What I learned in 2020

Now that 2020 ends, it’s time to take inventory: How was the year? What did I learn? What worked? What didn’t? (I recommend you do the same, as cliche as these questions sound. It’s a good exercise).

For most of us, this year was NOT GREAT. For some who lost their job or loved ones it was really shitty, no doubt. For some it wasn’t so bad, actually. Friends of mine gave birth to their first kid, they bought a house, and others got engaged, and they were almost embarassed to admit that their year was good.

In any case, let’s start with what did NOT make my life better:

I’ve talked about this already, but for me, consuming more information doesn’t help me much. It’s entertainment, that’s it. Self-help books and articles are remarkably ineffective in making my life better. It’s nice that Chad Rich gets up at 4 in the morning to work out, but I can’t do that because I’m a night owl genetically. And I don’t have a home gym. And it’s not his morning routine that made him rich, typically (it has more to do with his parents buying him into Harvard and the “small loan” of a few million dollars he got from his dad. Plus he’s an optimist and intelligent, both are largely genetic). People are different, and those stories are mostly BS if you discount the oversimplification and survivorship bias. And I don’t get much out of those slow-talking spiritual gurus either who give these long-winded lectures about consciousness and living a simple life, while they probably secretly live like Osho or this Yoga guy

Ok, enough ranting: Here are things that I believe REALLY work for happiness and peace of mind, which I’m still struggling with:

1.) Self-awareness: Become better at knowing yourself (here’s one example where I’m an outlier: sitting through Family Christmas dinners showed me again how much I detest those, and that time spent alone for me is just more enjoyable than “social time”), and listening to what goes on inside of you (sometimes my brain is just pissed off and very irritable. It tries to trick me into thinking my partner or something in my life is wrong, but it’s just brain chemicals and neglecting myself, like eating shitty foods and not working out).

2.) You’ll do better with a routine: Covid has shown many of us that once our routines break down, like having a steady job or a place to work out, it’s not great for our mental health. I wish it wasn’t like this, but maybe we humans aren’t designed to be completely free in our daily choices. Freedom is overwhelming. Maybe we need constraints.

3.) Try to find ways to stick to habits that are objectively good for you. Doing it alone can work, but social pressure and accountability typically work better. I imagine (maybe wrongly so) that a few people enjoy reading these newsletters and expect them to be in their inbox every Sunday, so I write them every week. Maybe get a dog to make you leave the house. Or find an accountability partner who joins you in a Zoom call and work together.

4.) Feeling like your life is on an upward trajectory. If you played an RPG where your character gets weaker the more you play, you wouldn’t enjoy it.
We need to feel like we’re improving, like we’re moving in a good direction. Learning new things, acquiring new skills, getting stronger – if you have a career and hobbies where you get this feeling, you’ll be better off. I basically try to hook future me up so life can be a bit easier rather than a constant slog.

But I’ll be honest with you: It’s not always easy, because:

a.) It’s tough for people who just have bad luck – it’ll be twice as hard to get back on your feet. If you lost your business due to Covid and your partner left you, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s hard for folks who have the tendency to be cynical and pessimistic in general (like myself – I don’t ever acknowledge if something went well and I’m doing a good job at something).

b.) Everything worthwhile in life is really hard to get. Everything takes muuuch longer than expected.

Maybe we have to see this fact as part of the challenge: How bad do you REALLY want it? There are no cheatcodes to get there quickly. Have patience and humility. Don’t give up where others throw in the towel.

I guess I’ll leave it at that, else this’ll become too long again.
What did YOU learn this year? Feel free to drop me a message by replying.

Also, I’m grateful that you’re reading this, I enjoyed sharing my thoughts and recommendations with you. So, THANK YOU! Have a good New Years, and may your 2021 be a GREAT year (why not dream big:)

I expect 2021 to kick my ass, just like 2020 did. And I’ll continue fighting.
And I know you will, too!

😴 What might help you find calm

Intentional ASMR Picks:

Unintentional ASMR Picks: