It’s poison, this idea.
Even worse, it seems kind and benevolent on the surface. In theory, it sounds great, but in practice, it will ruin your life.
I’ve seen this idea spread and permeate into the culture and, honestly, I’m not looking forward to seeing the long-term results of this idea coming to fruition. The sad thing? The people falling for this idea aren’t bad people. They’re good people being misled.
Hell, even some the people promoting the idea aren’t bad. Though, some of them are and they’re pushing this idea on purpose. I fear that this idea will swallow societies whole. It already has fully captured the soul of countless people.
If you subscribe to this idea, you won’t necessarily live a tragic life, but you definitely won’t get what you want. If you fight for this idea and win, you’ll experience a pyrrhic victory — you’ll have wasted more than you ever gained.
So what’s this poisonous idea?
It’s the idea that you are owed anything whatsoever beyond the most basic and obvious human rights.
“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” – Seneca
Somewhere along the line, we spread this idea that you deserve happiness and contentment by default.
Says who? Why?
Why should you be happy if your behaviors aren’t conducive to being happy?
I’m not the type of person who says happiness needs to be rooted in desire and achievement. You don’t need to accomplish world domination to feel good about yourself, but you do have to actively earn the right to feel good about yourself.
Some would say you don’t need to do that. Eastern philosophy says you can be content right now without doing anything. This is technically true, but I encourage you to try it and see how well that works for you. Odds are, you won’t maintain a life of constant meditation and asceticism.
So what should you do? There’s no exact answer, but it involves maintaining a steady ratio of contentment and gratitude along with earned pride and self-esteem. Sure, you’re inherently worthy as a human being, but take a step beyond that.
If you’re dead broke, out of shape, working a job you hate, in a bad relationship, wasting most of your time, etc, why would you be happy at all? You’d have no reason to.
I’m painting a caricature but you get the point. Again, this isn’t about perfection. It’s about understanding that a general sense of well being and self-esteem doesn’t just fall from the sky.
Too many people are wasting time trying to figure out why they’re not happy when it’s obvious — being an unhealthy aimless wanderer with no purpose will make you unhappy.
The coddling of the American mind is reaching peak levels in 2020 and beyond. If you’re not happy, blame someone else. Practice ‘self-care’ by abandoning personal responsibility and rewarding yourself for doing nothing. Outsource your agency and contentment to an institution.
I have no moral qualm with this messaging. I focus on results. What kind of outcomes will you get from believing you have to earn your happiness versus waiting for it to fall from the sky?
You know the answer, but you have to constantly unearth the answer from your mind because society piles layers of BS on top of it. When you understand that life is something you have to actively learn how to live well, you’re on the path to happiness.
This is a more fun and rewarding perspective anyway. Once you make the mindset shift that your self-improvement is an enjoyable journey, enjoyable because it can be difficult, you’re on your way.
“I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” – Thomas Sowell
I’m going to piss some people off, but when it comes to your financial life, nobody owes you a damn thing.
Nobody owes you a living wage.
Employment is a voluntary contract between the employee and the employer. What is a living wage, anyway? It’s an arbitrary line drawn by some paper shuffler.
If you’re alive and you earn wages, don’t you earn a living wage? Oh, no? You’re barely scraping by in your rent-controlled apartment and food stamps? Got it.
The thing is, I agree with the idea that the systems in America are poorly set up and that average hard-working people don’t make enough money to live well in America. I really do. But when I look around at the entire world, I find it hard to have sympathy for those who live in the West.
I wish everyone could take a field trip and go visit some dying three-year-old child with malnutrition potbelly, look them in the eye, and complain to them about how they’re not making $15 an hour. Again, I’m not callous to the plight of working-class, middle class, poor people, any category, but perspective is necessary.
And this idea that you are owed remuneration has gotten out of hand. Social safety nets for those unable to work? Of course. But guaranteeing a wage most reasonable people can attain if they tried? No.
The greatest magic trick society pulled was convincing the masses that money is scarce when it’s not. Money is everywhere. You’re just on the wrong side of the equation — employee instead of employer, consumer instead of producer, buyer instead of seller, borrower instead of lender, giving interest to someone else instead of earning it.
I can give you a pretty milquetoast plan that almost anyone could follow. I can give you dozens of them.
You could easily do something like prospect for businesses who need websites, sell them websites, hire developers to make the website, and pocket the difference.
]You could flip items you got on craigslist, some for free. Someone making $50,000 a year could save a portion of their income and eventually become a millionaire. You could go on a busy street and make a few hundred bucks in a day doing a carwash.
But most people won’t do this. Somehow, people who seem so desperate for money seem to have so much time on their hands to engage in BS activities. Maybe, just maybe, if you don’t have the financial situation you want, fun might need to go on the back burner for a bit.
And, really, how much fun is it to numb yourself over the weekend just to go back to that crappy job? Again, you don’t have to do anything. But you will have to live with the results of your action or inaction. Doesn’t matter how you feel about me or the message because the message is a prophecy that will come true and you know it.
Stop with the excuses. Nobody is putting a gun to your head telling you that you have to do what you do for a living. Talent matters, yes. You’re not as smart as Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. Neither am I. But you don’t need to be. For every Zuckerberg there are thousands of people who have mundane businesses like laundromats, making a killing.
How? They just decided to do it.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You’re a social animal. You want respect, admiration, and status. Some people want these things in varying degrees, but we all want them. Far too many people have the false belief that people should like them for no reason.
“Just be yourself and everything will be fine.”
Be yourself is the best and worst piece of advice I’ve ever heard. On the one hand, you don’t want to be someone you’re not to get others to like you so, yes, you should be yourself, but you should be the best version of yourself.
Some people take the advice as permission to do zero work on themselves and wait for the world to just show them love. But that’s not how the world works. Also, are you really being yourself if you’re selling yourself short?
Again, I look at the world through the lens of results and outcomes. Not the way things should be, but the way things are. Also, being your most authentic self is a paradox because it involves achieving worldly outcomes for non-wordly reasons. You’re playing the game for the sake of yourself and the rewards at the bi-product.
Maybe it’s not fair that personal appearance in general, from fitness to grooming to body language, affects your prospects in life, but it does. Maybe it’s not fair that confidence and certainty command more respect than a meek wallflower attitude, but it’s true.
Perhaps we should all take the time to carefully consider the inner soul of every human we come across instead of using heuristics and snap judgments to filter through people, but we don’t.
You can’t just be one hundred percent yourself one hundred percent of the time and say anything you want to anyone without having any sort of filter or social calibration.
Speaking of social, oftentimes the people who have better social skills advance more quickly than those who have more true competence at the skill. Tough cookies.
When it comes to bringing people to your cause, whether it’s building an audience, finding customers, or starting a movement, you have to find the best intersection between what you have to offer and what people want.
Far too often I see business owners and content creators use the word ‘my’ too much — my content, my business, my art. Nope, your content, business, and art are for other people.
The delicate balance between staying true to yourself and responding to the way others perceive you, while simultaneously not caring what they think, is an inexact science you’ll never get quite right, but the aggressive pursuit of it will lead to great results over time.
Like it or not, the world is a stage. You don’t need to pander, but you don’t need to play the game. At least, you do if you want to win.
Life isn’t fair.
Is it fair to the gazelle that the lion comes to eat it? That gazelle had a family after all. I’m sure it enjoyed running across the savannah. But, alas, the lion does not care about the wellbeing and ambitions of the gazelle.
Obviously, we’re a step above the lion and the gazelle, but not by all that much. Believe what you want to believe, but if you forget the parallels we have with the animal kingdom — hell, not even parallels, we’re apart of it — you’ll continue to get blindsided in life over and over again.
This is what happens to people. They play by the rules of idealism and the real world slaps them in the face. But the slaps in the face still don’t seem to wake them up because they’re so stuck in the illusion and their identity is so attached to this concept of how things ‘should’ be that they’ll literally throw their life away to adhere to it.
Don’t be one of these people.
I wish utopian ideas actually worked. They just don’t. It would be nice if everything you wanted to happen just found a way to make itself happen.
Or, would it?
I know it’s hard to believe if you don’t quite have what you want in life yet, but you wouldn’t want everything handed to you. Sure, you’d take the deal, but you’d regret it.
Ask any trust fund kid or lottery winner what getting a large unearned massive dopamine spike can do to your psyche. You don’t want your life to be crazy difficult for no reason either, but you do want challenges.
Let the rest of society fight to raise the lowest common denominator. Your ambitions should be well above that anyway. Let the rest of the world spend enormous amounts of energy trying to overthrow the system. Understand that you can escape the system without the machine even noticing.
Let everyone else cry, complain, and waste their life waiting for the world to be fair.
You? You make the world bend to your will.