100 (Short) Rules for a Better Life

In his essay On the Happy Life, Seneca makes an extended list of rules for living a good life. Because it is everyone’s wish to live better, he says, but we are often in the dark on how to do so.

Except, we’re not…since so many people have struggled in the dark before us and their experiences create light.

With that in mind, here are 100 rules that have helped me live better based on my own experience, the advice I’ve been given and the things I’ve studied. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully some of these will help you in your own pursuit of living a good life.

1. Wake up early.

2. Ask: Am I using this technology, or is it using me?

3. Forget about outcomes—focus on making a little progress every day.

4. Say no (a lot).

5. Read something every day.

6. Don’t watch television news.

7. Comparison = unhappiness

8. Journal.

9. Strenuous exercise every single day.

10. Character is fate.

11. Practice the law of action, not attraction.

12. Get up when you fall/fail.

13. Prove your philosophy more than you talk about it (and that’s not easy).

14. Don’t argue with reality (facts) you don’t like.

15. It’s not about routine but about practices.

16. Follow the canvas strategy.

17. Do a kindness each day.

18. Every situation has two handles—choose to grab the “smooth handle.”

19. Success = autonomy.

20. Pick up trash when you see it.

21. If you want to be good and feel good, you have to do good. There is no escaping this.

22. Deliberately think about death. Every day, multiple times a day.

23. “Trust the process.”

24. Do your job—whatever it is—well, because how you do anything is how you do everything.

25. Always choose “Alive Time.”

26. What’s a book that changed your life? is a question you can ask to change your life… if you read the books.

27. Forget “quality time”; embrace garbage time.

28. Do the verb, rather than being the noun.

29. Take walks.

30. The present is enough.

31. Fuel the habit bonfire.

32. Have a philosophy.

33. Make time for philosophy.

34. Don’t just read—you must read to lead.

35. Collect little sayings about how to live (keep a commonplace book).

36. Stop looking for shortcuts. Do the work.

37. Let it go—those who wrong you wrong themselves.

38. Spend time with old people.

39. When evaluating an opportunity, ask yourself: What will teach me the most?

40. Purpose, not passion. (One is about you, the other about something bigger than you.)

41. Have kids. (Being a parent is your most important job).

42. Read biographies—the best way to study the lives of the greats.

43. Don’t try to beat other people, try to be the only one doing what you’re doing (“Competition is for losers”).

44. Know why you do what you do.

45. Be strict with yourself and forgiving of others.

46. Don’t post pictures of your kids on social—they are not props for validation.

47. Practice the art of negative visualization.

48. Cut toxic people out of your life—life is too short.

49. Before starting any project, have a “draw-down period.”

50. “If you’ve been blessed, be a blessing.”

51. Don’t wait until later, do the thing now.

52. No day without some deep work.

53. Put yourself up for review (Interrogate yourself).

54. Ask yourself: How does this action I’m about to take affect other people?

55. Don’t take the money (see “success = autonomy”).

56. Always stay a student.

57. Break things down to see what they really are.

58. “If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.” — Nassim Taleb

59. Build an Inner Citadel.

60. You must tame your temper.

61. Never recline your seat on an airplane. (See also: “How do my actions affect others?”)

62. Belief in yourself is overrated. Generate evidence.

63. Never check the price on a book. Just buy it if you think you’ll read it.

64. Good things happen in bookstores.

65. See what you can learn from every person you meet—even people you don’t like.

66. Set a bedtime.

67. A successful marriage is worth more than a successful career.

68. “Go straight to the seat of intelligence.” — Marcus Aurelius

69. Human being, not human doing.

70. Amor fati.

71. Go the f*ck to sleep.

72. “Always say less than necessary.” — Robert Greene

73. Never take a phone call sitting down. Go outside and go for a walk.

74. Champion other people’s work (see my reading list email)

75. Make commitments—short, regular deadlines that you have to meet.

76. Animals make life better.

77. “Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those who you are capable of improving.” — Seneca

78. See the beauty in the mundane.

79. Print out good advice and put it right in front of your desk, or wherever you work everyday.

80. Remember: Nobody is thinking about you. They’re too busy thinking about themselves.

81. Don’t just read books, re-read books.

82. Make haste, slowly.

83. Don’t talk about projects until you’re finished.

84. Go into the wilderness.

85. Try to see opportunities where others see obstacles.

86. Inner scorecard vs. outer scorecard.

87. Have unrelated hobbies.

88. You don’t solve problems by running away. Travel will not make you happy. (“Wherever you go, there you are.”)

89. Seek out challenges.

90. “Whenever you are offended, understand that you are complicit in taking offense.” — Epictetus

91. Think progress, not perfection.

92. “Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” — Marcus Aurelius

93. Lighten up. Relax. (Whatever it is, you’re probably taking it too seriously.)

94. Focus on what you can control.

95. Wrap up each day as if it were the end of your life.

96. Live an interesting life.

97. Value the Four Virtues.

98. The obstacle is the way.

99. Ego is the enemy.

100. Stillness is the key.

101. Undersell and overdeliver.