Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Follow the great book.


You know what your great book is.
Whether the Bible, Tanakh, Upanishads, Quran, Think and Grow Rich, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or another, follow it diligently.

Your book is wiser than you.
It’s describing natural law — the way our world works.
It’s not just someone’s opinion.
It has the definitive answers to the choices you’re confronted with each day.
Don’t think you know better.

People say they want to make their own decisions.
But imagine that you have a life-or-death medical situation, so you rush to the doctor, and the doctor says, “There are hundreds of different approaches we could take. You decide. It’s up to you.”
You would say, “No! You’re the doctor. You’re the expert. You know best. You decide. Tell me what to do.”
Your book is the expert on how to live.
It’s helped millions of people.
Defer to its wisdom.

Your book was meant for people exactly like you.
You’re not an exception to humanity.
Its rules apply to you.
It guides you on a good life.

If your book is ancient, you may think it’s not enough since it doesn’t mention modern life.
But nothing is truly new.
Morals seem like they’ve changed in recent history.
But really, morals haven’t changed in longer history.
If you update the language and some references, books written thousands of years ago sound like they could have been written today.
The human condition remains the same.
Your book has all the wisdom you need.
Read metaphorically, and apply it to your modern life.

You don’t lack direction.
You have too many directions.
An open mind, like an open mouth, needs to eventually close on something.
Stop swerving and chasing new leaders.
Stay on a single steady path.
Following your book is how to live.

First, make a “born again” split.
Let go of your old identity.
Let your new self be incongruent with your old self.
Let your friends and family know that you’ve changed.

Bring your book with you everywhere as a constant reminder and reference.
Refer to its rules in every situation, every day.
Memorize its crucial sentences.
Keep them at the forefront of your mind.

Following rules is smart.
It’s efficient.
You don’t need to stop and re-think every situation.

“Follow your passion” is terrible advice.
Fleeting interests are a bad compass.
Passions pass so quickly that to follow them would have you dashing around like a dog chasing bubbles.

Don’t follow your heart.
Your heart has been hacked.
Your intuition is usually wrong because it’s just emotion, subliminally influenced by amoral inputs.
Emotions are a wild animal.
You need rules to tame them.

Rules give you freedom from your desires.
When you rise above your instincts, you still feel them but no longer do what they say.
Following your emotions is not freedom.
Being free from following emotions is freedom.

When you stop following emotions, and just do what’s right, then you’ll finally get what you always wanted.
It was the emotions that were distracting you all along.

So what’s the right thing to do?
An action with good results?
An action that feels good?
The action prescribed by your book.
No need to judge or decide.
Just follow the rules and trust the path.

Rules must be absolutely unbreakable.
If you try to decide, each time, whether it’s OK to break the rule or not, then you’ve missed the whole point of rules.
Rules are to save you from deciding.
That’s why hard rules are easier to keep.

Discipline turns intentions into action.
Discipline means no procrastination.
Discipline means now.
Choose the pain of discipline, not the pain of regret.

An undisciplined moment seems harmless, but they add up to disaster.
Without discipline, the tiny things in life will be your downfall.

Self-control is always rewarding.
Self-control is always the right thing to do.
This is a universal law.
Your self-control is highest in the morning and diminishes during the day, so review your book’s rules every afternoon.

Physical discipline helps mental discipline.
Align your outer self with your inner self.
Cleaning your house helps clean your mind.

Discipline gets you to your destination.
Without it, you’re led astray by everyone else.
If you don’t obey your constraints, persuasive people and technology will pull you their way.

People beg you to bend your rules to fit their agenda.
So blame your book when you refuse.
Saying “the book says so” helps your burden of responsibility.
If someone challenges your choices or asks you to explain, just say “the book says so” and carry on without the exhausting debate.

Some people may surpass you by breaking the rules.
But remember: the miserable, broken, destitute people in the world are the other outcome of breaking the rules.
Many more fail than succeed.
Rules may keep you from some stupendous heights, but they will always keep you from falling too low.

Define a good life as more than shallow pleasure.
A good life is contribution.
A good life is resisting temptation.
A good life is being the best you can be.
A good life is diligently following your book.