My Telegram conversation with my best friend Ranny goes back almost a decade.

It contains many reliable snapshots of major moments in my life, since early teenage years. How I felt, how I thought, what bothered me, what I liked, what I desired, what I wanted to avoid.

Recently, on that same text conversation, we did a thought experiment: if we could send a note back to those teenage boys, what would it contain?

It had to be a simple, non-nuanced, keep-or-trash-it message. We settled on a loose list of heuristics and principles.

The result wasn't exceptional by any means, but I thought it was worth sharing it here anyway, because when I looked at the list, I realized it wasn't meant for those boys from a decade ago. It was meant for us, today.

The unconscious rejoices with certain thought experiments, as they open a window for your higher instincts to give you a nugget or two of wisdom.

Here are a few heuristics and principles that I keep forgetting and rediscovering, generally creating trouble when I stray away from them, and finding grace and happiness when I practice them closely:

  • When faced with an easy and a hard choice, choose the hard choice.
  • Be radically honest about your situation, and accept it to your core.
  • Prefer incremental baby steps vs. rapid pendulum swings. Make changes stick.
  • Nurture the mindset of a gardener. Care for your garden, and give seeds time to grow.
  • The 7 areas of your life to keep in order, are:
  •  Health & body
  •    Eat whole foods. Avoid anything a hunter-gathered wouldn't have access to.
  •    Exercise daily.
  •    Do strength training.
  •    Do Zone 2 cardio.
  •    Do Mobility training.
  •    Supplement and monitor your biomarkers often.
  •    Look up to professionals. Nurture the seed. Do not try to skip steps.
  •    Do not consume alcohol.
  •  Body & mind
  •    Practice mindfulness.
  •    Practice breathing exercises.
  •    Practice mind-body connection, yoga, martial arts.
  •    Go outside, see the sun, touch soil and water.
  •  Work
  •    Nurture deep work. Keep distractions away from work-setting.
  •    Plan ahead. Break things down in small sizes.
  •    Work back from the end product to its smaller version.
  •    Approach things from first principles.
  •    Be crappy.
  •    Pay attention to details.
  •    Know when to be crappy and when to pay attention to details.
  •    Focus on creating things that generate value more than once.
  •  Money
  •    Live below your means/income, until you have enough money to not worry about money, ever.
  •    Establish principles for saving & investing money. Revisit them once a year. Apply them without questioning them day to day.
  •    Build margin. Margin is not your portfolio.
  •    Never buy on impulse. Add to a list. Budget all and any big purchases.
  •    Keep track of your spending.
  •    Keep track of your finances.
  •  Creativity & career
  •    Sell your time so you can bootstrap other means of income.
  •    Do lots of small bets. When creating, focusing on quantity will eventually lead you to strike quality. Repetition matters.
  •    A job is a job, and a company is no family. Do your job well, and know it's only a single aspect of your life.
  •    Build friendships not based on business. Business is business. Networking is not real, friends are real.
  •    Seek to dissociate income from time spent. Create things that can be sold more than once.
  •  Friends and relationships
  •    Reach out to friends just to say hi.
  •    Seek to live somewhere vibrant with lots of people that inspire you.
  •    Hang out with people who are further away in the path you want to go.
  •    Do not prioritize relationships that bring the worst impulses in you.
  •    Go outside.
  •    Say yes more often.
  •  Love and sex
  •    Do not rush love.
  •    Lovers are to love. Avoid assigning multiple roles to the same person.
  •    Do 1:1s. Always be honest.
  •    Communicate your needs clearly. Listen attentively to other's needs.
  •    Do not neglect your own needs.
  •    Do the hard thing. Have the hard conversations.
  •    Do not drink poison, keep your heart pure.

And some more clichés to go with it:

  • When in hell, keep walking, that's no place to stop.
  • Be present, all the time.
  • Do not wish to be teleported somewhere else. Long for the journey ahead to get there, which starts here and now.
  • People matter.
  • Balance matters. Find your center of gravity.
  • Lead by example. Embody principles.
  • You're no better, no smarter, no more worth of anything than the average Joe. You have to work for it.
  • Be kind to yourself and others.
  • Do not promote violence. Do not promote destruction for the sake of destruction.
  • Promote transformation and evolution.
  • Understand it's up to you to create values and meaning for your life, and contribute to those around you. Ubermensch are built, not born.
  • Do not be afraid of being the least important or smart person in a room. Embrace the beginners mindset.
  • Do not supress nor reject any emotion. Emotions are raw power. Feel them.
  • Above all, remember to your core that no one leaves this world alive.

The fact the list above is so fundamentally simple, and contains so many clichés, is a reminder to myself that, although we live in the most incredible in regards to information and knowledge, the wisdom we need to life full and fulfilling lives as human beings, has been around for millennia.

We must aspire for enlightenment.