With the year coming to an end and my book practically finished, I feel that it is a time for a renewal. Now that I’m not binded with obligation towards my book, I will focus more on myself to reclaim my life. I will just live instead of living to do other things.
This year taught me just how short life is and how quickly time will pass by. And while I had been working and writing, I noticed how miserable I felt and how I squandered whatever free time I had on things that aren’t important. Now, I have a better understanding of what is really important and what only seems important. Some people have to experience trauma or terminal illness to realize this, so I’m glad my eyes are open now without having to go through those misfortunes.
Without further ado, here are lessons I’ve learned and things I plan to do to reclaim my life. And although I write this based on my own circumstances, I’m sure you’ll find some wisdom that you can apply to your own life as well.
1. Connect with people
There are many people who like to promote individualism as freedom, but my experience has taught me that life means nothing when you have no one to share with.
As a somewhat extreme introvert, I’ve always kept my distance from other “stupid” people since I was a child. I always preferred doing things on my own and learning things by myself to wasting time interacting with people who didn’t enrich my cherished intelligence. This arrogant attitude continued for a long time until I realized just how dissatisfied I felt without being able to connect with other people. I realized this fact more this year through day after day of working in front my laptop by myself. I hated it. There were nice people around me, but I barely had the time or even bothered to get to know them better.
But no more. There’s nothing to be proud about being a secluded, hard worker. I will prioritize my social life for next year.
2. Get off the Internet and the media
In spite of constantly telling myself and others how busy I was all the time, I still managed to spend couple of hours or more everyday on the Internet, browsing aimlessly and getting involved in things I didn’t need to. I followed the hype around the US election, but what did I get in return? Isn’t all the political drama just that: a drama? And how did any of what I read online help me in any way? I also decided to join Twitter as an experiment after much hesitation. There were times I enjoyed it, but again, what did I gain?
For next year, the time I spend on the Internet will be significantly reduced and I plan to be more strategic about my usage. The Internet makes me sick and it drains my life.
3. Accumulation of knowledge
Ah, but isn’t it important to read for self-improvement? I myself have always thought reading for knowledge was one of the best use of time that everyone should be engage in. After high school made me hate books, it took me couple of years into university for me to enjoy reading again. Don’t get me wrong, I love books and I have many on my backlog that I want to get to, but I’ve recently come to view reading differently. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already enough. Regardless, the realization I’ve come to is: it’s more important to do things than to read about things.
Really, how many fucking self-improvement books do you need? After you read a few, you realize they all say the same thing. Besides, most people just read them to reassure themselves that they’re on their way to improving their lives. They rarely do anything with whatever little knowledge they’ve absorbed. I loved reading history books since I was a boy, but what does reading more going to do for me? The ones I’ve already in the past several years weren’t exactly life-changing. The same goes for fiction (which I’ve practically stopped reading) and philosophy. I’ve gotten sick of gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I am alive and I long to do things. Ten hours of real-life experience matters more than reading ten books.
From now on, I will be very selective about what I read. And for every hour I spend reading, I will spend at least five hours doing things, trying things out, and making things happen. Fuck knowledge; action is all that matters.
4. Spend more time in nature
The simple truth of human nature is that we weren’t designed to live in cities. The concrete, the noise, the pollution, the faceless crowd of people, the busyness of it all, it’s dehumanizing and unnatural. It’s no wonder that populated urban centres are where unhealthy and unhappy people are concentrated, where criminals, deviants, and degenerates thrive, where people are constantly anxious, stressed, and depressed.
While other people dream of travelling to different cities, I would like to spend more time in nature where we belong. Away from electronics, away from the artificial world, away from the giant cage called “civilization.”
This was also a year where I realized how weak I am. I lack discipline, I give up too easily, I waver and crumble with pressure, I let the past haunt me, I lack self-control, I allow my emotions to get the best of me, and so on. If you don’t have mastery over your own life, what do you have really? You’re not free until you master yourself, you’re not a man until you have self-discipline, you’re not ready to live if you have no power over your own mind and body. If you’re serious about self-improvement, forget all the garbage about making money, getting girls, etc. Focus on mastering yourself.
6. Stop chasing things
This is hard to describe, but you must realize that all the chasing you do in life is futile. I’m always chasing things that I believe will make me happy and better, but I’ve only recently realized the insanity of it all. Money, sex, status, love, security, revenge, knowledge, satisfaction, peace, and so on are all things that people chase. And when you’re chasing, you’re not living. But to stop chasing doesn’t mean that you do nothing and give up on everything. This is why this concept is so tricky. If I were to simplify it, I would say that it’s a matter of your attitude. You have to accept where you are now and be content with what you already have and go from there. You should be expanding your life rather than trying to fill it. Life shouldn’t feel like a race, but an adventure. Or as others put it: life is a journey, not a destination.
So there, those are some general ideas that have off of my head. I’m sure I missed many details and other points, but I think these core ideas should be enough for others to glean from. I’ve had a rough life thus far and I would like to apply the above principles just to experience some peace and normalcy. Because really, what’s the point of life if you’re only going to suffer?