4 Simple Principles To Follow For A Golden Life Of Leisure

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woman with shaved head in professional dress

I recently turned 22 years old, and like most birthdays, it forced me to seek clarity about how I want to live life now and in the future.

As I thought, I realized how important it was for me to maximize my 20s and the significant impact they’ll have on the rest of my life. Failure to do so would be of serious detriment to my future.

So, I decided to develop certain principles that I’ll use to guide my decisions in this decade and beyond.

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Here are four simple principles to follow for a golden life of leisure:

1. Follow a different philosophy than just 'being the best'

In the name of success, being the best at something is often romanticized in our modern world. But that model of success and happiness only works for a few people at the top.

It breeds an endless web of comparison because no matter what you do, chances are someone will do it better than you.

What’s the solution? I found a liberating mindset shift on Zat Rana’s website.

As he writes, "I’m not competing with anyone else for a shiny object because I’d rather compete with myself. Freedom is mostly an inside job, and it’s about becoming so uniquely different that it would be an insult for me to measure myself against someone else."

I’ll be honest; this one paragraph has liberated me. It truly freed me from the endless comparison web we find ourselves in.

Now, I’m not trying to be the best at anything. I’m just trying to be different.

For instance, I’m not trying to be the best writer; I’m just trying to be a unique writer. While that’s also not very easy to do, it’s undoubtedly more liberating, and it breeds authenticity.

Hence, whatever you’re doing in life, don’t try to be the best. Aim to be really good, but that’s good enough. Then, try to channel your energy to become unique. Give the world what no one else will.

2. Try to be powerful, rather than forceful

For a lot of my life, I’ve been forceful and needy. I begged many girls to go out with me. I wanted people to like me. I never had more than a few dollars in my account, and whenever I had to spend money on something, I had to borrow from a friend. I was always in debt. I tried to buy clothes that made me fit in. I was rarely invited to parties.

I was not really important to anyone. I just existed.

As a result, I was desperate to prove myself to others.

Now I’m trying to be powerful. And I’m already a lot more powerful than I was. I’m not desperate for attention anymore, living a much more secure and confident life. And I’m not in a chronic state of debt anymore.

I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. I’m using this philosophy of being powerful, rather than forceful and needy, to guide my actions. For instance -

  • Previously, I only wanted to score just enough in my master’s entrance exam to get a decent field. Now, I’m studying hard to score so much higher. I want to have the option to apply for any college I want, knowing full well that I’ll be selected.
  • Earlier, I never had more than a few dollars in my account. Whenever some expense came up — like a trip with friends — I had a lot of moving money around to do. But now, I’m trying to earn and save enough money to suffice all my expenses for at least a year, even if I stop earning.
  • I’ve never had a career job. But when I do, I don’t want to be desperately haggling for my salary. I want to be so good at what I do that the employers want to give me the job, rather than me wanting their job.
  • I think I’m a decent writer. But I’m not an extraordinary writer yet. I still face a lot of rejections. But moving forward, I want to be good enough that prestigious publications approach me to write for them.

Achieving this is much easier said than done, but following this philosophy in mind helps me guide my actions better.

We’re all in a forceful and needy position in some walk of life, and hence, what we have to do is work a little harder, get better and move to a powerful position instead.

Because honestly, power is much more peaceful than force.

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3. Use mindfulness to hustle

This is a passion project I’ve been working on for the past few months. The idea is to work insanely hard but still feel like you’re not working at all.

I’m not much of a fan of the fast life. I know that working hard is important, but hustling all the time? Not really.

That said, I realized that life needs me to hustle for the next two years to ensure I get into the field and college I want and, at the same time, make significant gains in my writing journey.

To achieve this, I’m using mindfulness to hustle harder than I ever have, and my morning 7-step mindfulness routine has shown amazing results so far:

  • Contemplating impermanence: First, I ask myself if I’m suffering in any way that can prevent me from working, and assure myself that the suffering is impermanent. Then, I ask if there’s anything that can distract me from working on my goals today. The answer is always Netflix and junk food. Again, I contemplate the impermanence of those desires and promise myself that I’ll not let the short-lived pleasures distract me.
  • An attack of gratitude: Next I induce so much gratitude that I feel compelled to work. One quote I like to think about is, “If you’re in a place to choose your own wars, you’re already winning.” Many people in this world don’t even have food to eat. They have to fight an unchosen war of hunger. I don’t. Writing and studying are wars that I chose for myself. The fact that I get to choose my own wars, helps me work harder.
  • Empathetic motivation: Have you heard of the quote — “You’re the average of the five people around you.”? Reverse that. Your friends and family are also the averages of you to some degree. If you live a good life, you’ll inspire others to do the same.
  • Macro-visualization: I have three goals right now — studying, writing and fitness. Every morning, I imagine in detail my future self having achieved every goal I’m aiming for right now. This helps me get motivated to work for those goals.
  • Micro-visualization: Dreams don’t work unless you do. Whatever goals I have, they have to be translated down to day-to-day habits. Hence, after macro-visualization, I do a mental rehearsal of my ideal day with the right habits. This helps me stick to my planned routine.
  • Contemplating death: I could die today. Hence, I need to start living now. I think about this quote every morning — "Someone once told me the definition of H***: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become." This motivates me to get to work.
  • Meditation: I end the routine with some deep breathing with my breath as my anchor. This helps clear up my mind a little so that I can get to work with a mind at peace.

I do these steps every morning, and they’ve changed my life. I hope they will help you as well.

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4. Have 90% indifference about most things 

All of us have a lot of goals. I want to be a neurologist, a great writer, be fit enough to practice calisthenics, be good at playing my ukulele, learn how to play the guitar, learn Spanish… the list goes on.

And my goals kept pulling my mind here and there. One day I was worried about how I’m not getting time to practice Spanish. Another day, I’m worried about how my diet has gone to h***.

But luckily, I happened upon Warren-Buffet’s 2-list strategy. It goes like this:

  • You think about the top 25 goals you have in life.
  • Then you think of the top 5 out of them.

The top 5 form list 'A'. And the next 20 form list 'B'. A normal person would think that list 'A' is a top priority, and list 'B' is a close second. But Buffet doesn’t.

Buffet says that the goals on your list 'B' should not be your second priority. Instead, you should stay the heck away from them because they’re a threat to the goals that really matter to you.

Right now, I only care about studying, writing, and fitness. Earlier, I used to worry about my other goals. But now, I don’t care if my Ukulele skills go to h*** and my Spanish gets back to A1.

Due to this, I’m more focused than ever, and it’s changing my life.

And I’m extending this philosophy to everything I can. I’ve realized that we have limited mental energy, and we should only use it for stuff of the utmost priority. Hence, I’m practicing indifference on steroids.

For instance, I don’t care much about being the most fashionable person ever. Even then, shopping and choosing clothes to wear every day drained too much energy. Hence, I’ve decided to buy multiple t-shirts in the same color and remove those decisions from my life.

You have limited mental energy. Use it to focus on the things that truly matter to you. Forget about everything else.

These are the principles I’m using to make every decision:

  • I’m trying to be unique instead of being the best. Dropping out from the rat race feels liberating.
  • I’m trying to achieve a powerful position in life rather than a forceful and needy position. The goal is to be so good that you attract your goals instead of begging for them.
  • I’m using mindfulness to work harder than ever. The idea is to work very hard and still feel very much at peace.
  • I’m practicing indifference on steroids to only care about stuff that truly matters.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.