James Altucher, one of my favourite authors, speakers and bloggers has a fantastic rule that really blew me away when I first learned about it. He calls it the 5 x 5 rule and I have been trying it out ever since.

Here’s the 5 x 5 rule:

  1. You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with
  2. You are the average of the five things that inspire you the most
  3. My thoughts are the average of the five things I think about
  4. My body and mind are the average of the five things I “eat”
  5. I am the average of the five things I do to help people every day

Here’s what I try to do every day in consideration of the 5 x 5 rule:

Say no to almost everything

Yes, I know that there’s times where you have to say ‘yes’ but I’m talking about the appointments that you don’t have to go to. The friends you don’t really have to see because you don’t like spending that much time with them. The business contacts that you don’t have to go for coffee with because it won’t do anything for your business. Say no so that you have time to say yes to the things that matter. Derek Sivers has a directive where he says that if something comes up and it isn’t a “hell yes” it’s a “no”. I’m inclined to agree. That also means that you should have more time (and be more inclined) to spend time with the people that you do like and want to help.

Limit your intake of news, social media and other media outlets

I do take in small pieces of news here and there, mostly because I am bombarded with it on a daily occasion through the browser home page or news feeds that I may encounter but I do try as much as I can to limit the intake of news because, and not that my brain is amazing or anything, but because I find that if I read the news then I am absorbing content or information that I don’t necessarily want to remember. To me, and this is my opinion only, it isn’t that important whether health care in the US has been blocked by the government or that there was a tsunami off the coast of South America. I’ve also found that when something big happens, your friends or coworkers will ask you whether you’ve heard about that big news item (and then you learn about it anyway).

Think positive loving thoughts every day

James Altucher had Kamal Ravikant as a guest on one of his podcast episodes and Kamal was telling a story of when he was feeling down and could not even get out of bed. Kamal, one day, told himself that enough was enough and every day forward, he looked in the mirror, took a good hard look at himself and said “I love myself”. Slowly, but surely, he got better, improved his outlook on life and wrote a book about his experience loving himself. I sincerely believe that if you think positive, loving thoughts, positivity and love will flow into your life. Do this every day even when your days are so crappy that you wish you were in a nightmare.

Eat healthy

I know it can be tough. You have had a long day at work. You had to skip lunch to get that report finished. Now you’re driving home and you smell the unmistakeable scent of a Big Mac from McDonalds. Or that fried chicken from the korean place you’ve always wanted to try. Just once! It won’t hurt. You’re going to work out extra hard the next day to burn off the calories. During those moments, I recall a chapter in Jocko Willink’s excellent book ‘Discipline Equals Freedom’ which talks about this exact scenario. When you can’t eat healthy, just skip a meal. Fast. It’s what people used to do when they didn’t have very much money and couldn’t do anything about it. Fasting for one meal won’t hurt you. In fact, it can be even better for you then taking in that Big Mac and Shake. Remember that your body is a machine! Would you put regular gasoline into your sports car? NO. If you put in the right fuel into your car, you’re going to get the best performance out of it. If you put in the right fuel for your body, you’re going to get the maximum performance out of your body.

Every single day, practice gratitude and love

I’ve been there – long days of work. Your spouse is yelling at you to vacuum or clean the dishes or some other chore that you really do not want to do. Smile! Thank them for the opportunity to do the chores. Be grateful that you have a roof over your head, a warm meal to eat and someone to come home to. Others don’t have the same opportunity. For one month, try not complaining. It’s harder than you think. Maybe at the end of it you’ll be completely apathetic. Or you’ll find that you hate not complaining so much that you try to vent to a friend or a journal. But I think you’ll find that complaining is not productive nor conducive to anything. It makes you feel good but really does nothing to improve anything.

Be active every day

Do something every day to get your heart pumping. We all have a limited time on earth but we can lengthen it by strengthening our heart with exercise and active sports. Think of exercise like I do – it’s an investment in your future health. Studies say that you should be active at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes but this doesn’t have to be weight lifting or interval training or anything ridiculous like that – it can just be a brisk walk around the neighbourhood or walking up the stairs in your company rather than taking the elevator. Get your body moving.