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What do you do now that you should have always done?

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About six months after I got my first guitar, I had reached a stage where I knew a lot of chords and I could play recognizable bits of songs, but I couldn’t play even the simplest song (Wild Thing?) without flubbing chord changes all the way through. It felt like I hadn’t actually begun to learn at all.

I found some comfort in online guitar forums for beginners. Hundreds of others shared my frustration, believing that they were every bit as bad as they were the first day they picked up the instrument.

One day, a slightly more experienced player thaught us a trick that makes it 100% clear how far you’ve come since you started. You rotate the guitar so that your fret hand becomes your picking hand and vice-versa. Then you attempt to play anything you know.

This puts you exactly where you were when you started — your fingers have to find entirely new positions and make entirely new motions, and you recognize how much skill and nuance you’ve gained since that first day, which is the last time the guitar felt that unfamiliar and awkward to you.

When I have discouraging moments other areas of life, I use a similar trick to remind myself how much more capable a person I’ve become.

I think about where I was exactly a year ago, or two years ago, or five years ago today — what was going on in my life and what my biggest dilemmas were. I then imagine being given a chance to deal with those issues knowing what I know now, today, as 2013 David. A lot of the time today’s Me would make short work of those problems, even if today’s Me isn’t on top of all of today’s problems.

This exercise reveals real growth, and that kind of personal growth tends to come in little breakthroughs. These little breakthroughs have two ingredients: 1) you learn something you didn’t know, and 2) as a result, you try doing something differently than you used to do it. 

Sometimes these attempts lead to lasting change, and sometimes they don’t, but they all come from some kind of behavioral experiment, either intentional or accidental. If you insist on doing things the way you’ve always done them, life will get easier and more fulfilling only very slowly, if it does at all.

So it’s reasonable to expect that people who try new approaches more often tend to grow more often, and tend to find a way to live their values earlier in life.

These breakthroughs also tend to be dramatic. You can’t believe you didn’t do it this way before. You wish you’d made this change years ago. You find it amazing others still live the way you used to.

My biggest breakthrough this year has been the way I approach money and income, and life is a lot lighter and brighter now. The Me of 2013 would make a cakewalk out of most of the financial dilemmas of my past. Almost certainly, the Me of 2014 would make short work of some of today’s dilemmas, because of some new habit I will end up trying in the coming year.

Everyone has had the experience of making a change in their behavior that gave them an immediate and lasting advantage over the rest of their lives. We’ve all know what it’s like to make a simple change that is so clearly better than the old way that we wonder how it took us so long.

I want to know what obvious-in-hindsight changes you’ve made in your life in the past year or two. What did you try that made you wish you’d done it years ago? Say so in the comments. It doesn’t have to be big — it could just be a better way of grocery shopping. All that matters is that it’s so much better than your old way that you wish you’d always done it.

Even if you don’t normally comment here, I urge you to share this time. Think of how much time and frustration we could all save each other by exchanging our breakthroughs here. Let’s trade our best in-hindsight wisdom. Share yours, then go try something that worked for someone else.

I’ll add mine later in the comments.


Photo by silentmind

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Nik Gervae June 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I started learning Japanese kanji with James Heisig’s mnemonic method in the book “Remembering the Kanji”. I had tried mnemonic methods before, but having a rather literal mind, could never think up vivid pictures/scenes, and so I always had trouble with anything that had to be memorized (language vocab top of the list). Heisig’s book does that work for you for the first couple hundred kanji, so you can learn that skill by example. I’ve now learned almost 1500 kanji in a few weeks, and I’m eager to see what else I can apply this technique to!

George Gurdjieff June 18, 2013 at 12:26 am

Hi Nick, I lived in Japan for fifteen years and throughout I could never take formal Japanese lessons due to my job schedule. To be perfectly honest, I was not so interested either. I’m stateside now and I have the same attitude about learning how to use facebook for my blog’s social networking. Only this time, I don’t have any excuses. I have to DO IT…!

The Kechi One June 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm

“Remembering The Kanji” is the best method I ever found to learning kanji. I completed the book (using kanji.kohii.com of course) a few years ago and even though I’ve slipped a bit I still remember at least half of the common use d
Kanji. I restarted a few weeks ago and it’s been going great the second time around too.

Kay June 17, 2013 at 12:56 am

I started learning to play guitar in 2011. Early this year 2013, I joined a band and I am having a great and fulfilling time. I wonder where I have been all this time.

Andrew Wade June 17, 2013 at 1:32 am

I now ask women out. On adventures. (These are really dates, just without all the pressure that the word ‘date’ seems to include.)

I think I am slowly letting go of that fear of hurting someone else from discovering that the relationship might not be going anywhere. Without trying, however are we going to find the relationships that DO have a lengthy future?

LuLu June 22, 2013 at 5:30 am

AWE! That’s really a neat way of taking off the pressure! Thanks for the inspiration :D

Kim June 17, 2013 at 1:34 am

I’m trying to let go of perfectionism and started working based on the Pareto Principle, at least for the work I have no passion for. Allowed me to enjoy life while everybody else was stressing out about final exams.

I also gave myself permission to “downscale”: just because I will have a Master’s degree, doesn’t mean I’ll have to get a job in that area. Instead, I’m now aiming for a low-paid alternative in a field where I have, as of yet(!), little expertise in (guitar teacher) but that promises to be so much more satisfying. Exciting times :)

Stakka June 17, 2013 at 2:19 am

Hey – love your blog! Have been reading for the last six months or so, lots of interesting insights and discussions.
My husband and i just began jogging, its wonderful! At first it was a mission, i could hardly run for two minutes without feeling dizzy and out of breath. It was difficult to keep going at it because for a few months it made me feel this way and i felt i wasn’t making any progress. A few times i found myself thinking, whats the point, why am i not progressing, what is wrong with me and i was about to give it all up when i decided – no, i want to do this and i want to do this properly. So i visited some running blogs and found a wealth of information and support for beginners. It turns out i have been running a bit too fast and i needed to slow my pace down. A couple of weeks later i’m running for 30 mins with ease, fantastic! It feels great. I would have never in a million years thought i was a person who would run for fun but i find i can’t wait to get out there to do it, which is a first for me with any exercise.

Lorraine June 17, 2013 at 2:52 am

I would live with less stuff. Despite downsizing dramatically, we still have too much stuff for 3 people. Nearly everything we own is in about 200 boxes in our garage waiting to be picked up by the movers tomorrow. We started packing 6 months ago. I asked my husband if he could think of one thing in that pile that he misses and he immediately said, “CD’s.” Our move is transitional, so we may be doing this again in a few years so we plan to get that pile of stuff down to a more manageable size. We’ve learned that we really don’t need most of it….just a little background music. :-)

Mira D June 17, 2013 at 3:38 am

(Disclaimer: I live in India)
After reviewing my mutual fund performance and my own stock picks over the last 3 years, I’ve moved almost entirely to investing directly by myself.

I forced myself to relearn driving at age 45. Scary traffic here.I should have done this a decade ago, this is the first in years that I do not reach office drenched, monsoon-time.

Paul June 17, 2013 at 3:47 am

Daily meditation practice for at least 10-15 minutes (often more) combined with a gratitude journal.

Before last year, I did both sparingly. Now that I do both consistently, I’ve seen amazing strides in my outlook on life and my ability to control emotions.

It’s made a world of difference in how I interact with others.

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm

i love this! i’m doing both very sparingly. thanks for the inspiration :)

Anjali June 17, 2013 at 3:55 am

I started playing badminton on a daily basis last year :) Wish I had started years before.

Rachèl Gerrits June 17, 2013 at 4:11 am

I have a few things that i’m doing differently but i’ve had the advantage of a major cataclysm so i’ve had to change. :)
Gardening everyday, even if it’s just trimming one leaf. In the process of transforming my tiny backyard into paradise. Growing plants from fruit kernels, and if possible transform those into bonsai trees. So far i’m growing a date, a few avocado, a loquat (Japanese medlar). I’ve taken up nature photography and found out i’m not half bad. And i’ve started sailing. All these activities connect me to nature and are the result of a shift in paradime ; i take my clues from nature instead of culture. I’m following my bliss.
Also i’ve opened up a 2nd bank account that is just for my fixed costs (incl. savings for the savings account) and have automated all of those. I find it very clear and never have to worry about overspending anymore.

Gaelle Linard June 17, 2013 at 4:15 am

I do 10min of strength training & stretching every morning before work. Gives me the filling of having “mastered” one of the tasks of the day so it keeps me motivated through work, and well, it also helps the body :)

Daniel Castro June 17, 2013 at 4:36 am

There’s definitely a few things that I’ve started doing in the past year+ that have changed my life. I watch what I eat a lot more, which consists of vegetables, fruits, meats, and some grains (quinoa + oatmeal) now. Before it was pretty much anything, but now it’s a lot healthier. I workout three times a week in the mornings, and have seen a lot of progress in my overall body and strength. I have never had a budget or watched my expenses that much but your post inspired me to start doing that, so that’s where I am now. For the last four years I’ve kept a calendar which has been incredibly useful!

My future pursuits:
Have + improve my financial management.

Christine June 17, 2013 at 4:38 am

I have let my body heal at its own pace. I had a second attack of mono 20 months ago and it meant that for 12 months I would have swollen glands and tonsils as well as horrendous fatigue at least once a month. The worst thing about it is that the doctors here would not acknowledge it. Sport and stress would bring out the symptoms.

Being a pretty avid runner, I would try to optimistically (read:stupidly) try to run through the issue and hope that my body would just get used to it and hurry up and get better.

In the end, I had to take a look at what was more important. Not being sick every month would be nicer than staying “running fit”, I decided. So I took up yoga instead and invested my time and money in finding a specialist who could help me.

I’m now 6 months into my lifestyle change and 3 months back into running. My fitness came back to me within two months and I am ready to run a mountain half marathon in two weeks’ time, this time without the threat of swollen glands getting in the way.

I wish I had prioritised my overall health over my at-the-moment fitness from the beginning. On the plus side though, I’ve learnt that my body needs to be given a chance to repair itself and that granting it what it needs will not crush all your short term goals and values (in this case fitness). Recovery and health is always THE most important thing. Always.

And, of course, acknowledging that the corporate world is not for me and coming to terms with the fact that if I follow my dream I may never have as much financial comfort as I have now and being totally ok with that has lifted a huge weight from my conscience. All I have to do is plot my transition now.

David June 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I am starting to get the same message about my mental health that you have about your overall health. I’ve been swamped with work recently and I’ve been neglecting sanity-producing activities like walking and meditation. It should be the highest priority.

Ana June 17, 2013 at 4:42 am

Well, I got a baby last year. That’s a big experiment. But the main things I have learned to do better (besides being a mother, which is actually much easier than I thought) is to live in the moment (because the baby you have today is not the same as the baby you’ll have tomorrow, so you really have to enjoy it now) and be greatful for the two amazing people I have in my life (my husband and my daughter). And thank you for Mr. MM, I should have started saving more money a long time ago.

Joy June 17, 2013 at 4:56 am

Thanks, I needed to read this today. It’s so easy to get frustrated with where you are and forget to look at how far you’ve come.

I used to be very reluctant to meet new people, automatically assuming that nothing I had to offer would be of any use to them. Today I make it a game to see how quickly I can figure out a way to add value to their lives, and am constantly surprised at the sheer number and variety of small things I can do to help people which they couldn’t do for themselves.

Previously I’d never, ever initiate a new relationship (business or otherwise) – now I’m calling up random people everywhere inviting them for coffee and a chat!

judi June 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I am impressed. This seems to get more difficult for me as I get older! How crazy is that? I know that life experience has only provided me with more to offer. Thanks for the inspiration.

Jane June 17, 2013 at 5:03 am

I would have figured out tears are ok a lot sooner. In fact I’d have realised all emotions are there to be acknowledged and felt. I’d have been able to let go of old things holding me back so much more easily. Thank goodness I worked it out a few years ago.

Adriana June 17, 2013 at 5:07 am

Hi David, first I thank you for your thoughts and insights here.
A big, but gradual change for me is including sports in my daily life. Not in my dreams, not in my plans, but in every tuesday and thursday 2 hours at gym, and sometimes running. The results came gradually, I like my body better (very close to the best shape ever) and have more strength and confidence. I want to keep this habit and maybe in the future play more games like volley, which now I fear because I feel clumsy. I have always thought i sucked in sports and doing some and being good at it now changes more than my body. yes, everyone should do it :)

claire June 17, 2013 at 6:10 am

thanks, i like your blog, and have liked reading what people have done in the past year :) good question. …for me, over the past year…
i now prepare basically all my food at home and buy from farmers’ markets and wholefoods store for over 90% of our food. i’ve become vegan, joined a yoga institute and practice 5+ times a week. totally stopped shopping for extra clothes/shoes etc, as i have enough. begun growing own vegetables and herbs successfully, and composting all our food scraps. begun learning a second language with my partner. stopped drinking alcohol. recently switched to wind-power source for our home-energy. paid back >half of my financial debt.
by the end of this month i want to have sorted my superannuation, so it’s going to more known-ethical investments. i want by the end of this year to have zero debt, and from there to save some, before then moving jobs to something less-well-paying but more aligned to what i want to create.
bring-on 2014 hey, :) thanks again.

Barb June 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Good grief Claire! Why didn’t you bring about world peace and end homelessness while you were at it?!! ;). Seriously, I am awed and amazed at what you accomplished and I’d be thrilled if I could say I had accomplished a fraction of what you did. Bravo!

Anton June 17, 2013 at 6:12 am

I’ve quit smoking after +16 years. Was my second attempt and this time is for good.

Maia June 17, 2013 at 6:19 am

I started meditation this time last year, and have kept up the practice, it’s like a habit now like brushing teeth and I can’t imagine being without it.
I’ve veganised my diet more, although not completely, but I feel healthier and I am slimmer.
I finished a relationship and I am now single for the first time in 5 years, which is strange and I’m learning how it all works again – which is both hard and exciting. I also just joined Toastmasters and started saving more.

There was a quote I read recently which said something like – all days seem the same, but somehow when you look back everything is different. It’s so true!

claire June 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

indeed. the perspective of a year and what transpired is useful. well done on becoming more vegan. i have found it wonderful myself. i transitioned over about four months. people emphasise all the things you then cannot eat etc, but there is such an abundance of things that i have newly discovered since becoming vegan – including liking cooking more. :) best wishes.

Shane June 17, 2013 at 6:28 am

I’m a university student and before I start a new course, I get hold of the text book, turn to the glossary at the back and copy down (or copy paste for the pdf versions) all the definitions into a flash card program (I use memrise). Now, when I come across these words in the lectures, I am already familiar with them and the learning process becomes a whole lot easier.

Ryan B June 17, 2013 at 8:43 am

I can recommend another forward thinking mindset which will substantially increase your performance for a course.

At the beginning of a course, use the syllabus and skim through the all of the coursework you’ll be doing. Figure out what sections will be more difficult and require more time and effort, which sections will be easier and when you can load harder coursework from other classes while you’re focusing on those areas. Develop strategies for effectively mastering the material. Plan out any projects (when you’ll do them, what you’ll need to complete them). This kind of general planning will give you a good idea of what to expect from the course and will likely give you a better mastery of the material than the professor expects (and consequently a higher grade).

If this seems pretty obvious to you than more power to you, but for me it wasn’t something I really picked up until later on in my college career, and the rewards I reaped were tremendous!

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm

pretty cool, Shane!

Jennifer June 17, 2013 at 6:41 am

My outlook on life, for lack of a better word, changed three years ago after a major flood in my city. I had three feet of water in my basement and lost all my”treasures” stored there. In addition to my furnace, washer, drier, etc. I had become quite the”hoarder” due to numerous deaths in my family , including my husband. I dont know exactly what changed, and it wasn’t immediate but I now dont hsve all that attachment to things. I dont even like to shop now. Trying to become minimalist, lol, but lacking a lot if time to do it.

Jackie June 17, 2013 at 6:45 am

I’ve learned two things that in hindsight I should have always done.

First, while I realize that there are things I can do to possibly influence how others perceive me, ultimately I have no control over how another person thinks/responds to me. I know what my intentions are and can strive to be true to those, but at the end of the day, the only reactions I have any control over are my own.

Second, I have finally started to give myself permission to be happy in the moment and not worry so much about yesterday or tomorrow. I’m still aware of the future and that my actions today will have consequences, but I’m no longer constantly thinking about tomorrow to the exclusion of what is going on right now.

brent June 17, 2013 at 7:26 am
Rajesh June 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I really found the Confidence and fitness blog very intriguing. Although I excercise mildly and eat organic foods, I want to take my fitness/health to a next level. Thanks again for sharing these links. Thanks David too for giving the platform to share ideas with like-minded people.

Julia June 17, 2013 at 7:31 am

I have suddenly realized something that should be pretty obvious from the start: hating something (from small daily tasks to big catastrophes) a lot doesn’t make it go away. So, the best thing you can do is – go through with it, and then it’ll be over, and astoundingly you’ll realize it wasn’t *that* bad to begin with.

A couple of weeks *after* this small/big breakthrough, I’ve stumbled upon this article here https://www.raptitude.com/2013/05/let-reality-be-real/ and was at the same time glad I’ve came up with the answer before I’ve read it, and kind of disappointed it sounded so simple :D

Kevin Cole June 17, 2013 at 7:36 am

Two things come to mind.
1) Minimalism – I had no intentions of getting rid of my stuff until I met The Minimalists in DC. They seemed like such happy dudes with such fulfilling lives. The change wasn’t immediate but I started to question my stuff. Slowly but surely I got rid of things and the feeling was liberating. Fast forward to now and I’ve gotten rid of all the excess from my life. My mind and my living space is clear. Now I filter every purchase through the lens of value.

2) Actively socializing – My god I wish I would have been working on this one from a much younger age. As an introvert I was always terrified by other people. But it was foolish. Two years ago I started to make a conscious effort to meet people and be more social. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but the effects have been incredible.

Julia June 17, 2013 at 7:53 am

“Socializing” is on my to-do list for so long… but I don’t seem to have what it takes. I also find it a big effort to meet people (it should be pleasant, shouldn’t it?) :S

How did you get started on this one?

greg June 17, 2013 at 9:04 am

my personal view is that not socializing in “standard” ways is OK, but only if it’s driven by rational assessment of tradeoffs rather than fear.

For example, spending time 1-on-1 with a few good people every now and then can be fulfilling while hanging out in large groups in loud places while consuming lots of alcohol isn’t necessarily required for certain personality types.

It may also be possible that socializing isn’t “worth your time”, but that assessment should be made distinct from fear of trying.

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm

hey Julia,

for me, a breakthrough came when I began attending fellowship meetings (12-step in my case) but any club, meeting, organization, sports team, or even the “meet up” site could get you started, and I think find it does wonders for your ability to grow socially.

Northmoon June 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Socializing is hard for me too, but I’ve started by just smiling at people and conversing with people that I come across every day – coffee servers, neighbours, etc. Give them a compliment about their outfit, thank them for their service, or just ask how they are and listen to their answer. It’s been good practice for me, leading to occasional longer conversations without too much pressure. And I think I brighten up their days a little with a cheerful comment.

Actually this is one of my big breakthrough changes! I used to walk around in my own little self important zone, if I was pissed I treated everyone rudely. I feel much better spreading happiness, improving things instead of trying to bring everyone down.

LuLu June 22, 2013 at 6:08 am

Hey Julia! You are so right, socializing should be pleasant! I used to bean absolute wallflower and NOW I am an Event Host/Planner for a women’s community in my area. My tool of choice is Meetup.com. This is NOT a dating sight. It is a site to make long lasting friendships, the key is to join several groups and then “feel” them out. Go to no less than 3 events per group to experience the flow of the group. Try to join groups with high membership. Do your best to steer clear of groups that charge a membership fee, only bc if a Group figurehead is passionate about keeping a group alive and active they will also handle the small $46 yearly dues. Not every group will be for you and that’s okay, this is just a tool to show you what is happening in your area. It’s up to you to get out there and start really socializing.

Kevin Cole June 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Hey Julia,

Actively socializing has been a serious journey and it hasn’t always been a fun time. I had to learn a lot about myself and discover who I truly was and what I enjoyed. I went to loud clubs and hated every second of it. But then I started talking to people in every day life and found that what I really valued was genuine conversation with a nice person.

It can definitely be scary but you have to remember people are on your side. No one is conspiring against you and hoping that you falter in conversation. It’s cool to be imperfect and stumble when socializing. It happens. What matters most is that you’re out there meeting incredible people and growing as a person.

bobbyo June 17, 2013 at 7:37 am

Gave up caffeine, sorted out lots things for me…

Fred June 17, 2013 at 7:42 am

About 7 years ago, I decided to finally step up and purchase an amp (for harmonica). It was expensive, but it forced me to take the next important step – find a group that would have me.

So, I searched Craig’s List for a while and found a guy who was looking for a mandolin/fiddle/dobro player. I asked him if he’d consider harmonica, and he said “yes”.

He then asked me how old I was (he was in his mid-20s), and I told him “I’m Boomer aged, but really good looking”, and sent him a fuzzy picture.

I passed the audition, played out with him the very next night, and became a founding member of his band. As a result, I’ve played at festivals with Dave Matthews (different stages) and have performed at clubs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto, Atlanta and Boston.

Terri Lynn June 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Your story inspires me Fred. Thank you for sharing.

Mira D June 20, 2013 at 3:17 am

Congratulations. This takes guts.

Trish Scott June 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

After lying fallow for a few years and calling myself sort of retired, a new town project, Kanab Class (Cooperative Learning for Adult Studies and Skills) where community members teach what we are able to teach and take classes in what we like, all FREE, I have new energy for writing, taking 2 classes, and teaching, Animal Communication. I’m even starting Spanish this week. I may fancy a trip to Mexico. It’s amazing how much teaching talent was sitting here in our little town just waiting to burst forth!

After wondering whether I would ever renew my online presence after abandoning my old site in frustration, I found the energy, in looking to teaching again, to build a new site which is easy to maintain on my own and focuses what I do better than my cumbersome 10 year old site did. I would never say fallow periods are less productive than going full tilt at what you love. I think both are really valuable to a creative life. I can say though, I’m having a blast right now :)

LuLu June 22, 2013 at 6:13 am

That’s AWE-mazing Trish! I enjoyed you inspiring story, thank you for sharing :)

Lori June 17, 2013 at 8:00 am

I started making a conscious effort to find the time to be with the people who matter to me, even if it means long distance travel. Yeah, it sounds cliche, but after my husband died in 2011, it really hit home how we had not taken advantage of the opportunities that we had been given (his brother’s wedding in Japan, an invitation to visit my high school friend at his foreign service post in India), thinking we’d wait to travel when our kids were older, among other things. As I type this, I’m in Boise, ID after a day on a plane that took me from home in New England to Florida, Missouri, and Arizona before landing in Idaho — all this because his cousin is getting married. As great as electronic media is great for keeping in touch, nothing substitutes for the bonds that form as the result of the shared experiences with family and friends.

Linda Lesperance June 17, 2013 at 8:08 am

I am a first-class, practiced, professional worrier. I worry about everything from dolphins beaching, to wars around the world, to children riding safely on school buses, etc. You name it and I can worry about it. I have come to realize this year that most of these are things are outside of myself, things over which I have little control. I am trying to let go of things that are outside of my immediate realm. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care because I do…deeply. I just have to remember that we can only change things around us slowly, one thing at a time and we have to BE the change that we expect to see in others. Namaste. Thanks David.

Rajan Jagad June 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

Hi David, thank you very much for your wonderful blog…….
I am a gastro surgeon and have started my own clinic just 2 months back. for last 3 years i am in the same city but was working for some other hospital. it was a time to settle down in the city. but i think it have been a lot better if i would have start my own clinic 3 years back…………

Rose June 17, 2013 at 8:21 am

One thing I should have done from the start is set my student loan payment to the maximum I was able to pay each month. Instead, I spent a year with a low payment, telling myself I would top it up with whatever I had in excess at the end of each month. But of course I always ended up spending everything I had available. Now I’ve made all of my savings, retirement contributions, and debt repayments automatic. Doing so has forced me to stay within my budget.
It has also had a bit of a domino effect: Knowing that I only have a small amount of money to spend each week has changed my spending habits for the better. Since I have so little to spend frivolously, I’d rather keep my money for outings than items. So now, when I’m interested in a book, I check the library’s collection (and the books I take out actually get read, instead of sitting on my bookshelves unopened!). When I see something I like in a magazine, I turn to my closet to recreate the look. When I run out of some toiletry, I dig something out of my bathroom cabinet and use everything to the last drop. I’ve seen how excessive my spending used to be and have realized that I already have more than I need.

Heather Burt June 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

When I was married, I was always waiting. Waiting for my husband to decide what he wanted to do and then supporting him in any way. I never stopped to think what I wanted. Then one day I realized that my life had been on hold for over 15 years and that neither of us were happy; I asked for a divorce that very day. I’ve been divorced for almost 3 years now and I have become so adventurous! I talk to complete strangers, have gained self-esteem and confidence, started two part-time businesses in addition to working full-time, write a blog and am working on a memoir. I am currently segment-hiking the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin to bring awareness to the natural beauty available in my state and encourage people to get out and appreciate nature. My 2010 self would never believe where I am today. And my 2020 self is very proud of the journey I’m on!

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

hi Heather, I’m at the beginning of separating from my spouse, and it’s quite painful. Your story is really an inspiration. Thanks!

Lori June 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

Heather, your attempt to be a supportive wife and realization that you’d put your life on hold sounds familiar, because that’s exactly what I did! And your transformation is starting to sound familiar, too, though I’m not staring businesses or writing blogs and memoirs. At least not yet… And if section hiking the AT in New England happens to be on your bucket list, now you’re aware of one person who has that on her to do list.

sallyann June 17, 2013 at 8:35 am

Now I am a vegetarian (since the Me of 2008). I like it. It’s kinder and it’s not hard.

Now I am up early 5 days a week to exercise (since the Me of 2011). I am much healthier than the Me of 2010 who was about 20kg too heavy.

Like the Somewhat Earlier Me (2003 – Present) I continue to explore personal growth, including concepts such as Buddhism, atheism, how to choose happiness, minimalism, frugality and I’m currently reading about being vegan. The journey continues.

Thanks for your blog, I have only found it lately and am enjoying it.

greg June 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

I feel one of the biggest, most beneficial changes I have made (aside from becoming frugal) is respectfully but straightforwardly describing what I like and dislike about things and people. This became a forcing mechanism for personal growth that led to me becoming completely OK with not placating everybody by doing things I dislike.

And if done respectfully, it can even grow interpersonal connections across what would have otherwise been limited to very basic connections.

Sarah July 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Hi Greg – I found myself nodding along as I read your comment. This really resonated with me. Lately I’ve been realising that it’s ‘ok’ to like/dislike certain things – it’s what makes us individuals, and our days will really pass with a lot more enjoyment and a lot less stress if we learn to be accepting of our own preferences and make them politely clear to others (e.g. “Late nights in bars aren’t really my thing.. but can we meet for a hangover brunch the next day and you can tell me all about it?”). It gives me a sense of peace to be more clear of my own convictions… definitely something that I “should have always done”!

Catherine Froggatt June 17, 2013 at 8:54 am

I set up monthly standing orders so when my salary went into my current account all my bills / rent etc automatically went into another account. I also did the same for my pension contributions and a regular amount into my savings vehicles etc

Its so simple but it enabled me to take the thinking out of achieving my goals for saving and meant that I actually achieved them – relatively painlessly. My friend also swears by automatically increasing your saving / pension contributions when you receive a salary increase. You’re used to living on your previous salary so it makes sense to spirit it away into other accounts rather than spending it.

Radka June 17, 2013 at 9:04 am


However tempting it is to list things I wish I’d done years ago … it would not be true. I would not change anything, none of the mistakes I have made, I would not change a single one of the decisions I am still paying for every day now.

Had I done anything differently it would be different person sitting here now. I am made of my own past and I have grown into the person I am because I have lived through every single moment of my past exactly the way I had. There is no point wishing something have been another way. The only thing I can do is to look at my past and learn from it. Learn to be grateful for every second of it and use it to be better person today.

Thanks for the article. It is worth remembering that however frustrated we get with our today’s self we can stop and look back at where we have come from and how much have we grown. We might have messed up a lot but even having the perspective to realize that is a step forward and an important thing for putting things right.

Heath June 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I used to think this way as well. I mean, how could I personally wish that anything in the past was different. That would be like wishing I wasn’t me! But then, I saw this funny comic :-)


Stacey June 17, 2013 at 9:13 am

I now acknowledge my needs first and tune into what’s right for me – I don’t get angry and resentful at others like I did in the past simply because I started listening to myself.

Thank you for your posts . You are a great writer and I do enjoy reading your posts :)

Your posts have come a a good time for me while I am taking a break to travel and really consider what sort of life I want to lead and what sort of person I want to be. Your writing is thought provoking and I wish you much joy in all your endeavours .

Maria June 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

I’ve been exercising for as long as I remember, but usually avoiding anything too intense. A year and a half ago I signed up for my very first mud run and thought that it was crazy. I was excited to try something new, but was convinced that I couldn’t do it. Rigorous routine at the gym, combined with lots of running, and team support during the run made the race the best fitness experience in my life. I am now participating in mud runs and obstacle courses regularly.
A similar thing happened just a couple months ago with crossfit. I thought there was no way I could do this hardcore intense routine a few times a week. A few weeks later I couldn’t wait for the next workout, increasing weight little by little and improving my stamina.
Crossfit taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. I am not as afraid of new challenges and it makes way more for me to give up.
Next on the agenda? Tough Mudder, a 12 mile obstacle course. I’m scared, but I’ll do it anyways. What a great opportunity for becoming stronger.

Samantha June 17, 2013 at 9:24 am

I’ve begun running errands such that I make right turns instead of lefts. Don’t laugh, its cut down on my time substantially.

I’ve paid off my debt and made the decision never to borrow for anything again. This has led to frugality, gratitude for the abundance I have, and peace of mind around finances.

I’m still working on developing an exercise program… maybe 2014 Me will figure it out!

Gustavo June 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

Hard to explain it simply but, here it goes. The most productive thing I’ve done (that I should have done many, many years ago) is this: Facing the feeling of emptiness.

Terri Lynn June 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm


Paula June 18, 2013 at 2:46 am

Yes! Noticing that I was lonely even in a relationship and that this loneliness and emptiness is ok that I can face it and don’t need to cover it up with a relationship.

L. A. June 17, 2013 at 9:46 am

I’m in a completely different place, career-wise, than I was a year ago, not altogether of my own choosing. :)

A year ago, I was stuck in a full-time dead-end job that I despised. Now, I’ve gone back to school for graphic design (something I’ve kicked around for a while but never took the plunge for due to $$$ issues), and have a kick-ass part-time job working in the box office of the local Shakespeare theater.

If I had never been “down-sized” from my bad job last October, I would never have decided to pursue better avenues. :) (Being stuck in a bad job is a lot like being stuck in a bad relationship. You don’t realize how much it’s weighing on you until it’s over.)

claire June 22, 2013 at 7:58 am

Mammothly true!

cody June 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

I’ve been on a vegetarian diet for over five years and just some weeks ago I started slowly changing to a vegan diet.
Although I didnt always stick to a fully vegan diet in the past weeks, I’m kind of a “half time vegan” now. I’m not sure wether I want to go fully vegan or now, but becoming vegan is far more easy than I thought! And it feels a lot better when I’m leaving out dairy products.

As far as your experiences go David I can only support what other people above already said. Keep up your good work and good luck with all your plans! Your blog is always a huge inspiration for me.

claire June 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

that’s great cody! i love being vegan. :) it’s also-always a “becoming vegan” thing, because there’s always more to learn and grow into. enjoy.

ditto the positive feedback about this blog. david, you know one of the great things about your writing? you’re also in the thick of it, you’re sorting through stuff as are we. you don’t write from the point of view of the “figured out expert-sage” giving everyone the map for how-to. thank you… and thanks to everyone!

JP June 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

I’m really trying to be present in most everything I do now, no matter how menial the task. I try to be aware of my 5 senses and what they’re up to at the time. Are there any smells present, I notice how something feels in my hands, how my body feels, inside and out. I try to notice the beauty, especially in the background, that I normally wouldn’t notice. Are there any tastes associated with what I’m doing? What noises are there, how about in the background.

I try to stay out of the past and future in my thoughts as much as possible. This is very difficult to do, but I don’t get upset with myself when my mind wonders like I used to.

I quit multi-tasking. I try and finish one thing at a time, due to importance, and not worry about the other tasks that need to get done, their time will come soon.

Pete June 19, 2013 at 3:08 am

That’s what I’m working on right now. Thanks :)

Mira D June 20, 2013 at 3:22 am

Very inspiring. Thanks.

George Gurdjieff June 17, 2013 at 10:28 am

As always David, thank you for sharing your observations. For myself, the element that often accompanies change, is timing. Whenever some new insight enters, or even a seemingly negative influence appears, it seems to coincide with a corresponding internal or external need. Almost as if Imwere an actor in some divine comedy and I said my lines or appeared right on cue – however embarrasing or enlightning the ‘scene’ demands. Thanks again for another thoughtful post.

Bruno June 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

I’ve been trying to live with less stuff, as some people already said. We always have unnecessary things that we bought and keep them thinking that someday we gonna use them. But this never happens.

And another important decision that I’ve made, is stop take life so serious. I’m trying to take out fear of my life, doing things always thinking in my inner peace, not thinking in worst case scenario and not living exclusive for the future, like I always did. This used to happened, probably because Im a born pessimist, tending to view always the bad side. But I’m trying to move on. Its a constantly fight, but bit by bit things gonna be better.

Shirls June 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

My change that I wish I’d done years ago saams trivial compared with those above, but it has saved me hours and a lot of frustration. Every evening I would ask my husband, “What would you like for dinner?” to which his invariable reply was “I don’t know.” Then I would suggest various dishes all of which he “didn’t feel like”.

This would end up with me scrabbling through freezer and fridge trying to put a meal together. But for the last six months or so I’ve made dinner menus weekly (which also helps with my shopping list) taking into account any social engagements we might have. Every Monday I print it out and put it behind the glass of my recipe book stand in the kitchen with relevant recipes tucked behind it. Now there’s no more frustration – we both know what I’ll be cooking on any given evening for the rest of the week.

Anil Bhandary June 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I am now better at letting go the need to ‘fix’ people.

I have stopped offering unsolicited advice or solutions, instead focus on listening.

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

those are fantastic lessons!

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm

at first i didn’t realize i had learned anything…until you mentioned grocery shopping.

in 2011 i made a big push to live closer to a zero waste (ZW) lifestyle. I started with learning to change my shopping behavior. I learned to always bring my own shopping bags and produce bags. This was harder than it sounded and took months before it became 2nd nature. But I learned as I went. If I forgot my bags, I did without bags. I bought only as much as I could carry without bags, or I bought more and emptied the hand cart or trolley directly into my trunk. I then learned to buy in bulk, and my bags (and jars) were then even more handy.

Buying in bulk means I can buy more products in their natural state, like wheat berries. Being one who uses little flour, I can make as little as I need from the berries (in a Vitamix). Being vegetarian and liking Cream of Wheat, I discovered it isn’t necessarily vegetarian, and realized I could make my own by grinding the berries a little courser.

One discovery in the ZW lifestyle has led to the next and is a continual process of learning and refining. Life is a little simpler and more healthful in many ways today than it was just 2 years ago. ZW has also increased my sense of efficacy in changing the world starting with changing myself, and alleviated the sense of guilt and confusion that once accompanied my standard wasteful behaviors.

Thanks for this opportunity to share and to remind myself that I do learn!

claire June 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm

right on board with this one. having recently learned to compost. and the year before to change our shopping habits. eating mainly wholefoods.
i plan to get closer towards ZW over the next year too. through less plastic packets even large ones – bring containers ourselves. some things in containers would be a big pain to make ourselves e.g. tofu (which we eat once or twice a week), but other things not such as chutney/salsa etc.
next-up on my list is to gradually replace the boxes of varieties of tea-bags in my cupboard with loose-leaf tea from the wholefoods store (in our jars!). perhaps the one after that would be less tinned beans, more slow cooking…? tbc!
:) cheers, liked your post.

steph in berkeley June 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

i just read all of the comments. What a gift. Thanks for encouraging comments on this post, David.

Barb June 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I agree. What a thoughtful group of readers this blog has. I really appreciate the sharing of stories, lessons, goals and successes.

claire June 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

yes agreed, awesome. ;) and thanks for your reply earlier barb. … *group hugs* haha.

writing my post here about my past 12-months (ie financial year 2012-13 rather than calendar year) inspires me to get the “2014-me” happening sooner maybe; i’ve since contacted people about doing voluntary work and paid work that would be more meaningful than my current role.

all the best!

John June 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I feel like I have made many positive changes over the last couple of years, so there are a lot of things I could write about here, but one thing I wish I had started doing a long time ago is using a spaced repetition learning system (see: http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/magazine/16-05/ff_wozniak?currentPage=all, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgetting_curve, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition).

Spaced repetition is, at its most basic, a kind of flashcard system that limits how frequently you see your flashcards in order to maximize the likelihood that you will remember something long term, i.e. that something will be stored in your long term memory. The ideal way to do this is by increasing the amount of time there is between repetitions (i.e. viewings) of a card assuming that you answer it correctly. So you enter all the information you want to remember into the software as flash cards, you use the program once a day (ideally), and it decides which cards you need to review that day (if you miss days the reviews will pile up). You subjectively rate how easy a card was to answer from 1-4, with 1 being “I didn’t remember the answer” and 4 being “this was super easy” and that determines when you will see it next.

For example, if you put a new card into the system and you rate it a 3 (“pretty easy to remember”) every time, you would see it the first day, then a few days later, then about a week later, then a few weeks later, then a few months later, and eventually you’ll only see it after a year or more because it will most likely be in your long term memory at that point and it’s not worth reviewing more frequently.

Because cards get really spread out, you could have thousands of cards in your decks but only need to review a few dozen every day to keep everything fresh in your memory, at least after you’ve been using the system for a while.

Right now I have about 950 cards in my decks, and I average about 7-10 repetitions per day.

The reason this works so well for me is that I experience big shifts in motivation. Some weeks I’ll be highly motivated and spend a lot of time learning new things, and then other weeks I’ll not feel like doing much of anything. When I use this system and enter in new information during my most motivated times, I retain the fruit of those efforts more effectively over the long haul instead of having to relearn things later when I get motivated again.

A few months ago I started learning some Spanish on duolingo.com and I spent way too much time on it and burned myself out. However, I got about 250 words of vocabulary into my decks, and now a lot of those words are burned into my long term memory thanks to this system, and every day I’ll review a few others. Without the system, I’m sure I would have almost instantly forgotten most of the vocab when I stopped using duolingo.

If you want to try this yourself, I would recommend using Anki (ankisrs.net) for the software. It’s free, syncs between multiple computers, and there are smartphone apps. You can do really advanced stuff with card templates in order to make creating new cards even more efficient, but this comment is already long enough as it is.

Corina June 18, 2013 at 12:50 am

Thanks a lot, John, I’ll be trying your method RIGHT NOW!

Karen Renee June 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

If I feel excited and energetic about doing something, I’m learning to do it right away instead of just adding it to a list. I always feel good about completing it, and it goes way easier to do what I feel motivated about instead of following a list because that’s “what you’re supposed to do” … in the end, everything important still gets done, and the stuff that slides away isn’t usually missed.

cj June 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I teach guitar and have students (younger ones) try this all the time. Now I can point out, as you did, how far they have come (the ones that practice that is). Using this trick with adults could be effective too;)

I wish we had begun to aggressively pay down debt long before a year or two ago. We’d be done paying all our debt by now and enjoying a debt-free existence with little or no financial worries which to us would mean little or no worries. But, 2 of 4 debts are gone and we are stalking the remainder.

John June 17, 2013 at 3:17 pm

David, I’ve only been reading your blog for a month, but it’s a definite opportunity for life-changing. There are only so many ways to do that, but you communicate well, your experiments inspire, and your writing seems to reflect a sincerity that is rare in this day and age.

Last January I started drawing and painting for the first time in twenty years. On the one hand, I have forgotten a great deal, my eye-hand coordination isn’t what it was, and I am spending a lot of time in rediscovery.

On the other hand, I have learned not to hold myself to the standard of ‘I could do this better in my twenties,’ a standard which resulted in a lot of poor scribbles being balled up and throw in the trash. I finally got past that, stopped judging myself based on my performance when I had been doing it for several years, and started judging myself from a new zero-point…How much have I improved since January of 2012?

Now, instead of stressing about my drawing and painting (“art” seems to carry some weight of implications that I don’t like, I should explore that some time), I find that I am drawing and painting to relieve stress and to help myself relax. There are days I do things my twenty-two year-old self never could have, and there are days I struggle to do things I used to consider easy.

But I’m enjoying it. And I am relaxing into it. And I am appreciating the little discoveries and re-discoveries every day.

I should have kept doing it…Anyone who draws knows the difficulties in closing that gap between what we envision portraying and what our skill actually permits us to block out on the paper or canvas…But if I hadn’t given it up, would it be a source of relaxation and relief now? Or a stressy job in and of itself, fraught with expectations and tied into ‘being a successful artist’?

No way to know, but I’m happy where I am now. I think I’ve rediscovered the path instead of the destination.

Trisha Dodson June 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm

The things I’ve done to make life easier is to make a dinner meal plan for two weeks worth of time, then a grocery list is made that pertains to those meals. It has saved time, money and sanity in the long run. I’ve saved time and money by only buying what is on the list, no more buying whatever and going whenever. And I’ve saved my sanity by having a plan. The plan can then be modified to suit the situation.

Joe June 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I picked up running again last summer after a knee injury had me sidelined for a few years. At the time, I could barely do a couple laps around the local jogging track. Very slowly and deliberately, I’ve gotten up to 10+ miles, and now I’m doing a half-marathon on Saturday. I’m no speed demon or buff dude, I just stuck with it and increased my distance slowly. I think the biggest skill I picked up wasn’t running (which is really just putting one foot in front of the other. Most 2 year olds can do it), it was persistance and making healthy habits.

Velvet June 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Like some others, I had a hard time thinking of what I do now that I should have always been doing, what great insights I have achieved in my life. But I do have some: I used to talk about going to graduate school, now I have done research on when I need to take the GRE and what scores I need. I have the application deadline posted up at my desk at work. I used to get too upset over little things and lose my cool. Now I question whether it is really my problem or not, which usually makes it go away right then. I tell people in the nicest terms possible that all their whining is pretty first world and to get back to me when they have something real, because I don’t want to waste my time being dragged down to their level. Finally, I am facing debts and bills head on. No more running from it or wishing it away, no more head in the sand. I pulled my credit report and I can see how what I thought was so hard will simply be a matter of time. All of this has made me responsible for my own happiness. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
Thank you for your writing. For your inclusive attitude. For insights instead of judgement.

Andrea June 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Thank you, David, for asking…I’m letting go of what people think and cultivating self-acceptance. I’m also letting go of perfectionism and cultivating self-compassion.

Alex June 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Throwing. Things. Away
Allowing myself relaxation time and meditation to bring out creativity.
Looking towards connecting with others instead of thinking about myself has made all of my relationships infinitely more enjoyable and easy.

David June 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I love getting rid of stuff so much that I forget that there was a time when I didn’t do it

Anna June 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I have a hard time getting rid of stuff because I feel as if I’m adding to the waste and pollution out there. If everything I got rid of could be recycled, I’d feel so much better, but it’s hard to throw away junk knowing that it will end up in some garbage pile. Any suggestions?

David June 24, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Donate or garage-sale what you can, but the truth is you have already wasted those resources just by buying them. They are a waste whether they are sitting unused in your house or sitting unused in a landfill. Stop buying new things except when you really need them, pass off whatever you don’t use to someone who will use it if you can.

mike armour June 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Hey David,

Although in recent years I have been able to remain sober and cigarette free and eat a vegetarian diet, the changes in my thinking, that has resulted from daily meetings and rigorous honesty, is the most subtle yet life-altering.

Moving from self-focused and selfish intentions to altruistic and compassionate motivations allows my circle of influence to operate more fluidly. I, and those around me benefit immensely from the simple change of focus from me to ‘we’. There is so much more to do and the journey is peppered with happiness and freedom rather than obstacles and pain.

Thank you for the website. It is a constant source of brightness.

Love alwaz

David June 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Right now I’m in a rather inward-looking productivity-based phase of my life, and it’s helping to create the financial and temporal space I need to switch my line of work to what’s more important to me. But I do feel like I’m long overdue for a good refocusing on what you’re talking about here. I want to spend a year making “we”-based living my priority, and then see what the world looks like from there.

Jesse June 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm

It’s pretty minor compared to most of the life changes above, but recently I learned to store cucumbers out of the refrigerator – I used to throw out half a mushy cucumber every week! I love making many small optimizations like this, life gets easier and easier all the time.

David June 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I had no idea!

Shirls June 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

That’s interesting. Do you store them unwrapped or still in their shrink wrap?

Jesse June 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

I keep them in the shrink wrap, but I’m not sure it matters. I even keep it out after slicing off some. The cut end just dries out and if you slice it off the rest is still fresh as ever.

Shirls June 19, 2013 at 8:32 am

Thanks Jesse – will take it out of the fridge now!

Kris June 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I started playing drum kit as a teenager but stopped when I became a college student. To get back into it, I joined a rock band as a drummer. I’ve pretty much started from scratch in rebuilding my technique. Its been about a year and a half, and I only have to watch a video clip of our first show to see how much I’ve improved. If you are a performing musician then I would highly recommend recording all your performances as a way to see how much you grow over time and improve your playing.

Stasia June 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm

When I was in high school, I took karate, and I loved it. I quit a year into college because I was frustrated with my slow progress and didn’t think I’d ever be any good, and it took a lot of time and money. That was twenty-some years ago. I always thought about getting back to it, but the older I got the more impossible I thought it would be. However, two years ago, my sister talked me into going back. Now I can’t imagine living without it. I no longer care if my progress is slow, or if everyone else in the class is younger, quicker, and more flexible than me (and some of them aren’t). I’m doing this for my own physical and mental health, and the difference in both is amazing. I have no idea why I waited so long.

Paul Esche June 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I started playing tenor ukulele about three years ago. One of my good friends is a jazz musician and he recommended taking-up and instrument to counteract all the electrical energy I work around all day. I love it. I’ve found and befriended other players.

Joanna June 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Accepting what is. It’s so natural for me now, but it took conscious effort at first. I used to spend so much time wishing things were different. Looking back I can remember how much unnecessary pain and frustration this caused me. It’s so freeing once you finally accept that you can’t control others and can’t change the past. Because of this I am in a much better place now. So much so, I wouldn’t dream of changing a thing about my past. Funny how that works.

Jack June 17, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Portion control while eating. The 20th bite of something is only a fraction as good as the first — so stop after 10 or so and save the rest for another meal. Have one piece of toast with breakfast instead of two. Have two beers instead of five or six. I still eat anything I want, just less of it, and I’ve lost 20 pounds in three months. Let yourself walk away from the table a little hungry and you’ll appreciate your food all the more when you do have it.

David June 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm

> The 20th bite of something is only a fraction as good as the first

This is totally true and I guess it comes down to whether you can execute that “put down the fork” moment. A sticking point for me has always been that I don’t want awkward amounts of leftovers if I quit on a meal if I’ve made too much. But maybe that’s silly.

Bronwyn Mitchell June 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I recently started walking home from work. For a long time I had just said to myself that 5km was ‘too far’ to walk, and definitely a bus journey instead. But now I’ve realised that it’s quite nice to walk for an hour after sitting at a desk all day. I still catch the bus in the mornings so I’m not running late (and I don’t walk if the weather is bad or if I have something on after work in the evening), but in the last 6 weeks I’ve walked about 100km than I didn’t walk in the previous 6 weeks. Plus I’ve effectively halved my public transport costs. I love it when getting fitter saves me money rather than costs me money! I should have thought of this a long time ago.

The other thing I’ve done in the past year is delete the Facebook app from my phone. I still look at FB when I’m at home, but it’s no longer a habit to reach for my phone while I’m out somewhere and fill a 5-minute wait with a social media fix. I don’t check in to places, or take ‘selfie’ photos while I’m out doing something that, let’s face it, the rest of the world probably doesn’t need to know about. I don’t miss it at all. And now I reach for a book instead, or just watch the world go by and reflect on what’s happening around me.

Pp June 18, 2013 at 12:47 am

I’ve been in a job that I hated. Moved to a new job and I love what I’m doing. Been reading a lot (including this blog) and this has changed my outlook towards life. I was going through a bad phase in my relationship and have finally taken the first step towards improving it. All this has given me a positive outlook. It feel like I stepped out of my life and I’m watching it as a third person. Feels good!

Nelmasry June 18, 2013 at 1:03 am

Reading Raptitude.com ;)

David June 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Ha.. thanks. I will say that writing this blog has probably been my biggest breakthrough, and I can’t imagine what my life was like before it.

Omar Raede June 18, 2013 at 3:02 am

I’ve always been spiritually inclined but never made time for prayer or meditation. Now I pray every day, without fail. I feel lighter on my feet knowing I’ve got my spirituality in check.

I also eat much more conciously than I used to. No longer gobbling down snacks and fast food but picking and choosing what foods I actually need in my system. Along with this I’ve recently picked up cooking, makes eating that much more gratifying.

Beth June 18, 2013 at 3:18 am

David, I love to read your blogs – they are always thought-provoking and present a different way of thinking, much of it in tune with my values but there is an genuineness about you speaks to the humanity within all of us!

So many breakthroughs in learning and wisdom … I document them sometimes when I take a long view of myself.
Some of them:
Don’t let negative friends drag you down.
You’ll never be again as young as you are today, so don’t waste today!
Bitterness: I was so bitter and twisted after my divorce from a psychopathic husband who had destroyed 13 years of my life – and others, then I realised that I was allowing him to destroy even more by being so wrapped up in my bitterness. And I walked away from it and I realised I had become so strong within myself because of it.

Having an acid trip and discovering another rich spiritual world…

After feeling sorry for myself, overburdened and traumatised for years over bringing up my autistic son on my own, it suddenly dawned on me, because of him, how much I had grown as a person in so many different ways – emotionally, spiritually … How, while thinking I was doing such a great job, I had actually let him down so badly in some ways. I felt absolutely humbled with the awesome opportunity I’d been given to rise up to the occasion and to be able to GROW! How many of us get given that chance! I thanked God for that opportunity – and my son for putting up with me. And the strange thing was, the minute this enlightenment came to me, he changed and became so much easier – as if to say, “Mom, the penny has finally dropped, you’ve got the ‘lesson’”. My whole outlook on life changed – my priorities, thinking, and happiness became possible, but mostly I feel at rights with the world and serene. So perhaps, one shouldn’t question what’s given to you, only see how you can turn it to a positive.

Gunhild June 21, 2013 at 3:50 am

My heart lightened, reading this. Thank you.

X June 18, 2013 at 4:02 am

A nice person made me try mdma and it completely changed my life. I’m now more outgoing, love humanity more, carefully experiment with other substances that can help me explore my mind, go to lots of parties and have wonderful adventures.

jon baca June 21, 2013 at 12:50 am

just be careful. im a recovering addict, and i originally got into drugs for that instant spiritually connected feeling i got, but ultimately there is no real lasting truth in those states. they gave me a glimpse of that love and connection, but eventually led me to a very dark place which was essentially the exact opposite of that love. even happy, lovey dovey party drugs can turn on you, and can open the door to much worse. just remember, true lasting spirituality happens in total sobriety, and its never instant. you have to work for it.

Joe June 18, 2013 at 5:11 am

I’ve always considered myself too “busy” to do the things that will ultimately move me forward in my life. Two simple things I started that freed me up to get more done? Give up cable TV and get up at 5 AM every weekday. If the Me of ten years ago did that, I can’t even begin to imagine where I’d be now. But, I also like to imagine where I will be ten years from now because I made those two simple changes.

David June 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Isn’t that strange how it’s always the most beneficial activities that we decide we’re too busy for — exercise, creativity, meditation, early rising.

Andrej June 18, 2013 at 6:56 am

I started running a few weeks ago, my ankle pain has reduced a lot from a very old trauma, also table football. wish I would have started those a few years back. all I need to do now is to quit smoking so I could enjoy life a little more

Tammy R June 18, 2013 at 7:49 am

Instead of pulling the five pound weights out of the closet and a few weeks later putting them back in the closet after they’d collected sufficient dust, I actually bought a book about arm exercises only, read it in a few days, and started the program. A year later, my arms are looking so much better. My 41 year old arms look waaaaay better than my 25 year old arms! ;)

Caine June 18, 2013 at 9:21 am

That almost everything can be solved/made better by applying the concepts of simplicity and humility.

Jack D June 18, 2013 at 11:07 am

I am basically making myself talk to people more, and just generally trying to get out of my comfort zone any time I start to feel like I’m slacking.
Whenever I feel myself stopping in order to figure out stuff, I’m instead forcing myself to just go and do whatever, make a mistake, get hurt, but eventually emerge stronger.

Devin June 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Intermittent fasting. I been very conscious of my diet for several years, counting calories and tweaking my macronutritional ratios and stuff. For fun and performance. However, as I started minimizing and getting rid of gadgets (I miss you, iPhone!) it became a huge pain to track everything, so I switched to a 16/8 fast/feed plan.

It’s basically just skipping breakfast, but it has made a HUGE difference in my relationship with food. It’s no longer a big deal to skip a meal, I don’t have to constantly cart protein and meals places because I can just do without. Hunger is easily ignored and every day I get to feast on delicious meals until I’m fully satiated. I love it.

CB June 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Honoring my own feelings/needs/desires instead of ignoring them in favor of trying to make everyone else happy. This is definitely a slow (and somewhat painful) process, but I’m glad I’m no longer the pushover I was a couple years ago.

AP June 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I was itching for a new creative project, and after at least a year of pondering, I started writing a book. I also created a blog to support it, and aim to post once per week.

Scott June 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

This year my wife and I started planning our meals for the week and getting all the ingredients we need in one shopping trip. Having a grocery store a block away from us is a nice convenience, but we were wasting time and money by often shopping just before our dinners. We would buy things we didn’t need and we would often buy lazy fattening solutions like frozen pizzas and curry packets.

Leo June 18, 2013 at 11:50 pm

In the last year, I feel as if I began learning how to act without clinging to the outcome. Buddhism was a huge intellectual motivator for this, but actually, breaking up with a girlfriend was the emotional one.

It’s a HUGE change but I can’t explain it, yet! I feel a LOT more relaxed among groups when I used to have lots of social anxiety. I just ask girls out, and yeah, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s ok! I have a better approach for work. I feel happy and proud of the carefree attitude. It’s not recklessness (I still try to prepare for things in life), it’s non-clinging and it feels good.

Granted, there are still problems in my life. But this, I think, has been one of the most important changes of my life and it happened in roughly a year. Though most probably, as David argues, it’s the result of a longer change that has been brewing over the years.

I’m happy about it.

Kimberly June 19, 2013 at 5:59 am

One of teh biggest changes I made was saying No and not feeling bad or guilty about it. I have always been a very active person staying busy with sports, school, sorority activities, volunteering, etc. I am very dependable and reliable, which I think is why people would ask for my help. and just like with work, the more you do the more is asked of you. My motto for the Me of 2013 has been “Living Your Dream in 2013” and I have been much happier. After 6 1/2 years of marriage my divorce was finallized in May of this year. I venture out more and do things I want to do and things outside of my normal. Last year I bought a motorcycle and I love it. I didn’t care what anyone else had to say about it. I focus more on MY happiness instead of not wanting to disappoint others.

Zaire June 19, 2013 at 6:59 am

I did just one change in mindset. I saw that life doesn’t have a higher purpose. The only thing to do with it is to live it. Treasure everyone you love, treasure every experience and there is no time to waste sulking or complaining. As a result I am happier, more even tempered, and I live in the moment. The lightness I feel is tangible and contagious because I find people around me happier too.

annie June 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

I read this quote from Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This is what I should have known all along, and it led me to do what I should have been doing all along, which was to respond to a couple of health challenges I am facing by being more attentive to what I eat and to move more. I’d let things get out of control so I am still working to gain lost ground. After a month and a half, I feel better in every way and I am looking for my next area of focus to keep myself moving forward.

Mike June 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Inspired by your article, David, at https://www.raptitude.com/2011/03/what-i-discovered-when-i-went-vegan-for-30-days/ and taking advantage of two weeks when my meat-loving boyfriend was on holiday, I decided to switch to a vegan diet during the week. As you said in the article, David, I’m aware there’s more to veganism than diet, but I found the discipline of not eating animal products during the week has opened up a whole new enjoyment in cooking for me and, more importantly, has helped me get rid of a lot of excess weight I’d been carrying for many, many years (15 kg and counting). The need to think carefully about what I eat has also made me so much more aware of the need to feed oneself well. I feel lighter on my feet, happier physically and happier mentally — and raptitude.com got me there!

claire June 24, 2013 at 6:19 am

this is so great! well done. just take a dropperful of B12 liquid in the morning or make sure your milk is fortified. :) i’m saying this because when i first went vegan i didn’t know. now i do and it’s so easy! literally sorted in one-second per day. enjoy

The Kechi One June 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I started riding a bike every day to work about a year ago. It’s been one of the best decisions I ever made. I also signed up for runkeeper and gympact so I’m actually making money by biking to and from work. I’m healthy, have reduced stress, making money, and inspired to bike more and more.

Martine Stabij June 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I’ll try to explain in short how 2012 changed what had to change.
I fell in love with myself. Unexpected, like you bump into The One and it seems to be love at first sight!
From the moment of realisation, my change is upgoing curve while life-energy itself seems to rise and rise and rise.
It gives an inner freedom, self-awareness, happiness in its most pure way, insights, peace at heart and love for life itself.
It has a remarkable effect on my almost lost marriage, the people in my life and myself.
To deal with the severity of our losses during Europeans Economic and Financial crisis, -it is always in our subconsious, surpression and depression have no chance anymore.
I’ve learned to listen to my heart and that of others.

After reading the 2 books of Tijn Touber about enlightment, i realised i was just there. A logical point in my life, the sum of all and everything, with me in the middle, as centerpoint.

I needed all years, experiences, ways to go or to turn my back on.
First strong signal occured 2nd week of January 2012, like programmed every 2 months a new insight or situation had equaly part of my change. Now half way of 2013, ‘it is still happening’ for one or other reason. Secretly i had fear to trust on myself on the long term. I still don’t understand much of myself, or life as is and the continuous little miracles i may witness every day.
More trust and balance lays behind.


John June 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

David, keep it up with the guitar! I’ve played for eight or so years now and I’m so happy I’ve stuck with it. In terms of the new me that is happy of learning from past mistrials, I would say introducing myself to more people has become easier. I used to be terrified to make an introduction. I think the older we get, the more comfortable we become with talking to strangers and being friendly. I know this has been the case with myself.

Mário Marinato June 20, 2013 at 9:16 am

Here are my two cents:

1. I stopped trying to learn to play the piano by myself and started taking proper classes. I’m playing better than ever.

2. I stopped trying to guess what people were going to say and then interrupt them in the middle of their sentences. I’m listening more than ever.

The next step is trying to make meditating a daily necessity, just like sleeping and taking a shower.

Kate Elizabeth June 20, 2013 at 11:50 am

It’s such an interesting idea – we’re always changing, but sometimes the growth is so nominal we don’t pay attention to it.

Maybe this sounds obvious to other people, but changing the negative self-talk to something more positive has been really interesting for me. It takes work to remember to say something positive to yourself, but over time it becomes easier.

And then you get to a point where you’re soul searching, and to the usual question ‘Who am I’, your subconscious spits out a different answer.
Now I hear ‘You’re doing so well’ and I think, ‘Wow, thanks’.

Today, after a frustrating job interview I figured a whole lot of negative thoughts would flood my way, but a song just popped into my head. An Australian musician, Gotye ‘I Feel Better’ and I was grateful for those lyrics. It’s all in the programming!

Mira D June 21, 2013 at 5:04 am

I’m going to try this one!

Damir June 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Being positive and grateful.

Whenever I feel upset now, I list of things I am grateful for. These often vary, but each and every time I realize a notable improvement in my mood. Something sort of small positive development invariably follows. This has happened time and time again.

I no longer feel any negativity toward my situations, be they financial, spiritual, relational (Social, sexual, professional) or physical. I understand the POSITIVE in each and every sphere of influence that my existence is composed of. I see all of these things as small wells, or plates of colours, and I am able to use these waters or liquids to create a beautiful, timeless painting.

My place in the overall emotional spectrum has become all but replaced within myself, all through sheer willpower and the attainment of knowledge from gurus such as Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Rumi and David of Raptitude.

Jane June 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I have started to meditate for 15 minutes a day after seeing a video about making a change for a month and seeing how it goes – it has helped me benefit from meditation rather than just do it and wonder why I am bothering. I do it outside in the summer, which helps me avoid introspection and just listen to the birds singing.

I do the ‘gratitude diary’ out loud every evening and it makes me value my day and experience the good bits over again. And also over the past 2 years I have gained a lot of experience in garden design, by doing it, and I feel a lot less stressed when I take work on, more confident in the process of creating something from nothing.

Heath June 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Learn to speak Portuguese fluently. It’s the one accomplishment that I feel most proud of in my life. Whenever I have a serious case of self-doubt, I just fall back on the ol’ “I taught myself Portuguese to fluency”. It does wonders for my outlook!

Love myself for who I am. I often think back to the exact time I understood that people would like me even if I didn’t tightly control all of my reactions and responses. It was the most freeing realization of all time.

Learn to ride and own a motorcycle. The classes taught me the best ways to avoid danger. The scooter keeps my mid-range transportation costs mind blowingly low. For close stuff I walk or bike (like to work).

Live nearby where I work. I waste so much less of my precious time. It’s a kind of difficult change that increased my happiness a LOT.

Never watch TV with commercials (i.e. pay for my entertainment). They are mind numbing in the worst way and were training me to somehow ignore what I was paying attention to. Now I see a commercial and I’m usually disgusted and walk away. Yay netflix!

Stop reading and watching the news. It’s just too damn depressing or scary, with little to no impact on my day to day life. It’s such an emotional and time sink. Plus it paints such an inaccurate picture of the entire world. The really important ‘news’ I hear from the people around me.

Search inside to look at the roots of my emotions, and always keep that information in mind. Which directly leads to: Don’t take things out on people who don’t deserve it.

Don’t hold onto and stoke my anger. When I learned this, I stopped making myself a permanent victim, and I also freed up so much energy. It also made it possible for me to forgive.

Climb rocks. It makes me happy and healthy. Plus it helps a TON with my back problems.

Markus June 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Hi there!
I’ll place it as it is: your blog is a gold mine and I’m thoroughly happy and grateful everytime to have set my personal, little claim in here (even if it’s only by reading).
I have always been very curious and researching around my world, soon discovering its limits. But by reading your texts or introducing me for example to Emerson and Harding (I even bought Tolle’s first book which you’ve recommended lately) it showed that it wasn’t really “my world” with its limitations, it was “theirs”. I find that very consoling in darker moments. But also for my songwriting, it provides me with loads of material. So it is more than appropriate to geniunely and deeply say Thank you, David!
I’m (only) 19 but it wouldn’t have done any harm to have come across your blog a year or two ago :)

I don’t want to sound too tacky but I’d like to say that you restored my faith regards to quality and possibilites of the Internet!

Looking forward to my next gold rush,

Markus from Germany

David June 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Thank you everyone who has posted their little (or big) breakthroughs. I’m definitely going to do some experimenting here. I hope everyone here tries something that has been a breakthrough for someone else. If you do, don’t be afraid to come back to this post and let us know how it went.

There are definite themes here: eating smarter, tempering anger and blame, getting serious about creative pursuits, proper cucumber storage.

Sarah July 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Agreed – these comments are such a joy and an inspiration to read!

“proper cucumber storage” – LOL, saw that, brilliant.

jon baca June 21, 2013 at 12:22 am

never take anything personally!
this is one of don miguel ruiz’s Four Agreements, and it completely changed my life when I truly put it into practice. It is simple, but obviously extremely difficult to do. Its really a lesson in humility, because when we take things personally, are hurt or offended by another person’s actions, we are assuming that we were an integral factor in that persons decision; basically that the world revolves around us; and also that we have the power to understand whats going on in that persons head. Both of these are the result of delusions of grandeaur. If we take a step back the next time we are hurt, realize that we arent the most important person in the world, and that we couldnt ever possibly understand exactly where this person is coming from, and why they do what they do, we can avoid so much pain and frustration. We can approach the situation with more compassion, and relieve some of the pressure that comes from being the most important person in the world!

Don Mattrick June 21, 2013 at 6:24 am

I’ve learned (partially thanks to Raptitude) that attitude is the most important thing that anybody has any control over. The decision to pay more attention to my thoughts and attitudes, especially regarding my opinion of myself, has created an enormous benefit for me since Christmas, and it has helped me pull myself out of one of the most severely depressed periods of my life. Thanks to David and all of you whose inspiring and insightful thoughts have got me to where I am today.

Drew June 21, 2013 at 7:09 am

Meditating (almost) everyday and making sure to take stock of all of my ‘stuff’ every 6 months or so and getting rid of things that are not needed. These two things have combined to really free me from a lot of the clinging to the physical and mental items in my life.

Elin June 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Great post! I´ve gotten so much inspiration from reading all the comments.

Here´s a few changes I´ve adopted during the latest five years that has transformed my life to the better. (Not that I regret my past, but knowing how awesome my life is like today I would have done all of these transitions much sooner if I could go back in time).

*Adopted a vegan diet
*incorporated A LOT of raw foods and green juices
*Made exercise a habit
*Grown a kitchen garden
*Quit gluten and alcohol
*Ended toxic relationships in favor of new rewarding ones
*Given away almost all of my stuff in favor of a minimalist lifestyle
*Moved on from a dead end job to ensuing a career in something that I´m passionate about (gardening and ethnobotany.)
*Give away 10% of what I make to charity

I feel healthy, grateful and free.

Kate Elizabeth June 23, 2013 at 8:36 am

Wow Elin, they’re really impressive changes – you’re probably a whole new person, or just a happier version of yourself! I think to some people, those changes might look unrelated – but it’s amazing when you declutter your life and your priorities become abundantly clear. It’s like a domino effect of clarity!

claire June 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

this is awesome! aside from needing to quit gluten which (far as i can tell) i have no particular issue with, this list is like totally what i’m going for too! (you’re my hero, haha). yay you.

Drew June 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Great Post David! There are a few things I would definitely do different in the last few years, that I have just started in the last year. The first would be to step out of my comfort zone, the reason I’m commenting here to begin with! Embrace challenges, as opposed to avoiding them. One of the things I’m still working on, though getting better every day, is one I learned from this blog, about living in the moment. I used to dread going to any shopping place, grocery store, but after your article ‘How to walk across a parking lot’, I find it to be a nice ‘in the moment’ activity going in and coming out. This has also reduced my anxiety and stress while both shopping and trying to get a close spot, as now, I just park way out, and enjoy my stroll in. The blogs I’ve been reading have been a huge jumpstart to these and a few other good habits I’ve established. A couple include http://www.mrmoneymustache.com and jlcollinsnh.com They are the two best financial bloggers out there! I wish I would have discovered Raptitude a couple of years ago, as social challenges still prove the most difficult. On that note “The greater the challenge, the more glorious victory”

marian June 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Through reading Eckhart Tolle among others, I’ve begun to take things less personally. I always knew I should do this, but I didn’t know how. Just telling myself it wasn’t personal didn’t really help. Here’s what I’ve discovered that did:

1. I now think of everyone on a consciousness/pain spectrum. Very few people are truly evil (I don’t rule out the possibility that a few are, but I don’t know any of them). When they hurt others, most people are just acting out of their own pain and doing what they believe they need to do to protect themselves, or they’re just not conscious of the effects of their actions. It really has nothing to do with me. (And happily, it’s not necessarily a permanent condition for them, either–i.e., they’re not just hopeless assholes.) I might do what another reader here suggested and try to find their positive intention–what were they trying to accomplish for themselves?–to help me get a perspective on them that isn’t so rooted in how I personally feel about what they did.

2. I’ve also come to understand a lot about different personality types through my study of Parelli natural horsemanship. There are tons of different personality descriptions out there and I think we’re all kind of aware of that fact without really thinking about what it means in action. What it means is this: two people can behave in exactly the same way but be doing it for completely opposite reasons. An introvert might read someone barging into a conversation as rude because they would more likely stay outside it until asked to join, but an extrovert would see what introverts consider “barging in” as being friendly. Similarly, the extrovert might read the introvert as being snobby and aloof rather than as hesitant to interrupt. The point is to not make assumptions about other people’s intentions. We’re all different. Instead, why not get curious about other people’s drives and motivations and ask them about themselves?

3. When people say something in judgment of you, it is almost always really a judgment of themselves. So if they open their mouths to criticize you, you just file that away as a shortcoming that they believe they have and that they feel ashamed of. Similarly, if I find myself judging and reacting to someone else, I’m probably in reality mad at myself for something I’ve done or felt and I need to find a way to be at peace with my own shortcomings so that I can forgive those things in others. In both cases, these shortcomings can be great opportunities to understand and connect more with other people, rather than to judge and isolate, because it is our weaknesses and vulnerabilities that let us relate most to each other (this is why so much stand up comedy material has to do with embarrassing scenarios).

4. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, there wasn’t a day you missed at school when everyone else was given the answer to life and you weren’t. We tend to walk around thinking that, contrary to all evidence, other people are confident and know exactly what they’re doing, but we ourselves are clueless and incompetent. What I’ve discovered is that there aren’t “right” and “wrong” ways to live life or to do things; there are simply more and less effective ways, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. And it is an unavoidable part of being alive that we’re all doing what we can with the knowledge we have, and the only way to gain more knowledge is to experiment. When you experiment, you may not get the outcome you wanted, or you may not get it in an optimal way, but that doesn’t mean you failed. I used to be very sensitive to the criticisms and judgments of others because I thought they knew the “right” way and I didn’t, or that I was always failing at things when actually I was just always trying new things. Now if someone suggests I’m not doing something the right (i.e., their) way, I’m more likely to say, “Wow, that’s a great idea, and I want to try that too, but right now I’m just curious to see if doing it this way will work” rather than getting defensive when I feel that I’m being called stupid for doing something a different way from someone else.

5. It is not other people’s job to read my mind or to make me happy. If I really need something, it’s up to me to understand what that thing is and communicate it, but I also need to be prepared to do what I need to do for myself if the other person doesn’t or can’t at that time care about what I’m communicating. This sounds kind of selfish, but I’ve realized how much more generous I can be to other people when I take care of myself as my main priority because I’m not wasting energy judging others for not intuiting or caring about my needs. I also feel proactive and empowered by doing what I need to do for me, and that sense of empowerment then spills over into helping others.

6. This is a cliché, but there are a lot more people in the world. I may be very attached to someone specific, and I may think about how much it would hurt if they weren’t in my life, but the more I can remember that there are a lot of cool people in the world just waiting for me to meet them, the less I’m likely to put as much pressure on that one person, or interpret everything they do in terms of what it says about the health of our relationship. It’s useful in this context as well to remember that I am quite capable of being completely happy when left alone to pursue my own interests and passions–I don’t *need* someone else to share those things; it’s simply very nice when they do. This sort of goes with #5: I don’t need other people to make me happy. Truly believing that lets me interact with them in a much more genuine and caring way instead of being concerned about getting them to meet my needs.

Markus June 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Great, practical points you shared there with everyone!
I used to be concerned about setting my ego as top priority but as you explained it’s only a gain for not only yourself to proceed that way. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance shines through that observation.
What a unique community this site has generated!

marian June 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Thanks, Markus. I loved Emerson in college and have been meaning to re-read Self Reliance. So I’ll take that as a huge compliment and get on with my plan to re-read it. Cheers!

Sarah July 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm

# 5 = brilliant, true, and inspiring!

Ged June 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I have managed to curtail my porn/jerking off habit of 13 years by about 92% since late February. There, I’ve said it.

jolanda June 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Deactivating my facebook account 3 months ago. I missed the days when I didnt think of things I was experiencing as possible status updates. Bumping into friends is so much more fun now as a hear news straight from them without saying “oh yeah I read that”.

Brian June 25, 2013 at 6:25 am

Thanks David for you blog! I have never though about creating a list like this before but these are some new things I have done since I stopped working in an office job 3.5 years ago….(long list, sorry, it’s three years!)

Went to the amazon jungle an tried ayahuasca
Became a vegetarian (eating just fish)
Started a yoga class
Wrote a screenplay
Explored forests
Went on two silent retreats in the mountains in Spain
Planted and ate my own vegetables
Became a skilled photographer
Became a skilled video editor
Planted herbs
Planted nut and fruit trees
Camped in the woods
Qualified in permaculture design
Climbed huge oak/beech trees with ropes and harness
Rock climbed on sea cliffs
Managed to surf proficiently
Studied the mysteries
Meditated daily
Rented out my apartment
Chanted in a kirtan
Do volunteer work regularly
Qualified in Horticulture
Understand the beauty of nature
Daily yoga practice
Mountain-biked through forests
Swam naked in lakes at dawn
Swam with a wild dolphin
Fell asleep bedside a fire next to a lake
Picked wild flowers
Ate wild food
Met a spiritual master
Got spiritual healing outdoors in sacred places in Ireland
Went to a spiritual healing workshop
Got my palms read
Did some magic
Hugged people
Lived in cob house
Started a blog
Killed a blog
Set-up websites for others
Create/manage to do lists
Write down thoughts in notepad
Saved a dying hawk of the road
Went to a acrobat/circus class
Finished a 13 week course on Roiscruicianism
Planted a forest garden
Went to African dance classes
Painted an abstract painting which is on my wall
Wrote some poems
Now a full vegetarian (no fish)
Learned about sleep paralysis
Overcome my sleep paralysis
Awareness of synchronicities
Stopped watching TV programs
Rarely watch movies
Rarely drink alcohol
Stopped worrying so much
Catch myself worrying and stop it
Use affirmations
Daily gratitude list
Dream diary
Started and deactivated facebook
Slowly overcoming my shadows traits
Make a veggie smoothie every morning
Buy part of my food at a local market
Observe my rigid reactions/rigid intellectual opinions
Try to remove this rigidity
Qualified as yoga teacher and held classes
Swam over 1km in the sea
Better management my ankylosing spondylitis condition
Accept doctors have limited knowledge and are human
Stopped driving my car
Live on less money
Accept help, without resistance
Give help when asked, without resistance
Respect for people’s choices
Wish everyone the best
Try to love more

I still say no to so many things….mainly due to fear, a lack of spontaneity or excuses I come up with. This makes me guilty sometimes as I know that I should doing more…..working on not feeling the guilt!


chacha1 June 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Something I started last year that I should have been doing all along: taking my writing seriously. There was graduate school and all its writing, and then there was Lots of Life for twenty years and nothing got done.

I don’t feel bad about it, because the delay meant Create Space and Kindle publishing became available, and that meant the whole submission/rejection circus was not a factor.

I didn’t care about whether the things I wrote last year had a “real publisher.” I just wanted to publish them – and I did. A few people have even read them! :-)

Genevieve Hawkins June 26, 2013 at 12:49 am

I am in the process of making a visa for my Thai husband to come to America. This has been gut wrenching, and is still a work in progress. But in my stacks of paperwork from the US Embassy and the Thai Immigration, I have learned the following lessons:
1: Honesty gets me farther than mountains of documents built on a foundation of BS ever will.
2: Don’t be ashamed of your past. Both me and my husband have to be clean, financially, criminally, personally. Admitting to past errors in judgement on any and all of those and moving on gets me a lot farther than pretending they didn’t happen.
3: Trust and openess is the key in any relationship. Making this process so hard is its own legitimacy check.
4: One or two years of drama is not that much if you’re planning a lifetime together.
5: You can complain about it, or learn from it. A business associate of mine called me this morning. He’s trying to make a fiancee visa to come to America. I realized how much I have learned in the past year in talking to him. I could write a book about it at this point. Does anyone have visa questions? Ask me.
6: You learn by doing things. Not by watching them on television, by reading about them, or by passing them off to someone else. Make your life a grand adventure, a series of first hand experiences and moments. Accepts faults and setbacks as opportunities to grow. In the 15 years since I was an 18 year old college freshman, I feel like I have done nothing but evolved. It’s like I started in Ohio and walked to California, 2500 miles away, all in a series of steps. I might have went off the trail a few times, maybe even went a few miles backwards here and there. But it would be impossible for me to devolve into the person I was 15 years ago without going back through 2500 miles of steps backwards. For people who have played it safe their whole lives, I suspect that journey back to their starting point is much closer. But its still very hard. And Ohio has changed since they last lived there, making it impossible to actually go back to that past point. We are always growing.
Your recent post about not being self conscious was very timely to me. 1-2 years ago I was planning on moving to a foreign country (Thailand) and marrying my husband. I received a lot of negative feedback from my family, and sometimes intense objections. I did find (as one other person in the comments noted) that people were projecting their own hopes, dreams, and fears onto me. I had staunch support from those who “always wanted to do something like that” and opposition from those who “always played it safe.” In the end I found their comments had very little to do with me and everything to do with their perspective on the world. This fact has helped me greatly in moving past my worst fears of rejection.
Keep on writing David. It’s food for my soul.

Ingrid June 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Learning to recognize when my intuition about what is right for me , is right. Then just follow it, and quit discussing and making compensations which will eventually make me lose later anyway.

But most, just don’t be so hard on myself about pleasures. We all want to have fun, we all want to enjoy stuff, and we want to be liked and do things we enjoy doing. Makes my money now last longer, giving me more. Believe it or not.

Adriano July 8, 2013 at 9:46 am

Being honest the most I can. Avoiding even the whitest of the lies. this helps myself to be honest with myself, hence I can exercise facing reality all the time. I should have started earlier.

TravelBug-Susan July 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Writing a blog because I enjoy writing so much. It’s a good record of what we’ve been doing and feeling.

Walking and hiking 4-6 miles at least three times per week.

Miroslav August 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I tore myself out of the school-videogames-sleep routine which I acqired in my elementary and high school days, and which costed me about a decade of life. It was gradual, about three years, but I’ve grown semi-adult and least in the process. I became that way due to the “prisoner” mentality that I developed in school: “Just X more years memorizing useless crap and trying to maintain my sanity being locked in a sardine can full of bored, annoying teenagers every day, and then I’m free, off to the college shining in the distance, with rainbows, unicorns, useful learning material, and inhabited by people with IQ over 90, yay. I have no idea which college it should be, or what I want to do in life, but that’s okay, I’ll figure out once I get out of here. It surely must be the school causing all this, right? Hmm, I don’t have to be there righ now, so I’m spared of the torment for a while. Well, let’s slaughter some goblins and elves(I’ve never been much of a social or sports person, and I live in a far off area.) before crashing to bed. Yawn… X more years…”

Now, I’m filling my free time with studying. Mostly programming and math, I didn’t catch much of either in school, so now I have to make up for it. If I’ve only been doing this all those years. If I only took interest in something useful sooner, and started working on it. If I only found the willpower and a way to skip classes and get out of that hellhole ASAP, into a college-level program…

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Maja November 9, 2013 at 6:51 am

Dancing. Not ‘real’ dancing, or even good dancing, just moving around in a way that feels good when I’m alone in my kitchen and no one can see :)

A while ago I just couldn’t dance at all. I didn’t get it. I had taken dance classes when I was a kid and the teacher was horrible, so I ended up thinking of dancing as a sequence of movements to be memorized, that should look good to be good. I’ve gone to a lot of metal concerts and always enjoyed the mosh pits. I’m the type of person who think concerts should feel in the morning, or I’m not doing it to the fullest. SO when I stumbled on a folk metal band during a festival, I was a little surprised to see that people weren’t moshing, but actually dancing. And.. well, heck, I needed to move. So I did. And I finally got it. Dancing isn’t something to be memorized, but something that comes from within :)

I discovered just how stiff my body was that day, so when I came home I kept going at it in order to get a little more flexible. But eventually I just started doing it for fun. And it was a catalyst that triggered the insight that a LOT of things you do should just come from within, rather that taken from the outside and re-shaped in some way. That’s a huge difference for me.

David Cain November 10, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I finally got it too, just a year or two ago. I wrote about it here:


Darren November 19, 2013 at 6:00 am

I tried Kung-fu. Didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I’d hoped, but it gave me the confidence to try something else I’d been interested in (and wouldn’t have been able to try first): tap dance.

I don’t do tap dancing anymore either but I do do ballet, contemporary, and modern jazz now two nights a week. I’ve also met someone special through pursuing dance. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t gotten into Bruce Lee films and Kung Fu. Pretty cool.

Darren November 19, 2013 at 6:01 am

I tried Kung-fu. Didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I’d hoped, but it gave me the confidence to try something else I’d been interested in (and wouldn’t have been able to try first): tap dance.

I don’t do tap dancing anymore either but I do do ballet, contemporary, and modern jazz now two nights a week. I’ve also met someone special through pursuing dance. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t gotten into Bruce Lee films and Kung Fu. Pretty cool.

Nicole December 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Two and a half years ago, I was very judgemental of both myself and others, and the world at large. I saw myself as the moral authority of the world, in almost the same way as a religious fundamentalist but without the religion.

It was this that made me see the negative in everyone around me, friends and strangers alike. I made a big moral deal of it, mentally if not verbally, and it angered me. I ended up pushing away a lot of people away I had been close with.

When my ex broke up with me, I suddenly felt free to admit to myself that my critical and judgemental attitude was doing a great deal of harm both to my social life as well as to my mental and emotional well-being. I came to realize that my standards of behaviour were just as arbitrary as anybody else’s, and that they came from an emotional part of me that was struggling to find a place for myself in the world.

All the while, I had been judging others because I was resentful and jealous that they had strengths and traits I wasn’t born with. I felt badly about what I lacked, and underneath it all I began to blame others for having things that I didn’t, and made a moral issue out of it to feel better about myself.

When I realized that this was what had been happening all along, I suddenly understood why people judge and condemn one another. I realized what a negative impact this kind of judgment inevitably had, both on the judger and judgees. I realized this is a large part of what holds humanity back. And I was able to admit to myself the things that I actually wanted but didn’t have, instead of being in denial. And that has been the #1 biggest step yet towards truly knowing myself and what I want from life, and what I can contribute. I have been steadily improving since, in all aspects.

Thanks for yet another brilliant post, I have not yet read a post by you that didn’t seem like a realization of something I knew all along.

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