Over several years I’ve thought much about the series of aptitudes that make most sense to acquire in especially the earlier stages of life. Aptitudes that render the widest and longest-term impact across our lifestyle.
This is in contrast to the specialized or ephemeral knowledge we spent much time pursuing.
It goes without saying, the list certainly is biased. Some of it one might argue superfluous to a rewarding life; some of it even compromising. I could also reason for additional milestones otherwise omitted from this curriculum.
However, without further ado, let’s proceed.
- Eliminate dependencies
- Physical exercise
- Self-reliance offline and unplugged
- Comfort with solitude
- Basic financial intelligence
- Know to prepare your own food
- Tools that increase independence
- Read diverse and challenging material
- Writing, communication
Impacting on so many levels: our energy, performance, well-being, physical appearance. It behooves you to develop certain nutritional IQ. Don’t settle merely upon intuition or common wisdom.
There’s the question of which elements benefit us and which cause harm. In that knowledge I personally feel to have reached some satisfactory level.
Of similar importance are the questions of element interaction, digestion, and ideal order of consumption. And therein I’ve discovered colossal gaps within my knowledge. Only recently has this become a focus of attention.
Greatest lesson: emphasize not doing the harmful before doing the beneficial.
Among the sources of mainstream dependencies, you probably know by intuition whether your consumption habits are sporadic or habitual. That is to say, if you’re an addict.
In general, if you experience a mood disturbance in abstaining from something for a single day, consider it an addiction. No need to be modest.
The particularly vicious dependencies I speak of are the following:
- Sugar, even fructose. Eliminate and reap dividends in health, performance, personal finance. Might I add how liberating it feels to reject sweet products with a sense of total impunity?
- Cheap entertainment. Ex: films, video clips, video games, social networks, news banter, internet crawling.
- Computers, mobile devices. Disconnect entirely for even a day and gauge your condition.
Similar to nutrition, it renders lifetime benefits: immediate, short, and long term.
It thus makes sense to accumulate knowledge pertaining to your anatomy, muscle groups, joints, intensity, rest, and proper the balance.
Now if faced with this rather arbitrary choice, I would rather not exercise for a day than eat garbage for even a single meal.
Self-reliance offline and unplugged
Train the aptitude to entertain yourself independent of computers or the internet. I lament that this be an aptitude one must actually train these days.
I speak of basic, fundamental means of living and existing, unbound by the clutches of the ‘matrix’. Some tips:
- Read paper books
- Tell stories
- Play an instrument
- Play chess, cards, board games
- Create bad art
- Work with your hands
- Interact with human beings, fully attent, distraction-free
- Meditation practice
Comfort with solitude
Without mobile devices, cheap entertainment or social engagement. Become at ease at being with yourself, free of customary distractions. This gives you incredible power. (Also see the above)
Basic financial intelligence
Maintain that, and be free to say no; often to further compromising decisions.
- Avoid debt. Avoid credit. Avoid credit cards, irrespective of rewards and your ever zero-balance.
- Don’t squander on restaurants, alcohol, tobacco, or cheap entertainment.
- Earn compound interest.
- Avoid memberships or monthly recurring fees.
- Eliminate possessions that don’t produce value but cost to maintain (financially or emotionally).
- Emotional and physical preventative measures save fortunes on a lifetime of health expenses.
- Languages (further below).
- Elimination of dependencies (see above).
Know to prepare your own food
This grants you lifetime of liberty to avoid restaurants or mom’s and grandma’s cooking for something as trivial and ancient as feeding yourself. It also gives you total control over your nutrition, which, as mentioned, is paramount on so many levels of your being.
If you’re a male of a culture that places stigma around the prospect of a man in the kitchen, then accept my sympathies. But I’m still resolute on this part of the curriculum.
(Not programming.) You need not become a polyglot. English notwithstanding, speak at least one or two widespread languages. Or those of your neighbors.
Then reap the following benefits, beyond the basic thrust of independence:
- Expand multi-cultural awareness. I mean authentically, interacting with people and cultures in their mother tongue; not by way of of the TV or your news-consuming family and friends.
- Exorbitant savings in travel. Don’t pay the luxury of English-spoken pleasantries.
- Be at ease over the prospect of the world as your abode. Become a nomad if you so fancy.
Together with the local language acquisition (above), you’ll attain a bountiful of experiences while exposed to different cultures, living arrangements, random interactions, and contrasting lifestyles.
I believe in emphasizing this aspect way before any traditional, academic forms of education.
Tools that increase independence
Adapt any tools you deem fit to increase your independence. This could be independence from corporate solutions, from the (Internet) cloud, from continuous product purchasing, etc.
For my part, that includes the Linux OS usage, command-line proficiency, and an arsenal of open-source power tools (such as the VIM text editor or text-based web browsing). The strategy has enabled a very light-resource workflow (both software and hardware), in much of an offline mode of operation, free of Saas (Software as a Service) cloud-based solutions.
How about effective memory? Train that, and quit relying on mobile devices as substitutes for healthy brain activity.
If you really want to maximize independence from even the economy, case that crumbles to dust, acquire skills that enable you to subsist on your own labor. Examples:
- Cultivate a garden
- Basic construction and carpentry
- Make own household products
Read diverse and challenging material
The practice expands your imaginative faculty and opens a gateway to great minds and schools of thought, on a level far deeper than superficial and instantly rewarding forms of entertainment.
Read the classics, playwrights, poetry, philosophy, success literature, history, science, fables, or as much of varied sources as you can manage. Read in multiple languages.
It’s not about reaching any definitive quantity. It’s about the pursuit.
The ability to express your mind with plainness, coherency, grammar, and structure, is often sufficient to create powerful opportunities.
This also goes hand-in-hand with reading. A plenitude of quality reading enhances your writing aptitude.
The rest is specialized knowledge, much of it ephemeral. Accumulate it as you feel befitting by whatever means. Eagerly drop what doesn’t work or ceases to produce value. Pragmatic learning. Trial and error.
Questions, comments? Connect.