Why You Think Being Disciplined Sucks

Last weekend I went to see a play, and afterwards I hung out with some friends. Being normal people they decided to make a pizza, while I ate Clif Bars, and grapes for dinner. I understand this isn’t the most social gesture, but it’s worth it because it allows me to feel better, and also be able to otherwise bring more social energy to my interactions.

Since this group of friends are already accustomed to my dietary strictness they no longer tease me for it, but what I found really interesting was a question one of my friends asked. She said, “Isn’t being disciplined boring?”

My answer? It depends, but not if the discipline is coming from the right place. I’ll elaborate on that later, but first let’s talk about why the majority of people think being disciplined is boring.

Y U NO LIFE? DISS-CIP-LINE NO MAKE FUN

Why do most people think being disciplined isn’t fun? Two reasons.

The first is that they think of being disciplined as the sterotypical workaholic. The problem is that being a workaholic doesn’t make you disciplined. I’m in the process of recovering from being a workaholic so this is painful for me to acknowledge, but being a workaholic actually makes you undisciplined.

Consistently working excessive hours to the point of burnout and having those hours being unproductive merely indicates that you do not have the discipline to respect balance in your life through allowing time to recharge.

The second reason most people see those that are disciplined as tightasses is because most people are coming from the wrong paradigm. Most people see work as a means to an end. They work a shitty standard 9 to 5 during the week so that they can make money to stimulate themselves on the weekends. I’m not going to label that as wrong as good and bad are subjective, but what I will say is that living that lifestyle will never lead to personal growth or the stereotypical defintion of success, AKA, “fame and fortune.”

The best way to become disciplined is to develop a lens you view the world through that limits the necessity of discipline. In other words, take actions that most people perceive as requiring discipline by wanting to do them, rather than having to do them.

So It’s Possible To Have Fun Being Disciplined?

Yes, and if done properly more fun than you could ever experience through a lower level paradigm. People imagine my daily summer routine of working out, writing a blog post, reading, juggling, and commenting on other blogs as being extremely boring.

It wasn’t. It was the most fun, and fulfilling three months of my life. It wasn’t easy, but I put in the work both because I knew doing so would create a better future for me, and because I enjoyed the process of it all.

Most people see work as bad because if detaches them from the constant stimulation of the News, Twitter, Facebook, etc. What I’d suggest to you, however, is that if you can wean yourself off the constant stimulation of the world, and find a suitable occupation work then becomes one of the most enjoying things in the world.

Your current mindset and state of emotions is addictive, and your brain works to preserve them. You may be stuck on a loop of stimulation, but once you begin challenging your brain to develop, and learn new things that frame of mind will become your new addiction.

I write these blog posts partially because I see http://cameronchardukian.com as being able to support me financially at some point, but more than that I write them because it allows me to sort through my thoughts, creatively express myself, and help others in the process.

I enjoy my work, so even though it requires going against human beings’ natural inclination to preserve energy I still do it. That’s what I want for you.

Working hard also allows you to actually enjoy your time off. I now enjoy meditating more than I ever enjoyed the stimulation of video games, and even when I’m just relaxing at the beach with friends I’m able to enjoy myself more than ever before because I know I earned it.

I’ve consistently experienced the highest satisfaction in life when I work extremely hard, but at the same time allow myself 10-20 hours per week to relax, and socialize. You may find a different balance that allows you to experience your highest life satisfaction, but that’s what I’d recommend as an initial baseline.

Do things because you can, and not because you have to, begin challenging your brain to establish improvement as your new emotional addiction rather than stimulation, and remember to maintain an appropriate work-life balance and you’ll enjoy life more than ever before.

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Level Up Your Life By Playing It Like A Video Game

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’d know that as a kid I was a hardcore gaming addict. Video games are virtually nonexistent in my life today, but something I’ve taken from my gaming days is the ability to view life through the eyes of a gamer. I know, I know, almost as nerdy as the gamers themselves, but it’s a powerful lens to view the world.

The Point Of Playing A Video Game…

isn’t to beat it. You don’t play a video game to see how much gold you can acquire, or see how many trolls you can kill. Those may be a part of the process, but ultimately if you’re a gamer you play games because you enjoy them.

This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp, so let’s take it a step further and make a simple comparison. If we can agree that the point of playing games isn’t to beat them, why is it so difficult to come to the same conclusion about life?

The answer is that (generally speaking) you can’t shut off life. If you’re not enjoying life you can’t take a break from it, or insert a new disc like you can with video games. So instead, most people cling to the idea that, “beating life” will make them happier.

Ignoring the fact that it’s impossible to define what constitutes, “beating life” this behavior actually makes a lot of sense from the paradigm most people are in. If someone isn’t experiencing happiness now, then why wouldn’t they delude themselves into thinking more money, or a bigger house is going to make them happier? Doing so gives them hope.

Of course, more material possessions won’t make you a happier person, but most people would rather gravitate towards the instant gratification of that belief rather than experience temporary discomfort and take responsibility for their own emotions.

Easy Mode vs Impossible Mode

Now that we’ve established the purpose of playing a video game is to enjoy it let’s discuss the vehicle we can operate to attain that goal.

Many video games have different “modes” or difficulty settings. These often range from easy mode, to a medium mode, to an intense/impossible mode.

Easy mode is what you’d start on the first time you play a game, but within a few days of playing the game it typically becomes boring because it no longer challenges you.

Conversely, intense mode is too challenging and frustrates all but the most seasoned and well practiced gamers.

Looking at life, easy mode is what most people are thrown into as little kids. You may have to go to preschool or kindergarten a couple days a week, but other than that you’re given few responsibilities and generally have nothing to worry about.

This is great— as a kid. But most people never advance themselves to the next difficulty level. It’s a paradox because they’re conditioned to believe that happiness comes from material possessions, and security in playing not to lose.

Unfortunately, because they don’t challenge themselves they become disconnected from life, lose the fire in their eye, and become another among the majority that grow fatter, and stupider every year.

This only fuels the belief that more material possessions are what will make them happy, and by the time someone falls this far off the path they’re fucked. Once you reach this paradigm you have essentially no chance of escaping because of the skewed pain vs pleasure response in your distorted version of reality.

The Solution?

Just like a video game you’re going to get crushed if you start on intense mode. And just like a video game you’re going to become disconnected if you stay on easy mode your whole life.

Fortunately, just like in the video games you can “level up.” Through the process of goal setting and defeating, “monsters,” and overcoming challenges you get “experience points,” and when you acquire enough of them you can advance to the next level.

It’s “easy” to meet our needs (at least in first world countries), but you’re going to get bored it that’s all you do. Obviously playing in a literal impossible mode and fighting for your survival in the jungle would be intense, and if that’s your thing by all means have at it, but doing so isn’t necessary.

The best way to maintain interest and enjoyment in life is to continually challenge yourself by setting, “stretch goals,” and as you “level up” your goals and life will as well.

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Special thanks to ExAequali and his post for giving me the idea to write this one.

Picture is of me being a goof before Homecoming Freshmen year. (October 2011)

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Why You Dwell On The Past And How To Stop

Something many people struggle with is being unable to move on from the past. Most people understand dwelling on the past isn’t healthy, but still do. Why?

One stance you could take on this issue is that people hold onto their past because doing so is more comfortable for them than living in the present. Fair enough, if someone is replaying pleasant memories. But why then do people also dwell on mistakes and negative experiences? Surely doing so is less pleasant than experiencing their present.

Well, at least that’s what I believed initially. However, I’d challenge you to consider some alternative perspectives as well. One being that the 20/20 clarity the past brings has an addictive allure to it. The brain is not comfortable with uncertainty, so perhaps some people find dwelling on the past a guilty pleasure.

Another possible scenario you may entertain is people dwell on the past because it hasn’t provided them with clarity. You could certainly argue the reason many people are unable to move on is because they haven’t received closure for events that have happened to them in the past, and thus they find it difficult to let go of events they never understood in the first place.

You could also speculate that many people have success barriers. They don’t believe they are entitled to positive experiences so dwelling on a negative past allows them to spend time in a place they’re more comfortable with.

From my current level of consciousness I certainly wouldn’t dispute the validity of any of these theories. You may disagree with me, but nonetheless, the reason I’m throwing these theories out there isn’t an attempt to prove myself intellectual superior over anyone else.

If you have a scientific or otherwise derived theory of why we hold on to the past I’d love to hear it. Right now I’m merely throwing ideas out there to give you some different perspectives to consider if you find yourself regularly dwelling on the past.

Begin Meditating

The first piece of advice I’d offer you in learning to let go of the past is to begin a regular meditation habit. In addition to reducing cortisol and increasing prefrontal cortex capability, meditation also allows you to become more present to the moment.

One of the biggest reasons people repeatedly playback past experiences is because they’re stuck in their head. By learning to breathe deeply, and remain present to the moment you’ll find yourself becoming more grounded, and you’ll find yourself much less of a slave to the voices in your head.

Find Closure

In the past I’ve held a lot of regret and had difficulty moving on from previous relationships. What allowed me to ultimately let go of regret in my past relationships was learning why they didn’t work. I spent many nights in self-examination, reading about social dynamics, and going out, but that’s what has allowed me to move on.

What I’d challenge you to do is find closure in whatever it is you find yourself dwelling on. Read books about what’s bothering you, talk to the people about your situation, even be willing to talk to the person who hurt you. Peeling back layers you’ve built over time to protect yourself will likely be extremely painful, but similar to a muscle, sometimes tearing yourself down is what’s necessary to be built back up stronger than ever before.

Remove Success Barriers

Probably the largest thing I’ve struggled with, and at times still struggle with is not feeling entitled to the results I’m producing. I mainly experience this in the relationship area of my life, but success barriers can appear in any area of life, and different people typically struggle with different success barriers.

In the past I’ve conquered success barriers in the health, and self-expression areas of my life, but I still often encounter barriers in my relationships. On a logical level I know I’m a bad-ass motherfucker. I have an 8-pack, I’m a performing level juggler, I’m intelligent, I’m making a contribution to the world through my blog, and I’m one of the funnest people you’ll ever meet (when I’m not stuck in my head.)

The problem is that my whole childhood I was a socially clueless loser, and my beliefs regarding what I’m entitled to socially haven’t shifted at the same speed as the beliefs in other areas of my life.

What I’d recommend to you is working to identify your success barriers, and then taking whatever actions necessary to eliminate them. The quickest way to desensitize yourself to something is to expose yourself to massive amounts of it. This WILL mean doing things you’re not comfortable with, but your circumstances will never change until you do.

Closing Thoughts

In addition to the solutions I’ve provided above, something I challenge you to do is adopt a mindset towards the past I’ve been experimenting with, and found highly effective. I call this mindset the “Cool, But What’s Next?” mindset.

Every time you feel your focus shifting from the present moment to the past ask yourself “Cool, But What’s Next?” Ask this question regarding both positive, and negative experiences.

Just won the championship basketball game? Cool, but what’s next? What are you going to do to repeat this experience? How can you keep moving forward?

And conversely, if a girl rejects you, “Cool, But What’s Next?” It sucks that she rejected you, but maybe the reason she rejected you was you need to learn something. Maybe you weren’t dominant enough. Maybe you were permission seeking and outcome dependent. How can you use this experience as leverage in moving forward?

Sometimes, the worst things that happen to us end up being the best things that ever happen to us. If that girl never broke my heart I probably would still be a socially clueless video game addict, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this post for you right now.

Learn from your past, and be grateful for it, but then let go, and focus on what’s next.

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Picture is from my 8th grade Spanish fashion show in I believe 2011. Maybe 2010. Newer pictures coming soon!

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Fulfillment Comes From Who You Are, Not What You Have

Something I repeatedly see being asked in the personal development niche is, “How can I improve ‘X’ aspect of my life most quickly”? It’s certainly an interesting question, but too often it’s coming from the wrong place.

When someone decides to make a change in their life it’s very common for them to focus on what they’re going to get as a result of the change. I’m going to have more money, more girls, more gold chains. This is the wrong way to look at change.

The greatest reward of change lies not in what you receive, but who you become. Material possessions may be able to enhance our lives, but ultimately they are the spice of life, not the steak. You can have as much spice as you want, but without the steak you won’t have a fulfilling meal. Similarly, you can have as many material possessions as you want, but ultimately fulfillment is derived from the person you are, not the things you have.

Direct your focus on the journey, and you’ll find the destination takes care of itself.

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When You’re Not At Your Best, Do Your Best Anyway

Yesterday sucked. It was one of those days where each time I had a chance to pick between the right choice and the wrong choice I ended up picking the wrong one. I ended up literally sick to my stomach by the end of the day, had a broken night of sleep, and felt the negative momentum carrying in today.

I know I’m not operating at 100%, but I’m here typing my second blog post of the day. Why? Because I don’t have a choice. The most important time to do your best is when you’re not at your best because that is what’s going to separate you from everyone else. Most people accept failure when they feel down. Not me, and you though.

Emotions come in waves. You’re not always going to feel your best, but you’ve got to put it all out there anyway. The difference between professional writers, and amateurs is professionals get past the block and write anyway. The difference between Michael Jordan, and the cats in your community league?

Michael Jordan made the effort to improve everyday regardless of his emotions, and he always gave everything he had even when others believed he didn’t have anything left to give. Mike didn’t drop 45 with the flu on accident.

Cool, But How Do I Apply This To My Life?

It’s relatively easy to maintain a successful lifestyle when you’ve already got good habits established, and you’ve learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Unfortunately, when you slip up, or you’ve never established good habits in the first place you can’t afford to coast. You’ve got to claw your way out of your shithole like a motherfucker.

If you allow yourself to fall back into bad habits (or continue them if you’ve never had good habits) you’re fucked. Everyday you allow yourself to be complacent you become a little stupider, a little less in touch with the reality of the world. Allow too many days to pass and you’ll fall so far off the path you’ll be gone. And once you’re gone, there’s no coming back.

When you’re not at your best, or you’ve just always sucked it’s tough to get shit done. You’ll find yourself getting distracted by bullshit like Facebook, and the news. They’ll have an addictive allure to them that will seem to call your name, and once you engage with them they’re nearly impossible to escape.

I know, because I’ve been there. This is why you’ve got to be willing to fight to the death and claw your way out of your shithole. You can’t half-ass your way out of a slump. It’s gotta be full-assed, or white surrender flag.

My Story

For most of middle school I was in a really dark place. I was a gaming addict, had a nonexistent social life, and was depressed. I often spent 8-10 hours playing video games per day. I tried several times to quit, but little progress was ever made, and I figured that was just who I was.

My 8th grade year, however, I fell for a girl and when she didn’t feel the same it crushed me. Instead of falling deeper into depression, however, I used that as my motivation to change. Don’t think it was easy though.

I didn’t become Mr. Productive overnight. I was a nerd, so reading books on self-improvement, and lifestyle development was easy for me, but like most people I struggled with taking action.

I’d workout consistently for several weeks, and then fall off. I’d be happy for a while, and then fall back into depression. I’d eat healthy for a while and then fall off, but I never accepted failure as my fate, and that’s the attitude you need to start approaching your life with.

Call To Action

When you feel tempted to watch Family Feud, or waste your day on Facebook, or whatever your weakness is you’re not always going to beat the temptation. You can craft an environment for yourself that limits temptation to improve your success rate, but ultimately you’re going to cave at times. You’re going to have days where you fall off.

What’s important is you fight though it. You have to struggle with every cell of your body to put in your 5 minutes of meditation, to write your 200 words, to turn off the TV. The tides may not shift immediately, and you may get lost in them at times, but when you’re completely committed in your resolve success is ultimately inevitable.

Progress has never been accidental for anyone. Progress is the result of the decision to be successful, a decision I’m going to ask you to make today. I don’t expect you to be perfect. How could I? Just yesterday I made all the wrong choices.

What I do expect from you is to make the commitment to always claw yourself back onto the path. Just like me you’re going to have a lot of failures, but you’re also going to have a lot of successes once you make the decision to be successful, and that’s a decision I urge you to make today.

Full-assed, or white surrender flag?

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Have had a lot of interesting epiphanies lately. Expect great things on the horizon…

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Be Willing To Fail

We’ve all had a time in our lives when we knew what the right thing to do was, but for whatever reason were just unable to make ourselves do it. If you can relate to this experience, this post is for you.

A large contributing factor to the success of any endeavor is the willingness to repeatedly fail. It’s impossible to produce remarkable results without failing. If it was possible everyone would be doing it, and thus it wouldn’t be remarkable.

The problem most people have with failing, however, is that when they fail they see themselves as failures. That’s wrong. The only person who is a failure is the one unwilling to fail in the first place.

Theory Versus Practice

Look, it’s easy to read feel good material (which in this case is completely true and effective) like the previous few paragraphs and feel motivated to take on the world. I know because I’ve been reading the same feel good stuff for years. In the past I’ve thought, “Well if I do this and I fail I’m not a failure. As long as I try I’m not a failure. I’m NOT A FAILURE!!!!”

Of course, it’s easy to think that before you fail. It’s easy to say I’m gonna talk to this girl, and no matter what her reaction is I’ll be proud of myself for having the courage to talk to her. It’s easy to say I’m going to spend 20 hours compiling a comprehensive guide to the top blogs in the personal development niche, spend several more hours writing personalized emails to everyone on the list, and be completely happy with myself for providing value regardless of how many people visit my blog to read it. It’s easy to say I’m going to try my best, and regardless of the outcome be satisfied knowing I gave it my all.

It’s a lot harder to actually live like that. In reality I think we’ve all had times where we’ve given it everything we’ve got, failed, and didn’t live up to our promises to be satisfied we tried our best. I know I have.

Maybe you’ve tried being the best boyfriend a man could possibly be, and still had the love of your life break up with you, violently crushing you in the process. Maybe you’ve had a project at work where you gave it your all, and they still said you weren’t good enough.

Maybe after these failures you’ve fallen into a dark place where it appears that it’s you that is the failure, and not your efforts. Maybe you’ve entered the vicious cycle of self-loathing and questioned whether trying to make changes in your life was even worth it. Maybe you’ve thought that you were simply an unfixable failure.

I know I have. And I still encounter these thoughts at times, but the difference now is that I see the truth for what it really is. When I fail, it is my effort that was a failure, not me.

Sometimes the voices still seduce me into doubt, and uncertainty, but this one truth is the consistent anchor that brings me back to reality and perpetuates my willingness to fail.

Ultimately, this is why I will succeed.

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Was going through one of those times where the thoughts of doubt and uncertainty began to enter my head during the time I wrote this. This post was an emotional one to write and manifested itself a little on the dark side, but I really like how my writing is completely congruent to the mood I was in at the time.

I hope this post was able to touch you on somewhat of an emotional level, and if you want to hear more of the theoretical side of being willing to fail check out this post’s accompanying video. I’m signing out now. Peace!

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