You are the priority

It always sounds cruel and counter-intuitive. Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Yes, you should ignore even your own child, and save yourself first.

The reason being, of course, that if you don’t, then you’ll be unable to help anyone else anyway.

There are times in my life when I have been out of shape, sleep-deprived, lonely, bored and stressed, all at once. And I was undoubtedly a shitty person to be around.

The way out of it — and this is just what worked for me — is to put yourself first. To love yourself like your life depends on it.

Which for me means a few things:

  1. Eight hours of sleep, every night. Yes, this means you need to go to bed earlier. Netflix or your PS4 will still be there tomorrow (and so will your books). If you’re one of the very, very few people who can get by on less, then good luck to you (but you’re probably not, so just go the fuck to sleep).
  2. Delete Twitter and Instagram from your phone. At best they are a bit of a waste of time. At worst they are making you angry or miserable. You don’t need them on your phone. If you really like either of them, just use them on your laptop, but you don’t need it in your pocket at all hours of the day.
  3. Intermittent fasting plus paleo/slow carb diet. Skip breakfast. Eat chicken and salad for lunch (every day). Eat some combo of meat and veggies for dinner. Don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sugar or refined carbs. If you want, take Saturday off from all of these rules.
  4. Regular weight training or intense exercise. I do Crossfit now, but I used to just lift weights, the specifics don’t matter. But you have to do something, at least 2-3x per week, preferably 4-5x. In the last few minutes of a hard workout, you’re not thinking about how your job sucks, or how that driver cut you off earlier, trust me. You’re only focusing on the hard work in front of you.
  5. Read. It can be the newspaper, erotic fiction, the Bible, or whatever business bestseller you just bought at the airport, I don’t mind. Just make regular, quiet reading time a habit.
  6. Be present with others. I don’t mean that you need to become a party animal or join a networking group, but you need regular social contact with real people, and you need to not stare at your phone the whole time you’re doing it. This can be with your spouse, partner, gym buddies (see: Crossfit again). 

When I veer away from these principles, I feel worse, and I am less help to everyone else in the world. When I stick to them–when I put my own oxygen mask on first–I am helping myself, and everyone else around me, just a little bit.

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