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Choosing your Bible

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“You have your Bibles, don’t you?”

She was right– I do. Bibles is exactly what they are. They help me live my life well, help me make decisions, and make sure I am heading in the right direction.

It’s exactly like a religious book– except I wrote it.

If you don’t have a Bible, your daily decisions are probably based on mood, or if you’re lucky and you’ve thought it through, maybe they’re based on values. But I’m deeply impulsive, so even values aren’t good enough. I need something written down, telling me what to do.

You know when you go to a store and it says cash only on the cash register? It’s like that. Something that’s written down is more powerful, somehow.

So when I go to my apps, they say “go home and do 10 minutes of cleaning,” and I listen. That’s my Bible. Without that, my whole life would be in disorder. I’d have no idea what to base my decisions on.

But there’s something else, too. A Good Book actually isn’t enough– you need more. Because behind every Bible is actually another thing, a kind of meta-belief, that keeps the whole thing under control.

Mine is deceptively simple. It says: “Don’t trust yourself with decisions. Trust me instead.”

Or in other words, emotions are good advisors but bad kings. So you should never trust how you feel in the moment.

Any holy text is basically the same. It’s telling you “decide based on what I say, not based on how you’re feeling.” There’s a lot of power in that.

I firmly believe that all people are, in a sense, addicts. Everyone is an addict of a different type, to a different degree, with different problems. We all need help; we just make different decisions about how to get it.

Long ago, I got what worked for me. I didn’t let go and let God, but I did let go and let… something.

* Filed by Julien at 2:12 pm under systems


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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13 Responses to “Choosing your Bible”

  1. Jordan Says:

    “It’s exactly like a religious book– except I wrote it.”

    That’s a good thing then. Hopefully you won’t advocate slavery, reward rapists and ask someone to kill their first born child.

    If you’ve skipped all those, then you’re in the right direction.

  2. Jscott Says:

    Add a sprinkle of face to face community and drink up. Punchy post with meat.

    I have been doing my own “Bible Study” with The WillPower Instinct, Hourly timers to check in with my distracted self, Toggl,Pomodoro, and BJ Fogg’s work on triggers.

    People think it robotic. To some extent it is. But I program the robot. There is no need for me to have to make hundreds of choices a day when I can sit down On Sunday afternoon and write the code for my week in under 20 hours. Then I can leave freestyle coding for better things like talking with crazy great people, daydreaming/creativity and rem sleep.

  3. John McLachlan Says:

    Julien, the golden line from this post for me is: “Or in other words, emotions are good advisors but bad kings. So you should never trust how you feel in the moment.”

    That’s sound advice and so often, so difficult to adhere to. That screaming child in our heads can wreak all kinds of havoc that end up in long-term bad decisions.

    • Kimberly Says:

      Exactly, John! I wish the screaming child in my head would shut the hell up sometimes. Other times, she’s awesome and I wub her to pieces. :)

      Julien, I love this post. I also want to just let you know that I hit “unsubscribe” with great regularity. You always make the cut. Thank you for your honesty and courage to say what you think. I love it.

      Kimberly

  4. Trudy Says:

    “Emotions are good advisors but bad kings” rings true with me too. I read “The Chimp Paradox” recently and found it really useful for explaining how your brain works and how to manage your ‘chimp’; the part of you that is pure emotion and though very much part of you and your character, it can be listened to, learnt from and managed and actually help you reach your goals instead of derailling you. Has really helped me to create some objectivity in my decision making. I’m more like a good parent to myself now. I no longer beat myself up for making poor choices, instead learn and work out how i can do things better next time.
    Julien’s advice is thought provoking, as always. Thanks Julien.

  5. Ross Says:

    Interesting post. I’m not sure I could tell you what my Bible is except for THE Bible. Although I live my life by striving to be the man I want to be. I never thought about it in this context, always useful to have a new perspective on self awareness.

    I’m confused by the last part though: “Long ago, I got what worked for me. I didn’t let go and let God, but I did let go and let… something.”

    Is this an incomplete sentance on purpose? Am I misreading it?

  6. Joe Says:

    I had a hard time following this one. I adhere to the 4 Agreements as a general guideline. Quality stuff that is not dogmatic and has never let me down.

    http://amzn.to/OPpZaX

  7. Susan Cooper Says:

    I love the phrase “emotions are good advisors but bad kings”. It’s funny how we go about our day to day activities and are ruled by how we feel, taking little if any time to really discern what is the right course of action. Great post… :-)

  8. Bleiu Says:

    My “bible” is index cards in a holder so I can file things in sections. I can also remove what is done, uninspiring or has changed in some way. I love your blog and newsletters :)

  9. Sarah Says:

    Julien, I can’t tell you how much I struggle with this very issue EVERY DAY. It’s like I don’t trust myself to set up the right reminders, you know? Deep mistrust, that is. So I end up “going with the flow,” which is fine, but I wonder if I’m just blowing in the wind and will one day wake up and say: “I’ve accomplished nothing, dammit. I should have been more deliberate with my life.” I do get some things done, mind you, but I can’t say I have a Bible, master plan, or overall vision. My question is this: how did you arrive at your app-based decisions about what to do each day?

  10. Daniel Hernandez Says:

    “I firmly believe that all people are, in a sense, addicts. Everyone is an addict of a different type, to a different degree, with different problems. We all need help; we just make different decisions about how to get it.”

    I have thought this for quite some time myself. Thanks for the reassurance that I’m not alone in my thinking.

  11. Kevin Rabideau Says:

    I’m a motivation addict. The only progress I’ve gotten is from motivational highs after searching the internet for inspirational articles about how to better yourself. But I’ve run out of them, I know all the tricks. I’m back to my brain reasoning its way out of any work, any challenge I try to set for myself. It just cannot continue.

    I want to personally thank you for this article. My ass hurts from sitting on it so much and doing so little with myself. I cannot trust myself anymore.

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