Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Love.


Not love, the feeling, but love the active verb.
It’s not something that happens to you.
It’s something you do.
You choose to love something or someone.
You can love anything or anyone you decide to love.

Love is a combination of attention, appreciation, and empathy.

To love something, first you have to connect with it.
Give it your full attention.
Deliberately appreciate it.
Try this with places, art, and sounds.
Try this with activities and ideas.
Try this with yourself.

Many times a day, you have the opportunity to connect.
You can dash through a place, or stop to appreciate it.
You can do an activity absent-mindedly, or pay full attention to every detail of it.
(Work is love in action.)
You can make shallow small-talk, or really get to know someone.
Choose to connect every time.

Sharing is connecting.
Share your knowledge.
Share your home.
Share your time.

Learning is loving.
The more you learn about something, the more you can love it.
Learn about a place to appreciate it.
Learn about people to empathize with them.
Not just individuals, but cultures, mindsets, and worldviews.
If you are apathetic about or against something, learn more about it.

Actively listen to people.
When they’re succinct, ask them to elaborate.
People aren’t used to someone being sincerely interested, so they’ll need some coaxing to continue.
But never try to fix them.
When someone tells you what’s broken, they want you to love the brokenness, not try to eliminate it.

Break down the walls that separate you from others and prevent real connections.
Take off your sunglasses.
Don’t text when you should talk.
Avoid habitual comebacks and clichés.
Admit what you’re really feeling, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Keep communicating instead of shutting down.
We think walls protect us from enemies, but walls are what create enemies in the first place.

The hardest part of connecting with someone is being honest.
If you say what you think someone wants to hear, you’re preventing a real connection.
Manners are shallow.
Honesty is deep.
Always tell the real truth, or they’ll never know the real you, so you’ll never really feel loved.

Honesty is an ideal that’s always a little further away.
It has no finish line.
No matter how honest you are, there’s always more honest.

Don’t exaggerate to be more entertaining.
Don’t downplay.
If you downplay your achievements to make someone else comfortable, you’re preventing connection with that person and even with yourself.
Just be honest.
If you’ve done something great, say so.
If you’re not doing well, say so.

If you have feelings for someone, and you don’t let that person know, you’re lying with your silence.
Be direct.
It saves so much trouble and regret.

You could live with others, pleasing only them.
You could live in solitude, pleasing only yourself.
But ideally, when with others, be the same person you’d be when alone.

The more you really connect with people, the more you learn about yourself: what excites you, what drains you, what attracts you, and what intimidates you.

And then there’s romantic love.
You never really regret falling in love.
Do it as much as possible.

Flirting and romance is like eating dessert first.
After you come down from the sugar rush, you get to the more nourishing part of the meal.

Beware of the feeling that someone completes you or will save you.
You have wounds in your past.
You have needs that were ignored.
You seek someone to fill these gaps — someone that has traits you crave.
But nobody will save you.
You have to fill those gaps yourself.
When you’re going through an unstable time in your life, you latch on to whatever makes you feel stable.
Instant obsessive love is a bad sign that you’re thinking of someone as the solution.
Projecting perfection onto someone is not love.
You say “I love you” but really mean “I love this”.

Notice how you feel around people.
Notice who brings out the best in you.
Notice who makes you feel more connected with yourself — more open and more honest.
Don’t worry about anyone’s opinion of you.
Don’t hope that someone is impressed.
Impress yourself.
Be your ideal self.
If that’s not impressive, then nothing would be.
If the relationship isn’t going to work, it’s better to know early, instead of hiding your true self and putting up a façade for a long time before finding out.

Between any two people is a third thing: the relationship itself.
Actively nurture it.
If you improve it, it will improve you.

Once you’re in a relationship, avoid harming it.
It’s easy to love someone’s best qualities, but it’s work to love their flaws.
Don’t try to change someone, or teach them a lesson, unless they ask you to.

When one of you is being childish, the other needs to be the adult.
Like a dance, you can’t both dip at the same time.
One of you has to stay upright to keep the other from collapsing.

Unless you are drops of liquid, one plus one never equals one.
You must both be free and able to live without each other.
Be together by choice, not necessity or dependence.
Love your partner, but don’t need your partner.
Need is insatiable.
Need destroys love.

If you choose not to love someone, break up with one last boost of love, empathy, and kindness, instead of showing your lack of love.

Be wary of marriage.
Don’t make a life-long commitment based on an emotional state.
It’s illegal to sign contracts when drunk, so you shouldn’t sign a marriage contract when drunk on infatuation.

Having a child is like being in love.
It’s such a tight bond.
You’re so close.
So much trust.
So much support.
But, just like the other people you love, your child’s interests and values will be different than yours.

You don’t love someone to shape their future.
You don’t judge your friendships by how successful your friend becomes.
So don’t love and judge your children that way.
Don’t try to change them.
Just give them a great environment where they can thrive.
Give them the safety to experiment, make mistakes, and fail up.

The saddest life is one without love.
The happiest life is filled with love.
Choose to love as much as you can.
Loving is how to live.