Rules for Living

In life, uncertain times and adversity are sure to find you. But in adversity, there is opportunity. Great thinkers throughout history have shown us the power of adversity and how it can make us better humans.

“Misfortune is virtue’s opportunity.” – Seneca

In order to overcome misfortune, it helps to have rules to live by. Think of it as a philosophy of life. Better yet, ask yourself what do you believe? Do my actions align with my beliefs?

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work – as a human being…I’m going to do what I was born for…Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’” – Marcus Aurelius

Starting any day right begins with owning the morning. Can you do what you intend to do? Are you exerting your force on the world or are you a passive bystander living your life away with no purpose? Do you make excuses or do you make things happen?

This does not mean you are unable to relax. Think how refreshed a lazy, sunny day makes you feel. A simple walk or run outdoors does wonders for the body, mind, and spirit. Humans knew this even thousands of years ago.

“We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed.” – Seneca

Too often we worry about things outside of our control. It is our responsibility to prioritize our own life. Take control any way that you can. To be in control, you must be present.

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control…” – Epictetus

Our brains are our most powerful weapon. But they can be our own worst enemy.

Stoics, philosophers and men of action know how to stay in the fight mentally. Don’t allow yourself to suffer from troubles that have not yet happened.

“We suffer more from imagination than from reality.” – Seneca

Theordore Roosevelt embodied a can-do attitude. He knew the value of the struggle.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The struggle is where the most growth occurs. It is where you learn what you are made of. If you live your life avoiding struggles, you will avoid living life.

What is your one thing? Just try to do one thing every day. Make progress. Start. Do anything you can.

“Each day, acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes, as well.” – Seneca

The idea of getting a little bit better each day is not as common as you would think. Try it for two weeks. Make yourself better than you were yesterday. Then keep going- forever.

These rules of living are not simply ancient aphorisms. They are present in today’s modern world. Famed investor Charlie Munger called them mental models. He even had rules around the idea of inversion, ie NOT doing certain things.

To Munger decision-making was not about making brilliant decisions, but avoiding terrible ones.

Rules can apply to all aspects of your life. Rules of the household. Rules for a better evening routine. Rules for budgeting your monthly expenses. Rules for creating a development budget. Rules for managing a construction project.

Simply put, rules for living will help you lead a better life.

Think about what rules you want to write down. While they may sound great on paper, consider the rules that you actually live by.

Here is a short list that you can adapt to be your own.

Start the day strong. Own the morning.

Get outside. Be active. Don’t be afraid to sweat.

Focus on areas within your control. Forget the rest.

Mindset matters. Stay in the fight mentally.

Prioritize. Pick one thing. Get better each day.

Have a not-to-do list.

Keep it simple.

In the end, you can make a list as short or as long as you want.

The key is to live it. Focus on the soft skills needed to survive hard challenges.

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