20 Timeless Nuggets of Wisdom on Life, Love, Creativity, and Success

To the wisdom seekers:

We consume information in our search for wisdom. But information is not wisdom. The seeds of information only bear the fruits of wisdom when we apply them to OUR lives. You’d never go to the shoe store and ask for the biggest shoes they had if your feet were small.

If we treat information in the same way, we lose our ability to think, evaluate and decide if something makes sense in OUR lives.

When you begin this journey of exploration, you become aware of as Morpheus says to Neo in the Matrix a “world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from one disturbing truth”, as …………….. puts it. Everything you’ve ever been told MIGHT be complete bullshit. The only way to know is to find out for yourself. Hence the reason I call it the point of no return.

After hundreds of conversations with spiritual teachers, experts and people from every walk of life imaginable and reading too many books about human behavior, my head hurts. Most days I feel like Russell Crowe in a Beautiful Mind minus the math skills.

Sometimes I start to notice patterns and dots connecting in ways that make my mind race. For the sake of my own sanity, I had to put it all down on paper. This little guide was the result. These are the things I’ve noticed; things that caught my attention and made me a tiny bit wiser.

Information is what we consume. Knowledge is what we capture. Wisdom is what we apply.

When I was having lunch with my friend Joseph, he described my work on the Unmistakable Creative as a skeptic’s guide to a good life. So I encourage you to go through all this with skepticism. Discard what does not make any sense in YOUR life, modify it and make it your own. That’s how it becomes wisdom.


1. The Power of Equanimity — Jerry Colonna

There’s the world that we would like to have. And there’s a world as it is. Parker Palmer calls it the tragic gap. There’s the person I’d like to be. And there’s the person that I sometimes or often am.

In Buddhism, we’re taught to let go of attachment to the beliefs and to the people that we’d like to be. Because attachment can lead to self-disintegration and self-criticism and challenges to our own sense of self-worthiness. Because we are never going to achieve perfection in whom we’d like to be. And the world is never going to be perfect. And the world is never going to be what in our heart we’d like it to be.

But that doesn’t mean we give up.

So you strive without attaching your sense of self-worth to the attainment of the goal so that you can be okay. You strive because there is meaning and purpose in striving. You strive because magic shit happens when we strive.

But when we fail, we remember that we tried and we pick ourselves up and we dust ourselves off, and we try again. And that rising after failure is part of the glory of being a human being. To me, that’s much more glorious than the perfect attainment of every single wish, dream, and goal. That’s the power of equanimity.

2. What Can you Do Right Now to Make Things a Little Better? — Ryder Caroll

Over time those tiny little things add up. Never say never, but very rarely in life have I ever experienced somebody handing me a total get out of jail free card. Nothing has solved all my problems. It’s been promised a lot. But I’ve never seen that to be true for me.

It’s always been: what can I do right now to make things a little bit better? And over time, things do get better. And when they get worse, you have some experience dealing with it that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. But it does give you a map to kind of surface again.

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3. Will Storr- You Don’t Have to be Oprah, Beyonce or Steve Jobs to he Happy

One of the academic definitions of perfectionism is somebody that has unusually high expectations of success and repeatedly fails to hit those markers. So they continually think that they are are a loser and a failure.

That’s what our culture does these days. It presents us with this perfect self on TV, on the radio, on the internet, and on social media. It says: if you’re not this person, you have failed.

So if you’re not Beyoncé or Steve Jobs, you’re doing something wrong. It really is incredibly toxic because it’s not true.

4. Manisha Thakor- Optimize Your Life for Enough

There are three big questions that I am really focused on right now, which I think we all need to ask ourselves. Because it’s the answers to these questions that are leading us to places that are causing us to be like rats on a hamster wheel in so many different ways, not just monetarily.

1. What if everything we’ve been taught about money and making it, and I put that in air quotes, because I mean it both literally and figuratively, is just all wrong?

2. What if success, as defined by modern society, is really nothing more than a recipe for disconnection from self, from others and from community and life overall?

3. What if instead of always looking for more, which is sort of part of the American dream, you can — fill in the blank, whether it’s more money, more fame or more status — we focused on optimizing our own definition of enough?

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5. Elle Luna: Choosing Must is the Greatest Thing You Can Do With Your Life

If there is one thing that I have learned, in all of this work, all of it, and in living it and writing about it and talking with others, it is this: choosing ‘must’ is the greatest thing that you can do with your life. And when you’re standing at that door, I hope that those words will come into your head. And that you will trust that this process has so many gifts to give you, if you’ll just trust it, if you’ll just let go, if you’ll just step into that thing that really, really scares you.

Because that’s ‘must’ and on the other side of that are the most incredible miracles of your life. It’s like the leaf on the tree. They’re all waiting. They’re waiting. But we just have to understand that there’s a greater potential reality with our lives and to trust that it will manifest.


6. Jenny Taitz — Diversify Your Portfolio

Your person can’t be your everything. That’s not going to realistically fulfill you. Given the prevalence of relationships ending, it seems like a really poor investment to take all your diverse portfolio (metaphorically) and put it into one risky stock.

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7. Terri Cole — The Only Path to Real Love is Self Love

Real love is self-love, self-knowledge, and self-compassion. That is the only path to real love.

There’s this abyss in most people. They’re looking for the problems from childhood or that didn’t get fixed or whatever it may be. They’re looking for that person, repeating reality to tell them they’re okay, to choose them, to make them be enough.

But the reality is that you have to choose you. You have to know that you are valuable and figure out that self-esteem and all of that stuff is an inside job.

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8. Natasha Scripture — Create a Life You Love

Create a life that you love so much that you don’t feel that kind of void.


9. Chase Jarvis — Born to Create

We were born to create. We’re creating machines. Hunger reminds us that we need to eat food, or we’re gonna die. And pain or injury or loneliness or the hard stuff reminds us of something. I’m suggesting that what it should remind you of is that you are a creator. That this is a label that you should own.

10. Austin Kleon — Steal Like An Artist

We’re always taking in influences and then we forget about them. Stealing like an artist is about being intentional with your influences. Instead of just being influenced by random stuff, you have a kind of creative kleptomania where you’re on the lookout for stuff to steal.

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11. Seth Godin — Don’t Cater to the Critics

There’s page after page, document after document of evidence that almost every bestseller is a surprise bestseller. Almost every movie that breaks box office records was declined by a studio before it came out. Almost every critic has been repeatedly being wrong about the books and the ideas that changed our lives. So if you go into it saying, how do you know that you’ve already lost? You don’t know.

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12. Sarah Peck — Great Work Requires Sacrifice

Read the histories of people who have created the greatest works that you admire, because they’re not these beautiful little stories, even if people have written them as beautiful stories. Remember that’s just writing; it might not actually be true.

A lot of the people we admire the most are the loneliest, weirdest, strangest, most miserable people ever.

I would argue that doing great work and having great love are some of the biggest, if not the ultimate things in life. And you’re just gonna get the gamut of emotions. And some of it’s going to be not so good.

13. Tara Mcmullin — Be Intentional and Make Bold Choices

One of my chief guiding principles is that we all have our own best paths to get to where we want to go. And that the best path for us is not the best path for somebody else. And that when we are intentional about making bold choices, about the directions that we’re going to go, the opportunities that we’re going to take, the direction that we’re going to pursue, we end up becoming more effective and compelling.

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14. Danielle Laporte- Trust the Divine Order of the Universe

I think I’ve been around enough that I really can see the divinity of everything that hasn’t gone my way. So for anybody listening who’s just like, you feel him behind the eight ball and you’re thinking you should have the bestseller or the marriage, or why did that happen? Or why do you get fired if you’re in a dark place?

Just take one grain of what I’m saying now, just believe me for a nanosecond, that there really is a divine order to things, every single disappointment (and I’ve had some significant ones) every failure, every heartbreak, everything that I went after.

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15. TK Coleman — Don’t Aim for the Ideal Version of Yourself on Day One

You can’t go the extra mile until you first traverse the essential mile, right? So if you want to travel 100 miles, you still have to traverse the first mile. You still have to walk the first block. So I don’t see the idea of starting small as something that is mutually exclusive with going big.

In fact, I see it the other way around. The people who get stuck in life are not the people who start small. The people who get stuck in life are the people who don’t start at all because they’re too busy now condemning themselves for not being able to do the ideal version on day one.

16. Greg Hartle- Your Problems Never Go Away

The problems don’t go away. They only magnify. What changes is your capacity to handle them. So it’s your capacity to handle them with resilience and grit and having the wherewithal or the commitment to make the sacrifices necessary.

Set an intention. But, also write down: what is the anti-intention?

You want a million dollars: great. That’s the goal. Now write down all the things that are going to suck about having a million dollars, because there will be plenty of things that are going to suck about having a million.

You want to be on TV: awesome. You want to be on a television show: fantastic. Now write down all the things that suck about you having your own television show like you can’t go to a restaurant anymore, right?

We tend to live in a world in which we are unwilling to make those sacrifices and that only causes us unnecessary suffering.

17. Philip Mckernan — Turn around and Face Your Fear

I don’t think we ever deal with and put fear to bed. It’s always going to be a part of us. The problem is that we won’t accept that. We won’t accept that as part of the process. So what we do is we put on our sneakers, we put on our Lululemon pants and we put on our little Under Armour tops and we sprint and we run and we run from fear.

And then eventually we have to stop and take a breath and we have to stop and drink water or sleep or pee or whatever the hell we have to do. And we turn around and that little bastard’s right behind us and the bathroom is fear because fear doesn’t need water. It doesn’t need caffeine, it doesn’t need sleep, it doesn’t need to do anything, it will always be with us.

So do we want to spend the rest of our lives running from it or do we want to turn and face it?

18. Emily Fletcher- Happiness Doesn’t Come from Acquiring What You Desire

If someone has a real desire, their happiness does not lie on the other side of the acquisition of the desire. But if the desire is there, I think we have to trust that nature put it there. And so whatever unfolds on the way, that is what’s meant to be.

19. Ananta Ripa Ajmera — Darkness is Temporary

When we wake up before the sun, we’re able to see that transition from darkness to light. And I think there’s something so deeply healing to the human psyche about seeing that happen. Because it’s a reminder to us that the darkness is temporary. And it passes and gives way for the light of the sun and of the day. Dark habits, destructive patterns and thoughts that we have, only have a temporary existence.

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20. Ryan Holiday — Wisdom Makes Your Life Better

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Haruki Murakami said that the point of a storm is who you become when you come out of it. Right now all of humanity is walking through a storm together. Wisdom gives us the gift of coming out of the storm better instead of bitter. Live accordingly.

Pause and Reflect

If you’re like most people, this little book is probably one of the dozens of things you’ve come across on the internet today. It’s been a twenty-minute read.

Your phone is full of unread text messages, your inbox is full of unread emails, and you might be wondering what all those notifications are about.

Your natural temptation will be to attend to everything else that requires your immediate attention. I want to encourage you to resist, pause and reflect. And if you need a bit of guidance, consider these words from America’s Favorite Neighbor:

Who are the people who have helped you become who you are today? Nobody gets to be a human adult without the investment of others along the way. I’d like to give you a minute in the middle of this meeting to think about those who have trusted you and guided you and loved you into being… a minute of grateful silence. — Fred Rogers, Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech

You Don’t Have to do Any of This Alone

There’s one thing a lot of creative people don’t talk that much about. None of their accomplishments would be possible with all support they receive from behind the scenes. It’s why we created The Unmistakable Creative Listener Tribe. It’s totally free to Join. Click here to learn more.

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