- Marcus Aurelius: 3 Rules For Life – Darius Foroux: a good set of rules to govern your life. Stoics and stoic wannabes, take note.
- Wells’s Rules, annotated – Macleans.ca: a good set of rules on governance. These are aimed at Canadian politics, but really can apply anywhere.
- A very simple rule – Austin Kleon: finally one simple rule which is where the top image comes from
You are putting your todo list together for the day, the week, who knows…but it likely has a quite a few things for you to get through. Now make another list of things you are looking forward to. It could be taking a coffee break. It could be going for a walk and admiring the leaves. Or catching up with a loved one. Perhaps doing something creative, like knitting or painting or making a nice meal. Whatever these things are, make sure you list them and strive for them. Because life is harder if you don’t have things to look forward to.
I thought of this often recently. I would look at my todo list and feel unproductive. Then I started approaching it from the viewpoint of what I will look forward to once I start and finish the tasks. I’d think: what positive things can I look forward to as a result of doing this? The more I thought this way, the more I found it easier to get things done.
Try it: you might find you get more done too, the more you look forward to things.
For more on this topic, see this: Something to look forward to – Austin Kleon
P.S. When the thing you are looking forward to happens, make sure you really take the time to appreciate it. For example, there was a messy part of my house I recently cleaned. I was really looking forward to it looking good again. Now it does, I take the time every day to appreciate it. I now find anticipating fixing up more of the house so I can enjoy that same feeling of satisfaction. You will too!
(Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash)
I have been thinking of this post by Austin Kleon, how caring for something leads us to love it, which leads us to care for it more. I think this is true. It’s a virtuous circle.
I have found this myself during the pandemic, when I purchased house plants with the expectation that they wouldn’t live long. I was wrong: because I was around them more, it was easier to care for them, and because I cared for them, they have thrived, and I loved them more and have cared for them more. Now I have more plants than I ever did before.
It’s tempting to try to stretch this virtuous circle, and you can, to a point. The limiting factor is your ability to pay attention and the needs of the things you are caring for. If you have something or someone that requires much attention and care, you can’t have multiples of those things without exhausting yourself. You need to strike a balance.
To strike that balance, you need the right level of things to care for. Chances are, you have too many things that requires your care. I think you and I need to find the right level and pare down the rest. Give those things to people who need things to care for. By doing so, you end up caring for and loving yourself. You are the root of all this love and care you are providing. Take care of the root, and the love and care you have for other things and beings can branch out and spread.
P.S. If you are having a hard time paring down, take the advice of either Marie Kondo (keep only things that spark joy) or William Morris (see below)
(Imagine via mylightbag.wordpress.com)
Why? Because as Austin Kleon points out, it is the shortest month. Even this year, when we have a leap year.
It’s also a better month to go to the gym, because all the people who made resolutions have dropped off.
In the northern hemisphere it’s cold and dark, which makes it a perfect time to resolve to read more.
If you want to diet or not drink or not smoke for a month, why not pick the shortest month.
And hey, if you need a calendar to keep track of how well you are doing, go here: 29-day challenge – Austin Kleon.
P.S. You get an extra day this year, and it falls on a weekend! Use it to do something you don’t normally have time for!
If this sounds morbid and unappealing, I recommend you overcome that and give it a read: Checking in with death – Austin Kleon.
Checking in with death lets you live better. If you are into mindfulness or dealing with mental health issues or just want to appreciate life more, I recommend checking in with death.
This article makes the case: Why You Should Start A Blog In 2019. Austin Kleon backs that up, here.
If you do certain things on a regular basis, you should blog. For example:
- If you contribute to twitter on a regular basis, then you should consider blogging. All those tweets will be lost: your blog posts won’t.
- If you discover new ways to do things, blogging is a way for other people to find it
- If you want to demonstrate your expertise, a blog is one way to do that
- If you want to keep a historical record of parts of your life, blogging is a good way to do it
- If you find good things on the web and you want to track and comment on them, write that up in a blog post
- If you find yourself sharing the same information with others regularly, write a piece on your blog and then point people to it
- If you want to improve your writing, blogging is one way to do that
Forget about becoming famous or having a million viewers or getting rich. Just start simply and write what matters to you. Get a blog.
Here are two good pieces full of advice for artists.
One big: Advice to Young Aspiring Artists from Patti Smith, David Byrne & Marina Abramović | Open Culture
One small: None of us know what will happen – Austin Kleon
Key quote from the Austin Kleon piece is this, from Laurie Anderson:
The world may end. You’re right. But that’s not a reason to be scared. None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it. You know? What are you working for, posterity? We don’t know if there is any posterity.
(Image from pexels.com)
There are times to think about your life, and times not to. Austin Kleon has a very simple rule to help him decide:
I have a very simple rule that serves me well: Don’t think too much about your life after dinnertime. Thinking too much at the end of the day is a recipe for despair. Everything looks better in the light of the morning. Cliché, maybe, but it works.
I first agreed with this. Afterwards, I concluded it depends on each individual. For me, I found a good time to think about my life was between midnight and two. It’s quiet then, I am tired but also relaxed. There’s no distractions, nothing else left to do but sleep. If I accomplished things in the daytime, it was especially good to think about what’s next in my life. Likewise if I had a good weekend, the best time to think about my life is Monday morning: I’m rested, energized, and feeling I can get a lot done during the week.
I found the time to not think about my life was any time I am really tired or sick or having a very bad day. Then the goal is not to reflect but to recover.
If anything, my rule is: if I need to recover, then I should not be reflecting.
I think we should all find times to reflect upon our lives and assess ourselves and where we’re heading. We just need to find the right times to do it, and do it then. And find the wrong times to do it and not do it then.
They’re as basic as notebooks get, and cheap to boot. But as you can see from
via Austin Kleon’s Tumblr, some great artists have done fine things with them.
Go to a stationery shop or dollar store and get yourself one or two or more and get creating.
I find myself on my smartphone too much. It’s too easy to fall into that trap, and afterwards I wish I did something else instead. Did something useful. Or made something beautiful. Austin Kleon feels the same way, based on this post of his: Read a book instead. He made a screen lock for his phone to remind him to read a book and get off his phone.
I decided I wanted something similar. In my case, I found a photo I liked and used the Over app on my iPhone to create this:
I then saved it as my LockScreen. Now when I pick up the phone to start doing something mindless, the phone reminds me to do something better.
You can do the same thing yourself. You don’t even need an app or drawing skills. Write a reminder on a piece of paper and then take a photo of it with your phone and save it as your Lock Screen. It could be just the nudge you need.
Thanks for reading this. I hope you found it useful. If you did, then time spent doing it instead of playing with stuff on my phone was worthwhile.