Below are some great pieces of life advice that have helped me live better. The more I steal, the better I live.
Some of the people below are from the same suburb as me, some have been dead for thousands of years and some of them are top influencers here on Medium.
To everyone on the list, thanks for helping me live better.
1. Eric Weinstein – Be A High-Agency Individual
I found this piece of advice through Ryan Holiday’s book Conspiracy:
“It is always revealing to see how a person responds to those situations where he’s told: “There’s nothing you can do about it. This is the way of the world.” Peter Thiel’s friend, the mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein, has a category of individual he defines as a “high-agency person.” How do you respond when told something is impossible? Is that the end of the conversation or the start of one? What’s the reaction to being told you can’t—that no one can? One type accepts it, wallows in it even. The other questions it, fights it, rejects it.”
Now when I hear myself saying I can’t do something, I assume that’s not true, then figure out how I can do it.
Here’s where I read this advice: Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue
2. Thomas Oppong – Give 60 Minutes More Effort
Feeling exhausted at the end of a long day isn’t an excuse to avoid my goals; writing, growing a business, learning Spanish. At the end of my day, I started giving one final 60 minute effort. It’s an extra hour I would otherwise not get. I get more done. As Thomas Oppong said, “Invest in yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make.”
Here’s where I read this advice: Do These Things After 6 P.M. And Your Life Will Never Be The Same
3. Cal Newport – Deep Work
I used to party a lot. I stopped so I could read more, write more, and grow my business. I’m on track to read 150 books this year. Although at times I miss the nights out, my life is way better now. One person I credit to this change is Cal Newport and his writings on Deep Work. Here’s what he wrote;
“If you give your mind something meaningful to do throughout all your waking hours, you’ll end the day more fulfilled, and begin the next one more relaxed, than if you instead allow your mind to bathe for hours in semiconscious and unstructured web surfing.”
Here’s where I read this advice: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
4. Nat Eliason – Delete Facebook
Productivity writers like Cal Newport long ago convinced me to stop using Facebook. But Nat Eliason makes it clear I needed to go a step further and delete it. He makes it clear by looking at it from Facebook’s perspective; “it’s fine to play fast and loose with customer data in the name of growth, to optimize your product around addictiveness, and to sell information on your users.”
Here’s where I read this advice: Yes, You Should Delete Facebook
5. Josh Waitzkin – Embrace Discomfort
Growth is painful. Josh Waitzkin wrote, “Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.” Instead of fighting the discomfort, I practice leaning into it and growing from it.
Here’s where I read this advice: The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
6. Dr. Stephanie Estima – Give Girls More Love
Men have 50% more serotonin receptors than women. So men can feel twice as good as women with the same amount of serotonin – which comes from our relationships. If I’m getting enough love from my relationship, my girlfriend may still need more attention.
Here’s where I read this advice: Why Women Need Twice As Much Sex As Men
7. John Mashni – Don’t Celebrate Success
Don’t celebrate success. When you celebrate early you relax and lose your momentum. Wait until you’ve completed your goals before celebrating success.
But John Mashni also shared a deeper truth in the following story. When a Spartan won the equivalent of the Olympics, he was given an expensive trophy covered in jewels. The next day he sold it and went right back to training. It’s the process, the love of hard work that sustains us; not the shiny cars, watches or trophies.
Here’s where I read this advice: If You Don’t Eliminate This Habit, You Will Never Grow
8. Oprah Winfrey – Empathy Trumps Hyperbole
Here’s my theory. Both Oprah and Trump are master persuaders. That has allowed them to become wildly successful. However, I see their persuasion differ in one key way. Oprah uses her skills to empower others, Trump uses it to make himself appear more powerful. While they are both effective, Oprah’s way is the better way to live.
9. Albert Camus – The Question Is The Answer
When I find myself questioning the meaning of life; it tells me I’m living without meaning. When I’m searching for happiness; it tells me I’m unhappy. Albert Camus showed me I don’t need to keep asking questions or thinking about it, I need to live differently. Here’s his quote that helped me come to this realisation: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
10. Benjamin P. Hardy – The Start Determines The End
‘Inspiration, Discipline, Risk, Humility’ poster by Joey Roth
I love this line he wrote, “If you lose an hour in your morning, you’ll spend your whole day looking for it.” Starting well sets me up for my whole day. I know the opposite is true. A bad morning always leads to a rushed day where I feel I haven’t accomplished half of what I needed to.
Here’s where I read this advice: You Make Or Break Your Life Between 5-7 AM
11. Tim Ferriss – Question Yourself
Question what you are doing. Could it be done faster? What is the lead domino? Does it need to be done at all? Thanks to Tim Ferriss I’ve found myself working in four countries, keeping fit and having fun doing it.
12. John Gorman – How To Live
John Gorman gave a two-step guide on how to overcome fear. But I take it as advice for how to live:
- Do scary (but potentially rewarding) shit.
Here’s where I read this advice: You’re Not Lazy
13. My Parents – Invest First, Spend Second
My parents have always been smart financially. They taught me the value of investing when I was young by operating as my banker and offering my an outrageously high interest-rate on the money I invested instead of spending. What I would give for those interest rates today! Now I always invest before I spend.
14. Nicolas Cole – Never Lie
Never lie is the simple advice that makes life so much easier when you practice it. I find the hardest part of this is never lying to myself. But that’s where a journal helps so much. When I force myself to reflect on my day, it’s easy to spot my bullshit.
Here’s where I read this advice: 19 Tiny Habits That Lead to Huge Results
15. George Horace Lorimer – Dress Well
I wear a black t-shirt and jeans most days. I waste no time. But the following two quotes by George Horace Lorimer made me rethink that. Now, I will wear a nice shirt and jacket on occasion:
- “…it isn’t enough to be all right in this world; you’ve got to look all right as well, because two-thirds of success is making people think you are all right.”
- “A dirty shirt may hide a pure heart, but it seldom covers a clean skin.”
Here’s where I read this advice: Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son
16. Tim Denning – Suffer Better
Suffering is not optional. What we do with it is. That’s why I love Tim Denning’s advice; “When you see suffering as a necessity and you learn to use it to your advantage, that same suffering becomes fuel for your goals and dreams.”
Here’s where I read this advice: 19 Harsh Truths You Don’t Want To Hear But Must (You’ll Be 10 Times Better For It)
17. Joe Rogan – Remember We’re Talking Monkeys
When I can’t stop thinking about a problem, I think of what Joe Rogan said; “If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.” Life is crazy, the little things don’t matter. And they’re all little things.
18. William N. Thorndike – Allocation Is Everything
William N. Thorndike wrote a book that showed the most successful CEOs focused on capital allocation above all else. That is the most important task. I’ve taken this lesson and applied it to my daily living. As part of my journaling I reflect on where I spent my time, what it produced, and how I can allocate my time better.
Here’s where I read this advice: The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success
19. Zdravko Cvijetic – Skip The Unimportant Tasks
He taught me to spend my time doing the things that will have the most impact – to “Focus on high leverage activities.” I think of this advice when I’m answering an unimportant email. It won’t produce any results. Writing another article will.
Here’s where I read this advice: 10 Daily Habits That Will Improve Your Life
20. Malcolm X – What Don’t You Know?
Malcolm X tells this great story. He’s invited to go hunting for rabbits, or maybe he invited himself. Anyway, the fellow hunters teach him a trick. When a rabbit escapes down a path, the rabbit will later have to return past the same spot to get back to its home. The hunters would wait for it to return and shoot it. Malcolm X realised he could predict that since the rabbit was returning to that point, it would also have to pass a point further on. Instead of waiting with the hunters, he would go down the track where the rabbit would run past first. He would get four rabbits himself while the entire hunting group would only have one. They all thought he was a brilliant shot. But Malcolm X knew the deeper lesson. If someone else is getting something you’re not getting, they know something you don’t know.
Here’s where I read this advice: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
21. Mark Manson – “This Is Enough.”
While you’ll have to excuse his Latin, here’s how Mark Manson phrased it; “We now reserve our ever-dwindling fucks for the most truly fuck-worthy parts of our lives: our families, our best friends, our golf swing. And, to our astonishment, this is enough.”
I’ve found adopting Manson’s advice shows that most things don’t matter. But some matter more than anything. Focus on what and who matters. Ignoring the rest reduces stress and improves relationships.
Here’s where I read this advice: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
22. Serge Faguet – Finding Flow
This guy is fascinating. By working in flow he’s pushing boundaries everywhere from business to biohacking. Working in flow makes me more productive, creative and having more fun. I learn faster. Serge has a number of specific tips I follow to help get into flow: practice every day, meditate, eliminate distractions, have high-quality downtime.
Here’s where I read this advice: How to biohack your intelligence — with everything from sex to modafinil to MDMA
23. Seneca – Religion Has A Use
Growing up I never gave religion a second thought. At the age of seven, God was in the same mental category as Santa and the Easter Bunny.
Seneca made me rethink religion with this quote; “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
Now whether Seneca meant the rulers use it as a tool for power, I don’t know. But I now can see that religions are mental frameworks to help people deal with life. The myths and rules help them live.
What made me realise this more than anything was adopting stoicism. While the philosophy is not a religion, there are enough similarities that the benefits stoicism has brought me has allowed me to appreciate religion.
24. Nicolas Cole – Laughing
Yes, this is is his second appearance in this list. But this time it’s for a different piece of advice.
When I’m chasing a goal it feels so serious. I’m not thinking about having fun. Nicolas Cole reminds us we can do both: “The best ideas come through ease.” & “The best flow happens in moments of joy.”
Here’s where I read this advice: 7 Crucial Lessons People Often Learn Too Late in Life
25. Ron Paul – Don’t Forget The Golden Rule
My first instinct now isn’t to help someone, it’s to make sure I don’t hurt anyone. Harm can be done to ten people when you help one. It’s made me realise if you want to do good in this world, you must make sure you’re not doing any harm. When Ron Paul imagined applying the Golden rule to nations, I realised it is as applicable to my own life. Here’s what he said:
“Maybe we ought to consider a Golden Rule in foreign policy: Don’t do to other nations what we don’t want happening to us.”
26. Darius Foroux – Exercise Daily
I lift weights. But I only need to do that 4 days a week. I used to rest the other three days. I had a strong body. But exercising everyday makes it far healthier. Why? When I’m not lifting weights, I’m stretching, walking or doing yoga. Now my body is much healthier.
Here’s where I read this advice: 25 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 10 Years Ago
27. Zat Rana – Don’t Do One Thing
Zat Rana taught me how learning multiple things at a high-level makes you learn faster. So instead of having casual hobbies, I take them seriously. I learn from them, and they enforce my other skills. Bodybuilding helps me write, and writing helps me lift. Weird but true.
Here’s where I read this advice: The Expert Generalist: Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths
28. Nassim Taleb – Follow Your Excitement
Reading Nassim Taleb is one of the most fun things I do. Even when he’s talking about traditionally dry subjects; finance and statistics, his writing is exciting. His life is exciting. Here’s what Taleb wrote:
“My knowledge of technical matters, such as risk and probability, did not initially come from books. It did not come from lofty philosophizing and scientific hunger. It did not even come from curiosity. It came from the thrills and hormonal flush one gets while taking risks in the markets. I never thought mathematics was something interesting to me until, when I was at Wharton, a friend told me about the financial options I described earlier (and their generalization, complex derivatives). I immediately decided to make a career in them.”
Doesn’t that sound awesome? A career that gives you thrills? Following his excitement wasn’t a distraction, it became a learning superpower. For me, writing is like this. You write successful articles, ones that are ignored, and pieces you’re nervous to publish. That’s a thrill, and a good way to live.
Here’s where I read this advice: Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
29. Aaron Curtis – You Don’t Need To Cheat
Aaron Curtis is a natural bodybuilder (doesn’t use steroids or performance enhancing drugs), yet looks better than most steroid users. He’s a powerful reminder you don’t need to cheat to reach your goals. Sure, you need to work harder and be more disciplined: but that makes your success even sweeter. He’s also hilarious.
(And please note; while I’m using the word cheating to describe steroid users – Aaron Curtis is always humble and shows admiration towards the professionalism of many enhanced bodybuilders).
Here’s what he said on the subject: “I just like eating lots of foods and trying to lift more weights than I lifted the week before, I don’t need steroids to do those things.”
30. Ryan Holiday – Stoicism, Reading, & A Commonplace Book
I have stolen so much advice from Ryan Holiday. More than anything his introduction to stoicism has had the biggest effect on my life. His books are awesome.
In contrast to the deep advice of stoic philosophy, here’re three practical pieces of advice I’ve stolen:
- Reading 150+ books per year (I’ve read 100 in 242 so far)
- Keeping a commonplace book (Although I use Evernote)
- Listening to one song on repeat when writing
Also, I literally stole the idea and headline for this article from Holiday. Here’s what he wrote: 28 Pieces of Productivity Advice I Stole From People Smarter Than Me.
31. Blake Powell – Focus On The Process
“Instead of wanting to be successful, you need to learn to enjoy the process itself. Revel in the act of creation, accept good things will come if you do good work, and just breathe,” advises Blake Powell.
Powell’s advice is similar to the story of the king and the original mood ring. The king asks wise men to create a ring that makes him feel happy when he is sad. The wisest of creates a gold ring with the following inscription, “This too shall pass.”
That phrase brings us back to reality when our ego inflates after some success, and lifts our mood when we’ve failed. But Blake Powell’s advice to focus on the process does the same thing. We focus on what we can control, so we keep producing good work.
Btw, here’re 9 more things I’ve learnt from Blake Powell.
Here’s where I read this advice: The Simple Truth Behind Being Successful at All You Accomplish