In sixth grade, a meme on iFunny pissed me off and changed the course of my life
It showed a triangle with “Good Grades,” “Social Life,” and “Enough Sleep” at each corner.
“You can only choose two,” it said, mockingly.
At 11-years-old, it wasn’t a monumental task to effectively balance all three areas.
“I want all of those things… why would I pick just two?” I thought.
As I’ve grown older, balancing these three goals has become increasingly difficult.
Sitting here today, I can confidently say I know exactly what the meme’s creator was feeling.
My conviction, though, hasn’t changed. I still want all of those things, and I’m going to figure out how to make it happen.
Thus far, the guiding question of my life has been: “is this a real constraint?”
Now, some constraints are real. I’m not going to build a company that sends a human to Mars, become a world champion skateboarder, and cure cancer in my lifetime.
That’s a real constraint.
But can I manage to study for a few hours a day, have quality interactions with my friends, and still sleep 7-8 hours every night? Absolutely. That’s not a real constraint, it’s just a challenging juggle.
Now, whenever someone describes a task as “impossible,” I ask myself if they genuinely mean it isn’t feasible, or if they just mean it’s hard to do. Usually, it’s the latter.
This iFunny meme got me moving in the right direction, but it was another meme that put everything together.
The Perfect Athlete
Sports pages frequently discuss the notion of creating the “perfect player.”
They look something like this.
The basic premise is that if you combine multiple players’ unique strengths — like LeBron’s athleticism, Jordan’s mentality, and Kobe’s footwork — you’ll get the perfect player.
I do the same thing, but with my life.
Everyone has at least one admirable quality. It may be something typical like speaking well, or something as small as being an adventurous eater. However minute the quality is, I aim to take a skill from every admirable person I meet and apply it to my own life.
If you’re a better athlete than me but don’t care for the intellectual realm, that’s cool with me. I’m going to take a lesson from your athleticism and discard the rest. If you’re a great artist, but don’t seem particularly comfortable letting loose in social environments, I’ll try to learn only from your creativity.
My ultimate heroes, though, are the mythical perfect players.
These are the people who can speak knowledgeably about almost anything, and can operate comfortably in almost any environment.
Think of the guy who closes big deals in boardrooms, is dedicated to his family, and will still kick your ass in beer pong. Or the lady who’s known for being a programming expert, but can also tell you everything about the history of the Roman Empire and the rise of EDM music while taking you on an ambitious hike.
I admire these people because they can walk into any room and feel right at home.
They are “perfect players” because they combine skillsets that aren’t usually found together. Instead of leaning entirely into a specific archetype, they draw on the best practices from groups.
I’m not a big fan of the word, but being a polymath has been my goal in life for years now, and this blog will be my way of sharing and cementing the lessons I learn along the way.
What Is A Good Life
These memes led me to question what makes life good. Here’s what I’ve found:
For me, it’s about saying and, not or.
When society says one can either be successful or social, I want to be both.
When people say you can either be athletic or intelligent, I want to be both.
It’s the iFunny meme on steroids.
If we want all of these things, why would we settle for just a few?
Basically, I want to channel the spirit of the Renaissance in our society of hyper-specialization.
Leonardo da Vinci is the primary example of a Renaissance mind. He was a pioneering painter, sculptor, humanist, scientist, architect, philosopher, engineer, and more.
How many painter-scientist-philosophers do you know?
A more accessible (but not really) example is Dolph Lundgren. Movie star in classic franchises like Rocky and James Bond, Fulbright Scholar in chemical engineering at MIT, and a black belt in karate. He’s also an absolute unit. Who does all of that in one life?
Now, I’m not saying we need to become Leonardo da Vinci or Dolph Lundgren to live a good life — they’re just examples of the spirit I’m talking about.
It’s all about the combination of skills you usually don’t find in one person, man or woman.
In that sense, it’s about creating a Renaissance life.
I don’t think there’s any one way to live a good life, so instead I’ll be focusing on combining lessons from different schools of thought to determine what works for me (and hopefully you).
In this pursuit, I view my life in terms of “buckets” that I’m trying to fill simultaneously.
My Life Buckets — Brain, Body, Soul, Wallet
It’s tough to live a good life when your brain has no idea what’s going on.
My writings in this area will draw largely from philosophy, as I take advantage of the work some of history’s greatest minds have already done in determining what makes life good.
Other topics relating to your brain will include theories on learning, focus, systems of thinking, and other random topics I find interesting.
Immediately after brain comes body. In a world filled with stereotypes about shrimpy nerds and dumb jocks, I believe everyone should aspire to be a nerdy jock.
I’m not going to argue about the merits of different diets or tell you to track every grain of quinoa you eat.
Instead, I’ll focus on being a healthy person.
I’ll discuss general fitness, nutrition and water consumption, flexibility, athleticism, longevity, and breathing.
I believe health is so important because, at least for me, it’s a physical barometer of how hard I’m pushing in all areas of my life. Even if my grades look good and my general disposition doesn’t reflect significant changes, gaining weight usually signifies a general lack of focus and self-discipline in my life.
Obviously your body may function differently than mine, and I’m not here to tell you what you should look like. Still, everything I write about will be fairly accessible and beneficial for almost anyone.
I can’t promise I’ll turn you into a cover model, but my basic principles will help you live a healthier life.
To be honest, I’m kind of cheating with this one.
Sometimes I’ll use this section to talk about spiritual texts, but other times I’ll use it to talk about music and doing dumb stuff with your friends.
While some people tell you life is all about depriving yourself of all physical pleasures in order to ascertain some greater truth, and others tell you it’s about indulging in every pleasure for the purpose of discovery, I’ve found my answer to be somewhere in the middle.
This section will discuss methods of uniting traditional spiritual methods with more modern practices to create a spiritual life that works for you.
There’s no way around it.
It’s tough to live the best life possible if you’re in a constant state of anxiety about your next paycheck.
My writing for your wallet will focus on business and marketing. I’ll do some case studies on effective businesses, explain some projects I’m working on behind the scenes.
In addressing all of my buckets, I have to mention productivity.
I’m a chronic procrastinator, so this will definitely be more about explaining my learning than telling you what to do.
I hope to approach productivity from a more human perspective. I don’t have any fancy decision graphs or techniques to optimize every minute of the day. I’m much more focused on the idea of finding a way to fit everything you’re interested in into your life.
How do you do your work, go to the gym, go out with your friends, get enough sleep, and feel good to get right back to work the next morning? That’s what productivity is to me.
Come Along For the Ride
I plan to update and republish this article every few months.
It pretty much sums up what I want to say, but at the same time I feel like I’m not expressing everything in my head.
That’s the struggle of writing, I guess.
In the spirit of taking action, I’m publishing this anyway.
Effectively, I’ll be writing about incorporating lessons from different walks of life to create a good life, or a Renaissance life.
Instead of choosing or’s, I’ll be writing about ways to choose and’s.
Your best ideal life may look completely different from mine. That’s great!
My writing will still be helpful in bringing you closer to whatever your personal ideal is.
Every week, I’ll riff about a topic within one of the buckets I discussed above and see where it takes me.
I hope you’ll join me for the ride.