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Ten principles I wish I would live by

This post is going to be different.

More vulnerable.

I have a positive self-image.

But I do have many shortcomings. Without further ado, here are ten principles I wish I would live by—but don't.


    1. No white lies

    This is a tough one.

    White lies save face.

    I am not good with deadlines. And when I mess up, I often resort to a white lie.

    For example, the other day I broke my MacBook. One of those weird, low-probability accidents.

    I was also late on a task.

    So, what did I do?

    I blamed my being late on the task on me breaking my MacBook.

    A convenient scapegoat.

    Even though my files are backed up in the cloud and I could have finished the task in time regardless.

    I wanted to save face.

    The true reason I was late was procrastination.

    But I was too ashamed of the truth. And lied.

    2. Meditate daily

    I love meditation.

    I truly do.

    But I don't meditate daily.

    Even though, deep down, I want to.

    And even though I know this gives me joy and calm.

    Why not?


    Emotions are like ripples on a lake. Or like waves on the sea.

    When a boat is navigating a storm it's all hands on deck.

    The mind is so busy processing that it doesn't want to be calm.

    There are emotions to process! Thoughts to think! Feelings to feel!

    And meditation doesn't happen.

    3. Embrace veganism

    I am not vegan.

    I blame cheese.

    More specifically, I blame casein, the chemical that makes cheese so addictive.

    Veganism is morally the right choice. No matter if you care about people, animals, or the environment—or all of those.

    I was briefly vegan. Then I regressed to vegetarianism.

    It gets worse.

    Only recently I discovered that not all cheeses are even vegetarian!

    Some cheeses such as gorgonzola and parmesan cheese contain animal rennet.

    Animal rennet is made from the stomach lining of the slaughtered calf.

    In retrospect, I wasn't even strictly vegetarian all that time!

    4. Wear a mask in public

    I like to think that I am independent of others. That I make my own decisions.

    But peer pressure does influence me.

    It doesn't help that I'm living in a country where 99% never wear masks.

    I do normally wear a mask. And a good mask at that.

    But there are moments when I let my defenses slip.

    Like last night. When my mind was occupied with the tragicomedy of affection.

    I didn't want to draw attention to myself. I was fed up with this stupid virus.

    And I didn't wear my mask.

    5. Exercise regularly

    Exercise is unnatural.

    Even the word “exercise” reeks of artificiality.

    But that doesn't mean exercise isn't beneficial.

    My productivity increases after I exercise. I feel more alive.

    And yet I manage to avoid it.

    6. Schedule social media time

    Social media preys on our weaknesses.

    The notifications are like a little slot machine.

    Cha-ching! More than one hundred people liked your post.

    Cha-ching! <Someone famous> is now following you.

    Cha-ching! <People> and <more people> replied to you.

    Isn't it creepy that a few companies have managed to put little slot machines in each of our pockets—and are earning billions?

    I believe the antidote is scheduling.

    No notifications except for those in our inner circle.

    And scheduling time for everything else.

    Well, that is what I believe. I am addicted like the rest of us.

    7. Timebox rigorously

    Neha Kirpalini, writing for the Harvard Business Review, mentions timeboxing as her number one productivity tool.

    I tried it. It's awesome. It gives you energy to get work done.

    Timeboxing gives a meaningful purpose to chopped up pieces of time. Time that could otherwise have gotten lost in the blur of life.

    It also requires discipline. To think wisely about how to schedule tasks. And then to stick to the schedule.

    8. Learn how to dance

    Ha! I bet you didn't expect that one.

    I don't particularly like going out. Tried for a while. Clubs. Raves. Then had enough.

    But knowing how to dance is not just useful in the club.

    When we dance, we are in our body.

    Our full body, not just the head.

    It's a great way to gain more "body wisdom".

    Especially for nerds like myself, who tend to think too much.

    Besides, dance classes can be a great place to meet new people!

    9. Volunteer

    I have volunteered in the past.

    It's great. You directly contribute towards a better world.

    You meet people with a good heart and a healthy outlook on life.

    Yet it's all too easy to get too busy to have spare time.

    Like everything else, volunteering needs to be prioritized.

    Otherwise, spare time will start to live a life of its own.

    10. Give reliable advice

    I have noticed something about myself.

    I do not always give great advice.

    Of course I do my best when people ask me for advice.

    But here is the recurring problem: I get too influenced by the specifics of that moment to see the bigger picture.

    It's like the metaphor of the hand. If the hand is too close to our eyes, we cannot see it properly. But if we hold our hand at a little distance, we can easily observe it.

    What I need to do when people ask me advice is to zoom out. Think about it first from a few different angles. Maybe write a 10-point list about an abstracted version of the dilemma. And only then carefully and compassionately give advice.

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