Stuff I would tell my younger self

Feb 28, 2024@anthonynsimon

I've picked up these ideas from personal experiences, reading, and conversations along the way. They're not necessarily my own ideas, but they've helped me, and I hope they can help you too.

Beware the happiness trap

The biggest pains a person can experience are not physical.

Calm is the default state of mind, everything we do pulls us towards happiness or pain. So we end up in a cycle of seeking happiness, and avoiding pain.

Instead, aim for calm. Recognize when you experience other emotions. But try not to chase after them.

Value authenticity over niceness

I grew up in a culture where people say one thing, but mean something else. They're nice, but it's not always genuine. You have to read between the lines to understand what they're really saying.

For the past decade, I've been living in a culture where people can be brutally direct (at least to my ears). They're not always nice, but you know exactly where you stand. I've come to appreciate that.

The thing is, people's bullshit radars are actually pretty good. They can tell what you're really thinking, even if you're not saying it. So then, why not just say what you actually mean?

I'd say be authentic - make sure what you think, what you say, and what you do are aligned - but don't confuse that with a free pass to be an asshole. You can be truthful and kind at the same time.

It's not your job to make other people happy

You can't make other people happy:

  • It's not your job
  • It's not your responsibility
  • It's not your fault they're unhappy

Instead, take care of yourself, and help others take care of themselves.

Sometimes, that means being there for them. Sometimes, it means giving them space. Sometimes, it means setting your own boundaries.

Don't feed the monster

What happens when you feed a monster? It grows:

  • Your tribal mind will want to reduce things to an "us" vs "them" narrative
  • You will look for reasons to justify your anger
  • You will want to appear right, even when you're not

Recognize when you're doing stuff like that. Stop feeding the monster.

This is fine

  • It's okay to change your mind
  • It's okay to not know
  • It's okay to be wrong
  • It's okay to ask for help
  • It's okay to not fit in

One day, you'll look back and realize that you wasted a lot of time and energy protecting your ego, or trying to fit in with people you don't really like.

Don't sit on the sidelines

Generally, be quick to action, and course-correct as you go. Most decisions can be undone.

Sitting on the sidelines is a surefire way to miss out on opportunities.

  • You'll never have all the information you need
  • You'll never be 100% ready
  • You'll never know how things will turn out

Do what you need to do. Sleep on it for 2 weeks and flesh out your thoughts, or ask a friend for advice.

But don't just wait around for a clear path to appear in front of you - it's not coming. Not making a decision is a decision in itself too, and it usually leads to the worst outcome.

It's either a hell yes, or a no

For the big things in life, if you're not excited about something, it's a no.

There's not enough time to do everything, you have to be selective.

And by saying no to things you're not excited about, you'll have more time to do the things you're excited about.

Time is the most valuable asset you'll ever own

You can always make more money, but you can't make more time.

The less time you have left, the more valuable it becomes.

Don't spend it on things you don't care about, or people who don't care about you.

Money and status are a terrible compass

If you only do things for money and status, you'll never be content with what you have.

  • Someone else is doing better? "I'm a failure".
  • Someone else has more? "I don't have enough".
  • High inflation? "I'm losing self-worth every day".
  • Stock market crash? "I'm never going to recover from this".

What you're most afraid of losing is what controls you. Don't get caught in that trap.

Play to stay in the game, not to get out of it

I don't know who first coined the term "infinite games", but here's the idea:

When you show up to:

  • Keep learning
  • Keep creating
  • Keep being healthy
  • Stay friends
  • Stay married
  • Stay in business

The reward is doing it again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that too.

These are the best games to play.

You're not playing to win, you're playing to stay in the game.


Alright, that's what I got so far. Hope you found something useful in there.

Feb 28, 2024·@anthonynsimon