A set of evolving principles that help guide me towards living the life I want to live.
Inspired by Omar's list of principles.
Last updated Fri Oct 16, 2020
Sometimes the outcome of a decision isn't super important, but I feel an urge to still carefully make the "best" decision. If I notice a decision doesn't matter, or I notice I'm stressed in decision-making, consider just choosing the first thing I think of.
I'm misusing this tool if I use it to avoid thinking about important decisions (though I can't even imagine that happening).
Bias towards overcommunicating instead of waiting to phrase something really well or at a better time. Imperfect or vulnerable thoughts can lead to interesting and helpful conversations, and others can help me figure out my thoughts as we talk.
I'm misusing this tool if communication is more often stressful than productive. Two ways to address this: communicate a bit less, find ways to communicate more effectively.
Notice moments when I'm curious. Notice when I'm wondering about someone or something. Notice when I want to ask questions and learn more. When I notice these curiosities, nurture and support them! Curiosity brings me joy and energizes me towards doing interesting things.
I'm misusing this tool if I'm stressed from slipping on important commitments, or if I'm unhealthily obsessing over a romantic interest - I'll know when I've crossed the line.
I want to explore the edges of my comfort zone: express boundaries, leave mediocre social interactions, give people feedback, challenge the comforting foundations of the way I live my life. Short-term discomfort can bring me closer to longer-term happiness, and is worth it more often than I think. Also, doing scary shit can be thrilling and fun.
I'm misusing this tool if I'm using it as an excuse for activities that are pretty likely to hurt me or people around me (physically or emotionally), while bringing little gain to anybody.
My mental and physical health are my #1 priority. When I feel tired or unhappy, everything else becomes harder. In moments of anxiety or discomfort, prioritize feeling better as soon as possible instead of trying to fix longer-term issues, even if it feels like fixing the hard issue would help me feel better. Go for a walk, do some cleaning, call a loved one, create art - prioritze self care. Once I'm in a healthier place, I'll find it much easier to think about hard problems and long-term wellness.
I'm misusing this tool if I'm frequently doing things to "help me feel better in the short term" but I rarely feel well enough to think about long-term wellness. If this happens, do the best I can to address the bigger issues affecting me.
Recognize the wider scale of things to make the present moment less scary. Long-term trends are generally more useful than short-term trends. My life, mood, relationships (everything?) has its ebbs and flows and if I'm too zoomed in, it can be exhausting to react strongly to every small change. Even if I've had a rough time for a while, I can zoom out and see similar patterns in the past where I eventually felt better, and trust it'll get better again.
I'm misusing this tool if I ignore or judge short-term feelings - just because things look different in the long-term doesn't mean I won't feel excited or devestated by short-term events. It's also easy to have a skewed zoomed-out picture when I feel strongly about something, so zooming out isn't unbiased, and recognizing that bias is helpful.
Consider others' opinions, especially those of people I care about and trust, but don't let those opinions overshadow my own opinions. Other people may sound more confident than me, but that doesn’t mean they’re more likely to be right. Be aware of the weight I naturally give to opinions of people who have power over me. Trust myself.
I'm misusing this tool if I feel pressure to develop my own opinions about things that I don't want to think that much about - it's often reasonable to default to the opinions of others, and I can do this even if I'm aware they might be wrong.
Sleep with airplane mode on. Resist the urge to check my phone when I wake up. If I see a stressful message in the vulnerable moments after waking up, it can affect my mood for hours. It's also easier to get out of bed if I'm not browsing the internet. Don't just get out of bed, brush my teeth and complete at least one task before turning airplane mode off.
Worry and anxiety can useful for noticing things I want to change, but are often less useful for actually making the changes. Sometimes I hold onto worry, out of the belief that its absense would prevent me from fixing a problem, but there are more comfortable and effective ways to create change. I can crave a world in which something is different, and take iterative steps towards change. I can be curious about what that change might look like.
I'm misusing this tool if I ignore worry, judge it when it arises, or try to fight it. It's hard to just let go of worry and anxiety; it's easier to find other motivations to replace it with.
Bias towards trying something and adjusting than doing it perfectly the first time. There's more space to learn when I allow failure as part of my process. Seek out feedback - from others, and from my own experience and reflection. Find ways to approach life experiences as experiments and ever-changing.
I’m misusing this tool if I spend a lot of time iterating on something I don’t actually want to be investing in.
If something feels out of balance, rebalancing usually doesn’t involve finding a single "ideal" proportion of x% of one thing and y% of another. There is not a single point that things balance perfectly on. Challenge binaries and explore options outside of what might appear to be a zero-sum game. Balance can look like a lot of different things and there is no one correct answer, so I can let my intuition guide me to a balance that feels good.