Excellent Advice For Living by Kevin Kelly

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Book Cover for Excellent Advice for Living by Kevin Kelly


The book is a collection of 450 tweetable bits of advice about relationships, career, happiness, travelling, and much more. Some are universal "No one is as impressed with your possessions as you are," some are situational "If you stop to listen to a musician or street performer for more than a minute, you owe them a dollar," but they all spark some reflection. I share some of my favourites in the main notes below.

Book Notes

  • Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.
  • Treating a person to a meal never fails and is so easy to do. It’s powerful with old friends and a great way to make new friends.
  • The more you are interested in others the more interesting they’ll find you. To be interesting, be interested.
  • Tend to the small things. More people are defeated by blisters than by mountains.
  • When you get invited to do something in the future ask yourself: Would I do this tomorrow? Not too many promises will pass that immediacy filter.
  • Compliment people behind their back. It’ll come back to you.
  • You don’t need more time because you already have all the time that you will ever get; you need more focus.
  • When a child asks an endless string of “Why?” questions, the smartest reply is “I don’t know, what do you think?”
  • When you are young, have friends who are older; when you are old, have friends who are younger.
  • You are only as young as the last time you changed your mind.
  • All the greatest prizes in life in wealth, relationships, or knowledge come from the magic of compounding interest by amplifying small steady gains.
  • Finite games are played to win or lose. Infinite games are played to keep the game going. Seek out infinite games because they yield unlimited rewards.
  • Denying or deflecting a compliment is rude. Accept it with thanks even if you believe it is not deserved.
  • Avoid wearing a hat that has more character than you do.
  • Explore or optimize? Do you optimize what you know will sell or explore with something new? Do you order a restaurant dish you are sure is great (optimize) or do you try something new? Do you keep dating new folks (explore) or try to commit to someone you met? The ideal balance for exploring new things vs. optimizing those already found is ⅓. Spend ⅓ of your time on exploring and ⅔ on optimizing and deepening. As you mature it is harder to devote time to exploring because it seems unproductive but aim for ⅓.
  • If we all threw our troubles into a big pile and we saw everyone else’s problems we would immediately grab ours back.
  • When you find something you really enjoy, do it slowly.
  • The best way to advise young people is to find out what they really want to do and then advise them to do it.
  • For a great payoff be especially curious about the things you are not interested in.
  • You will spend one third of your life in your bed sleeping, and almost another third in your chair sitting. It’s worth investing in a great bed and fantastic chair.
  • Instead of asking your child what they learned today, ask them who they helped today.
  • If you are stuck in life, travel to a place you have never heard of.
  • The rich have money. The wealthy have time. It is easier to become wealthy than rich.
  • Embrace pronoia which is the opposite of paranoia. Choose to believe that the entire universe is conspiring behind your back to make you a success.
  • Re-visioning the ordinary is what art, literature, and comedy do, you can elevate the mundane details into magical wonders simply by noticing them.
  • See that old person taking forever in line? That is the future you. Have patience.
  • The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.
  • Life lessons will be presented to you in the order they are needed. Everything you need to master the lesson is within you. Once you have truly learned a lesson you will be presented with the next one. If you are alive that means you still have lessons to learn.
  • Very few regrets in life are about what you did. Almost all are about what you didn’t do.
  • Your goal is to be able to say on the day before you die that you have fully become yourself.
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