At the moment of writing this post, there are more than 650 articles on this blog. Some of them are about business, some of them are about digital nomading, but most of them are about self-improvement.
As I was looking at the most popular self-improvement posts this morning, I realized there’s quite a difference between my own picks and what other people (or intelligent recommendation algorithms by Google or StumbleUpon) are choosing. For starters, many people seem to digest lists posts better.
Truth is, the most popular posts on this blog are lists posts. To some extent, I admit I like writing list posts. As a matter of fact, I even wrote a post called 100 Tips On How To Write Huge List Posts.
But, to be honest, I like more the other ones. The little stories from my life which, all of a sudden, are revealing some deeper meaning, or lead to some sort of a breakthrough.
Yet, since this blog belongs to its readers as much as it belongs to me, I have to live with my reader’s choices. So, while I am really thankful for all the traffic I get on my huge list posts, I decided to create a “little” list of what I consider to be the most important self-improvement posts here, including, but not limited to, my huge lists posts too. Be aware that this comes in the exact order of my own preferences, which, obviously, is not the same with the order of your preferences.
Before proceeding, though, just a word about the potentially narcissistic perception of this post: I’m not doing this in order to showcase anything, but to put some order in my own writing. You can safely call this “housekeeping”. It’s good for keeping a house in order, but it’s also good to keep my own perspective about what I like from what I wrote over the years.
Without further ado, here’s the list of my top 100 self-improvement posts:
1. Playgrounds And Balloons
An afternoon spent with my little daughter at a playground, a bunch of toy-shaped balloons and lots of insights. Sometimes, we blow so much air into our own illusions that we start to believe they are the real world. They’re not. They’re just balloons.
2. To Have Versus To Be
One of my favorite questions and a few ramblings on the topic. “To have” favors acquisitions, possessions, control, disruptions whereas “to be” favors enjoyment, detachment, freedom and continuity. We tend to bounce back and forth from one mindset to another.
3. I Can Versus I Do
This one is all about words. “I can” is empowering, while “I do” is life changing. There’s a subtle, yet powerful difference between those verbs. As much as we don’t want to believe that, words are becoming actions and actions are creating our entire life.
4. How To Run A Marathon
The most important thing I did in 2012, that is. A very challenging endeavor, a mind blowing experience and probably the best self-esteem booster I ever had. Sometimes, in the morning, I just look at the man in the mirror and say: “You ran a marathon”.
5. The Slow And Almost Invisible Reward Of Doing Things Constantly
It’s not about habits. It’s about that point when you’re doing things so easily, that you don’t even notice you’re doing them. They’re so melted into your daily routine that you don’t even remember doing them at the end of the day. Yet, those tiny things can make you so powerful.
6. The Book Of Life
An iPhone app to record your thoughts, a journal and my daughter writing in that app, day by day. Then, a sudden realization that we’re all writing in our own book of life, only very few are writing in the same language.
7. Being A Digital Nomad
I live as a digital nomad for about 3 years now. One of the best time of my life, to be honest. The post features a short recap of the good and not so good stuff you get by working your own hours, on your own business, pretty much everywhere you have internet access.
8. 100 Ways To Live A Better Life
Allegedly the most famous post on this blog. According to my own analysis, it was read by more than 1.000.000 people so far. It inspired a book, which is available on Kindle, iBookStore and Amazon, a book which was even translated into Korean.
9. 100 Ways To Screw up Your Life
The necessary counterpart of the above post. It’s worth mentioning that both books inspired by these posts were the result of a friendly challenge I had with a fellow blogger. The corresponding book was also translated in Korean.
10. 10 Tango Lessons
Learning to tango was by far one of the most inspiring things I did during 2012. There was a lot of time consumed and also a lot of effort (like, you know, it’s not that easy, to tango) but in the end, the result was amazing.
11. 33 Questions For An Interview With Yourself
Again, one of the most viral posts on this blog. Got translated in a few languages, including Italian. It also features an companion ebook and, basically, puts you in a very uncomfortable position, by asking all sorts of uncomfortable questions.
12. Perfect Versus Better
There’s always a tension between those two concepts. I never was much into perfect. Always into better. Perfect means dead. Better means… But better read on:
13 Learning To Ignore
I honestly think that the art of ignoring should be part of the primary cycle curricula in all decent schools. Learning to ignore is fundamental in shaping the universe around you. And not only that.
14 10 Benefits Of Being A Runner
Last year I started to run consistently (the above post about how to run a marathon is an obvious consequence of this new habit). Beyond the physical part of running, there’s a very interesting territory of personal development waiting to be discovered.
15. 33 Ways To End Your Day
This one has been written as a counterpart to the first one, 33 Ways To Start Your Day (see below) which was, again, one of the most viral articles on this blog. Basically, it’s about how to create a link between today and tomorrow.
16. 50 Ways To Start Fresh
I confess this is one of the articles that I re-read a lot. Because, of course, I have the tendency to start fresh a lot. Sometimes it’s because I really want to, sometimes it’s because circumstances outside my reach are forcing me. And each time I find this article really useful.
17. Average Versus Exceptional
It was always about being safe versus being better. There’s always a risk involved. The more you want from life, the more you have to take risks. Staying low is safer, but, as I learned the hard way, safety doesn’t exist in real life, it’s an imaginary concept.
18. The “Magic Fairy” Exercise
Now part of my Goal Setting 101 course on udemy.com, this post has a special meaning to me: every time I set myself some important goal, I get back to this exercise and try to do it as accurately as possible. Warning: joke inside!
19. Living Off The Grid – Or How To Be Free And Still Provide Value
Living off the grid is a powerful experience. Notice I didn’t say it’s a nice experience, but a powerful one. It’s quite difficult to be a digital nomad, not linked to any socially accepted structure, but still to provide real value back to society.
20. 33 Ways To Start Your Day
Mornings are underrated. There is something magical in starting your day consciously, setting up the vibe for the entire diurnal interval. Small things that can create big consequences. Also, the first post in which I’m accusedof being sexist. Sigh…
21. How To Catch A Bee
One of the most interesting game I played as a kid was to catch bees and then release them. The adults never understand that game. I still remember it with great joy, though. There’s an art in catching a bee and then letting go of it.
22. How To Avoid Being A Toxic Person In 13 Simple Steps
Toxic people are real, just like toxic fumes or foods. Becoming a toxic person is way easier than you think. More often than not we don’t even realize we’re emitting poisonous gases. That’s why I created this simple check up lists in order to avoid getting there.
23. No Strings Attached
Another afternoon spent with my daughter, Bianca, and her incredibly complicated game which involves strings all over the place. It’s the same thing we do to our brains too: we tie one person to a certain context, and then, when we have to clean up, we find it incredibly difficult to undo the entire process.
24. The Death Of The Deadline As We Know It
I don’t like the word “deadline” because it contains the word “death”. So, I invented a new one, the “liveline”. Now, it contains the word “life” and still has the same meaning. Words are very powerful, we should be more careful when we use them. Also, this is a chapter from my book Natural Productivity – Assess, Decide, Do.
25. My Top 7 Demotivating Habits
Yes, I do have demotivating habits. As a matter of fact, I have more than 7, but I decided to put together a list with the most frequent, just to be sure other will be more careful when they’ll spot these in their own behavior. Look, something shiny!
26. Do You Have The “Glass Wall” Syndrome?
A nice night in Bucharest, a short walk and a sudden accident in which, believe it or not, I bumped into a glass wall. Because, of course, I didn’t see it. And yes, there’s a syndrome based on this type of experiences.
27. Action Versus Reaction
Yes, there’s a difference. We’re not always acting on our own will. More often than not, we’re just reacting to other stimuli. Read on to find out the differences between those two approaches.
28. 33 Ways To Get And Keep Yourself Motivated
Another viral article, with more than 300.000 readers so far. Motivation was always a big issue for me, maybe that’s why I had to find so many ways in which to summon it. I know, motivation is not all, but still.
29. 7 Ways To Say No
I admit, I was a lousy naysayer. I always find it very difficult to refuse people, because, as a child, I was taught to be obedient and nice. But, in time, I discovered the power of saying “no” to a lot of things or people in my life.
30. 14 Ways To Say Yes
But then, again, I had to find a way to double my “yes” powers. Saying “no” is very good, sometimes, it keeps you sane sometimes, but the real power of creation comes from your “yes”‘s, not from your “no”‘s.
31. 33 Ways To Feel Better
This article is exactly what it says it is: a list of 33 ways to feel better. Sometimes we get so caught in our own routine that we forget how easy is to, you know, just feel better. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s cheaper than shopping, anyway.
32. The Ants Situation
A bright morning turned into a mini-nightmare, in which I had to cope with a small invasion of ants. The story features a vacuum cleaner, a few conversations with my daughter, a lot of back and forth and a few insights. Eventually, the invasion was stopped.
33. The First Cut Is The Deepest
Yes, this is about my first love. We all have one. And, as much as we don’t want to admit it, the first cut is always the deepest. We may grow up, we may evolve, we may want different things, but the first cut will always be there.
34. 12 Things I Learned By Being A Forex Trader
Yes, I’ve been a forex trader for about 6 months. I consider this to be one of the most powerful self-improvement experiences, especially in terms of emotional control. It also teaches you a lot about the fact that you can’t control the circumstances, only the way you react to them.
35. Why We Screw Things Up
Believe it or not, because we want to. That’s the short version. For the long version you’d have to read the blog post, but it’s somewhere along those lines, of course.
36. 7 Personal Development Lessons – Kung Fu Panda Style
I love King Fu Panda. I actually love the character. It’s not your regular hero, all muscles and extra powers. Nope. It’s a fat panda. And yet, this panda overcomes huge obstacles and becomes one of the greatest Kung Fu warriors of all time. I’m not kidding you.
37. The Secret Art Of Keeping Cards Castles From Falling Down
I love to travel. During one of these long trips, I stumbled upon a very intriguing modern sculpture, on Waiheke Island (30 minutes away from Auckland, New Zealand), a sculpture mimicking a big castle made of playing cards. If you want to know the rest, just read on.
38. The Lottery Scam
You get an email telling you won the big lottery of some country, worth a few millions. But, in order to get your money, you have to pay a certain processing fee. You pay that fee only to find out there wasn’t any lottery at all: that’s “the lottery scam”. Read on to see how this is translating on other levels of our lives.
39. 5 Things Avatar Taught Me About Self-Improvement
Big fan of Sci-Fi or fantasy movies here. Really big fan. When I first saw Avatar, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Or senses. So, I had to see it again. And, if you saw the movie, you know it has a really rich story. What follows is what I learned from that movie.
40. 7 Simple Ways To Unclog Your Pipes
Yes, it’s really about the pipes which sends out our shit. And it was triggered by a real life event: one evening, while coming home, my road was blocked by a car trying to unclog some really big problems with those pipes in my neighborhood. If you don’t clean them, they really won’t hold, those pipes. And the shit will explode.
41. 5 Lessons Learned From Getting My First Tattoo
I admit it took me a while to get my first tattoo, but I consider it one of the best life experiences I had so far. I also never thought I’d be able to extract some life lessons out of it, but, believe it or not, I did it. Oh, an my tattoo is a red and green Scorpio, on my right forearm.
42. The Other One Tasted Better
Another afternoon spent with my daughter, another intriguing situation. What if you buy 2 identical bags of candies and your daughter finds out that the candies in one are tasting better than the ones in the other? When they actually don’t, that is.
43. Do You Have Your Own User Manual?
I truly think we should all come with some sort of an user manual. Like, you know, “handle with care”, ” do not expose to extreme stupidity” or, even better, “warranty void if misused”. What do you think?
44. The Subtle Comfort Of The Discomfort Zone
Everything worth fighting for is outside your comfort zone, I think you know that already (or otherwise you wouldn’t make it the 44th article in this list). But, in my experience, there’s also a bit of a comfort in this discomfort zone.
45. Why Becoming An Early Riser Will Change Your Life
I mean it. Being an early riser will definitely change your life. It will make it a bit unbearable in the beginning, especially if you’re not quite “a morning person”, but it will definitely make it better afterwards.
46. 33 Ways To Care
Caring is underrated. Way underrated. I’m not talking about big feelings here, but just caring about somebody else.
47. 5 Things Inception Taught Me About Self-Improvement (And No, I’m Not Dreaming)
As I told you already, I’m a big fan of fantasy movies (and I consider Inception to be a fantasy / Sci-Fi movie). I’ve really loved that movie, saw it a few times and I’m sure I’ll see it again. There’s something extremely real about that movie, don’t you think?
48. Minimum Survival Kit
I was a soldier in the Romanian Army. Back in the day, the military service was compulsory. Apart from generating a lot of frustration, the military service was also useful. At least in some ways. Learning to have handy a minimum survival kit was one of these.
49. The Wrong, The Real And The Right Questions
There’s an art in finding the right question, you know. If you found it, then the answer is coming up almost magically. But there are all sorts of questions. Some of them are wrong, some of them are real, and some of them are the right questions.
50. 5 Types Of False Positive People
I’m sure you know them, you just get that feeling that the person in front of you, despite the big (somehow forced) smile and despite the motivational quotes generated with an amazing speed, it’s not… well, it’s not how he wants you to perceive it.
51. How To Be Successful In 51 Easy Peasy Steps
By far one of my all time favorites. It’s really a list with 51 steps. You really have to take it step by step to get it. 🙂
52. Why Less Is More
If you’re a Linux person, you’ll sense the joke in here. If not, read on, it’s not required to be a Linux person to get this post.
53. Vanity Metrics
How do you measure progress? How do you assess your life? How do you decide if you’re successful at something? What I found out in this post is that more often than not we’re using “vanity metrics”.
54. Can You Solve The Puzzle Of Your Life?
Another story about me and my daughter and one of her favorite pastimes. In time, we both learned how to solve a puzzle faster and easier.
55. A Crash Course In The Long Lost Art Of Adaptation
Sometimes, we don’t need to win. Or we simply can’t win. The only solution is then to adapt. To adjust and move on. Alas, we somehow lost this ability.
56. The Power And Price Of Illusions
Can’t live with them, can’t kill them. That’s my take on illusions. There’s something so exciting about creating and maintaining illusion and, yet, there’s something inherently deadly in following these illusions. There’s a power and then there’s a price.
57. How To Invest In Yourself (|And Why)
After my first successful exit as an online entrepreneur, I had the chance to choose: whether to invest in other businesses, or in me. I picked me. Read on to understand my reasons.
58. The Subtle Benefits Of Being Born In The Wrong Place
I’ve certainly being born in the wrong place: Romania, that is. But, in time, I learned that this was more an opportunity than an adversity. A real opportunity.
59. How To Defrag Your Mind In 5 Easy Steps
This is one of the blog posts that have been featured in lifehacker.com. Took me by surprise, to be honest. It’s really something that I love to do every once in a while.
60. How To Keep Your Mind Virus Free
From the same series as the one above: if our brain could be assimilated to a computer, how would you go about eliminating a “software virus” from it?
61. The Fine Art Of Making Mistakes
If you really look at your accomplishments, at some point you’ll realize that almost all of them have been rooted in some initial mistake that you had to solve. We really learn only when we make mistakes. And yes, that’s an art.
62. Are You Staring At Me?
Imagine a nice afternoon in a Strabucks, good coffee, comfortably working o your laptop, when, all of a sudden, a hoodie guy sits down 3 chairs from you and starts to stare. Nothing more than that: just staring at you. It was intense, believe me.
63. 7 Life Lessons From A Self-Taught Programmer
I’m a self-taught programmer. Didn’t go to college to learn how to code in PHP (and, lately, in iOS) but that didn’t prevent me from becoming quite productive in these languages. In the process, I also learned a different kind of lessons.
64. The 6 Stages Of A Failure
Yes, that’s how many stages I identified in a failure; 6. Apparently, the article was so interesting, that it even generated an interview on the topic.
65 Are You The Best Version Of Yourself?
If you would be a software, you would think about yourself that you’re the best version of it? With all the bells and whistles? With all the features? Or are you perpetually waiting for the next release?
66. How To Be Ridiculous
As this blog became more and more popular, I started to have my own grammar nazi. And they were perfectly right: in the beginning, my English sucked (it still happens today, sometimes). Yes, I was ridiculous. But being ridiculous is sometimes required.
67. Is Your Life Blurred?
If you ever used a camera, you know what focus means: adjusting the lenses so the pictures becomes clearer. Well, sometimes you need to adjust the “lenses” of your own life, moving back and forth a little, until you make the image crisp and eliminate the confusions.
68. Solving The Wrong Problem
Solving problems doesn’t mean you’ll have a better life. Because, you know, sometimes you may solve the wrong problem. And leave the real problem floating around for ever.
69. What You Don’t Want To Know About Prostitution
That post will upset you. It really will make you angry. Because it will tell you something about yourself that you don’t really want to hear.
70. The Most Powerful Force In The Universe Is The Agreement
Everything is created by agreement: your beliefs, your values, your reality. That’s the glue that holds the universe together. And you.
71. Positive Motivation Versus Negative Motivation
Motivation can be achieved in many ways. Generally speaking, I see only two ways: using “positive” and “negative” motivation. Of course, these are just conventions.
72. An Tan Tiri Mogo Dan
This is a countdown. It’s a text recited by kids when they have to pick one guy from a group or to leave other outside the group. You know the idea. But what’s interesting is that this countdown made it all the way to my adult life in unexpected ways.
73. The Master And You
You can call this post a game, but it isn’t. It’s a parable about the Master and the Apprentice, only both the Master and the Apprentice are the same person: you. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry, it isn’t. Just read on.
74. Taming Monkeys Aftermath
In 2011 I did an experiment: I ditched my New Year Eve resolution and, instead, I replaced them with “monkeys”: unfulfilled promises that I decided to revisit and solve somehow. This post describes the conclusions of this one year long experiment.
75. Pain Is Unavoidable, Suffering Is Optional
Sometimes it’s not ok. Sometimes the shit hits the fan and it spreads all over your life. And it hurts. Like hell. But, as unavoidable as the pain may be, (because you can’t control things in your life, that’s just an illusion) that doesn’t mean you should suffer from it.
76. Goals And Mechanical Rabbits
You know those mechanical rabbits used in dog races? Dogs are released and chase those mechanisms resembling rabbits, until they reach the finish. Believe it or not, we tend to set up goals the same way: once we reach the goal, we have no idea what to do next.
77. 5 Life Lessons From Kung Fu Panda 2 – The Movie
You already know I love Kung Fu Panda. But what you don’t know is that I loved the sequel. Not much personal development this time (it was well covered in the pilot, anyway) but a few very interesting life lessons.
78. The Art Of Setting Great Expectations
You know, they say you should never have expectations, but, in my experience, having some great expectations every once in a while doesn’t hurt. At all. As long as you know how to properly set them, that is. It’s an art of course.
79. How To Live A Scriptless Life
I’m not sure if the words exists, but the meaning of the title is: live a life without an imposed script. Many scripts are engraved in our brains at a very early stage, which makes them very difficult to identify and remove. But not impossible.
80. The Inner Bubble
I think everybody remembers the Internet Bubble in 2000s. Things were so pumped up artificially, that the stock market exploded. Well, believe it or not, this bubble may happen inside you as well. Feeding too many expectations, for instance, can create a sense of an “inner bubble”.
81. 7 Symptoms You’re On The Verge Of A Burnout
As an ex-workaholic, I confess I experienced a lot of burnouts. So many that I kinda developed some specific sense to feel them coming. This is one is for all of you obsessed with work, or just too goal oriented. Sometimes, slowing down will make you speed up faster.
82. The Morning Phrase
I actually used this for many months. The idea is to create a morning phrase that will shape your entire day, and link it to the exact moment of your waking up. It works. Or at least it worked for me. And it’s not very difficult to try out, in my humble opinion.
83. How Not To Feed Your Daemons
We all have them and we all feed them. Those daemons. They ruin our relationships, our careers, our plans. But wait, there’s a way. We can actually stop feeding them. We can really starve them to death. Didn’t say it will be easy. But it’s possible.
84 The Productivity Map
If you put on an axis the quality of your goals and on the other one the level of your discipline, you get this productivity map, which creates a few other concepts, like producers, followers, productivity obsessed and so on and so forth. The article is also quite populated with graphics, if you like shiny pictures.
85. Personal Development With Dumbo
By far one of my favorite blog posts inspired by a cartoon (as you read so far, there are quite a few). I always loved Dumbo and its huge ears. Your biggest liability is in fact your biggest asset. In this case, Dumbo could actually fly by using its huge ears.
86. Self Sabotage
That’s the number one cause of my failures. I don’t know about yours, but for me, self-sabotage was by far the reason behind every major flop I had in my life. It’s real. And it’s very dangerous. Learn to recognize its symptoms before it’s too late.
87. 77 Reasons To Love Your Life
It’s one of the huge posts I wrote in one shot. Believe it or not. I felt so overwhelmed by this feeling of loving my life that words just came out by themselves. The post is just that: a list of 77 reasons to love your life. If there are more, leave yours in the comments, please.
88. Pay Yourself First
Sounds very egotistic, but it’s not. If you’re not paying yourself first, how and from where would you have enough to pay the rest too? Altruism is more often than not misunderstood. It’s fundamental to have a sense of self-worth and to feed that sense, in order to be able to give it to the other too.
89. The Spiral Path
Ever had a deja-vu moment? I’m not talking about the Matrix here. But a moment when you realized you’ve been there before, and now you revisit that spot, but in a better shape, much better equipped and more powerful. I call this “the spiral path”.
90. How And Why We Get Bored
Boredom, the final frontier. I’m joking, of course. Or not. Fact is, boredom stems from a very surprising situation: it’s not a repetitive situation that triggers it, it’s our own low self-esteem. Of course, not everybody agrees, that’s why I think you should read and see for yourself.
91. How To Create A Habit In 15 Days
I know they say 21 days are required to form a habit. For me it’s less. Here I share what it takes for me to set up, build and maintain a habit in just about 2 weeks. It’s not rocket science, it requires just a bit of discipline. The reward is well worth it.
92 How To Clean up Your House
Yes, it may be about cleaning up your house, but don’t expect tips and tricks about vacuum cleaning. As always, the small things in our lives, properly watched and integrated, can become pointers to much deeper insights.
93 Aggression Recycled
There’s something primal and powerful about aggressiveness. Just because we instinctively choose to express it violently, it doesn’t mean that energy can’t be channeled. There’s a huge reservoir of unused power in our own aggressiveness, all we have to do is to recycle it.
94. Travel As A Personal Development Tool
I’ve been around the world twice, I visited 10 countries in 4 months and I experienced the thrill of being able to put my finger randomly on a map and say: “I will get there”. Travel is not only about leisure, thought, it’s a very powerful teacher too.
95. Training Your Focus
Your focus is your reality. Whatever you focus one, becomes alive, fills in your perceptions, becomes your life. So, the art of training your focus is in fact the art of creating and shaping your reality. Yes, that thing can be trained.
96. Working Out Your Money Muscles
The simplest analogy when it comes to money is fitness. Making money is just like fitness: first you get really tired and sweat like a pig, but, the better you become at it, the easiest it seems. And, in all honesty, the easiest it is.
97 Wasted Power
The worst thing that can happen you is to realize you have unlimited power. Because you will have to face some very uncomfortable questions. One of the being, of course: do I really know my life purpose? Do I even have one?
98. The Guardians
We all have them: small, most of the silent, but very vocal the moment we try to break some of our internal rules. The guardians are the small mental constructs we unconsciously activate whenever we’re afraid to become a better version of ourselves.
99. How To Quit Being A Quitter
I was one of them, at some point in my life. So, I know the feeling. Apart from the small gimmick in the title, the post is only about staying there, no matter what. As they say, pain is temporary, quitting is forever.
100 Unwritten. Yet.
That’s right. I dare to think that my 100th best self-improvement post isn’t yet written. To be honest, that gives me one more reason to push forward. Maybe it will be the next one. Or maybe not. We’ll see.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.