Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t

An Essentials Story

This post is a continuation of this one.

How much of your life is spent seeking to gain and keep inessential things? We all do it, there’s no denying it. And in a good sense, isn’t that what prosperity, happiness, and higher states of well-being are all about or at least partly about…and if not only for ourselves, for our offspring?

Mom & dad want for their children what they never had. It’s a driving force. It’s a good one.

Indeed, civilization itself is concerned with what comes after meeting the essentials. The bare necessities. We’re good at it. Remarkably so. By common standards set not so long ago, we’re mostly all rich. And what’s more, it gets easier. If it’s true that life is mostly about just showing up, then what you find when you get there just kinda happens to get better and better.

And yet in many of us there lingers and persists this nagging nostalgia for returns and frequent visits to the basics…the simpler things.

Such excursions can take on many forms, from the purely contemplative to hard-nosed business endeavors. My story of the last couple of years is a little of both, but with emphasis on the latter.

So let’s dive into the story of the evolved Animal.

Nearly two years ago, I made a snap decision to quit alcohol—not because it landed me in trouble, but because it became excessive and pushed out better things to do. The process was surprisingly less daunting than anticipated, thanks to a shift in my environment which proved crucial. This isn’t just about alcohol; those interested can comb through my blog for that saga.

The epiphany there was that if your life sucks, get it way less sucky before you eliminate what’s helping you cope with the suck. Get unsucked first.

The real story here is about the ripple effects of that decision. What began as an endeavor to eliminate a bad habit morphed into a total realignment of my priorities. Living in this far-less-sucky environment, first in Phuket and now in Pattaya (Thailand), I swapped nightly bar conversations for a flurry of activities: swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and intensifying my blogging efforts. My ambitions soared as I envisioned transforming FreeTheAnimal into a thriving hub through memberships and increased marketing.

Reinvest, grow, scale, hire; rinse, wash, and repeat.

However, the anticipated breakthrough remained elusive. Despite incremental successes, the workload spiraled, and the return on investment diminished. The more I pushed, the less I enjoyed life. It dawned on me: even if I achieved this “breakthrough,” the relentless pace was unsustainable.

I needed a rest and a reset.

That pause helped me realize that while quitting alcohol was a catalyst, it wasn’t something to build a business around. It’s baseline, expected.

While you can make a business out of alcohol cessation—it’s a good business—it’s not a business I wanted to do. You’re not getting direct results from values you provide in that specific niche. You’re just expecting, “Oh, you’ve done this great thing and you’re rewarded in some sort of karmic way.”

I started to think about it and thought, “Wait a second. Quitting drinking excessively, you’re just doing your job.” You know, the old thing of just do your damn job? … If your shit’s fucked up and you fix it, it’s okay, good for you. You can use that as inspiration for other people whose shit’s fucked up and say, “Look, he unfucked his shit, so you can too!” But it’s not standing ovation time, really. Pat on the back, congratulations, good for you. Okay. Okay. But it’s not oh wow stuff. You’re just doing your job. You’re getting to baseline where you should be as a human being. It’s what comes after that that’s the [unfucked] shit.

So the real value lies in what you do beyond the expected, into extraordinary territory. For me, that’s been my gym routine. Starting with an ass-busting, totally sucks 30-day workout challenge, then high volume of 4-5 days per week for months with astounding and impressive gains by any standard, I’ve now crafted my own unique full-body high-frequency regimen, seeing remarkable gains at 63yo. This discipline, this daily grind in the gym? that’s the excellence part.

Not many give a shit about it because it’s advertised as fucking hard and not magical easy. But it’s there, I’m way proud of it, and we’ll just see how it does over time, as it’s timeless. It’ll never be bullshit.

This revelation prompted a reevaluation of how I manage this so-called blog. The content churn—three posts weekly plus a newsletter published 3x with upwards of 6 or 7 articles—wasn’t fulfilling. Quality trumps quantity.

I’ve decided to prioritize storytelling. Stories resonate. I can even do science in story form—and not just the shit posts about Thai chicks.

So, I’ve stripped stuff down to essentials. Think of it like my motorbike on the home page and my cool mods of huge knobbies and a drab green, standard-issue Army paint job. It’s basic but functional, drawing attention every day. That’s my vision for the blog—no frills, just engaging stories and practical insights delivered a few times a week.

Everything you need. Nothing you don’t.

I’ll aim to captivate, no deceptive hooks, no pop-ups, no sales hype bullshit. If I have an offer, I’ll just state it plainly. This is about respecting your time and intelligence.

Expect fewer, but more impactful writings. I’m not here to bombard you with content or upsell relentlessly. If you value the work, consider supporting it. It’s about quality engagement, not quantity. I’m committed to delivering content that merits your time—think of it as the intellectual equivalent of a sitcom episode: brief but substantive.

Stay tuned for what’s next, and thanks for, above all, reading.

Now for a different way to take in the same story, I’ve done a video.

That’s it. Until next time.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. Dean Neumann on May 19, 2024 at 06:44

    Congratulations, Richard, you have made a good start. You still have further to go.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 19, 2024 at 07:37

      Everybody always has further to go. When you don’t, you’re dead. When you think you don’t, you’re dying.

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