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How to Live: 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion

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This is an homage to the great book Sum by David Eagleman, which has forty conflicting (and dreamy) answers to the question “What happens when you die?” How to Live includes 27 conflicting (and useful) answers to the question of how to live.


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This is an homage to the great book Sum by David Eagleman, which has forty conflicting (and dreamy) answers to the question “What happens when you die?” How to Live includes 27 conflicting (and useful) answers to the question of how to live.

30 review for How to Live: 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andy Gray

    Initially I found it confusing and contradictory, but the intention became clear as I read through the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sorin

    It reads like the highlights of a great book. If you want to extract the essential you will highlight 80%. That’s why I think I will come back to it time and time again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    A book that spins you around so that you take a 360 view.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Sanchez

    What a whirlwind. A great read and the idea is to toy with the reader to show that you can learn from all sides of life. Contradicting advice and points of view that will help you realize that you truly do need a balance in your life. Take a step back and view situations from different eyes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Harsha

    Sivers has reached an epitome of clarity in his latest masterpiece that would make Hemingway want to come out of his grave. It’s full of contradictions by design (almost bringing clarity through confusion) and there is not one unnecessary word or article. It’s Sivers reaching his purest form in writing, with lessons that bewilder and make you think more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Heiner

    Derek says that this is his best book ever, and I fully understand that an author is always going to have his/her own perspective on a book, not just because of the experience of bringing it into being, but because of what he/she hopes the book might achieve. It is that latter reason, I think, that inspired Derek to say this was his best book ever. He is truly trying to challenge existing paradigms for "how to live" in a world with so many conflicting messages. Like me, you may find yourself deep Derek says that this is his best book ever, and I fully understand that an author is always going to have his/her own perspective on a book, not just because of the experience of bringing it into being, but because of what he/she hopes the book might achieve. It is that latter reason, I think, that inspired Derek to say this was his best book ever. He is truly trying to challenge existing paradigms for "how to live" in a world with so many conflicting messages. Like me, you may find yourself deeply underlining the sections you agree with and almost speed-reading the sections you don't. But that's the point: you need to be willing to immerse yourself in the "alternative" world view of every chapter in order to get the overarching message: there is no one way to live your life. There are many - find elements that appeal to you and your personality and lean into them. But also be open to retooling and reorienting today, tomorrow, next year, or next decade. "When you're indifferent to people's words and actions, nobody can affect you." (loc 41) "Being fully independent is how to live." (loc 76) "So why not act that way and live that day every day? Commit to your habits to make them rituals. If it's not important, never do it. If it's important, do it ever day. Rockets use most of their fuel in the first minute of flight, to escape the pull of gravity. Once they get outside that pull, it's effortless. Same with your habits. Starting is hard. The rest is easy. New habits are what you're trying. Old habits are who you are." (loc 115) "Let go of feeling needed." (loc 220) "Choose a culture that values what you value." (loc 304) "To enjoy your past is to live twice." (loc 322) "When you make a big mistake and want to learn its lesson, deliberately amplify the pain, the deep regret, and the consequences. Keep the bad feelings vivid and visceral. Make the lesson memorable, so you won't do it again." (loc 339) "Mastery is the best goal because the rich can't buy it, the impatient can't rush it, the privileged can't inherit it, and nobody can steal it. You can only earn it through hard work. Mastery is the ultimate status." (loc 347) "When you're not practicing, remember: someone somewhere is practicing. When you meet them, they will win." (loc 374) "Don't live somewhere pleasant surrounded by normal people. Live among your fellow freaks, where obsession is normal and ambition is rewarded." (loc 382) "You don't need to hang out, make small talk, or join in common rituals. You don't need to sleep at normal hours, keep a tidy home, or even relax. Be sharply focused, not well-rounded." (loc 391) "Keep the rest of your life boring. Drama is a distraction. Your personal life and other concerns can shrink to almost nothing. Focus everything on your work." (loc 391) "The goal of life is not comfort. Pursuing comfort is both pathetic and bad for you." (loc 441) "Pain is coming anyway. Don't get a shield. Get a saddle." (loc 451) "Never consider yourself an expert. It's the strong swimmers who drown. Don't believe what you think. Have questions, not answers. Doubt everything. The easiest person to fool is yourself. Don't answer a hard question too quickly. Don't stop at the first answer. In mystery stories, the first suspect is not the culprit. If you're not embarrassed by what you thought last year, you need to learn more and faster." (loc 638) "When you're really learning, you'll feel stupid and vulnerable - like a hermit crab between shells." (loc 647) "Don't quote. Put it in your own words without looking up or referencing what others said. If you can't explain it yourself, you don't know it." (loc 665) "Great public speaking comes from great private thinking." (loc 665) "Learning is a pursuit you can't lose." (loc 665) "An undisciplined moment seems harmless, but they add up to disaster. Without discipline, the tiny things in life will be your downfall." (loc 700) "Someone says life is hard. The comedian says, 'Compared to what?' Comedians are philosophers." (loc 737) "Then imagine the relief of finding shelter, the joy of controlled fire on command, and the satisfaction of hot water." (loc 765) "Want nothing, and nothing will disappoint you. Want nothing, an nothing is outside your control. Want nothing, and fate can't hurt you." (loc 774) "Shallow happy is pursuing pleasure. Deep happy is pursuing fulfillment. Fulfillment is more fun than fun." (loc 799) "The best marketing is being considerate. The best sales approach is listening. Serve your clients' needs, not your own. Business, when done right, is generous and focused on others." (loc 839) "The world is full of money. There's no shortage. So capture the value you create. Charge for what you do. It's unsustainable to create value without asking anything in return. Remember that many people like to pay." (loc 869) "Sell your business before you have to. Sell before it peaks. The fun is in creating a business, not maintaining it." (loc 895) "Avoid exciting investments." (loc 904) "Money makes problems go away, but amplifies your personality traits. Money won't change you, but it will amplify who you are." (loc 921) "Something happened. Something else happened. People love stories, so they connect two events, calling them cause and effect. But the connection is fiction." (loc 928) "'I'm an introvert, so that's why I can't.' No. Definitions are not reasons. Definitions are just your old responses to past situations. What you call your personality is just a past tendency. New situations need a new response." (loc 928) "Putting a label on a person is like putting a label on the water in a river. It's ignoring the flow of time." (loc 937) "You built that boat to cross that river, so leave it there. Don't drag it along with you." (loc 954) "Avoid habitual comebacks and cliches." (loc 967) "The more you really connect with people, the more you learn about yourself: what excites you, what drains you, what attracts you, and what intimidates you." (loc 984) "If you choose not to love someone, break up with one last boost of love, empathy, and kindness, instead of showing your lack of love." (loc 1002) "Most people die with everything still inside them." (loc 1015) "Someone who hasn't created anything in years because you're so busy consuming?" (loc 1015) "Distribute your work as widely as you can. Do whatever it takes to call attention to it. Art needs an audience. There are no unknown geniuses. Charge money to make sure your creations are going to people who really want them. People don't value what's free. Charge for their sake as much as yours. Charge even if you don't need the money." (loc 1051) "To have good people in your life, just cut out the bad ones." (loc 1072) "A mistake only counts as experience if you learn from it." (loc 1093) "The world's greatest achievements were squeezed into existence by deadlines." (loc 1184)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Van Holder

    One the clearest thinkers I’ve got the pleasure to discover. It’s an inspiration to walk your own path in life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Martin Brochhaus

    It is really good. But: I'm a Sivers fan. 10 years ago I sent him an email out of the blue because I knew that he had moved to Singapore and I wanted to do the same. Lo and behold, in good old Sivers fashion he replied and introduced me to a young accountant who would eventually help me to set foot into the country and start a business and quite quickly get my PR status. 10 years later, this very accountant is still working with me, I made a fortune in Singapore, married the love of my life and It is really good. But: I'm a Sivers fan. 10 years ago I sent him an email out of the blue because I knew that he had moved to Singapore and I wanted to do the same. Lo and behold, in good old Sivers fashion he replied and introduced me to a young accountant who would eventually help me to set foot into the country and start a business and quite quickly get my PR status. 10 years later, this very accountant is still working with me, I made a fortune in Singapore, married the love of my life and somehow I feel forever a little bit indebted to Derek because he sent me, a complete stranger, that one contact. So I am biased. Being an expat and traveller, an entrepreneur, a musician, a designer, a creator, a rebel, a humanitarian and a husband myself, I found myself nodding along. "Yeah, I get it. I did that. I'd totally do that". There are a lot of chapters about having many women and at first it bothered me a little, but I *think* I understand that each chapter is an exaggeration, not to be taken quite literally, more like an extreme, a thought experiment, what if you walked the talk all the way to the end? It also needs to be read slowly, as warned in the introduction. Actually, I think the first read should be fast, so you get the whole picture. But that will leave you wanting and unimpressed. Now that I'm through it once, it is time for my second read. My second read will probably take me a few years. Another reviewer said it's a "modern day "Meditations"" and I think that nails it. There's a lot of Stoicism buried in this book, albeit far more accessible than any of the stoic source materials.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bernardo

    We traverse the world in a vessel. The vessel is home and has multiple windows. Each window shows a view of the world. Each, a unique process and experience. The windows are many, but we control which one is used. No window is the wrong choice. — Derek's 27 conflicting answers are put in gentile, concise words but are **packed** with philosophy, consciousness and meaning. He's like an elegant boxer, well-trained and efficient, throwing precise jabs at an opponent. The opponent being our anxious, doubtf We traverse the world in a vessel. The vessel is home and has multiple windows. Each window shows a view of the world. Each, a unique process and experience. The windows are many, but we control which one is used. No window is the wrong choice. — Derek's 27 conflicting answers are put in gentile, concise words but are **packed** with philosophy, consciousness and meaning. He's like an elegant boxer, well-trained and efficient, throwing precise jabs at an opponent. The opponent being our anxious, doubtful or prejudiced minds, wondering if any of life's paths are the correct one. The weird conclusion is not weird at all. It's **the** answer. We're composers of a symphony. Conductors of an orchestra, made up of multiple instruments. Each with its own unique cadence, flavor, texture. Each instrument enters and exits the symphony at the time the composer and conductor demands.

  10. 5 out of 5

    TiSh

    My favorite type of book: short, reflective, full of sentences barely more than seven words long, but forces me to sit and reread each sentence multiple times to fully take in and understand them, covering a wide range of commonplace topics in life. Few authors deliver such savory texts as this. Sivers surely didn't disappoint with this one (with cadence to boot!). Definitely not as light-hearted a read as his previous Hell Yeah or No, nor Anything You Want, but I think this is his best work yet My favorite type of book: short, reflective, full of sentences barely more than seven words long, but forces me to sit and reread each sentence multiple times to fully take in and understand them, covering a wide range of commonplace topics in life. Few authors deliver such savory texts as this. Sivers surely didn't disappoint with this one (with cadence to boot!). Definitely not as light-hearted a read as his previous Hell Yeah or No, nor Anything You Want, but I think this is his best work yet! (Yes I skipped the one about fame) At the end of the book there are some strange things I don't understand.... Not sure if they were meant as tests for the reader... or just something to lighten the mood?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Many years ago, Derek had this TED Talk about the meaning of life. That's actually how I first came across him. In the talk, he compared life to trying to learn Mandarin, and it was fun and interesting and thought-provoking. This is basically the book version of that. I found one "chapter" particularly infuriating, but all in all, it was fine. Although if I had to recommend one Derek Sivers book to someone who's never read Derek Sivers, I'd easily ask them to read "Hell Yeah or No" over this one. Many years ago, Derek had this TED Talk about the meaning of life. That's actually how I first came across him. In the talk, he compared life to trying to learn Mandarin, and it was fun and interesting and thought-provoking. This is basically the book version of that. I found one "chapter" particularly infuriating, but all in all, it was fine. Although if I had to recommend one Derek Sivers book to someone who's never read Derek Sivers, I'd easily ask them to read "Hell Yeah or No" over this one. No question. But also watch that TED Talk if you haven't: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aTao...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Brightside

    If you are not a fan and follower of Derek Sivers, the format of this book might confuse you. It reads like a series of proverbs with a sprinkle of anecdotes here and there. The goal of Sivers is to say more with less. He thus, have made it a point, to remove what he deems as unnecessary words. I have been following Sivers for many years, so this book made sense to me. Writing a book on “how to live” is an impossible undertaking and Sivers juxtaposes extreme viewpoints to explain to his readers t If you are not a fan and follower of Derek Sivers, the format of this book might confuse you. It reads like a series of proverbs with a sprinkle of anecdotes here and there. The goal of Sivers is to say more with less. He thus, have made it a point, to remove what he deems as unnecessary words. I have been following Sivers for many years, so this book made sense to me. Writing a book on “how to live” is an impossible undertaking and Sivers juxtaposes extreme viewpoints to explain to his readers the complexity of life. Ultimately, the reader might come to the conclusion that a balanced life is what Sivers is actually getting into.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Todd Dosenberry

    I started to read it again as soon as I finished it. I think I highlighted 70%+ of the book. So many thought-provoking passages. After reading this book a second time through, I'll be digesting my highlights and then writing my thoughts. I've never been so stoked about a book! I looked at the conclusion before I started to read. This isn't good or bad and I don't recommend it but I also don't not recommend it. I had to think about the conclusion for a few minutes after finishing reading and will I started to read it again as soon as I finished it. I think I highlighted 70%+ of the book. So many thought-provoking passages. After reading this book a second time through, I'll be digesting my highlights and then writing my thoughts. I've never been so stoked about a book! I looked at the conclusion before I started to read. This isn't good or bad and I don't recommend it but I also don't not recommend it. I had to think about the conclusion for a few minutes after finishing reading and will need to do it again. Enjoy!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    I'm not a fan of this style of writing where there are no paragraphs, no narrative, no plot, no structure. Just a bunch of self help pseudo-wisdom strung together and thrown into book form. This works better as a blog. Or perhaps as every other chapter weaved with the author's own experiences. I really struggled to plow through it and felt disappointed especially after Sivers said it is his best book. In fact, I don't really like any of his books or way of thinking. Not for me I'm not a fan of this style of writing where there are no paragraphs, no narrative, no plot, no structure. Just a bunch of self help pseudo-wisdom strung together and thrown into book form. This works better as a blog. Or perhaps as every other chapter weaved with the author's own experiences. I really struggled to plow through it and felt disappointed especially after Sivers said it is his best book. In fact, I don't really like any of his books or way of thinking. Not for me

  15. 4 out of 5

    Qing-Qi

    This year I have been read more than 50 books and this book is probably the most touch my heart. I have highlighted lots of sentences because I believe these sentences will impact my life and direction a lot. Among these topics, one of the most impressive ones is “commit” because it really makes a lot of sense for why I felt confused or distracted. Of course, some sentences I still do not agree with on all the contents 100%, but I highly recommended this book, which is full of wisdom.

  16. 4 out of 5

    CL

    Food for thought. Really. I like the idea of conflicting answers, it enables the writer to be bold in the explanations and let us choose. This book is a bit like a Black Mirror movie, you read it fast but you talk about it for a long while. I'm eager to know what are the examples/reasons/facts/feelings that led the author to these answers. Maybe for a next book. Food for thought. Really. I like the idea of conflicting answers, it enables the writer to be bold in the explanations and let us choose. This book is a bit like a Black Mirror movie, you read it fast but you talk about it for a long while. I'm eager to know what are the examples/reasons/facts/feelings that led the author to these answers. Maybe for a next book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ashton

    I don’t like “black and white” thinking and such strong assertions, so I hated every single chapter in the micro. But in the macro, I loved the release of another shade of grey being added to the mix. And the conclusion was perfectly concise (would’ve been hard to resist writing a longer conclusion).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Fergus

    I used Derek's book as my morning meditation for several weeks. I took my time (As he suggests) and read a few lines each morning. I thought about what each section meant to me, how I related to it and how it made me feel. Honestly, this book could be used in a classroom environment. I recommend it to everyone! I used Derek's book as my morning meditation for several weeks. I took my time (As he suggests) and read a few lines each morning. I thought about what each section meant to me, how I related to it and how it made me feel. Honestly, this book could be used in a classroom environment. I recommend it to everyone!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dunkelheit

    To me Derek Sivers is simply the Marcus Aurelius or Seneca of the 21st century. I couldn't help highlighting every passage of the book. The 27 chapters are full of wisdom, contradictions and "brain food". For now the conclusions are too weird to me. I'm still digesting them. To me Derek Sivers is simply the Marcus Aurelius or Seneca of the 21st century. I couldn't help highlighting every passage of the book. The 27 chapters are full of wisdom, contradictions and "brain food". For now the conclusions are too weird to me. I'm still digesting them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vesselin Iliev

    Very creative piece - each chapter really makes you believe this particular way is The Way to live. I didn't think each way can be that compelling, but they really are. Big fan of this style of writing - simple, succinct and straight to the point. Very creative piece - each chapter really makes you believe this particular way is The Way to live. I didn't think each way can be that compelling, but they really are. Big fan of this style of writing - simple, succinct and straight to the point.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stefano

    Great book, like always straight to the point -- removing everything that is not adding value. Timeless ideas. I really liked how he presents the complete opposing view to make you see life from different angles. Very recommended

  22. 5 out of 5

    Iram

    One of the most thought-provoking books I've read recently. Derek Sivers is one of my favorite current thinkers and writers. He describes this book as the best thing he's written, and I couldn't agree more. One of the most thought-provoking books I've read recently. Derek Sivers is one of my favorite current thinkers and writers. He describes this book as the best thing he's written, and I couldn't agree more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thijs

    27: the answer to life, the universe and everything. Oh and Jazz.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bruce De Meester

    Utterly amazing. I'm not 100% behind some of the statements Derek makes – but I agree with a lot of what he says. He is direct, precise and his analogies are eye-opening. Utterly amazing. I'm not 100% behind some of the statements Derek makes – but I agree with a lot of what he says. He is direct, precise and his analogies are eye-opening.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Excellent, all of Derek Sivers stuff is on point, short, and really good. Recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Fun, quick read that really makes you think. I found myself highlighting everywhere.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dillan Taylor

    A lovely book by one of my favorite authors! I'll post some of my favorite quotes soon... A lovely book by one of my favorite authors! I'll post some of my favorite quotes soon...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Very contradictory but it becomes clear why as you get through the book. The crux? - balance.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joakim Achrén

    I agree with all of what Derek talks about. Such a great mentor and spiritual coach-in-book!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Venkatesh Narayanan

    Awesome as ever by Derek Sivers You need to read this book slowly and take notes and see how you can bring these ideas into your life.

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