You can’t change people’s minds through anger

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At the age of five, on an overnight visit to my Grandparents' house, I was fed up. Missing my own bed, I decided at 7 PM to walk the 63 miles back home in the dark rather than spending the night with them. I announced this to my Grandpa, put on my little red jacket, and headed for the door.

My Grandpa loves telling this story. I’ve heard it enough times at family gatherings that the scene is burned into my mind from an observer’s point of view. My small hand stretches…

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good”

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In a miraculous and magical way, East of Eden chose me.

I’d just arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. The hostel I was staying at was a few miles walk to the Vietnam War Museum, so I’d spent a few hours there (learning a very different story of the war than the one I’d grown up with). I left with scenes of human arrogance and ugliness playing across my mind. As I walked into the city center, a small bookshop caught my attention.

At this point, I was hungry for reading material, as the only thing I read in the…

None of them involve money

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One of my favorite jokes I’ve ever heard was delivered to me by a terminally ill man. He knew I was looking for a serving job, so I could quit as a retirement home night-cook and go back to school.

“I was looking in the classifieds today,” he said. “I saw something that would be perfect for you. The pay isn’t great, but the tips are huge!”

“Oh yeah, Hank? What job?”

“Circumcising elephants at the Denver Zoo!” Hank said, proceeding to cackle until his hacking cough came back. …

Need motivation? Seek out terrible writing.

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It seems like I run across five posts a day online with titles like this:

Should You Write Every Day?

The Five Life-Changing Benefits of Writing Every Day!

Write Every Day or You’re a Pile of Human Waste.

They’re always backed up by quotes from Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Gandhi, or the Lord Themselves.

This doesn’t seem like the first thing we should be telling new writers, does it? People who are just starting out need perspective and encouragement, not a potentially impossible standard.

In Tim Ferris’s interview with Cheryl…

It wasn’t the Stoics

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Have you ever been blessed with an eccentric philosophy professor? You should consider picking one up on your next round of errands (free-range, the factory-farmed professors aren’t worth listening to).

I was blessed with a delightfully crackpot philosophy professor when I took literary criticism in my junior year of the teaching program.

A chain-smoking, rail-thin, fast-food-gobbling, trench-coat-wearing nutcase who looked like he might fall apart any second.

Listening to him would take you on journeys throughout history, time, and space, to the far reaches of the human mind.

His classes were old-fashioned…


It shook me to my core

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In January of 2020, I set off for the Peace Corps in Nepal. During my Peace Corps training (that was rudely interrupted by COVID-19) I lived on the edge of Kathmandu in the house of a man named Salikram Banjara.

Over and over again, I experienced the “these people don’t need your help” check-your-privilege moment. This commonly happens when people in this opulent dystopia of surplus that we call home occasionally leave to “help” those “less fortunate.”

Sorry about the air quotes, on to the point!

So often, when we travel from our society to a community like the one…

Most take less than five minutes to digest

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It’s one of the great frustrations of my life that I can’t be reading at all times. I have a job, a loving girlfriend, and students, two of which are more-than-valuable uses of my time. Luckily, in the modern world, books are not the end-all-be-all of passing down wisdom.

There, I said it. I say that as someone who loves to read, who has shelves and shelves of books. Unfortunately, we can’t always be reading. We have to shop for groceries and commute. Sometimes we don’t have time or energy to jump…

Even if you lose a few people on the way

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Two weeks ago, an article I wrote went viral. As I watched my stats and dollars tick up, I became more addicted to my phone than ever before, allowing it into my writing space for the first time. This brought a piano-sized amount of stress crashing down on my head and destroyed my creativity. I barely wrote anything, my attention span in tatters as I gave my stats my attention over and over again, looking for more dopamine.

I used my phone for more than usual. Breaking my own rules, I’d have…


But you’ve got to do it right

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“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I’m wise, so I’m changing myself.”


In my lifetime, I’ve seen our attitudes towards travel change dramatically, morphing from “it’s dangerous out there!” to little phrases on Karen-worthy live-laugh-love-esque signs like this one:

Aaron Nichols

7x top writer, educator, and serial vagabond. If you like what you’ve read, sign up for The Well-Lived Life!

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