The antidote to nihilism or pessimism in life is to ACT — to do something (self-directed) that fulfills our own inner curiosities, or our own inner creative motives.
This is my theory:
We gain the most happiness and satisfaction in life, when we create things, or mould reality to our own whims.
This is not possible without action.
Why is action so hard?
To act, or to do something, to make something, or to write something is hard. Why? In order to act or move, we must fight inertia, friction, and gravity.
But consider, it is precisely the opposition and the friction we desire.
For example, I love weight lifting because it is difficult, and because there is a challenge. Weight lifting is boring if the weight isn’t challenging or heavy enough. There is nothing that excites me more than trying to push my “1 rep maximum” when lifting weights.
How to fight inertia
I think for many of us, action and doing stuff is hard because we’re always exhausted (mentally and physically) and also because we lack direction or self-confidence in ourselves.
- Eat well, with lots of nutritious foods that give us strength (meat, eggs, protein and fat rich foods)
- Sleep well: Refrain from alcohol, drugs, or stimulants before sleeping, to wake up refreshed the next day.
- Fast from information: Give our mind a chance to recover from information. Uninstall social media and email from our phones, or just turn off our phones when we come home from work. Use this time in the evening to meditate, go for an evening walk, read a book, or go to the gym and listen to music.
- Dictate your own purpose in life: Write down your own artistic ideals, pursuits, and goals.
- Disregard perfectionism: allow yourself to make art like a child. Publish things 80% “good enough”
- Count your small daily wins, and act a little more each day, to keep the snowball rolling.
The rolling stone gathers no moss
It is always hard to get our creative stone ball rolling. But when we get it rolling, it is easier to keep it in motion. If we are always in motion, we will never rust.
Speaking of which, physical movement (walking) is very important for our mental and creative well-being. I know personally I come up with my best ideas when going on long walks. I also make my best photos when I just enjoy a walk, and carry my camera around my neck (RICOH GR II x ERIC KIM NECK STRAP).
Picasso made on average 1-2 artworks a day until he died.
Thus the secret is this: focus on quantity of the works you make and publish, rather than the quality.
For example if you’re a photographer, just focus on shooting a lot, and shooting a lot everyday. The more you shoot, the more likely you are to make good photos. It is easier to look through 10,000 photos and get 1 good one you’re happy with, instead of looking at only 100 photos and trying to find 1 you’re happy with.
Practical life hacks on how to act
Personal life hacks which help me act:
- Don’t read or use email in the morning, or don’t read news, media, social media in the morning. This will put you in “defense” mode, rather than “attack/creation/acting” mode. Thus, use your mornings as a chance to act. Use your mornings as a chance to write, make photos during your commute, or to come up with ideas.
- Fast in the morning and drink lots of black coffee or tea. When we eat breakfast, our insulin spikes, and we get sleepy afterwards. Try to fast (don’t eat) until lunch or dinner time.
- Black coffee (preferably espresso), no sugar no milk, helps me act more. The adrenaline response from caffeine helps me act, move, think, and do stuff.
- Listen to empowering music: Any music which makes you act or be productive is good music. For me that is music by Kanye West, JAY Z, Kendrick Lamar, MIGOS, ASAP Ferg, Gessefelstein, Cyhi da Prynce. Whenever I listen to beats, I get in the mood to act, and create.
- Exercise: Do deadlifts and squats at the gym, chin-ups at the park, or yoga and pushups at home. When I get the blood flowing, I feel motivated to act, and do stuff. When you’re feeling lethargic, don’t just sit at home, watch Netflix, or do something passive — do something active with your body which is fun for you. The biggest secret is to never do any form of physical exercise that is boring to you.
In praise of an active life
Life an active life! Let’s fight all forms of passive living.
Active living: active and lively dinners with friends and family, active creation of artwork, and moving around a lot.
Act more, make more, play more, dance more, sing more words of gratitude, and let’s be a little more bold and reckless in life.
Stay hungry, stay foolish!