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38 Things I've Learned In 38 Years

1. Be polite, always. Be kind, when possible. Be graceful if polite and kind is not your forte or you ran out of inspiration to do so - walk away - use the back door only if you absolutely must.

2. Keep your life diverse.

3. Once you get fancy, fancy get broken. Keep you life simple. Own little, depend on even less. Yet, don’t be ascetic hermit. Life expressed in material matter to please and pleasure us. Love it. It’s here for you to grab and have fun enjoying it. You must want item wildly and love using it insanely. If the motive is one of prestige, or because it’s cool, or Adams up the road have it - it’s simply wrong motivation. Go back.

4. Money has very steep discount rate as you get older. Invest in your health (physical and mental), your relatedness to other humans, your creativity, your integrity and self development.

5. Success has dual, double-faced essence. "Plastic" success - admired by others, and your personal success - defined by you. Don't get carried away by "plastic" one. Like a sommelier who doesn't drink wine, just tasting it - rinse your mouth with success, taste success, then spit it out. Internalised success gets in your head, bringing delirious state of mind, robbing you of clarity.

6. There is a reason why as kids we loved magic and dreams. Stop chasing your dreams and you will forget how it feels to live hopeful and young. Dreams can distract you from the negative events in life. You will weigh up what is more important, your dreams or the drama. Drama seems obsolete when you are passionate about following your dreams.

woman's legs in heels and stockings against bright yellow background
by Guy Bourdin for Charles Jourdan Ad Campaign, 1979, © The Guy Bourdin Estate

7. Knowing when you’re wrong is a useful skill. A skill to understand if it's your judgment wrong - something doesn’t work, something was never going to work, or you not persisting enough. At times your “Never was a quitter” might become your liability rather than asset.

8. You don't have to be right often, just avoid fatal mistakes.

9. People are interested in your degree score only because you didn't give them other measures to appreciate you.

10. Most entrepreneurs don't do it not because they are not skilled enough or passionate enough, but because they are scared. Decide if you’re willing to dance with fear because it will never go away.

11. Trust and attention are two most scarce commodities in the world. Be astonishingly grateful when people give you either of two. Don’t get cocky. Become painfully aware of where your trust and attention go.

12. At some point you got to be real with yourself about gap between the life you want to live and life that your daily habits are leading you towards. Learn how to make good habits and break bad ones.

13. You must never fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

woman's legs in white stockings on red couch
by Guy Bourdin, 1978, © The Guy Bourdin Estate

14. Everything is funny ... eventually. Become a keen seeker of absurdity in life. At times your life will feel like a story. Cultivate that. Seriousness is a killer of creativity. Firstly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Treat your life as if it's a movie. Ease. Improvisation. For example, if it would be my movie it's not what would happen – I would improvise for something to happen (sit bored on a train - who wants to watch this movie!...I would be talking to someone fun on that train). Also if it is a movie than you have an audience watching you which forces your ethical muscle to work properly and hard.

15. 90% of your inner charter and thoughts are fears, 9% are your desires, and who knows what the remaining 1% is about. Learn to be guided by 9% despite the overwhelming 90%. Yes, numbers will never be in your favour on this one.

16. “Nothing is really hard if you break it into small chunks.”~ Henry Ford

Thanks, Henry!

17. A good plan violently executed now is better than perfect plan next week.

18. It's not about you, it's about people who came to be entertained or learn something new. Get over yourself. (On public speaking).

19. If you struggle to make yourself happy, make someone else happy. See what will happen.

20. Just go and be the first - initiate good things like smiles and positive energy.

woman's legs and table legs
by Guy Bourdin, 1975, © The Guy Bourdin Estate

21. Be aware of finitude. Everyone in your life will have a last day with you. And you don’t even know when it will be. Pay attention to the fact that you will die. The biggest theme is to avoid regrets essentially by paying attention to your decisions. Remember how precious things are. Be good at forgiveness and reconciliation. The top regrets amongst people in palliative care with terminal illnesses are not the things they’ve done, but things they haven’t.

“I wish I went for my dream job.”

“I wish I opened up about my feelings.”

“I wish I worked less and spent more time with my loved ones.”

“I wish I cared less what everyone else was thinking.”

Because they would never know that one what-if, and now they ran out of time.

22. When impatient/annoyed with other people always assume that they battle through battles you know nothing about and things that are easy for you to do not necessarily easy for them.

23. Sleep on it, and sleep a little bit more. It’s good for your skin, if nothing else.

24. The freedom of limitations. The paralysing power of too many choices. Creativity needs borders, like individuality needs resistance and the Earth needs gravity, without it there’s no form, there’s no creation, only chaos.

25. Don't follow the herd. This is how you stumble upon new things and learn by going down unbeaten path. It cultivates your instincts that you can rely upon, especially when advise from other people is not available. Learn how to trust it when it serves you and when it doesn't, or doesn't serve at this time of life. Know that everything is for a reason, you just don't know it yet.

26. What it would look like if it was easy? Things don't have to be complex. Ask often, am I making it harder than it needs to be.

woman's leg in a flower pot
by Guy Bourdin, 1971, © The Guy Bourdin Estate

27. Dose make a poison. Ego is not so bad if you use it in the right amount. It can give you drive to move. And you certainly can pull off ‘high maintenance’ label, if you’re a high performance. I do it all the time.

28. Greatness comes from humble beginnings.

29. Say little, do much.

30. Smart people should build things.

31. Tell your kids that you love them and that they are special but it doesn't make them better than anyone else. If they achieve things that are widely acknowledged and those things make them special, they are still not better then anyone else. Neither anyone else is better than them. Compliment your kids with you worked hard, not you are so smart.

32. Don’t try to save the world. Save yourself. Heal your trauma. Unhealed trauma greatly interferes with your intuition - trusting life and yourself, since you’re life, and therefore trusting your creativity. You will always question and doubt your creative ability and your creations. As if deep inside on a subliminal level you know something is off - internal GPS gives false readings. The trauma is always on, hyper vigilant, scanning environment for patterns in order to mitigate them, not for ways to authentically express your soul. As Anaïs Nin said "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Thanks, Anaïs! Your own trauma projections will also greatly impact your relationships - you will bleed on people who never cut you, so to speak.

Healing and peace come in waves. Removing trauma layers patiently, slowly and compassionately will reveal so much beauty and okayness within and around you. You will see the world differently and in return it will lead you to different decisions and actions. Less reactive to negativity, open-hearted and strangely, calmly tolerant towards all that is. The deep knowing that everything is OK, and will be OK no matter what.

woman's legs under pink bed with toy plush pink elephant
'Pentax Calendar' by Guy Bourdin, 1980, © The Guy Bourdin Estate

33. “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” ~ Steve Jobs

Thanks, Steve!

34. Take your power back - take responsibility for everything that is right now in your life: the good, the bad, the boring. It's not to blame you for creating it but to remind that when you outsource with blame and shame outside of yourself onto someone else, you also outsource your power to influence your circumstances. It's THEM who screwed up, it's all THEIR fault. Unconscious parents, coward exs, road raging fools, all of them who mistreated you at some point are effectively in charge of your future. Fix it if you need to. Learn from it. Move on.

35. Say yes to weird experiences.

36. Someone being patient with you is one of the purest forms of love.

37. You’re absolutely capable of creating the life you can’t stop thinking about. You are going to figure it out as you always have. And someday you will look back at all your progress and be so glad you didn’t give up.

38. People pleasing is a form of assholery. You are not pleasing anybody, you are making them resentful because you are being disingenuous and not giving them dignity of their own experience. You patronise them with assumption that they can't handle the truth.

"To live is so starling it leaves little time for anything else."

Emily Dickinson


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