- Don’t take things personally. Your ego’s obligations don’t include creating happiness.
- Abandon concerning yourself with what people think of you. Most of the time, they’re just thinking about themselves and won’t notice that stain on your clothes. Approval seeking doesn’t end well.
- Cease answering work emails after hours, on the weekends, or during vacation.
- Limit sugar and alcohol consumption. Your future self will thank you later.
- Money’s purpose is to bring joy to others and fund contentment. Possesions are a front-row seat to a never-ending trip on the hedonic treadmill.
- Give at least one sincere compliment every day. The only thing people remember about you is how you made them feel.
- It Does exist if it’s not on Instagram. Your real identity is more important than your social media profile.
- Politicians, sports figures, and celebrities couldn’t give a crap about you. Stop caring so much about them.
- Try to go for a daily 45-minute nature walk. Make sure you wave or say hi to strangers along the way.
- Set a good example for your kids. They’ll remember what you do, not what you say.
- Surround yourself with good people. You are who you hang around. The most crucial ingredient for a happy life is a happy marriage.
- If Only are the two worst words in the English language. Whenever possible, don’t wait.
- Money can keep you from being miserable but not necessarily make you happy.
- Work on being present. The past and future are only passing thoughts in our minds.
- Never underestimate luck’s role. You have ZERO control over where/when you’re born and your parent’s identity.
- Lifelong learning is the antidote to dissatisfaction.
- Don’t shame people. It makes them dig in deeper.
- Habituation is wealth’s enemy. Stop looking at what you don’t have. Replace Keeping up with the Joneses with gratitude.
- Invest in passive index funds. The only exception is if you have an edge. Spoiler Alert – You Don’t.
- Cut back on worrying. Understand it’s a feeble attempt at controlling an uncontrollable future.
- Comparison is the enemy of happiness. Compete with yourself, not others.
- Tribalism makes the world smaller and meaner. Open your mind to new viewpoints.
- Learn to say I don’t know – a lot.
- Show compassion to your family and friends. STOP having an opinion about everything.
- Avoid taking yourself so seriously. If pediatric cancer workers and front-line soldiers can find time to make jokes, so can you.
- Ponder death often. It forces you to live your life.
- Like investing strategies, find a life philosophy and stick to it through thick and thin. Turning to the daily media’s parade of carnage for refuge isn’t the answer.
- Ignore the iron laws of compounding at your peril. Compound your wealth, health, and emotional well-being.
- We’re all addicted to something. Try making yours healthy instead of destructive to yourself and those around you.
- Mind your mind. Meditation, breathing exercises, and prayer all fit the bill.
A NY Giants defensive coach, Bryan Cox, sums it up when asked how his fiery personality evolved over the years.
It’s different than what I’m used to. You know what, I would say this: if I was at my age now, at 54, and I thought like the younger Bryan Cox, I’d be an old fool.