Why simplicity, play, and a willingness to fail are the keys to happiness and success.

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

​Insight 1: A simple life is a happy life

When most people think of minimalism, they either think of a guy who lives in an empty bedroom with a bare mattress and a single all-black outfit, or they think of someone who Marie Kondoed their whole house.

I’m not a minimalist.

I own more than one spoon, dozens of pairs of socks, and hundreds of pounds worth of books.

But, I do resonate with the concept of minimalism—to own your possessions instead of your possessions owning you.

Over the last year, I’ve phased out most of my wardrobe.

Now, like 90% of my cloths are solid black and the same style. I liked the idea of reducing “decision fatigue” and time deciding what to wear each day.

Is it scientifically validated? I have no idea, and I don’t care.

It’s improved my quality of life, and that’s what matters.

There’s nothing wrong with owning stuff, or even a lot of stuff. But using materialism as a surrogate for wellbeing is.

In this Psychology Today article, Dr. Steve Taylor dives into two interesting concepts:

1. Material happiness is subject to the law of diminishing returns.

2. People who live a life of “voluntary simplicity” with a minimum of possessions have a higher level of wellbeing.

Give it a read, if you’re curious.

​Insight 2: Play more

How often do you play?

We all play when we’re young. But as we get older, we forget to leave room for play in our lives.

Life becomes about work and chasing money, status, and “success.”

Play is for children. Work is for adults. Or so we think.

Then we wonder why so many adults are miserable…

In this TEDTalk, Charlie Hoehn makes the case for adults to intentionally add in times to play into their busy lives:

“The paradox of play is that it recharges us. It refreshes us. It rejuvenates us, and allows to go back and do great work. And if we don’t allow ourselves to play, we become joyless. We become very serious. Life is about work and we have to take pills just to sit still and focus.”

Check it out if you need permission to introduce more play into your life.

​Insight 3: Be willing to fail

Ever wonder what fuels Pixar’s success?

Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, credits their success to a consistent willingness to risk failure:

“If something works, you shouldn’t do it again. We want to do something that is new, original—something where there’s a good chance of failure [each time].”

He believes true originality lies in risking (and learning from) failure.

“It’s better to start with a bad idea, iterate, and get feedback along the way than to wait for the perfect idea to spring into your brain.”

This iterative approach has allowed Pixar to consistently create blockbuster films.

If you want to dive into Catmull’s insights on creativity, business, and his philosophy on life, check out this article from The Profile.

​Question for the Week

Where can you simplify your life?

Think about things like:

  • Your routine
  • Your workflows
  • Your spending habits

​Coaching Corner

This week’s question is one I hear a lot from people who want to write and create content:

“When do I officially become a writer and can call myself one?”

Here’s the thing, no one is going to give you permission to call yourself a writer.

I wrote for over a decade and didn’t think I could call myself a writer.

I used to think you could only call yourself a writer if you:

  • Have an English degree
  • Publish a best-selling book
  • Get paid to write for print media
  • Win some international writing award

But none of these make you a writer.

A writer is someone who writes. Period.

So if you write anything, regardless of whether it makes money, wins awards, or gets published in print media, you are a writer.

You don’t need anyone’s permission but your own.

Hope that helps.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!

My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person you think would find it valuable.

And if someone forwarded this to you, check out past issues and subscribe here:

Until next time—memento mori,


Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube