Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Prepare for the worst.


Things are going to get harder.
The future will test your strength.

So far, you’ve lived in a time of prosperity.
You haven’t experienced massive devastation, but you probably will.
It’ll be harder to make money.
It’ll be harder to be happy.
Much of what you love now will be gone.
You’ll look back at this year as one of the easiest you ever had.

You’ll get injured or sick, losing some of your ability to see, hear, move, or think.
You’ll wish for the health you have now.

How can you thrive in an unknowable future?
Prepare for the worst.
Train your mind to be ready for whatever may come.
This is how to live.

The future is unpredictable and uncontrollable.
Picture all the things that could go wrong.
Prepare for each, so they won’t surprise or hurt you.

Never worry.
This isn’t emotional.
Just anticipate and prepare.

Remember the fable of the ant and the grasshopper?
The grasshopper was just enjoying the summer, teasing the ant for working instead of relaxing.
Then winter came, and the grasshopper starved, but the ant was ready.

Disasters come suddenly, without warning.
Tragedy hurts the most when it’s unexpected.
But if you expect it, you take away its power.

Do you know what’s behind each mountain of a challenge?
More mountains.

Expecting life to be wonderful is disappointing.
Expecting life to be disappointing is wonderful.
If you expect to be disappointed, you won’t be.

Vividly imagine the worst scenarios until they feel real.
Accepting them is the ultimate happiness and security.
Realize that the worst is not that bad.

People talk about pessimism and optimism by saying, “Glass half-empty or glass half-full?”
But a caveman would say, “Oh my god! A glass! What a great invention! I can see what I’m about to drink! This is amazing! A blanket! A chair! A bed! Food, ready and waiting? This is heaven!”
You don’t have to be a caveman to look around you and appreciate your comforts by imagining life without them.
Then imagine the relief of finding shelter, the joy of controlled fire on command, and the satisfaction of hot water.

To appreciate something fully, picture losing it.
Imagine losing your freedom, reputation, money, and home.
Imagine losing your ability to see, hear, walk, or talk.
Imagine the people you love dying tomorrow.
Never take them for granted.

Luxury is the enemy of happiness because you adapt to its comforts.
Luxury makes you soft, weak, and harder to satisfy.
(Pity people who can’t enjoy anything less than the best.)
Never accept luxury, or you’ll find it hard to do without because it will feel like loss.

Comfort reduces your future happiness.
You get upset that your meal doesn’t come as ordered, or angry at your phone for having an imperfect connection.
You lose appreciation.
You forget the perspective of how bad things could be.

Practice being uncomfortable, even in small ways.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Skip eating for a day, or sugar for a month.
Go light-weight camping for a week.
Befriend discomfort so that you’ll never fear it.

Your biggest enemy is insatiability.
Recognize your desire to be entertained by life, and break the habit.
Practice being happy with what you have.

Own as little as possible.
When you realize you’re dependent on something, get rid of it to prove you don’t need it.
The less you have, the less you have to lose.

Want nothing, and nothing will disappoint you.
Want nothing, and nothing is outside your control.
Want nothing, and fate can’t hurt you.

Distinguish between what’s in your control and what isn’t.
If it’s not in your control, put it out of your head.
Trying to control outcomes makes you disappointed and resentful.
Focus only on your thoughts and actions.

Your circumstances in life don’t actually change your happiness.
People who become paralyzed or win the lottery go back to being as happy as they were before.
So don’t depend on circumstances.
Everything that happens is neutral.
Your beliefs label it as good or bad.
The only way to change your happiness is to change your beliefs.

Did someone make you angry?
Did a situation make you sad?
It’s all you.
Nothing is good or bad.
You just reacted as if it was.
When something bad happens, ask, “What’s great about this?”
Instead of changing the world, just change your reactions.

When something happens, don’t interpret.
No story, no “should have”, no judgment, not even an opinion.
This is seeing clearly.

Your goal is grateful indifference.
Win the lottery?
Go to jail?
Get famous?
Go blind in an accident?
It doesn’t matter because you’re fine either way.
Detach from the outcome and be OK no matter what happens.

My neighbor has a dog that attacks strangers and has even bitten a child.
When people complain, my neighbor says he can’t help it.
“Dogs will be dogs.”
Dogs can be tamed.
He just never trained his dog.
Instead he acts like the situation is hopeless, and makes it everyone else’s problem.

This is how most people are about their emotions.
They say, “I can’t help the way I feel.”
Emotions can be tamed.
You are in control.
The problem comes from going easy on yourself.
Instead, train your emotions like you would a dog.

Shallow happy is having a donut.
Deep happy is having a fit body.

Shallow happy is what you want now.
Deep happy is what you want most.

Shallow happy serves the present.
Deep happy serves the future.

Shallow happy is trying to conquer the world.
Deep happy is conquering yourself.

Shallow happy is pursuing pleasure.
Deep happy is pursuing fulfillment.

Fulfillment is more fun than fun.

Visit your favorite places.
Listen to your favorite music.
Taste your favorite food.
Touch your favorite people.
This might be the last time you do all these things, so appreciate each moment fully.

All of this appreciation is practice for death.
When death comes, you’ll treat it with the same indifference as everything else.
You’ve been preparing for it all along.