1. Change and understand.
Happiness is not the purpose of life. Understanding and change grant all that we love. Humans have the advantage because they developed intelligence faster than animals, and so animals are at the mercy of humans. Whether or not that should be the case is irrelevant to the point: The reality is that the ability to change and adapt grants resilience and advantage. The top colleges take the best minds from each country, for instance. So, in your life too, resistance to change will cost you over time in big and small ways. For instance, a person who invests at 25 years old will have decades of interest accrued, so that the advantages, over time, are cumulative and effortless.
Stagnation is to die. Krishnamurti said, in essence, “We tend to build pools of comfort in possessions, religion, politics, accepted thought, and in this pool, we stagnate and die.” This is not living; this is existing. There we find the Socratic unexamined life.
Change — questioning, listening — understanding, this is all that give humans life. The only thing that guarantees happiness is complete ignorance, and to become either an animal or child, we would lose what we take for granted: autonomy, intelligence, capacity. If you envy wealth, for instance, be honest with the sacrifices asked for: lack of emotion, imbalance with work, maintenance, and more opportunities for mistakes.
A donkey does not envy me — living by duty and bound by instinct — it is content in this state, more content than I could ever be, and you should not envy what does not belong to you. Be who you are, and own it. Be the best of what you are: improve and understand.
2. Organization is a part of sanity.
Peterson put it, we walk around in society, and each of us keep each other in line without realizing it. If a man becomes isolated either in a prison cell or in the forest, sanity comes in and out. Society sets a standard, and all of us are aware of it without a word said. This can make sanity effortless, or at least possible. Loneliness is probably the lead cause to suicide and other mental breaks and great suffering.
So organization is keeping your goals, thoughts, and chores in line, in the same way that random citizens of society do for us without realizing. People are not exerting themselves onto us with any intensity once we are adults, and yet their existence can encourage sanity naturally. So let your organization of your time and thoughts follow the same: Do not let it be rigid. It should be there, but not overbearing.
If you do not write down thoughts as they come, if you do not keep track of goals or errands, you have forfeited the best part about being human: The ability to act on life versus life acting upon you, as this privilege is not allowed to children and animals. Your life can unravel or languish, as a man would in isolation. In an unnatural state, nothing is effortless; thoughts flood and sabotage. Too much of a good thing can no longer be a good thing.
Organization is a part of life: Every part of life has a system in operation, from the ant colony to the solar system. We rely on the seasons, on youth and old age. In some semblance of stability, sanity can exist. When stability is shattered through disaster, humans throughout history have turned to leaders and ideology of all kinds, out of desperation.
As sanity unravels, Tom Hanks draws his face on the volleyball, and humans turn and increase the measure of anything, no matter how bizarre or self-destructive. We see this currently, with our level of consumption and the opioid epidemic. Without organization at least in the form of a schedule, who knows what disorder, addiction, or setback awaits, as we are all biologically predisposed to certain maladies and behavior in an unhealthy state.
Especially for the artistic or sensitive, it is imperative that invest into some form of stability in life and be honest with emotions. I don’t care if it is a time to go to bed or reliable people, but if you do not have some form of consistency, your mind is sure to allow you to descend into a hell of your own choosing.
3. Self-sabotage is to ameliorate the symptoms of pain, not to fix problems.
There are things we do every day to sabotage our own efforts. Something small like not showering early enough to get to bed on time or other forms of procrastination or something greater like the premises or habits we’ve accepted to get by, we all have done it. Some days, more than others, and the longer something persists, the more it becomes part of identity, and therefore, guarded even closer. We keep our old self safe through denial or justification, and yet we die a slow death in our stagnation. How could there be change when we love our comforts so well? We don’t do ourselves or others favors when we aren’t honest with ourselves: honesty about our limitations and our desires, but honesty most importantly, with our biases.
How do we know if a habit is detrimental? If everyone in society were to do what we do, would society descend into some form of a hell? Imagine if everyone enjoyed dysfunction — the only reason why society has any semblance of order and benefit is because there are enough people that care and enough people that refuse the worst parts of their nature. We don’t just accept bad habits through justification, but our bias has greater audacity than even that: We will go so far as to make our own proclivities into virtues, by clinging onto literature or famous people that validate whatever we are or want to be. We are trying to force virtue and meaning where we already are: There really is no point.
Value-neutrality is keeping our emotions and biases in check when dealing with information and conclusions. Confirmation bias matters a lot less on the mundane aspects of living, or even in relationships, but for information and advice, perhaps nothing is more important. If information is given by someone who does not care to know about themselves, the application is limited, even dangerous. Everything has been filtered through what cannot be broadly applied: subjectivity. If we try to put aside subjectivity, we have a chance at honesty.
Weakness matters far more than strengths. Nothing fails for its strengths, but for lack of understanding and continual pain caused by weakness. Weakness is simply our coping mechanisms, which appear to the untrained eye as only selfishness, but it is what humans have used to get by, usually for many generations. Many of the most significant weaknesses are as as much a biological — and by extension, environmental — proclivity, as a personality one. We rely on the most detrimental parts of our nature. The greater the weakness, the more important it is to us, usually. But the identification is just as difficult as organization and action, and both phases are ongoing, because identification is easily exchanged for indifference.
Many wealthy people are unhappy because they haven’t dealt with their weaknesses, not because of a lack of strengths. They usually have it all — beauty, skill, generosity, or money — and there is no guarantee of anything meaningful because their aim on what they need is continuously off, because they do not know themselves. When you do not know what you need, you are left only then to instinct and emotion; life is acting upon you.
Dysfunction is drawn to dysfunction, even if the dysfunction is of a different brand; this is why childhood matters, because this is where familiarity starts.
Humans are drawn to what feels familiar, and what is most familiar is you. You live with yourself every day. So it is worth all effort and all honesty to make sure that what is familiar to you is healthy.
To be human is to:
2. Be honest with yourself. To love is to understand.
3. Change. Intelligence is adaptation to our new environment: the technological age, where brawn has diminished significantly in utility. What separates us from animals is our ability to think broadly and to change, and autonomy is only for those to claim.