Looking back at the last 43 years of my life, I realize that I’ve employed a lot of self-destructive habits in the past which I now distance myself from. Admittedly, I haven’t always been the man I am today. I often reflect on how lucky I am to have survived a barrage of near debilitating life experiences and events over the years (like child abuse & abandonment, drug addiction, etc.) which, thankfully, taught me a lot about the person I don’t want to be.
I always tell people that there’s no blueprint for life. We aren’t handed a “how to” manual the moment we’re born (although some religious organizations might argue otherwise). In reality, we only have our past experiences to guide us, and hopefully, a few seasoned veterans who can share their own crazy stories and/or nuggets of wisdom with us. As I’ve said many times in the past, “I may not exactly know where I’m going, but I damn well know where I don’t want to return to.”
Over the last couple of years, I’ve made a number of extreme personal changes which have improved my overall quality of life, immeasurably. If you’re looking to improve your own life, I hope some of these things will be helpful for you as well.
1. I quit Facebook for personal use.
What an enormous time wasting, heartless, soulless pile of dog shit Facebook is. Unless you’re using it to promote something (which barely works, anyway) or communicate with distant friends and family that you normally wouldn’t see on a regular basis, Facebook is a dreadful time & energy vortex in which you will gain absolutely nothing but a few meaningless “likes” (which equate to absolutely ZERO in real life.) After getting sucked in to it for 9 years, I finally got wise and got off of it (besides using my fan pages to promote releases, or sharing a few articles – usually via Twitter). Get away while you can. Seriously.
2. I cut my circle of real life “friends” down from over a hundred to around twenty or less.
My Mom used to tell me that if you have 10 real friends, you’re lucky. I’ve met a lot of people over my life who I’ve tried to maintain some sort of relationship with over long stretches of time. Some of them are truly amazing people and are deserving of my efforts, and some are, well, just sorta there. We have very limited time in our day to day lives. Choose wisely. Cause when the shit hits the fan, who can you really depend on? (Also, see #1)
3. I removed toxic people from my life, completely.
Do you have that one “friend” who always talks down to you and makes you feel like dirt? News flash! They’re not your friend. Got family members who treat you like a human punching bag? Guess what? You aren’t obligated to take their shit anymore. Get away from these energy sucking vampires immediately. There are two kinds of people in life: The people who bring you up, and the people who bring you down. Stop wasting your precious time and move on. (For the record, I’ve been that shitty “friend” in the past, and completely understand why certain people had to cut me out of their own lives).
4. I stopped comparing myself to other people and their successes.
I can’t begin to tell you what an enormous hurdle this was for me to overcome. Truthfully though, it still rears its ugly head from time to time when I don’t feel like I’m progressing fast enough. As a musician, it’s easy to look at other people’s accomplishments, and feel completely and utterly inadequate. But those debilitating thoughts will only steal your precious time and energy away from doing what you are meant to be doing, which is being the best at what YOU do. That being said, being amazing takes hard work. Let those who have come before you who are successful be a shining beacon of hope. Because those very people were exactly where you are right now at some point in not-so-distant past.
5. I stopped putting toxic shit in my body.
Getting bompled isn’t a good look for anyone. Especially after your 20’s. I could get into all sorts of reasons why getting trashed is bad for you but I won’t because I did it myself for two decades (excessively). I’m not here to judge anyone for it because, let’s be honest, it can be loads of fun. But when you’re trying to change your life for the better and accomplish amazing new feats, there’s no way the two can co-exist simultaneously. Not on a regular basis, at least. Decide what you want more. If you wanna be the guy/gal still trying to live out their twenty-something fantasies for the rest of your days, then more power to you. If you wanna be the clear-headed, powerful bad-ass who changes the very fabric of space and time, then get your shit together and knock it off with the excessive drinking/partying.
6. I stopped watching as much TV and started reading more books & watching tutorials.
It’s so easy to come home from a long day’s work, plop down on the couch, and watch Netflix until you fall asleep. I still do it from time to time when I just wanna veg out. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re completely and utterly happy with the way your life is. But if you want more for your life, or you hate what you do for a living, then do yourself a favor and start filling your head with knowledge. Because only an idiot wouldn’t take advantage of the immense treasure trove of accumulated knowledge that’s out there for the taking (most of which is free). Stop being so damned lazy and use your brain already.
7. I started working out 4-5 days a week.
I am no Adonis. Nor is it likely that I will ever be (I like food too much). But I’m not talking about being a supermodel. I’m talking about taking better care of that frumpy body you’ve let go for so long. Not only does inactivity lead to a plethora of diseases, but it’s also bad for you mind and your mood. If you wanna feel better in general, put down the Doritos, get up off the couch and hit the gym a few times a week. You’ll thank me later.
8. I surrounded myself with people who I wanted to be more like.
This is absolutely crucial. Think about it: If you’re a smoker trying to quit, and you hang out with smokers… guess what? You’re gonna be a smoker. If you want to be a better person, then hang out with better people. People tend to take on the habits of the people they spend the most time with. This can go two ways though, so choose wisely. Also, don’t expect awesome people to continue hanging out with you if you don’t have any desire to up your own game.
9. I started teaching.
There was a movie in the 90’s called “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” which was about a composer that believed he would eventually write a transcendent piece of music. In the meantime, he took a job as a high school teacher, and pretty much ended up doing that for the rest of his life. It scared the shit out of me, and I told myself I would never teach because of the anxiety I felt from watching that (It actually turns out really beautiful at the end). I had also heard several different people say at times in my life, “those who can, do… and those who can’t… teach.” Yikes. You see, I always thought that teaching meant that my career was officially over, and that I couldn’t go any further. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I would say that teaching has actually made me a better musician, and has also enlightened my life in ways I could never have imagined. If you have something to offer, pay it forward. You’d be surprised at the doors it might open for you.
10. I’ve learned to be more patient.
Patience has never been my strong suit. In fact, I am cursed (blessed?) with the type of brain that constantly moves at hyper speed, much to the dismay of those in my general sphere. Thusly, I have had to learn specific tools to deal with this kinetic disparity in order to not drive the people I work with (or care about) absolutely mad. It’s not been easy for me, but I’ve discovered that all things happen in their own time. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be pushing for things to move forward, but sometimes, if you push too fast or hard, those things ultimately fail. Slow down a bit and let things happen organically. It’s all gonna be OK.
Written by Jesse Scott (Summer Channel)