(I posted this over on Quora and it blew up, so I thought I’d re-post my answer here for those of you who might have missed it …)
This will be fun … and controversial. So, hold on to your ass. I’m going to tell you five things you can do, right now, to improve your life.
You’ll be less anxious and less stressed if you do.
The best advice I ever got in high school? It came from my driving school instructor on the day before my road test. He was an older Jewish guy who looked and spoke a lot like Jackie Mason. After dropping me off at my house, he said to me, “Go jerk off tonight. It’ll clear your head and you’ll be relaxed for your test tomorrow.”
Now, I’m not saying this is advice you want someone to give you unsolicited, especially from someone you barely know, but … Seriously. It works.
2. Don’t Care So Much.
There are few things I actually care about. I care about the women in my life. I care about my family, even though they drive me up a fucking wall, and I care about helping people as much as I can with the time that I have left on this planet.
Everything else? I don’t care.
I’ll do what I have to do to make a living, but unless I’m doing something that involves any of the above, I’m doing what I need to do to get the job done — and done well, mind you — but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it either. In fact, beyond what I need to do to perform well on my tasks, I’m not going to think twice about it once it’s accomplished.
Put another way: Prioritize everything you do around the things you care about most. Everything else is bullshit.
3. Don’t Work More Than Four Hours a Day
This is sort of related to the above, but has to do with the way we’re wired mentally.
A lot of this has to do with your brain being a goal oriented machine, some of it has to do with the way the modern work day is scheduled.
For example, how many of you find yourselves trying to kill time on any given work day because what you’ve been given to work on won’t fill nine hours? I bet it’s almost all of you.
I’m convinced you can produce more, excellent work, in concentrated bursts of productivity then you can being trapped in an office all day for nine hours because someone somewhere decided that was the mandatory length of time for the average work day.
So, whenever possible, make the most of your four productive hours.
4. Remind yourself that you’re going to die.
I know. That sounds morbid. But if you find yourself losing your shit about something, ask yourself, “If I was dead tomorrow, would this matter?”
9 times out of 10 the answer is a big, fat, NOPE!
Don’t remind yourself to be morbid, do this to remind yourself that time is the most valuable thing that you have, and you shouldn’t waste it on stupid shit that’s not going to matter a day from now or even a week from now.
Take it from me. I almost died when I was 30. Everything I do after that must pass a very specific test, “If I was dead tomorrow, would this matter?” If the answer is no, and as much as possible, I won’t do it.
5. Keep an open mind.
I know. REAL controversial, but seriously. Try something new every day.
Question everything you read and hear.
Sleep with someone of the same sex.
Let the dog take YOU for a walk.
Life is short, do everything you can that’s within the realm of not harming yourself or others.
If you go through life shutting yourself off from everything this world has to offer, you’re going to be real bummed when you die and find there’s no afterlife and not a hell of a lot to do aside from being nothing.
So, live a little, love a lot, and enjoy.