Life – Right Way to Restore a Relationship

The Right Way to Restore a Relationship (lessons from 15 years of burning bridges)

I’ve burned a lot of bridges.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve burned a lot of bridges.

I’ve done a lot of hurtful things, said hurtful stuff, and was a complete asshole to many people I loved, who loved me back and deserved better. I have to live with that for the rest of my life.

At times, I still marvel at how stupid I was. How conceited and profoundly self-absorbed I was. And how I didn’t even see it.

But in the process, I’ve learned how to restore those relationships (some of them, at least. Some people still won’t talk to me).

Years of a severe pornography addiction left me frozen as an immature, whiny brat who would never take responsibility for his actions. It took 5 years of gut-wrenching therapy and brutally honest sponsors in 12-step programs to learn how to truly apologize and restore relationships I broke.

That’s what this post is about: how to restore broken relationships that were broken by you.

Because whether I like it or not, I have major experience with that.

It’s Your Fault. Shut Up and Admit It.

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe

When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:

Always make the first move.

The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you want them to).

A lot of people have shallow, even ruined relationships. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize. This is a pride thing; it’s a weakness, and it destroys relationships.

If you want to restore a broken relationship into an incredible one…make the first move.

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

I can’t forget a certain day in 3rd grade. It was during recess.

There was this girl Sandra in my class. She was nice. Both of us were trying to grab one of the few soccer balls from the ball barrel, and I remember accidentally tripping her as I grabbed one.

She fell on the floor. Angry tears welled up in her eyes. I can still remember the look of shock and humiliation on her face.

I should’ve said I was sorry.

I should’ve helped her up. I probably should’ve given her the ball, too.

But I didn’t. I just ran off, leaving her on the floor.

After recess, Mrs. Salinas pulled me and Sandra outside.

Anthony, did you push Sandra onto the floor at recess?” she demanded in disbelief.

I denied it. It wasn’t my fault, I reasoned. It was an “accident.” I didn’t meanto! I wasn’t willing to take responsibility.

Mrs. Salinas forced me to apologize.

Sandra never talked to me again.

Here’s a lesson that took several dozen times to finally stick:

If you did something wrong, shut up and admit it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame someone else. Even if it was an accident — even if you didn’t mean to — that doesn’t matter. If you want to restore a broken relationships, be the first to own what you did.

Otherwise, your relationships will always be strained and mediocre.

The Most Important Lesson About Relationships I Learned From a 12-Step Program

The day after I quit my corporate job before I left to teach English overseas, I published an article that would eventually destroy every relationship I had with all my old colleagues.

It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. Frankly, it still haunts me sometimes, because many people are still hurt by what I said. Some people still aren’t willing to speak to me.

Basically, I wrote an article condemning 9–5 jobs and essentially called all my old coworkers a bunch of cowards for wasting their life in corporate America. In efforts to be “gritty” and authentic, I was actually just an asshole.

I wouldn’t find out until months later that my entire department read it (what did I think would happen?). I naively emailed my old boss one day from overseas saying hello. I was shocked at her scathing response, informing me neither her nor anyone else wanted anything to do with me, and how much I had hurt them with my words.

There is only one response you can make in this situation. And this still doesn’t guarantee anything.

Make amends.

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

I’d never used that phrase until I got into recovery and counseling. Essentially, making amends is a way to take ownership for wrong you’ve done in hopes of reconciliation.

Making amends has a few parts:

1. Write down exactly what you did wrong, and to whom

2. Write down why it was wrong (be specific)

3. Take complete ownership for the hurt you caused

4. Tell the hurt person everything you wrote down in a sincere apology (if appropriate)

The only way I was ever going to hope to restore anything with my old coworkers was to make individual, direct amends with anyone still willing to listen (some still aren’t).

So that’s what I did. I told my boss how awful my article was, and why (it was demeaning, hurtful, and profoundly ungrateful). I didn’t make any excuses — I owned the entire screwup.

Miraculously, months later she ended up forgiving me.

Of course, things can never go back to the way they were. There’s still a divide of hurt that probably won’t ever go away.

When you hurt someone like this, you have to “take care of your side of the street.” Do everything you can to make things right.

Making Amends is the Single Best Way to Restore a Broken Relationship

I’ve gone through the process of making amends more times than I can remember:

  • To my childhood friends for gossiping about them
  • To my old writing hero for accidental plagiarizing their work
  • To my best friend for not giving him credit for his ideas
  • To my old girlfriend for liking another girl while I was still dating her
  • To my cousin for constantly ditching him for my friends

I could write dozens more. Goes to show all the hurt I’ve caused, even if it was unintentional.

But miraculously, I’ve restored many of these relationships, through making amends.

Making amends is the single best way to restore broken relationships. It’s one of the most mature, adult actions you can possibly take.

I know I’m going to hurt people down the road, however unintentional. I’m not perfect.

But I can always make proper amends: realize what I did, why it was wrong, and communicate how sorry I am.

In Conclusion

“We can never flee the misery that is within us.” -Arthur Golden

The simple truth is, most people won’t have great relationships.

When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:

Always make the first move.

The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you don’t want to).

Many people have several strained, even broken relationships with family and friends. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize.

If you want to restore a relationship and experience a deep, meaningful bond with that person, make the first move — even if it should be them. Be the first to:

  • Initiate the conversation
  • Send the first text
  • Say you miss them
  • Say you love them
  • Apologize and ask for forgiveness
  • Organize a hangout
  • Compliment them
  • Thank them
  • Tell them you appreciate what they did

There’s no reason to not restore a broken relationship if it’s in your power to do so.

Life – How to Avoid Divorce

Artwork by John P. Weiss

How to Avoid Divorce and Improve Your Relationship

A Cartoon Tutorial

According to the American Psychological Association, about 40–50% of married couples in the United States divorce. It’s even higher for second marriages.

Stress, financial strain, infidelity, addictions, and personal changes are all factors that can lead to divorce. Yet, despite these challenges, research shows that married couples tend to be happier, healthier and wealthier than their unhitched friends.

Companionship and love are wonderful things, but they require care and attention. Like flowers in a garden, if you ignore them, they’ll wither and die.

How are you doing with your flowers? Are you paying regular attention to your garden? If you want things to bloom and thrive in your relationship, here are a few suggestions.


Invest in the emotional bank account

Relationships are a lot like banking. If you keep taking out withdrawals, your bank account will dwindle and soon you’ll be broke. So it is with a relationship. If all you do is take, and never give, you’ll deplete your partner’s “emotional bank account.”

The solution is to make regular deposits. Random and unexpected acts of kindness and love.

Bring her flowers. Not on her birthday or Valentines day. Do it on a Tuesday, when she gets home from work. Just because you love her.

Surprise him when he gets home by taking him to his favorite sports pub. Then hit the movies, where you bought tickets to the latest super-hero movie (even though you hate super-hero movies).

I talk about this idea, and more broadly about the “bank account of human dignity” in the following blog post:

The point is, it can’t just be about you in a relationship. You need to make deposits in that emotional bank account. Because sooner or later you’ll anger or disappoint your partner, and it’s good to have investments to soften the blow.


Who holds the most power?

Healthy and strong relationships are a partnership. Each person brings positive qualities and contributions to the relationship.

Unfortunately, some relationships can become lopsided. One person ends up driving the relationship more than the other.

The late Dr. Gordon Livingston was a psychiatrist and author of several books, including the excellent, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now.

Chapter five of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart is titled:

“Any relationship is under control of the person who cares the least.”

Who do you think controls this relationship?

I have witnessed this reality in my 26 year police career, responding to domestic violence calls.

When one person gives up on a relationship, it’s nearly impossible for the other person to turn things around. The one who cares the least has all the power.

How do couples avoid this from happening?


I need to talk with you

You know how sometimes you can tell that she’s mad at you, but you’re not sure why? She’s just a tad distant and snippy.

So what do you do? You play this game of tit for tat. You give her a bit of the silent treatment. Or perhaps you do something that will annoy her.

How stupid is that? Why not walk right up to her and say, “Hey, what’s wrong?” Communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship.

For some reason, our emotions get the best of us and we avoid honest and direct conversation. Maybe we’re worried that asking tough questions will invite an argument. But in reality, letting things fester is far worse.

Little, unattended resentments grow over time, like a spreading cancer. Before long, the relationship is in stage four trouble. The only solution is preventative medicine. And that means having the courage to speak up at the first sign of trouble.

Like it or not, adversity is part of all relationships. Disagreements and challenges will intrude, sooner or later, in each of our relationships.

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
— Epicurus

Happiness in our relationships is not a constant state of being. It comes and goes. Perhaps that’s what makes happiness so wonderful. If we felt it all the time, it wouldn’t be as special.

So, for the times when adversity strikes, have the courage to face it. Don’t be afraid or procrastinate when it comes to difficult conversations. The sooner you address the issues, the faster you can fix them.


The gift of validation

A lot of guys are terrible at this one. We tend to approach problems with logic instead of our hearts. When our partners are pouring out feelings and emotional struggles, they don’t want logical solutions.

All they want is our empathy. Our understanding. Our non-judgmental listening, hugs and, “Poor baby, I can see why you feel that way.”

Why is it so hard for us to simply acknowledge what another is feeling? Why must be always try to fix everything?

The gift of validation is that you recognize and acknowledge what your partner is feeling. Even if you think they are wrong to feel the way they do, it’s not your emotion to comment on. It belongs to them.

Give the gift of validation. Let him or her take the time to talk about how they feel, without solutions or judgement from you. By doing so, they’ll trust you more. Later on, they’ll be more open to your suggestions and solutions.


Stop trying to change your partner

Your spouse is not you, so why do you keep trying to make him/her act like you? We are all individuals, with our own tastes, likes, habits and orientations.

When we fall in love, we are enamored with the uniqueness of our partner. If we were identical, that would be boring.

But for some reason, as relationships march on and the novelty of newness wanes, we change. We stop admiring the uniqueness of our partner and demand compliance with our way of doing things.

This is crazy. By adulthood, people are largely formed. Yes, they can adopt new habits and improve themselves, but the motivation for this must come from within.

Nagging and negative pressure rarely work for the long haul. You may gain temporary compliance, but it can breed resentment.

Positive reinforcement and coming from a loving place is more desirable. Gentle encouragement and honest, open communication go much further than hectoring and nagging.

Yes, sometimes relationships confront a crisis. Maybe his drinking has gotten out of hand, and you have to lay everything on the line. “Get help,” you’ll tell him, or you’re gone.

Sometimes an ultimatum can work, if it comes from a loving and honest place. “I love you, darling, but I can’t tolerate your drug addiction anymore. Let’s get you help. Otherwise, it’s unhealthy for me to continue this way.” That’s an honest, loving statement. It’s more likely to work than endless nagging and yelling.

Of course, in the end, we must always take care of ourselves. If the relationship turns abusive, or our partner is lost in addiction, it’s unhealthy for us to endure such challenges.

Sometimes our exit can force our partner to face the truth of his/her problem. Sometimes not, but at least we protect ourselves from a dysfunctional, destructive relationship.

However, for the day to day struggles of relationships, we must stop trying to change our partners. His musical tastes are different than yours. Your favorite sport is different than his. He likes a firm bed, you like a soft one. So what? Variety is the spice of life.

Still, if something your partner does really bugs you, what do you do?


Embrace the power of compromise

So many disagreements in life can be ameliorated with compromise. Yet, for some reason, we have such a hard time doing it.

Perhaps it stems back to childhood, when we are more fragile and selfish? Some people seem to endlessly battle everything. Their bosses, the morning traffic, sales persons. Everywhere they turn, they have a complaint. They feel put upon and wronged.

Such people lack resilience, and view everyone and everything around them as wrong. They never stop to consider that maybe, the problem lies with them. They are blind to the fact that they are too demanding, unforgiving and incapable of compromise.

And so they go through life miserable. What a terrible way to live. The reality is that none of us get our way all the time. That’s just part of life. However, through open and fair negotiation, we can reach compromises.

“I simply do not think that yelling, swearing, threatening or belittling will get you to the place you want to be faster than kindness, understanding, patience and a little willingness to compromise.” — Rachel Nichols

The beauty of compromise is that we all can get a portion of what we want. That’s called a win/win, and it’s the only sane way to navigate life. And especially your relationship.

If you want to avoid divorce and keep those embers of love glowing, learn to embrace compromise.


Don’t hold on too tight

Freedom to be ourselves is an important thing. Each of us develop our own styles, interests, likes and way of being. Nothing is more stifling than to be in a relationship with someone who denies us our individuality.

Insecure people have a hard time with uncertainty. They feel the need to control everything, including their partners. They hold on too tight.

This is unfortunate, because no one likes being controlled by another. Healthy relationships must allow for one another’s individuality. Two people should complement one another, not control one another.

Possessiveness is yet another manifestation of insecurity. We can never “own” or “control” another person, nor should we try to. We should simply love and respect them.

“Relationships-of all kinds-are like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto some of it, but most will be spilled. A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.”
 — Kaleel Jamison

Forgiveness

We all have some grievances in life to which we are entitled. The question is, what do we do with them?

Some people are endless scorekeepers, always blaming people and institutions for all their woes. As Dr. Gordon Livingston wrote:

“We live in a culture in which the sense of being wronged is pervasive. If every misfortune can be blamed on someone else, we are relived of the difficult task of examining our own contributory behavior or just accepting the reality that life is and has been full of adversity.”

Once we accept that people (including ourselves) are not perfect, we can learn the power of forgiveness. The ability to let go of the hurt, anger and pain frees us. As Dr. Gordon Livingston notes:

“Widely confused with forgetting or reconciliation, forgiveness is neither. It is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves. It exists, as does all true healing, at the intersection of love and justice.”

Learn to forgive others, especially your spouse. Most importantly, learn to forgive yourself. Doing so will help insulate you against divorce, and the unhealthy effects on buried anger.

Sometimes you can do everything right, and your spouse chooses to end the relationship anyway. As with so many things in life, control is illusory. Never the less, the joys of a healthy, loving relationship are many.

Invest in that emotional bank account, share equal power, communicate, validate, stop nagging, compromise, don’t hold on too tight, and most importantly, forgive.

Do these things, and you stand a good chance of enjoying a lifelong, fulfilling and loving marriage. Best of luck!

Life – Lessons That Will Make You Successful

29 Life-Changing Lessons That Will Make You Successful And More Strategic

There is this myth that mentors are people you have to know and see. That it is some official designation to seek out. I’ve never met Tyler Cowen, the bestselling author, economist and thinker. We’ve never spoken on the phone. Our longest email conversation might have been three sentences. Yet he has been one of the most significant influences in the education and evolution of my life. By every definition, he’s been what you would call a mentor.

Lately, I’ve been trying to write about all the ways people have helped me. It’s been an exercise in gratitude but also articulation — in writing it down, I am remembering it and codifying it so I never forget the lessons. Below are just some of the things I’ve learned from this polymathic professor of economics, voracious reader and contrarian philosopher. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet him one day (I hope I am) but even if you don’t, he can still be your mentor.

Below are 29 lessons I learned from Tyler over the last 10 years. Hope you gain from them as much as I have.


1. See Yourself Afresh — This is one of my favorite quotes from Tyler: “Treat yourself like a piece of your writing which you set aside for a week so you could look at it fresh.”

2. Being Curious Is a Career — It was crazy to me at first that Tyler got to do what he did for a living: write blog posts, read books, have ideas. That’s what I wanted to do. I think the way you get paid to do that is by making that curiosity valuable to other people: Tyler blogs every day and his links and questions help people do their jobs, his books propose provocative big ideashis podcast is entertaining and important. You can’t just nerd out — there has to be value creation

3. Complacency Is the Enemy — Tyler’s newest book (which is awesome) is about all the ways that society has become complacent. We accept the status quo, we don’t want to disrupt it. People move less, change careers less, change their minds less, live in less diverse places, riot less than they used to. I’ve done most of those things in my life (except the last one), it’s how you keep things interesting and find opportunities. Point being: Don’t worry as much about disruption and chaos — it might simply mean interesting things are happening — fear stability and complacency because it means decay.

4. Seek Out Quake Books — When I was 19 or 20, Tyler talked to me about the concept of “quake books” — books that shake you to your core. As he wrote in his 2007 email to me: “I would more likely intensively engage with some important book totally full of new ideas. Hayek. Parfit. Plato. And so on. There just aren’t books like that left for me anymore. So I read many more, to learn bits, but haven’t in years experienced a ‘view quake.’ That is sad, to me at least, but I don’t know how to avoid how that has turned out. So enjoy your best reading years while you can!”

5. What’s the Cost of This Fight? — There is a line in one of Tyler’s books where he talks about fighting with a spouse over a couch (or something like that). He says that maybe you like your idea 20% more than her/his idea, so you fight and win. Now you’re a little bit happier. But what did that victory cost you in terms of an unhappy spouse? Is it worth more or less than how much you value your opinion over the couch? I never would have thought about it that way — I can’t tell you how many arguments this has saved me. (The answer is ‘not enough.’)

6. Expectations Are the Enemy in (Long Distance) Relationships — I was in a long distance relationship in 2006 when I read Tyler’s post on them. It was another brilliant perspective that helped me relax and made things better. I ended up marrying that girl a decade later. Thanks Tyler!

7. Know What is Scarce — “In today’s global economy here is what is scarce: 1. Quality land and natural resources 2. Intellectual property, or good ideas about what should be produced. 3. Quality labor with unique skills.” I framed the longer passage this line is from and I have it above my desk as a daily reminder. It comes from Average is Over — another absolutely amazing book.

8. To Speed Read, Read A Lot — How do you become a better and more prolific reader? I’ll let Tyler tell you: “The best way to read quickly is to read lots. And lots. And to have started a long time ago. Then maybe you know what is coming in the current book. Reading quickly is often, in a margin-relevant way, close to not reading much at all.”

9. Knowledge Compounds — I think what he’s also saying there is that the value of reading compounds over time. Reading more makes you a better and faster reader, learning about stuff makes it easier and faster for you to learn more.

10. Your Life Is Not a Story — Tyler has observed that most people describe their lives as stories and journeys. But giving in to this temptation can be dangerous. Narratives often lead to an overly simplistic understanding of events, causes, and effects — and, often, to arrogance.

11. Move to Texas — In 2013, Tyler wrote a Time cover story about why everyone was moving to Texas. That’s not quite why I moved to Austin but it didn’t hurt.

12. When Traveling, Pretend You’re A Thief — I like his trick when visiting museums: Pretend you’re a thief who is casing the joint. It changes how you perceive and remember the art. Try it.

13. Just Go — Another travel tip from Tyler: “My main tip is simply: “Go, go go!” Go. People have a status quo bias when they make decisions and they don’t take enough chances.”

14. Read However You Want — People are amazed at how much Tyler reads (it’s a lot) but they miss that he has his own set of rules for doing it. He skips around. He quits books he doesn’t like. He might read a novel from only the perspective of one of the characters. He’ll ruin the ending. He just does whatever — and so you should you. This isn’t for a test. It’s for your own enjoyment (he does the same with movies apparently).

15. Be a Good (But Quiet) Family Man — Even though Tyler talks about all sorts of parenting stuff in his books, it really never occurred to me that he had kids until I heard him mention something about it on his podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about his wife. I have a lot of respect for people who have families…but don’t parade them around like some trophy. He has a family, it’s important to him, but that’s his business. It’s how I try to live my life too.

16. Really Understand Other People’s Work — What you’ll hear when you listen to Tyler’s podcast is just how deeply he has set out to understand the work of the person he’s talking to. I think in some ways he understands the arc of the person’s career better than they do. This is a special skill. It requires getting out of your own head and actually thinking about someone else (that’s not something podcasts are known for…).

17. Read Eclectically — Another reading rule: Check out a couple of these most recent “What I’m Reading” posts from Tyler. Look at how diverse the subject matter is. Books about far right politics in Europe, the diary of a Stalin ambassador, histories of the Irish border, a book on the quartet of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Jay, and James Madison, one right after another.

18. Money Can Sap Motivation — In Discover Your Inner Economist, Tyler writes about how he tried to incentivize his step-daughter to do the dishes so he resorted to paying her, which got her to wash them — but it worked only for a week. “I knew this could happen. I understood that there is such a thing as intrinsic motivation and that if you pay people, you might weaken that. What I didn’t really get was the control issue. That when you start paying people to do a thing, they often see it as control.” (The story has a happy ending: She started washing the dishes for free after reading the book.)

19. Order Weird Stuff on the Menu — If the weird thing wasn’t good, goes his logic, the chef probably wouldn’t have been allowed to put it on there. Sure — I’ll buy it.

20. Don’t Be Afraid to Have a Partner — Tyler’s site, Marginal Revolution, has a co-writer named Alex Tabarrok. He’s the unsung hero of that site and many of his articles are longtime favorites of mine. You don’t have to do everything yourself. In fact, you should have intellectual and creative partners. It’s powerful.

21. Write The Opposing View — It’s not just enough to think about how other people might think. One of his more recent opinion pieces shows how far Tyler is willing to go when it comes to empathy: He suggests actually writing — as if it’s you — an article with someone else’s opinion. See if you can explain why Trump is doing this or that, or why your parents believe this or that. Feel those words coming through your fingers — do you understand them better? Are things less contentious? I love this idea.

22. How to Thoughtfully Disagree — I’ve read a lot of Tyler Cowen writing over the years. Tyler is smart, opinionated and contrarian. It occurs to me there is one thing I’ve never seen from Tyler: contemptuous dismissal of anyone else. That’s something I know I need to work on. I take things too seriously, I condescend, I speak with undeserved certainty. Meanwhile, Tyler entertains basically everything. He’s friendly even when he disagrees. He’s open-minded. It’s a great model for any aspiring thinker.

23. Think Rationally, Not Emotionally — Two interesting posts from Tyler stand out to me, both about Peter Thiel. One was after the Gawker lawsuit, where Tyler stripped the emotion out of the debate and just looked at how third party funding works and how common it is. Two, after Peter’s controversial comments in the New York Times about whether there is “too little” or “too much” corruption, Tyler actually tried to figure out what the guy was talking about (it’s actually kind of interesting). Point being: Don’t get caught up in outrage or emotions, earnestly try to figure stuff out.

24. Cultivate Young Smart People — Like I said, I don’t know Tyler, but he’s nice enough to occasionally answer my emails. I know he answers emails from people like Ben Casnocha and Cal Newport and I’m sure there are hundreds — if not thousands — of young people he’s helped over the years (students or otherwise). He doesn’t need to do this but he does. It’s paying it forward.

25. Watch One TV Show at a Time — Tyler has a great rule about not watching more than one big TV series at a time.

26. Don’t Offer to Work for Free — From Average is Over: “It doesn’t matter how flexible the wage is in the more complex, less brute force jobs. A manual worker who just shows up at your door is probably not someone you want to hire unless it is already part of a preexisting business plan with broad buy-in from your enterprise and your creditors. The worker might say, “I’ll lower my wage demands by thirty percent!” or, “I’ll work for nothing!” It usually won’t matter. The sad reality is that many of these workers you don’t want at all, even if the business plan involves additional labor. Some workers simply aren’t worth the trouble unless the demand for extra labor is truly pressing.”

27. Command Your Audience — I’ve become addicted to Tyler’s podcast. Aside from the conversations, a secondary pleasure is his command over the audience (‘I will cut you off.’ ‘We will be out of this room by 5pm.’) and his very specific questions. His confidence and directness was not something I expected to hear, but it’s impressive. I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve been to where I wished for someone like that.

28. For Good Food, Go to The Suburbs — As Tyler writes in his rules for dining out, “I love exploring the suburbs for first-rate ethnic food. Many people consider suburbs a cultural wasteland, but I am very happy searching for food in Orange County, California; the area near San Jose; Northern Virginia, near D.C.; Somerville, Massachusetts; and so on. I don’t always pre-Google to find the best place, and I don’t keep tapping on my iPhone. I drive around and keep my eyes open for dining establishments likely to follow the economic rules for good, innovative, and affordable food.”

29. Ask: Do Your Actions Match Your Beliefs? — The Tyler post that has me thinking the most lately is something he said after the election of Donald Trump. A good portion of the country thought Trump was dangerously unfit for office and would enact terrible, destructive policies…yet the markets have steadily gone up. Why don’t we see more people acting on these beliefs? Why aren’t there more short sellers in the market? More doomsday preparations? His point: People love to talk but rarely match their actions with their beliefs. This is both a contradiction or a potential market opportunity. It’s made me re-examine my actions in regards to both.

I could keep going but it might start to seem weird. Besides, the other thing I’ve learned from Tyler is this: keep it short. Almost all his blog posts are pithy — sometimes just a few sentences long. Even his opinion pieces are tight and to the point. So I’ll end it here. If you want to learn from Tyler, go read his stuff. He’s the best.

The Right Way to Restore a Relationship

The Right Way to Restore a Relationship (lessons from 15 years of burning bridges)

I’ve burned a lot of bridges.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve burned a lot of bridges.

I’ve done a lot of hurtful things, said hurtful stuff, and was a complete asshole to many people I loved, who loved me back and deserved better. I have to live with that for the rest of my life.

At times, I still marvel at how stupid I was. How conceited and profoundly self-absorbed I was. And how I didn’t even see it.

But in the process, I’ve learned how to restore those relationships (some of them, at least. Some people still won’t talk to me).

Years of a severe pornography addiction left me frozen as an immature, whiny brat who would never take responsibility for his actions. It took 5 years of gut-wrenching therapy and brutally honest sponsors in 12-step programs to learn how to truly apologize and restore relationships I broke.

That’s what this post is about: how to restore broken relationships that were broken by you.

Because whether I like it or not, I have major experience with that.

It’s Your Fault. Shut Up and Admit It.

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe

When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:

Always make the first move.

The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you want them to).

A lot of people have shallow, even ruined relationships. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize. This is a pride thing; it’s a weakness, and it destroys relationships.

If you want to restore a broken relationship into an incredible one…make the first move.

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

I can’t forget a certain day in 3rd grade. It was during recess.

There was this girl Sandra in my class. She was nice. Both of us were trying to grab one of the few soccer balls from the ball barrel, and I remember accidentally tripping her as I grabbed one.

She fell on the floor. Angry tears welled up in her eyes. I can still remember the look of shock and humiliation on her face.

I should’ve said I was sorry.

I should’ve helped her up. I probably should’ve given her the ball, too.

But I didn’t. I just ran off, leaving her on the floor.

After recess, Mrs. Salinas pulled me and Sandra outside.

Anthony, did you push Sandra onto the floor at recess?” she demanded in disbelief.

I denied it. It wasn’t my fault, I reasoned. It was an “accident.” I didn’t meanto! I wasn’t willing to take responsibility.

Mrs. Salinas forced me to apologize.

Sandra never talked to me again.

Here’s a lesson that took several dozen times to finally stick:

If you did something wrong, shut up and admit it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame someone else. Even if it was an accident — even if you didn’t mean to — that doesn’t matter. If you want to restore a broken relationships, be the first to own what you did.

Otherwise, your relationships will always be strained and mediocre.

The Most Important Lesson About Relationships I Learned From a 12-Step Program

The day after I quit my corporate job before I left to teach English overseas, I published an article that would eventually destroy every relationship I had with all my old colleagues.

It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. Frankly, it still haunts me sometimes, because many people are still hurt by what I said. Some people still aren’t willing to speak to me.

Basically, I wrote an article condemning 9–5 jobs and essentially called all my old coworkers a bunch of cowards for wasting their life in corporate America. In efforts to be “gritty” and authentic, I was actually just an asshole.

I wouldn’t find out until months later that my entire department read it (what did I think would happen?). I naively emailed my old boss one day from overseas saying hello. I was shocked at her scathing response, informing me neither her nor anyone else wanted anything to do with me, and how much I had hurt them with my words.

There is only one response you can make in this situation. And this still doesn’t guarantee anything.

Make amends.

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

I’d never used that phrase until I got into recovery and counseling. Essentially, making amends is a way to take ownership for wrong you’ve done in hopes of reconciliation.

Making amends has a few parts:

1. Write down exactly what you did wrong, and to whom

2. Write down why it was wrong (be specific)

3. Take complete ownership for the hurt you caused

4. Tell the hurt person everything you wrote down in a sincere apology (if appropriate)

The only way I was ever going to hope to restore anything with my old coworkers was to make individual, direct amends with anyone still willing to listen (some still aren’t).

So that’s what I did. I told my boss how awful my article was, and why (it was demeaning, hurtful, and profoundly ungrateful). I didn’t make any excuses — I owned the entire screwup.

Miraculously, months later she ended up forgiving me.

Of course, things can never go back to the way they were. There’s still a divide of hurt that probably won’t ever go away.

When you hurt someone like this, you have to “take care of your side of the street.” Do everything you can to make things right.

Making Amends is the Single Best Way to Restore a Broken Relationship

I’ve gone through the process of making amends more times than I can remember:

  • To my childhood friends for gossiping about them
  • To my old writing hero for accidental plagiarizing their work
  • To my best friend for not giving him credit for his ideas
  • To my old girlfriend for liking another girl while I was still dating her
  • To my cousin for constantly ditching him for my friends

I could write dozens more. Goes to show all the hurt I’ve caused, even if it was unintentional.

But miraculously, I’ve restored many of these relationships, through making amends.

Making amends is the single best way to restore broken relationships. It’s one of the most mature, adult actions you can possibly take.

I know I’m going to hurt people down the road, however unintentional. I’m not perfect.

But I can always make proper amends: realize what I did, why it was wrong, and communicate how sorry I am.

In Conclusion

“We can never flee the misery that is within us.” -Arthur Golden

The simple truth is, most people won’t have great relationships.

When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:

Always make the first move.

The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you don’t want to).

Many people have several strained, even broken relationships with family and friends. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize.

If you want to restore a relationship and experience a deep, meaningful bond with that person, make the first move — even if it should be them. Be the first to:

  • Initiate the conversation
  • Send the first text
  • Say you miss them
  • Say you love them
  • Apologize and ask for forgiveness
  • Organize a hangout
  • Compliment them
  • Thank them
  • Tell them you appreciate what they did

There’s no reason to not restore a broken relationship if it’s in your power to do so.

What If Your First Love Didn’t Work?

What If Your First Love Didn’t Work?

Nothing is predictable…not even ‘Life’!

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Unsplash

Ihave often seen people wonder the need to take another chance at love after suffering an episode of a major heartbreak or a backstab!

Such people are either too afraid to even try out something again. Or too apprehensive and skeptic.

It is to them I want to reach out!

One bad life experience can’t make you conclude that life is fucked!

God has no enmity with you, remember that.

Each one of us is his special child.

‘To experience joy, you have to feel pain.’ Keeping this in mind know that nothing great will ever come without a hefty input of effort.

‘Love’ can be the best effort you give to make someone in your life feel special. It can be a defining point in your life when you might suddenly decode the reason of your being- the true essence of youth!

It might present to you the perfect reason why you should love- once again- an yet again!

Love doesn’t come with a warranty card- There’s nothing certain about it.

Don’t fall in love with the concept of ‘Permanency’ in your mind.

‘Love’ is as unpredictable as ‘Life’ itself!!

It is boundless, and best described as an adventure for those who can make the best out of it.

Of course, you might be less willing after a decent try or two. But in those sharp edges you will find something smooth that you will keep in your memory and treasure for the rest of your life!

All I want to say aloud is just that…Love as much as you can.

If Love was the reason why you are broke today, Love shall be the only solution going to help you out too!

The Only 3 Things I Need In A Partner

The Only 3 Things I Need In A Partner

My list is short. But also non-negotiable.

Love is not as complicated as we make it out to be

Too often, we make finding a partner about finding someone who meets a check list of criteria — most of which doesn’t even matter when it comes to a meaningful relationship.

We’re create demands to distract ourselves from the real work of discerning what’s important.

And I’m not going to tell you what you should want; I’m only suggesting that we define it better. Sometimes people get hung up on things that don’t really matter in love. They forget that in order to prioritize one thing, you have to de-emphasize others. If you try to shoot for “everything,” you end up with nothing.

#1 for EVERYONE: Emotional Maturity

Self-sufficiency. Emotional health and stability. Responsibility. Grace.

Without it, there’s effectively no relationship.
And with it, everything else will follow suit.

This isn’t just number one on my own list, it’s the most important thing in anyrelationship, and a responsibility that falls on both partners.

Mark Manson calls it,

“People who manage their insecurities well”

and,

“The ability to see one’s own flaws and be accountable for them.”

Karen Salmansohn called it

“good character values”

i.e., “not a psychopath.”

Anna Faris describes meeting husband Chris Pratt similarly, saying,

“The most striking thing about him was that he knew how to be happy.”

She had previously accepted “cynicism, discontent, and anger” in others, but with Chris she realized that the opposite made her happier.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits uses the term “emotionally self-reliant,” saying,

“We look for happiness from others, but this is an unreliable source of happiness… And here’s the thing: it’s not their job to fill our emotional needs.”

Zaid Dahhaj describes emotional self-sufficiency as “your relationship with yourself,” saying,

“If you do not love yourself entirely and actively ensure your own needs are met, you will find it difficult to do the same for others.”

And when we talk about “actively ensuring your own needs are met,” we do not mean “actively asking others to meet them” —we cannot ask others to manage our feelings of insecurity, jealousy, anxiety, fear, anger, toxicity, defensiveness; these are first ours to handle.

Being able to perceive situations with clarity, understand what we need, take responsibility for our own mistakes, and communicate fairly is what makes us a mature adult.

Emotional health means both partners work to meet their needs themselves.

The other 2 things I want and need…

I like the simplicity of “trifectas” — with “tall, dark and handsome” being the classic (albeit bad) example — and when it comes to my own, it’s this:

“emotional stability, friendship and critical thought.”

#2: Friendship and Understanding

I yearn for these in love.

I wanted someone who was pickin up what I’m puttin down and makes me laugh just as often — an inside joke or two, total bonus. I wanted comfort and ease and play; someone who“gets me” in my mentally “pajama’d” state, my thoughts sprawled out and talking nonsense at the ceiling. I wanted laughter and warmth, the tie loosened at the end of the day and the little adorable marbled bits of being a human rolling loosely on our hardwood floors.

#3: Critical Thinking

Too often people bastardize the idea of “smart” as “knowing a lot of facts,” “being good at trivia,” “having an advanced degree,” or “working a big job.”

But real intelligence isn’t about what you know. It’s how you think. It’s problem solving —figuring out the answer, not remembering it. It’s being handed a spaghetti problem and massaging a reasonable solution out of it.


My current partner has all three in spades — and makes me very happy.

Nothing else matters

We lose focus so easily.

We find someone and then want them to be “everyone,” a perfect package smattering of all the best qualities, many of which contradict each other at their core. Or we find someone and then tack on a bunch of extra qualities that just cloud things up, dumping ketchup on our steak or adding every. single. topping. to our ice cream. It doesn’t work — it just ruins things, not least of which is our perspective of our partner, who is, at the end of the day, just another human being.

Keep it simple, and focused.

Rules for Relationships

By Dr. Perry, PhD

 


“An eye for an eye will only make the world blind” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Arguments and relationships go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. Unfortunately, arguments are not as sweet as jelly and don’t go over as smooth as peanut butter. When we argue with our loved ones, it is important to remember that it’s not necessary to deliver a knock out blow. Think of the argument as a heart to heart conversation and not a bare-knuckle showdown.

Here are some simple steps to remember when arguing:

1. Pause
Before you engage in an argument with your loved one, take a moment to reflect on your feelings. Ask yourself, “Why are you upset?” Are you really upset because he or she was late or could it be your partner has not been giving you enough attention? It is important to know why you are upset so you can communicate this clearly.

2. Discuss one issue at a time 
Once you clarify your feelings you can begin to discuss why you are upset. Many times in the heat of the moment we bring up past digressions and end up arguing about something else entirely except the matter at hand. Try to keep the argument about the current disconnect by remembering to discuss one issue at a time.

3. No degrading language
Discuss the issue, not the person. All attempts must be made to keep the conversation civil. It is important to avoid name calling, swearing or put-downs. Keep in mind that negative words are a manifestation of negative feelings. There is never a good enough reason to call your partner a derogatory name. There are unpardonable words that can leave a partner feeling emotionally scarred making it harder for them to receive your love. Remember, this is someone you love and you really do not want to hurt them.

4. Express yourself
Use words to express how you feel and take responsibility for those feelings. Start your statements with ” I.” I feel angry. I feel hurt. By starting statements with “I” you are able to connect with your words with your emotions. Avoid using statements beginning with “You.” Statements starting with “You” tend to make the other person feel attacked which often leads them to shut down emotionally.

5. Take turns talking 
It is important to take turns speaking. Once you have had your turn, it is important to listen to what your partner has to say. If this is difficult, use a timer and a set amount of time for each person to speak. You can also designate an item to use like a talking stick. Whoever holds the item can speak. Just make sure you remember to pass the item! The talking stick method has been used for hundreds of years by indigenous people. The “Talking stick” can be any object.

6. Knock down the walls
Stonewalling is the refusal to communicate or express emotions. It is very common during conflicts. People often do this when they want to avoid an uncomfortable conversation or prefer not to engage in an emotional discussion that may lead to a fight. Stonewalling can include a refusal to discuss feelings or walking out of a conversation. When you are both in a “sober emotional state,” make a pact with one another that you will not stonewall and will engage in a meaningful discussion no matter how challenging it may be. If one of you feels the issue warrants a discussion, the other person must respect the request by engaging and listening.

7. No Yelling
It may feel great to unleash your frustration on your partner by yelling at them, but many times this only adds fuel to the fire. When a person is yelled at, they tend to yell back in self-defense. This often results in an escalation of self-defensive responses from both parties. Yelling typically results in further alienation and frustration. Sometimes, a partner will not engage in the yelling but will passively accept the treatment. This only leads to fostering resentment by the person being yelled at. Remember, remain calm and use words to make your point, not volume.

8. Take a timeout
In a perfect world, we would all be able to communicate effectively with each other and have no need for rules. You are not expected to print up this page and follow each step while you are arguing. This is not a script for the perfect fight. In the real world, voices will be raised and perhaps a few hurtful words will be used. When you feel that the temperature is rising, take a time out until both parties cool off. Agree on a time to continue the conversation. It is important to agree on another meeting to continue the discussion so one or both parties do not attempt to stonewall.

9. Compromise 
If you reach an impasse in the argument, try to come to a compromise. If you can’t reach a compromise then agree to disagree. Try to understand each other’s point of view. Discussing and attempting to understand will help soothe negative feelings. Communication is one of the strongest pillars of the house of love, so it is important to reinforce and strengthen this skill whenever possible. Good luck! If you found this post helpful please don’t forget to like, comment and share!

Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Mood And Your Life (Stop Doing These)

Photo by Tina Rolf on Unsplash

12 Common Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Mood And Your Life (Stop Doing These)

I mean, come on … you deserve better than this.


“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” — A Bronx Tale

Self-sabotage is a helluva drug. You can’t get high from it, but it willbring you down. It’s generally an addiction we don’t recognize until it’s far too late — we lose a job, napalm a relationship, run into trouble with the law, find ourselves hospitalized, run out of Doctor Who episodes to binge-watch.

It’s a low-grade chronic illness that can, if you’re not careful, bloom into something more sinister: 18.1% of Americans have some kind of Anxiety Disorder. (I’m in that 18.1%.) 6.7% of Americans have had a major depressive episode. (I’m also in that 6.7%.) It can be very challenging to see the signs, get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment, and follow through. That’s not to say you’re at fault if you fall into one (or both) of those buckets — clinical anxiety and depression are often caused by something outside the locus of your control.

What’s vital, though, whether you battle clinical mental health challenges or you’re just not optimally satisfied with your life, or you’re just feeling blue or experiencing existential dread a bit more regularly and seriously than you’d like, is to do the following: Take ownership of your happiness. Or, as much ownership as you can. (You do not control your mood 100%, I cannot stress this enough.) You owe it to yourself to wrestle back command of how you think and how you feel. The world is shitty enough — you don’t need to help it along by compounding it with boneheaded life choices.

So, consider the following listicle (hell yeah, clickbait!) to be a quick checklist. A sort of “mood troubleshooter.” I’ve arranged these sabotaging patterns in order from easiest to most challenging to un-break, just like you would when diagnosing the causes of a broke-down vehicle or a busted laptop (you typically start with “turn the computer off, then turn it on again” as a first-line treatment for PC issues, and venture into more complex solutions from there).

The human brain is a machine. It requires diagnostics, maintenance and repairs. I’ll even walk you through what I do to keep myself feeling somewhat better than profoundly miserable. This is no substitute for qualified medical or psychiatric care, but treating these 12 common challenges may keep your brain out of the “shop” for a while. Let’s go.


1. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Feeling sluggish? Feeling a little down? Perhaps you should try water — the original miracle elixir. Dehydration has been shown to have negative impact on short-term memory and attentionmood, cognitive and motor skills. How much should you drink? Probably more than you currently are. Estimates range that between 43% — 75% of Americans don’t drink enough of it.

My solution: I have a 1.5L bottle that I fill with water — once in the morning, and once after lunch. That’s 3L, or roughly 12 glasses. That’s plenty, and more polite than hogging the drinking fountain for several minutes at a time.


2. You’re Surrounded By Clutter

Does your desk look like an Office Depot stock room? Does your place look like it’s been hit by an F4 Tornado? Does your car look like you’ve been on tour with a jam band for the summer? Guess what: It’s probably stressing you out. Clutter overwhelms us with visual stimuli, distracts us, causes us feelings of guilt and shame, makes it difficult to relax, and makes it hard for us to find what we need to satisfy our needs at any given point. (You know this if you’ve ever tried in vain to find your keys or remote.) Plus, you know … who’s going to want to come back to your place when it looks like you live in squalor.

My solution: I clean my condo for 20 minutes per day in the morning. I clean my desk every Friday before I leave for the weekend. I wash and clean my car for 20 minutes on Saturday mornings, and then I deep clean my condo for 50 minutes right after.


3. You’re Not Getting Enough Sun

Humans are solar powered. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, and it’s in the DSM-5. The sun provides valuable vitamin D that prevents it. Natural light increases serotonin and melatonin, which helps aid your circadian rhythm and increases the quality and quantity of your sleep. Plus, you could probably use a little color before you hit the beach this summer, Chad. And you don’t need a ton of natural light, either. 10–15 consecutive minutes will do just fine!

My solution: I live in Austin, Texas. It’s located a mere three highway interchanges down from the actual sun. So every morning, I go outside and get my sunlight in by … oh … let’s not spoil #4. (Most people I know just wake up and walk their dog. Or cat. Or llama. That’s enough.)


4. You’re Not Moving Enough

When you’re stressed and anxious and miserable, the last thing you want to do is walk into a room full of beautiful people, hit the row machine, and wheeze through 30 minutes on an elliptical while the Advocare crew lovingly cheers each other on at the TRX. I get it. I wrote about how hard that can be. That said, holy shit, is exercise a high-ROI way to supercharge your brain in both the short-term and long-term. Exercise has been shown to improve (deep breath here): memory, mood, inflammation, structural brain health, sleep, anxiety, stress, brain size, cognition, learning ability.

My solution: I have a really sick Spotify playlist with like 150 songs. Every morning, I put that shit on shuffle, run for five songs, turn around and walk back. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym on my way back, but let’s not get carried away.

(UPDATE: Here is that playlist.)


5. You’re Not Having Enough Fun

Social isolation is the express lane to things like agoraphobia, depression and alcoholism, pain, chronic fatigue and poor health. Somewhat unrelated: always keeping yourself on the straight and narrow causes ego depletion — the fancy term for sapping up all your willpower and discipline — which causes you to lose your self control later. And, finally, looking forward to something has been shown to improve mood and impulse control. All of these things can be treated with regularly-scheduled, metered doses of what the scientists like to call “fun.”

My solution: On Mondays of every week, I schedule dates — either friend-dates or more-than-friend-dates —for every Thursday evening and for Saturdays after I’m done with my chores. I try to hike or golf with a friend every Sunday morning. After any vacation I take, I immediately schedule another one to look forward to. I get that this shit isn’t workable for everyone. Also: if you can have (enthusiastically consensual) sex, you should — as often and as kinkily as possible.


6. You’re Not Eating Enough Plants

Look, your mom’s been telling you “eat your vegetables” since before kale and acai bowls became trendy. In addition to living longer and healthier lives, herbivores tend to suffer from less depression, anxiety and fatigue. They’re less sluggish, too, because they’re not consuming big-ass sugar-bomb, carb-bomb meals that divert energy to the GI tract, and away from your brain — where you could be using it to be productive for once in your goddamned life.

My solution: My breakfast, every morning, is juice. My dinner, every night (if I am eating alone), is a salad.

Sidenote: My baseline diet largely consists of: mushroom, squash, spinach, avocado, banana, lemon, blueberry, tomato, chia seed, hemp seed, black beans, chickpeas, almonds, pistachios, salmon, tuna, shrimp, scallop, feta, pecorino, olive oil, coconut oil, garlic, honey, basil, eggs, mint, cilantro, dill, rosemary, turmeric, salt, and pepper. You would be shocked how many combinations of foods and cuisines you can make with just those things.


7. You’re On Your Smartphone Too Much

The data is out. Our phones are making us miserable. All that time you spend scrolling your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds wondering why all your friends have beautiful kids and Nantucket vacations while you’re binge-eating pizza and bemoaning your stupid-ass coach’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-9? It’s lowering your life satisfaction. Unless you’re using each platform to truly connect one-on-one with people and build real-world friendships, they aren’t helping. Plus, the world’s a grease-fire right now, and engulfing yourself in negative news is making you mentally ill. Plus, your smartphone emits that dreaded blue light that disrupts your sleep patterns.

My solution: I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone. I also put away my phone after 10 on weeknights, unless I’m texting or talking to someone important. I also sometimes throw my phone into a lake or drop it from a balcony.


8. You’re Drinking Too Much Booze

Drinking is dope AF. I love it. It’s a social lubricant, temporarily enhances joy in moderation, and is the liquid courage I need to play music shows without wondering why everyone’s staring at me so uncomfortably. It’s also fucking terrible for your brain if you do it too much. And, for a long time, I did. In addition to the potentially embarrassing things you do while drunk, the day after drinking you might find yourself with an inability to concentrate, depressed mood, disinterest in basic upkeep, impaired mental performance, impaired memory, verbal deficits and a shit-ton more that keeps you from humming on all cylinders.

My solution: If you’re going to drink, drink 2–3 servings of beer, wine or liquor max to avoid that hangover. When I stopped drinking my usual 10–15 drinks each night, my mood stabilized within one week, improved within three weeks, and I lost 35 pounds in seven weeks. I also remembered I left the oven on.


9. You’re Smoking Too Much

I don’t think I need to tell you how bad smoking is for your lungs. But what about your mind? Studies show smoking damages the brain, particularly in the areas of working memory and executive function — again, things that keep you from firing on all cylinders.

My solution: I’m addicted to mint-flavored nicotine lozenges. Whatever, Judgey McJudgeface, it’s still better than lung cancer.


10. You’re Not In The Flow State

You ever do something and lose track of time and sense of self? Like when you’re learning something, and that thing equally challenges and rewards you? That’s called Flow State, and getting there is the key to both mastery and bliss. It decreases stress and increases satisfaction, self-esteem and self-efficacy — and it’s effects don’t wear off until long after you stop doing whatever put you there.

My solution: I write every day. I golf or rock climb once a week. For you, try practicing new skills that stimulate your mind and body. Tetris works. So does Chess. So does skiing. So does salsa dancing. So does shelling. (Which, alright, Ethel.)


11. You’re Not Maintaining Your Brain

We put gas in our cars. We change the oil. We flush the transmission. We change the tires. We take the engine in for tune-ups. We treat our cars better than we treat our minds. Often, we won’t seek to optimize our mental health until someone else tells us to, or until someone leaves us, or until the pain is too great to bear, or until our life becomes a fucking Joy Division B-side. Don’t let it get to that point. An ounce of preventative maintenance is worth a pound of cure.

My solution: Weekly yoga (Sundays), weekly guided meditation (Headspace app and also at a zen temple), 13 consecutive weeks of therapy or life-coaching every year.


12. You’re Hanging Out With The Wrong People

Elle Kaplan is smart AF. I’m painfully average. So I’ll let her take it away from here: “Research has shown that … negative attitudes can also affect your intelligence and ability to think … negativity compromises the effectiveness of the neurons in the hippocampus — an important area of the brain responsible for reasoning and memory.”

In short: your negative, uncomfortable social circle is bringing your mood and cognition down. Who you chill with affects your level of chill.

My solution: I delete all my text messages weekly, so I have to actively choose who to continue communicating with. I purge my 20% of my Facebook friend list every three months and keep it around 500. I don’t make plans with anyone that doesn’t excite me. Every year, I pick 10 people I admire who I set out to get to know better, and then I do exactly that. (Sometimes they disappoint, but more often than not, they surprise and delight.) Also, treat your family like casual friends. (Shout-out to Jessica Wildfire for that gem.)


DoI do all these things above all the time? Hell nah, B. Like I said at the top, my mind is a neurotic mess. But I do most of these things most of the time, and that’s made a world of difference. I can make it through a work-day without napping or skipping a meeting. I can make it through a week without coming home to a pile of pizza boxes. I can head to the function and engage in conversations that don’t sound like the Nihilist Arby’s twitter. Sometimes that’s all we’re looking for — those small victories that help us feel a little happier, a little more stable, and a little less likely to rage at the next motherfucker who brings their checkbook to a supermarket express cash-out.

Life’s better than you think it is, and if you can gain mastery over your mind, you’ll be able to more fully appreciate the full scope of its beauty, possibility, and grand cosmic meaninglessness of being just specks of space dust on a space rock that’s too small for the universe to notice. Pursue your dreams, anyway. Eat Arby’s.

Being Parked In Life vs Navigating Life  

The Difference Between Being Parked In Life vs Navigating Life

Grow Into Your Circumstances

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” — Dr Wayne Dyer

 Midsection of Woman Making Heart Shape With Hands

In an earlier article titled: Are You Parked or Navigating Life? I outlined the foundations for a program I developed in 2013 which later become a book of the same name: The Power To Navigate Life.

In this second piece, I will outline how the two life states function individually and how you can become the master of your destiny when you understand the principles behind them.

In the diagram above there are two columns depicting the qualities of life when viewed from the Parked or Navigating perspectives.

If you read over the Parked section, you will be aware that viewing the world from this perspective equates to an experience that is stagnant, blunt, and static. I have purposely labelled the columns in red and green to identify the red with being static and the green depicting the dynamic energy of life.

Each moment of life creates itself anew. When we are open and receptive to what life brings, instead of resisting and fighting, we begin to cooperate with life. But life will always win when we attempt to oppose it. Our opposition to life stems from our need to suit the outside world to our needs.

Something inside of us says that if things were different on the outside, then we would be happy and content on the inside. It rarely ever works out that way, for we are attempting to base our internal happiness on external conditions, which are often beyond our control.

Another way to look at it is from the perspective that although we cannot change external conditions, you can control your inner world and how you respond to it. Let us look at this statement from the view of an athlete.

A skilled and trained runner needs to adjust himself to suit a variety of race conditions. He cannot possibly compete at international level and in different countries with only limited race prowess.

A successful athlete learns to race and train in a variety of conditions, locally and internationally. In doing so, he becomes well accustomed to a variety of conditions that help him to become a stronger and prized competitor.

Our lives are not dissimilar to that of athletes. We are faced with challenges every day. These challenges are not coincidental or unfortunate.

They come to us in order to allow us to grow and evolve into a superior person who is capable of withstanding anything life throws our way. Life, whilst rewarding as it is, is nonetheless challenging at the best of times.

Returning to the analogy of the athlete, it becomes essential that we grow and evolve so that we are well equipped to face and deal with life’s hurdles.

Now, let us examine the table starting from the left hand side when one is in the Parked state. Notice in the first box, when we are in the Parked state we view circumstances as a challenge instead of an opportunity to learn and grow.

One of the greatest gifts I have acquired in this experience is the ability to see that everything that transpires in my life does so for the unfolding of my greatest good.

Most people’s challenges lie in their inability to see what is before them is actually a gift — a gift wrapped up as a challenge.

We could not possibly grow as individuals if life were easy all of the time. Recalling the athlete, the more challenges the athlete is faced with, the stronger and faster he becomes.

If we navigate by similar thinking, we grow into circumstances rather than trying to force them to happen.

Turn Inward And Reflect Upon The Nature Of Your Disturbance

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs.” — James Allen

Understand this: the life challenges you currently face, whether they be financial, relationship, career or other, are calling you to face your challenges with a new mind and a new outlook.

When you raise your level of consciousness, your level of thinking raises to view problems as opportunities.

In contrast, if you look to the box on the right-hand side under Navigating, you will note that the person who Navigates Life acts from inspiration rather than perspiration. Inspired people have more energy to make things happen.

The word inspired is intentionally used in contrast to the term motivated, as the term motivated implies stimulus from an external source, as opposed to being inspired from within.

I like to look at inspiration from this perspective. Consider the great Renaissance painter Michelangelo. I do not think Michelangelo ever had to be motivated to get up each morning to paint the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was inspired to create these pieces of art.

People who are inspired have an inner purpose, an inner calling. I personally believe this inner call is the expression of life — the Universe seeking to express itself.

People who are inspired rarely get tired and are enthusiastic about their mission or purpose. They cannot wait to get up each morning and be of service.

Let us look at the second box within the Parked table on the left-hand side to examine another life view. In a Parked state, you may view a relationship as frustrating, believing the other person is always the issue not you.

The point is that Parked people attempt to change their external world to suit their internal world. Unfortunately, life is too complex to wish that our external world will succumb to our wants, needs or desires.

In order to look at this from a higher perspective, you need to change your internal reference of your external world. In this example, it is worth noting that when we are in an intimate relationship, our partner is effectively mirroring back aspects of our personality, which we either repress or dislike.

The fact that it pushes our buttons is evidence enough that we identify with an unfavorable quality within ourselves. The key is not so much to fix the problem, as to become aware that you possess this quality.

Through awareness and conscious will, you are able to heal that part of your nature and create a more fulfilling and joyful intimate relationship.

The answer to any of our troubles is revealed by turning inward and reflecting upon the nature of that disturbance. Interactions with, our partners sometimes evoke mental or emotional sensitivities associated with childhood trauma or past experiences we have repressed.

However, denying an aspect of ourselves could result from an unconscious process. If we were harmed emotionally when we were young, our minds unconsciously repress the pain, possibly as a protective measure.

It is only later in adult life, when our mind has developed, that many of our childhood beliefs and programs return.

Those Navigating life, acknowledge that the world is reflecting back their current state of reality. Change within and without follows.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at changeis a well-known spiritual saying which proclaims our capacity to be conscious creators of our life circumstances.

Those Navigating understand that the world outside is a reflection of their inner world. Instead of trying to fix things on the outside they tend to their inner world and heal mental or emotional states which are not in alignment with their desires.

People who are Navigating are continually realigning themselves to obtain the highest level of joy and fulfillment.

Pilots do the same thing when flying; as the plane flies toward its destination, its satellite navigation system is repeatedly updating in order keep the plane on course to reach the desired destination.

Likewise, those Navigating look toward their inner world in order to adjust and create their outer world experiences.

The Parked vs. Navigating comparative diagram illustrates the respective life views of each state. The key is to never stay stuck in one area and to recognizewhen we are stagnant and not moving forward.

When Navigating, we have the ability to self-correct: to steer ourselves into the future, to curtail regret.