What is a maxim, you ask?
Simple. It’s a rule for you to live by.
Why do you need maxims?
Simple. Without them you live a weak and undisciplined life, lacking in consistency.
A life not governed by any maxim is a deeply unconscious life that will lead…nowhere.
Below are 11 maxims that will help guide your actions towards a more successful life.
#1 Absorb what is useful; Disregard that which is useless
The first time I ever encountered a maxim was when I started practicing Jeet Kune Do at age 14. At the end of each practice we would recite a bunch of maxims. Out of all the maxims I heard, this was the only one that I truly “absorbed”.
Jeet Kune Do is actually founded on this very maxim. JDK is the father of modern MMA. Bruce Lee created it by taking all the best stuff from all other martial arts, mixing it together, and creating his own one. All the traditional martial artists got angry at him for doing it. But no one remembers any of their names, while Bruce Lee’s will forever be known as a famous pioneer.
This maxim has impacted my life in a big way ever since. I am a “thief” — and I’m proud of it. I steal ideas from the most brilliant minds. You should do the same.
#2 Your brain is constantly being rewired
And it’s all on you to make sure that it’s being wired optimally. Any time you’re having a negative thought, that’s another repetition given to a corresponding neural pathway. This makes it stronger, and more likely for you to think negatively again.
Is that really what you want?
To consistently have negative thoughts is an indicator of ignorance. A highly conscious person would never hurt himself on purpose by lowering the quality of his most important tool — the brain.
By reminding myself of this maxim, I have eliminated almost all negative thinking. While I might not always be delusionarily positive, I am never negative. I am at worst neutral.
#3 Time is short, you will die soon
This is fact.
At first it’s a scary thing to think about. Then it becomes very liberating.
Death is the ultimate liberator. It’s impossible to say anything about death other than that it happens — without fail.
Death is the ultimate liberator. Life is potentially scary.
#4 Your life is the sum of the narratives you tell yourself
All personal experience is subjective. “Reality” cannot be proven to objectively exist. You can hang out with a friend and look at a rock and both of you can agree that you’re seeing a rock. But that’s not real reality. That’s consensus reality.
The takeaway is this: your life is perceived to be whatever you want it to be — no exceptions. You have a certain amount of control (no one knows how much) over the subjective experience known as your life.
Every event merely is. It’s your responsibility to interpret it in an empowering manner. Crude example: if you’re sad about your grandma dying — that’s your narrative making it seem negative.
All is but opinion.
Your internal dialogue, and how you interpret the things that happen to you, are completely up to you to mentally manipulate in your favor any way you can. Much of Stoicism is devoted to this pursuit.
You can either choose to listen to a disempowering narrative, or you choose to listen to a narrative where you are the champion.
But what if others disagree?
Well, who are others to decide what is real or not?
What authority do they have behind their claims?
No one has a claim on your reality, except you.
Choose an epic narrative.
Choose to have an inner monologue that is delusionally positive and constantly pumps you up.
#5 This too shall pass
Heraclitus, the philosopher, said that change is the only constant. He was right.
Remind yourself of this anytime you’re suffering, complaining, or struggling with the present situation.
#6 Life is about making choices
Time is the most valuable resource. At second place comes willpower.
Napoleon Bonaparte said:
Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious than being able to decide…
And it’s true. Willpower, as ascribed to your prefrontal cortex, is the “finite” resource being used to make a decision.
As Napoleon famously asserted, most people don’t like making decisions, and never make an effort to practice their willpower. They are also in the habit of spending it on all the wrong things.
They waste their second most important resource on deciding which TV show to watch. But they don’t use it to build a business, build a body, or educate themselves.
#7 There is a “law” of compounding: Follow it
Just as there is power in compound interest, there is also power in compound experience. It’s not an exact law though, because there’s a difference between compound interest (money) and that of compound experience.
The difference is that it takes forever for compound interest to start producing financial results for the normal person… Let’s say you save $500 on a monthly basis — which you absolutely can if you’re frugal — and invest it in the stock market or a savings account. Your investment then appreciates by 5 % on a yearly basis. If you keep this up for 20 years you’ll end up with $207,729.47.
[Note: You can check this out yourself to make it more concrete…]
And while that sounds like nice chunk of cash, it’s not really as great as it sounds…. Because you’re probably not taking into account that:
1. You’re locking in this capital for 20 damn years (!), and in doing so probably missing a bunch of better investment opportunities.
2. In 20 years from now, your hefty sum of $207,729.47 won’t have the same purchasing power as it does today. Given how much money is being printed nowadays, it’s hard to know how much that amount of money will be worth in the future.
3. The stock market, or your savings account, could potentially crash at any time. Like when Lehman Brothers collapsed and initiated the financial crisis of 2008. If that happens, you’ll be set back a long way, maybe minus 30-100%. If that happens, all your previously compounded interest goes out the window.
So, compound interest is awesome in theory. But not always awesome in practice. At least not if you’re an average Joe starting from scratch hoping to get rich from it in 20+ years.
–Experience, however, is safer. It is fully subject to the “law” of compounding:
1. You will learn more, and quicker, if you know a ton of stuff. This is because learning happens mainly by creating associations between memories. If you already have a ton of associations that relate to something, you’ll memorize it almost instantly.
2. If you already have a lot of experience in an area, your brain is primed to see patterns that others cannot see. If you’ve got a lot of experience with business you can see potential business opportunities more easily. If you’re good at picking up girls you can see opportunities for doing that where others don’t. If you’re good at fighting you can easily find openings to strike your opponent.
3. The more you know, the more often you get “inspired”. Einstein said that:
A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way, but intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.
And while his words don’t provide any definitive proof, this has definitely been the case for me over the past 3 years.
The more things you learn, the more easily you’ll get flashes of insight. This is a direct result of your brain finding a “fit” between a bunch of already existing associations. Your subconscious is always at work, trying to fit together different pieces of information to see how they mesh with each other.
Given this “law” of compound experience, it becomes important to learn as many things as possible early in life.
#8 A consistent process produces success
The process is the cause behind the effect. All positive results stem from an intelligently created process put to work consistently over a long period of time.
Michael Jordan didn’t become a legendary basket ball player overnight. He did it by putting in thousands of hours practicing day in an day out, while fine-tuning his framework for learning.
The same can be said of just about any successful person. They’re successful because they’ve created a daily routine that fit their desired outcome, and stuck to it consistently while eliminating what doesn’t work, and doing more of what works well.
My physique was at best slightly above average 3 years ago. Now it’s elite. How did that happen?
Ain’t nothing to it but hardcore consistency in diet, sleep, and an efficient pre-workout ritual that pumps me up to lift heavy-ass weights.
#9 Do today what others won’t do so that tomorrow you can do what others cannot.
Plain and simple: put in the work now and during the foreseeable future, and reap the rewards of it later. While others were sleeping, you were hustling. Now who’s lucky?
Not you. You made the conscious decision to live like no one else would. You took the path least traveled. You stuck to the process.
The hard life is tough…But only for a while. Then it pays off big.
The easy life isn’t challenging at all, and that’s why it pays off in direct proportion to that — not at all.
#10 Rise to the work of man
This is an abbreviation of a quote from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Use it to remind yourself that you’re not supposed to snooze, sleep in, or be lazy. Nature has fixed a certain amount of sleep for you, don’t overextend it.
Bees, horses, and insects fulfill their purpose in nature without effort. Humans are confused: What is my purpose?
I don’t know… But I do know the following: your purpose is not found or fulfilled lying in your bed, sleeping away the day.
Ok, so I lied. There is no eleventh maxim.
But check out the comment section for many more maxims.