A lot of people in the personal development industry are extremely uptight. They’re stressed on how they’re going to meet deadlines. They obsess over the optimization of every last minutiae, and on one level that’s cool.
You should be striving to become the very best you can be. However, you’ve also got to realize that paranoia is often unproductive. Micromanaging your social interactions, and trying to manipulate others isn’t going to make you friends.
Success is a massive paradox. On one level you need to have an rational paranoia of failure to achieve success. You have the power to impact countless lives and shouldn’t settle for anything less than your best.
However, on another level you also need to learn to let go and understand that your life is very insignificant. It should take little more than a picture of the universe to realize this. Most people consider a single insect insignificant, but regardless of who you are you’re just a slightly bigger bug to the universe.
Always do the best you can with what you’ve got, but also give yourself time to enjoy yourself, and stop taking things so seriously.
My school had a late start today, but I didn’t. While the majority of people were laying in bed, I was training and aiming to become .01% better at juggling. Though I don’t even play soccer anymore, I went to practice after school for sprint conditioning, and to maintain social momentum.
After a poor night of sleep last night, an early morning, and a significant amount of exercise I’m exhausted. I feel like calling it a night, but I know it’s too early to go to sleep without messing up my schedule. My brain feels like today has run circles around it, and I think I’m experiencing mild amnesia.
I don’t feel like doing anything. I tried reading a couple minutes ago, but I had trouble focusing, and I kept reading the same sentence over and over again. I could probably force myself to continue reading, but I chose not to as I can’t imagine I’d retain much.
15 minutes ago the last thing I felt like doing was writing this blog post. Yet here I am, 200 words in and continuing to barrel through it. Is this going to be the best post I’ve ever written? Probably not. Does writing this provide me with more instant gratification than vegetating and staring at my belly button? No.
But one of the biggest elements of success is doing things you don’t feel like doing, and if you put a gun to my head and asked me for the best use of the remainder of tonight it would be writing. Therefore I made the decision to write this post.
Doing What You Love Vs. Invoking Passion
There’s a big myth being passed around in the self-improvement industry these days. Simply do what you love and you’ll be successful. I’m calling BS.
I don’t love lifting weights, I don’t love writing blog posts when I’m on the brink of unconsciousness, and I don’t love studying Spanish flash cards. However, I consistently do all three of these, because I see that they contribute to the bigger picture.
While do what you love is better than most advice being passed around let’s make it even better. Do the things that invoke passion within you.
You have to understand that sometimes success requires not doing what you’d most enjoy in the moment. I’m going through an intense period of work right now, and I don’t get to socialize or date nearly as much as I’d like to.
Essentially, I’m not doing all that I love, or what would provide me the most pleasure today. I’m forcing myself to delay moderate comfort in the present for complete future freedom.
This doesn’t mean I’m not process oriented in my day to day life. I enjoy things like weightlifting for what I can, but let’s be honest, studying Spanish flashcards can’t touch being on a date with a cute chick.
The reason I’m able to flow, and be more energetically free compared to most people, however, is that while my todo list may be difficult and arduous, the things I do are done purposefully, and invoke passion within me.
Recognize that you aren’t always going to feel like doing what must be done. Sometimes success demands doing the things you don’t feel like doing, but by doing what must be done you’ll develop confidence, and a deep love for yourself far more gratifying than any form of instant-gratification.
You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s been said over, and over. Yet, many of us continue to surround ourselves with inferior people.
(Inferior is subjective as you could argue people have inherent value simply by being human beings, but for the sake of this post we’ll define inferior people as those who produce weak results that could potentially have a run-over effect onto your life.)
You hang out with underachievers at your job, you work out with weaklings to preserve your ego, and you settle for relationships with people below you.
Why? You claim that rich people are arrogant, gym junkies are meatheads, and popular people are douchebags. This isn’t true of course, but by the law of averages all widespread generalizations will have supporting evidence, and if you want something to be proven true your brain’s self-serving bias will find facts to support your conclusion.
See the problem? By holding beliefs that rich people, gym junkies, or popular people negatively contribute to society you’re both restricting yourself access to the highest performing people the world has to offer, and conditioning yourself that health, wealth, and social abundance are negative qualities.
With a belief system like this it’s no wonder most people end up unsuccessful. When you jealously waggle your finger at superior people you unconsciously block yourself from ascending to their level because you believe doing so would be, “Selling out.”
When Someone’s Greatness Makes You Feel Inferior…
When someone’s level of performance makes you feel inferior you have two choices.
You can either allow their abilities to discourage you.
You can use them as inspiration and a vision of what’s possible.
The first choice will result in stagnation, and the preservation of your ego. The second, though often more difficult is the attitude that’ll allow you to take your life to the next level.
The inspiration for this post came from an Italian exchange student in my Spanish class. While we were working on a project together she’d ask questions like,
In this sentence why does the conjunction go here? Does the meaning change if you switch the placement of the verb? Why is this verb regular in this form, and irregular in this form?
I told her not to worry because she was doing fine and she said something along the lines of, “If I don’t figure out the answers to the little questions I’ll never be able to speak proper Spanish.”
In the past I would have felt like I was being attacked, but today I smiled. I’d finally found someone with higher standards than myself. I saw the next level on the ladder of success, and used her as inspiration to further increase my own standards.
She’s 3 languages ahead of me, and living in a country 5,000 miles away from her home. I could call her lucky, or say she has natural talent but what good would that do me?
She’s done things I haven’t yet made happen for myself so instead I’m going to use her success constructively as a vision for what self-discipline is capable of producing.
I’m not going to waste my life talking about how popular people are douchebags, or how I could learn 5 languages if I was naturally gifted. Screw that, I’m going to use every piece of my environment as leverage in catapulting myself as far as I can possibly go.
Earlier this year my motivation for creating content was at an all time low. I still managed to produce regular content, but it was out of obligation rather than for the love of doing so.
I felt like this self-improvement business was a big waste of time. I felt like everything I wrote was just commonsense bullshit that everybody already knew. Then first semester ended at school, and I got all new classes.
Like the semester before all my classes were easy. That is, all of them except Physics. I’ve always been a solid math student, but because of my school’s block scheduling, it’s been over a year since I last took a math class.
I haven’t lost any of my ability to think critically, but I no longer remember how to do things like sin, tangent, etc, and as a result Physics has been challenging to say the least.
I also have a first-time teacher who lacks teaching experience. I’ll give the man credit as he does his best, and brings positive energy to the room, but within a few days of having him as a teacher I realized he had a crucial flaw. He teaches in a style that assumes everyone has had a background in Physics.
If someone asked him to explain something he’d reference obscure Physics laws rather than explaining things in everyday English, and although I’ve struggled in his class I’ve also learned a valuable lesson from his mistake.
Often when you develop competency in something you lose perspective of what it’s like not to understand it.
My teacher often explains things in scientific language because he hasn’t yet gotten enough blank stares to remind him that people aren’t born with a knowledge of Physics.
Similarly after being deeply immersed in the field of personal development for the last three years many of the things I consider commonsense likely only seem simple to me because I’ve spent so much time processing all the nuances of them.
What I consider obvious will often take the form of an epiphany when presented to someone who’s never considered it, and this idea is applicable to any field.
As a former state league level soccer player it’s only common sense for me to check to the ball when someone passes it to me, yet last week when I told this to an incoming freshmen he’d never considered it, and using this idea was able to instantly become a more effective player.
That’s what I want for us as a community here. To be able to give each other ideas that may seem obvious to one of us, but take the form of an epiphany when presented to each other.
We’re likely going to have a big common ground of what we consider obvious, but often those ideas are still worth discussing because further conversation will only help to fully internalize them.
Overall, you should never feel like what you say lacks value simply because you perceive it as being obvious. What you consider common knowledge may induce a life-changing epiphany for someone who’s never considered it.
Hope you’ve been enjoying the daily posts lately! If you have a request for a future post feel free to leave a comment below. I should be able to answer more questionsnow that I’m writing so much. Cheers!
Picture is from a trip to my Grandma’s old house in Arkansas. (April 2010)
Have you been victimized? Are the credit card companies charging you an unfair interest rate? If so, let me negotiate your debts down to nothing so you can live the life you deserve!
Has your no good skank-whore-trash girlfriend cheated on you? Are you a victim? If so, let me teach the easy foolproof method that will guarantee you’ll never be cheated on or rejected ever again!
We’ve all seen these types of advertisements before. The magic pill solutions that prey on the victim mentality. If you’re reading this blog I’ll assume your intelligent enough to avoid the late night infomercial scams, but even so, the victim mentality extends far beyond a few wasted payments of $19.99.
What Is The Victim Mentality?
The victim mentality is essentially the result of feeling life owes you things merely for your existence. You believe you deserve a steady job, a modest house, and a loyal wife merely because you’ve been born. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. All you’re entitled to in life is failure, pain, and death.
Why The Victim Mentality Destroys Lives
All you’re entitled to in life is failure and pain? What the hell? I thought you were Mr. Positive Motivator Man? What happened to positive thinking?
Positive thinking is great, but it’s irrelevant when improperly directed. You can think positively, and say that eventually the economy will improve, and the government will lower your taxes at some point, but by delegating responsibility to things outside your control you’re giving up your power.
The problem with the victim mentality is that it assumes that things have wrongly been done to you. It causes you to say things like, “My girlfriend has cheated on me,” or, ”My employer is paying me a pitiful wage,” rather than “I’ve allowed myself to adopt unattractive behaviors,” and, “I willingly accepted a job that pays a pathetic salary.”
People get about what their actions have or haven’t earned, and some amount of luck is required to get even that.
There’s obvious exceptions such as people winning the lottery, being born into a country that’s in the midst of a civil war, or getting shot in a random drive-by shooting, but generally if you’re been born into a developed country, it’s on your shoulders to produce results.
Everything is on you, and even if things objectively don’t appear to be your fault often it’s in your best interest to take responsibility for them anyway.
Got keyed in the parking lot? Should have parked further away from the other cars. Girlfriend randomly took all the money out of your joint account, and split? Should’ve kept separate accounts.
The victim mentality is the loser’s consolation in life. Winners take complete responsibility for their lives because being accountable to the decisions you’ve made gives you the power to alter your future decisions, and build the life of your dreams.
All of us have experienced a social situation where we were the life of the party. A time when you were socially savvy, confident, witty, and everyone wanted to be a part of your reality.
On the other hand, all of us have also experienced a time when we were trapped in our heads, unable to have fun, and being absolutely roasted by others who were disgusted by our need for validation.
It’s interesting how in the first scenario we’re able to effortlessly make fine-tuned adjustments, and witty jokes, while in the second scenario we’re awkward, and struggle to think of anything to say.
If you’ve experienced both scenarios you’ll likely agree that during the second scenario you feel stupid, and it almost seems like your brain just isn’t working properly. You’re right, and here’s why.
Have you ever noticed that you tend to be the most charismatic around people you feel entitled to? Around a cute girl you can be charismatic, but around the obese, warlock woman you’ll struggle to be charismatic because your brain doesn’t see any payoff to being engaged.
On the other hand most guys will also struggle to remain charismatic, and experience noticeable to crippling anxiety around their version of a dream girl, or perfect “10.” Why? Because they don’t feel entitled to her. They have a success barrier.
When you don’t feel entitled to a relationship with another person you’re brain literally begins functioning at a lower level in their presence. But doesn’t it make sense for our DNA to spread itself among the most desirable women?
On one level yes, but because of cavemen times your brain believes that if you steal the alpha male’s wife he’s going to smash a rock over your head, and kill you. Therefore, if you believe you have low status in a social situation, your brain will begin shutting down for your own self-preservation.
As a result you’ll find that the type of relationships you’re able to attract are almost proportional to what you feel entitled to. What you believe you deserve will often become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Social skills are obviously important as well, but being in a position that allows you to have an unshakeable confidence in yourself will often cause you to adopt the social behaviors that others deem attractive.
If you’re in a position that causes you to believe you lack social value, you’re outward behaviors will usually reflect this. You’ll begin talking more quickly, trying to seek validation, and otherwise engaging in low value behaviors.
And If You Lack Unshakeable Confidence…?
Develop it. Understand that you have an inherent value as a human being, and that confidence comes from being the person you want to be. Also understand, however, that you don’t need to wait until you’ve achieved all your goals to feel confident.
As long as you’re doing your best, and making progress towards your goals give yourself permission to fully accept, and love yourself. If you haven’t been doing your best, forgive yourself, make adjustments, and understand that you’re no longer the same person who made those mistakes in the past.
Develop situational confidence if you’d like, but more importantly put yourself in situations you find frightening to force yourself to develop core confidence. If talking to strangers scares you… Talk to strangers! Who cares if society says doing so is weird?
Also realize that nobody wants to be put on a pedestal. Hot girls get creeped out when guys worship them, and cool guys just want someone that knows how to chill, and have a good time.
You’re going to show off your best personality traits in the situations that both engage your brain, and are in your comfort range of success.
If you want to improve your social success the most important things you can do are:
Develop your social skills by acquiring a massive number of social reference experiences.
Use meditation and other techniques to become more engaged with the process of socializing.
Develop core-confidence/Realize there’s no reason you’re not enough.
Finally, increase the level of success you’re comfortable with achieving.
Remember when you were a kid, and you got cut from the basketball team? Or when the girl you had a crush on in middle school didn’t like you back? Looking back you probably see your childhood problems as trivial, but at the time you probably felt real low, perhaps even depressed.
Yet, most adults just didn’t seem to understand your problems. So what if you got cut from the basketball team? There will be tryouts again next year.
So what if some girl in middle school didn’t like you? You barely knew her, and besides you can’t experience real love until you’re older.
Is that the truth? Maybe it is, or maybe not. That’s besides the point. The most frustrating thing as a kid was feeling like other people didn’t understand what you were going through. Nobody felt the things you were feeling, and they discounted your problems as invalid, and being too insignificant to matter.
“You think you’ve got problems kid? Wait until you enter the real world…”
“Shut up! There’s starving kids in Africa!”
“You’ve still got two legs so I don’t want to hear it!”
People think that the significance of one’s problems lies solely in the objective size of them. This idea certainly makes sense, but it’s also largely inaccurate.
The problems we experience create psychological responses based on the realness we perceive them to have more so than their actual basis in reality. In other words the actual problem itself is less significant, than the importance you perceive it to have. What you think is real causes the emotions you feel.
Two guys can both be rejected by a girl, but the negative emotions their bodies will produce lies almost entirely in their perception of that event. One guy may shrug it off believing that the girl was merely having a bad night, while another is crushed because his perception of the rejection is that he as a person has no value.
If a toddler is crying because he lost his favorite toy it’s not your place to tell him to grow up. If an elderly woman is anxious because her son missed one of her calls you don’t have the right to tell her how to feel.
Their problems may be objectively small, but because they perceive them to be significant they’re experiencing very real psychological responses. If someone perceives a problem to be real they’ll produce negative emotions, cortisol, etc, regardless of whether that problem is at all objectively significant.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to attempt to help others gain perspective on their seemingly small problems, but sometimes it’s best to simply be empathetic, and understand that what they’re going through is completely real to them.
I’ve been very conscious during my social interactions the last couple days and I’ve noticed a disturbing theme. People spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about themselves. Also, when other people are talking they rarely give them their full attention.
Most people are simply waiting for their turn to talk again, and of the people that do pay attention when others are talking few are present to the moment.
Whenever other people are talking few people attempt to consider their perspective, and truly consider their emotions. Most people listen solely on a surface level, and think only about how the discussion relates to them.
On one level this makes sense. We have to see what’s going on, and consider how we can use that information to ensure our own self-preservation. We’re our own number one, and we’re biologically programmed to save ourselves, before worrying about others.
Unfortunately things don’t work like they once did. We no longer need to hoard food and other resources while fighting for our survival. These days trying to leech positive emotions, or resources off of other human beings comes from a place of scarcity.
Tyler of RSD made a really good point in his video earlier this week. He said that most people are leeches and will take 80% of the value in a relationship. In the short-term that sounds intelligent, why not milk a relationship for all it’s worth?
Unfortunately, the people who are leeches don’t realize that they’re screwing themselves over in the long term. They may take more value in their first relationship, but that relationship will quickly end, and once others see that they’re a leech they won’t be able to form any additional relationships.
A leech may get 80% of the value in their first relationship, but then they’re done. A person who cares about others, and is a giver will get 20% here, 20% there, 20% there, and from the sheer number of people who want to be in a relationship with them they’ll still acquire far more than the leech.
Scarcity repels abundance. The rich get richer, and the poor stay hungry. Do for others and they’ll do for you. It’s the law of reciprocation at it’s finest. It’s important this all comes from the right place though, and you actually do care about the success of others. If you attempt to give in a manipulative fashion others WILL notice.
If you do identify that you’re self-absorbed initially you may need to fake it until you make it, but by adopting a mindset of abundance, and contributing to the success of others, you’ll find that they more than take care of you on your own endeavors.
All of us know someone who has the uncanny ability to find the negative in any situation. The type of person that just needs something to complain about. On the other hand most of us have also met someone who’s able to remain upbeat in even the most trying of circumstances.
Of course, the question then becomes, “What’s the difference between these two individuals?” The answer is quite simple. They’ve mentally conditioned themselves to behave in that way.
Have you ever noticed that after a period of laziness the first trip back to the gym is always rough? You can’t lift as much as you used to, yet the next day you discover you’re more sore than ever before!
Emotions work in the same way. Someone who’s been depressed for a long period of time has difficulty processing positive emotions, and will even subconsciously filter out stimulus from their environment that may have allowed them to feel better about themselves.
Your brain doesn’t care how you feel, and it doesn’t care if your default emotional state is a positive or negative one because if it’s kept you alive to this point, it’s clearly working. The brain has no interest in allowing you to experience alternative emotions because it perceives them as being more likely to lead you into new, possibly threatening territory.
If you’re a highly conscious person or you’re going through a period of consistently positive emotions you’re loving that your emotional state is addictive. However, when you’re coming from a background of negativity or you’re stuck in a rut you may feel like you’re screwed. You may feel like you’re just destined to live a negative existence.
That’s not true. You’ve simply allowed yourself to get out of emotional shape. However, realize that if you are coming from a place of negativity failure is the default. You need to be proactively changing your emotional habits. If you attempt to coast the negativity will persist.
So what do you do if you’ve allowed your default emotional state to become negative? The same thing as when you’ve allowed your physical body to get out of shape. You begin exercising it.
If you’re constantly negative try a 10-day positivity challenge. Every time you think a negative thought you must immediately reframe it into a positive one. My buddy Huan has had some good success with this.
Initially you may find it difficult, and even exhausting to be positive, but as your brain gathers proof that being positive isn’t a threat to your survival it’ll open you up to experiencing more positive emotions, and after enough time has passed positivity will even become your new default state!
You can resensitize yourself to any emotion using a similar process. If you want to be more social simply nudge yourself into social situations more often, and eventually your default state will become more social.
If you’re able to have fun, but struggle with work challenge yourself to focus for longer, and longer periods of time. The first day you may struggle to read 3 pages of a book, but before you know it your ability to focus will become irrelevant, and you’ll only need to stop reading when your eyes get tired or it’s time to move on to your next task.
Overall I’d say it’s important not to identify with your emotions. I know that when you’re depressed you can’t imagine ever not being depressed. However, you’ve got to understand that your default state is only the result of your habits, and ultimately you always have to power to develop new habits, and thus a new default emotional state.
Picture is either Milwaukee or Madison, I forget. Taken in January 2014.
If you’ve ever been a fan of sci-fi movies you’ve no doubt heard about the butterfly effect. In essence, the butterfly effect states that time travelers need to be extremely cautious as the killing of even a single butterfly could have massive implications on present day.
Of course time travel isn’t yet possible, and even if it was you could argue that one’s mere presence in the past would be enough to alter it thus making time travel an inconceivable paradox.
Perhaps, but like I’ve said before, just as today’s past is yesterday’s present the same can be said of today’s present being tomorrow’s past. A small decision you make today can have an astronomical effect on your future.
The Butterfly Effect is what I’ve used to wrap my mind around the importance of seemingly small decisions, but I’ve been known to make things more complicated than they need to be so here’s a summary of a more simple example I heard from Tony Robbins.
Imagine you’ve just began playing golf. You’re frustrated because you keep hitting the ball into the water. You’re not expecting miracles as you’ve only been playing for a couple months, but you think at the very least you should be at a consistent level of suckiness.
In your frustration you yell at your coach to which he calmly responds to you, “You’re only missing the sweet spot by a few millimeters.”
He helps you make a small adjustment to the way you approach the ball, and you begin to consistently hit it into the green. Although the angle you hit the ball is only one or two degrees different than before, the slight change in trajectory is the difference between failure and success.
Tyler of RSD has often joked that before he discovers pickup a guy thinks little of being unable to approach a hot girl. He’s always cowered away from her, and social conditioning says it’s strange to talk to strangers so being unable to approach her isn’t a big deal to him.
However, after a guy goes on a run, and becomes an approaching machine he begins to feel a genuine guilt if he sees a hot girl at Starbucks and is unable to approach her.
Why? Because he’s setting a precedent for himself. If he didn’t talk to that girl what’s going to stop him from being unable to talk to the next girl?
Similarly, if you don’t write a blog post today what’s going to stop you from skipping tomorrow as well? If you decide to skip the gym today what’s going to stop you from skipping tomorrow?
It’s easy to rationalize with yourself that skipping one blog post or gym session is irrelevant to your success. Perhaps, but forcing yourself to do things when you don’t feel like it is a huge characteristic of success, and moreover skipping once gives you the permission to skip again.
It’s easy to justify maintaining an Instagram or Twitter. Spending 15 minutes per day on them is nothing right? Wrong. Time is like money. Small payments continued over a lengthy period of time compound quickly.
15 minutes per day compounds to 91.25 hours within a single year. Now I’m not going to say that social networking is never a good investment of time, but you’ve got to be conscious of just how quickly seemingly small periods of time compound.
91.25 hours per year is enough to maintain a weekly blog, do two 50 minute workouts per week, or even pay for a nice weeklong vacation ($1,825 assuming you work 91.25 extra hours and make 20$ per hour.)
Time is your most valuable resource, and it’s important you constantly become more aware of how you’re spending yours. The most successful people are those who spend their time most consciously.
I realize this post has been all over the place, but I thought hammering things in from several different angles may be helpful in showing the large results small decisions can eventually amount to.
I don’t want you walking around paranoid because I’m saying that nothing is too small to matter, but on some level there’s an element of truth to that mindset.