As I type this, I am sipping a good cup of coffee and thinking back to all those life lessons that sprouted up in 2015. Some of these may seem very much common sense or obvious, but 2015 was a year where they were satisfyingly re-affirmed.

This is simply  a sampling of the lessons I learned over the last 365 days, some obvious, some insightful and some just off the wall. Hope you enjoy.

1. Life is hard-I battled booze, mild-depression, poverty, briefly living in a gym, a string of couch surfing and severe stress in 2015. All of which sucked. Too bad. That’s life. Don’t look for pity from others, look for a way past it. I guarantee that the mere fact you are able to sit down and read this blog from your cell phone or at home internet tells me that there are people dealing with far worse shit than you could ever imagine. Take a breath and handle life. You’ll be stronger once you made it past the tough stuff.

2. Don’t be an asshole-Basic manners. I’ve dealt with a lot of rudeness throughout my entire life and it’s especially true in Hong Kong. Nothing against the people it’s just entirely different customs and courtesies here. Do basic stuff. Hold open doors, say “please” and “Thank you”. Act like your mom is over your shoulder everywhere you go. How do you want her to see you? And for the love of god, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

3. Say Yes More- We are a society full of “we’ll sees” and “Maybes”. Because of that, we miss out on the beautiful things. Live on the edge. When someone asks you to do something you have never done, say yes and say it with enthusiasm. The opportunity may never present itself again.

4. Eat good fucking food-Life is too short to big through a bowl of salad greens hoping to find a stray piece of dry chicken breast you might of missed on the last pass through. It’s also too short to sit in line at a fast food restaurant hoping to stuff that big mac down your throat. Man  up, foot the bill for a nice meal every now and then. I’m talking steaks, lambs, duck and other gamey stuff. Take your taste buds for a test drive. The more words you don’t recognise on the menu, the better. Fondant, Foams, Celeriac and Bain-Marie all translate to “eat me”. When you finish eating, tip at least 15% or go home and revaluate your life choices.

5. Food Delivery is Amazing: Everyone is busy with work, life, blogging et cetera. Having wholesome fallbacks delivered daily dramatically decreases your risk of falling victim to some slimy, gooey, nutrient-void, prepackaged fallacy labeled food.

6. If you’re on time, you’re late: I’ve seen a lot of articles on this one lately. Maybe its my military upbringing that makes me so repulsed by chronic lateness but if you tell someone you’ll be there at 2, you damn sure better be there at 1:55. The necessity of this goes up the more important the occasion is. Friends understand a few minutes late, CEO’s and high level executives don’t. Set your watch ahead 5-10 minutes and punctuality your religion. People will see you in a better light.

7. Have an Identity: I can spot people who stuffed themselves in a starched shirt and new dress shoes. I can smell when someone is uncomfortable. That makes me uncomfortable. If you aren’t yourself in a suit and tie, wear a cardigan. Don’t feel normal in yoga pants? Wear sweats. Be yourself and screw the haters.

8. Stay young: Two or 3 times a week I will slide a 2 dollar coin in the drop-claw game around the corner from my apartment. The reasons for this are 1) I want to have the mind of a child and 2) I want to win that stuffed pokemon figure. Staying young doesn’t mean you act like an unruly toddler that loses his shit when he doesn’t get his way. It means being open to the world, thinking outside the box. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “He’s just like a sponge” when a parent refers to a kid. Have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Be a sponge.

9. Train hard, Rest Harder: I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but rest days are more important than training days in a lot of ways. A 10k row isn’t a rest day. That’s an Active rest day, learn the difference and take REST days. Get out of the gym and into the world.

1o. Friends are the wind in your sails: Treat them well. I have neglected a lot of important people in my life over the past year, and the reasons are too many to list. I intend on correcting the course and valuing those people in my life more. (You know who you are) Without friends, I’d be a totally different person. Call a friend or two a week, send a quick “Hello” message. Ask how their kids are. Show genuine interest.

11: Family is the ship that carries you: I have been away from home a lot (ALL) of 2015. That saddens me. My family has been so important in all my decision making and planning. They have carried and guided me forward whether they realise it or not. In 2016, I have my sights set on visiting the states, and most certainly Pennsylvania.

12: Read more. Go to a bookstore, find something with real pages of real paper in it. If it is on a topic that interests you, that’s even better. Sit in a quiet corner and read. Turn the phone off and get lost in the pages. If you like it after 10-15 minutes, buy it with your hard earned money and continue the process at home. Do it again once or twice a month.

13. Have good sex.

14. Find one thing in your life that is making you a human of lesser quality and quit that thing: Smoking, internet addiction, drinking to excess, showing up late, judging, close-mindedness, shyness. Target a specific weakness and then punish it without relenting until you feel comfortable with your newfound sense of improvement. Once that happens, choose another and start the process over again. Repeat and chase perfection. You’ll never get there, but you’re moving in the right direction.

15. Make lists, they help: Most mornings, I write a list of things I want to accomplish. I get through 75-90% of those things done every day. Mathematically speaking, I have increased my productivity by 75-90% because I wouldn’t have done shit without a detailed list of daily objectives. Draw it out and make it happen. Sort by priority.

16. Get a massage when you can afford it: I already know how little time you have for stretching, foam rolling and recovery, but if I handed you a gift certificate for a massage, I know damn well you would be on the phone scheduling one in. Treat it like a gift for yourself after a productive week. Deep tissue or just relaxing. Doesn’t matter, both will improve your quality of life in one way or another.

17. Put your phones away. Hong Kong has a sickening attachment to cell phones. 7 out of 10 people are transfixed and enthralled with the pale glow of a phones display. I get soft-shouldered at least 3 times a day by people who are in the middle of an epic candy crush game. It is almost enough to make you want to stop, throw your hands up and yell “Look around you!” It wouldn’t do much, as they would probably continue to play. Put your phone on silent and have a good conversation at least 2-3 times a day.

18. Learn how to socialise: People who are socially awkward make me awkward. Go out more, socialising is like a sport. It takes practice. If you sit in your dark bedroom complaining about how much you hate going out, you’ll never get better at going out.  Oh, and conversations don’t usually involve a string of obscure movie quotes or inappropriate compliments. Eliminate that from your repertoire. Grab a paper, get online and educate yourself on current events.

19. Get some sleep: Real sleep. Not “I’m so drunk” sleep. Not the “I’ll keep my phone by my head so I still get my Facebook notifications” sleep. Real fucking sleep. REM. That’s the treasure. Be a sleep pirate. Scour the 7 z’s until you get it. Wake up without an alarm whenever possible.

20. Travel More: Achieve a broader world view. I’ve been to over 20 countries and introduced to a staggering array of cultures, customs and traditions. If you are of a simple mind, you might start to realise that at our core, we are all humans and maybe it can help those who are stuck on their ivory tower of righteousness to stop with the bigotry and harsh words. Cultural insensitivity is antiquated. Grow up and grow together.

21. Keep a journal: I’ve been at it for about 4 years. Every year I grow more of an appreciation for the past entries. Its reflection, its growth and its enlightening. Keep a journal, write often.

22. Have a signature dish: Make it good, make it often. Surprise people.

23. Drink good coffee: $4.99 for a 12 pound bag may sound like an amazing deal, but someone is getting screwed and it’s definitely the person drinking it. Sure, if you drink 2 pots of joe a day its probably best for your kid’s college fund to drink the cheap stuff but every now and then, treat yourself to a $12 single origin, single farm, fair trade cup of heaven.

24. Be an amazing partner: Support the one you’re with, don’t inhibit them. I was in a relationship where I was stifling my partner’s growth. I was miserable for that reason. We are friends and we’ve moved past that. Be with someone you can lift up and vice-versa. Share experiences and be fulfilled together.
25. Stop Bashing fitness regimens that aren’t yours. Ok, so you think CrossFit is dangerous, zumba is only for chicks, TRX is gimmicky and bodybuilding is too boring. I get it. Did anyone ask for your 2 cents? All those arguments are old and tired. In my mind, if someone is off the couch, then they are on the path away from mediocrity. You know who isn’t on the path with them? You, because mediocre people judge and chastise people for trying. It’s assholes like you that intimidate people and keep them away from the gym. Another thing: If you claim that the fitness regimen you’re on is the magic sprinkled, be-all-end-all, one way ticket to GAINZ-ville, you’re an asshat.

26. Glance in the rearview mirror, but don’t turn the car around:  This whole post comes from sitting in front of a computer for 20 minutes and thinking back over the past year. Look back, find your happy times, find your flaws. What can you do to make yourself better? Make life better? Do those things. Don’t dwell on the bad too long, though. Keep it in your rearview mirror, only glancing at it when it comes time to make decisions.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I probably missed and I still have about a week or so until the year is over, so there might be some updates. Thanks to everyone who made 2015 what it was.