Intuitive Planning

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Effective Planning For Sensitive People
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Intuitive Planning.
How to plan if you are a sensitive person in a willpower world

How often have you heard about the importance of planning or power of manifestation? Have you ever wondered if everyone talks SO MUCH about planning, why it doesn’t really work for you? You probably thought (I definitely did) What’s wrong with me?! Don’t I have enough will power for that…? Am I lazy?? (yes, this scary question…) NO. It is just you are a different type of a person. Yes, planning is important, manifestation is possible and even ordinary for people who mastered a skill of it, but we can choose the way we plan that works for your personality, aligns with your Soul and makes your heart beats calmly, not crazy when you are in a panic, thinking “HOW can I do it all?

Man in Brown Long-sleeved Button-up Shirt Standing While Using Gray Laptop Computer on Brown Wooden Table Beside Woman in Gray Long-sleeved Shirt Sitting

 

Is there a way of planning and manifesting that fits you?  And how can we use our sensitivity not to be worried or overwhelmed, but manifest and plan what we want more effectively?

 

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Here where the spiritual ideas and (surprisingly)) physics come handy. Everything is energy. In this perspective, we have to consider feeling and emotions as solid parts of energy we use for realization and preparation.

 

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We realize a maximum of our potential when we plan with our feelings and sense, using our mind. Not vice versa, when we mostly try to think what is good, but don’t feel passion about it or even don’t believe it’s even necessary.  What does this mean? The core here is very simple. The Universe realize what we FEEL, our emotions are the impulses to the actualization. Planning and dreaming are good, but what we really FEEL and BELIEVE deep inside of us, this is what really come true.

 

 

“You manifest what you believe in” (Oprah Winfrey) 

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The effective planning is all about adjustment with your plan. Any successful coach or powerful book have never said: “Write it down and do it”. They all repeat the same thing: “BELIEVE in your plan and do it.”

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“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” (Napoleon Hill) 

 

 

 

Write it down with the main purpose – to believe in it. Structure your belief so you can act more effectively.

 

 

It leads us to important realization that we need to pay attention to our assumptions. As they are the main reason why we can’t believe with our heart in what we see in our minds. Any technique or boost of willpower can’t help in a battle with your own negative views.

 

 

This truth is even more powerful for women. For us everything is based on the perception, on the intensity of our emotions and feelings, on our belief in the capacity to transform a dream into reality. All of the greatest achievements started from the vision and strong emotion of faith. When we believe with all our hearts we start to see steps in the darkness. We program our subconsciousness to look for the answers and find them. We follow deep feeling of belief that in other words, I like to call intuition. 

 

 

Intuition is the core for many successful businesses, for greatest of books and pieces of art.

 

 

Believe in yourself+ believe in the idea + intuitive planning+ action = success. 

 

 

When you follow your intuition in planning or manifesting you first open doors in your mind and then in your life. Yes, it is easy to mistaken intuition with somethings else. I hear this concern very often and still repeatedly have it my mind. So here I want to give a very important hint:

 

 

When you try to distinguish whether it is an intuitive feeling or not, ask yourself: Am I feeling it from a place of fear or from a place of trust? What am I afraid of in this situation? Do I try to run away from something I am afraid of with this feeling? If your answer is yes, it’s probably not intuition. As our intuitive feelings always create, not destroy.

 

 

 

 

 

The laws of the Universe makes it clear: The manifestation and planning are more effective when you are a sensitive person! All we need to do is switch from our fears to best beliefs. 

 

Typical Life Problems And How To Solve Them

15 Typical Life Problems And How To Solve Them.

Photo © Angelika Platen (Walter De Maria)

All of our problems are the same. This is the 156th time I’ve written this fact (for those of you counting).

Problems are forever and we can’t avoid them. You’ll wake up tomorrow and have problems for breakfast. You’ll jump on the train and read a problem in your email inbox.

You’ll get to the office and get a problem smack bang in your pretty face!

The typical problems we face can be solved.

Here are 15 typical life problems and how to solve them:


You didn’t reach your goal.

Just because you set a goal, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Many of life’s toughest goals take lots of attempts. Some of the goals I missed are:

• Dream careers

• Girls I wanted to date

• Saving enough money to build a school in Laos

• Reaching 100k followers on LinkedIn

People who talk about success and personal development (and even write for a site called Addicted2Success like me) also don’t reach their goals.

The best feeling about reaching a goal is the journey it took to get there. If all your goals were easy, then you’d feel nothing at the end of the process.

Image Credit: Manly Caves

Solution:

Take the goal you didn’t achieve and try a different approach. Doing the same thing over and over to achieve your goal is the definition of insanity.

Your heroes miss their goals too. What makes them stand out is that they don’t give up. The fun of goal-setting is knowing that you’ll fail.


Someone criticized you.

If you want to make a dent in this world, then the critics will come out of the closet. The bigger your aspirations are, the more you’ll be criticized.

The number of critics you have is in direct proportion to your success.

“I had an entire blog post written about me saying how stupid I was. It felt like crap on day one. By day seven I’d made peace with the criticism and kept writing”

Solution:

You can’t please everybody that you meet in life.

When you speak on a stage, for example, 25% of people will like you, 25% won’t know who you are and 50% of people will think you’re an asshole even though you’ve probably done nothing wrong.

Critics are not all bad. You can learn things about yourself from them too. The solution is to learn from criticism, not be afraid of it.


Your career got messed up.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a happy-go-lucky office worker, your career is going to get messed up at some point.

The definition of business is this: Moving from one problem to another and making money in the meantime to fuel your mission. Business is really just problem-solving.

  • Redundancy could right hook you in the face.
  • The business you founded could go backwards and even bankrupt.
  • Your career skills could become outdated.
  • You could get fired for making a mistake.

Your career is going to get messed up. Things you can never predict in your career are going to happen.

Solution:

See career challenges for what they are: an opportunity to try something different. If your career never got messed up, then you’d probably stay in your comfort-zone for your entire life and never try something different.

The solution is to see your career getting messed up as a chance to grow. Getting made redundant could be the one reality that makes you want to create your own startup.

Having a customer leave could decrease your workload and create space for clients who won’t drain your time and make you no money.


You have financial troubles.

That crazy little thing called money will let you down at some point.

“I’ve personally been rich and poor multiple times”

Upon reflection, the time I’ve been the happiest has been when I’ve had the least amount of money.

Countless studies have shown that money isn’t what your life’s about. As humans, we seek meaning, love and our own version of happiness.

Money won’t give you any of those human needs.

That doesn’t mean money doesn’t matter; it just means that it shouldn’t be your main focus or something you obsess over.

Image Credit: Andy Warhol

Solution:

Lack of money is a gift. When you don’t have money, you become resourceful and creative at the same time.

Lack of money helps you decide on what matters and what doesn’t.

If things get really bad, then you’ll likely prioritize feeding your family over buying another useless car that will never make you happy. You’ll take joy in the simple things in life.

The solution to financial problems is to see them as a gift and choose a meaning for your life instead.


You’re unhealthy.

Our health has become a real problem. We wonder why we feel tired, sick and get headaches. We’ll all experience health challenges at some point in our life.

How many health challenges we experience in our younger years will come down to food and exercise. The strategies for being healthy haven’t changed.

There’s no mystery around being healthy it’s just that we’ve become lazy.

Convenience powered by apps has overtaken our ability to do basic tasks and not binge watch Netflix every night.

Solution:

Take ownership. Quit feeling sick and do something about it. Have some blood tests. Change your diet to be more plant-based.

Image Credit: Idelle Weber

Drink more water. Get your lazy ass to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Stand up from your desk every now and then so you’re not sitting for the whole day and messing your spine/neck up.

Whatever you do, take ownership of your health and quit being ignorant.


A relationship ended.

There’s less than 1% of people who met ‘The One,’ lived happily ever after, and never experience a breakup.

Even that 1% will have that relationship end at some point when either side passes away.

For the majority of us who don’t strike gold the first time around, we’re going to have to deal with breakups and the trials and tribulations of romance.

We’ll probably find ourselves in a toxic relationship for too long.

We’ll probably get cheated on at least once.

We’ll probably have our hearts smashed into a million pieces when we discover that someone ‘No longer loves us anymore.’

These are the realities of the human condition and our need to reproduce and keep our species alive.

Solution:

Finding love is about understanding what love is not. You need relationships to end to find out what love really is. All breakups suck in the beginning until you grow and move on. Then, the solution to this problem is to find yourself.

Once you find yourself, the heart will be ready for love again. How you move forward from there is up to you.

You can try the good old fashion nightclub scene. You could go to Meetups. Or, you could start swiping left and right on a few dating apps.

“Have your heart broken just don’t let it stay that way”


You made a dick of yourself.

Geez, this one is an ugly truth for me.

I’ve made an ass of myself more times than I’ve had protein and veggies for dinner. Here’s a few just for laughs (and your entertainment).

• There was the time I tried to pretend I could be the Wolf of Wall Street and got laughed out of the interview due to not being able to explain derivatives

• There was the time I thought this girl liked me and tried to hug her while we were walking only to have her hate my guts

• There was the time I went out with friends and threw up on my friend’s couch after having a single shot of Tequila

• There was the time I did my first public speaking gig and messed up a speech about my own life which I’d rehearsed over 100 times

We could talk for days about how I’ve embarrassed myself over the years. We could even compare epic fails to see who’s are worse. This is not a game though.

We’re all going to go into situations with the best of intentions or all the experience in the world and still screw up.

Solution:

Making a dick of yourself is a sign of courage. Courage is what is found in leaders and those who are doers.

Making a dick of yourself is an acceptance that you might fail in the short-term.

Those who fail in the short-term will eventually win in the long-term with practice.

“The opposite of making a dick of yourself is perfection.That’s a life where you think your shit doesn’t stink and you spend your entire day trying to impress everybody to eventually impress nobody”

Making an idiot of yourself is perfectly fine. What’s not fine is being perfect.

Image Credit: Romero Britto

Someone messed your *shit* up.

Car, home or insert other material possession that doesn’t matter. None of these material things that got messed up are joining you in the afterlife.

You can’t bury the Bentley with you (although someone tried) so you can drive around with your great, great, great grandpa and do burnouts in the afterlife.

The stuff that is going to get messed up doesn’t matter.

Solution:

What matters is that you don’t get messed up. What matters is that you take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Maybe when your junk gets messed up, you’ll realize that you didn’t need it in the first place.


You feel like your life has no meaning.

These moments where nothing makes sense is where you get to explore. We’re not born with a meaning for our life. Meaning comes from learning who we are and growing as a person.

The meaning for your life when you’re 19 will probably change from when you’re 51 and got three grown-up kids.

The quickest way to destroy your life is to believe that life has no meaning. A lack of meaning leads to depression, carelessness, drug taking and even crime at an extreme level.

Solution:

If you feel like your life has no meaning, then it’s time to experiment. Standing still is not how you find the answer.

“Being intensely focused on one’s self only leads to more suffering”

A short-term solution to this problem is to experiment with helping those who have nothing. Spend time with people who’d kill to be in your position and get some perspective.

I’ve found in my life that the greatest meaning for your life is normally tied to finding something you’d be happy to do for free that helps others.


You feel like you can’t go on.

We’ve all had those days. Those deep and sometimes dark thoughts can lead to a place you’ve never visited.

Some failures in life hurt more than others. Some failures can’t be solved through a listicle post such as this one with a dose of inspiration.

If you truly feel like you can’t go on, then there’s another way.

Solution:

Seek real help. These dark thoughts must be treated and sometimes the best medicine is to seek professional help through counseling, or for an extreme case, by calling Lifeline.

While I’ve never had suicidal thoughts personally, I have dealt with mental illness.

“There is a way to come out the other side, but you have to put aside your pride and seek help”

Please don’t become another victim of suicide by doing nothing.


Every day feels the same.

You wake up. You eat. You go to work. You eat. You come home. You eat. You go to bed.

Life can feel the same if you do nothing. It’s up to you to create variety and shape your habits into something more than a fixed schedule which makes you feel bored.

Days feel the same when there’s no purpose behind anything you’re doing.

Image Credit: Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits

Solution:

You must find joy in the repetition. You do that by taking those reps and making them mean something. Add some variety in by breaking your comfort zone. Set a goal to do something wild during your day every so often.

• Travel to another country

• Talk to someone new

• Try learning a new skill

Even after trying something new, you have to get used to some level of repetition. Let that repetition become habits that serve something which can help others.


Your friends are screwing your life up.

Dump them. Divorce them. Delete their number.

Every relationship you have in your life is a choice. The people around us often hold us back. They fill our minds with limiting beliefs, stories and goals that give us no sense of meaning.

Friends can kill our dreams or make us believe something we never thought was possible.

Solution:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Start by telling your toxic friends how you feel. Give them a chance to change with the new you.

If they refuse, take a break from them for a while. Ask yourself whether you want them in your life long-term.

‘Fitting in’ is what we’re taught to do. What I’d advise you to do is be you instead and that will attract the right people into your life.


You feel stressed.

77% of people in the US alone experience regular stress.

This young, previously blonde blogger has also recently learned about the effects of stress. I had a cortisol test and the doctor found the levels to be twice the normal range.

This stress led to brain fog, tiredness and a lack of mental clarity. Stress is also caused by what you let into your life. Having options can be a bad thing.

Solution:

“We don’t need more; we need less to destress”

• Declutter your home and office

• Say no to more meetings

• Say yes to invites from people that make you feel like saying “Hell Yes!”

• Buy less material things

• Have fewer people in your life

• Listen to one podcast instead of many

• Read fewer books instead of every one that’s recommended on a podcast

• Have less recurring subscriptions

• Invest and save more money so you can stress less about unexpected bills

• Take regular breaks (quarterly has worked for me)


A fear is standing in your way.

There are so many common fears — fear of spiders, flying, public speaking, dying, career change, heights and maybe even a fear of expressing yourself.

Fear is a concept of the mind. Nothing is scary or not scary. Our mind makes that choice for us and provides meaning to everything.

Image Credit: Pop Art Portraits

Fear can be overcome and that’s why we love stories of battling with fear. I’ve famously spoken about creating fear lists and then knocking them off one at a time.

Solution:

Smash the fear into tiny little pieces. Don’t avoid it. Don’t let it stand in your way any longer. Make a decision to overcome each fear you have and you’ll be unstoppable by the end.

Don’t let nerves trick you into thinking you’re fearful. We all get nerves, but we can still keep moving forward with nerves — I’ve even learned to use nerves to my advantage by using them as an extra energy source.

Nerves tell me I’m on the right track.

I’ve overcome my fear of public speaking and my fear of flying — my fear of spiders remains, but I’m working on that one 🙂

Real fear can be overcome through deliberate practice.


Dealing with the concept of death.

Last but not least, the old chestnut of death. Death is the one life problem we all have in common and can’t solve. Sorry for the bad news.

Death is going to take us eventually and it will take people you love through your life too.

“The solution to dealing with death is not to overcome it but to accept it”

Death can be our greatest motivator if we let it. Once you understand what death means in all of its darkness, you’ll understand life.

You’ll see death, not as a problem but a fact. That fact will change the way you see everything going forward. For me, it took several near-death experiences (almost being murdered and a cancer scare) to see death for what it is.

Death is not an easy pill to swallow. No short blog post like this is going to give you all the answers you’re probably wanting to know.

The only way I see of dealing with the reality of death is to go out there and live the best damn life you can, while you can!

Use your life to do something that gives you meaning and then you’ll no longer see death as a problem when it comes upon you.

Peace, love and respect — thanks for reading.

Ideas That Could Change Your Life

25 Ideas That Could Change Your Life

1. KAIZEN

jesus-in-taiwan-372790-unsplash.jpgA Japanese term meaning “improvement”.

I think of Kaizen as ‘continuous improvement’ or ‘continual change for the better, one small step at a time’, as this is how I first heard of the term.

A lot of the successful Japanese manufacturing companies in automobiles and technology have used this exact approach to obtain massive success over time.

What could you achieve if you just focused on taking one small step in the right direction today, and then another one every day after that?

2. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE…

luca-iaconelli-242679-unsplash.jpgGandhi did not say “Be the change you want to see in the world” even though it is often attributed to him. What he actually said was this: 

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

3. BE HERE NOW

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If we are fully present in the moment and aware of what is going on both internally and externally, we have a choice in what we decide to do.

If you do not feel present, meditate, ground yourself, get outside, move and connect with your five senses in the moment and the world around you.

“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” – Deepak Chopra

4. CHOICES DEFINE YOUR LEGACY

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This happens through a lengthy process of choices becoming actions, actions becoming habits, and all of your habits informing your character and ultimate legacy. A quote along these lines has been attributed to a Mr Wiseman in 1856, and it tells us that whatever we sow, we must later reap.

It is therefore essential to engage in as many helpful actions as possible when we still have a choice and before they become habitual. The more engrained something is, the easier it is to do automatically, and the harder it can be to stop.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” – Donald Hebb

5. LIFE WASN’T MEANT TO BE EASY

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We often don’t appreciate things that just fall into our lap, and we tend to value things much more when we put in some hard work to get it. Even people that build their own IKEA furniture rate the furniture as being more valuable than people who see that same furniture complete but haven’t made it themselves.

I know I’d be more proud of the $3million I built up through hard work than the equivalent amount of money won through a lottery. How about you?

Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. THE MAGIC HAPPENS OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

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Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So many people want a comfortable life and therefore stick to what feels safe. Unfortunately, if you are not willing to feel uncomfortable, your life will only get smaller over time.

When you first step out of your comfort zone, it will be scary, you will feel awkward, and it may even feel unsafe. But is it really, or does it just feel threatening because it is new? If at this moment, you run back to what you are used to, you won’t grow. However, if you can persist through the initial pain, it will only get more comfortable in time, and your comfort zone will continue to expand and grow.

7. RETHINK WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FREE

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What is real freedom to you?

Doing whatever your parents, school, bosses or government wants you to do? UMM NO. This is called compliance.

Being a rebel and doing the exact opposite of what your parents, school, bosses and government told you to do? STILL NO. This is called counterpliance and is always defined by what you have been shown to do, which means that you are still part of the system. Plus you may end up grounded, expelled, fired or in prison, which doesn’t sound too free to me.

Just living for the moment and indulging in all of your passions and pleasures whenever you want, becauseYOLO, right? NOPE. This is called hedonism, and may feel great for a night, but not for a lifetime. It can have some pretty nasty side-effects too if you aren’t careful, including weight gain, disease, debt, dissatisfaction and even death.

True freedom must come from making the choice that is likely to be the best for you in the long-term, even if it denies you that last alcoholic drink or dessert, or the fun that happens after 2am, or that extra TV episode, or the added snooze time in the mornings. If we can’t get ourselves to do things that are difficult or painful in the short-term but beneficial in the long run, we can never honestly be free in the long-term. As a former NAVY SEAL famously said:

Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

8. GETTING STARTED IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST PART

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The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain.

In a book that I once read (the Willpower Instinct I think), I came across a 10-minute rule that I found surprisingly useful. Basically, if you are not sure if you are up for doing something, give it a go for 10 minutes, and if after 10 minutes you still don’t feel up to it, stop. I tried it a few times with going to the gym, and usually, once I get there and get into it, I’m fine, but my brain often tries to tell me that I am too tired before I go.

The reason the 10-minute strategy seems to work is that it is much easier to get our brain to do something for 10 minutes than it is for a considerable chunk of time. This is because it requires much less energy when we are forecasting our capacity to do the task. Human brains are cognitive misers, which means they are always trying to “help” by conserving energy. If you want to get started or you feel tired, think small. Also…

9. THE FIRST DRAFT OF ANYTHING IS RUBBISH

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Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.” – Ernest Hemingway

This quote is fantastic because too often people think that the need to produce a masterpiece the first time they try or do something. If one of the most famous authors of all time produced crap on their first draft, why should we expect more on ours? The solution is to focus on the process, not the outcome, and just produce work before trying to edit, review or criticise what you have done.

10. DON’T PUT THINGS OFF TIL LATER

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If something takes less than 2 minutes to do, don’t write it down or add it to your to do list – do it now.” – David Allen, Getting Things Done

Most people have so much stuff to do at any one time that it is very difficult to ever get their to-do-list down to zero. This can cause anxiety and stress for some people, but the key is to have an excellent system to manage everything that comes in so that you don’t have to keep worrying and thinking about all of the things you need to do. Getting things done, or GTD is one such system. And the two-minute-rule from GTD says that small tasks should never go on your to-do-list if you can just get them done now. This rule alone means that my email inbox rarely has any unopened or unreplied emails.

11. BE YOURSELF; EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN

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Some believe that Oscar Wilde first said this, but the fascinating quote investigator website said that they could not find it in any of his writings. Keith craft said something similar that I like better, in announcing that we all have a unique fingerprint and that we can, therefore “leave a unique imprint that no one else can leave.”

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

12. WE REGRET THE THINGS WE DON’T DO MORE THAN THE THINGS WE DO

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When making a decision about the future, we tend to think about what we may lose if we take a risk. However, when reflecting on the past, we feel more regret about what we missed by not taking a chance. The question then becomes, do we:

  1. Play it safe, and not put ourselves out there because people may judge us or criticise us for giving something a go and not succeeding? Or
  2. Criticise others for being brave enough to try something that they believe in? Or
  3. Throw caution to the wind and give it our best shot, knowing that we will learn and grow more from mistakes and setbacks than we ever would have by sitting back and criticising others?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

13. FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!

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Susan Jeffers was my hero back when I read her top-selling self-help book. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to get rid of the fear before I acted fearlessly.

The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris then further highlighted to me that the action of confidence tends to come before the feeling of confidence, not the other way around.

Fear was designed to keep us safe as a hunter-gatherer but holds us back more in modern day life than it helps us sometimes. We need to instead assess the real level of risk whenever we feel fear, and go for it if the situation feels scary but is actually pretty safe. This could be horror movies, roller coaster rides, plane flights, or public speaking.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – FDR inaugural address, 1932

14. WYSIATI

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What you see is all there is.” – Daniel Kahneman

How you are thinking and feeling in the moment is very much influenced by how you are thinking and feeling at the moment. If you feel on top of the world, you are likely to be feeling happy, thinking positively about yourself, others, the world and the future. Anything may feel possible. Then the next week you have a setback or get sick, and you start to feel depressed and hopeless and think negatively about yourself, others, the world and the future. Both can’t be true, if they are only a week apart, so it’s important to understand the power of WYSIATI.

Don’t think too big picture if you are feeling flat and down, and try not to shop if you’re too hungry. The choices you’ll make once you’ve picked up a bit and have eaten something are likely to be very different.

15. MEMENTO MORI

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Latin: “Remember that you have to die.

In many cultures around the world and through history, the acknowledging of our own mortality through prayer, meditation, reflection, ceremony, or celebration is much more common than it is in atheistic modern-day Western life.

The phrase memento mori helped people to consider the transient nature of earthly life, our goods and our pursuits and enabled them to become humble and clarify what was really important to them.

16. THINGS FADE; ALTERNATIVES EXCLUDE

Two things that are inevitable in life are:

1. no matter what we do, time passes and things erode over time (also known as the second law of thermodynamics), and

2. if we go down one path, we cannot go down another track at the same time.

– “Decisions are difficult for many reasons, some reaching down into the very socket of our being. John Gardner, in his novel Grendel, tells of a wise man who sums up his meditations on life’s mysteries in two simple but terrible postulates: “Things fade: alternatives exclude.” […] Decision invariably involves renunciation: for every yes there must be a no, each decision eliminating or killing other options (the root of the word decide means “slay,” as in homicide or suicide).” – Irvin Yalom (1991). Love’s executioner. p. 10. Penguin Books.

17. PARKINSON’S LAW

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Ever wondered how on some days, when you are super busy, you manage to get way more work done. Then on quiet days, you don’t have much work to do, but struggle to get it all done. The reason for this is Parkinson’s law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

The Stock–Sanford corollary to Parkinson’s rule is better in my opinion, and it is something I used a lot when studying at uni:

If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.

If productivity is what you are going for, give yourself a closer deadline and someone to hold you accountable if you don’t meet it, and voila, productivity and efficiency improve!

18. THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANING AND PURPOSE

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He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was a nihilist, which meant that he didn’t think the world had any meaning in it. Irvin Yalom said that even if the world is meaningless overall, it is still essential for each of us to find things that are personally meaningful to us, either as an individual or as a group. Viktor Frankl showed that in the concentration camps in WWII, those with some higher purpose beyond the camps were the ones who could manage to survive the horrible atrocities they faced every day.

What’s personally meaningful to you? Where could you find purpose?

19. DON’T LISTEN TO THE DOUBTERS

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Impossibility is not a fact – it’s an opinion.” – Muhammed Ali

Think of anyone who has done something groundbreaking or is still trying to do something pioneering today – Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. I wonder how many of them were told to give up, grow up, stop being deluded or to think realistically? I’d say most of them.

Just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the massive amount of progression that we have had over the past 200 years.

20. CLARIFY YOUR VALUES AND MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON THESE

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(Some people spend) their lives doing work they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need in order to impress people they dislike.” – Emile Gauvreau

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your life has to be a certain way just because everyone else is doing something a certain way and telling you that you should too.

By clarifying your own values first and building your own hierarchy, you can then see if what you are currently doing is consistent with what is really important for you. If not, what changes could you make, that you’d be willing to make, that would help you to start heading in the right direction? The earlier that you make these changes, or at least concrete plans to make them, the higher chance there is that you will be happy with the path that you are on.

21. RELATIONSHIP WARMTH IS THE NUMBER ONE PREDICTOR OF LONG-TERM HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

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“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – The Minimalists

The minimalist movement has really picked up in the last 20 years in response to most of us in the Western world having way too much stuff and realising that it doesn’t make us any happier. If anything, it causes us more stress. Clothing used to be a scarce and valuable thing. Now wardrobes and houses are overflowing, and storage facilities are popping up everywhere to help clear some space.

What if we just bought fewer things, and focused more on what really matters: our connections with the important people in our lives. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard study of Adult Development, found that in the end, close relationships are more critical to our health and happiness than anything else.

22. OCCAM’S RAZOR

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Given several possible explanations about something, the simplest one is probably right.

Is the dog above trying to read, or is it merely sniffing the book?

Occam’s razor is why conspiracy theories are never likely to be true. Think about the moon landing, or 9/11, or the Illuminati, flat earth theories, or any other conspiracy out there. For the plot to be real, there are so many added levels that would have all had to run flawlessly for them to work out, and so many people would have had to keep this a secret for such an extended period of time without turning themselves in or trying to make money out of it in a tell-all. It’s much more likely that there is no conspiracy.

Occam’s razor can also be applied to losing weight, sleeping well, getting stronger, or improving any skill. Some people have complicated theories, but usually, the answer lies in relatively simple explanations. Doing too much, or complicating things beyond what is necessary often backfires.

Reduce things back to the bare essentials, and see what happens.

23. LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS

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The law of diminishing returns says that each time we do something to receive a benefit, the benefit will be less and less.

Let’s say you order this massive stack of pancakes in the picture above. The first pancake may taste amazing, and the pleasure received is a 9 out of 10. Each bite is likely to be slightly less enjoyable than the one before, especially after you become full. If you somehow managed to get through the whole stack, the last bite could be a 1 out of 10 on the pleasure scale. Come back for pancakes again next month, however, and pleasure bounces back up to a 9 out of 10 again.

The solution is to wait for long enough between doing the same thing twice so that you enjoy it just as much the next time.

Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” – William Cowper

24. BE KINDphotography of a man and woman laughing

 

If you’re kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” – Mother Teresa

If you know why you are doing something, try not to worry about what others think. People who do not understand why you are doing what you are doing will choose to see it from their point of view. If they could not do what you are without getting something in return, they will assume the same intention is within you. But being kind is a reward within itself. If you can give just for the sake of it, do it. You can thank me later.

25. DESIGN YOUR OWN LIFE

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When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and (you should) just live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again“. – Steve Jobs

As far as I see the world, we only have one life to live. We can spend it doing what others expect of us, or we can spend it doing what is right for us. We can blame everyone else for how things turn out, or we can go our own way.

Regardless of what you decide, time passes, and eventually, you will either feel that you made the most of what you had, or you will accumulate regrets. I try to live my life with no regrets, and I wish the same for you too.

Choose your own destiny, live life to the fullest, and try to experience and enjoy whatever comes your way.

 

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

LIFE – Laws of Power

My 10 Favourite Laws of Power

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Since the book was first released in 1998, it has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, and has influenced many successful people, from Will Smith to Kanye West, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, who later co-wrote a New York Times’ bestseller with Greene.

It is also the most highly requested book in U.S. prisons, due to the easy to understand synthesis of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and other famous writers key prescriptions for effectively managing power struggles in difficult environments.

Some of the 48 laws do seem contradictory, and others seem a little repetitive, but there are some truly great bits of advice for effectively managing situations where power may play a role. This might be a corporate environment, a difficult but smaller workplace, a large social group, to really anywhere where there is a power imbalance between people or a formal or informal hierarchy.

Here are my 10 favourite laws, including a description of each law from the following website. The parts that I especially like are bolded. Enjoy!

Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control… Powerful people impress by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

Similar to the Danish proverb that says “deep rivers move with silent majesty, shallow brooks are noisy”, law 4 reminds me to only say things that I believe will be of value. It also helps me to try to stay within my circle of competence, and not give advice on things that I do not know much about.

Law 9: Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

Any momentary triumph you think gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.

A parent who smokes but tells their children not to is unlikely to be successful at persuading their children because “actions speak louder than words”. The better option is to not smoke or quit if you want to set a good example. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasise it… He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

As sad as this may appear, most people are self-motivated, and want to do the right thing if it makes them look good. For example, a hybrid car such as a Toyota Prius sells well because it is known as a hybrid car. It screams out “I care about the environment” in a way that the Toyota Camry Hybrid does not, because the hybrid version of the Camry looks almost identical to the regular Camry. The 2014 sales in the US of each car highlights this point:  Prius: 194,000; Toyota Camry Hybrid: 39,500; Toyota Camry (non-hybrid): 428,600. Figure out how what you want will benefit the other person or help them to look good before you ask for a favour, and you are much more likely to get them onboard.

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle.

A lot of people that I see try to protect themselves at the cost of a real sense of connection and belonging with others. This law helps by reminding me of the dangers and costs of not opening up to people who are honest and can be trusted.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point.You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another – intensity defeats extensiveness every time. 

This reminds me of the quote “jack of all trades; master of none”. If you want to make progress in anything, it is important to prioritise, and put your energy into the activities and thought patterns that are going to give you the best results. Law 23 also helps me to  build upon my strengths rather than worrying too much about my weaknesses.

Law 25: Re-Create Yourself

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you.

I often encourage my clients to clarify their most important values, and to see how these differ from what their family, friends, culture or society may want for them. The idea of working hard and not enjoying life until retirement is not a role that I want to accept, even though this is considered normal in many respects by society. It’s much better to create and live a sustainable life for myself, whatever that may look like. Then it won’t matter if and when I retire, especially if I keep loving what I do for work.

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honours the timid.

Law 28 reminds me to not doubt myself once I have settled on a course of action, and to fully commit myself to it for a set period of time instead of continuing to remain uncertain or indecisive. Once a decision is made, it is much better to give it 100% until the next decision needs to be made. Uncertainty only leads to more stress and anxiety, and less satisfaction in the long run.

Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End

The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work… By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.

This reminds me of the benefits of thinking into the future, and clarifying how I would want my life to look. If I had a 50th birthday and someone close to me stood up and spoke about the person I had been for the past 18 years, what would I want to hear them say? Based on my response to this, it is then important to see if my 1-, 5- or 10-year plan is helping me to head in that direction. If not, more planning and some big changes may be required, as long as my plans are also flexible enough to change as I continue to grow with time.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing

Never be in a hurry – hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always (be) patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

Patience is a massively underrated value, especially in today’s society. How often do you see people multitasking, or telling you how busy they are? I know I sometimes do. But slowing things down, and really making sure that my attention is 100% on what is most important in any given moment is a great recipe for long-term happiness and well-being. While it is important to “strike while the iron is hot”, I think it is also important to not be too reactive, and make sure that the decisions you make are really consistent with your values and long-term plans. Knowing how to say no to the wrong things in life is also a crucial element of success.

Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once

Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it a gentle improvement on the past.

Trying to change my eating habits has taught me this law better than anything else recently. As soon as I try to be too restrictive, I do rebel against any prescriptions. Long-term sustainable changes are again much better than short-term dramatic changes. The 20-minute walk that you manage to do is also better than the 10km run that you do not, so start small, and try to build up slowly. If you can do this, changes are much more likely to stick.

Curve in the road

If you want to see the remaining 38 laws, please click here or purchase the book. Some of the laws do seem pretty ruthless, but pretending that they don’t exist in power dynamics is much more dangerous than learning how they work.

I also recommend checking out my dealing with toxic people article for more information on how to successfully manage and survive difficult interactions.

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

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.

Things Learned in 26 Years of Life

Me.

46 Things I Learned in 26 Years of Life

If you’re not giving your best to this life, which life are you saving it for?


Recently I wrote about going through a quarter life crisis, getting out of it, and I went in depth about what came out of that experience.

But today I wanted to look even further and go to the earliest moments I had certain realizations and revelations that served me as a compass throughout life.

Originally, I wanted it to be 26 lessons — as I turned 26 in March.

However, when I started writing, 26 lessons turned into 31, which turned into 39, and in the end I had 46.

So, there you go, today you get 46 lessons I learned thus far in my life.


  1. Your starting circumstances are irrelevant. The faster you embrace the lack of advantage, the sooner the underdog mentality can prevail and you can start overcoming any shortcomings on the way. Nothing can compare to this mentality.
  2. Coming up with excuses can fool and damage only yourself. Find a way to stop rationalizing, and notice yourself when you start saying an excuse.
  3. Acquiring skills and mixing them together is more important than having a talent. Small skills add up and work well together.
  4. Don’t feel that you’re in debt to anyone. You owe everything to yourself(to see how far in life you can go), and to the family you produce (how you can provide them with a better life)
  5. There shouldn’t be a moment in life when you’re DONE. In the moment you say that, you have committed one of the worst crimes against yourself. Life is like a game without the final boss you need to beat. Never stop, always push yourself as much as possible, and create new limits for yourself to cross.
  6. Your life isn’t promised. Pay strict attention to what you are doing with the time you have today. Don’t waste it.
  7. Find someone with whom you can say anything you think, do anything you want, and be anything you are without the fear of being judged and without having to filter out anything. This is the world’s greatest social luxury.
  8. Don’t judge anyone. However, when deciding who you will let in your life (or who will stay) evaluate people based on how hard they are working to raise the standard of their life. Run away from people who are aware they are on a standstill, and aren’t willing to do anything about it. Or even worse — they become toxic and try to decrease the standard of your life.
  9. Your ultimate goal in life is to have freedom and control over you life — and there’s no 9–5 that can compare to being an entrepreneur, and having your own thing to direct it and do with it whatever you want. However, this brings the level of risk and stress that most people are not willing to handle.
  10. Become rich. That’s it.
  11. Always be proud of your accomplishments and use them to propel further in life. Don’t be afraid to showcase them because you’re afraid it might make someone else feel small.
  12. The success itself is not the ultimate goal. It’s who you had to become to be able to achieve that success. It’s all about evolution. However, if we’re honest, being successful is a great confidence booster.
  13. Regret is pointless and it’s a waste of time. Learn from any event that causes regret and apply the lesson to your future steps.
  14. Health dictates everything. Just like in a airplane, take care of yourself first, before you do anything else.
  15. Don’t do things randomly. Your goals dictate everything: the habits you should establish, the skills you should acquire, the people you want in your life.
  16. When in doubt, go back to the last thing you did that gave you the feeling of confidence. And start from there.
  17. Mediocrity creeps in without notice. Be careful. Don’t get “too busy.”
  18. Become good at not caring what irrelevant people think about you. Decide who belongs in the relevant bunch.
  19. Differentiate linear from exponential growth. Focus on the latter.
  20. Life works in dominos, most people try to skip one at the time. If you want to win life, you need to get good at hacking your way through life and skipping a few dominos at once.
  21. Consistency is the key — especially in the beginning.
  22. Find a way to express what makes you unique and authentic. Few who do this, they truly make it in the world.
  23. The most powerful sentence I’ve learned in life, that helped me accomplish anything — I’LL FIGURE IT OUT. Throw yourself in the fire, and figure it out on the way.
  24. Determine what are your values, and let them guide you in certainty and uncertainty. When you stray off the course, use them as a compass.
  25. Never rely on luck or chance. Take control over your life and choose your direction intentionally. Decide where you want to go, don’t just “wind up” there.
  26. Invest in a good mattress, pillow, shoes, socks, frying pan, and underwear. Once you do this, you’ll understand what I mean.
  27. If you want to improve your looks, learn how to groom yourself and take care of your hygiene, become fit, learn how to dress well, get the right haircut for the shape of your face. You can’t change the body you genetically got, but you can sure tune it up.
  28. Give yourself time to experiment before getting married. Everyone knows that 20ies and 30ies are for figuring it out, yet no one truly does it. You are supposed to explore, and experiment as intensively as possible in every area of your life — love, social, education, career, entrepreneurship, family, hobbies, passion projects. As far as we know, we have one life, and no matter how cliche it sounds, do something with it.
  29. Stop splitting your life into work/life, and workweeks and weekends. This only creates a negative association to work part of your life. Treat everyday, and everything as you want to do it, not that you have to do it. As long as you are obligated to do anything, you are failing at life.
  30. Don’t stop looking until you find something that will trigger the obsessive part of you. If you have it, don’t let it go. These things, whatever they might be, come rarely in life. Thus far, in 26 years I’ve had only 3–4 things. And I can’t wait for the next one.
  31. Your main mission in life is to discover the best way to unleash your potential. Everything else is meant to supplement this. It sounds selfish and harsh, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
  32. Make time to follow up on important and potentially important people. No excuses.
  33. Become a storyteller. Learn to tell stories from your life and about yourself. Make everything worth telling and convey it properly. It will make you more charming than anything else. Best way to sell is by telling a story, and making it interesting.
  34. Become an avid conversationalist. Become an artist in asking questions. Stop talking about the small things, the weather, and how did the weekend go. Don’t hold yourself back. Talk about life, meaning, love, experiences, travelling, business. Be inquisitive, learn about people. It’s truly a joy. Take interest in people. Get good at getting to the core of the person. A good place to start is to see the past events that shaped them, and what’s their next chapter. People love to talk about themselves. You know that you do. But it often happens that giving someone the chance to do it might be the best time you didn’t talk about yourself. Seek to learn from them and their experience.
  35. Getting a tattoo will teach you that you need to pay for the art — with time, money and pain. It’s the same for everything else in life. That’s why you need to embrace the sacrifice and be honest with yourself about what are you willing to let go of so that you could gain and become something more? Don’t rationalize. Once you decide, accept it and believe that it will be worth it.
  36. Be blunt, honest and direct. This makes everything easier. True, you will have fewer people in your life. But the ones who stay will stay because that’s who you are. This is a great feeling.
  37. Learn and read intentionally. Learning never stops, and as soon as you embrace that, and start using your current skill set to acquire even more skills, the sooner you will reach exponential growth. Find a way to remind yourself that learning is the reason that you are who you are today.
  38. Personal Development is not a fad. Everything starts with you. Develop self-awareness, work on your weaknesses, and focus the most on taking your strengths to the next level.
  39. Don’t settle. Not in love, not in career, not in business, not in health. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it shouldn’t be shitty either. I’d rather be single for life, than miserable with someone.
  40. Have a RELEASE VALVE — sooner or later, everyone bursts. Find something that will take the edge off. Running, working out, a weird hobby …whatever it is. Just find something constructive.
  41. Be careful not to find yourself on a HIGH SCHOOL reunion 20 years from now, unhappy with your life, hating Mondays, your marriage, your job, and pretty much everything else. Raise your head, see if you’re satisfied with your current circumstances and lifestyle, and if not, start with the thing you believe will make the biggest difference in your life.
  42. Evaluate your direction. It often happens that we blindly work towards goals, and that because we invested too much, we don’t stop to ask ourselves if this is still the right thing for us. Just like bad relationships.
  43. Be a teacher. An educator. Whenever you fail, whenever you succeed — be sure to share with others how you did it. This will help other people avoid failures, or overcome them faster, and reach success faster.
  44. Model the people that you admire. But first analyze what it is that triggers the sense of respect. Is it a personality trait, is it a skill, is it a value, or an accomplishment.
  45. Learn to find an underlying pattern in everything around you. Everything that’s successful has certain elements that made it that way. Including people. If you learn how to pinpoint them, and improve upon them, you will go far in life.
  46. Stop jumping from one idea to another. Pick something and give yourself at least 6 months before you decide whether or not it’s working. But in those 6 months, put your head down, and give it your best. Don’t half ass it.

Truths You Don’t Want To Hear But Must

19 Harsh Truths You Don’t Want To Hear But Must (You’ll Be 10 Times Better For It)

Image Credit: Young Pope

As a blogger, I cop a lot of heat for delivering the truth rather than sugar-coating it with Instagram selfies, perfect image filters and nice words. I’ve written about ditching your loser friends, giving up porn, being spat at by haters online and everything under the sun.

I’m not here to impress you; I’m here to give you the truth so you can grow. It’s not about me or some BS personal brand; it’s about how all of us can smash our goals using the truth and leave a legacy behind that will stop us from having regrets.

Here are the 19 harsh truths you must hear:


1. We all have the same problems.

My problems are the same as your problems. You might be dealing with some BS, but you’re not alone. That divorce, person that passed away, rejection letter you got or redundancy you were forced to take is happening to many other people, at exactly the same time.

Knowing your problems are all the same is how you stop yourself from getting stuck and feeling sorry for yourself. All your problems are simply a process that you have to deal with.

This process is part of the human experience and it’s what you were forced to sign up for when your parents decided to have sex and create you in the first place.


2. You don’t need experience — ever.

So many people in the workforce resist applying for their dream career because it says in the advertisement “5 years of X skill required with a proven track record.”

This line is part of every template for every job ad ever written.

This line is in the ad to stop time wasters and people that don’t have the killer instinct to see past the obstacle that’s been laid in front of them. If you give up on your career dream just because of one line, in one job ad, you’re probably not cut out to work for most companies.

Experience often leads to a fixed mindset that makes you think you know everything when you don’t.

Sometimes the best experience is no experience and a brilliant mindset.


3. We’re all going to have someone die on us — expect it.

I’ve lost many relatives in the last few years including my grandma who died at 104 because she stopped eating and decided she lived enough. On the day the doctors told me she didn’t have long to live, I was out of town.

I hurried back and went to see her. The doctors said to hurry up as she was close to death. I got there just in time to see her eyes still open. I held her hand and told her that I loved her very much. She squeezed my hand, closed her eyes and passed away shortly after. It’s like she was waiting for me the whole time.

All of us are going to lose someone, so enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. Don’t take a moment of it for granted and never leave people you care about on bad terms.

The last thing you want is someone to die on you having the relationship tarnished because of something stupid like a disagreement over money or a difference in beliefs.

“Death is guaranteed for all of us. It’s the only certainty we have and it’s the only motivation you should ever need”


4. Complaining is a F*cking waste of time.

It achieves nothing and is for cry babies who don’t want to face the harsh truth: we’re in control of everything that happens to us. Meaning: we’re in control of how we interpret all events.

Complaining is a disease that carries an antidote called “Freaking stop it, now, please.”

No one likes a complainer and it’s only making you get stuck in your head instead of charging forward towards your goals and doing something cool.


5. No one gives a hoot about your personal brand.

All these personal brand courses and “building a brand on LinkedIn” are ridiculous.

No one cares about your ego, how good you think you are or your company. All we care about is what’s in it for us. If you deliver something of value, then we will all like your stuff. There’s nothing else to it.

Your brand is just a perception based on the results you’ve proven in the past. Your brand is only as good as what you can teach us, give us or inspire us to do.

6. Other people’s opinions don’t matter.

Being bogged down by what other people think of you is crazy! Half the time, the people who are sharing these opinions are complete failures and are projecting their wants, needs, failures and desires onto you. They are hoping they can live vicariously through your life because their life sucks.

The only opinion that matters is yours. If you believe you can do the impossible, then you will.


7. You don’t need education or permission — they’re both optional.

A colleague asked me the other day if she should do a course in social media to get a job in the field. I told her “Screw that and build a presence online which will demonstrate your ability.”

I also told her “There’s a bunch of podcasts that you can listen to for free that don’t ever require you to do anything other than listening. Then all it comes down is picking the people who’ve already crushed it and following their strategies — seeing as they’re proven.”

You don’t need education to achieve your goals. You also don’t need anybody’s permission. If no one will hire you to build their website, then start your own company and generate business for yourself.

“Whatever you do, don’t waste time seeking approval. This habit comes out of overthinking, laziness or lack of execution”


8. You never want to have regrets.

There have been several studies conducted of what people dying think before they pass away. Uniformly, the vast majority have regrets about things they didn’t get to do.

When you realize that there are no barriers and you should just try everything that your heart desires (well maybe not drugs), you live a life of no regrets.

You experience life for the miracle that it is. If you like to travel then go do it. If you want a career in a certain field, then go do it. The strategies, resources, people, etc. will find their way into your life when you commit to taking action and not having regrets.


9. The human experience is full of suffering. Time to master it.

In some ways, you could describe our lives as torture. From day one, we’re going to suffer — guaranteed. On the other hand, suffering is only torture when you allow yourself to suffer.

When you see suffering as a necessity and you learn to use it to your advantage, that same suffering becomes fuel for your goals and dreams. All of a sudden, when suffering enters your life, you know what to do with it.

Suffering is part of the struggle which will help you do wonderful things in this world.


10. Quit wasting your time and throwing it down the toilet.

Pissing your time up against the wall doing useless activities rather than pursuing your passion(s) is the dumbest thing you can do. All of the things you want to achieve and haven’t yet can be done in the time you waste.

You think you don’t have time to write, make music, train for a sport but you do. You have just as much time as I do so why not use it to do the activities that will make you feel a sense of accomplishment?


11. Create value ahead of everything else.

That’s why I have no payment walls, masterminds or courses. When you create massive value for free, everything you need comes at you at 100 miles an hour.

The question is whether you’ll help other people get what they need so you can get what you need.

You’ll never have to worry about money again when you focus on creating the most value you can and growing through personal development.


12. Gratitude is a bloody superpower!

Ever since I started keeping a gratitude journal, I’ve learned to see so much good in the world. Even on days when I hit a major crisis, on the outskirts of that crisis is still so much good.

Gratitude is how you turn the balance of thoughts in your mind from negative to positive. This will never happen by default, so you have to make it a habit to deliberately be grateful every single day.


13. Hate to break it to you; money won’t make you happy.

I know what it’s like to have more money than you can spend. It means nothing. Sorry.

Deep down you know money won’t make you happy, yet you chase it because everyone else on the hamster wheel is doing the same.

The harsh truth is that meaning and purpose (which sound corny) are far more powerful than money will ever be.

We’re all chasing feelings, not money. You don’t want the money you want the feeling you get when you have it and buy stuff with it. Meaning and purpose give you even better feelings and they are free.

The most depressed I’ve ever been in my life is when I was rich in financial terms and poor in my own mind.

Everything changed when I found a purpose bigger than myself.

The exact same opportunity is available to you. Will you take it? Will you accept this harsh truth?


14. Be you and stop being an actor.

The right people will be attracted into your life when you quit being a Hollywood actor and pretending you don’t have problems and that life is like spending every day in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory licking lollipops and having Oompa Loompas serve you everything you could ever want.

The word “actor” is what I use to describe someone who’s not being vulnerable, authentic and real with everybody.

Telling people you’re not okay is fine. Asking for help is the greatest gift you can have in times of pain and suffering.

If you’re hiding the real you because you’re ashamed of who you are then know this: you can always become the person you’ve dreamt of being. It takes discipline, courage and a sense of fight to grow, adapt and admit when you’re wrong.

Accept where you are and move mountains to get where you know you can be in the future. We’re all capable of so much more than our current circumstances.


15. The only currency is time (Apologies crypto traders)

Quit trading time for money, distractions, toxic friends, bad habits and anything else you know is not serving what you stand for. Time is the one thing you can’t get more of. Time lets you work on those passions that send shivers down your spine.

Guard your time like you guard your life. Protect your time and spend it on things that will cause you to help others, live without regrets and be passionate.


16. Some people dream and others just execute. Do the later.

We’ve all got hopes and dreams but how many people do you know who actually do what they dream of. The answer is very few. That’s because dreaming is like an orgasm: it feels amazing.

“Dreaming has become a form of masturbation and it doesn’t lead to anything meaningful. Execution separates those people you deem to be successful from those people you deem to be mediocre, or worse yet, failures”

Execution is about not having all the answers and putting in the work. It’s spending five hours writing a blog post or doing a hundred laps of the running track to get your fitness level up.

We all want to become the best in our field but that will only happen if you experiment like crazy, learn, grow and continue executing.

You’ll gain the skills you need by executing and learning what doesn’t work. Please quit dreaming and start believing through executing.


17. Trying to meet society’s idea of success is a loser’s game.

What you see on the Internet as success is a lie. Success is whatever you make it and it varies to some degree for each and every person.

Most of what society thinks is success is built on outdated ideas.

For us millennials, our idea of success stems from our parents who value home ownership, cars, university and stuff that doesn’t align with who we are.

We have this inner conflict because we want to chase our own version of success, but then we lose society’s acceptance because we don’t fit the criteria of the majority.

Screw the majority. Following the herd is not how you become extraordinary: being you is.


18. Perfection doesn’t exist and never will.

Perfection is the belief that there’s some Havana where nothing goes wrong. Perfection ignores failure, mistakes, a growth mindset and an unrealistic view of reality.

“We’re all incredibly imperfect and that’s what makes us human and truly beautiful beyond what the eye can see. Perfection is a joke and that’s the harsh truth”


19. We’re all going to die. The End.

The clock is ticking amigo. Stop reading this article and use the time you have left to create a legacy that’s bigger than you could ever dream of. Inspire the world through your gifts, take care of your family and come to terms with the fact you’ll have to say goodbye one day.

Death is guaranteed for all of us. It’s the only certainty we have and it’s the only motivation you will ever need.

Originally posted on Addicted2Success.com


Call To Action

The Meaning of Life

Photo by Erii Gutierrez on Unsplash

The Meaning of Life

A tiny answer to a massive question.


God could very well exist. However, the burden of proof is on the believers to produce and provide evidence of her presence. I am not one of those believers. It doesn’t define my life; I don’t think about religion much. I do, however, think about something religion thinks about quite often, which is What It All Means. I found it, curiously, in the slightly-above-average mainstream American comedy City Slickers. Really.

“You’ve got to find that one thing,” says cowboy Curly, played by Jack Palance — who was nominated for a fucking Oscar for that performance! — before riding off into the actual sunset. Billy Crystal asks, “What’s the one thing?”


So, what is the one thing? What is the meaning of life? I turn back to various cultural institutions and systems of rule, including religion: capitalism, feudalism, socialism, democracy, military, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, sports, communism, imperialism, on and on … We can debate the merits and validity of each of these until we’re blue in the face — but I keep coming back to the one overlapping idea that crops up in everything: Service.

Bob Dylan once sang, “Gotta serve somebody.” And although he was specifically talking about god (or the devil), there are plenty of other definitions for service, largely qualified by exactly whom you are serving. In capitalism, it’s the market. In feudalism, it’s the lord. In democracy, it’s the electorate. In the military, it’s your country. In religion, it’s god. In sports, it’s your team. But, distilled to its essence, life — and the ways in which we attempt to organize it — is largely about serving other people. Where we tend to disagree — liberals, conservatives, Buddhists, Christians, imperialists, liberators — is on the “how.” And the “how” is very important.


Remember that one thing? That’s the how. It’s your own tiny way of impacting the world through the service of others, your own behaviors which ripple across society. If I could lay a few ground rules down for how to serve, I would propose the following:

  1. When possible, err on the side of kindness.
  2. When possible, err on the side of empathy.
  3. When possible, err on the side of justice.
  4. When possible, err on the side of flexibility.

A society that does not openly encourage kindness, empathy, justice and flexibility is a rigid, intolerant one — one that forces servitude upon its people in the name of greater good, while creating miserable lives for most with the exceptions of a select, privileged few. There is a net-increase in suffering.

A person who does not openly embody kindness, empathy, justice or flexibility is a tyrant — an authoritarian who believes others should exist only in service of this select, privileged few or face punitive measures. There is, again, a net-increase in suffering. No matter where you live, you’re probably thinking of someone in particular right now.

You can easily ask yourself if a society, culture, institution, humanity itself or the individuals it’s comprised of serve properly by answering this simple question: Do the people (and the environment!) they touch suffer less today than they did before?


And, couched within that question, is the meaning of life. To ease the burden of suffering of others. That is humanity’s greatest challenge. We address this challenge through service. It’s how we connect, aid, empathize, love, raise a family, save lives, enrich lives, cure disease, cultivate, create and fight. We do it to ease the burden of suffering. To lessen it. To divide it. To, hopefully, vanquish it. All service, no matter the name nor the god it is performed in the name of, must be done with this north star in mind. The meaning of life is to serve others with the purpose of easing the burden of suffering. That’s it. That’s the one thing. Your one thing, well, that’s still something you gotta figure out for yourself.


I — and perhaps you, too — often wrestle with the question of what constitutes “enough?” Namely, enough as it pertains to “how much should I do to ease the suffering of others?” The obvious answer is “as much as you possibly can,” but then the follow-up question is, “how much is that?”

After mulling over, I think we can frame the answer thusly: For as long as there is suffering in the world — and there will always be suffering somewhere — the answer is “it will never be enough.” I think what we were all put here to do, rather, is to gravitate a little closer to what “enough” could be, as long as we recognize that we are all enough in our little way. We all die eventually, often alone and with little fanfare, but what we do within our brief period of time spent as living, breathing humans, will have some measure of impact. I think it is our mission — neigh, our duty — to ensure that impact is kind, empathetic, just and flexible to change, able to bend ever closer to where humanity finds itself tomorrow and long after we’re gone.

Our lives serve something greater, and whether you believe that’s a god, or a country, or a city, or a team, or a business, or whatever, remember this: When you strip all that away, we serve humanity and Earth as a whole. We are cogs in the great universal machine. Where we find our freedom is in the way in which we turn, and in the way we help others find freedom for themselves. That’s What It All Means. Well, it’s one thing it could all mean, anyway.

The Hard Lesson I Learned Being Betrayed By My Closest Friends

Nicolas Cole Instagram

When I was in 8th grade, my 6 best friends kicked me out of our friend group.

I had shared my entire adolescence with these guys.

Every Friday night after school, we would all meet at the blue statue in the courtyard and walk three blocks to John’s house. John’s dad we were pretty sure was in the mafia and was never around, and John’s mom sat in the living room smoking cigarettes while she played Pokemon on Gameboy. We would go up to John’s room, which was tucked away in the attic under this awesome slanted ceiling, and play video games until two in the morning. Under the tiny television was a graveyard of gaming cartridges and wires. The room was small, so three of us would sit on the floor and the other three would sit on the leopard couch behind us. The rule was you had to give up your controller if you lost.

Every Halloween, we would meet at Kyle’s house to plan our routes.

We’d bring our empty pillow cases to school and start promptly at 3:30 p.m. First, we’d walk up and down the main streets, and then slowly make our way to the Woodlands — where the houses were bigger and the driveways were longer and the candy was King Size. In 7th grade, John’s sister started throwing parties on Halloween night, right down the street. When we were done trick-or-treating, we’d end at John’s house and walk into a kitchen full of 8th graders. Since it was John’s house, they were nice to us. They’d offer us beer, to stay and hang out, but we never did. We carried our heavy pillow cases up to John’s room in the attic, eating Reese’s peanut butter cups and Skittles while we played Phantasy Star Online.

We did everything together.

And went through everything together. When Kyle’s family decided to move to Mexico for a year, I became better friends with Nick and the other John — since our groups had merged in 5th grade, with me, Kyle, Turner, and the other Cole in one group, and both Johns and Nick in the other. Of everyone in that group though, Kyle was my best friend.

When Kyle’s parents moved out of their rental and into their first big, big house, I slept over before he even had furniture in his room. When Kyle got into paintballing, I got into paintballing too. When Kyle accidentally threw a shinny hockey stick at my head in his basement and I started gushing blood all over my heads, he and his mom took me to the hospital — and he played Gamecube with me while my stitches healed. And when Kyle got a really bad ear infection and had to get surgery, I was the one who stood up for him at school when kids called him deaf.

But by the end of 8th grade, suddenly we weren’t friends.

Kyle and John and Nick didn’t want to play video games anymore. They wanted to smoke cigarettes, and pour vodka into water bottles they could carry around — things I didn’t want to take part in. Kyle made some new friends that wore hemp necklaces with little glass mushrooms hanging in the middle. John and Nick made some new friends with guys who played computer games, not console games.

One day, I showed up to our lunch room table and my seat was taken. When I asked if anyone could move over, their elbows extended to fill the space between them.

“There’s no room for you. Sorry,” said Nick.

Kyle kept his eyes on his red lunchroom tray. He wouldn’t look at me.

Just a few weeks before summer, and a few months before going into high school, this was one of the saddest moments of my adolescence. I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I remember walking into high school, everyone immediately having some sense of “belonging.”

I had no one. And every group I tried to insert myself into, everywhere I tried to fit in, seemed to sing the same song.

“There’s no room for you. Sorry.”

For four years, I didn’t have a single friend at my high school. I had kids I sat next to in the lunch room, loners just like me, a long table we all shared to save ourselves the embarrassment of sitting alone. But the truth is, we were alone. We were all alone together.

I played two years of high school hockey, only talking to the guys on my team while we were on the ice. Off the ice, they had their own groups, and pretended I didn’t exist. In gym class, I was always last pick. In math, I partnered up with the Asian exchange student who didn’t speak very good english and have any friends either. In French, there was an odd number of students, I was the only guy, and since none of the girls really wanted to be my partner, I often did exercises with my teacher. I didn’t go to a single school event, or attend a school dance until my prom senior year, and I brought a girl from another school — my girlfriend.

How I coped with my feelings of betrayal and abandonment was by spending thousands of hours in the World of Warcraft.

I devoted my entire life to that game — and found friendship on the Internet instead.

I didn’t spend Saturday nights in someone’s basement, shotgunning beers and watching movies. I spent Saturday nights in Molten Core, listening to my guild leader give all 40 of us our assignments for that night’s raid.

I didn’t spend school nights asking my parents if I could go to a girl’s house to “study.” I spent school nights pretending to go to sleep at 10:00 p.m., only to crawl back out of bed at 10:42 p.m. to lead a 10-man Warsong Gulch group until 2:30 in the morning.

I didn’t spend Fridays downtown, grabbing pizza and seeing a movie with friends. I spent it ordering Chinese food or Domino’s Pizza, grinding honor points until I was face down on my keyboard and the sun was coming up.

I coped by focusing myself on my goals.

When I was 17 years old, I became one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America.

Experiencing betrayal, abandonment, and loneliness isn’t always a bad thing. It’s painful, but it’s not deadly. Looking back, my high school experience would have been incredibly different had I stayed friends with those guys. I probably wouldn’t have had the same determination and drive to achieve my goals in the World of Warcraft — because the game would have been a hobby, not an escape.

Often times, it’s the pain we go through that makes us great at what we do. This is the duality of “success.” However, in order to cope in a productive way, you have to be aware of the pain you’re experiencing — and why.

Then it becomes a simple question of how you want to cope.

Do you want to be self destructive?

Or do you want to be self motivated?

Thinking in Levels

Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash

Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem from the level of thinking that created the problem in the first place“.

The process of thinking involves several levels, but only a few people think beyond the first level.

Multiple level thinking in common among poker players. It’s a concept that has been made popular by David Sklansky in his book No Limit Hold ’em: Theory and Practice, and defines the different levels of thought that a poker player can occupy when playing:

  • Level 0: No thinking.
  • Level 1: What do I have?
  • Level 2: What do they have?
  • Level 3: What do they think I have?
  • Level 4: What do they think I think they have?
  • Level 5: What do they think I think they think I have?

Thinking in levels can expose flaws in your decision making process, helping you to make choices with little or no blindspots.

In life and business, the person with fewest blind spots wins.

When you think in levels, you don’t decide in a vacuum. You develop a better thought process that saves you from making bad decisions.

You gather pieces of information, analyse the meaning of the knowledge you have gathered, comprehend it, and confirm it, before drawing conclusions.

Multiple level thinkers analyze information as a whole considering its various parts. They synthesize each piece to form a whole.

Robert Sternberg, a professor of psychology and education at Yale University, says that successful people use three kinds of intelligence: analytical, creative, and practical. A successful person, according to Sternberg, uses all three.

Moste decisions we make in life gets processed through our life experiences or the mental models we have gathered over the years — what we have been taught at home and school, what we have read, what we have seen, what we have heard, and so on.

This is how you make sense of our world.

You could say that humans understand the world by building a “model” of it in our minds. When we are trying to decide how to act, we can simulate a situation by running it through the model.

It’s like a simulation of the world inside your brain.

Instead of thinking on the fly, you use mental models to analyse every situation before making a choice.

The 3 thinking levels

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Level 1

Level one thinkers observe, but rarely interpret or analyse what they see.

They take information on the face value. In his book, The Most Important Thing Illuminated, Howard Marks explains:

First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it (a bad sign for anything involving an attempt at superiority). All the first-level thinker needs is an opinion about the future, as in “The outlook for the company is favorable, meaning the stock will go up.” Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted.

At level one, there is no reasoning beyong the obvious, no adaptation, or analysis.

Most people get stuck at level 1. They take in facts, statistics and information, but never question the reasoning behind them or make the effort analyse what they have seen, read or been taught.

They obsessively seek out truth that comfirms their wordviews and cling to it with little room for metacognition (thinking about their thinking).

Level 2

At this level, you allow yourself to interpret, make connections and meanings.

Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Second-level thinking takes a lot of work.

At the second level, decision makers begin to interpret and analyze the pieces they have observed and put them together to form meaning.

This is the level at which we begin to look for alignments, contrast, repetition or improvements.

Many modern innovators who improve upon past inventions instead of transform industries use level two thinking.

Apps that connect better or help us work smarter. Planes that fly farther, faster, phones that process better, cars that are better designed, or are environmentally friendly.

Example, the smartphone has benefited from Moore’s Law — the consistent, significant increase in performance — with processor and connectivity speeds seeing the biggest increments without major breakthrough.

These increments help us save time. They improve upon existing inventions but are not transformational.

Level two thinkers synthesis better — build up or connect separate pieces of information to form a larger, more coherent pattern.

They are better at reorganising or rearranging ideas to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the “big picture”.

They can deconstruct assumptions and ideas that are hidden in an idea and detect the relationship among the parts or the relationship between the parts and the whole.

Level 3

This is the alpha stage of thinking.

Level 3 thinkers have the capacity to transfer knowledge, i.e., to apply a concept learned in one context to different contexts than the one in which the concept was originally learned.

Here is a short fascinating story of Steve Jobs’s youthful calligraphy class. After dropping out of school, he wandered into a calligraphy course.

It seemed irrelevant at the time, but the design skills he learned were later baked into the first Macs.

The takeaway: You never know what will be useful ahead of time. You just need to try new things and wait to see how they connect with the rest of your experiences later on.

Level 3 thinkers can view an issue or idea from a variety of viewpoints, standpoints, or positions to gain a more comprehensive and holistic understanding.

They generate imaginative ideas, unique perspectives, innovative strategies, or novel (alternative) approaches to traditional practices.

This is what gives rise to human genius that change the course of history.

It’s what happens when high performers, and innovations ask questions beyond a mere “why?”.

It’s the source of abstract thought — scientific and artistic creativity.

Global transformational ideas reside in the minds of creative, inventive people who use level 3 thinking.

Society advances through the work of the alphas, because these creatives, innovators, and disruptors present new options and explore possibilities and new territories.

The go beyond the norm, the obvious, and the conventional to make connections.

Aphas are on the forefront of modern medicine and engineering.

Everyone has the potential to be an alpha, but when we grow too lazy to question, too comfortable to expand our world-views, apathetic or bored to ask “why”, we stop advancing as a species.

Dig deeper

I will be launching a new course, “Thinking in Models: The Mental Frameworks, Models, and Thinking Patterns of Top Achievers,” soon. It’s designed to help you to think clearly, solve problems at multiple levels of depths, and make complex decisions with confidence. Sign up here and be the first to be notified when it launches.