Here are ten suggestions that I believe will help young men live more gratifying, healthy, and successful lives.
1) Travel – Adventure somewhere totally different. This could be a cross-country road trip or a journey to a different country (the less affluent the better). Traveling is an excellent way to learn about yourself and others. After a long trip, you may come back home to find that the things (television, video games, social media, the internet, etc.) that you thought were important are not. You will most likely return with new friends, awesome stories, and vivid experiences that will have made you stronger and smarter. Traveling gives you the benefit of contrasting your way life to others, and often inspires people to improve themselves and the world around them.
2) Be Independent – This means that you should try not to rely on others when you don’t have to. Being independent will compel you to make responsible decisions that will improve your chances of success in the future. Those whom are handed everything in youth are less incentivized to work hard and brainstorm ways of becoming successful. If you can, try to prepare your own meals, make your own money, and do not skirt around work responsibilities. Being independent does not mean being solitaire – on the contrary, you will build new friendship networks through reaching out to people and working with others whom you would not have otherwise crossed paths with.
3) Find a Passion – Explore options outside of your work or academic curriculum that you are highly interested in. These should be challenging and rewarding exercises that you can pursue and enhance through time. Do not allow yourself to become defined solely by your job or field of study; have a constructive hobby or interest that you love. Start now and you will excel in the long-term. Your passion is a parallel form education – that which is self-taught and can potentially be more valuable than your formal education or official job. If you can figure out a way to make a living from your passion then hats off to you, for it’s true: Find a job doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Also, girls dig guys with passion. It’s similar to how women are less attracted to a single guy than to a guy who has a girlfriend – it’s because they assume the taken guy (the guy with a passion) is doing something with his life and has something to offer.
4) Limit your Screen and Interface Time – Allot periods of your day where you shut down your computer, video game console, and mobile devices. You should spend this time engaged a constructive project or reading a book. If you have to watch T.V, then watch a documentary. Do not compulsively look at your phone; this makes you look crazy, distracted, and desperate – like an addict. Don’t wake up and go immediately to your phone or computer, instead, try to lie in bed and remember your dreams. You should be able to sit calmly in a quiet place and stay focused on one thing (reading, writing, drawing, etc) for at least an hour. When you are online, ask yourself: Am I wasting my time? Is this activity helping me advance towards my goals? If you are trolling the web and feel brain-dead, lethargic, lost, or uninspired, then turn off the machine and step away. Sit down and make a list of things you would like to accomplish in the immediate and long-term future, and then map-out how you intend to get there.
5) Eat Healthy and Exercise – Be health conscious. Try to eat organic food and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. If you can, try not to consume any GMO, factory-farmed, processed meat, and stay away from pesticide-sprayed and fast food. Don’t drink soda or consume anything with high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. When you eat, practice good manners: chew with your mouth closed, don’t hunch your back, and don’t shake your leg convulsively – you look ridiculous if you do that. Work out for at least fifteen minutes everyday. Get some sun and enjoy nature. Like all organic matter, you need to take care of yourself to grow and prosper. Make sure to floss your teeth and stretch. Don’t sleep-in until noon (unless you have good reason for having stayed up late). Don’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol too much either. If you’re going to do drugs, make sure you do them in moderation and that you know what you’re getting into.
6) Stand Up for Yourself and Others – Speak your mind and don’t take shit from anyone. If you see injustice, do something about it. Speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. There’s a good quote that goes like, “Say what you want and be who you are, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Across the planet myriad people are living in conditions of immense hardship; you should often keep these people in your thoughts. Once you are in a position to help them, do so. Be a man of your word and don’t be a pussy, but don’t be an asshole either. It’s okay to pass judgment on people after you get to know them, but never prejudge strangers or discriminate against them.
7) Question the Status Quo – Always question the fundamentals and the information being presented to you. Things are usually more convoluted that they seem. Question the media, government, and corporations. Try to maintain a global and historical context to compare whatever issue is being discussed. If you are unsure about the details of a certain topic, recognize this (instead of arguing in ignorance), and then look into it so that you may formulate an opinion. Make sure you do not go along with anything that does not agree with your conscience or personal values. When a wrong is being committed against another human being (or against a pocket of nature that you care for), you should always stand against that wrong – regardless of the rationalization under which that wrong is being perpetuated.
8) Live Not in Regret – Don’t expect that you’ll have more than one chance to do anything in life. Whether it’s talking to a girl, going SCUBA diving, or making a speech at an event – seize the opportunity as long as doing so is not going to hurt anyone. You don’t want to be lying in your bed at night, reviewing your day and thinking, “Man, I really should have talked to that girl...” And you definitely don’t want to be on your deathbed thinking, “Gee, I really should have written that novel, or taken that trip to Bhutan, or learned about marine biology...” This same principle of regret applies to how your treat those closest to you. Don’t separate from your loved-ones on hateful terms – you never know if that will be the last time you see them.
9) Curb your Materialism – Be conscious of where your commercial goods came from and where they will go once discarded. Think about the chain of events that occurred in order to get any item or resource in your possession to you. Try not to buy so much new shit, reuse things whenever possible, and don’t take more than you need. Be self-sufficient and purchase local goods when you can. Give back by cleaning up your surrounding environment, and always consider the impact your decisions have on others and the world around you. Don’t get caught up in status symbols and the misconceived value of material goods, as they’re largely irrelevant when it comes to improving your body, mind, and spirit.
10) Be Grateful - Chances are, if you’re reading this then you’re living at the pinnacle of human material well-being in history. You are privileged to be alive in a relatively stable environment and you have a wonderful opportunity to live life to the fullest, so make the best of it and don’t waste your time. Thank your lucky stars that you are who are you are, and express gratitude to those people and things that have helped get you this far and are keeping you going.