Imagine how shitty your life must be if you’re thinking about Donald Trump while you’re on vacation.
You don’t have to imagine, actually, because this was exactly what Rob Reiner was doing. Here’s his exact quote:
I’m in Sedona where my daughter will be giving a photographic presentation. And although it’s beautiful & quite spiritual here, my mind can’t escape the ugliness & horror that is our President. For the preservation of Democracy & our national sanity,
Sadly, this probably isn’t the most hyperbolic example I can find of people feeling extreme levels of negativity in today’s society.
Often, the conversation in the culture war revolves around inequality.
I agree that inequality is a major problem in today’s society, but the problem isn’t (just) inequality of resources. Many people suffer from an inequality of mindset.
They are so negative and entrenched in mud-slinging contests that they can’t see the vast opportunity in front of them. Sadly, their self-fulfilling prophecies will come true.
You can’t be happy and successful if you think the sky is falling.
The way you think is your reality in a sense that’s more real than people give credence to. Your definition of how the world works and your role in it has an impact so deep and profound that I just finished a draft of an 80,000-word book just to get that point across.
People don’t just disagree on facts. We live in different realities.
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip turned controversial political pundit talks about a concept called “two movies on the same screen.”
Imagine you’re in a theatre watching a movie. Everyone else is watching the same exact film — except the people watching the movie have different beliefs.
After the movie ended and you were to ask people to describe the movie to you, you wouldn’t just get slightly varied accounts of the movie.
If you didn’t watch the movie yourself, you’d swear the people in that theatre had watch different films altogether, even though the opposite is true.
Both sides of an aisle don’t “disagree with each other,” they genuinely live in different realities. I can’t overstate how important it is to understand this concept.
People live in parallel universes. And the most important divide right now is between extreme optimism and extreme pessimism.
Some people look at the man and the oval office and think the world is coming to an end (literally). Others, like me, who see a 7-year-old boy starting a million dollar company from making toy reviews and Musk trying to save us all through technology, think we’re living in an insanely abundant time with endless opportunity.
Which side is right? Both.
We will continue to live in our parallel realities unless they crash together (more on that later). The side you choose isn’t a trivial choice it all. It could mean the difference between having everything you want and having nothing.
You already know which side I lean on, but let me give both their justice.
“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.” – Charlie Munger
When you make a straw man argument, you argue against a fake point someone didn’t actually make.
When you make a steelman argument, you’re making the best possible argument for a point you disagree with.
There’s a clear argument for the sky is falling narrative. Let me paint it as well as possible before I give you my opinion.
You can’t turn on the T.V. without hearing about a school shooting, an unarmed minority getting shot, a woman’s right being taken away, or a hate crime being committed. All the while, orange man is laughing to the bank…in Russia.
How am I doing so far?
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lens with which you can see many negative aspects of today’s society. Opportunities are limited. But they’re only limited for a certain type of person.
Unfortunately, most people are that type of person. If you want to thrive, you’re going to have to become an outlier, an anomaly. You have to join the smaller and higher portion of the pyramid because, in a way, the pessimist is right, the inequality is going to continue to get worse.
Which side will you be on?
I woke up today without an alarm clock. Instead of commuting, I start my workday by walking ten feet from my bedroom to my desk. When do I start? When I want to.
Often, instead of getting straight into my morning routine, I screw around on Twitter.
Here are some of the things I saw today:
This is the same social media app where you can find tons of political outrage, sadness, and negativity. I choose to operate on the corner of the internet where the possibilities are endless, where there are countless examples of free and autonomous individuals doing whatever the hell they want.
What are some of the things we believe and the concepts we know to be true? I’ll explain.
For $30, you can start a Shopify store and begin selling products online without carrying any inventory at all. If you want to spend a bit more but still not break the bank, you can buy a custom brand from companies like The Ridge Market who will set up your entire operation for you.
I make a living writing by using the website Medium.com. I signed up for free and started with zero followers. My colleague Shannon Ashley did the same and went from making $10/hr at a social media company to making $10,000 in a single month. Did I mention she’s a single mom?
Throughout the day on Youtube, I watch videos by people who built a full-time living doing what they love, either for free or with the help of a camera and microphone that don’t cost a ton.
You can read the $100 startup, which talks about many businesses you can start for little to no money.
You don’t need money to start a business. Period.
Imagine if you could go from minimum wage to learning a six-figure skill without having to pay any money up front.
Enter Lamba School. At Lambda school, you learn how to code and get placed at a job. You pay Lambda a portion of your income for the first few years of your employment, but if you don’t land a job that reaches a certain salary level, you pay nothing.
You don’t need to be a genius to learn how to code nor do you need to be privileged. Visit the founder’s Twitter account and you’ll see stories of people who used to be janitors, Walmart employees, call center works, who 5 and 10x their income by going through the program.
People of all races, colors, creeds, and education levels.
You can take classes from Ivy League universities for free. Granted, you don’t get the credentials, but you no longer really need them. More and more there are alternative routes to education and employment that don’t require you to become an indentured servant. Use them.
I took paid online courses on self-publishing, blogging, and marketing. Total cost = $1000 or so. Then I used Youtube and free blogs to supplement the information. I’ve gotten a 100x return on my investment.
You don’t need money to get an education. Period.
In the book Zero to One, Peter Theil talks about “vertical progress,” which is just a fancy way of saying brand new technologies that shift what’s possible.
Many of these technologies could solve future problems:
The optimist always bets on technology. So far, technology is undefeated. We’re still here, after all.
When you start to connect with smart, free, and creative people both online and offline, you run into all sorts of opportunities.
I wrote a blog post about self-publishing and mentioned the name of an author in it. Said author found that post and reached out to me for a Skype session. He owns a company that helps run ads for authors online. He set up a bunch of ads for me and I pay him a cut of the profits he generates for me from thin air.
Just by putting myself out there and sharing my ideas, I’ve gotten opportunities I never thought possible — high-paying freelance gigs, speaking at Tedx, being in online panels and podcasts, working with startups.
All of this because I have a positive, optimistic, and abundant mindset coupled with doing the work to turn my dreams into reality.
Who’s right? Us, or the arbiters of outrage? Both of us.
Are you getting the point yet?
It saddens me to see so many people feeling helpless. I’m not saying it’s easy to just lift yourself out of your circumstances. It’s quite hard.
I’m also not saying they don’t have valid arguments, they do. Ultimately, though, it’s your choice to decide what reality you’re going to live in, and there are consequences for your choices.
Do yourself a favor and read The Lessons of History by Will Durant.
It takes about the inevitable cycles and patterns of human nature that appear throughout history.
He talks about the fact that power concentration and too much inequality causes revolts. This is true. We’re revolting right now because of the inequality we see, but the inequality is being misdiagnosed.
This entire thing is psychological. If everyone were to snap out of this negativity, everything would be just fine, but they won’t, so it won’t be.
Here’s what the future will look like for the pessimists. See, when you believe the sky is falling and feel helpless, you’ll want someone to save you.
So you’ll rush to the voting booth to vanquish your enemies. But even if your side wins, something strange will happen, your life won’t get any better.
After realizing this you’ll only have two options — the tough path of personal change or nihilistic revolt. Sadly, many will choose the latter. And let’s say you do decide you want to change your life and join the optimists. It may be too late.
The gap will grow wider and wider and wider. The optimists will create a way out for themselves. Look at the picture Naval Ravikant paints:
The distant future is small free cities with drone armies and skill-based immigration policies, surrounded by a sea of failed socialist states.
I don’t even think he’s being hyperbolic. The aristocrats will not sit idle while you revolt. They’ll stash their holdings in crypto and flee. Soon, the choices will be freedom and autonomy or complete reliance on the state, which never ends well.
Everyone’s a soldier in the culture war. What are you fighting for?
Obviously, there are still many, many, many problems in the world. It doesn’t take a genius to point that out, by the way. But we’ve always had problems.
You don’t have coin chance of surviving because of the bubonic plague, nor do you to have to involuntarily storm the beaches of Normandy, nor do you live in a tribe while having to keep an eye out for Saber Tooth Tigers.
We’ll always have problems. How you deal with them matters more than anything else.