Andrew Hamilton took his own life in 2014. We were friends. Good friends. He and I spent the better part of a year sharing a studio apartment when I was vagabonding around, and later on, he spent the summer on my couch to save money so he could pay down his crushing student debt. One thing he entrusted me with, was his personal list of “Rules to Live By.” At the time, he was very private about it, perhaps because it was incomplete, perhaps because it makes some controversial statements (read: “42. There is nothing wrong with suicide.”), but he shared it with me, nonetheless, and if I don’t share it with others, it will be lost. He was too interesting and intense a person for me to allow that, so I’m including it here, and plan to expand on it with many posts that address some of the philosophies he lays out below.

I hope some enjoy the funny, sad, and somewhat profound gems below in their original form.

Rules to Live By

  1. Maybe you don’t need any actual knowledge or skills – just knowledge of other people’s knowledge and skills.
  2. Always masturbate before making any important decisions.
  3. Be honest with yourself about your priorities and motivations. I.e. do you really care about getting good grades? You do what you care about, by definition. Bring both ends in line.
  4. For things that measure other things, don’t go cheap (i.e. scales).
  5. Set fire to yourself.
  6. Always have the courage of your own convictions no matter.
  7. Disregard females, acquire currency.
  8. Starting is the hardest part by far and really fucked by experiencing/remembering dichotomy. Always START.
  9. Give all-out effort.
  10. The victory and the glory.
  11. Work to a CADENCE.
  12. Don’t dance around the pony.
  13. ALWAYS BE OPTIMISTIC: “To deride the hope of progress is the ultimate fatuity, the last word in poverty of spirit and meanness of mind.”
  14. Women secretly like to be hit on, it’s flattering. There is a big middle area of where they don’t like you enough to get with you but they do like you enough to not be creeped out by the advance.
  15. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is ability to act despite the fear. Always act. The absence of fear is just ignorance or insanity.
  16. Beware the fallacy that what you know of is what there is, or even representative of what there is, esp. in terms of people, cities, arts, events, etc.
  17. Talking to reporters is extremely dangerous. Only do so when there’s a big upside.
  18. If you must talk to a reporter, do it by email.
  19. Never, ever, ever go even slightly off a carefully-scripted message around a reporter.
  20. One box is the correct answer to Newcomb’s Problem. Live life as such.
  21. Lean towards risk.
  22. Old people always regret what they didn’t do much more than what they did. Bear this in mind and live for the long-term in that regard. But not longer-term than your life.
  23. Don’t try to change others – you can’t.
  24. Don’t allow anything beyond your control to influence your mood.
  25. Work within institutions or crafts, not outside them.
  26. Funerals are celebrations because you can only celebrate the net after winnings are locked in – could have gotten infinitely worse and no net is secured until game is over.
  27. As soon as you clear up the self-deluded misconception that it’s starting to do the work, not the actual doing, that’s the painful part, procrastination will be a thing of the past.
  28. Do whatever drugs it takes to get the job done.
  29. Be sure to die unexpectedly.
  30. Take high-death-chance and low-maim-chance risks. Quick and sudden death ain’t no thang, plus who knows that some form of quantum immortality doesn’t obtain?
  31. Live exactly for the term until you die – i.e. be super long term but extremely driven, i.e. “you will die in 50 days” would = panic, so why shouldn’t “you will die in 50 years”?
  32. Not loving your child unconditionally is cruel and barbaric.
  33. Loving your child unconditionally – simply because it is your own spawn / seed without regard to its or its ideas’ merits – is a small-minded unjustifiable tribal in-group mentality
  34. So the only answer to the paradox is to never have kids.
  35. The only child you should respect is a brainchild.
  36. Force a constructive obsession.
  37. Pain is temporary, glory is forever.
  38. No, literally. Because exp/rememb selves.
  39. Remember experiencing/remembering self dichotomy, while it can be ruinous, can also be used to your advantage, e.g. “wow, this run is so painful I’ll never do it again – wait, I won’t remember this tomorrow.”
  40. Get regular dental checkups.
  41. Wear a helmet.
  42. There’s nothing wrong with suicide.
  43. You play with fire, you get burned.
  44. Avoid boring people.
  45. Don’t eat a lot or you’ll get super sleepy.
  46. You’re a worm dreaming of the stars.
  47. The solution to free will angst is Dan Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves.”
  48. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
  49. Get the low-hanging fruit first.
  50. If familiarity isn’t breeding contempt, you’ve got a winner.
  51. You’ll never walk alone.
  52. Never half-ass an apology.
  53. Never apologize twice for the same thing.
  54. If unsure of whether or not to apologize for something – always apologize.
  55. Send a positive text to your best friend every day.
  56. Stay positive – you can shit poisonously in your own mind for no reason. The upside to being positive, optimistic and trusting is greater than downside and is a choice you make every day with every thought and perception.
  57. I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain
  58. Fake it till you make it.
  59. Read biographies of people you aspire to imitate.
  60. Take detailed notes during or immediately after important conversations.
  61. All men die, but not all really live.
  62. You’re my buddy.
  63. And when I say “you’re my buddy”, by “you” I of course don’t mean you as bounded by the skin but I mean the values, traits and ideas that you are an embodiment of, which is why I came to love you in the first place anyway.
  64. Live a strenuous life. Ease is ignoble,
  65. Have vast designs.
  66. Money is a means, not an end.
  67. Be wary of habit and routine. Try new and unknown things.
  68. Give vomit-effort.
  69. Throw pennies away. They are a resource-attack.
  70. Live life as a wiki. Don’t squander your days. What will you look back on this as?
  71. Think about how mirrors reverse things. It’s really disturbing.
  72. Battles are primarily lost and won in the hearts of men.
  73. Do you want it?
  74. Memories fade. Take pictures.
  75. Don’t be shy about communicating successes, failures to friends.
  76. Don’t be shy about thinking out loud with friends. They help evolve thought processes.
  77. Explain your ideas, beliefs and goals to people. Talking through serves to convince and clarify in your own mind as well.
  78. At least go through the motions.
  79. Victory is waiting for you.
  80. Let the firstlings of your heart be the firstlings of your hand.
  81. Remember that come what come may, time and the hour run through the roughest day.
  82. If you only settle for your best, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
  83. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
  84. Think carefully and define “winning” for yourself.
  85. Your freedom comes naturally. You act in accord with your reasons.
  86. Be dauntless.
  87. Be psychopathically, non-reality-tethered confident at all times.
  88. Sally forth boldly into the future.
  89. Never worry about what you can’t change.
  90. You can’t change the past.
  91. Share your aspirations and goals with friends and supporters.
  92. Libertarians are scum.
  93. Submit to your metacognition. NOW.
  94. See what others do in mere fictions and dreams of passion, & key on your own motives and cues.
  95. Always have a bias for action.
  96. It is sometimes necessary to cut people out of your life. Be ready for it and don’t hesitate.
  97. Unclench your identity. You are a fluid evolving chained time-sinew, with each now-I a link comprising the self. You can be anything you want.
  98. Future self-bind whenever possible.
  99. Keep a written account of each day.
  100. Don’t wait for love. It does not often come to those who don’t seek it.
  101. Experience extreme hunger at least once.
  102. Label everything with your name.
  103. Don’t be an idiot.
  104. Don’t be a packrat.
  105. Have civic pride.
  106. Don’t take anything personally. Other people aren’t persons.
  107. (Newsrad ones).
  108. Speak loudly.
  109. Be the man in the arena.
  110. Apologize only for major transgressions.
  111. Dress sharply.
  112. Keep a list of books read.
  113. Put the ideas you’re most passionate about into essay form.
  114. Debate your values and ideas with sharp, opposed people.
  115. Network, sincerely.
  116. Stay in touch with far-flung friends.
  117. Wrest yourself out of your comfort zone at every opportunity.
  118. Associate with all diff walks of life.
  119. Go skydiving.
  120. Move or rearrange your hairstyle or furniture at least every 6 months.
  121. Be aggressively friendly.
  122. Learn to truly overlook glaring flaws / value differences in prospective friends, but only if they’re worth it.
  123. when unsure of whether to go to something or not, always have a bias to go.
  124. Keep a to-do list.
  125. Brush twice a day.
  126. Prioritize adequate sleep over all else.
  127. Do regular cardio exercise.
  128. Vote.
  129. Gain at least a basic level of experience/understanding of the military.
  130. Death is by definition nothing to fear.
  131. Stretch after, not before.
  132. Be hypervigilant of resource-attacks.
  133. Acting as though you know you’re well-liked and admired is always the most expedient route.
  134. Always get better.
  135. Always be closing.
  136. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  137. Do more listening than talking. When in doubt, be silent.
  138. Don’t be a packrat. When there’s any doubt, that means throw it away. Non-essential possessions are resource-attacks.
  139. Organize your email and documents into folders.
  140. Aggressively seek mentors.
  141. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings.
  142. Hating something or someone is to give it importance, validity, engagement. Utterly ignore & forget it instead.
  143. Not every experience is necessarily a net positive. Don’t be averse to burying / actively forgetting something.
  144. We are agglomerations of people we spend time with and media we consume. Choose wisely.
  145. Hydrate.
  146. Write everything down.
  147. Never be drunk outside your home.
  148. Keep objective written record of your data – weight, drug effects, sleep, etc – you never will have an accurate understanding of what’s going on without this.
  149. People who block doors on trains are either autistic or inconsiderate.
  150. Embrace me or kill me.
  151. One night stands or casual sex – in general or when they have them – make women feel humiliated, stupid, foolish and terrible about themselves, and regard men as villains.

These were Andrew’s list of rules to live by.

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]So, I wish I’d had time to provide some context on Andrew before this went viral. He was funny, and he was extremely principled. He lived by these rules pretty well, especially when it came to passions and goals (i.e. “vomit-effort”). He once skipped class for two weeks, flew to Russia with a goal of making a documentary film (financed on student loans). Starting with wikipedia, he literally talks his way up to Putin’s inner circle. On camera interviews with everyone from Kremlin elites, to the U.S. Ambassador, to opposition and protest leaders. I don’t think the film was ever distributed, but here’s the trailer. He was quite remarkable. [/box]

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