It was mid-July 2013 and I was on the tail end of a road trip with two of my closet friends. Departing New Orleans in the morning and driving through the day, weary, with tired eyes, we arrived at dusk in Fall Creek Falls, TN. Luckily, we arrived thirty minutes before the sun set, and decided we had to hike to the base of the waterfall before we lost all light. In those thirty minutes, at the base of the waterfall I experienced awe in its purest form. It was so amazing, I actually didn’t speak.

However, I was so moved, it made me think about life, and with all the emotion that was flowing inside of me, I left my friends, and wrote a manifesto for myself. These were words that I knew would lead to happiness if I followed them.

Today is September 11, which also happens to be my birthday. Obviously, I share it with one of the most tragic days in American history. On every birthday, I evaluate the year I just lived, and decide if I’m moving on a path that’s ultimately going to lead to a life well-lived. Simultaneously, this day reminds us to “enjoy every sandwich”, and know that each day we get is a gift, not a privilege.

Today, on my birthday, I wanted to share my manifesto – the rules I live by. I hope they make some sort of impact on your day. Here goes:

Be kind.
See the world.
Complement people you don’t know.
Turn your phone off.
Who cares what people think you look like when you dance?
Don’t stick your ass out when you give a hug. All or nothing.
Make up rules to games and play them.
Go on a road trip.
Stay in a hostel.
Pay attention.
Seek experiences, not possessions.
Never stop learning.
Never stop teaching.
Say yes.
Challenge yourself.
Get uncomfortable.
Go to nature.
Eat cheaply.
Try on funny hats.
Build a fire.
When in good company, drink late into the night.
Embrace struggle.
Seek out wisdom. People have probably already made the same mistakes you’ve already made and many you’ve yet to make.
Read Aristotle.
Fall in love.
Be vulnerable.
When appropriate, listen to music and sing loudly.
Find your values.
Live by them.
Sleep outdoors.
Find your art.
Listen to your friends criticisms, those are the people who will tell you like it is.

At the base of the falls