I don’t want to be stupid.
You don’t want to be stupid.
That’s why we don’t pay attention to stupid things.
We don’t pay attention to stupid things because we think they’re just that: stupid.
The story is the deepest things and knowledge about life are disguised by stupid ones. We just have to pay attention and look for them.
They taught us at school we should pursue complicated things. Stupid ones are for losers. Just pay attention to seriousness if you want to be an A.
But life is simple. We’re simple. You’re simple. I’m simple.
It sounds like a cliche and, just because of that, you (and I) fail. Big mistake!
I have to tell you this. Whenever I started paying attention to subtle details in life is when I evolve the most, and I have to say life hasn’t gone bad for me. Just the opposite. Not arrogance, just info.
Here, I’ll share 8 stupid things that can become life-changing as soon as you pay attention to them and put them into practice. To make “the exercise” even easier, I’ll show you the serious thing, the “big one”, we’re pursuing, so you can connect both.
You will see these serious things are the ones most people seek all their lives, so see the stupid thing as the gate to enter the way to that life-changing goal.
You will also see they’re all things that are really easy to perform, so easy that people by your side may laugh, but let them enjoy it. You’re just too serious to dedicate time or energy to them.
Let’s dive in!
1. Serious thing: focus. Stupid thing: toggle button.
This button makes focusing impossible to fail.
I’m referring to Notion’s toggle button. It allows you to hide and reveal information as needed.
Photo by Author
On my main board inside my Notion system, I have 3 of these buttons:
They’re all closed, collapsed.
If I open “Morning”, I find this:
- Morning routine.
- Other tasks.
Inside “Morning routine”, I have all the things I do every morning. They’re just checkboxes I mark whenever each task is done.
The point and the “magic rule” to focus and concentrate is this: whenever a section is open, all the rest are closed.
I don’t care about my “other tasks” whenever I’m inside my “morning routine”. As Tim Ferriss says,
“What you don’t do determines what you can do.”
— Tim Ferriss
This action of just focusing all your energy on “the thing that’s in front of you” takes your performance to the next level.
On top of that, you will feel a kind of release because you don’t care about the rest of the toggle buttons.
That’s focus at its best: top of energy + brain release.
“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”
— Steve Jobs
2. Serious thing: achieving your goals. Stupid thing: highlight of the day
There’s nothing more serious in life than achieving your goals. That’s what gives sense to your life. That’s how you’ll go to bed proud and satisfied.
- Goals achieved equal satisfaction.
- Satisfaction equals good sleep.
- Good sleep equals top motivation whenever you wake up the day after.
Why don’t you make it simple?
Just write down one thing, just one thing, that has to be done today.
- Be sure it’s important.
- Be sure it will move you towards your goals a little bit.
- Be sure you’ll be able to do it.
If you just do one important thing each day, you do 365 important things within a year.
Isn’t it a lot 365 important things done? How would you feel?
3. Serious thing: improve your way of living. Stupid thing: write down your disappointments
How can you improve your way of living?
Pay attention to your disappointments.
Every day, write down your disappointments.
If you see any of them is constantly repeating itself,
- Pay attention to it
- Figure out how to solve it.
- Think of a solution.
- Prepare a strategy.
- Execute it.
When you know the enemy, you can think about how to attack it to defeat it.
Whenever you attack anything with a clear and defined plan, you will succeed, and your life will become better.
4. Serious thing: motivate yourself. Stupid thing: write down your accomplishments
Don’t you want to be motivated?
Pay attention to your accomplishments.
Every day, write down all your accomplishments.
It doesn’t matter how important they are. Consider an accomplishment laughing several times a day, writing that email you couldn’t start for a week, everything matters in life.
At the end of the week, look at all the accomplishments you’ve achieved. That will boost your motivation. You cannot imagine how many things you can do in a week.
Imagine what you will see for a whole month.
As Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer found out in their studies, “the small things we achieve on a daily basis can also provide us with a sense of progress.” I do really recommend reading this Harvard Business Review titled “The Power of Small Wins“.
I haven’t known a better motivational tool than this one.
5. Serious thing: improve your performance. Stupid thing: write down what went well and why
You want to perform better each day. That’s what’s called evolution. You need to evolve to give sense to your life.
Why don’t you write down every day something that went well and look for a cause?
The importance of cause and effect defines most of the things on our planet.
Practicing this routine will allow you to see that there are causes, things, that perform well.
- Cause:I noticed I was feeling happier every day
- Consequence: I accomplished my highlight of the day. Consequence: there isn’t a day I don’t set my highlight, and there isn’t a day I don’t accomplish it.
When you see a “big goal” has been accomplished just by achieving a sequence of highlights of the day, you start understanding stupid things matter.
6. Serious thing: enjoy the present. Stupid thing: slow you down
I’m pretty sure your life will get better if you meditate for 10-15 minutes every day, but that’s a second stage. It’s too much if you want to begin from scratch.
Let’s do it simpler!
Pay attention to micro-moments. That’s what’s called micro-mindfulness.
Focus, just for seconds, on basic things:
- Brushing your teeth.
- Having a cup of coffee.
- Feeling the water in the shower.
Whenever you start doing these kinds of things, you’re training your brain to focus just on the present, on now.
If you sum up 10-15 moments each day, you will start feeling the pleasure of just being present, and your brain will look for more.
When you don’t care about the past or the future, there’s only one option: the present.
“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday, and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.”
— Dalai Lama
The present is comfortable, pleasant, nice, without concerns, just doing the thing you’re doing.
Sooner or later, you will look for more mindfulness techniques (meditation is one of them) because you’re doing “stupid things”, but you’re not stupid. You perfectly know what’s good for you.
7. Serious thing: optimize your energy. Stupid thing: checklists.
We should dedicate to things the energy they deserve.
That’s what I call a coherent and optimal use of energy.
Don’t spend energy on things that don’t matter at all.
Instead, use checklists.
To remember their content, use numbers (I know I need 6 things in my pockets before leaving home), use acronyms (WiiiCo means Wallet, iPhone, iPad, iWatch, Car keys, Office keys). Everything but spending energy worrying about unnecessary concerns, anxieties, worries, or stress.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
– David Allen
8. Serious thing: train your brain in discomfort. Stupid thing: cold showers
As human beings, we tend to laziness and comfort.
That’s great, but life is full of discomfort situations and, when they appear, we start to get depressed, anxious, stressed…
That’s why it is so important to train our brains in discomfort.
Apart from all the physical benefits, cold showers have (you can have a look at this medical essay and thousands more all over the Internet) such as increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, elevated respiratory rate, stronger immune system… the point is all the psychological effects.
Training our brains in discomfort teaches them nothing matters.
The easy thing is to run away. Doing just the opposite will show your brain there’s always “another option”, and that option maybe even better.
When you see discomfort as an opportunity life is giving you, it’s life-changing because opportunities will start to pop up everywhere.
Giving opportunities a chance is the way humanity has evolved for our whole History. Apply it to your own life.
Get a cold shower every day, and you’ll be able to support the hardest and toughest client you’ve ever seen.
Life is just the sum of millions of stupid things. That’s always what creates a BIG thing.
That’s why when you combine 8 stupid things like the ones above, you’re starting to really engage the way to fulfillment, the one that always ends up in happiness.
Later on, you’ll navigate deeper into “not so many stupid things”. Then, it’s when you start:
- Working out 2 days each week.
- Meditating every day for 10 minutes.
- Practicing yoga for 20 minutes each day.
- Being able to fill your day with micro-mindfulness moments.
- Having productivity systems to clearly define your goals and projects, making it possible to easily prioritize the daily tasks that will take you to accomplish them.
- Managing uncertainty, discomfort, unfair situations, negative scenarios because your brain has been trained to deal with them.
- Feeling calm, concentrated, focused, performing at the highest level you’ve ever seen.
There comes a time when the stupids become the clever ones. The smartest guys in the game of life. That moment is when you know and understand you’ve been “the fool on the hill” for not entering this world much earlier.
I have to say it out loud: Stupidity totally changed my life (for the better…).