When in Doubt, Default to Calm and Kind

Written by Heather Kim

Tony Schwartz, the author of Be Excellent at Anything, recently wrote about the twelve lessons he learned in life. Apparently, he is turning 60 and decided to share his wisdom with us. Thank God!Tony Schwartz

Schwartz writes extensively about how to use your energy or life force wisely to accomplish what you want. Time goes by quickly so each day you want to make the 1440 Minutes you have count! One idea he has is that you should work in 90-minute bursts. His theory is that if you push yourself beyond that, your mind starts losing focus. Think about those “online breaks” you take on Facebook, shopping sites or Twitter, whatever your distraction.

We’ll summarize some of his important life lessons here:


  • Set up a morning habit of working on the most important thing you need to accomplish.It’s the time when you have the most energy and least distractions. Plus, how good does it feel to get something important accomplished at the start of your day? Makes the rest of the day less stressful and there’s less beat up on yourself for procrastinating.
  • Self-knowledge helps you to better manage your emotions.Schwartz says the more you know about yourself, “..the more power you have to behave correctly.Endless introspection can turn into self-indulgence, but deepening self-awareness is essential to freeing ourselves from our reactive, habitual behaviors.”
  • Be grateful instead of dwelling on what went wrong or how someone mistreated you.
  • Too much can actually be toxic. Focus on the fact you have enough. This also ties in with the idea of giving more to the world than you take. That could apply to material things as well as intellectual and emotional contributions.
  • Slow down. Slowing down allows you to enjoy the present and who you’re with. It really is magical because if you do it, time really slows down and you feel sated in your experience. It’s those times you really remember.
  • Practice the behavior you want. The more you do a particular behavior you value, the more they’ll become habits you won’t even have to think about. Do you have to think about washing your face or brushing your teeth? Same goes here.
  • Do the right thing. Maybe no one will notice and you won’t outwardly benefit. But, your values are your own and no one can take them away from you. Schwartz put it beautifully “…it will almost always leave you feeling better about yourself in the long run. When in doubt, default to calm and kind."

Are there other life lessons you want to share?


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