“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
By my 27th birthday, I had already lived a more full life than most people could ever hope to.
How’s that, you ask? Well, in less than 10 years out of high school, I experienced much of California and Western Europe while serving in the military, I earned a college degree, and then I experienced amazing places and cultures over two years of traveling through South America with the Peace Corps. Oh, and I met and married the girl of my dreams. How much better could it get, right?
But then the “Great Life Suck” took over the next 20 years of my life.
You know what I mean by the Great Life Suck. It’s where our thirst for life gets replaced by the desire for material things and the need to keep up with the Joneses. We start living like the Joneses: trying to keep up with the latest gadgets, vehicles, and other toys. We become ravenous sports and reality TV fans, we jump on the latest political or social justice bandwagons, and we define success by the number of likes we get on social media.
All the while our true goals and dreams fade away, replaced by the need for a career that will provide the material happiness for our families. After all, we must achieve what the American Dream dictates: a house, two cars, and all the other goodies that make us happy.
And so for the next several decades we live as the world tells us we should. We assume that the only path is the one everyone else follows: running the rat race and chasing the almighty dollar. If we’re lucky, by midlife we’ve achieved the proverbial dream. Our ultimate, Jonesian goal by this point is to simply have enough retirement saved up to get us comfortably across the finish line…death.
That’s real nice. Yay American Dream!
And over all those years our real dreams and passions sit up on a shelf covered in dust, barely recognizable.
Do I paint even a remotely accurate picture of your life? Regrettably, this was my life for far too long.
The funny thing is, I’d been keenly observing others live this way of life for 30-some years. I was a young lad on a train somewhere in Europe when I started watching and taking notes on why we humans do what we do, and I’ve been carefully studying us ever since. Yet even while observing our illogical behavior—sure that it wouldn’t happen to me—I still fell victim to this false American Dream.
Thankfully, through a great deal of conscious effort, discipline, and a new perspective, I’ve managed to reawaken my true goals and dreams and shake myself free of the Great Life Suck. And one of my first goals is to finally share what I’ve learned in my half-century of living well and living poorly.
So here we are.
My hope is that the many Life Tips I’ve learned through experience and observation can help you discover (or rediscover) that better side of you, that side of you that’s been collecting dust lo these many years. And if you are still blessed with youth, my hope is to alert you to the mistakes I’ve made so that you’ll consider a different path.
I’ve lived, learned, and loved across most of these United States, 20 countries, 11 colleges and universities, and what feels like a million jobs and careers. I’ve been a miserable failure and a great success, a quitter and a champion, a pawn and a king.
I want you to be a success, a champion, and a king.
“Ivan Ilyich’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
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