The one thing you shouldn’t be missing out on

Sometimes, the amount of stuff we have to read can feel very overwhelming, but that’s only if we feel the pressure to read everything.

Bottomless feeds and endless scrolls contribute a lot to this feeling, not to mention the endless supply of new blog posts, articles, forum posts, emails, podcasts, videos, and all sorts of content that gets generated every day.

Sometimes, I do wonder. What is the point of reading so much? I know I love to read, but maybe this is all just FOMO, the fear of missing out? No doubt, most of the stuff I read is probably high-quality stuff, insightful articles that inform and can help improve our lives, but perhaps it’s simply too much.

After finishing an article about insight A, what do I do? Reflect and apply it? No, I go and read another article about concept B or idea C, or maybe life hack D and protip E, or perhaps random fact F and life lesson G.

The worse part is that there’s no shortage of all these brilliant articles. You might find all sorts of amazing stuff today and think you need to read them all or risk missing out, but that’s simply not true. Come again tomorrow and you’ll find a fresh batch equally amazing stuff as well, same for the next day, and the next day.

At the end of the day, what do I make of all this? Nothing. Perhaps it’s time to accept that it’s okay to not read everything and just let go. There’s nothing I’m missing out on, if anything, I’m missing out on life if I don’t stop this habit, and isn’t that the one thing I shouldn’t be missing out on?

A body full of scars

There’s no such thing as perfection, everything is uniquely imperfect.

Something that’s perfect and without scars has nothing to tell. Pure and pristine, never been used, a thing trapped in a trophy case for all to admire. A perfect being, one that has neither tasted the richness of life nor interacted with the real world. Something without a history or memories of anything eventful. A sad pitiful existence.

By contrast, the imperfect has everything to tell. A history for every scar, bruise, dent, or ding. Whether these scars were intentional or unintentional, they all have a story to it, a memory of what transpired in the distant past. Proof that they were alive and kicking, enjoying the limited time they have in existence before they perish. This is true for everything, be it humans, animals, luxury items, or daily appliances.

Life is full of scars, they are proof of your existence. A souvenir for the countless experiences you’ve had, proof that you lived a life worth remembering.

Wear your scars proudly for they define a part of you, whether you like it or not, they are what made you uniquely imperfect, just the way you are.

Stop tolerating the things you so strongly disagree with

If everyone tolerated racism or bullying when it’s happening nearby, turning a blind eye towards it, the problem won’t be going away any time soon.

The more you tolerate, the more you’re actually encouraging the behavior of the wrongdoers. Because the wrongdoers will feel zero consequences or backlash for their actions, so they keep doing it, blissfully unaware that everyone else finds their behavior abhorrent.

If only the bystanders stood up and help the victims, isn’t that what everyone secretly hoped for? Stop tolerating the things you so strongly disagree with, take action and fight for what you stand for.

Begin with the end in mind because all good things must come to an end

When we went to school as kids, we didn’t think we would one day graduate and leave. It just felt like such a long time, something so far in the distant future that it didn’t seem real.

But when we went to college or university, we knew things were different. We knew we would only be there for a few years and will soon graduate into full adulthood with a job and everything.

But after getting a job, we stopped thinking. Every day became the same mundane day trading hours for pennies. We either imagine ourselves keeping our jobs forever, or dream of quitting but never do.

When was the last time you think to yourself, I’m going to be doing this or working this job for the next 5 years and by the end of these 5 years, I want to have achieved these targets or goals. Afterward, I will move on to another job or role and tackle these different challenges.

So why are we surprised when 5 years later, nothing changed, nothing happened, and we’re still stuck at more or less where we were 5 years ago? I’m almost 5 years into my job and it’s sad to feel that way, especially when I could’ve done so much more.

I could still start now, and perhaps the lesson is to begin with the end in mind. All good (and bad) things must come to an end, have you thought about what kind of ending you would prefer? Or are you just blindly charging ahead, one day at a time, with no regard to how everything will play out in the end?

Cheat days and cheating yourself

“It’s okay, no one will find out.”

But it’s not okay, because you’re cheating yourself.

It’s fine to have cheat days if you’re intentional and strict about it. But the moment you start having random cheat days, you’re just cheating yourself.

Think about it for a bit, why do you need cheat days? What is it but an excuse for you to take a break and not do the work or not put in the effort to achieve that thing you’ve always wanted to achieve?

It’s okay to take breaks and cheat a little, but once you start cheating a bit more and can’t control yourself, you might as well not bother with whatever your goal is because it’s probably not gonna happen.

Do you really need cheat days? Or are you just running away from what you should be doing? Use them wisely.

If I didn’t quit back then, where would I be now?

I first started playing the ukulele sometime in early 2016. Back then, I only knew the basic chords and could only do some basic strumming. Sadly, I stopped learning after a while and it became somewhat of an on/off thing where I would pick up my ukulele, play it for a bit, and never touch it again for months.

Recently, I started learning how to play the ukulele again and I found myself asking this simple question. What if I never stopped learning in 2016, where would I be now in 2020? How good would I have become?

When the going gets tough and I feel like giving up, I ask myself. Suppose I give up and stop learning now, would I prefer to repeat this whole cycle later in 2024 or something? Imagine myself in 2024, looking back at 2020, wondering what would’ve happened if I didn’t quit the ukulele in 2020 and continued learning this whole time. How great an ukulele player would my 2024 self be right now?

Four years seem like a long time, but does it matter? I’m going to spend that four years anyway, might as well spend it doing something useful like learning a new skill. By the end of the four years, would I prefer to still be the same person who’s only a beginner? Or would I prefer to be someone who can play at a decent or semi-advanced level?

Is there anything you would like to start learning now that would come in handy or be really useful in a few years? Why haven’t you started learning it yet?

Every problem feels like a big problem until an even bigger problem arrives

Suppose you woke up one morning and discovered someone broke into your house and stole a few things. It might seem like a big deal, especially if you’ve lost a lot of valuables, but in reality, it’s not.

Suppose you were driving somewhere later that day got into a car accident that left you with a wrecked car and a broken leg. How do you feel about this morning’s burglary now?

And suppose when the doctor was treating your broken leg, they somehow discovered you have terminal cancer with only a few months left to live, a bit far-fetched but suppose that actually happened. How do you feel about your broken leg now?

Hopefully, no one is so unlucky as to experience such a series of unfortunate events, but it can happen. And that leads to the point I’m making, all your problems can feel like big problems until an even bigger problem arrives.

This year has been filled with problems after problems, each of it so seemingly major that we can’t imagine something worse, until something worse actually happened, and the cycle repeats.

Perhaps the lesson here is to be grateful that our problems aren’t worse that they actually are and that some people have dealt with such problems before and survived while others have it much worse.

Lean towards the new, what do you want to explore?

Here’s something I read earlier that resonated, emphasis mine.

Many people look to their past hobbies and strengths for income ideas. That tends to be a relatively weak approach that can easily lead to boredom. What if instead you develop income ideas based around what you’d like to explore and experience? Why rehash the past that you’ve already explored when you could lean into something new and adventurous?

Too often, we trap ourselves in our comfort zone and keep on doing the things we’re good at, the things we’re comfortable with, the things we’ve done a million times. Perhaps it’s great to play our strength, especially if you’re happy, content, and not yet bored with it. Otherwise, wouldn’t you rather explore something new?

That’s not to say if you’re a musician, you should stop playing music and explore rock climbing. Well, you could, but that’s not the point. Instead, you should stop playing the pieces that no longer excite you and explore something else. And to go off on a slight tangent, this reminds me of a certain TED talk by the world’s greatest Mouseketeer player.

Bottom line: Better to focus on what you want to explore and use that as a guide for moving forward, rather than using on your past strengths and achievements to extrapolating where you should go next.

How to feel better

There are days where I don’t feel like doing anything, days where I’m feeling sad and dejected, and days where I’m simply stuck in a rut.

Most of the time, I know what I need to do to get back in the game. Do some journaling, go exercise for a bit, declutter my stuff, go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep, text or call a friend, and so on.

It’s often these tiny little tasks that make me feel better, not in one go but gradually. There’s just something about them that builds up my mood and motivation. Perhaps it’s the sense of accomplishment after doing a bit of decluttering, or the feeling of human connection when I called a friend, or the effects of getting my heart rate up with some light exercise.

Maybe it’s because they remind me what it’s like to be alive, to move my body and interact with this beautiful world we live in. Or maybe they help take my mind off the more depressing or complicated things and bring me back to a simpler way of life.

Perhaps you’ve experienced something like this as well?

HT David Cain