The One Thing Responsible For All Your Problems

Think about all your problems. Think about all the things in your life that are bothering you. Is it your career? Your boss is an asshole… so you say. Is it your relationships?

Your Dad is always nagging at you to be more successful and you find yourself arguing with your girlfriend on a daily basis. Maybe you’re just disappointed in yourself for not keeping in shape, or not having pursued your dream of traveling the world.

Who is to blame for all these things? Is your Dad wrong for having unrealistic expectations for you? Is it your girlfriend’s fault for nagging at you too much? Is it the food’s fault you ate it? The answer to all these questions is of course not.

While your environment DOES impact you, it DOESN’T control you… unless you let it. Having unhealthy food in your house will tax your willpower and greatly increase the chance you end up overweight. Yet, until you take responsibility for your problems, your environment will always control you.

Yes, your nagging girlfriend can take a toll on your mood. Unfortunately, blaming her doesn’t fix anything. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to manage your life and emotions.

Either ignore her nagging, adjust your frame in the relationship to decrease the amount of arguments, or leave the relationship.

By staying in that relationship you place the responsibility of your life and your emotions in her hands — stupid. The common denominator between all your problems is you.

Again, your environment does effect you. Hanging around negative people will make you a more negative person. Yet, you’re still responsible for becoming a negative person in this scenario because you allowed yourself to be surrounded by negative people.

Take responsibility for your problems, and you’ll gain complete control over your life.

You’re Wasting the Greatest Tool You Have

Imagine you were alive 100-300 years ago. You were one of America’s founding fathers, or one of the influential people of the past. You were Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Edison, or Winston Churchill.

Now, imagine you had some kind of magical device. Some device that the potential to access the world’s knowledge. That magical device would allow you to see what’s happening on the other side of the world. You wouldn’t have to wait for the radio channel to describe what was happening on different continents.

You could simply see pictures of what was going on. You could gain a more accurate perspective of the world because you’d be seeing current events through your own eyes, rather than hearing filtered accounts of the events through TV or radio personalities.

You could use that device to learn the world’s languages. You could use that device to do research on how to cook nutritious food and the optimal exercise program for your specific body type. Imagine you had this magical device, and it had all the information you’d ever need to live a successful, happy, and fulfilling life.

Now imagine you had this device and you never used it. Or, you used this device to do frivolous activities like browse galleries of cute cat photos, or argue with people who have rigid belief systems that are not open to change. Actually, a mistake has been made. You don’t actually need to imagine any of these scenarios because they’re already in motion.

This is the state of the internet in 2017. People have the most powerful tool in the history of the world available in their pocket. Yet, most people aren’t taking advantage of it. Don’t be like most people. Take advantage of the internet in the same way our founding fathers or history’s greatest influencers would have.

How to Solve ANY Problem

Solving your problems is any incredibly simple, albeit difficult process. While there’s some people who have the gift of instantly identifying brilliant solutions to problems, the reality is that most of us lack this ability.

Furthermore, even if we’re able to quickly solve problems in certain fields, say travel problems or programming errors, nobody is capable of instantaneously solving issues in every field of knowledge.

Fortunately, even if it’s not always possible to instantly solve our problems, there is a process we can follow to eventually figure out the solution. That process is very simple — trial and error. Try something, get feedback from your attempted solution, and adjust your approach.

This isn’t a groundbreaking concept, but most people give up too early and simply think they’re bad at solving problems. Becoming a great problem solver is a lot about acquiring a huge base of knowledge, but having incredible persistence is just as, if not more important.

Acquiring feedback is also what will allow you to expand your knowledge base. Trial and error, trial and error, trial and error, is how you’ll find the most fitting solution to your problems.

Coincidentally… or not so coincidentally, expanding your knowledge base through trial and error is also how you’ll develop the coveted ability to instantly identify brilliant solutions to your problems.

Why You Should Never Seek Someone’s Approval

Whether it’s giving a speech, performing on stage, or even just socializing with friends, people are always seeking approval.  They want to feel accepted and feel as if they’re a part of the group. If you’ve ever studied evolutionary psychology, you’d know that this likely dates back to our time hunting and gathering in tribes.

Of course, while it’s great to belong to groups, you shouldn’t need to be inauthentic or falsify yourself to become part of a community. When someone eats lunch with you and they try to show off or be “cool,” you’re actually less likely to accept them. Why? Because you unconsciously believe that if they had genuine value to bring to the relationship that they wouldn’t need to present themselves as something they aren’t.

The same applies for dating. Women like guys that are comfortable with themselves. When you try to hard to make a girl like you, when you bend your behavior to try to seek a positive response out of her, she’s actually less likely to want to be with you. After all, If you were in abundance and didn’t need her, there would be no reason for you to have to impress her.

In short, when you seek someone’s approval, you’ll almost never get it. Thus, trying to get someone’s approval is a waste of time. Having to manage someone else’s image of you is also energetically draining — am I living up to their standards? Do they like me? How can I manipulate them into having a more positive opinion of me?

In the end, all that energy is wasted because they would’ve liked you better if you’d simply said, “This is who I am. This is the genuine me. Take it or leave it.”

Momentary Pleasure Won’t Lead to Long-Term Fulfillment

Why do most people’s lives not pan out the way they had hoped? It’s very simple. Most people are ruled by momentary pleasures — things that stimulate them or are satisfying in the short-term. Unfortunately, by definition, the things that lead to success, the things that lead to being an outlier, can’t be what the majority do.

Most people indulge in things that gratify them in the short term — unhealthy food, drugs, alcohol, porn, procrastination, etc. For that reason, avoiding a mediocre life means you’ll need to craft your environment, mindset, and approach to life in a way that’ll enable you to avoid these things.

Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s also not complicated. Have a vision for yourself and understand that while what you’re doing isn’t easy in the short-term, it’ll lead to great things and fulfillment in the long-term.

Why Hating Your 9-5 Is An Advantage

In May 2017 I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my girlfriend for a month. I have to say, that this past May was one of the best months of my life. Everyday I woke up with a beautiful 21 year old girl in my bed, had warm weather, enjoyed delicious meals, worked on my schedule, and had the opportunity to explore a peaceful mountain city. That was a nice month.

At the same time, I can also remember how different my life used to be. When I was 14 years old I worked as a soccer referee. When I was 17, I worked at Dairy Queen. Finally, when I was 18, I worked on the famous Apple Holler farm as an entertainer, SEO consultant, and video editor.

As you mature and grow your skills, you’ll inevitably have more interesting career opportunities. There is one thing I miss about working my old job at Dairy Queen, however. When I worked at Dairy Queen I had motivation to hustle so that I could eventually find a more desirable position. While working at Dairy Queen, the depressive 9-5 (or 4-11 rather) monotony motivated me to avoid complacency and develop my skills.

That’s the good thing about working a 9-5 job that you hate. When you need to do something you hate to earn a living, there’s a lot of motivation for you to tap into. “I’m going to learn how to program 2 hours everyday after work so that I can get the F out of this job.”

Ideally, you’d have intrinsic motivation from within. For most people this isn’t the case though — especially young people. Most need external motivation to hustle. Fortunately, a shitty 9-5 can give you that motivation. Living in Chiang Mai where the weather is nice, women are beautiful, and cost of living is low probably wouldn’t.

For that reason, I always recommend you make a habit of hustling while at the job you hate. Doing so will serve you well in escaping your 9-5 and getting to paradise. It will also ensure you have the discipline to sustain yourself and become increasingly prosperous once you’re here.

Self-Discipline Equals Self-Respect

An interesting connection I’ve seen the past few years traveling the world, is that those with the most self-discipline tend to have the most self-respect. This isn’t accurate 100% of the time, but generally the people that have control over themselves and the ability to skip momentary pleasures tend to feel a lot more positively about themselves.

The people that are able to delay gratification and strive to live up to the vision they have of themselves tend to be the happiest. This applies across cultures. As such, here’s my recommendation to maximize happiness over the course of your life.

Don’t try to become happy by stimulating yourself. Eating junk food, taking drugs, or watching porn aren’t going to make you happy in the long-term. Instead, cultivate discipline.

Do the difficult things you fear, or that require willpower. Attack the obstacles that stand between you and your goals. Over time you’ll become much happier as you come into alignment with the vision you once set for your life.

Climbing the Right Ladder

Imagine four ladders propped up against four respective skyscrapers. Each skyscraper has a surprise waiting for you on the roof. For the purpose of this metaphor, let’s ignore the absurdity of climbing a ladder to the top of an 80 floor skyscraper.

Ok, now you’ve got to make a decision. Which ladder are you going to climb? To make that decision, there’s some different things you’ll need to consider. First, you’ll have to ask yourself which ladders you’re capable of climbing. Perhaps some ladders are too tall for you to have energy to climb. Or, perhaps you’re too heavy and the ladders aren’t strong enough to hold you.

Beyond your climbing abilities, you’ll also have to ponder what may be at the top of each ladder. While you can never know for sure, it’s possible consulting with other intelligent people could give you a general idea of what may be at the top. Climbing some ladder may be more profitable than others.

Finally, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you care about the reward at the top of each ladder. Perhaps one ladder has a loving wife at the top, but only a modest amount of money. Another may have incredible riches, but poor health.  One may have an endless amount of great sex with beautiful young women, but a disappointed family. The last ladder may be extremely short with lots of goodies as you climb, but at the top you’ll be ambushed and pushed off the edge to your death.

Life is exactly the same as this metaphor. There will be different ladders for you to climb. Some ladders be easy for you to climb, but ultimately unfulfilling (such as drugs or possibly the corporate ladder for some individuals). Other ladders may be difficult for you to climb, but provide a great reward when you finally reach the top.

The important thing, is you find the ladder that’s going to be the best fit for you. Ideally, you’ll choose the right ladder at a young age and be able to reach the rooftop. You’ll choose to become a programmer, become extremely successful in your profession, and be forever passionate about it.

This doesn’t happen for most us, however. More likely, you’ll “waste” some time climbing the wrong ladders in your life before stumbling on the right one. When this happens, it’s important to ignore sunk costs.

Just because you’ve been climbing the ladder in corporate sales from a young age doesn’t mean you need to continue doing so forever. Doing so could be advantageous, because others would have difficulty catching up. However, it’s important to also be introspective and balance the benefits you’ve accumulated from your past decisions along with the future you’d like to create for yourself.

There is no one right ladder. There’s only the right ladder for you. Climb it. Reach the top. Enjoy the rewards.

How You Use Today Becomes How You Spend the Rest of Your Life

Today, let’s talk about a little trap people often get caught in. Lately, I’ve been with my girlfriend and she’s been saying things like,

#1 “It doesn’t matter if we eat this unhealthy food because it’s only one time”

#2 “We don’t need to exercise today because we won’t get fat from one day of not exercising”

Let’s examine when this may be true and when this way of thinking is delusional. To be fair, this thinking is true to some extent. If you truly only ate an unhealthy food one time it wouldn’t impact your health much. The question is, however, are you really only going to eat that food one time?

When you indulge in an undesirable behavior like smoking or skipping exercise, neural pathways within your brain are firing. You are effectively conditioning yourself to get better at doing those activities. You’re training yourself to follow certain patterns.

That, is why doing something one time can be truly dangerous. The alcoholic didn’t say he was going to become an alcoholic. He said he was going to drink one beer with his friends in high school to be cool. Likewise, the obese person really did believe that eating cake “just one time” wouldn’t hurt them.

Initiate Panic Mode

Fortunately, that’s not necessary. While doing something one time can end up being extremely harmful, it doesn’t need to be. Some people can truly just do something one time and then get on with their lives. That often isn’t me, however, and it’s probably not you either.

Here’s a better strategy for you. If you want to indulge in one of your vices, say cookies, a prostitute, beer, etc, tie your indulgence to a specific event. This works wonders in preventing you from becoming a degenerate addict.

You can say, I’m free to eat cookies, but only when my Grandma cooks them. I’m not allowed to buy cookies from the stores or eat them with my friends. You could also only drink beer for your friends’ birthday parties, or limit yourself to only drinking two Saturday nights per calendar month.

If you’re into prostitutes (I have no opinion positive or negative), you could limit yourself to only meeting a prostitute if you haven’t had sex for 1 month. Plus, after you have sex with the prostitute, the timer resets. If you consider prostitution a vice, this limited contact would encourage you to meet more girls in natural situations.

Overall, however, the idea is this. Tie your addiction or vices to external events. That way, there’s a clear limit to how much you can indulge in them. Even better, you won’t have to use willpower getting yourself to stick to those limits.

Skipping Starbucks and Investing in Your 401k Won’t Make You Rich

If you asked the average person their strategy for building wealth, they’d probably talk about skipping Starbucks and investing in their 401k. In short, they’d discuss frugality.

Frugality can be useful in building wealth. It is the percentage of your income you save, rather than your income itself that determines when you’ll be able to retire. Yet, frugality is only helpful up to a certain point.

If you’ve ever been a digital nomad, for example, you may have seen people talking about the cost of living between Chiang Mai, Thailand and Saigon, Vietnam. While nomads in Chiang Mai may spend $700/month, perhaps Saigon nomads spend $850/month.

It’s a small amount of money. Perhaps saving a hundred dollars or so per month is important your first couple years as a nomad. As someone in your late 20s or 30s, however, cost of living between two cities that similar shouldn’t even factor into your decision.

The fact is, you can only reduce your expenses so much. It’s possible to live as an expat in Vietnam for under $500/month. I know, I’ve done it before. Yet, consider an income of $2,500/month.

Reducing your expenditures from $1,000/month to $500/month would allow you to bank $2,000/month. Or, you could continue spending $1,000/month and increase your income to $3,000/month. Both would result in you saving 2k per month, yet there’s no limit on how much you can increase your income.

Plus, when your budget gets really low, you start to sacrifice on food quality, social life, networking, and things that’ll give you a higher quality of life and more professional opportunities later on.

In short, the rich get rich from expanding their incomes more than just trying to live off bread and rice. That doesn’t mean to get caught on the hedonic treadmill and hire people to shine your shoes and drop grapes in your mouth.

It merely means to live a balanced life. Spend money when doing do will lead to better health, increased networking opportunities, and leisure activities that will bring you true happiness. Be frugal, but not overly so.

It’s better to invest that excess frugal energy into increasing your income once you’ve already gotten your spending down to a reasonable level.