Do what gives you energy - A simple rule for life

Aug 16 2020

As a simple rule for determining what to spend time on: Do more of what generates energy for you. Do less of what drains it from you .

This rule is simple. And simple is good. You can quickly apply it in any moment. It helps you navigate in a sea of options competing for your attention. In a world where distractions and cheap thrills are abundant, you would want a compass to override your default inclincation for the easy dopamine hits.

If you are reading this, chances are you are fortunate enough to have your basic needs met. Naturally, we want to be happier and more fulfilled. We want to realize our full potential, in this one life we have. Our time on Earth is too precious for us not to.

We have too much information, and too many options. There is too much to do, see, learn, and experience than there is time for in your lifetime. You can't do or learn everything. If you try, you eventually get overwhelmed and dejected. The symptoms of having too many options are everywhere. People often say things like: "I feel stuck", "What project should I work on?", "I'm lost", "I don't know what I want", "How do I even get started?".

Boiling the ocean is a losing strategy. Searching for a needle in a haystack is a fool's errand.

Apply constraints , to limit the search space. A great filter to use is to ask what gives you energy . Pay attention to things that make you want to keep going, the more you do them.

Look inward . It doesn't matter if people around you consider it prestigious to work at a big corporation, if you can't stand the soul-crushing nature of it. What matters is your preferences and desires. And you have already collected a lifetime's worth of data points for that, up until now.

Train your brain . Your brain is incredible at pattern matching, processing thoughts and feelings that you can't even articulate. Train yourself to notice what generates or drains your energy. Tune into it, till it becomes part of your intuition.

 Start tinkering . In doing so, you build momentum. You discover joy beneath the surface. You start to see challenges and setbacks instead as interesting puzzles to figure out. You don't consider it work . You stop noticing the passing of time. It becomes an obsession. It is an intellectual jackpot. It is a blessing.

You get one life. Do what makes you feel more alive.

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