How To Live On 24 Hours A Day by Arnold Bennett puts the modern self-improvement circle jerk to shame. In this book, written 106 years ago, Bennett encapsulates the best advice you’ll ever encounter into a mere 24 pages.
No fluff, no personal embellishment, no self-promotion, no page-filling anecdotes. Just simple, straightforward advice for men that has withstood the test of time.
Best of all, the book is free. And you can read it right now in the next hour, but you won’t stop thinking about it for days. Trust me. I read this book on three days ago and it has filled my thoughts ever since.
Not unironically, this is some of the advice he actually espouses. To think deeply on subjects of importance is to be a staple of a man’s life. He advocates giving ninety uninterrupted minutes per night, three nights per week, to the study of meaningful subjects.
Unless you give at least forty-five minutes to careful, fatiguing reflection (it is an awful bore at first) upon what you are reading, your ninety minutes of a night are chiefly wasted.
My favorite theme in How To Live On 24 Hours A Day is Bennett’s emphasis on balance and moderation. When embarking on a self-improvement journey it is common to try to do too much at once.
Most people who are ruined are ruined by attempting too much.
He ends with this theme, but I will start with it because it is of utmost importance.
Let the pace of the first lap be even absurdly slow, but let it me as regular as possible.
And something that I am guilty of quite often:
And still another danger is the danger of developing a policy of rush, of gradually being more and more obsessed by what one has to do next. In this way, one may come to exist as in a prison, and one’s life may cease to be one’s own. One may take the dog out for a walk at eight o’clock, and meditate on the fact that one must begin to read at a quarter to nine, and the one must not be late.
Bennett talks about how we mustn’t talk too much about what we are doing to improve ourselves. Few people care or understand. There is no upside to sharing.
It is as well not to chatter too much about what one is doing, and not to betray a too-painted sadness at the spectacle of a whole world deliberately wasting so many hours out of every day, and therefore never really living. It will be found, ultimately, that in taking care of one’s self one has quite all one can do.
Bennett speaks of our elusive search for this so-called “happiness” that everyone seems to be after. After all, why are we doing what we are doing? What are we trying to achieve? What does winning look like?
And they have attained it by realising that happiness does not spring from the procuring of physical or mental pleasure, but from the development of reason and the adjustment of conduct to principles.
Are we living a life in alignment with our core beliefs? Too often when we find ourselves feeling unsettled it is because we are either living for the temporary pleasures, or trying to conform our standards to someone else’s. A core tenet often missing from self-help advice is first understanding what we want to align ourselves with, what sort of life do we want to lead?
And how does one figure out exactly what HE stands for? What should he study? What program should he follow?
And it is not literature, nor is it any other art, nor is it history, nor is it science. It is the study of one’s self. Man, know thyself.
I am entirely convinced that what is more than anything else lacking in the life of the average well-intentioned man of today is the reflective mood.
And what is most the most important skill for a man to achieve? Mastery of his own mind.
Mind control is the first element of a full existence.
Get your mind in hand. And see how the process cures half the evils of life – especially worry, that miserable, avoidable, shameful disease – worry!
If all of this stuff sounds familiar that’s because you’ve probably read it on popular blogs or $0.99 ebooks without nearly the prose or precision as Arnold Bennett lays down in How To Live On 24 Hours A Day.
The book is FREE, takes an hour to read, and will leave you deep in thought for days.