Wanna know the worst part about failing to achieve your goals, live the life you want, and overcome your challenges?
It’s not the lack of the outcome itself, but rather the fact you broke your agreement with yourself.
Each time you tell yourself you’re going to do something and fall short, you chip away at your soul one little piece at a time. In isolation, none of these broken agreements are so bad, but cumulatively, they destroy you.
And they destroy you in a way that’s almost worse than total abject destruction.
See, when your life is just genuinely messed up and horrible, you can almost tolerate that more because you can’t do much about it or the odds are so stacked against you that it’s much easier to justify your situation because it’s justifiable.
People in poverty and destitution aren’t leading “lives of quiet desperation” they’re just royally screwed.
Consequently, many people in these situations, take third world countries, for example, find a level of happiness because they are so circumstantially challenged the almost have no choice.
But “normal people” maybe you, who let their souls rot away in the suburbs. I can think of few worse hells. I use the same analogy over and over again — Chinese water torture. Breaking your agreements day after day until you die.
You will get no pep talk from me about how easy it is to keep your agreements to yourself. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But it’s worth it. Keep these top ones in mind.
This doesn’t mean “never take anyone’s opinion into account. It simply means that you should never let the opinion of other people dictate what you’re going to do with your life. I’ve seen it happen over and over again to so many people. And it often comes from one particular source.
Can you guess?
I can’t tell you how many messages people have sent me about the fact that they want to do something different with their life but won’t do it because they don’t want to let their parents down. Even middle-aged people suffer from this.
Are people like your parents trying to make you unhappy? No. But one important truth you must understand about people — often, they can’t help themselves.
You’d think the people that created you would want the best for you.
Actually, they do, but they just have a different definition of the word ‘best’ than you do.
They project dreams and insecurities on you at the same time. Don’t blame them. Accept that they’re coming from the only paradigm they know and move forward. Politely reject their advice. Don’t even say anything. Just don’t follow their directions.
Parents are the overarching example, but there are many others:
Here’s the thing about compromising your dreams and failing to put boundaries around your non-negotiable values — nobody will respect or appreciate you for it. You’ll end up with a martyr complex and wonder why everyone isn’t super thankful for your sacrifice.
Counterintuitively, if you put yourself first and set those boundaries, you’ll get the respect because few people have the confidence to do it.
There are few better feelings than courage — being scared yet doing the thing anyway. You experience a type of euphoria you can’t replicate any other way.
I don’t know about you, but fear annoys me.
The fact that I’d ever hold myself back for any reason, over some petty psychological BS, seems so insane to me, but of course, it happens. It happens to me just like it happens to you. I have limiting beliefs. I have impostor syndrome — I gave an entire talk about it.
Part of me wants to stay in the house forever and live in total comfort, but I just don’t allow myself to be complacent. I’ve decided that I’m never going to be in my “comfort zone” again.
Does this mean you have to live like me? No.
Do you have to achieve world domination to be happy? Absolutely not.
But your soul will atrophy if you don’t exercise it. And you exercise your soul by being courageous.
Courage takes many forms In general, standing up against your inner critic, the resistance, the beguiling monkey mind, takes courage. The odds are stacked against you. Psychological resistance weighs heavy, no way around it. So how do you stand up to it?
My go-to answer is always the same — realize you are going to die. There’s no fear to feel when you’re in the abyss, gone forever.
I always try to think to myself, “If this moment embarrasses me, if I get rejected, if this doesn’t work out, will I ever care 6 months from now? 6 weeks? Hell, even 6 hours? Probably not. If it works, however, I’ll always remember it.”
As much as I talk about ambition, goal setting, productivity, and world domination so to speak, I understand how important it is to have gratitude and develop detachment from your desires.
On the one hand, you want to push for your goals and dreams like they mean everything. And the other hand, you need to understand they mean nothing and that, ultimately, all you have is the now, your existence, your oneness with the universe.
Since I’m so ambitious, I have to put a focus on this philosophy:
People often comment on my work and tell me to “be content.”
Being content takes work.
Most people pretend to be content. They live in an apathetic limbo They’re not really grateful for what they have. Their ‘gratitude’ is actually a coping mechanism they use to justify their inability to act — to face that inner critic and really do something.
Most people can say “I feel grateful to have a roof over my head, food on my stomach, and clothes on my back.” Go above and beyond that/
Can you be grateful for the obstacles, pain, and tragedy that can make you stronger?
Can you be grateful for the outcomes you’ve earned through hard work and overcoming the inner critic?
Are you grateful for the abundant opportunities available to you? If so, why aren’t you doing anything with them?
Ah, see, there’s the kicker. Being ‘fake content’ is a lot like having a toolset but building nothing with it.
Think of people who are really grateful like immigrants who come to America. They work their ass off because they truly appreciate the opportunity, while all the “content” people watch Netflix.
Focus on the proper form of gratitude, the whole form.
So much of happiness boils down to:
If you eat shit food, never exercise, watch tons of T.V., booze it up every weekend, how in the hell are you going to be happy?
You are a biological entity. Your mood is heavily affected by the way you treat your biological entity.
I’d love to see a case study on people’s moods if society as a whole adopted the following practices:
If society as a whole managed to do this for, say, six months, I’d suspect we’d see a sharp drop in anxiety — razor sharp.
Do I want you to become a self-improvement robot? No.
But you have to understand how much of an impact your environment has on your mental state as well as the way you treat the vessel that houses your mind.
All this stuff seems basic and elementary, doesn’t it?
Everything I write is basic and elementary. The keys to happiness, success, contentment, etc, are sitting right in front of you? But you, we all, want to look for magic answers elsewhere. Why?
Because facing the truth that you’re not living right is hard to bear. Nobody wants to look in the mirror and admit they’re messing up their own life.
You should want to take care of you the most. You are…you, after all. This cognitive dissonance caused by your inability to care for yourself causes a ton of problems.
The only antidote to all of this is my final point.
Here’s my problem with the ‘snowflakes.’ The people Jonathan Haidt talks about in The Coddling of the American Mind.
I don’t have any moral qualms with people taking little to no responsibility for their life.
It just doesn’t work well.
What is the use in griping about the government? What else can you do above writing a letter to your congressperson and voting in November? Not much. So why all the obsession over politics? You’re hiding.
You’re a woman, a minority, gay, [insert marginalized group here]? Ok. What’s the next move, though?
You have to live your life. I know successful people in every single marginalized category you can think of. Every. Do you know what they have in common? They all had a similar conversation with themselves:
“Yeah, this shit is kind of unfair, but…life is short, I don’t have time to wait for everything to be perfect, I’m still going to try to win anyway.”
Complaining just doesn’t do all that much. Again, no moral judgment, but it’s mostly a waste of time.
If you want to be a social media activist, go right ahead. It is, after all, a free country.
If you want to wait for society to be perfect, go ahead.
I’m here to make suggestions. I don’t know you. If you think my advice sucks, just don’t follow it. I make educated guesses as to what will happen if you choose a certain route.
And if you don’t adopt a philosophy of personal responsibility life is going to be very, very, very hard for you. Don’t do it for me. Do it for you. Trust me. You’re better off.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t take responsibility for themselves, you’re already experiencing the misery that comes with it. Project that out to the rest of your life. Not good, friend. Not good at all.
Honestly, taking responsibility for yourself isn’t the best option in an objective sense. I don’t look at it from a moral perspective. It’s simply better for your own well being and happiness. It’s more useful.