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Better Living

44 One-Line Reminders to Maximize Life after 44 Years


On my birthday this past year, my 4-year-old ran into our bathroom while I was brushing my teeth and announced — “Papa, we have a head for thinking!” 

And with a proud look on his face, he then turned around and scurried back to the sofa to watch Po and Tigress kick ass in Kung Fu Panda.

With my kid’s inspiration, I had every intention of sitting down that day to knock out 44 other quick truths I’ve learned about how to maximize life.

But halfway through, I reminded myself I was taking a break from the internet for a reason and opted to jot down some initial notes by hand before whooping up on my kids in soccer and eating pizza. So here it is — the rest of a half-completed draft I no longer want to see with dust on it. 

  1. Staying calm when things go wrong is a seriously attractive quality.
  2. Treat the doorman with the same level of respect as the frontman
  3. Never play poker with anyone who’s named after a city — Detroit Dan will clean you out.
  4. Be curious, not judgemental (Thanks Walt Witman…and Ted Lasso).
  5. We have a life, not a career — prioritize “life-work” balance, not “work-life” balance.
  6. You don’t burn out from working too much, you burn out from worrying too much (Thanks JB).
  7. The most valuable people take the time to understand what other people value.
  8. Optimize your days for learning, not outcomes.
  9. Say yes until you figure out what you want to do with your life and then get good at saying no.
  10. The best way to write your own story is to ask other people about theirs.
  11. There isn’t a lack of beauty in the world, just a lack of people looking for it — searching for the good in front of you is a choice (thanks LA).
  12. Like relationships, the importance of play increases with age.
  13. Our time isn’t the greatest gift we can give to someone, our presence is.
  14. The words we read become the world we see — choose the words you have in your life with care. 
  15. Accept Jim Rohn’s words “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” as fact — environment affects behavior.
  16. If you aren’t doing what you can to bring the overlooked into the spotlight, you’re missing the point.
  17. Imagining it’s the last time you’ll get a chance to do something is the best way to do something you don’t want to do — either that or having a “Hate Day.” 
  18. Sometimes the best way to find yourself is by choosing to get lost.
  19. Keeping a list of what other people are doing and proactively helping when you can is a cheat code for a good life.
  20. If you want to change the world, care deeply for the person in front of you.
  21. The fastest way to get what you want is by getting to know people who already have it. 
  22. Choosing to collect blisters over chasing bliss has a funny way of helping you find your smile. 
  23. When it comes to your art, you don’t have to listen to anyone.
  24. You get to pick the soundtrack to your life — get clear on the type of noise you want in your life.
  25. Good things happen when we listen to people with the same level of intensity as most people look at their phones. 
  26. You’ll never have a boring life if you prioritize spending time with the opposite of you. 
  27. There’s no better way to get out of your head than doing something that jumpstarts someone else’s heart.
  28. We’re all pricks, the sooner you realize that the better.
  29. Arguing with strangers on the internet is a recipe for misery.
  30. Success comes to those who define their race and own their pace
  31. If you want people to speak highly of you, speak highly of other people — it’s science.
  32. An unexpected gift at an unexpected time is the key to someone’s heart. 
  33. Stories are the world’s strongest bridge — learn how to tell yours and grow the stones to share it.
  34. Give everything you’ve got to the next five minutes — the future is out of your control but what you do at this moment isn’t.
  35. Always keep reminders of who matters most and what matters most in your direct line of sight. 
  36. Developing the discipline to stop is just as important as finding the motivation to start — the key to lasting work is found in how well you learn to walk away.
  37. Don’t look for outside validation, validate yourself.
  38. If you’re an expert in something, teach — learning how to communicate your knowledge in a way the average person can not only understand but implement will never go out of style.
  39. The most important skill you can learn is how to suppress your ego (Thanks K2), followed closely by learning how to properly think before you speak
  40. There’s no better way to make sense of the world and your role in it than making a commitment to write. 
  41. If you want people to like you, remember their name — if you want people to love you, remember their kids’ names.
  42. Don’t keep your gratitude to yourself — if someone means something to you, let them know. 
  43. If you don’t like the rules of the table you’re sitting at or have to put on a mask to fit in, build your own table.
  44. Never say no to an invitation to share a peach on a park bench with someone you love

It’s amazing what comes into our lives when we finally choose to stop. And of course, when we use our heads for thinking.

Thank you for reading, and I hope the new year has started off well for you and yours.
 — Michael