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How to live - 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion

7 mins
book summary derek sivers
Shawn L
Builds stuff minimally

Be independent

All misery comes from dependency - income, relationship, feelings.

Most problems are interpersonal. Don’t lose yourself to society, politics, norms, and news.

Avoid the crowd and social media.

Stay unlabeled and unbound.

The only opinion that matters is your own.

Never agree with anything the same day you hear it,

Whoever you blame has power over you, so blame only yourself.

You can’t be free without self-mastery.

Learn the skills you need to be self-reliant. Learn to drive, fly, sail, garden, fish, and camp.

Live where you feel most free. Move symbolically far away from where you grew up.

Own your many source of income with many small customers to avoid depending on any big client. Offer products, not a personal service.


Choose one and cut off other options. Don’t seek for the best.

Commit to habits to create your character.

Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

Commitment gives you peace of mind.

Commitment gives you integrity and social bonds.

Commitment gives you expertise and power.

Fill your senses

Experience nothing twice.

Learn to sell, and you can go anywhere.

Simple decisions help avoid repetition.

  • Don’t have a home.
  • Never sleep in the same place twice.
  • No kitchen.
  • No cooking.
  • Never go down a road you recognize.
  • Get new clothes in a new style in a new place.

Do nothing

People make bad decisions because they felt they had to decide. It would have been wiser to do nothing.

Skip the actions. Go straight for the emotion.

The longer you go without deciding, the more information is revealed.

Dramatic people are fueled by reactions. When you stop reacting, they go away.

When people give opinions, add a question mark.

Instead of learning more, get wise by learning less. Keep an empty head, so you can observe clearly.

Everything seems more important while you’re thinking of it.

Think super-long-term

Use a time machine in your mind, constantly picturing your future self and your great-grandchildren’s world. Act now to influence that time.

Imagine your future self judging your current life choices. When making a decision, ask yourself how you’ll feel about it when you’re old. What would your future self and family thank you for? Simple actions

Never spend, only invest.

Imagine each choice continuing forever. Eat a cookie, and eventually you’re obese.

Short-term thinking is the root of most of our problems, from pollution to debt, both personal and global.

Intertwine with the world

Understand that there is no “them”. It’s just “us”.

Once a place really feels like home, move somewhere new. Pick a confusing or scary place that you don’t understand.

Master something.

People don’t fail by choosing the wrong path — they fail by not choosing.

Goals don’t improve your future. Goals only improve your present actions.

Real expertise comes only after years of hard work. The challenge is staying on the path.

Your practice ritual is your highest priority — an unbreakable commitment.

When you’re not practicing, remember: someone somewhere is practicing.

During your work time, do nothing but work.

Take tiny breaks when working, to go longer than most.

Focus means head down. Big picture means head up.

Be sharply focused, not well-rounded.

Let randomness rule

Randomness keeps your mind open and observant. You can’t predict, so you see clearly.

When talking with people, ask deep open-ended questions.

Pursue pain

People say they’re not doing the work because it’s hard. But it’s hard because they’re not doing the work.

The right thing to do is never comfortable. How you face pain determines who you are.

Happiness is solving good problems.

Do whatever you want now

Just pay attention to what excites you. If you’re not excited about what you’re doing, move on to something else.

You don’t need plans. Plans are just predictions about what you might want in the future. But your future self shouldn’t be bound to what your past self predicted.

Most problems are not about the real present moment. They’re anxiety, worried that something bad might happen in the future.

Chase the future

Live in the world of tomorrow. Surround yourself only with what’s brand new and upcoming.

Spend your social time meeting new people.

When something becomes a habit, quit.

Avoid Europe and anywhere that lives in the past.

Avoid religion because faith is not meant to be questioned.

Value only what has endured

The longer something lasts, the longer it will probably last.

These things have lasted because they work so well. Time is the best filter.

Before trying to improve something old, find out why it is the way it is. Never assume people in the past were ignorant. They did it that way for good reasons.


Information doesn’t stick without emotion. You learn better when you’re having fun.

Laugh at life

To laugh at something is to be superior to it.

Prepare for the worst

Comfort reduces your future happiness.

Practice being uncomfortable, even in small ways.

Your biggest enemy is insatiability. Recognize your desire to be entertained

Want nothing, and nothing will disappoint you. Want nothing, and nothing is outside your control.

Live for others

The best way to be connected is to help others be connected.

Get rich

Making money is proof you’re adding value to people’s lives. Aiming to get rich is aiming to be useful to the world.

The world needs more boldness. Refuse the comfortable addiction of a steady paycheck. Boldly jump on opportunities. Take risky action.

Come up with a brand name that can be attached to any business.

Own and control 100% of whatever you create.

Find an old industry and solve an old problem in a new way.

Avoid difficult business problems. Your time is more profitably spent doing what comes easily to you.

Be separate in a category of your own.

Sell your business before you have to. Sell before it peaks. The fun is in creating a business, not maintaining it.

Investing is easy unless you try to beat the market. Settle for average.

Stay 100% focused on creating value.

Say no to more stuff. Say yes to more choices.

Reinvent yourself regularly

The way to live is to regularly reinvent yourself.

Every year or two, change your job and move somewhere new. Change the way you eat, look, and talk. Change your preferences, opinions, and usual responses.


To love something, first you have to connect with it. Give it your full attention.

When they’re succinct, ask them to elaborate. People aren’t used to someone being sincerely interested, so they’ll need some coaxing to continue.


The way to live is to create. Die empty. Get every idea out of your head and into reality.

Which would you rather be? Someone who hasn’t created anything in years because you’re so busy consuming? Or someone who hasn’t consumed anything in years because you’re so busy creating?

Most creations are new combinations of existing ideas. Originality just means hiding your sources.

Charge money to make sure your creations are going to people who really want them. People don’t value what’s free.

Don’t die

Don’t try to be more right. Just be less wrong.

But wasting time brings death quicker. Time is the only thing that can’t be replaced.

Make a million mistakes

Deliberate mistakes are inspiring.

Do what everyone says not to.

You only really learn when you’re surprised— when your previous idea of something was wrong.

Aim for what will probably fail. If you aim for what you know you can do, you’re aiming too low.

Mistakes are the fountain of youth.

Make change.

Begin by righting what’s wrong. Look for what’s ugly: ugly systems, ugly rules, ugly traditions. Look for what bothers you. If you can fix it, do it now.

Remove instead of fixing.

Balance everything

Schedule everything to ensure balance of your time and effort. Scheduling prevents procrastination, distraction, and obsession.

Even creative work needs scheduling. The greatest writers and artists didn’t wait for inspiration. They kept a strict daily schedule for creating their art.

Set an alarm to start and stop on time.