Twenty Nice: a list of 29 things I learned

I have been reading and writing a lot the past 8 months when I came across Noah Stokes’ birthday lists. Inspired by these I figured I could highlight some learnings myself. Scanning through my scribblings I tried looking for the ones that appear to me as important or beautiful. These are probably lessons that have shaped me into who I am, it will be interesting to see how this will look a year from now.

Below is a list of 29 things in no particular order that made the cut.

  • Reading is good. Everyone should read more. There is always too much to read and too much to think about, but that is a great thing.
  • Whenever you want to introduce something new to your daily rythm, make a commitment to six weeks. Just keep at it for six weeks every day and see what happens afterwards. You’re setting a goal which is not too far away, but once you’ve reached it you’ve made the potential habit an actual habit.
  • The other person is never the problem.
  • We’re all in our own movies. Communication might get you far but you can never guess how another person perceives things. You’re in your movie and the other is in his/hers. We’re all conditioned by society and our legacy, but this only makes it easier to align our perceptions. You can never be sure you’re completely understanding someone.
  • Drink more water.
  • Idling is important. Working hard can be fun if you enjoy your job, but you still need to disconnect on a regular basis to maintain a healthy balance. We are not build for infinite endurance. Working on pet projects is not idling.
  • Lean into the Pain. Pain is a signal that you’re pushing your boundaries. If something hurts, confront yourself with it and do it again. It will make you stronger.
  • Music is all about the experience. Recorded music is just a thin rehearsal of something that has been performed earlier. A live performance generates incredible amounts of energy that inspire and fuel people.
  • Reading is brainwashing. Whatever combination of letters you are looking at, your brain will try to parse it. Reading a lot about a certain subject will likely influence your personal development.
  • Love is brutal and therefor interesting. The highs are incredible and the lows are painful, but we should not shy away from them. The pain is making us understand more about ourselves, which is all we can do. Everything else is just acceptance.
  • Trying to understand love is futile. While Plato might give you some useful metaphors, it will always be bigger and more complex than we can wrap our heads around.
  • We need to let go of the idea of always being productive. This is impossible. Try working in small bursts with a high focus. The Pomodoro Technique is an interesting method for this. The quality of our work will also increase when we’re relaxed.
  • By trying to understand more of the world, we will probably feel like we understand less. This is one of the great and humbling things about life.
  • Alcohol seems like an obligatory addiction of Western society. You will only accept this when you take a break from it and realize how interwoven alcohol has become in our social interactions.
  • I love being able to live in a city because I choose to do so, not because it just happened to me.
  • A todo list is helpful, but a tada list works better for your mood. Collect all the things you’ve done on a list and reflect on it at the end of the day. You’ve done a great job.
  • If you don’t believe in yourself you will never change.
  • Try to collect parts of lyrics from songs you like. It will train your ear to listen to music better and you will build up a small collections of beautiful sentences or word combinations.
  • We can change our behavior overnight but changing our character is way harder.
  • “Just slowly, calmly, harmoniously keep up, keep up, keep up, keep up, keep up, and it will come to you. Don’t hate it. Don’t be frustrated about it. Just keep going.” – Yogi Bhajan.
  • Find friends who do work in an entire different field than you. It will result in more interesting conversations and helps you stay curious.
  • Buy things at markets or greengrocers. Groceries with a barcode are probably not very good for us.
  • Playing video games is actually addictive. It will likely mess up your sleep rythm.
  • Spend more time in Rio de Janeiro next time. It’s a great city.
  • We are way more vulnerable than you think. Be more careful and listen to your body and gut. This is difficult when living at large. Stop and reflect often.
  • Greet kindness with kindness. Even if you don’t feel comfortable, an act of kindness deserves kindness in return. Always.
  • Books and magazines (e.g. printed media) will not go away. They will find their niches and keep on being printed, but will just grow more expensive.
  • Working with great people is a privilege. Being able to turn these people into friends is an even greater luxury.
  • Traveling is good, but we should be aware of Curse of the Traveler. Traveling should be balanced with time you spend in your home. We need time to ground and build persistent connections.
Categorized as Blog

By Roel

Roel is a senior product manager at Spotify. He loves internet quirks, baking, running and tech.