50 thoughts on life (tips included)

by Craig McBreen · 62 comments · Creativity

1. Do one thing today that scares the hell out of you. You’ve read this before, I know, but have you done something that gives you the willies? It’s good for the soul, trust me.

2. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Your biggest fear could be part of another person’s daily routine.

3. There’s a gold mine of creative, educational, and beautifully written material on television. You just have to sort through a ton of complete garbage to find the gold.

4. Read The War of Art, more than once.

5. You don’t have to act your age, really.

6. If you’re 50 and want to start over, get started today. If you’re 19 and think that’s too young to start a business … look at this guy.

7. Focus on one thing at a time. And take a break from the damn computer.

8. I’m convinced George Carlin was a genius.

9. Stop counting the days you have left. None of us know that answer.

10. If you’re young with little responsibility and have the freedom and means to travel, I would do it.

11. I do have regrets (see #10). We all do. It’s called being human. Don’t dwell on them, but if you actually can fix a past wrong, why not act on it?

12. See if you can go an entire weekend without looking at a computer screen.

13. Embrace your inner-geek and stop trying to be cool. Then laugh at your super-dorkiness. It will take a load off, I guarantee. (Ask my wife.)

14. If you have not seen “The Wire,” you should watch the entire series. It really is that brilliant.

15. No one and I mean, not any one person is a perfect parent. Of this, I am convinced.

16. Give people a chance, they just might surprise you.

17. You can’t categorize people or put them in neat little boxes. This kind of thinking divides us and political networks excel at it.

18. If your only news comes from Fox or MSNBC you’re confused. (See 17).

19. I often think: What would Carl Sagan say about this?

20. Worship of sports stars and Hollywood celebrities has gotten completely out of hand.

21. Do not check email, Twitter or Facebook first thing in the morning. (There are exceptions to this rule, but if you’re in the business of creating, it’s a soul-cruncher.)

22. I never read “Entertainment Weekly,” indulge in the “E!” network or watch “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” yet I know everything about that family. But why.

23. Turn off the radio and start listening to podcasts. Comedy, science and everything in between. There’s a treasure trove of amazing material. It turns your little device into a commercial-free, classroom in a box.

24. If someone is walking behind you, hold the door for them. Those precious two seconds won’t kill your day.

25. What ever happened to manners and common courtesy? (See #24)

26. Very first thing in the morning … tackle your most important (or scariest task). Take your pick.

27. Spending all of your time on social media is downright toxic.

28. It’s okay to emulate others, just don’t rip them off or try and copy their persona. I got my inspiration for today’s brain dump here. And guess what? Writing this is good for my well-being, so why not fire off your own list?

29. I don’t hate list posts. In fact, I’ve been dying to write one for months.

30. Play the observer of your own emotions. You’ll find that most negative reactions are completely ridiculous and do nothing but ruin your day.

31. You really don’t have to be first in line.

32. The creative minds on this here social web never cease to amaze me.

33. Cooking is like meditation. Make your own meals from scratch and make a Saturday of it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever perfect pizza dough, but I try. Tell me when you master Wonton noodles.

34. My wife is my biggest advocate, is very interested my blogging, but still has no idea who the hell Chris Brogan is.

35. I do not, and I repeat, I DO NOT have a problem with the words: Epic, remarkable or killer.

36. I like to write stuff like … Shiznits, swag and bomb diggity, but don’t hate me for it.

37. Give WriteRoom a try. Nothing but a black screen and green text. Distraction free writing is the only way to go.

38. My inspiration for said words (#36) was a guy named, “Manny The Hippie” if you remember him.

39. Dave, Jay, Jimmy or Conan? Dave, of course.

40. Respect the elderly and and listen to them. For you younger bloggers – I’m not talking bout myself (Jeeez!) True wisdom comes from life experience.

41. Read “The Power of Now

42. Real TV news died a long, long time ago.

43. Take some time to learn about good design. This is extremely important to you bloggers out there.

44. There really are no shortcuts to success.

45. If you’re terrified of public speaking, join Toastmasters. It’s practically free and an amazing place to conquer fear and grow.

46. And the best way to challenge yourself is to vow to do something super-scary. (see above).

47. Neil deGrasse Tyson is da bomb when it comes to explaining deep-science to a layman like me. He IS the Carl Sagan of our generation. Why is he not as “famous” as A-Rod?

48. The next movie-making genius is already hard at work on YouTube. It’s only a matter of time before this person makes a grand appearance.

49. Listening is a lost art.

50. Be kind to people, even if they’re a little grumpy. You never know what is going on in their world.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Hanley October 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

This is what a list post is supposed to look like.

I love it…

Seriously believe in and agree with “44. There really are no shortcuts to success.”

But “9. Stop counting the days you have left.” is my favorite.

Great stuff dude.

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Craig McBreen October 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Hi Ryan,

Well thanks, Sir! “Brain droppings” as Carlin would say. But I tried to squeeze some good ol’ tips in there.

Glad you enjoyed!


Joe October 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Sweet Melissa, this is what a list post is supposed to be all about. This is what I would call a reference post. Thanks for writing this.

My wife and I love Dave, but agree that Fallon would be perfect as the host of the Tonight Show when Jay finally decides to hang it up…
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Craig McBreen October 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Hi Joe,

Thanks, man and you’re most welcome! It was great fun.

Yes, I completely forgot about Fallon!


Mark October 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Great list post, Craig : )

All I have to say is, “George Carlin was a genius!”

Cheers to George!
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 12:13 am

Hi Mark,

Thank you, Sir! (was chomping at the bit to do one of these).

(Saint) George rules!

I truly do miss his comedy, so cheers to him!


Josh October 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm

There was a time when Epic, remarkable or killer was how people described my comments but I lost the ring of power to the flames of Mount Doom and now I am reduced to “nifty, swell and groovy” oh the shame is almost too much.
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 12:11 am

Hey Josh,

You too, huh? ;)

With “nifty, swell and groovy” I conjure up images of a conversation between Potsie and Ralph Malph. At least that’s what immediately came to mind. Imagine Richie Cunningham saying “Epic, remarkable or killer.” … Well, nevermind.

Thanks for stopping by.


Shonali Burke November 1, 2012 at 12:32 am

#5 is one of my favorites!
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 2:05 am

Hi Shonali,

Me too :) Thanks for popping in!


Julie | A Clear Sign November 1, 2012 at 2:23 am

Hi Craig, Carlin WAS a genius. I have no idea what Carl Sagan would say, but I am sure I could learn a lot from you during such a reflection. I would do one of these “lists” (not really a list) but I think people are sick of me after today’s post so I might have to let it die down a bit first!
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 3:01 am

Hi Julie,

Carlin was da man!

For some reason, every political season I think of Carl Sagan. Strange, huh? Just wonder what such a great mind would make of all the craziness and divisiveness. Most manufactured of course. I won’t get too deep into politics, but it was nice to see the Governor and the President see eye to eye.

Well, it is your blog, your house, so why not do a list? What the heck. Let ‘er rip, I say.

Thanks so much for stopping in. Nice to see you.


Jens P. Berget November 1, 2012 at 5:31 am

Wow Craig, that’s a long and awesome list. Really good stuff, even though I read some names I didn’t recognize :)

And I definitively agree that people should try WriteRoom.
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Hi Jens,

Thanks. Probably too many Americans on the list :) Next time I’ll think globally, since many of my online friends are in other parts of the world.

WriteRoom rules.


Ralph November 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

Julien Smith, huh?

I haven’t been by his place in a while but do enjoy his particular brand of blogging. Nice list there McBreener. I have an old one that I did before I even knew what a list post was. I may resurrect it now that you and Julien have made list posts cool.


So, is reading a blog post thoroughly.
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Yes, and now I only take cold showers because of him ;) Seriously, love his writing.

Yet another Canadian on my List.

I say resurrect that sucker, Ralph. List posts ARE cool.

49. You are correct.



Ralph November 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Done. Heading down resurrection road….or did they call that repurposing? Where did that “strategy” go?
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Craig McBreen November 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm

The lost art of repurposing ;) Looking forward to it!


Dave Berndt November 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Great post Craig. We are kindred souls in many ways. I am also a big fan of Carlin, Sagan, and I have read the Power of Now and all the other books he wrote. I have also read the War of Art and loved it. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. I was in Toastmasters for a number of years. I was President of my Club – twice. I have to say it is in the top 5 things that I have ever done and I wouldn’t be who I am without Toastmasters. Now I have to watch the Wire. One more to add to your list is…Don’t necessarily believe your thoughts.


Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks! Interesting … you must be a super-cool dude ;)

Everything (and person) you mentioned here … well, they’re uplifting in their own way. Carlin’s material and Sagan’s writing will live on for a long, long time. Gifts to humanity.

Cool, club President, huh? That’s great and a big responsibility on top of speaking and table topics, etc., etc.

The Wire is awesome.

Good ending, Sir!

Thanks so much for stopping in!


Adrienne November 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm

What an awesome list Craig. I agree with quite a bit of these as well.

Respect your elders, always say thank you and what the hell ever happen to manners! Dang.. Are we living in the rock age!

Very inspiring and a great list post, thanks.

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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Hi Adrienne,

Thanks and glad you agree with some of my random thoughts.

Respecting your elders is big. So is respecting younger people, as it goes both ways.

The door thing is a pet peeve of mine. I really can’t believe how rude people are these days.

So glad you enjoyed and great to see you!


Suddenly Jamie November 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.

I know that’s a totally pointless and value-free comment, but – there it is.

Love the advice. Agree with the statements.

I have been enjoying some computer-free weekends lately, and they are DIVINE. I feel so refreshed and like my eyes are open wider and my head is clear. I love my Mac and the wild and woolly world of the interwebz, but – man! – it’s nice to get away for a while.
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Hi Jamie,

Thank you, Ma’am!

Not pointless and hey, I’ll take any kind of compliment ;)

The computer-free weekends are the way to go. Well, um I don’t always follow that rule, but usually go through a full Saturday and will seek to go computer-free whenever I can. We need time to recharge.

You do come back refreshed and ready to roll, don’t you?

Thanks for coming by!


Robin Hallett November 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Craig, really killer post, dude. Hee hee. Just added The Wire to my Netflix queue. Ditto on #10, 13, 15. You are the shizzle!
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Hi Robin,

Thank you! It was killer fun writing it ;)

“The Wire” is great. Give it time. The storyline is pretty amazing once you get into it. Some people have their favorite seasons, but I loved ‘em all.

Bang-on comments, Ma’am!!


Lisa Gerber November 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

This list is EPIC!! :) And actually, that last one is an important one. I’ve been working on thinking about the other person’s perspective lately. It changes your attitude, for sure.
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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Hey Lisa,

Ha ha. I’m friends with “epic,” maybe because I still snowboard.

I thought I’d save the best for last. Someone could be going through a horrible situation, you just never know.

Thanks for coming by!


Mary Stephenson November 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Hi Craig

Terrific list!

I am focusing on #1, 3 and 6. That is what is on my list for sure. Getting everything squared away with what I have been pursuing for the past month, beginning to look more in my favor. But now is time to “let it go” and what will happen will happen.
Got one top project with a time line that needs to be done as soon as possible. With everything else I will just fit in as I can.

There is always lots of regrets, but nothing can be done to redo them, so we move on. After reading an email the other day I had to make notes of what was said and have summed up it in this way. “Don’t make NOW an obstacle to overcome!” ” Be friends with the present moment.” Makes extremely good sense. So here and now is not a problem, if you keep living in the past and the future, you are never living now.

Most importantly…you don’t have to be perfect!

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Craig McBreen November 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Hi Mary,

1. Doing scary stuff works!

3. That gold mine is there.

6. I’ll sing about this until the cows come home.

Sounds like you’re making progress.

Yeah, we all have regrets, but holding on to them can kill you (unless you can truly resolve them of course.)

“If you keep living in the past and the future, you are never living now.”
–Yes, indeed!

No such thing as perfection.

Thanks for the great comments and nice to see you again!


Sue Neal November 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Hi – I absolutely love this list.

The one about cooking doesn’t work for me, though – probably the after-effects of disastrous cookery lessons at school, but I think anything LESS like meditation would be hard to find. I’m always burning and spilling things.

You’ve reminded me I still have to watch the final series of The Wire – trouble is, I now need to re-watch all the rest first.

Number 50′s my favourite – I find being nice to someone’s a great cure for an attack of grumpiness – you cheer yourself up in the process.

Altogether a life-enhancing list – thank you!

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Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 3:19 am

Hi Sue,

Thank you.

Yeah, I understand. The whole cooking thing doesn’t jibe with some people, but it does work for me. I’m not trying to imagine you in cookery lessons now.

Well, that show is so rich a 2nd viewing would be great. You miss so many subtle nuances with one viewing.

You’re so right about no. 50. It’s hard for someone to act like that when you’re being nice to them, isn’t it?

You’re welcome and thanks for the kind words.


Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg) November 2, 2012 at 12:44 am

I’m not a fan of lists, but this is a good one. Well done. I especially liked number 24, as I’m a big fan of friendly gestures like holding doors.
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 3:21 am

Hi Brian,

I just wanted to make my own list, as odd as it may be. Glad you liked it.

I’m a big fan of that too, but man so many don’t practice common courtesy. Shall we try and bring it back?

Thanks for stopping in, Brian.


Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg) November 2, 2012 at 3:26 am

I’m in!
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 3:31 am

Ah, the movement has started :)


Jackie November 2, 2012 at 12:47 am

So many here had my nodding my head in agreement.

Bomb Diggity Indeed! Love your style Craig.
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 3:31 am

Hi Jackie,

Now I’m wondering who might be shaking their head in disagreement ;) Glad you enjoyed it.

Back at ya on the whole style thing!


Peter Sterlacci November 2, 2012 at 7:51 am

Awesome dude. Totally helpful. I plan to implement a bunch of them.


Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Hi Peter,

Thank you, Sir! Hope the suggestions work for you.


Sheila Bergquist November 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

Wow! LOVE this list and agree with all of them! Really made my day to read this…thanks.
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Hi Sheila,

Thank you! Glad you agree and I’m even happier it made your day!


Tim Bonner November 2, 2012 at 9:19 am

Hi Craig

I’ve been dipping in and out of your list for the last couple of days. I’ve not had much sleep over the last couple of days so concentration hasn’t been one of my strengths!

It’s a great list and many things for me to think about. #12 is certainly something I need to work on but there are many others.

There are many names in the list I’m unfamiliar with but I will check them out when I get the chance.
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Hi Tim,

Happy you made it over, now go get some sleep! ;)

About #12. I don’t make it through and entire weekend, always, but most definitely Saturdays. We all need a break though.

Thanks for stopping in!


Tim Bonner November 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm

My daughter has woken up at 5 am on the past three mornings and no amount of coaxing would get her back to sleep. So I’ve been up as well at that time.

My wife and I are going to see the new James Bond film tonight. It’s the first time we’ve been out together on our own for almost three years. No sleep for me… Maybe tomorrow.
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Craig McBreen November 3, 2012 at 12:32 am

I remember those days … it’ll get better ;)

I’ve heard the new Bond film is da bomb. I look forward to hearing about it. Enjoy the weekend. (hope she sleeps :))


Bell November 2, 2012 at 11:56 am


There’s a phrase I often use in jest, but today I’ll use it in earnest: “So many true words.”

#5: You truly don’t have to act your age if “act your age” means stifling the creative impulse and passing judgment on people because they’re younger than you happen to be. To a 112-year-old, you’ll always be a spring chicken.

#6 reminded me of Ze Frank’s excellent video post, “An Invocation for Beginnings” (Which you can watch here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYlCVwxoL_g ).

#7, focus on one thing at a time. The Internet has been making this so hard for so many people, that we now witness the emergence of a collective movement back to the life of the body rather than just the life of the brain. More and more voices rise to advocate balance between life online and offline. Even the tech site ReadWrite did it yesterday – http://readwrite.com/2012/11/01/dont-read-this-article

#8 We absolutely agree on that.

#10 – travel: everyone should. Though I know closeminded people who’ve traveled and it hasn’t changed them much. Or at all. They just found new things to complain about. So it’s all about traveling for the experience, not for the grief.

#20 I would blame technology – our technological development has outstripped the maturity of our global civilization, which is struggling to catch up – but it’s not fair to blame machines, which at this point have no agency (that I know of). So I’d rather blame a lack of empathy in news media and an overriding willingness to exploit the attention of an emotionally starved audience.

#22 Absolute time-wasters and enforcers of status anxiety. They’re covertly aimed at your wallet, not your brain.

#23 I don’t listen to that many podcasts, but I love the ones on offer at radiolab.org

#24 Lifelong habit of mine.

#27 Going back to Ze Frank, “Let me not hit Facebook like a crack pipe.”

#32 Thank you.

#37 I use WriteMonkey, which is very similar and comes with a great many customization options. It also supports coding and markdown.

#44 Instant success is neither instant nor lasting. Nobody will remember Gangnam Style in a couple of years.

#48 Joanna Lurie is a likely candidate. http://youtu.be/YXWc3aFrxCo

#50 A little kindness does go a long way.
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Craig McBreen November 3, 2012 at 12:30 am

Hi John,

Thanks for the earnest assessment.

#5: Very well written!

#6: Thanks for the link to “An Invocation for Beginnings” … Thank you! Facebook … crack pipe ;)

#7: Bookmarked for reading. Thanks again.

#8: I really do miss the guy.

#10: “Though I know close minded people who’ve traveled and it hasn’t changed them much.” –That’s amazing, really, but I know exactly what you’re talking about.

#20: Interesting mix as I’m now reading Ray Kurzweil and this is something that should be spread far and wide: “I’d rather blame a lack of empathy in news media and an overriding willingness to exploit the attention of an emotionally starved audience.”

#22: So true.

#23: I’ve listened to that one. This American Life is great too.

#24: Me too :)

#27: Again with the crack pipe. Love that.

#32: Well deserved.

#37: Will have to take a look.

#44: I read your comments this morning and have had that stupid song in my head all day. Thanks ;)

#48: My youngest son will love this. I think he’s a future filmmaker

#50: Indeed

Thanks for the amazing comments. You’re always making us think, John. Have a great weekend. Oh, love Joanna Lurie now.


Geoff Livingston November 3, 2012 at 1:16 am

Well, this is an awesome list of ideas to shake up the norms! Thanks for sharing this, Craig. And I did my first TED speech today, and that scared the crap out of me!
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Craig McBreen November 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Hi Geoff,

Thank you!

Well that is certainly something to be proud of and I’m sure you knocked it out of the park! Talk about pushing through fear. One of my goals actually, so I look forward to reading about it.

Great to see you here! Thanks for stopping in.


Akos Fintor November 4, 2012 at 1:01 am

Hey Craig,

I love the book “The power of now” and any material from E.T.
Entertaining post!


Craig McBreen November 5, 2012 at 12:45 am

Hey Akos,

Thanks for stopping in, Sir! Agreed. E.T. is always a great read.

Thanks for commenting and passing this on!


Eugene Farber November 7, 2012 at 4:27 am

This was brilliant Craig. I think you should throw this into a short eBook and throw it up on Kindle (or somewhere!).

I need to force myself not to check emails first thing in the morning (and then throughout the day).

And yes…George Carlin was definitely a genius.
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Craig McBreen November 8, 2012 at 12:48 am

Hi Eugene,

Thank you, Sir! You did make my day, man!

“I need to force myself not to check emails first thing in the morning (and then throughout the day).”
–Me too! It is always a struggle, but necessary.

Love me some Carlin! Thanks so much for stopping in.


Wade Balsdon January 15, 2013 at 8:17 am

Killer list of life tips Craig :-) Thanks for reminding us not to take life too seriously.
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Craig McBreen January 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Thanks and you’re welcome :)


Ana Hoffman February 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I was looking for a “hurry up and die”, but your tips made me want to live, Craig! ;)

Seriously – great read.
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Craig McBreen February 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

Hi Ana,

Now if we can just do something about all those bad manners going around ;) Thanks, Ana!


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