In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to think clearly.
Clarity of thought is perhaps one of the most important
parts of decision making. As a general rule the more clouded your thinking the
lower the quality of your own decisions. Taking substances cloud your thinking
because they force the mind to look at things from a particular frame. Whether
the frame is right or not is not important, since even when in the wrong frame
of mind, if allowed, one can bring itself back to clear thinking.
This is an example of clarity of thought being reduced through chemical means, but there are certainly more ways to reduce one’s judgment objectivity, and below are a few of them.
How To think clearly
A Clear sign of clouded thinking
The tricky thing about clouded thinking is that for the thinker their mental sky is as clear as a hot summer day. It’s the same issue of insanity. The insane creates an internal world in which their behavior is completely justified. Sometimes going so deep that any questioner of that world is perceived as weak or unenlightened. What makes the issue difficult to address is that just because you feel objective doesn’t make you so. It’s easy to look for shortcuts as hints about your clarity of mind. One commonly used and not talked about shortcut is that of assuming that being positive is the peak of clarity, going down proportionally to de degree or number of negative thoughts. Here negative thoughts are labeled as pessimism and by extension a “sign” of clouded thinking.
There are also people who associate clarity of thought with the opposite side of the spectrum. Meaning that the more positively you think about life the more delusional you are, with your clarity decreasing with proportion to the number and/or degree of positivity you experience.
The truth is that life rarely is about extremes. Don’t get me wrong. At some point or another, you’ll get to experience the extremes of life, but more often than not you’ll not. The reason for this is that if that wasn’t so what you consider to be the extremes would be the norm and vice-versa. From this, it follows that when you find yourself thinking in extremes, be that positive or negative, chances are that your thoughts are out of sync with reality. In a depressive episode, we experience the negative end of the continuum. When under the influence of any positively mind-altering substance we experience the positive end of the continuum. Either way, we’re all able to tell that the person going through the moment is not clear-minded. So we should do the same for ourselves.
Identify your clarity time of the day
Sometimes some times of the day make you more prone to making the best decisions you can. IT might be when you wake up, just after lunch or just before bed even. The point here is to find what time you make your best decisions. We are taught that mental clarity is either an all or nothing kind of thing. Meaning that you’re either the kind of person who has it or you’re not. I’m sure you can testify to the opposite. I believe that chances are that you might even think of yourself as an outlier when it comes to this rule. Since, as you say to yourself, there are moments in which I find life to be more like an open book in which all I have to do is to make an effort to understand the contents of its pages. Other times, however, it sure feels like a mystery of the kind that astrophysicists spend their lifetime trying to decipher. So what’s the truth? Is life a mystery or an open book? Am I a clear-minded person or am I not?
One thing I learned over the years is that life is rarely black and white. Life is an array of colors each with enough depth for itself that one could spend a lifetime trying in vain to understand its most basic outer layers. Since just when you think you have begun to understand it, and another layer is revealed to you.
Black and white thinking is easy thinking. Not accurate. Easy. And mental clarity is among one of the things about life that one might find very hard to put into neat little boxes. Some times of the day might be the best for your thinking and find which are which is probably one of the most important things anyone can do for itself.
Use time as a tool
One thing I learned about thinking is that time can often be
a very helpful tool. Many can testify for the countless moments in which they
thought an Idea they had was good, only to later, after a few hours/days of
reflection to come to the conclusion that their idea had no grounds in reality.
We are now taught that when we quit on an idea is because we’re afraid of the
journey it might lead us to. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes an idea is just weak and time, not fear is what brings that level of
clarity to us.
This is a simple and yet powerful idea that most people use once in a while and still many of the ones who use it downplay its value. Not sure about your career path? Give it time. Give it a try and see how you really feel. Not sure about your relationship? The same rule applies. See, the biggest enemy of clarity of thought is the fabric of thought itself. It’s good at making us see the world for what it is, while also feeding us a fairy tale we can’t help but believe in. Neither is distinguishable from the other and just like a person in the dark we use hints as the small and fragile candle of thought to finally get us to firm ground. Sometimes those hints areas not so subtle as the whole world telling you how faulty your thinking is.
Watch what you put in your mouth
The human body is one of the most mysterious and sensitive systems that there are. We talk about the weather as being the kind of system that happens to be very sensitive to small changes in variables, but the human body is arguably even more sensitive. They say a small and inconsequential swing of a butterfly can cause a tornado in China, but we forget that a small change in diet or habit can have effects as profound as a complete life change. What you eat or drink is definitely a part of it, and perhaps one of the most powerful. Most of us fail to make the connection between the things they eat/drink and their levels of mental clarity 2 or 3 hours later. I noticed this effect after several failed attempts at continuing my exam preparations just after eating this or that kind of food. The effects are so predictable they are not even funny. I would start by studying. I would assimilate the material easily for a while until my stomach urged me to go to the kitchen. After the meal, all would feel like night and day. When before I was able to learn and memorize fairly easy, now my only desire would be to binge-watch anything non-school related on youtube.
Everything changed when I successfully made the connection between eating some foods and not others and my mental focus and productivity. If none of the tips above work, it might pay off to pay attention to your body’s chemistry. As Dave Aspery the author of the book headstrong said once: “It’s not a character flaw, it’s an energy delivery problem”, meaning to say that sometimes, or often even, the things we blame our “lack” of self-control as the source might be due to the ironically energy-draining properties of some of the food we love so much to eat.
Another thing I learned over time was that one of the best ways to know what works for you, in particular, is experimentation. Some so-called “healthy” foods might not only not work for your mental clarity but they might even make it worse. Reading up about health information from books or blog posts might definitely take you closer to the ideal nutrition advice for you, but the only way to really know whether it applies or not, is to test each nutritional advice for yourself, and one important thing to keep in mind is to not fall for the trap of deluding yourself on this or that supplement simply because most people or everybody tells you it works for them. Meaning that it’s certainly possible to be the only one in a crowd who doesn’t function well with some popular supplement, and the reverse is also true.
In this post, you’ll find a few tips as well as great books for low moments.
Life is full of ups and downs. I’m sure you’ve heard that before but the truth is that just like most things we hear and agree without having to make any effort, this too quickly slides right to the back of our minds. Don’t believe it? The proof is on the countless moments in which the lows of life came and just like the time before you received the moment of trial with surprise as opposed to with the front that only the true stoic would present when facing the latest adversity life brought to him/her.
I guess is the first tip already, and just in case you haven’t been paying attention it goes as follows: expect the good moments not to last. Expect the bad moments to come, and apply the same rule in reverse. This is life. Most people fall into one of two categories: 1)those who expect only the good, and 2) those who expect only the bad. Just like most things in life this too is not black and white. To say life is joy or suffering is the same as eating a spicy dish, and saying the dish is the spice. To try to reduce life to a single word is an act of laziness, which more than just harmless can also be harmful since it’s based on your definition of what life is that you make decisions about your own, which might lead you to a happy and fulfilling life, or a bitter and resentful one.
Best books for low moments
The big question of life and perhaps the most important of them all is: how do you handle the lows? The highs tend to be intuitive. It’s true that one has to take care so it doesn’t lose itself in the wave of fortune a fortunate moment can bring. It’s also true that it’s quite possible to extract misery from an extremely joyful moment simply because we are/were not mature enough to handle it. It’s the classic case of the overnight millionaire or billionaire, who takes itself back to poverty because of its inability to handle the sudden ocean of wealth that came to him/her.
Although this is a real problem, a more pressing one is still that of facing adversity. That of finding a way out of a hole, and as it’s often said, to put yourself in the position to even having the problem of having to manage an excessive amount of good fortune.
The way one handles the lows can define one’s life from the moment on. Bad handling of the bad moments of life is probably one of the most dangerous parts of unfortunate moments since the outcomes can be as bad as one ending its life, to not necessarily less important also learning the wrong things from their latest challenging life lesson.
What books tend to be the best and why
First things first, it’s important to be aware that in low moments, any book or blog post claiming that it has the solutions for all kinds of lows is just trying to deceive you. Just like depression the nature of each low moment can be different, and along with the differences also come the resistance to any one size fits all kind of solution. Just like with depression each case might require different solutions, and just because one thing worked for someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will for everybody.
One thing to consider, however, is the increased likelihood of success that comes from listening to and implementing the solutions of a person who went through something similar as you’re currently going through. Hence it follows that if nothing of value is taken from this post, the one take away to pay attention to is to look for people who have gone through what you’re going through and lived to tell the story.
The one thing by Gary Keller
It might be a bit strange for anyone to think of this book as the first on the list but it all makes sense. I’m sure the expectation is to hear about a “feel good” kind of book that promises you everything will be alright. Although such books can be helpful, most of them don’t really do much in forcing you to get into problem-solving mode. The one thing asks you to focus on what matters and the reason why this can make the difference is that when in low moments, the real source of it tends to be the feeling of being overwhelmed by life. In one moment everything was alright and now it seems as if the universe is out to get you. Everything seems to be wrong, and whatever you try will fail. At least that’s your brain tells you. Telling yourself everything will be alright might be useful for the short term, but in the long run, it will be nothing more than a momentary fix. It’s the same as taking substances to alleviate the badness of life, but now the only difference is that: 1) It’s totally legal, and 2) Society might even congratulate you for it.
What The one thing asks you to do is to get to the meat of the matter. The source of the problem, and to look for the one action that will have the greatest impact on it. Not just what will help, because many things can be helpful, but what will help the most.
The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday
The next book on the list is The obstacle is the way, and just like the first suggestion, it might not be what you expect. While the one thing directs you towards greater clarity of thought through cold hard logic and problem solving, The obstacle is the way takes a somewhat different approach.
As the title says for itself, it’s about looking at the trials of life from a different angle. Instead of complaining about what fate has dealt you, to look for, as the author says “The Gift”. He teaches the reader to look deeper. To look through the self -evident disadvantageous position you’re in, and see what you have to gain from having to go through it. From the perspective of the muscle, the weight is a burden. A reason to complain about its role in the body. Life is sometimes to the mind what the weight is to the muscle, a large tree lying in the middle of the road that forces growth upon us in creatively and often inconvenient ways.
The idea that from any situation is a lesson to be learned, and that each stressful life event makes us stronger as long as we decide to persist has been around for a while, but it doesn’t get the credit and attention it deserves. One proof of that is also in the countless moments in which we choose to complain about a trying life event as opposed to focusing on the gift the trying moment brings with it. But the gift is there. It’s always there. Even we fail to see it, and I guess this is the reason why it’s often the case that after the survivor of a trying event crosses the surviving moment, the survivor is able to develop a weird sense of gratitude for the trying moment, since now, they are able to see how much better the bad made them.
Can’t Hurt me by David Goggins
The last and by no means the least important book on the list is Can’t hurt me. Many might find this to be inspirational as it helps them get out of the mental hole and that should be expected. One thing that makes the book powerful is its ability to encourage the reader to go out and do the hard things in life. The things you’re so desperately avoiding right now, while also hoping it will magically go away. The book takes us through the journey of the writer. From being the kind of individual with low accountability and very little standards for himself to becoming one of the living examples of self-discipline and mental strength.
For this one it might also be useful to watch his videos on
youtube since they can also be as inspiring as the book itself.1)
In this post, we’ll have a talk on how chess might truly be one of the best games ever invented.
The game of chess has been around for a good while. Just like AI it had is summers, winters and everything in between. It’s the kind of game that makes people feel smart just talking about it, even though most of what the greatest grandmasters do is pattern recognition. Meaning that due to its long life, the game has been played by thousands and thousands of people, and even though the number of possible games and variations of games is astronomical, a good part of the best moves and biggest mistakes has been cataloged. If you’re gifted with a great memory you can become proficient at it pretty quickly and maybe even beat players who have played the game for years.
When you look at chess from this light it completely loses
its mystique. IF it’s all about memorizing board variations, and as many heuristics/rules
of thumb to use in as many board formations as possible, then what was once
perceived as an arena hosting the duel of minds, become nothing more than just
a competition about who can recall the most important rules the quickest. The
truth is that the game is more than that. Just like most good books, one principle/golden
nugget pays for both the money and the time to take in the content. And that’s
what this post is about. The one idea/set of ideas that make learning and
becoming proficient in chess pay for itself.
Chess and the game of life
So what is it? The number one thing that makes chess pay for the time and effort it takes to master it is the simple idea of learning to think not one, or two, but three or four steps ahead. I’m talking about future predictions without being a prophet blessed by God. And not because some superior being decided to give you a nugget of insight out of nowhere, but through the sheer use of your own mind to see beyond the present. To see beyond the future that comes not right after the present, but right after the future that comes after that future.
The problem of the present and the near future
One of the biggest problems of our universe is that massive
changes often occur in imperceptible ways, such that sometimes its effects are
not even observed in the near future. Meaning that sometimes it takes more than
one future for things to start to happen, at least to a large enough scale that
we as humans can begin to see and feel the difference between two nearby shades
of change. Trends form almost out of nothing, but if you agree in the theory of
determinism in the smallest bit, a part
of you knows that given enough information any human can see trends forming,
even before they even decide to give away the kind of droplets of hints lotto
winners are always looking for.
The point is not to see what’s coming always and/or with 100% accuracy, but to make the effort to. To train yourself to see and predict what’s to come at least 2-3 steps from now, such that any surprise, if it does arise could have only been predicted if you looked deep into the nesting of an already deep nesting of cause and effects. Meaning that the time it would take to see what just happened coming would have not been worth the headache.
The domestication of one’s emotions
Another very important lesson from the game of chess is the
domestication of one’s emotions. Both winning and losing predictions are likely
to elicit an emotional response from the player. Both of which in turn can
quickly turn the winner into a loser and vice versa, all because the opponent,
who probably happened to be lost in his own thoughts, drown into the sea of emotions
caused by each thought now knows something is up, and the more experienced
he/she is the quicker the realization of what that something might be is made.
Just like a scientific principle that works in different contexts, this too can be applied in different areas of life other than chess. The domestication of one’s emotions not only hide your intentions and what you might be thinking, but it also makes room for clearer and more insightful thought patterns. I like to think about the mind like a country in rebellion and we are the leaders assigned to bring it back to harmony. Just like with war the way to go is as simple and intuitive as taking one village/city at a time. To take control of it one step at a time. First, like any rebellious country the mind will fight back since unlike the usual rebellion of humans, the mind hasn’t gotten into that state overnight. It’s always been that way. So much so that just like a spoiled child, it began to believe it had control over the host, and the sad story for most of us is that it does. We equate rationality with rigidity, and the willingness, better yet the unwilling willingness to behave emotionally with youth and fluidity. There is a large conceptual gap between an inspirational spur of the moment actions that result in innovative ideas, and the inability to override the spoiled child each of us possesses, who for whatever reason never matures even as we begin to collect white hair, blinder eyes, and increasingly wrinkled and frailer skin. We’re all born and die children. What makes us different from one another is the degree to which we keep that child’s behaviour get in the way of adult matters.
Thinking about the endgame
One of the most important parts of a chess match is the
beginning. The openings. The reason for this is that whoever gets to control
the center the quickest will have more control over the board and the
opponent’s movements. Another thing chess players focus on is the endgame. I’ve
been playing chess occasionally since I was a child and I’ve seen clear winners
lose at the end, and clear losers triumph over their opponents even though the
overall game was one of their domination. Thinking about the end game of life
is perhaps one of the most important things one can do. The reason for this is
that there are out there lots of things we are supposed to do because they are
considered to be “good things”. If we follow that path for long enough
eventually we are likely to find ourselves around nowhere concretely. The
reason for this is that the many good things we are supposed to do are not
linked logically to a common and clear goal. Even if they were I doubt the
final goal would be of your interest in particular.
When you think about your endgame you get to just like in
chess decide which kind of moves you have to make to get to where you want to
go. Here because you know about the end, you also know about the middle path
moves/steps that are good locally, but that add nothing to your final goal at
best, and at worse are even detrimental, since they starve those actions that
would give you a bigger bang for your buck from your energy and full attention. When you get lost in trivia you not only
lose time, but also the opportunity to do the things that really matter. It’s
like deciding to invest all the electricity from your house in ironing clothes,
as opposed to distributing it among the most vital areas. The first is
definitely a good thing, but the
question is: is it really?
Learning from every match
The game of life is one with many matches, each teaching us
a new lesson. A new lesson we can’t get through practice because there is no
such thing as practicing living life. Even if there was because of its unpredictable
temperament life would still have plenty to teach simply because it has no
restraints. It’s perfectly capable of giving you heaven in one second while
prepping you for a slew of trials and struggles. Trials so trying even that it
might make even the most believing of the believers question the existence of
The goal is not to not make any mistakes in life. But to as
you probably know already, make a list of what not to do, because you’ve felt
the multi-level pain that comes from making a mistake. In chess the best study
their past games. They replay them, and each move they make, they question
themselves whether there was a better move. They ponder on what move or series
of moves led them to destruction if that was the end, and what could have if it
wasn’t. The best of the best go a step further and question the thoughts and
emotions going through their heads, performing a live dissection of their own
In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to attract and keep great people.
We live in a time in which the subject of self-esteem has reached a high point in comparison to most of the remaining human history. We live in a time in which more than just believing that he/she can do anything, the average person is also likely to feel as if the world has to go the way. We live in a time of “me me me”. Meaning that most of us believe they are special in such a way that we feel entitled to the best partner the world can give, forgetting we too have to do our part by doing our best to be the best son/daughter, partner or friend to the people we consider to be more than acquaintances.
The reason why this way of thinking is just incorrect is that in a world in which everyone sees itself as deserving of better, no one really gets that ‘’better” simply because everyone already thinks they are better even when they’re not.
The question of how to attract and keep great people is one
of humbleness. First being that you’re aware that as awesome as you might think
you are, you’ll still have to do some work to attract great people. The second
being that even when you manage to incorporate a great person into your life,
you’re also aware that they don’t owe you anything. Everyone is free to do what
they want, even unsubscribing to your social circle.
How to keep great people
One good question is why would you care about great people in particular? Why not just people in general? Aren’t we all humans? Aren’t we all special for having been born with the capacities we have when compared to other living beings? The answer to that is that although we can all do more than any other species we know of, this ability can be used for both good and harm. As individualistic and needless of people you might think you are, the truth is that the people we spend most of our time with can have a great deal of impact in our day to day moods and even as far as the way we define the level of quality and/or wellbeing our life has. This is why just like with food, the quality of people you expose yourself to can have an impact on your happiness.
How to attract great people
The question of attracting great people regardless of the kind of relationship you’re looking for is one that has plagued the human mind for a long time. It looks difficult but it’s not. I figured over time that the problem is not the lack of a clear solution/answer, but the application/implementation of whatever the solution might be. Like in business your success in a relationship is all about value. In a way, you need to deserve the kind of people you want to be around. In other words, the simplest way to have awesome people around you is to be awesome yourself.
This is one point of view most people are likely to reject at first glance since most people are all for the idea that people should love them as they are. The first problem with this is that it asks of humans the level of understanding and unconditional acceptance that only either Gods or clueless people can have. The ask for unconditional acceptance is at its root one of laziness. The reason for that is that the acceptance we ask is never for our virtues but for our flaws. Simply because it’s easier to remain flawed and not being judged for it than it is to put ourselves through the journey of bit by bit emptying the bottomless bag of flaws we all are. And most of us still wonder why finding the one is so difficult.
Just like losing weight the math is simple but the doing is hard. I guess that’s why we keep looking for shortcuts, when deep within we all know what we have to do to get what we want in life. Attracting great people like anything else in life requires more than just wishing. What we want is to have our cake and eat it too. What we want is to have the best life has to offer for free.
As Charlie Munger once said: “To get what you want you to have to deserve what you want”. The point is that the simplest and not necessarily easiest way to attract great people to your circle is to become great. Be that as a friend, and employee or a romantic partner. The reason for that is that is simply that just as you look for people with good traits and try to stay away from people with bad traits, so does everybody else. To ask to be adored even when your flaws are many which often are is to ask for special treatment from the world in a universe in which most think they are special.
How to keep great people
Attracting great people is just half the battle. Keeping them is just as and maybe even more important. The truth is that through thousands of years of experience and collective wisdom, humans have become pretty good at implying the presence of a value in themselves even when the only true content they have is the words they use to hint on how great they are. Humans have become so good at this that often distinguishing the true from the pretenders can sometimes be as challenging as distinguishing the parent rivers of two droplets of water after they have been merged into one. So now, as long as you can fake well enough you can be as believable as that who is truly good.
The problem with faking is that it’s like a building made of sand located right at the edge of a stormy beach. You live in a perpetual attempt to keep the story up. To keep it alive, and just as you begin to relax people begin to catch up. Just like the fragile building the foundations of your story are constantly tested, up to the point in which you decide to either tear the whole building down and take the hit, or just like most of us do, to add even more sand until we get to yet another fork in the road.
What I mean to say is that any mediocre actor who’s not
really an actor can lead a crowd to fall in love with him/her for a moment. The
question is what happens after you get what you want? What happens when your
promises are called upon and you have nothing to show for them?
Keeping a great friend/spouse is hard work. The biggest problem we face in relationships is that of taking what we have for granted. In the beginning, we make the effort to impress. We make the effort to be useful, and to soothe pain when pain soothing is required. In other words, we spent most of our time outside of ourselves. Outside our heads. Now we spend most of our time within. We ask for more while giving less and less. Now it’s even worse since we not only don’t give anything, but we also ask to take, because the people close to us have signed an unspoken agreement which states that they should keep being their best selves, even as we become worse and worse versions of our former selves. The funny thing is that the same silent agreement is signed twice and each of the parties is only aware of the one that benefits them.
The point is simple and it goes as follows: whatever you did when you were in the honeymoon phase of your relationship should keep being done regardless of how long it has been. I think this is in part the reason why many relationships whether romantic or not are likely to take a hit when that new person comes and steals your partner/friend from you. They are in essence doing the same things you used to do in the past, and now you’re not. We treat relationships like a machine that once setup requires minimal attention. We should instead look at it like if it was a plant. A plant that as cliché as it might sound needs to be frequently irrigated. This is especially true if you’re dealing with people you consider to be great. The reason for that is that you’re probably not the only one making the observation. Which means that more people will likely steal your best friend from you and just like anxious buyers lusting for a limited stock product, they will be willing to go the extra mile just to get what you have. I guess this is where most people default to the idea that if you lose the best friend the best friend never deserved you in the first place, but that would be a self-centered view of the world. Why should we be able to keep our best relationships by giving our minimal effort into taking care of them? Why should our loved ones not have our best selves and the best we can offer? Isn’t that what we expect from them? To deny the first question is to also deny yourself from the privilege of wishing for and having a great friend/lover. And no one wants that.
The point in this post is that one should raise its game in the game of relationships. We live in a time in which being what just what we are is not good enough anymore. Simply because there is always someone around the corner ready to go the extra mile for your customers, and any other opportunity you might be able to hold onto now. At first glance, this might sound like a terrible way to live one’s life but that would be to forget that on the other side of this coin lies growth. When you force yourself to be more than you currently are you can’t help but grow. When that happens something just as interesting begins to happen, and that is that the people around us also start to feel the pressure to raise their game. It’s true that some of the time they won’t but this I guess is the perfect time for you to take the role of the one who is with people who don’t deserve him/her. Now you have more than a reason to feel that way because you bring more to the table than they do., and the next worse thing to being the person who brings nothing to the table, is to be the person who keeps giving to those who are only takers.
This is perhaps the biggest take away from this post. To be better not only professionally but in your relationships. To be so much better than most people are that your loved ones feel lucky to have you. To be so important that they genuinely miss you when you’re gone, and while alive they dread that day and wish they are the first to go because the hole you’d leave would be so deep. It’s not easy to live this way. But then what’s the point of easy? Easy attracts average and both give birth to an unsatisfied life. A life in which to cope we tell ourselves tales. Tales that no idiot would believe at first, but that over time become so deep-rooted that we begin to live by them. We become the delusional salesman who believes wholeheartedly in the greatness of his inferior product. The only difference is that now, we are an inferior product.
The point of this post is that in order to have the relationships you want and by relationships I mean pretty much everything in life, the only way to truly earn them is by being a better version of yourself across time. I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times over, but as Jim Rohn once said: there are no new truths. This is the truth that keeps teaching and giving over and over again. Because at the end of the day the frustrations you might have today can be directly or indirectly linked to your own inadequacies. To your own shortcomings whether you’d like to admit it or not and the good thing is that most of your weaknesses can be improved and turned into as cliché as it might sound: strengths. I know there are things for which you have little to no control over, but the truth is that for those, chances are that most if not all are things you can live with. The problem is that as humans we always seek for that which we do not or can’t have, even when we only seek for them for no other reason than that we don’t or can’t have them. It’s the old tale of the forbidden relationship in which the “forbiddeness” of it is imposed by a group of people or society at large. The residents of the bubble make it and feel as if it’s more than what it is. More than just a bubble whose raw materials are nothing more than a mix of rebellion fuelled by attention. I’m not saying that there are no stories of true and forbidden love. That’s not the point. The point is that sometimes we don’t really want what we believe we really want. Sometimes it’s all fluff. What really matters is at large in our control, but the sadistic joke that comes following is that just because we can control it doesn’t mean the controls will always do what we want. Life is in essence like a TV that works perfectly but whose buttons are broken. We can always get to the right channel so as long as we try hard enough, but the journey to get there is more often than not painful. Most decide to settle for what they get after a few failed attempts. But for those of us who stay on task, what awaits them is almost always a mind-blowing evening.
So, to end this the final point is that in order to have the
kind of relationships you dream of the hardest but surest way to go about it is
by looking inward, fixing what’s broken and bringing forth your best, which is
exactly what we expect from the people around us.
In this post, you’ll have my take on Ryan Holiday’s best books.
Developing oneself is perhaps one of the most important things anyone striving for their dreams can do for themselves. Creating a culture of continuous improvement, directly and indirectly, brings us closer to our goals as long as we keep the habit alive. The problem is that the degree to which a given self-improvement action affects our odds of being successful or not is rarely clear. If it was it would be safe to assume that most dreams ever dreamt would have become realities, and the reason for that being that the first step towards the death of one’s dream is the painful uncertainty that our actions are those of some delusional person, in other words ineffective, or we really are getting somewhere even though we can’t see it.
Best Ryan Holiday books
For this post, I decided to talk about a few of the ones I consider to be Ryan Holiday’s best books first because I felt they would be a good fit for the subject of resilience to life’s difficult moments and also because he is one of my favorite authors. Like Robert Greene, his books too never stop giving even as you re-read them indefinitely. It should not be a surprise if you find yourself more inspired and resilient to stress as you take in some of his writings.
#1 The obstacle is the way
We live in a universe in which if given enough time every single one of us eventually will run into obstacles. This is true regardless of how privileged your life is simply because either we like it or not the numbers are against us. Meaning that through basic probability it’s easy to conclude that the longer we live, the more time life has to put us through tests. Luck is just in too short of a supply for anything that lives for longer than a few moments.
What do you do when the moment of truth arrives? What do you do when your emotions are put to the extreme and the act of quitting on whatever it is you’re holding on to, carries with it the bittersweet taste of relief wrapped up in future regret? The answer to this question and many of the genre are the sole focus of The obstacle is the way.
The reason why this is the first book on the list is that
facing adversities is just like knowing how to read and write. It’s essential
to one’s life. I would consider it even more than reading and writing since the
act of trying to learn how to write depends on one’s ability to overcome the
obstacle of illiteracy.
The obstacle is the way is about looking at problems and obstacles in a different light. Instead of raising our hands to the sky and ask “why me?”, the book urges us to ask another and perhaps multiple times over more powerful questions, and that is: “what is the other side of the coin in this struggle?”. Meaning that we should instead ask what is the benefit we will gain by overcoming the obstacle at hand. Because if you pay enough attention to every obstacle or trying moment, there is always a benefit that comes along with it. The most basic and pervasive being that of being able to overcome obstacles. For each moment of difficulty, if nothing of value can be gained from them, there is always the fact that they prepare us for future more trying trials. They prepare us for the storm that is always lurking in the background, in the moments in which we childishly believe we’ve been through the worse life can offer.
The book teaches us to as the author says “open the mind to
#2 Stillness is the key
The ability to be still regardless of what happens to one’s
surroundings or life is perhaps one of the most undervalued of all skills. We
all seem to recognize its power, like in the moments in which we find ourselves
overwhelmed by a person who screams presence and respect without saying a word.
Or when all necessary conditions for us to lose ourselves are set, and yet
something in us allows us to keep our composure and act with a cool head, even
as the world spins uncontrollably descending into chaos. Being still is
important. Probably even more than you think.
This is the reason why stillness is the key is the second book on the list. In a way, it and the obstacle is the way complement one another. Both are in essence about dealing with chaos. The first more about how to bring stillness to mind when obstacles tempt us into quitting on our best selves, and the latter more about bringing that sense of equanimity to one’s day to day life. To be honest they both offer powerful advice, so much so that to assume that the first is better than the latter and thus that only the first is powerful would be to do to oneself a disfavour.
We live in a time of
noise in which being quiet and composed is to some extent looked down upon. So
to follow the crowd most who have a bit of quiet ironically decide to keep the
quiet in them out of sight. And as for the ones who are mostly made of silence
and thinking material, in order to cope with the pressure of looking normal opt
to the also ironically “lesser” sacrifice of killing themselves, and putting a
more user friendly impostor on its place.
The point is that we all value the moments of quiet that a
still mind brings. Looking for more of these moments might just be what you
need, as opposed to the common idea that being more outgoing equals
proportionally more happiness. This book is perhaps at my top 10 list simply
because it went well beyond the idea of stillness we know off. It was somehow
able to point some light at the fact that stillness of mind doesn’t necessarily
require stillness of body, which is likely to have been one of the deepest
points of insight I’ve heard in a bit.
#3 Ego Is the enemy
The third book on the list and also one of my favorites is the book: Ego is the enemy.
The longer the back and forth goes in a discussion or argument the lower the chances that whoever is actually right will be able to turn the other side of the table around. The reason for this is that the longer an argument goes, the less it becomes about the facts, and the more it becomes about the clash of egos between the parties involved. Now it’s about being right even when we’re not. Now it’s about keeping the wounds away from our ego. It’s about being the surviving party at the end, even when both are more like walking dead than actually alive. The book ego is the enemy brings this point and many variants of it to light.
It shows that unlike popular belief, both the wealthiest of the wealthiest and the average of the average are likely to be victims of their own ego. We carry the flawed thinking that they got to where they got to because of their innate and grandiose ego. What we forget is that we all carry the disease within us, like the genes we propagate through generations; our ego is a part of us. A part of who we are. Keeping it in check is no small matter. How well we manage it directly impacts how far we go in life, and whether we believe it or not, It has a more than a significant impact on the longevity of our relationships, romantic or not.
The ego is the enemy shows us that we too can be greedy. We
too can be blinded by our ego. Actually the fact that most of us think of
themselves as free of ego is a sign of how much we are blinded by it. We’ve
been living in this imaginary bubble of delusion of virtue for so long that we
actually believe the bubble is real. This is why this book is likely to be a
difficult read. A difficult read accompanied by moments of denial wrapped up in
shame. Because it forces you to face your own shortcomings. Shortcomings
portrayed in your private stories as virtues, and now their true nature is brought
The one good take from the book for me was the same an
experienced meditator gets after years of practice. That is the awareness of seeing themselves from a third person’s
perspective, even in the moments in which we seem to be looked up deep within
the sea of our own emotions. It definitely gave me a greater sense of clarity
in the moments in which my actions were driven by ego and when for a second I
genuinely believed they weren’t.
One thing I got to understand overtime was that time itself
is perhaps one of the greatest ego softeners. In a heated argument we are blinded
by a fog of defensiveness, but only after some time, when the ego lets down its
walls is that there is room for more clear and objective thinking. It’s as if
within each of us there is this wise self who despite its enormous powers of
reason, is also always subject to the
will of the more childish ego. Who, when for whatever reason gets its guards
up, the wiser self gets locked up behind the walls with it. Depriving both us a
system of selves and the world, from its insights and clarity of thought.
In this post, we’ll have a discussion on simple life ideas no one talks about.
Life just like the human-animal is complex on its own merit. Thousands and thousands of books have been written about it, songs composed and lectures given, and still up to the day of this writing there hardly is a single and concise definition of what it is, or what it might be all about. This doesn’t mean that the whole of it is a mystery. Just like an unpredictable artist who once in a while it reveals a little of itself while keeping its mystery, life too gives us a glimpse of itself but in a way that it’s either to clear to pick up even for the clear-minded or too painful to accept even for the thickest of the thick-skinned. This post is a blend of both worlds, and hopefully, you’ll finish the reading with a clearer perspective of this thing we call LIFE.
Simple life ideas no one talks about
As the title describes it these ideas are simple and for one reason or another we don’t bring them up as much as we should. What it’s easy for us is to rehash old sweet-sounding ideas repetitively, each time feeling like we’re breaking new ground. The truth is that we’re all aware of this on some level, but you know how the human mind is. It’s wise enough to know the truth without knowing, but also creative and relentless enough to hide it from itself.
1.Not Everything matters
The first and likely to be unpopular life fact is that in life not everything matters. In fact, most things don’t even matter when putting to perspective the droplet of time a human life is. And yet most of us act as if everything is the most important thing in the world. We live in a time in which social norms/standards are literally made overnight, and before we can tell something even happened we find ourselves living by different rules. When yesterday you could say whatever you wanted without feelings of fear for your career, today even the self-entitled “I don’t care what people think of me” people have to watch over their shoulders before they open their mouths.
This is good and all, but as you know, with every good comes
some bit of evil and vice-versa. The speed with which information travels makes
the easily impressed/influenced lose their sense of direction. I’m talking
about the kind of people who follow the crowd. I’m talking about most of us.
Who 50 years ago would live conservative lives not because they themselves are
conservative people but because being conservative was the norm. In the past
change would happen very slowly, just like the way it does in large
organizations that have been around for decades.
Now the kind of social change that would require years can come and go in a matter of months if not days. All of a sudden everybody is passionate about this cause, and in no time everybody forgets that the issue is still there. It never went anywhere. Just your mind did. Just like a helpless seducer, it found itself chasing something new because what once was exciting is now old and boring. Even as retains its importance and urgency. Not everything matters people! I know It might sound cynical but once you accept this truth and apply it to your life real change can happen. When you only allow yourself to worry and stress about a select of very few thoughts about things you can put/give more of you to those things. This leads us to the question of: “What really matters for you?” Is it money? Relationships? And an even more important question is: “why?” Is it because someone told you the things that matter for you matter? Or does it come from a deep place from within you that might not be completely understood by you yourself, but whose fundamental insights in the subject of “you” tend to be accurate?
The problem with this attitude to life begins when you first voice it out to other people. This is why trying it out first for yourself and seeing the benefits that come from it is perhaps the best. The reason for this is that people are very good at putting their values, goals, and dreams onto us. This need comes from an even deeper need to influence other people. To see them taking our advice and to be able to tell other people that we were the cause of so and so’s change in behavior. We want to be smart so some of us will go to the extent of hurting someone through bad advice just to feel good about ourselves. Anything new, especially if opposed to our beliefs is not welcomed, simply because we tend to attach our identity to our beliefs. We become what we believe in. Many believe that everything matters because if it doesn’t chances are that they don’t matter. And that my friends, just like a life without an afterlife whether true or not is an unbearable thing to imagine.
So what really
matters? The answer is simply whatever matters to you and you alone, and you
can only really know what this thing/set of things is/are by spending some time
alone. By quieting the voices of the many people that whisper within you while
giving the fake impression that the values you have come from your own self,
just because the voices you hear come from your own head. Not all voices are
yours even when they sound like yours or come from within that thing you call
2. Not everybody matters
Still on the same vein is the idea that only a select few can realistically matter to most of us. We live in a time in which being social has been overblown. Just like groups that have been oppressed, instead of a correction, as the comedian Bill Burr often says, there was an overcorrection, in which the oppressed become oppressors and the only reason why they don’t get the title is because now they have control over perhaps what one would call the most powerful weapon that ever existed, and that is dialog. When you control the labels you can make nothing out of something, and just as easily something turn into nothing. The point is that even that which we consider good can turn bad when overdone, and one of these things is the idea, or to be more accurate the silent idea that one’s happiness is directly proportional to the number of friends one has. So we silently try to become that person who is able to develop deep relationships with every soul that crosses our path, even if we’ll never see them again. So the ones with fewer and deeper relationships can easily feel as if what they have is not enough, ignoring on the process the fact that they might have something priceless at hand. and just like the child that hasn’t felt yet the burdens of adulthood, that same person unknowingly prays for silver when they already have gold, simply because the world told them that silver is to the gold they have what the gold they have is to the silver they now want.
Not everybody matters and one should not seek to be best friends with everybody. Be overjoyed when you find that one person, or that one group who/in which you and them feel the closeness the hand feels when it slips inside a custom made glove. When there is no room for interpretation, or even the need to pretend anything for anyone. It just is. I like to compare the power of a great relationship with the effect that a career path that suits a person has on the way they spend their time. For both time is always at a deficit. Moments and hours are indistinguishable from one another, and for each, the mind’s solely purpose is to slow time down, which fails miserably until it has to settle for less of that it is the attitude of just enjoying the moment while it lasts. Can that be even defined as settling for less?
The point is that relationships are perhaps one of the best areas to apply the old wisdom of “it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.”
3. There is such a thing as wisdom from within
The third point is that in life it pays to understand oneself.
We tend to put emphasis on the kind of person who goes their own way and never
follows the pack. Some of us are completely against this approach to life, and
their appreciation of well-established rules and procedures to do things is
often looked down upon.
One thing I learned about human beings is that they are vastly more complicated than they look. The moment we try to place them in neat little boxes of definitions the more prone to mistakes we are. Just think about introversion and extraversion for example. Can you place yourself/anyone in one or the other completely? Chances are that no. So no wonder problems quickly arise when that moment comes in which the wisdom of the masses fail us and we feel emptier than ever before. The truth is that life is a game in which most have no clue about the rules and very few if any have only a vague idea. But most of us, however, can’t help butfollow others like us who, for whatever reason managed to convince us that they know the way in a journey they themselves are taking for the first time.
The point is that life is complicated and blindly following the pack or blindly ignoring it can be a source of great pain and unhappiness. You need to get to really know yourself to be able to even get a shot at happiness and that takes time. From within the truth about yourself comes to life, not because the inner you is mystical or anything, but because we’re all the main character in the story of our lives, and it’s impossible to get a main character perspective in a plot in which you’re nothing more than an extra. The point is that through introspection you often get to know more about yourself than you would from someone else’s point of view simply because only you can really know what it feels like to be you. Only you can really know what “I” means.
In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to take your life around.
Most of what tends to become one’s life is really the product of momentum. Meaning that at the end of the life of a winner/loser, the winner/loser might find it hard to put the pieces that led them to where they ended up at. One explanation as to why people get to where they end up in life is the word momentum. The drug addict doesn’t begin as a drug addict. He/she starts going the drug path step by step in a way that each step feels so small and inconsequential that it barely registers in conscious awareness as a potential source of future happiness and joy/misery. We are creatures of habit. The more we do something the more likely we are to do it again in the future, and the more likely that is that the behavior will become a habit. Hardwired in one’s brain almost in the same way that some applications come pre-installed on our mobile devices. We can’t remove them or the system will fall in part because they are more than just mere parts. They are a part of what the system is.
What I mean is that after habits become habits, habits become who you are and maybe even how you identify yourself. This is why turning one’s life around sounds good in theory, but just like exercising it can be downright dreadful in practice. Thechange is in part hard because it requires along with it the death of your current self even if not completely.
How to stop failing in life?
Below are a few tips/ideas worth thinking about when that moment comes in which you realize that you’re worse than just not progressing in life, but in fact in a negative momentum towards destruction.
1.Looking for ways to stop/reduce the momentum and cleaning
up your room
This first point is a product of two ideas I learned from two people a while ago. The first comes from the investor and social media Guru Tail Lopez, who is one of his many talks advised the listener that if he/she wanted to make more money to look for a way to learn how to make an extra $100/month, and after that $500, and on and on until you have become satisfied with your income. The same idea can be applied in reverse. Instead of trying to stop the negative momentum all at once a simpler and probably more productive solution even would be to try to reduce the negative momentum. To become a bit less of a failure as you might feel day by day until your negative momentum becomes neutral.
One of the biggest
problems in goal achievement is that of trying to climb a mountain all at once,
and to then incorrectly assume that the first few hardships on the way up are
indicative that the mountain is infinitely tall even as it looks reachable.
From this idea, another comes to mind. That of Jordan Peterson’s, who is known to promote the importance of doing simple things to make your life less miserable such as cleaning up your room. When you finally get to neutral the same principle applies if you want to get to the green. To each day do one simple thing that moves you in the right direction. Like Jordan Peterson, himself taught in many of his talks that thing could be as simple as cleaning up your room, which although small, it’s also not so small. The power of it is in adding a small fraction of positive momentum to your life which is very important if you want to get extraordinary results. This is one of these ideas most of us have probably thought about at least once in life, but that happened to be immediately followed by the negative voices falsely reminding us that if progress is so small that you can’t see it, it’s not progress. This is why many of us never bring ourselves to begin the journey of reading books and growing our minds because often a given book contains nothing but a small gold nugget of wisdom. We forget about the power of compounding. As the book, The one thing teaches us: “small changes can quickly add up to big results”.
2. Pay attention to the way you spend your time
Many people talk about habits and how powerful they can be in changing one’s life. At the same time, even more, people struggle with the fact that creating new habits is hard. One thing I noticed through observation is that a part of creating new habits is being able to replace what you want to stop with what you want to start doing in your schedule. If you want to be fitter, maybe the solution is in scheduling some form of exercising around the same time that you tend to overeat. The idea is to essentially time starve your bad habits away from your life.
3. Stop obsessing about how much of a failure you are
One thing about failing and winning is that as the old Christian proverb teaches us, the more you have of one, the more of it you’re likely to get, and the least of the other you get the lesser of the other you’re likely to get. The same lesson is taught in physics, where the idea of momentum itself is that what is in motion will remain so until some force that goes against it appears to stop it. The same can be applied with negative momentum in life. The issue here is that the more you fail the more you think about it, and the more you think about it and feel the effects of the anxiety and depression caused by the thoughts, the greater the odds that the negative momentum will remain. Chances are even that the momentum is more likely to increase in speed. So, the point is to as counter-intuitive as it might be to stop thinking enough so the thoughts don’t get in your way, but not too much so that you’re content with whatever life throws at you whatever it might be, which just like the first is not a good thing. A similar example occurs in relationships, in which one is forced to keep the sustained balance between being present so that the partner doesn’t feel neglected, but not so much so that the attention becomes claustrophobic and what would once upon a time look and feel like the actions of a carrying person become defined as controlling behavior.
The idea here unlike what many self-help books will urge you to do is not to stop thinking negative thoughts altogether. Which as you might know it’s next to impossible, because most of the time we spend, we spend daydreaming, and some of that time will be filled with negative thoughts, no matter how positive of a person you are, or how amazing your life might be. So, it follows that even attempting such a feat can be detrimental to one’s attempt to recover from a failing streak simply for the fact that
You’re almost guaranteed to fail and
The pain of failure might add to the negative momentum if not making it even worse because now you’re not just a failure at achieving external things, now you don’t even have power over your own mind. Which is an unreasonable demand to make to oneself. Just think of monks who spend decades of their lives attempting to find enlightenment and some even to attain the state of having no thoughts at all. They might manage the state for a while, but no one who happens to be awake can sustain the state indefinitely.
4. Do something positive regardless of how small
Still on the same breath of momentum is the idea that small changes can quickly, as Jim Rohn also said: “add up to big changes”. One reason for this is that there is simply no motivator more powerful than results regardless of how little. Knowing that you can reliably lose 0.5lbs every two weeks might not seem like much, but unlike no results at all, here we can clearly see a time in the future such that if we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll eventually get to where we want to go. Here there is no room for doubt.
What we have is a certainty, and certainty is perhaps the most powerful motivator of all.
With the certainty of success, one needs no more external motivator since with the sure win one can allow itself to dream wide and wild without the fears that come attached with the possibility of being proven wrong by the world.
In this post, you’ll find a list of the best Robert Greene books.
In life and business, one of the most profound things one can do for itself is to look for the handful of people whose advice they can be confident will produce results. Some people accept the first person that meets the eye, and more often than not the person they chose to listen to is not the right person to be giving advice on anything in the first place. But since humans the way they are can’t help themselves, they opt to give advice even when they are under-qualified. There are some people, however, whose ideas are so meaningful that you’d be doing yourself a disfavor if you didn’t follow and learned as much as you could from them. Even if only through the books they wrote. For me, one of these people is Robert Greene, and below are a few of the ones I consider his best books, and why.
Best Robert Greene Books
#1 Laws of Human Nature
The first book by Robert Greene I consider to be perhaps the most important to read is so for a reason. The way one improves one’s life can have an impact on how much that improvement changes one’s life. It’s now known in science that sometimes all it takes for a person to change its life completely is by starting to exercise. Habitifying exercising caused a cascade of cause-and-effect that in turn caused a complete life makeover. That’s when the ex-drug addict turned successful businessman comes to the stage and tells us the story of how he/she changed their life overnight, and how they can teach you the same, if only you pay a small fee that ends with 99.
The point is that it’s important to be thoughtful about the things you chose to do first, because of the effect they can have 3 or 4 steps down the road. The most important thing one needs to do first on its way to a fulfilling life is to gain an understanding of the inner workings of its own mind, as well as that of those other minds that due to constraints imposed by the laws of physics is prevented from learning about.
So, this is why this is the first book on the list. In-Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene describes the inner workings of minds of different kinds of people, with different backgrounds and not yet healed wounds from childhood. Due to the broad nature of the book, chances are that at some point you’ll find yourself as the target of the current discussion, whereby you I mean anyone who has the same psychological makeup as you do. Just like with any other form of criticism, the tendency when we first hear about it is to be defensive, but for the sake of the wealth of information you’ll get if you suspend judgment, the best thing to do before starting the read is to be aware of your own tendencies, and manage them.
The great thing about this book is that you also get to
learn about other people while you learn more about yourself.
#2 The art of seduction
The second book on the list is The art of seduction. Although most people are likely to think of this book as a pickup book of sorts, only after a few re-reads is when you can be made aware of the fact that it is definitely more than that. On the surface, you learn about the many ways you can engage in the art of courtship, but going deeper you soon come to the conclusion that the book really is about human psychology. Many of the ideas you learn in the context of seduction can just as easily be translated to most other life contexts. One example that keeps coming to the back of my mind is that of the Coquette, whose tendencies/behavior clearly go beyond the seductive. Few people willingly change their personalities to fit the context. Most of us are what we are, who we are, and the way we are when trying to seduce someone, or when at the workplace.
The consuming flirt is what it is in all occasions. It’s true that some of the tendencies are toned down, but at the core, we never really change. So, the point is that for each of the characters he brings to light, and the description of their psychology on the context of seduction, to assume that more often than not that’s who and how they are in all facets of life. So, when you read up on the coquette’s behavior and psychology in seduction, you also learn about it in life in general. Taking this into consideration, we can thus conclude that The art of seduction is deep down a more surface-level representation of The laws of human nature, even though the latter was published after the former.
The third book is Mastery. In Mastery you get a glimpse at what it takes to master a craft. More than just a book on how to master something, Mastery is also about how to master yourself and your own mind through the kind of practice apprentices went through in the old days. What I mean and what the book talks about is the kind of apprenticeship in which the student learns directly from the master in the real world. Here the student is not trying to get the highest grade possible to pass the class but to instead learn and internalize the craft as much as possible so they can be the best at the craft as much as they can be.
Today, with the internet in the reach of our fingertips, it’s easy to incorrectly conclude/feel like we can master anything with a few hours, if not minutes of reading. We think that the mere act of reading the summary of a subject, written by some other person who barely understands the subject is enough for us to consider the subject mastered. I think this is why there are now more and more people who feel the urge to surface level talk about medicine with doctors who went to medical school and have years of experience, in a way that makes it look like they know what they’re talking about. The point is that unless there is some new technology that allows us to insert knowledge and skills directly into the neural networks in our brains, true mastery is not a 5 min subject.
This is in a way what the book is about. By showing us the steps it takes to master a craft, from finding a mentor, to handling the breakup moment well, the author also tells us without saying that mastery takes time and effort. So much so, that just like a spouse, it should be taken as a life-time kind of endeavor, as opposed to the kind of thing you do for a while and abandon without any minute’s notice.
When you learn to master a craft you also learn to master yourself, since the discipline required to achieve the first allows you to also achieve the latter. Mastery is a process that gives you the right to be and feel confident, and this is so because it gives to your confidence a solid backing in such a way that if for whatever reason someone brings the motive behind your sense of confidence to question, you making it less of an opinion issue, and more of a fact. You will be confident for a reason, not just because you lied to yourself in the mirror for a decade, until you believed in your own lies. You will be and feel confident because you’re undeniably competent, and anyone who dares to question your abilities will have to take back their words when they see you perform.
Mastery also gives your life structure. God knows that the times we live in of fast-paced change and new trends, by the time you begin to make progress in the field, chances are that it’s not trendy anymore. When you focus on a craft for life, it might feel somewhat constricting but the constriction that comes from choosing a single path more than pays from the downsides of the lack of direction that comes from not choosing a path at all, or frantically switching from aim to aim. It’s the same reason why I personally think listening to everybody’s opinions about your life and taking them as gospel can do more harm than good as opposed to deciding for yourself what you want to make of your life. The reason for this is that for every direction you can point to there is always someone who defends the complete opposite, and for each of the opposites, there is an endless number of people who are exceptional at convincing people of things. Which means that it’s not only completely possible but likely that if you spend a day with a person defending one point, and the following day with a person defending the opposite each time you’ll feel as if you are in the presence of someone who knows the truth even though can only be one and much less about two conflicting ideas at the same time. The point is that picking a craft to master and committing to it as you would to a partner in a romantic relationship can definitely bring more benefits than harm.
#4 48 Laws of power
I’m sure this is probably the one book most if not all of Robert Greene readers would consider being the #1 on the list. The reason why it’s not on this list is that the way I see it, this book would be another step towards the mastery of your own life. The first 3 are about understanding one’s own and other people’s psychology, then to be able to master oneself, and this one is about gaining power through influence. One thing I noticed on Robert Greene’s reading s is that there is some knowledge of human psychology you learn about regardless of the focus subject of the book. One very salient idea I got from this book, in particular, was that of not stepping on the toes of the ones who have the power to advance or bring your life into a halt. I’m talking about superiors of any kind, who due to the fact that they feel threatened by you, instead of giving you a promotion, they do all they can to stop your progress. Without stealing anything from the book, according to the author the way to go about dealing with such kind of situations is to “not outshine the master”, and if you do, try to make the master shine even brighter. Instead of looking to claim every drop of credit from your efforts, to make a conscious decision/effort to give them the credit while making them feel superior and smarter on the process.
The great thing about these first 4 books is that the knowledge of human psychology you get by reading them all is incremental as you start and finish each one of them. Some of the things he talks about are things you’ve been aware of, and might even know in your gut, but that was never able to put into words. They are in essence a description of the cold truth about the inner workings of the human mind. The darkness behind passive-aggressiveness, as well as the pettiness triggered by the so well-known feelings of jealousy for those who for whatever reason are blessed enough to have the things we aspire for ourselves. Be that the dream job, partner or family, and the desire to not only have what they have but to take it away from them while making them miserable in the process. The book teaches also how to not make yourself a target of such types, and if even after your efforts you still find yourself at the aim of their aggressive tendencies, also how to quickly deal with the problem.
Like many Robert Greene’s books, this one also explains each point with a reference from mother history who teaches silently but whose teachings are deep and insightful nonetheless. This is one of the many things the book teaches without teaching. That if you want to learn more about power struggles, the winners and losers, and why they won or lost, one way to go about it is by reading through the history books and trying to gain the insights that the words written in them don’t tell explicitly but imply. Another way to go about it is by learning from those who possess the lessons you need in their memories. I’m talking about people who have had the privilege of living through multiple decades. The ones who know what it feels like to be a kid, also a teenager, a young adult, an adult and now have a wealth of experience they are willing to give to anyone who is patient enough to listen to the golden nuggets of wisdom they have to offer. These tend to be even more profound and powerful because they tend not to be tainted by the biases and intents of the writer. A storyteller can perfectly through the use of its own imagination re-tell the tales of World War 2. Only the frontline soldier who’s now an ancient and somehow survived to tell the tale can give you actual wisdom about the difficulties a mind can go through when not just your life is in chaos but the whole world. What it feels like having to find the hope of a better future when tomorrow is unlikely to come.
The beautiful thing about the book is that it takes the reader not only through the cases in which the rule described in the chapter was successfully applied but also through the cases in which it wasn’t and the repercussions that followed from it.
Over the years. After over 200 books read few have been so powerfully insightful enough to be a part of my all-time favorites. Not that this should mean anything to you or anyone, but I say it as an attempt to give credit where credit is due. Robert Greene, in particular, is also one of the few authors whose books I read over and over again and the main reason for that is that each page is more than just content for the sake of content.
In this post, we’ll a few words on the best time management tips.
Time management is one of the biggest problems of the human being of today. In the very distant past, the day was all about finding food and rituals. In other words, there just wasn’t as much to do as there is today. The man/woman of today soon finds that the pains of adulthood are largely due to the increasingly full day to day schedule. Not being busy enough is now equated to lack of drive/ambition, while having a stuffed to-do list is a motive to brag about. So, we find the person of today in an impasse in which what he/she seeks is what makes them more and more miserable, and the feeling that not seeking what will make them miserable makes them even more miserable. In other words, cluttered schedules make us more miserable and less productive, but the mere thought of having a simple to-do list makes us feel miserable because we equate busyness with productivity.
Best time management tips
What are the best time management tips? Well…to put it simply, anything that allows you to do more in a way that you can prove you’re doing more. This is the subject of point #2 but the quick summary of it is that anyone can convince themselves of how productive they are/have been, what is hard, and should be the main focus of anyone’s work is to actually to make progress on a goal in a way that a human without any abilities of thinking subjectively can clearly see and understand.
#1 Have a clear idea on your big-picture goal and start from there
The first major tip is to have a clear idea of what your main big-picture goal is. The reason for this is that it’s only from there that you can make better decisions about how to better spend your time, and the reasoning behind it is that one can only know if it’s using it’s time correctly if there is a parameter for which to judge the way one is spending its time at the current moment. The simplest way to evaluate the way you spend your time is to ask the question: does this bring me closer/move me away from my big-picture goal?
Most people skip this first step and begin by doing things that if asked about, will not be able to give you any strong reasoning behind their choice of action. What makes this even worse is not that the person will probably be doing the wrong thing, but also that if it does so for long enough, their conclusion for why they failed will likely be based on some theory of how not gifted they are.
#2 Have a clear performance measure
The thing about time is that it’s not open to interpretation. If 2h passed since you’ve started working, there is no way we can interpret it as anything else other than what the clock shows. The human mind can be so creative however, that even when something as precise as the clock tries to tell us how not productive we’ve been we can still find a way to interpret it subjectively. Meaning that the fact that we spent the last two hours browsing the internet can be easily converted from the time wasted interpretation, to research time with the potential to give us a potential 10x return on our investment. This might or might not be true but it’s off the point. The point is that the human mind and the beliefs within it are pretty malleable, and if we want to be productive or use our time well we need objective measures to productivity that happen to be immune to the kind of semantic debates/cases the human mind is capable of building/making.
I’m talking about the kind of progress criteria that forces us to answer in a yes/no black/white kind of manner. One example for writing is the word count. While this might not be the best definition of productivity in writing, since one can just press the same character indefinitely until we reach 10000 words, the truth is that anyone who does that kind of thing is not interested in being productive in the first place. Word count is not perfect but it’s a good measure of your productivity since if you factor in the fact that you’re also interested in good writing, chances are that you can be safe in believing that 1000 words of content are more productive than 200. One great question to ask is: what’s the point of having an ok productivity measure if we can fool it? And the answer might be unsatisfactory, but it’s the truth and it goes as follows: having a decent productivity measure is just better than having no productivity measure regardless of whether we can fool it or not. I know this is a weird example, but it’s like having a map spilled with coffee in which only a part of the information in it is intact. The map is certainly not perfect, but when you factor in the possibility that you don’t really need a perfect map to find places, even the imperfect can be as good as the perfect.
#3 Ignore Nobel activities when they are irrelevant to your big-picture goal
The third tip is to avoid the temptation to do something
just because it’s perceived by the world at large as a good thing to do. Among
the various examples are: exercising, helping others and spending time with
your friends and family. Although these are genuinely good things to be doing,
and we all agree that they are, sometimes they are not the best thing to be
doing in a given moment. The problem with these larger than life activities is
that for most of us they tend to take high priority spaces in our schedules
when they do arise, even though it’s not always the case that they should take
much of our time.
This is why tip #1 is so important. When you have no clear direction of where you want to go, the winds of these kinds of activities that should, in theory, add lots to our life but whose addition is hard to quantify are more likely to move us around at their will. It’s like eating a dish known to be healthy without asking whether it’s compatible to or genes or not. It might or might not, and just because they are the healthy thing to eat for most people doesn’t mean it will be for us. Just like our genes our schedules and goals can vary widely from person to person.
#4 Focus on the one thing
The book The one thing by Garry Keller is perhaps one of the best books I’ve ever read, and as larger than life as this statement might be, one can only be tempted to imagine that the book contains a wealth of information about life and Business. Maybe even more than any other book ever published, but the truth is the complete opposite. The One thing is so powerful because its sole goal is to drive only one idea home: focus only on what matters and throw away the rest. Don’t try to multitask, or to get to the bottom of a whole list of tasks. Ask yourself what your goal is, and only when you have a clear idea of it’s time to figure out the one action that will bring you the closest to it. I’m sure we’ve all had this idea at the back of our heads at some point or another in life, but the real power is in paying attention to, and give it the credit it deserves.
The question of what is the best time management strategy or tool can be thought of as the incorrect question to ask when you look at it through the lenses of the one thing. The reason for this is that when you know the one thing that will do most if not all of the job you don’t ask how you can better allocate your time, because you only have one thing on your plate. The only one thing that really matters for you to get to where you want to go.
When you fully incorporate the one thing to your life, you soon find that the stress that comes with having a schedule and a truckload of tasks to be accomplished during the day goes away. Even more important is the fact that when you only have one thing to focus/work on you get to spend more of your time and energy on it. When you have a million little tasks, none of them gets the whole you, and if anyone does, it does so at the expense of some other task on the list. Like a carpenter who works under the “measure once cut twice” principle, here you think about the big picture and the one thing once, and the impact you’ll make in your life will perhaps be even more than twice as much as that of any time management or task list creation app you can find on the app store.
#5 Keep track of progress
The next way to better manage one’s time is to have a clear idea of how close/far one is from the big-picture goal. The reason for this is that when you don’t know how far you are from getting what you want you have no idea of how much more work/energy will be required to get you there. When you don’t know the amount of work required you make poor decisions on what kinds of tasks you should be working on, and from there you can’t accurately pick the true one thing.
Accessing progress is to us what the act of calibration is for a compass. It centers us by making it clear to our eyes how much left it is to be done. When you do this on a regular basis, and for long enough, you soon find out that the answer to the question: “what should I do next?” jumps out at us when we answer the question: “how far are we to get what we want? It’s just what happens with problem-solving. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is not to find the solution, but to clearly understand the problem, and once we do, the solution is often obvious.
Allocate large gaps of time to work
Another way to manage your time is to make better use of it.
After you have the one thing pinned down, the next step is to allocate a good
chunk of time to work on it. The reason for this is that the more challenging
the task, the longer it tends to take to get into the right frame of mind to
tackle it. When you allocate little time to do the one thing you prevent your
mental and physical juices to get going enough to open the doors to potential
breakthroughs in your work.
Still, on the same note, it’s important to address the subject of distractions because they are great destroyers or retarders of the state that goes by the name of “The zone”. The thing about the zone or the state of flow is that it is at the same time a very powerful state to be in and very fragile. Meaning that when in the state, we find ourselves capable of producing major results in our work, of the kind that would probably take 2x if not 3x as much time to achieve. On the other hand, what we have is also a state in which we barely know how to reliably get into, and that at the same time it’s easy to lose. This is why distractions can be so problematic. For those of us who have played any game of any kind, you’re probably familiar with the concept of momentum, in which a series of actions bring you incrementally closer and closer to a major/master state of exceptionally high performance. When it does come the state usually lasts for no longer than a few seconds, but the effects are powerful. The same applies to the state of flow. Distractions act as roadblocks to these increments in momentum, which when added to the frustration of not finding that moment of complete involvement and productivity characterized by the zone, make it even more difficult to even string the small increments that take you where you want/need to go/get to. It’s that same problem of trying to be perfect in a situation, and the first few instances of imperfection put us in a vicious cycle of self-doubt that leads to an even poorer performance until there is nothing we can do but to take some sort of break.
The point is that interruptions in work can be more detrimental than you think, and this is why in addition to blocking out large chunks of time to work, one should also look for ways to ensure that these large blocks are also large blocks of uninterrupted time.
Time Management and Health
When it comes to managing time correctly what we see out there is the just a list of 20 or 30 tips on how to shaving a few extra seconds from each task on your to-do list. While that kind of approach might work, there is one major thing people, in general, fail to acknowledge. That is the impact of your health in the way you use your time. In general the healthier the person the better it will be able to use whatever time is conquered either through technology, or some trick on doing something faster.
As the motivational speaker Tony Robbins said once, the worst place for a person to be at is in between great and rock bottom. What he meant was a place in which one is not happy where they’re at, but the misery is not miserable enough to make the person seek for change. The same thing applies to health. Most of the time we find ourselves in a situation in which our health is neither perfect nor terrible. When this happens we might not be working optimally but because we still feel like ourselves we don’t bother going to the doctor. One thing I learned from the book Headstrong by Dave Aspery, is that the brain is very sensitive to any signs of un-healthiness anywhere in the body, and no matter how little the problem, like a small degree of inflammation, for example, mental performance can be affected in many ways from reduced ability to recall words, to not being able to think clearly enough to make good decisions.
When this happens, it doesn’t really matter how much that
last app promised to save you time, you will lose the efficiency you gained to
the decreased levels of energy and mental abilities due to non-optimal but not
Time Management and Technology
The purpose of technology is to enhance our lives, and what better place to apply it to if not to help us better manage our time? When we think about time management technology the first thing that comes to mind is often some sort of to-do list piece of software. While that’s good and all, most of the apps out there are nothing but the same old thing sprinkled with some extra feature that seems to change the whole game until you come to the conclusion that well…It’s just the same old thing. The best time management technology I’ve seen so far is based on some principle as opposed to just the mere technologization of something as old, and mundane as a paperback to-do list. You already possess one of the most effective pieces of time management techniques/technology, and that is your phone’s Alarm/Timer app.
The reason why this is so is that there is out there very a powerful time/procrastination management process most people are not aware of. For starters, the reason why managing procrastination is such a big deal is that if given a year to work on a project, the productivity on that project will be greatly affected by the time one spends procrastinating. The earlier you start working, be that the initial start or the start after a break, the more you can get done. This is the kind of thing that seems obvious when you think about it, but just like going to the gym, at the moment of the truth this is the kind of truth that rarely comes to mind. But it’s important.
The mechanism I’m talking about goes by the name of the Pomodoro Technique, and it goes as follows: Instead of trying to work for 5 hours in a row, break the work time in 30 min chunks of work followed by 5-10 min breaks. I know this is a direct violation of one of the tips given above, but it shouldn’t be looked at/perceived as such. The reason for this is that the purpose of this post is to be comprehensive as opposed to being preaching a technique. And this is one of the biggest problems with any person giving advice about anything in life. More than just being the master of a given technique the teacher quickly becomes a preacher. Remember that techniques are tools, and when you look at them as such you soon come to realize how nonsensical it can be to preach a tool. It’s like preaching about the power of a regular hammer as opposed to a sledgehammer, and how and why the latter is superior to the former. Each tool has its purpose, and sometimes it is the case that for whatever reason the tool you expect to do the job doesn’t.
Like for example, I’ve been in situations in which working
in 30 min chunks was the only way to be productive, while in other occasions
working for large chunks of 4-6 hours was optimal. It might be that you always
work well with the first, or always with the latter, but it might also be the
case that a mix of both is what you need. How do you know which is which? Well…
the only way to know is to go ahead and test it by yourself.
The Pomodoro technique works best when for whatever reason
you can’t bring yourself to work. The reason why it can so well is because of
its power to fool the other side of us that is aversive to work, and who for
whatever reason, at the moment has a strong grip on our energy and motivation
This is why if there is some technology that you can tell will be effective is that one that addresses the biggest obstacles in working. The reason why many time management pieces of software fail to manage your time the way you expect is that the problem they are addressing is the kind of problem that poses little to no friction in work.
To say that the clock is probably the only time management
technology you’ll need is true, but that doesn’t mean that everything out there
is useless. There is also this class of applications designed for the sole
purpose of keeping us on track.
The world we live in now, and the technology we have pre-dispose of a set of behaviors that might or might not be ideal to the life we want/aspire to live, and one of these behaviors is that tendency to browse through the web mid-work just for the sake of it. The possibility of new entertainment can be so powerful that we slavishly look for it, even at the expense of our work.
Apps like Cold Turkey block take away from us the need to control these modern-day tendencies by preventing us from accessing websites and even apps that sway us away from getting things done when we really need it but for whatever reason don’t have the will for. The reason why this made the list of productivity tools is that again, it’s not a mere improvement on some old technology, but that something addresses of some deep-rooted productivity blocker and the problem apps like cold turkey solve is well…the internet, and it’s herculean distractibility power over us.
Why goal calendars are more powerful than to-do lists
Among the set of all types of software out there, one of the
most powerful has to be the Calendar. The reason for this is that it serves a
It requires us to think about the future
It can be used for the “never break the string”
The calendar is one of these representatives of what has been and what’s to come. When we look at a date the first instinct is to try to remember what has happened, or what will happen on that date. When we have that kind of life reminder we might /might not do anything with the memories we get from it, but some emotion will be invoked. This is especially true if we’re going nowhere in life and the pain that comes from flipping page after page of the calendar becomes so unbearable that we have to take action.
As for the “never break the string” technique, commonly known to have been created by the famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld, it’s yet another strategy to inspire action, which will, in turn, lead us to make better use of our time. With this technique, we get to see one of the few things we can’t often see with our own eyes, and that is momentum. We begin by setting a behavior we want to turn into a habit, and each day we do it, we draw a cross on the day you did the behaviour. The never break the string comes from the fact that eventually, a string of crosses will form on the calendar across a period of days, weeks, and then months. Each time we look at the calendar then becomes a representative of our commitment to the new behavior, and as a result also motivation for the repetition of that same behavior on the next day for two reasons: 1) the increased sense of confidence we get about our ability to stick to things, and 2) the pain of breaking the momentum urging us to take action again tomorrow.
IFTTT and Automation
Still, on the same breath of using technology to better manage our time, there is also the subject of automation, which when done correctly can have an enormous impact on your productivity, as well as on the time you manage to have left to do other things other than work. This is why subjects such as coding and engineering can be so powerful once you learn them because they give you the power to give the repetitive to that which adores it and that would be machines. As said in the book Coders by Clive Thompson the computer will tirelessly repeat the same task over and over again for you, and when we factor in the fact that it will do so thousands if not millions of times faster than we can, it soon becomes clear how much most people who don’t even try to learn it are leaving on the table. If you are a part of the few who thinks can’t code, I’m here to tell you that today you can learn a variety of languages online through websites such as Udemy.com and even YouTube.
For the ones who just don’t have the time to learn about coding, there is an alternative, and that is platforms such as IFTTT(If this then that), that allow you to string sets of actions triggered by pre-programmed conditions without having to write a single line of code. With IFTTT you can do things such as getting the weather report for the following day, every day at the same time or to even do things as complex as “Automatically light the way for the pizza delivery guy”. In coding, there is the flow control concept of an “if statement”, in which if a given condition is matched, a certain set of actions/instructions are carried out, and this is what IFTTT is about. You specify the conditions and IFTTT carries out the actions when the conditions are met.
Time Management at Work
When most people look for time management strategies often what they’re seeking is a better way to do more at work with the same 24 hours they have available each day. When it comes to time management at work, the most important thing is perhaps what computer scientists know as throughput. In a system, the throughout is, in essence, the amount of work the system can do in a given amount of time. The more it can do, the more efficient and powerful the system, and this is where thousands and thousands of programmers around the world spend their time each day doing when they are not busy building new systems. If you look at time management at work in the same light soon a new way of better managing time comes to light and that is the idea of doing more in less time. What would you do if I told you that there is a way to do a week’s work in a few hours of extreme productivity?
If you’re anything like me my bet is that your first instinct is that of skepticism, and chances are that you even have a growing urge to close this webpage and go about doing whatever you were doing before you started on the path that led you here. The truth is that there is, and although not a very simple technique you can apply in a few minutes, as you were probably thinking this was, this process is entirely based on real and up to date science.
What I’m talking about is the state of flow also known as “The zone”. According to the book, The rise of superman by Steven Kotler, the state of flow is the state in which we feel our best and perform our best. We find ourselves with an enhanced sense of creativity and problem solving we don’t usually find on an ordinary day to day life, so much so that the few moments in which we get it become powerfully imprinted in our memories for the rest of our lives. I’m pretty sure you have vivid memories of instances in which you were at a moment of peak performance, even if that/those moment/moments were decades ago. Being able to reliably reproduce this state is like owning a button that turns you into the super you. This is what the book is about, which I definitely recommend, and just in case you don’t have the time here is a quick summary of the whole process on how to reach the state of flow:
Managing time is hard. Even with the array of tools and techniques available to us making sure every last drop of time at our hands is put to good use is work. The kind of work we do not for 8 hours a day or for a few months but for a lifetime. There will always be a waste because we’re humans and humans are error-prone, and one of the many errors is that of not always being able to do the right thing at the right time. My approach to this fact is that of the student who feels like a student even as he/she attains higher and higher levels of mastery. I stop to observe the wasted time and proceed to keep trying to make the best possible use of what’s not.
In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to deal with the worst-case scenario whichever it might be.
One of the purposes of a brain is to be able to plan and predict the future. The better one is at either the greater the odds that the mystery that revolves around the word “future” gets closer and closer to the word “certain”, in a similar way that some mathematical functions have this tendency to get closer and closer to the x-axis, but never quite touching it, even as they approach infinity.
With the ability to predict the future or to at least make a rough estimate of how it might look like also comes the ability to predict what we call worst-case scenarios. Which as you know are the kind of scenario in which as the name says the worst you can imagine becomes materialized through reality. When faced with situations of the kind the usual response goes from what scientists call the development of learned helplessness, to an obsessive attempt to solving the problem. Some go for the idea that everything happens for a reason, while others are more about the idea that anything that can and has happened to us is a product of our own behaviour whose effects were and are compounded through the years and decades.
How to deal with the worst-case scenario?
How do you deal with the worst case scenario? Well, assuming
your plan is not to lay down and curse the Gods for your lack of luck, the next
step can be rather challenging to specify due to the enormous number of
variants/shapes this thing we call “the worst case scenario” can take. Below
are a few general guidelines that tend to be useful regardless of the nature/size
of the problem.
#1 Predict it and make it as impossible as you can
The first thing to do is to take action beforehand. When asked what to do in an exam in which you know close to nothing about, I’m sure your default answer would be to study hard before the exam. If there is the chance that you might face such a scenario in life, then the most important thing to do is to take action to make it as unlikely to occur as you can. I’m not talking about praying or making some sort ritual to increase your luck although it’s still debatable on whether such things can really help you on your endeavours. What I’m talking about is concrete action on the things you know for a fact are likely to reduce the odds of the worst case scenario ever occurring. To many, being fired from their jobs is one example of the worst case scenario in which that would imply a potential loss of a place to live due to their inability to pay their bills.
What do you do in such a scenario? Well… the most intuitive
thing to do is to improve your performance, skills and knowledge. The reasoning
behind this is also simple, meaning that the greater your abilities, the more
valuable you are to the world. This is one thing many people often ignore these
days. We forget that as Jim Rohn once
said: “Life is not about need, it’s about seed”. Meaning that you’ll get what give
to the world even when the world tells you you’re special and how you deserve
everything you can think of.
#2 Hope for the best but assume the worst.
This second idea is really tied up to the first and it’s all about exploring your future prediction powers. When we make the effort to think about the worse that could happen and the worst is really bad the instinct is to try to shut the thoughts away with the hopes that doing so will also make the worst-case scenario more unlikely. The truth is that it won’t. As crazy as doomsday preppers might look, they are the embodiment of this point. They hope for the best and that the world doesn’t end, but they take action for in the advent that it does happen the damage is as minimal as it can be. Still, on the same tone, what do you do when the worst-case scenario for you is getting fired from your job?
Well… one very popular piece of financial wisdom is to save enough money for 3-6 months worth of your expenses. Here you take the stand of the person who has accepted what life will bring and who for whatever reason has no reason to believe they can do anything about it in terms of prevention. When this happens the tendency is to fall into a depression, but when you take action to minimize the blow of the worst-case scenario you get a weird form of peace of mind, in which instead of finding yourself worried about something you can’t prevent, and obsessing about how hard the blow will be you are more likely to feel mentally prepared for what’s to come. It’s the idea of burying your money in times of war, just in case the currency is still valid after and you give yourself a good place to start building your life back up from.
Making yourself immune to the blow
There is also the idea of making yourself immune to whatever it is. I don’t mean finding a way to avoid it here, but a way to allow yourself to keep moving forward even though the unthinkable happened. I’m talking about a way to keep going as if nothing happened. Not by pretending, or positive thinking your way out of the stress of the worst case scenario when it does come. I’m talking about a genuine feeling of peace. Like for example, when worried about losing its job one goes out and creates a successful business for itself. Now even if fired, assuming that for whatever reason you’re still working at your old job, the pain is not the same anymore. If anything maybe what was once dolorous now is transformed into relief. Relief of the stress that comes from having too many responsibilities. Now you have more spare time to work on what fulfills you, assuming of course that your newly created business is fulfilling to you.
Afraid about the end of your already problematic
relationship? Well…you can make yourself immune to the ironic pain of it by
going out and befriending people of the opposite kind. You can make yourself
immune to it by getting in shape, and becoming more social thus increasing the
odds that great people will die to have a relationship with you. Knowing you
can do that is the equivalent to having a weapon in the house when what you
fear is being powerless in the face of an armed intruder. In a way you hope you’ll
never have to use it, but the thought that you can when the time comes can be
all you need to appease your mind.
The problem of hope
Sometimes however, there really is nothing you can do to
minimize the blow, but even then there is still one last thing you can do, and
that is called acceptance. A part of the stress that comes from being aware of
the possibility of some worst case scenario is the idea that there is
someone/something that can change everything. A part of the problem is hope.
When you remove any hope from the equation you can more easily get yourself together, just like a building that has already been hit by a bomb, there is no more wonder about whether it will ever be hit, and if it does how large the damage would be. What’s left to do is to craft a plan to rebuild as quickly and robustly as possible. In a breakup in which one side is not happy for the couple to go separate ways, the most intuitive and productive next step could be to as the comedian Bill Burr would say “go to the gym and get your act together “. It could be to become more social and looking for ways to find the next significant one, or as exciting as taking a new and more adventurous career path, as opposed to dreading the inevitable end of an already probably remote resemblance of a relationship.
Hope allows us to hold on for longer. It allows us to endure when endurance is what’s required. But it also prolongs the inevitable mysery of the certain worst case scenario. We suffer in bits, just like the famous Chinese water turture, or some form of low-grade radiation exposure in which the pain is a little painful in the short term, but over time it not only grows in intensity, but it also becomes more and more deadly. For the first, the death would be in the sanity of one’s mind, while the latter a more literal death of what it means to be a being in an evolutionary sense. The worst case scenario in the third hand a mix of both. Meaning that the day to day suffering would be a representation of a droplet of mental/spiritual death on our way to the potential real death of when the worst you can think of really does happen. So, the real question here is: should you fight to make it impossible, attempt to minimize the blow or begin drafting your comeback?
That’s a hard question on its own merit and the simplest and laziest answer is…well… to look for other people who might have gone through something similar and survived to tell the story. The best ones to look for are the ones who came up victorious. The ones who were able to handle the stress and had enough of mental clarity to craft a winning plan. The more challenging the scenario the harder it will be to find anyone close to that but if enough time is given to you the search is more than necessary. It’s vital.
Guard yourself against the wrong conclusions
In life, most if not all have no idea about what they are doing. Even the ones who seem to have an idea about what the true way is, the truth is that what they have is a rough idea of it at best. When it comes to life, there is no such a thing as true experience since for one to say it has experience at something it has to at least have gone through the whole cycle from start to finish and back, and to had gained the kind of perspective that an apprentice gains of his craft when it finally becomes a master. In other words, only that who knows what it feels to go from a child to an ancient and die like one can be said to have true life experience. As for the rest of us, due to the constraints of the “you only live once”, each day is an opportunity to have a clearer idea of the world. Each day is an opportunity to learn a bit more in the same way that the longer we count the closer we get to infinity and we feel as such but we don’t, at least not really.
If we’re lucky enough the composite of knowledge and wisdom we accumulate over the years and decades is free of falsehoods. We become smarter and wiser as time passes and our lives improve as a result. That’s why concluding the wrong thing in the face of the worst-case scenario can be so damaging. When you don’t have the time to of ever know all there is to know to always make the right decision, any fake knowledge not only slows you down but it also sets you in towards the wrong direction which is a problem when you’re limited by your mortality.
In the face of the worst case scenario the worst thing to do
is to conclude the wrong thing. The reason for this is that the effects of the
worst are propagated through your own life as opposed to ending where they are supposed
to end. Which is when your worst nightmare comes to life.
Wrong conclusions set
you up for more conclusions. In a breakup the wounded can easily feel as if
he/she will never have a happy and fulfilling relationship again which sets
him/her up for either no more relationships because no one is attracted to
bitterness, or to more bad breakups because of their bitterness. Now the bitter
thinks all men/women are the problem and that Mr/Miss right is just an illusion
created by Hollywood.
The worst thing about
being wrong is not the pain that comes from looking naïve, but the sometimes
false belief that we’re not wrong in the first place. The mind has this strange
ability to make even the incorrect and fake sound and feel true. This is in
part why the fake it till you make it solution for the confidence problem is
even possible. For the mind it doesn’t matter whether we really are confident
and we really are the greatest person in the universe. For the mind it’s enough
to repeat the same positive sentences to ourselves every single day in the
mirror for these ideas no matter how false to become true.
Look the other way and see the gift
The truth about life is that it will not give you happiness or success just because you want/ask for it. Happiness and success require work and effort, and the sad thing is that even with these, there is always the possibility for misery. If you live long enough and expose yourself enough to the world you will have some misery. You will have some moments of doubt. You will run into at least one of your many worst-case scenarios, and there will be nothing you can do to prevent/minimize the damage. For many when this moment does come they come out of it mentally stained. They come out of it more pessimistic, more negative and at least a bit less confident.
There is another way to look at these moments however, and that is the way often described by the Ex-Navy seal David Goggins. He tells us to go to war with ourselves. To see the hardships of life as an opportunity to callus our minds. To use the fact that you went through the worst-case scenario and lived to tell the story as a mental cookie, of the kind that you’ll take a bite from in the future when another worst-case scenario comes your way and the spiders of doubt begin crawling your mind.
When there is nothing you can do about a bad situation there
is one thing you can do, and that is to commit to live to tell the story, and
to transform it into a source of future motivation because of it in the same
way that war veterans sometimes use hard moment memories in service as a proof
of how strong and resilient they can be. When you’re capable of doing this the
last question you ask is: If I was able to go through that who is to say I’m
not capable of facing whatever life throws at me? And this is probably one of
the most ironic gifts of life.