10 Short Lessons from 10 Fields That Have Had a Profound Impact On My Life
Here are 10 short lessons from 10 different fields that have had a profound impact on my life.
Research shows that spending time in nature can boost cognition, reduce anxiety, improve mood, and enhance creative thinking. Even small doses of nature like house plants, 10-minute outdoor walks, and screensavers of forests have been shown to improve overall well-being.
In The Nature Fix, author Florence Williams explains that spending as little as five hours per month outdoors has been shown to reduce both stress and blood pressure. It’s also associated with heightened awareness and creativity.
External events do not determine my happiness. My reaction to external events determines my happiness. As William B. Irvine shares in A Guide to the Good Life:
“If you consider yourself a victim, you are not going to have a good life; if, however, you refuse to think of yourself as a victim—if you refuse to let your inner self be conquered by your external circumstances—you are likely to have a good life, no matter what turn your external circumstances take.”
Wealth comes from accumulating assets and avoiding liabilities. Assets are things that put money in your pocket (stocks, bonds, real estate, websites, businesses) and liabilities are things that take money out of your pocket (houses, cars, most material possessions). The secret to becoming wealthy is to acquire one and avoid the other.
The way to increase both happiness and productivity is not through doing more, but through removing more. Very few things actually matter in life. Things that do matter include your family, your health, and your contribution to the world through your work. Say “yes” to these things that are essential in your life and say “no” to the rest.
Effort matters more than talent. In the book Grit, author Angela Duckworth shares a simple formula that explains achievement:
Talent × effort = skill. Skill × effort = achievement.
In other words, effort counts twice.
Duckworth says, “Talent—how fast we improve in skill—absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill. At the very same time, effort makes skill productive.”
Research shows that happiness comes from autonomy, connection, and competence.
Autonomy – freedom over your time
Connection – relationships with others; membership in a community
Competence – mastery in a field you find meaningful
The best way to increase creativity is to create stuff on a regular basis.
As James Clear says:
“No single act will uncover more creative genius than forcing yourself to create consistently. Practicing your craft over and over is the only way to become decent at it. The person who sits around theorizing about what a best-selling book looks like will never write it. Meanwhile, the writer who shows up every day and puts their butt in the chair and their hands on the keyboard — they are learning how to do the work.
If you want to do your best creative work, then don’t leave it up to choice. Don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘I hope I feel inspired to create something today.’ You need to take the decision-making out of it. Set a schedule for your work. Genius arrives when you show up enough times to get the average ideas out of the way.”
The most reliable way to become a better writer is to write every day. Don’t stress out about creating masterpieces, just show up and write. As Stephen King shares in On Writing, there is magic in showing up:
“Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hardheaded guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon. or seven ’til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up.”
The simplest way to boost your productivity is to boost your energy. And the best way to boost your energy is through three reliable tactics:
- Get more sleep
- Drink more water
- Consume less sugar
One of the easiest ways to improve your relationships with those around you is to become a better listener. In an age of fast-paced living and distraction, good listeners are actually hard to come by.
By developing the ability to sit quietly and truly listen to someone as they speak, that sets you apart. And when you listen more and talk less, people tend to like you more. As Marcus Tullius Cicero once said:
“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.”