As of May 2nd, 2023, I will be sharing and updating this post every year on my birthday.

I will add one rule for every year of my life.

This list Is primarily for my children, but maybe you’ll find something useful.


Jeff Gibbard’s Rules for Life

  1. In almost all cases, any advice about the best or right way to do anything can be safely discarded, including this entire list. Find what works for YOU. It’s your life, you’re the only one that has to live it. I can’t stress this enough: if you don’t like waking up at 5 AM, don’t wake up at 5 AM, no matter what anyone tells you.
  2. Between love and fear, choose love as often as you can. You may not always be able to, but that’s what you should strive for.
  3. Become obsessed with self awareness, no one should know you better than you, good, bad, or indifferent.
  4. Get a therapist. See them regularly. If you don’t like them or they’re not helping, find a new one.
  5. Always stand up for what is right. If you’re not sure what that is, look for what is kind, and what results in more safety, equity, and justice.
  6. Leverage any privilege you have in service of those who do not have the same privileges.
  7. You can’t unsay words, you cannot undo actions. Be thoughtful about your speech and behavior.
  8. You can’t say I love you to people who are gone, so say it while they’re still here.
  9. Take a speed reading course and read as often as you can. I mean this literally. Take any chance you get to read.
  10. Books don’t have rules. You don’t have to read a book cover to cover. You can read as much or as little as you want. Read it out of order. Write notes in the margins. You’re allowed to do whatever you want. And if you don’t like a book, stop reading it and find a new one, you’ll never run out of options.
  11. The more different someone’s life experience is from yours, the more opportunities you have to learn something.
  12. Salads should be dressed and tossed, by default. Always and without exception unless specifically requested for dressing on the side.
  13. Any food you’re willing to try, you should try at least three times. Try to limit exceptions to this rule.
  14. Always us real maple syrup, skip the fake stuff
  15. It gets harder to lose weight as you age…just remember that.
  16. Monogamous dating is marriage without jewelry. Be careful about taking yourself off the market unless someone shakes you to your core.
  17. A relationship that ends isn’t a failure, it’s a lesson. Make sure to learn it so you don’t repeat it.
  18. There are plenty of people out there paid to inspire and motivate, but in the end, they’re all doing the same schtick. 1) Consider what you want, 2) think about what it would take to get there, and 3) remember that it’s (most likely) possible.
  19. You don’t need religion or belief in God in order to be a good person. You can just be a good person. Believe if you want but don’t conflate that with the capacity for goodness.
  20. Just as you shouldn’t believe everything you hear, don’t believe everything you think.
  21. Before making any big decisions, make sure you’re not hungry or sleepy.
  22. Spend more time listening than speaking.
  23. (Safely) Experiment with psychedelics in your early twenties. It’ll change your life.
  24. Most hierarchies are bullshit, made up systems, designed and enforced by people desperate to control others, with egos too fragile to be wrong, and without the skills to continually earn their position.
  25. Billionaires and homelessness should never co-exist but, Billionaires probably shouldn’t exist either way.
  26. If your interests or hobbies don’t harm someone else or violate anyone’s consent, they are awesome and you should indulge and enjoy them. Anyone who thinks otherwise can go fuck themselves. You do you.
  27. Don’t talk on speakerphone in public. That shit is annoying.
  28. Don’t talk about people in front of them like they aren’t there. That shit is annoying.
  29. Don’t say anything about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t say to their face. You don’t have to take part in gossip.
  30. Never seek to be famous for the attention or seek out attention to be famous. Instead, commit yourself to something meaningful and valuable so if you garner attention or fame, it will be for the right reasons.
  31. In conversations, quality matters far more than quantity. Be brief, be interesting, and then shut up and be interested.
  32. If people tell you their boundaries, respect those boundaries. No exceptions.
  33. It’s hard to gain trust and easy to lose it. When you gain someone’s trust, aggressively protect that.
  34. As it relates to most things but ESPECIALLY your gender and sexuality, no one besides you has an opinion that matters.
  35. If you harm someone, just apologize and learn from it. Don’t defend yourself.
  36. If I’ve learned anything from Asian dramas it’s that if you REALLY like someone, the best way to show it is to hold their hand.
  37. Learn to cook, do laundry, fold your clothes, and make your bed. These are the bare minimums to take care of yourself.
  38. Don’t go into the comments section. If you do, don’t argue with people. If you do argue with people, don’t be surprised when nothing good comes of it.
  39. So long as the tipping charade continues, always tip at least 20%, if you can afford it. Have some class consciousness and help out someone else in the struggle. You shouldn’t have to, so choose to.
  40. So long as keyboards exist, it pays to learn to type faster and more accurately.
  41. Always use all your sick days and all your vacation days.
  42. Go for the longest vacation you can get away with. Travel the farthest from home that you can. See the world, expand your perspective.
  43. Each generation of your life has pros and cons, ups and downs, joyful moments and hardships…experience them all, because you never get them back.

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