Tyler Cowen’s 12 rules for life

After reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules, a few people asked me what my list would look like.  I would stress that what follows is not a universal or eternally valid account, but rather a few ideas that strike me in the here and now, perhaps as the result of recent conversations.  I suspect the same is true for everyone’s rules lists, so please keep this in perspective.  Here goes:

1. Assume your temperament will always be somewhat childish and impatient, and set your rules accordingly, knowing that you cannot abide by rules for rules sake.  Hope to leverage your impatience toward your longer-run advantage.

2. Study the symbolic systems of art, music, literature. and religion, if only to help yourself better understand alternative points of view in political and intellectual discourse.  Don’t just spend time with the creations you like right away.  Avoid “devalue and dismiss.

3. When the price goes up, buy less.  Try to understand what the price really is, however, and good luck with that.

4. Marry well.

5. Organize at least some significant portion of your knowledge of the world in terms of place, whether by country, region, or city.  If you do that, virtually every person will be interesting to you, if only because almost everyone has some valuable knowledge of particular places.

6. When shooting the basketball, give it more arc than you think is necessary.  Consistently.

7. Learn how to learn from those who offend you.

8. Cultivate mentors, and be willing to serve as mentors to others.  This never loses its importance.

9. I don’t know.

10. Heed Cowen’s Three Laws.

11. Do not heed Cowen’s Three Laws.

12. Every now and then read or reread Erasmus, Montaigne, Homer, Shakespeare, or Joyce’s Ulysses, so that you do not take any rules too seriously.  The human condition seems to defeat our attempts to order it.


#5 is good. I was going to say why does it have to be in terms of place, why not in terms of some other dimension (age, occupation/industry, favorite hobbies) but the advantage of place is that it's something that we can all learn about and go visit, unless the person came from some forbidden zone (and even North Korea can be visited albeit with difficulty).

#6: I believe that Tyler was at Harvard at the same time that former ABA and NBA player Len Elmore was at Harvard Law School. Someone who was a Harvard grad student at the time said that they'd sometimes see Elmore on the basketball court at one of the gyms; his advice to them was to throw your passes hard, put snap on them. Presumably to give the defense less time to react and adjust to the ball's new location. (Again the importance of place. And that might be Len Elmore's rule #6.)

My rules:

1) Back out slowly when in a parking lot.
2) You can never have enough socks.
3) Never miss an opportunity to praise\compliment your wife.

Oh, these are spot on.

Very good rules!

Buy a lot of socks of the same brand, though, to minimize matching problems.

Also make sure everyone in the house uses a different brand, so it's easy to claim your own socks out of the dryer.

As for Tyler -- Dear God, is he the exact opposite of a philosopher, or what? It's very clear he has never thought about Life As A Whole. Ever.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I get the feeling it's news to him.

Sheesh- dude dashed off a list from the top of his head. Next month, it would look different.

Also, #8 is excellent. Even #9 isn't bad.

Strongly agree with all of these.

Even better, back into parking spots when you can.

#4 Is the most important rule, our life partners are the most important thing for us in terms of deriving enjoyment and being our best self.

#6 Absolutely, with in normal bounds, nearly everyone could use some more arc on their jumper

A rule I would add:
Don't use a GPS or Navigation device just go, especially when you are first in a place, you will build a better mental model of the city and you will discover many things you wouldn't have otherwise.

"our life partners are the most important thing for us in terms of deriving enjoyment and being our best self."

I wouldn't leave parenthood and children out of the equation.

Yes, that's true. I was thinking of children as a natural progression from the partner piece and something that is going to be more gratifying with the right partner, but certainly a worthy addition to TC's 4th rule.

'I wouldn’t leave parenthood and children out of the equation.'

Let us just say that is more complicated in Prof. Cowen's case.

But you can choose your wife or husband, while you can't choose your children. You have to take them as they come -- hey, you do not even get to choose their sex...

#4 Is the most important rule, our life partners are the most important thing for us in terms of deriving enjoyment and being our best self.

Which is precisely why changing the laws to make divorce easier and the constant pushing of divorce by the media is such a bad thing. Probably the best thing that anyone could do to improve the quality of life for most people, especially poor people, is make divorce harder.

I also agree with the GPS rule. Having a feel for a place is important and not something you get if you don't walk or ride or drive yourself - by yourself. But it is nice to have a back up in case you get lost.

+ 1

on both points

I don't the 'the media' in general have been pushing divorce. Women's magazines, perhaps. There's a fragment of the mental health trade that does so, a fragment of the legal profession, and a fragment of academe.

If I'm remembering the everyday world of 1973 correctly, as well as the themes of mass entertainment, what was being promoted was the maintenance of social status in the face of divorce. By way of example, my parents' circle of friends had people in it on their 2d marriage, but people were quite reticent about discussing it or even referring to it; their friends commonly didn't know the name of any previous spouse and had never met that person because when you divorced you disappeared from the social circles of which you had been a part; for those just a shade older, it was quite common to have been party to a 'war marriage' of the sort depicted in The Best Years of Our Lives.

An aspect of that promotion was the tendency in every venue (including table talk) to speak of those divorcing as if they were passive objects of circumstance. A marriage 'ended' or 'fell apart', &c.

A fragment of academia? How many people in Western academia who have argued against divorce? I would be willing to bet that none of the academics who read this can find a single person in their departments who have argued for tougher divorce laws. A fraction of the lawyers? They seem to be lobbying for more divorce to me. Even asking that long-standing relationships be counted as marriages so they can drum up more business.

And of course all the media subtly pushes divorce all the time. It is always the right solution. It invariably leads to better outcomes and happiness. It is never shown as something regrettable. And it is never shown to have a bad outcome for women.

A fragment of academia? How many people in Western academia who have argued against divorce?

About 6% of the post-secondary teachers employed in this country are sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists. philosophers, theologians, or law professors. Most academics do not have occasion in their professional life to argue the question one way or another. Many in the aforementioned disciplines work in subfractions thereof where they wouldn't have occasion to any more than do accounting professors. IIRC, Judith Wallerstein and Norval Glenn did argue against the current regime in divorce law and practice, FWIW.

My advice on GPS is the opposite -- with a GPS it is much easier to explore unfamiliar places (especially unfamiliar foreign places) with much lower stress levels and without having to allocate so much effort and attention to navigation. It also helps to reduce certain unpleasant 'discussions' with your wife/navigator. Build a rough mental map before you go (using online maps) and fill in the details as you wander.

Also, it is 2018. Everywhere you want to go is already on the map. The "undiscovered" "hidden" gem is a myth. Anything you find on accident is much easier found on purpose.

'Everywhere you want to go is already on the map.'

Believe it or not, there are still a few places in Germany not on the map. However, one of the hints concerning that fact are the signs saying that shoot to kill orders are in place if you cross the fence the sign is on, in some of the areas around K-Town.

Pretty sure that such facilities don't count as hidden gems, though.

(And if you fly over such a place in a glider? You will be forced to land, and your glider will be surrounded by armed personnel who are extremely displeased that you have flown over somewhere that does not exist on a map, and which you are not allowed to fly over.)

By the way, Peterson's 12 rules go back to a much longer list of rules he wrote in response to the question "What are the most valuable things everyone should know?" on Quora in 2012.


#9 When people ask you who your favorite Jewish writer is, stop saying Ayn Rand and instead say Stan Lee.

There's still time for Stan Lee to get his well deserved Nobel Prize. :)

"Hulk smash!" elevated children's literature.

Don't forget quotes like this, "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor"

Truly Shakespearean.

On a serious note, I believe Stan Lee has made a greater impact on popular culture and even art than, say, Bob Dylan or most of the Nobel Literature winners.

Isaac Asimov.

Asimov gets more than a little boring after a while. More of the same characters, the same ideas. OK, he wrote a lot and much of it is good. He had his views and his own foibles but it might have been nicer if he did not insist on sharing them with us every single story.

Still, while he is more creative than Harry Harrison or Robert Silverberg, I would say he is not as good as Harlan Ellison.

Wm Shakespeare.


I was thinking of mentioning Proust in the context of Tyler's #12. I've read that for educated people in France, the literary question to ask of each other is not if they have read Proust, but if they have re-read Proust.

Tyler left Proust off of his list, I presume a deliberate omission.

I thought Stan Lee was Chinese........

'The human condition seems to defeat our attempts to order it.'

Which is why rereading Thucydides is worth more than reading any 4 other authors combined. Alternating with the Illiad every few years.

This more reflective, ironic intellectual style is more congenial to me, but I think different people are receptive to different kinds of rules.

And I Tyrone's rules would be more fun. Maybe we could have those too, if he's still contributing?

Corollary to rule 2: If you are ideologically on the right, also read Monthly Review. If you are ideologically on the left, also read Cato Journal

Re #3 ... it depends. Quantitative trend following is empirically far and away the most successful hedge fund strategy as a class in terms of total return/long track record. Part of their MO is buying into a trend ( or selling into one ). One of the reasons I think it works is because amongst other things it seems to benefit from the extremes of human behaviour/investing psychological traps.

8. I think this is the point where my academic career failed. I never managed to get a mentor. It's difficult if your attitude towards all kinds of authority figures is a mixture between being afraid of and hating them. Even my relationship to my PhD supervisor was kind of distant and I tried to avoid contact with him as much as possible. Any tips on how to do this mentoring-getting mentored thing properly?

Mentor and student must love research. Also, not all resesrch groups work. Go for Australia, Asia, Europe, Latin America, or at least the other coast.

Well… first, heal thyself. You can’t possibly have a good relationship with an authority figure with that kind of baggage.

You have to give them a reason to invest in you. Also don't "look for a mentor", just ask people around you for advice. People love to give advice so don't worry that you are bothering people. Eventually you will meet someone whose advice is both useful and interesting for you, they are now your mentor.

Of course you may mean by mentor someone who gives your career a boost and represents you positively with decision makers. This kind of mentor doesn't exist, and if they do they it is unethical playing of favorites. If you want to get on work hard and do good work. Eventually, sooner or later, this will be recognized, as there are never enough people in this category.

Man this almost reads like parody.

It is why a certain group of readers love this web site so much.

Honest question.

Are you an individual or a collective?

The 'prior' is just me. And as you can tell, I post on a MET schedule, and obviously have access to the same PC during the day. It is merely a twist of fate that Prof. Cowen posts just as I get up (product management also involves scheduling), and generally makes his last post before I go to bed.

This web site is a lot of fun for anyone who knows anything about the GMU law and econ framework (assuming they haven't bought into it, of course), even if some of the more amusing things about it are not possible to discuss in the comments.

My schedule is flexible - for example, today is a lovely 15°C, and I have been in the local forest cutting wood, and otherwise doing things around the house.

Free time is the only real measure of freedom, after all.

These rules only apply at the margin.

Oh get off your high horse!

Not easy rules to follow. If I could summarize the 12 rules into one rule or one word (well, two words), it would be self-awareness. By self-awareness, I don't mean self-absorption, a condition that is all too common. Self-awareness makes it less likely to keep repeating the same mistakes. Why do some people marry well the first (and only) time, while others never can seem to get it right no matter how much practice they get. Why do some people take shortcuts, while others leave room to recover from their mistakes (like the basketball player who puts lots of arc in his shots). I've always thought it strange that we often know other people better than we know ourselves. All it takes to know oneself better is to follow Cowen's 12 rules. I'd be interested in knowing which of his rules Cowen finds to be the most difficult to follow.

I thought there was NO RULE SIX!

Here's a rule of mine -

The smartest people you meet are probably not as smart as you initially thought. The stupidest people you meet aren't as stupid as you initially thought.

The world is what it is. Men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it (This is the opening line of VS Naipaul's Bend of the River)

Prejudices represent historical wisdom. Grandmother's thumb rules to judge / appraise people often more useful than pure reason.

yes I agree with your smart / dumb observation. Sometimes being smart is being just one step ahead, being dumb just one step behind.

How many of the common prejudices in other countries against Indians and Indian males in particular would you say "represent historical wisdom"?

I don't think those do, because they are usually based on either hearsay or perceptions created by sections of the liberal media (NY Times, Economist etc) in the West.

I am talking of prejudices that stem from genuine historical experience of the people.

One of those common rules of thumb is "don't judge a book by it's cover".

#13 - Don't sweat the small stuff. It's all small stuff. Got that at a corporate conference from a motivational speaker, they inevitably schedule.

Be prepared

Do a good turn daily.

Speak the truth and learn to shoot straight.

#3 More money.

#4 Marry younger women. Traditional wisdom from "Mother Goose. "Needles and Pins. Needles and pins. When a man marries his trouble begins."

"Cowen’s Third Law: All propositions about real interest rates are wrong." I think "wrong" should be changed to "odious." Additionally, if so, why empower let the Fed to manage them?

My first experience with lists like this was Rush Limbaugh's 35 undeniable truths. Like Tyler, several show tongue firmly planted in cheek.


Now do Tyrones rules, please.

If someone put a gun on my head and asked for only one rule of these 10, I will select #4. "Marry well" can't be overemphasized.

A better version is "Choose your partner well but don't ever marry them." You'd think an economist can spot a bad deal.

Marriage is a great deal, by the data.

Go out of your way to help other people, for no reason. It will be more satisfying in the short run and long run than most of the things on this list.

Having come up through software, the way I would approach learning would be very different.

- read lots of books

- have lots of devices

- don't be afraid to destroy them trying new things

I guess the main difference between this and a thinker's list is that getting into and out of trouble is important. And useful later in life when you bring down one of the company servers (trying to optimize) and have to figure out how to recover it, without telling anyone.

Ah, the good old days, when developers had *all* the root passwords.

The generalization is that while it is important for thinkers to think, it is important for doers to do.

And judging by a million YouTube how-tos and reviews, millions of people are out there experimenting. Pick something random like mushroom farming and look at the culture that develops, the people who go from hobbyist to grower.


"A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

The other day I was discussing the similarities between Hitchhikers Guide and the Rick and Morty series. If you like the former, you should really check out the latter.

You could probably say Rick isn't afraid to destroy things.

Here are my two rules (thruths?):

1) Humans basically do not change during their lifetime, in terms of tempermant and personality. (Sort of like your rule #1). That means YOU aren't going to change dramatically, and you have an even lower probability of changing those around you. So your job is to figure out how to deal with it. The Stoics figured this out early, so be sure to check them out (and Shakespeare is mostly stoicism). Spend more time picking the acitivies that fit your tempermant and the people you like just as they are, and at their worst (see Cowen's rule 4).

2) Almost everything is signalling/competition for status, especially so when something seems really confusing to you. If you don't understand signalling then you are getting beat at a game where you don't even know the rules. Here of course you should read Hanson and Geoffrey Miller.

Coralarry to #1 and 2 is that almost all advice is worthless and can be dismissed out of hand. Advice is just the speaker bragging about their admirable traits, which you don't have, and if they are famous they probably had a bunch of luck as well. You can't replicate that. If you take advice, it should be from non-famous people with similar traits and tempermants (mentors I guess).

Here's Robin Hanson in 2011, writing contra your first point:

You might look inside yourself and think you know yourself, but over many decades you can change in ways you won’t see ahead of time. Don’t assume you know who you will become. (...) You are more flexible than you realize. (...) you really would adapt to most big changes, and have an ok life without most of what you now hold precious.

But there are two meanings of 'Marry well'. The obvious one is about choosing a partner, the less obvious one about what you do afterwards ("marry well" meaning "being a good spouse"). There is a lot more time and opportunity for the latter.

9. Wear sunscreen?

Is this parody or genuine wisdom? Can't it be both?

Or what about any of these? :-

Do not be offended by idiots, nor unseasonably set upon those that are carried with the vulgar opinions.
Be ever ready to do good, to forgive, and to speak truth.
Receive that which is true and serious as well as that which is sweet and pleasing.
Be always ready to change thy mind.

Hat tip to Marcus Aurelius.

#10 and #11 contradict each other - what does that mean?

Tyler - please don't be cryptic like this. It's very confusing.

#2: Dismissing religion will save you an enormous amount of time, and at no substantial intellectual cost.

Art, music, literature: the question is which bits to dismiss. Don't read, for example, Dickens, Henry James, D.H. Lawrence - they just can't write. Try to read novels, or at least short stories or essays, in a foreign language. Russian would be best but French would do. Even German or Italian.

Music: tastes differ. To my taste virtually all pop/rock is vile rubbish. Even genres I like contain huge tracts of awful, repetitive drivel e.g. the Blues. The problem is avoiding having these horrors inflicted on you by other people.

Art: the only art that really matters is architecture, because there the taste of other people is forced on your eyes. Paintings, by contrast, can sit happily on someone else's wall without your being in the least affected. Sculpture falls somewhere in between.

Why is reading novels in Russian better than in French or German or Italian ? Can you read novels in all the languages you mention? Could you explain why Dickens and James can't write and why people haven't noticed in more than one hundred years? Et est-ce que vous n'auriez pas un peu forcé sur le pastis?

Here are some of my rules:

1. Never wish you had more willpower. If you were born in a body which had more of this quantity, well, it wouldn't be *you* would it? It would be someone else, maybe someone you'd dislike.

2. If you choose to marry, value intelligence and faithfulness more than looks.

3. If you have children, become red-pilled on the effect of genetics and lack of effect of family environment on your children's intelligence and personality. It will save you a lot of grief and needless expense, and will also direct you to make the right choice on rule 2.

4. If you see two products which look identical and yet one is more expense, assume they are identical. Never assume that quality follows from price.

5. Corollary to 4, understand the role of signalling in purchasing decisions. Do not look too cheap.

6. Lies are for other people, never for yourself. Do not deceive yourself about your intelligence, popularity, attractiveness, sociability, financial situation, ect. It will lead to disappointment and stasis. If you already think you have it, you won't work to improve it.

7. Don't become a coffee addict. Your body becomes tolerant to the effect, it only seems to "wake you up" because you will crash if you don't have it.

8. If you are regularly being woken up by an alarm clock, go to bed earlier in the night so you won't have to. You'll get more sleep and will have more energy in the mourning.

Having children helps with #8.

3. If you have children, become red-pilled on the effect of genetics and lack of effect of family environment on your children’s intelligence and personality. It will save you a lot of grief and needless expense, and will also direct you to make the right choice on rule 2.

You mean impersonate Judith Rich Harris. She was, by her own admission, an interested witness.

The Chinese ruled the world when they were the only caffeine users!

The industrial revolution and enlightenment started soon after Europe got tea & coffee!

I'm not so sure the effect is only to restore an acclimated user to baseline productivity.

Have a cup, then read:


"2. If you choose to marry, value ...": kindness.

This is a reasonable list (well, ignoring the usage of the term "red pill") except for nos. 7 and 8. Especially #8. People have circadian rhythms; it's possible for most of us to go to bed earlier but only to a point. A lot of folks would have an extraordinarily difficult time falling asleep at, say, 10pm night after night. "Night people" and "morning people" actually do exist, sleep studies have shown this. Unfortunately for us night people, the world is geared towards morning people in many ways, so we have to make do. But going to bed earlier is not always as simple as it sounds.

#7 doesn't bother me as much but I've not noticed any difference in the wisdom/productivity/happiness/however you want to define "personal value" of non-coffee drinkers vs. coffee drinkers. Yeah, you develop a tolerance. But it's a pleasant little ritual in the morning; so what?

4. Marry well.

No, marry who's available, and try to be forgiving.

nah... marry well.

Ray Lopez, if you are out there, I would love to hear your 12 rules for life.

Waiting for him too. A guess:
#1. Be born in a wealthy family, one well inside the 1% in both income and worth.
#2. Let your obeying #1 be abundantly known.
#3 to #12: Ray will tell us.

#1. Don't read self help books.

#2. Don't make lists.

1. Workout 3-5 times/week. Lift weights. Do cardio.

2. Eat well, cut out the obviously bad things (soda, processed foods, sweets).

3. Get good consistent sleep. You should wake up naturally, before your alarm, everyday.

4. Get a job that you enjoy, at least for the most part.

5. Do your best to remain aloof from ideological tribalism. If you feel yourself being pulled into an ideological tribe, immediately start reading the best people from the other side so as to erode your creeping tribalism.

6. Don't follow the news, at least not closely.

7. Make sure that you laugh everyday.

8. Minimize screen time. Do not keep your cell phone on your desk at work. Have it on silent and out of sight for most of your day.

9. Try to keep learning consistently. These days there are great podcasts out there, so that's a great source of information if you're too busy to do much reading.

10. Don't try too hard to change yourself, at least your underlying traits. They're fixed. This is true of the people around you too. Because of this, don't take "advice lists" like this one too seriously.

you seem like a reasonable fellow as your list agrees with most of mine. The sleep one is the hardest one for me...I have to wake up a set time that comes very early and I can't get myself to bed before midnight, so I get like 4 hours of sleep...One day I'll sleep more...

#6 is probably the most important rule, but it is very difficult to follow for many people (like me, and I suppose many of the readers here)

I sense a recovering internet/news junkie.

But good list, as far as you can take this shit seriously.

#3 and #10 contradict each other for many and perhaps most people. #4 isn't possible for most people. The best most people can do is 'has satisfactory benefits' or 'can put up with it'. #5 and #6 are functionally related; the most thoroughgoing tribesman we're acquainted with will make a half-dozen Facebook posts a day derived from talking points on the day's disinformation. The 'best people from the other side' are academics, some of whom write for general audiences and some of whom do not; some academics who write for general audiences put their character and personality defects on display, as well as their own sectarianism (Bradford deLong, I'm looking at you). Regarding #9, lecture tapes are something you can listen to while commuting, shopping, or performing rote household tasks. The Teaching Company sells them.

Good list. 1-8 are spot on.

On 9, in my experience no substitute for reading: you have time, just sit down and read. (If you've gotten out of the habit of reading, finding this level of concentration on demand might take practice. But it doesn't take that much practice.)

I can't get on board with #10 as written, but complex topic. Imo it's easy to change, even a lot, if you form good habits through genuine, strong intentions based on reasoning you truly believe - but, yeah, to do this you have to leverage your underlying traits, not fight them.

This is the best list, and one I largely follow except for the podcasts. I find them far too slow and would rather read a book. The only addition I would make then would be to buy a kindle and carry it around with you everywhere you go, so when you have a slack moment or two you can be reading rather than staring into space or worse, browsing.

Tyler, you have now confirmed something we already kind of knew: you are a different breed of cat!

"4. Marry well."

This advice reminds me of Steve Martin's bit about how to live like a millionaire: "First, get a million dollars...."

The best one can do is to not marry badly: Don't marry an addict of any kind. Don't marry a lair, abuser, or lazy bum. Don't marry someone with lots of tattoos, a nose ring, or someone who is a vegetarian for identity purposes. Etc.

Unless you have a crystal ball, hope that you've at least married OK and learn to be happy with that rather than living with regrets.

Like picking a stock that performs really well, if you end up marrying well then you'll think that you're a genius.

What counts as "marrying well" depends on the person. It's not necessarily someone with a shit ton of money or rich family connections. Or even a good earner. It could just be a person whose career ambitions or lack thereof are compatible with yours. For some people it could be someone who is a good mother/father, for other's it's the DINK power-couple partner.

This could apply to public policy as well: at the least, don't subsidize bad choices.

George Will wrote a column on three rules once. They may have originated with Walter Williams but I don't remember: 1) finish high school; 2) don't have children out of wedlock; 3) don't marry before age 21.

He cited a study that found 85% of households that followed the three rules were above the poverty line; 90% below the poverty line for the households that broke them.

Under-remarked: the lifestyles of cognitive and financial elites generally bear little resemblance to the lifestyles we are told we must tolerate, and even subsidize.

1) finish high school; 2) don’t have children out of wedlock; 3) don’t marry before age 21.

The three rules in question are pretty much local to the world of 1980. In 1920, the 1st rule might have been advisable for a bourgeois or aspirant bourgeois who had certain aims and ambitions, but of scant use for most of the young, who left school at 14 or 15. In 1955, rule #3, might have been advisable but not strictly necessary. A great many Depression babies had a good run starting at age 19; Bruce Springsteen's sister and brother-in-law are still married. Rule #2 would have been somewhat jejune as stated in 1955 - bastard children not given up for adoption amounted to < 1% of all live births.

Nowadays, you're anxious that the young will never marry at any age, a high school diploma functions mainly as a signal that you're not in the sector of the work force with serious deficits of intelligence or personal discipline, and bastardy is the modal way people from wage-earning backgrounds do business.

"Jejune" doesn't mean "irrelevant," and if rule #2 was irrelevant in 1955 it is because the rule was being obeyed.

The rules sound good to me in 2017. Technology aside, the world of 1980 was not that different.

Good list, except #3, which is reasoning from a price change. It should read, "Buy, less when the price increase is due to a decline in supply, but not when it's due to an increase in demand."

On the other hand, perhaps most price increases are due to a decrease in supply. So maybe it's an OK rule after all.

Reasoning from a price change typically refers to conventional behavior (buying when the price goes up, selling when the price goes down), not contrarian behavior. "[M]ost prices increases are due to a decrease in supply . . . ." I appreciate where Sumner is coming from (i.e., the money supply from the monetarist perspective), but are price increases for assets (other than money), such as financial assets and real estate, really a response to a decrease in supply, or are they the irrational behavior of investors who believe the price will be higher tomorrow because it was higher today and they buy (the converse being that price decreases reflect the irrational behavior of investors who believe the price will be lower tomorrow because it was lower today and they sell). Of course, the problem with hindsight is that it's unknowable today, at least it is for non-economists like myself.

Tyler's so contrarian he contradicts himself in the same list

Here's an incomplete, off-the-top-of-my head list for me. I will note that I don't always abide by all of these 100% of the time, and I think anyone who is honest with themselves would say the same of their own lists.

-What you do is usually more important than how you feel.

-Don't make a habit of complaining.

-Remember that you don't see most peoples' insides. Try not to compare your inside to someone else's outside. This is especially important in the age of social media.

-Speaking of social media, don't rely on your smartphone too much. Don't use GPS everywhere you go. Try a new restaurant based solely on the menu once in awhile. If you must use Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, delete the app and don't post very often.

-The more you know, the more you realize you don't know. Always remember how much you don't know.

-If someone constantly has problems with others, it's probably their own fault.

-You don't have to like your job, but not hating it really helps.

-If you have disposable income, err towards spending it on experiences rather than things.

-Change can happen, but gradually and often imperceptibly. Remember that.

Really fun list, great activity, and I have enjoyed reading the comments. Here are a few things I haven't seen that much.

-A lot of life consists of sleep, so find ways to make it pleasant.
-Take better care of your body.
-A lot of things come down to "just starting," "just trying," or "just showing up."
-Prioritize habits and routines over to-do and bucket lists.
-Read. More, often, and widely.
-Live abroad rather than touring. Tour rather than only reading about distant places.
-Cliche platitudes are worthier of attention than dismissal.
-Kindness is underrated.

Why take offense? Are you a snowflake? Why keep doing the wrong thing over and over again?

1) If someone tells you, "We need to talk," don't.

Watch Bubblegum Crisis OVA(the original series). English subtitles. Avoid dubbed versions.

“Marry well” is the most important topic, but the least useful of the list. You might as well tell us to “buy low, sell high”.

One extra piece of advice, remember that most people don't remember what they had for breakfast yesterday, so the idea that people are thinking about the faux pas you made in 2012 is pretty silly. Your internal dialogue can ignore this pretty safely.

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