Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Do nothing.


The ten commandments said what not to do.
Most of being a good person is not doing bad.
Don’t be cruel or selfish.
Don’t lie or steal.
Just do no harm.

People always think they need to do something.
One action creates a problem, fixed by another action, so they react and counter-act, creating more problems to fix.
All of this can be avoided.
All actions are optional.
You don’t have to act or react.
You don’t have to do anything.

Criminals justify their crimes by saying they were in a crisis and had to do something.
People mistakenly say yes to work, people, and places they don’t like, then need to escape to get away from their mistakes.
People make bad decisions because they felt they had to decide.
It would have been wiser to do nothing.

People destroy relationships with an angry over-reaction.
The metaphors for “blowing off steam” or “venting” are wrong.
Expressing your anger doesn’t relieve it.
It makes you angrier.

Actions often have the opposite of the intended result.
People who try too hard to be liked are annoying.
People who try too hard to be attractive are repulsive.
People who try too hard to be enlightened are self-centered.
People who try too hard to be happy are miserable.

So the best way to live is to do nothing.
Stop all the thinking and doing.
Be still and silent.
No actions and no reactions.
No judgments and no conclusions.
No craving and no fixing.

Change your need to change things.
In your most peaceful moments, your mind is quiet.
You’re not thinking you should be doing anything else.
When everything feels perfect, you say, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
So, live your whole life in this mindset.

Don’t hope.
Hope is wanting things to be different than they are.
Wanting to change yourself is self-loathing.
There’s no deeper happiness than wanting nothing.
Desire is the opposite of peace.

Most of what people say and do is unnecessary.
Most talk is just noise.
The English word “noise” comes from “nausea”.
Say nothing unless it must be said.

People will appreciate your silence, and know that when you speak, it must be important.
Shallow rivers are noisy.
Deep lakes are silent.

Silence is precious.
Silence is the one thing that all religions have in common.
Silence is the only way to hear quiet wisdom.

Most trouble is caused by action.
No action, no trouble.

Most actions are a pursuit of emotions.
You think you want to take action or own a thing.
But what you really want is the emotion you think it’ll bring.

Skip the actions.
Go straight for the emotion.
Practice feeling emotions intentionally, instead of using actions to create them.
You don’t need marriage to feel security.
Marriage doesn’t make you secure.
You don’t need recognition to feel pride.
Recognition doesn’t give you pride.
You don’t need a beach to feel tranquility.
Places don’t make emotions.
You do.

Your whole experience of life is in your mind.
Focus on your internal world, not external world.

When a problem is bothering you, it feels like you need to do something about it.
Instead, identify what belief is really the source of your trouble.
Replace that belief with one that doesn’t bother you.
Then the problem is solved.
Most problems are really just situations.

You make decisions to feel forward motion.
But it’s a treadmill that takes you nowhere.
When someone asks you to decide, just refuse.
The longer you go without deciding, the more information is revealed.
Eventually, the choice is obvious and made without an agonizing decision.

Just because somebody asked you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer it.
Dramatic people are fueled by reactions.
When you stop reacting, they go away.

Same goes for yourself.
Your emotions insist they need you to respond.
When you ignore the urges, they go away too.

Observe yourself.
Your own mind is the best laboratory.
It’s also the most private and peaceful place to work.

To be wise, shut out all media and opinions.
No news, no gossip, no entertainment.
Most of it is not worth knowing.

Junk may reach your senses, but don’t let it reach your mind.
Don’t accept the false stories people tell.
Things are neither good nor bad — they’re as neutral as a rock.
When people give opinions, add a question mark.
If they say, “Immigration is bad,” change it to, “Immigration is bad?”
Let the questions drift away, unanswered.

The unintelligent jump to conclusions.
The wise just observe.
Wisdom comes from removing the junk, lies, and obstacles to clear thinking.
Instead of learning more, get wise by learning less.
Keep an empty head, so you can observe clearly.

The less you do, the more you can see.
Observe and learn.
Watch the world.

Live where nothing is happening.
Move to a quiet place with lots of nature and no ambition.
Doing nothing is normal there.
Walk and appreciate nature for hours a day.
Your life and mind will be tranquil and serene.
Peace is the absence of turmoil.
You won’t need the media, the internet, or a phone.
Your cost of living will be hardly more than local eggs and vegetables.
Doing nothing is the ultimate minimalism.

If you need money, be an investor.
It’s the only career where you profit the most by doing the least.
It should take no more than an hour per month.
The stock market takes money from the active traders and gives it to the patient.

If an action feels necessary, and you can’t let it go, just write it down for later.
Everything seems more important while you’re thinking of it.
Later, you’ll realize it’s not.

But if it still feels necessary, adjust your time frame.
A year from now, will it be important?
Ten years from now?
Zoom out as far as you need to make it unimportant.
Then you’re free of it.

But you may think the world needs you to do something.
That line of thinking makes it upsetting to die.

Let go of feeling needed.
Let go too soon instead of too late.
The world doesn’t need you.
You’re relieved of your duty because soon you won’t exist.
Do nothing now to show that life goes on without you.
Be selfless.
Be free.

Doing nothing is how to live and how to die.