“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”- Søren Kierkegaard
Thats one of my favorite quotes ever^ Kierkegaard explains it by having us imagine a man standing on ledge of an extremely tall building. The man looks over the edge and feels fear. Part of this fear is the natural fear of falling we all get in high places. Fine. The other part of the fear though, is the fact that at any moment the man could throw himself off the building. He has absolute freedom to do whatever he wants at any given second, and at this second, one of those options is to just jump. That’s enough to make anyone anxious.
I don’t like this example for its rather grim nature. I like this example because I think it shows how powerful Kierkegaard’s message is. I bring this up because I have been pondering this quote a lot lately. One of the strange things about graduating is that you are no longer on a relatively straightforward journey. Life is no longer a safe path that can always be returned to if one gets tired off trailblazing. Things don’t start and end on schedule. Everything is unpredictable. At any time, you have an infinite number of decisions that can take you in an infinite number of directions. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
I realized that a large part of this anxiety was that I didn’t have a strong framework for deciding what road to take. I mean yes.. I went to Sunday school, I have some goals that can be worked towards, society obviously endorses certain things, and some general concepts of what I should be doing.. but I definitely didn’t have anything comprehensive, and that meant I would be overly influenced by my surroundings and day to day choices. Fine in the short term, but much too risky in the long run.
So… I decided to make my own philosophy to follow. A framework I could constantly revert back to, and course-correct against when necessary. I never meant to share this, but thought maybe the collective wisdom of the internets might help me improve my framework. Or at the very least, tell me which of my ideas are stupid… This is an early draft, I have a lot of refining, grouping, editing, simplifying, etc to do.
Note: Some of these are Kyle originals, some are based on things I have heard from others, and some are blatantly ripped from people I respect or trust.
In no particular order:
Life Rules Draft 1
Don’t choose between idealism and realism: Being realistic is simply figuring out the optimal way to move towards an ideal.
Never break more than one law at a time:
Be suspicious of beliefs in yourself and others that map to self-interest: Humans are masters at post hoc rationalization. Try and remove yourself from the situation.
Everyone is the main character in their own story: They have families, tragedies, pain, dreams, thoughts. Assume their story is a harder one to survive than than yours.
Know how little you (and everyone else) knows: The world is full of complex, fascinating things that almost nobody really understands. Embrace that.
Take care of yourself: Brush your teeth, eat some healthy food, exercise, rest (almost) every single day.
You can always leave: Nobody is stopping you from walking out the door. Reinvention can be a good thing. Nobody was meant to do one thing. The average person has 14 careers.
Eat more blueberries: Tasty and healthy is not too common.
Remember how much is out there: Even when it consumes you, your own reality is a microcosm of the greater world.
Avoid binary absolutes: Saying you are purely pro-life or pro-choice is absurd. Same goes with economic philosophy, self-defense, and pretty much every other massively contentious issue.
You can’t win them all, but you can definitely lose them all: try and steal a couple W’s
Collect experiences… not things:
Experiences: The more you do the more you know about yourself. My guess would be the average person has done 1% of the things they realistically can do given their life. When in doubt try and bump that number up. That said, don’t forget to keep doing the things you enjoy.
Not Things: Buying something nice might give you a short term neurochemical boost… Experiences create expectations, actual experiences, and memories which sustain high levels of happiness over time.
If you do buy things, be cautious: Cautious of brands, cautious of quality, cautious of whether this is something you really need or something your current environment is telling you need.
Embrace change: The scope of human knowledge has progressed a lot in the last few thousand years. Most of the foundational belief texts/systems of our world (religious, philosophical, political, etc) were created by people who know significantly less than we know now. Don’t disregard the wisdom they might hold, but recognize that very little is timeless, and above doubt.
Spend time with your close friends: They are hard to find and harder to keep.
Bullshit is obvious: Don’t sell yourself as something you’re not.
Be good on balance: Nobody is living a life without negative impact. The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the computer you are reading this on.. they all have enormous negative consequences on the world. Try and minimize your negative impact but focus on maximizing your positive impact.
Nobody chooses the situation they were born into: 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day. If you were born into more than this, then that is almost 100% by random chance.
Nationalism has done a lot more harm than good: People are people. Love your country, but don’t use love of your country to bring down others.
A changed mind is better than a stubborn one:
Contribute time and money often: If you can’t at some points, give extra when you can. Research who/what you are helping
and.. that’s it. I want to get it down to 10 eventually. Stay tuned. Don’t judge plz thnx.
Anyways… Life updates. Where have I been? Good question internet. Answer is.. I have been physically unable to type after work. For the last month I have been having awful hand pain that is either a back/neck issue, or something carpal-tunnel-esque in my hand. Not ideal since I type things all day errr day. But regardless.. I owe you some posts. Fair.
I also have some pretty crazy news that will be shared in an upcoming post. Hint: Page URL is about to make a lot more sense again 😉