Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Intertwine with the world.


We’re all cousins.
Everybody on Earth, no matter how far apart, has a surprisingly recent common ancestor.
Go meet your family in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, in the Americas, and in Europe.
Understand that there is no “them”.
It’s just “us”.
Feel those connections.

You have kindreds scattered around the world.
People who are weird like you are spread out everywhere.
One of the best feelings in life is to meet someone who grew up in an opposite culture but has your same humor, thoughts, or taste.

If you want a successful network of connections, what matters is not how many people you know but how many different kinds of people you know.
Building relationships worldwide brings more opportunity, more variety, and more chance for circumstance.

Moving across the world makes you smarter, because you stop thinking you’re always right.
Those who shout, “my country is the best!” are those who have never left.
In Icelandic, the word for “idiot” means “one who has never left home to journey abroad”.
Only idiots think they’re always right.

You can’t see your own culture while you’re inside of it.
Once you get out and look back, you can see which parts of your personality actually come from your environment.

Traveling makes you better at communicating, since you can’t assume familiarity, and must speak simply and clearly.
You’ll get used to speaking with people of different religions, worldviews, and communication styles.
You’ll know when to be formal, when to joke, when to reference tradition, and when to swear.

How far should you travel?
Look to nature’s example of floating dandelion seeds and sticky burrs.
Plants and trees spread their seeds as far as possible.
And so should you.
Spread your DNA worldwide.
Not just your biological DNA, but the other things that make you who you are: your ideas, values, and relationships.

To live a full and rewarding life, intertwine yourself with the world.

Move somewhere far away.
Plan to stay.
Bring no baggage.
Leave your expectations and certainties behind.

This new strange place will feel wrong.
You’ll find fault in most of its ways.
The clothes you arrive in are not suited for its climate.
The beliefs you arrive with are not suited for its culture.
Replace both with locally-made clothes and beliefs.
Eventually, they’ll fit you well.

Ask questions until you understand why things are the way they are.
Culture is often historical.
Like a person’s outlook on life is shaped by what they’ve been through, a culture’s values are shaped by its recent history.
Learn the local mindset.
Don’t ask how “they” do things.
Ask how “we” do things.
That small difference is important.
This is your new home.

Once a place really feels like home, move somewhere new.
Pick a confusing or scary place that you don’t understand.
Repeat the process.
Make it your home.
Try to make the connection official by getting visas, residency, and citizenship.
Do this until no part of the world feels foreign.

From Brazil, learn to live in the present, and embrace every stranger as a friend.
Leave before you forget about the future.

From Germany, learn rationality and directly honest communication.
Leave before you start scolding strangers.

From Japan, learn deep consideration for others, social harmony, and intrinsic perfection.
Leave before you get so considerate that you can’t express yourself or take action.

From China, learn pragmatism and the multi-generational mindset.
Leave before you get superstitious or prioritize social status.

From France, learn idealism and resistance.
Leave before you oppose everything in theory.

From America, learn expressive rebellious individualism.
Leave before thinking you’re the center of the world.

From India, learn to improvise and thrive in complexity.
Leave before feeling a divide between what’s inside versus outside your circle.

In all cultures, avoid the madness of the crowd.

Have a child with someone from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe.
The greater the variety of races, the better.
Raise your kids with many influences, many parents, and many families.
Help raise other people’s kids for the same reason.
Make voluntary families.
Make wider and inclusive families.

Some say “blood is thicker than water,” as if only your immediate relatives have blood.
But everyone has blood, and you’re related to all of them.

If you eventually need a permanent home, choose the place you’d want to be if everything goes wrong.
Choose a culture that values what you value.

When you die, you leave behind your genes and ideas.
The atoms in your cells will disassemble and become plants, animals, dirt, and oceans.
Bits of you will eventually become part of the whole world.
The way to live is to spread your seeds widely before you die.