Mentality

Intelligence is a HABIT. Stupidity is a CHOICE.

“The only thing I truly know is that I know nothing”
-Socrates 

Edited, enhanced and revised as of 11/6/2015

Please do read this whole post, but because reading is hard (and because you’re a busy person with important business to get back to) I’ve bolded and numbered some action-items below for you to get smarter ASAP. There are lovely quotes in big letters throughout, and I’ve even included a lovely TL;DR at the end. Now, then… Onward to brilliance!


How do you tell which kids in a classroom are the smart ones and which are the, *ahem*, less smart ones?

It’s easy; the smart ones sit in the front asking questions, and the stupid one sits in the back picking his nose and drawing pictures of dicks. The kids in the middle are basically the average of those two extremes.
We all like to think we’re wonderfully unique, complex intellectual individuals… In fact, we’re all pretty similar. Everybody is made of the same stuff, and although genetics do play a role, we all have the same human potential for intelligence (or lack thereof).

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain a few techniques and philosophies that will, whether you’re the booger picker, the brainiac, or the average student, help to accelerate your intellectual progress.

But first, let me share perhaps the most important aspect of gaining intelligence:
YOU MUST HAVE A REASON!
If you don’t have a good reason to learn, you won’t stick with it in the long term. Learn something that relates directly to your passion. If the thought of becoming a master in your field isn’t profoundly exciting, you’ve chosen the wrong subject. Enthusiasm is essential.

Moving forward,

KEY POINT #1: 
Reading a book is like receiving a 1-on-1 lesson from an accomplished expert in your chosen field.

Picking up a book daily is the best thing you can do for your intellect. Any nonfiction will do.
Read a paperback, a book on Kindle, or listen to an audiobook… Whichever way you prefer to take smart words and put them in your brain.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal… 15 minutes of reading before bed, 30 minutes of audio on your commute, etc… It really is that simple. This is how you slowly become smarter over the years.

You probably already know that you should be reading, but maybe, for whatever reason, you just don’t. Here is one trick to start reading more:

Surround yourself with books. If you see books all over your room, your desk, scattered around every surface… You’ll read more. At the very least, you’ll think about reading more. You will naturally do more of what you subconsciously think about. Surround yourself with good books, and set little reminders on your phone, computer, or wherever you can slap a post-it note.

Every word that enters your brain affects you. What you see on TV, hear on the radio, read on billboards… All of that soaks into your brain and influences you without you realizing it. That’s scary, but the good news is that books work the same way. Reading high quality nonfiction quietly absorbs the brilliance of great minds into your own. Blog posts are OK, too… But again, the emphasis must be on quality. If we’re going to be brainwashed either way, we might as well be brainwashed by high quality content of our own choosing. Avoid advertisements, alarmist media, and all social/sensationalist media!

Figure out who you admire. Find someone you respect who has your dream job. Read everything they’ve written, and you’ll suddenly be a little bit more like that person. Self-transformation by osmosis!

Although we used grades in school as a metric for intelligence, as adults we don’t have an easy measure to judge each other’s intelligence. IQ is fine, but most people never take a real IQ test. Facebook IQ quizzes do not count. Even if we had a concrete measure of intelligence, people would never acknowledge their own stupidity. Stupid people have chosen to lead an unenlightened life, and they will bitterly defend that decision until the day they die.

49% the population must possess below average intelligence, so why won’t a single person acknowledge their sub-par brainpower? Have you ever met a parent who honestly, truly believes that their kid is stupid? Me either.

Stupid people are not only ignorant of their own stupidity, but they actually believe they’re far above average.

This unawareness of ignorance has been named and studied:
People smarter than me discovered the Dunning-Kruger effect. Basically, unskilled people can’t tell they’re unskilled because it requires that same skill to recognize the lack of it.

dilbertdunningkruger

Stupid people, as well as bad drivers, bad writers, and bad singers are all blissfully unaware of their lack of skill, and can even be painfully overconfident of their abilities.

Back to the kid in the classroom: why is the smart kid in front asking questions, while the stupid kid cares more about dicks and boogers than quadratic equations?

It comes down to habits:
Smart people read books, stupid people watch TV. Smart people are curious and ask questions, stupid people aren’t and don’t. Habits would take up more space than I have here, but you can check out The Power of Habit for an in-depth look at habit-building.

Enthusiasm for learning is a trainable habit. Passion is the key to long-term growth.
If you aren’t genuinely interested in learning anything, you will need to discover something that genuinely fascinates you.

When a smart person hears a word they don’t know, they look it up.

When a stupid person hears a string of words they don’t know, their eyes glaze over.

Smart people always want to know more. Stupid people don’t care one way or the other.

Here’s the biggest difference between smart people and stupid people:
Smart people know facts, stupid people “know” bullshit.
Smart people understand that what they know might not be accurate, and they are capable of objectively judging the merit of an idea they don’t agree with.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it.”
-Aristotle

KEY POINT #2:

What, exactly, is the difference between smart and stupid?
It comes down to three things:
Knowledge, skills, and wisdom.

Knowledge means knowing facts about things. For example, knowing what trains are made of and how fast various types of trains can move.
Skills are the various tasks that we’ve grown to excel at over the years. For example, running fast, engineering technology, and piloting a train are all skills that we must learn and practice over time.
Wisdom is essentially life experience. It’s commonly called “common sense”, and it is the reason why older people tend to be a little smarter than young people. More years on Earth generally means you’ve seen more shit in your life.

Knowledge is knowing what a train is made of, while wisdom is knowing to get the fuck out of the way when you hear it coming.

Based on the above definitions, we can assume two things:

First, people do naturally gain wisdom, and therefore intelligence, over time.
Second, people also gain knowledge over time, some of which is bound to be false.

Older people are naturally wiser (i.e. more experienced). But if you went to public school, you know that someone being older does not necessarily mean they’re smarter.

Here’s the real difference between smart people and stupid people:

IF YOU’RE SKIMMING, READ THIS!! This is the most essential tidbit to remember from this article:

The difference between being smart and being stupid… is the desire for TRUTH.

QUESTION WHAT YOU KNOW! Don’t believe anything you hear without questioning it. Don’t believe any “scientific” studies without first asking yourself, “does this make sense?”. Half of those studies that people love to cite are completely invalid, and statistics are often intentionally removed from context (and just plain made up) to influence your beliefs.
Don’t believe your friends who tell you about an interesting “fact’ they found on Buzzfeed. Don’t believe anything I say in this article just because I say it’s true. Do your own research.

This is the CHOICE that stupid people make. They choose not to care enough about the truth to verify it themselves. Intelligence is habitually seeking to discover the truth lying under the surface of the superficial. 

Smart people understand that they very well might be wrong. Stupid people believe they’re brilliant, and they will vigorously defend their incorrect beliefs. Take it from Socrates: the only thing you can truly know is that you know nothing.

We learn naturally over time, but it takes concentrated effort to learn in the correct direction. Intelligence is made of knowledge, wisdom, and skills, but what does that mean for regular people like you and me?

It means that we have to learn intentionally. 

Are you learning at work?
Robert Kiyosaki, the brilliant financial mind behind Rich Dad Poor Dad said, “When you’re young, work to learn, not to earn.”  If there’s nothing more to learn at your current job, it’s time to move on to greener pastures. A huge part of learning comes from being in a rich learning environment.

After high school and/or college, people stop trying to learn. We get jobs that aren’t exactly intellectually demanding, so intelligence doesn’t increase.Try to find stimulating work, and surround yourself with people who care about educating themselves.

We humans are in a constant state of change and development, but without conscious direction we’re bound to learn the wrong things.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
-Mark Twain

It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect in action. Stupid people are so certain of their view of the world that anything outside their narrow thinking becomes a personal attack on their entire worldview. Stupid people are set in their ways, so any attempt to teach them something is often met with anger. There’s no saving those people, so don’t bother trying. Just smile, just nod. “yes yes, of course, Chester, of course I believe you saw Bigfoot”. Save yourself the mental anguish of fighting a fool’s battle. You can’t argue with those people.

But YOU! You can be saved. Here you are, READING! You’ve read over a thousand words already, so clearly you’re pretty smart! Honestly, the average person is so dimwitted that merely reading past the headline picture ranks you above average. Now, then, my brilliant reader, I ask you to make a mental commitment to becoming smarter. Decide that you will think more carefully, think more intentionally, and think about how you’re thinking. Write down your thoughts and ideas. Decide that you want to be better than you are. Our intellects will never be “good enough”. There is always room for improvement.

Rather than, “You’re stupid, go get smarter”, I’ll say “Everybody is stupid, and people who don’t try to get smarter don’t get smarter“. So if you want to be smarter, which you should, all you have to do is try. 

So you’ve decided to become smarter. Now what? Here are 3 core principles to clarify your learning direction and harden your focus:

#1: Make a list of what you’d like to learn more about. Right now I’m most interested in Japanese, social dynamics, and the nerdy sciences of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and exponential computing. I study a wide range of other fields also, and everything I study intrigues me on a deep, personal level. Write down interesting stuff that pops into your head that you’d like to explore more deeply. There are thousands of books out there covering every conceivable field of study, so it’ll be easy to find at least a few nonfiction books to pique your interest.
#1B: Teach someone! Teaching is actually a great way to learn. Find someone enthusiastic who’s just starting out, and teach them what you know. Educating an enthusiastic pupil will motivate you to improve, lest they surpass you! You’ll be more motivated to learn, so you can teach more effectively, and you’ll wind up learning much more than you would alone. Two minds are better than one, and teaching can be a shockingly educational experience.

#2: Read something! The best way to get smarter is to read books. Read books every single day. Practice reading faster, too.
#2B: Reading books is too hard. Listen to them instead! If you don’t naturally enjoy reading, try listening to an audiobook. Listen to Audible in your car… Use this free trial link to show your support for my blog – Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks. Check out this post for more free educational resources and study hacks.

#3: Begin with the end in mind.
What skills would you like to have in a year’s time? What knowledge would benefit your social life and career the most? There are millions of options for meaningful learning, but it’s best to focus on one or two skills/subjects at a time. The key is to pick something useful that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about. Here are some skills that anyone can learn that will benefit your daily life.

  1. Voice training. Your voice is a huge part of how people perceive you, and studies have shown that deep-voiced men and women are seen as stronger, more competent, and more trustworthy than their high-pitched peers. Vocal control is learnable, and with regular practice any voice can be refined to be wonderfully easy on the ear. One quick trick is to say “me” at the lowest pitch you can, and hold that note. See how low you can get it without your voice cracking. Before long you’ll notice your voice becoming richer and more resonant.
  2. A Foreign Language. Wherever you live, there are definitely some people nearby that speak a different language. Learning a new language will open opportunities to meet new people, experience new cultures, will improve your overall mental strength and will even increase comprehension of your native tongue. Becoming bilingual is one of the true marks of an intelligent person.
  3. Play an instrument. Take those guitar lessons you always said you wanted to. Learn piano, or accordion, or whatever instrument makes you feel something when you hear it. Jazz drums are my jam, what’s yours? Listen to a wide variety of music until you discover something that gives you tinglies in your gut.
    Playing music strengthens your brain muscles, and listening to music has positive effects on a wide range of brain functions (see graphic).

brain-and-music

Be curious. Ask questions. Practice skills daily.

Learning is all about connecting the known to the unknown. The more interconnections your brain makes, the smarter you become. Our brains NEVER stop learning, and they are capable of incredible, exponential improvements. Our minds can always begin learning anew, even after many years of intellectual neglect. Because we’re always learning, it’s easy to slide into a period of negative learning… But by having a good reason for learning, and by approaching it one little step at a time, learning will gradually become easier, more enjoyable, and ultimately massively fulfilling.

\Imagine your amazing future self, and figure out what that person will need to know to succeed. Maybe it’s a language, or an instrument, or maybe it’s social skills… Whatever it is, read about it. Immerse yourself in it. Become the person you see in your future, one day at a time.

But above all, the most important factor in learning is to have a good reason for it. Without a concrete reason, a reason that your future self will absolutely need to know the material you’re studying… without that, you will fail. Every single time.

I’ll leave you with one more thought…

The best feeling in the world is the fulfillment from moving in the right direction. It’s always a challenge, and at times it feels like an impossible task, but the feeling of satisfaction that comes after a day spent the right way… That feeling makes it all worth it.

TL;DR

Question everything.
Have a good reason for learning.
Read authors you admire.
Be enthusiastic!
Be curious.
Make time for what matters.
Set clear priorities and achievable learning goals
Watch less TV and ignore mainstream media
Question EVERYTHING!

Passion is Lubricant for Discipline

What’s it all for?

Why do what you’re doing? What’s your greater goal?

You’ll never achieve greatness unless you care deeply about your mission.

Why not? Why can’t I be awesome for 2 hours every day, then watch porn, get high, and gorge myself on Unlimited Pastabowli™ at Olive Garden for only $7.99?
That’s simple, Jack. Would your ideal self eat at fucking Olive Garden, or would the perfect version of you learn to cook tastier, healthier meals at home? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the “unlimited” genre of food, but becoming better is more important to me than as many buttery carbohydrates as I can cram into my mouth-hole.

Passion is lubricant for discipline. That’s the title of this post, so allow me to elucidate.

Willpower is the finite resource we use to make ourselves produce long-term wins against short-term displeasure (e.g. diet & exercise, learning an instrument/language)

Discipline is the habitual application of willpower towards achieving a greater long-term goal.

Passion is loving your long-term goal more than anything else.

I want to be a writer. Here I am, writing. It’s slow, and for six months I’ve been slowly, slowly, slowly gaining traction. I’ve doubted myself, and my productivity has gone up and down more than Cedar Point’s Cyclone… If only riding out a slump was as much fun. I love writing, though. Frequently I don’t feel like it, but I write every single day because I have a broad, long-term view of time. It’s a grind, but my passion for my craft applies oil to the grind for as little mental friction as possible. My work ethic, my willpower, and my discipline are lubricated before every battle with frustration like a big, beautiful, manly man getting ready to wrestle.

I get too excited about the future. I get so excited it turns to angry frustration; I move so slow sometimes it’s infuriating! I curse myself for wasting so much time. I’m only 22… If only I’d learned what I know now 5 years ago! Alas, time travel is impossible for us puny imperfect organisms. Someday our bioengineered progeny will leap through time, but today we must live with our choices. It’s OK, though. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there’s still plenty of time!

We can’t succumb to our furious, frustrated angst for faster improvement, but we also can’t let ourselves fall into dull complacency. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle, then. Let’s feel that furious passion for forward momentum, but let’s focus it, control it. Let’s use passion to fuel our daily appreciation of the smaller satisfactions in life.

What do I mean by lubricant?
Lube makes things smooth. Lube removes friction.
A passionate mindset broadens our view of time to give us a reason to be better.
Therefore, focusing on passion removes friction from the daily self-discipline grind.

My love for writing and my desire to improve give me the inspiration I need to do it every day. You never see pro athletes who don’t like their sport. Sure, some of them grow to hate it, but every single pro athlete has a genuine love for their game. They’d never spend 10 hours a day every day of their life to master a game they didn’t enjoy.
If you hated broccoli, you wouldn’t waste your time crafting a perfect broccoli recipe. You’d spend that time cooking carrots instead.

It all comes down to how you feel. What’s most important to you? What excites you?
I don’t care much about money. I’d love to drive a Mercedes, but I’d rather cut off one of my fingers than take on massive debt to buy a fucking hunk of metal overcompensation.

I care deeply about my my health, my environment and my education. Money buys better food, nicer neighborhoods, and it buys books, lessons, and access to information. I don’t give a fuck about buying a new car to impress my dipshit neighbors. I want money because I want freedom. I want the freedom to be the best version of myself, and that requires makin’ moolah.

So you want to be a famous rock star. Are you in a band? Have you written lyrics? How many hours do you practice every day? Famous rock-stars are so passionate about the music that they live and die for it. Many of my friends play guitar, and they all dream of being rich & famous. They practice now and then, but they don’t feel like it every day. They’re scared of losing their comfortable lifestyle. Practicing for 9 hours a day, living life like a fucking spartan, seems silly to people used to living every day without a greater purpose.

Nobody dreams of being a fucking desk-jockey. As a kid, did you ever see a wage-slave on TV sharpening a pencil, shuffling a stack of memos and think, “Man oh man, boy oh boy, golly gee I’d sure love to be like him!” No, you didn’t. In my generation, we wanted to be Tony Hawk. We wanted to be Indiana Jones. We invented Karate moves in the back yard; we were Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan rolled into one. Then we went to school.

At school, they tell us:

“Ha ha, Ho ho, you can’t be like them! You must count the beans! You must be like us, for this is how a Grown-Up™ behaves! Get a real job, find yourself a wife, and then, maybe, if you’re lucky, when you turn 65 you can retire and do all that silly bullshit you always dreamed about.”

Fuck school. Learn because you care. Find the thing that intrigues you, the thing that lights a fire in your gut, and devote your life to feeding that curious fire.
The education system in America is designed to produce obedient workers. Even the greatest teachers in our public schools are so bogged down by regulations that all strides toward real education are made struggling against the current. The system we use was invented in Prussia to mass-produce obedient workers. Before that, education was real. It wasn’t anything like our sadistic shitshow of a school system.

School might have killed that childish desire to live out your dream, but it’s still in you. Somewhere in your gut you want to be cool. You want to be fucking Indiana Jones, so go out and buy a whip and a hat and start digging for treasure! It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just get out there and do something. If you want to act, join an improv group. If you want to be a musician, start a band. If you want to be a writer, write (and finish) something. You can worry about everything else after you get started.

But what if you don’t know what you want to do? You went to school, you got your diploma, and now you sit in an office counting beans and sharpening pencils and dreaming about being anywhere but there.

Even if you don’t have a dream to fuel your passion, start by working to energize yourself. Start caring about yourself.
Are you fat? Buy smaller dinner plates.
Are you ugly? Get a new haircut and some cool threads.
Are you awkward? Read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People.

Sit there in your chair. Read this, and think, hmm, that’s interesting, I like what he’s saying.
Then forget. You’ll forget this, and you’ll go back to your routine.
Do you ever forget what you were doing only a moment before?

It’s OK to be slow-going. It may take you 10 years to figure out what you wanted to be doing for the past 10 years, but don’t let that stop you.
If your life lacks passion, expose yourself to new things until you feel a spark. A spark is all it takes to light the fire in your gut. That fire inside you, that furious passion, is the most important factor in achieving fulfillment. Becoming the greatest version of yourself requires hard work every single day. The only way to diligently work every day, even when you don’t feel like it, is to be passionate about your purpose. No matter what, you must be certain that you’re making a difference. Every day, take one step towards building something bigger than yourself.

Every day I think about my beautiful future. My destiny is REAL in my mind.

If my house burned down, if my friends and family abandoned me, if I lost everyone and everything, I would smile with the knowledge that my new pain would be forging me into a greater man faster than I could ever do comfortably.

I refuse to accept the pathetic path of comfort that society lays down in front of me. My passion for my art, my desire to thrive in this cutthroat world, and my thirst to be a man worthy of respect all drive me forward towards my ideal self. Do you want an easy comfortable life, or would you rather bust your ass every day for ten years to create something more meaningful?

How much is your dream worth?

BruceLeeDiscipline

Distractions are Killing you

internet-distractions

I’m distracted trying to write this. You’re distracted by this needlessly large image above my type. You’ll probably just look at the image, fart out a couple laughs, and move on without actually reading anything. Because hey, reading is hard. I get it.

Personally, I love to read because it’s fun, informative, and rewarding mentally and emotionally. It’s an escape; as a young man I read books and became more emotionally invested in the characters than in real people. There’s nothing better than the feeling when you finish a really great book.

Here’s the rub: the internet ain’t a book.

When you read a book, you’ll put in a pair of headphones. Maybe you’ll sequester yourself in a quiet, relaxing place like a coffee-shop or your living room. You’ll get the lighting just right, and you’ll sit in a wonderfully comfy chair. Ever tried to talk to somebody who’s reading? They’ll look at you like you’re a fly they want to squash.

When you read the internet, you’re constantly assaulted by unwanted information. HEY! HERE’S 10 FACTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BOOBS! You fuckers would click that in a second! It’s true; if people could get away with filling their websites with nothing but boobs and top-10 lists they would. The “intelligent, discerning Internet viewer” doesn’t matter because it’s much easier to attract 10 mentally deficient zombies than 1 intellectual. Sorry, smart-fags, but stupid is where the money is. 

What’s it all mean?

If you want to get anything done, you have to avoid distractions. Distractions pull your focus away from good things like learning, reading, thinking and creating. Do you care? If not, you’re probably not reading this anyway. You’ve read almost 300 words so far; well done! Drifting through the Internet for hours at a time is great fun. Keep on refreshing that Tumblr page. Make yourself a spreadsheet analyzing the likelihood of frequent Tumblr posters to be chickens pecking at the keyboard. Make an afternoon of it, do some research. It’s for science, after all. I know some pretty smart chickens. Run a comparison of chicken faces versus Tumblr profile pictures. I bet they’re pretty similar. Illuminati? Probably. Conspiracy everywhere.

Wake the fuck up, people! Facebook is not real life. You do not have 862 friends; you barely hang out with your cat. If you don’t see or talk to someone at least once per week, you’re not friends. You know, talking, like with words from your mouth. How often do you call people on the phone? If you’re under the age of 30, probably not often. Why? Because phone calls make me anxious. I can’t talk to a real person! I get nervous just trying to talk to Kevin at AT&T customer support, and he’s contractually obligated to be nice to me.

Try this: turn off your smartphone.

Did you do it? Of course you didn’t. If you turned off your phone, how would you know if somebody needed to reach you for like, totally important stuff?

How often have you gotten a text that said,

“Hey. U home? I got stabbed can u drive me 2 hospital?”
^This will never happen. That’s what 911 is for. You are not that important.

Way, way, WAYYYY back in 1989, nobody had cell phones. Business dudes had them, and they were huge and you looked like an asshole lugging the thing around. People called each other from their houses. They left messages, and they didn’t get angry when their behind-the-times parents left them a voicemail that they now have to spend 2 whole minutes deleting.

Are you one of those wonderful individuals that checks their phone during a real conversation? Do you feel the urge to check your leash for new updates? Do you check Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media more than… 10 times a day? If so, you’re an addict. There’s a chemical called dopamine that’s released in your brain every time you get a hit of that sweet social media juice. It feels pretty great, and it causes the same reaction in your brain as hard street drugs.

But hey, if you never plan on doing anything, maybe social media is perfect for you. Maybe you’ll never need to know facts. Maybe you’ll never need skills. You can probably just live on welfare, crank out a few kids and get that sweet, sweet Big Papa Government welfare check. You don’t need to worry about things like self-improvement because your “self” exists only online.

Here’s a list for you fuckers scanning to the bottom for the juicy bit:

1. Turn off your cell phone for a day. If you feel like you’ve had your right arm removed, you probably have a serious problem.

2. Close your social media tabs. Try looking at nice pictures on Instagram instead. Happy sunsets and puppies are much better for your psyche than your pseudo-friends vague emotional bullshit.

3. Maybe go outside? Call somebody you like? Talk to someone about something real that’s happening in your life. Experience the joy of reading an actual book!

Also, phones might cause cancer. The science isn’t done on that yet. That’s kind of a scary thought. Just think about cancer every time you want to check Facebook.

Redundancy, Success, and Supervillians

malcolmmerlyn

Often redundancy is viewed negatively, seen as a waste of time, energy, or resources. Why do something twice when it’s already being done once?

Take the words of fictional multibillionaire and mass murderer Malcolm Merlyn:

“If I’ve learned anything as a successful businessman, it’s redundancy.”

Mr. Merlyn set up a machine to destroy the impoverished ghetto that he believed to be the root of his city’s problems. When the hero swooped in and disabled the machine, Merlyn ultimately succeeded even in defeat because he had actually placed two earthquake machines. Pretty smart. Why don’t more supervillians count on the good guy fucking everything up? I mean, every Hero has a long track-record of royally screwing up every perfectly crafted evil scheme, so inquiring minds should wonder why more Bad Guys don’t just plan to fail. 

Now, most of us don’t have to worry about our WMDs being disabled by a hooded vigilante. This quote, though, illuminates something many of us can implement into our daily lives. Often to create consistent, effective patterns in our lives, we must take certain steps to prevent interference from outside sources. There are myriad possible causes for external interference, though typically much more mundane that Mr. Merlyn’s.

Here are some

Multiple alarm clocks-

Most of us have overslept. Some of us habitually get up, turn off our alarms and go right back to sleep after lying down Just for a Minute™. This is one of the best examples of redundancy in action: setting one alarm clock for 15 minutes after the first one will motivate you to get up and stay up at the first alarm, and will wake your sleepy ass up again if you fall back asleep. I use a mildly annoying radio station for my first alarm, but my second one is a blaring siren. Needless to say, this is a real kick in the ass to get out of bed within 15 minutes.

Redundant Reminders-

Here’s another excellent strategy that is already pervasive throughout self-improvement culture: remind yourself to do what needs doing. I put notes on my walls with positive affirmations, reminders, and triggers to tweak my thinking. I even have a note on the ceiling above my bed to remind me to focus on meditation as I fall asleep. These are all excellent resources, but to be really effective you must take advantage of another source for reminders: other people. If there’s one thing people are good at, it’s being redundant. Ask your neighbor, your girlfriend, your roommate to text, call you, or bang on your door with a reminder to read, write, or make abstract art out of old ashtrays. Ideally, you could have a reliable accountability partner (or five) who would work with you to mutually keep each other on the right track. Whatever your mission is, be it a fitness goal or a writing career, employ your peers (and your environment) to help you make it a reality.

Redundant Planning-

What do you want to do?

Figure out what you would like to accomplish, and decide a reasonable path towards that goal. Start with something easy and work your way towards your ultimate goal. Make a list of attainable action items to get done to bring yourself closer to success. Now, think about what could happen that might completely fuck up your goals. Maybe your computer could get fried and you’d lose your work. Maybe there could be a death in the family. Maybe your psychotic other personality blows up your apartment. That’s unlikely, but the idea is that you should figure out precisely what you’re going to do, how you’re going to get there, and what could possibly go wrong. Prepare for these eventualities and take action each day towards the achievement of your ambition. This last bit sounds rather lofty, and might be difficult to implement in “Real Life”, but making real, planned, attainable progress is the best way to get moving in whatever direction you choose for your life.

The Exponential Growth of the Self

littleshopofhorrors

Personal growth. Describing the best methods for growing as a person is one of the primary functions for this blog. There are many aspects of growth, but I’d like to elucidate a particular aspect of it here… The fact is that, like many things, growth tends to spiral out of control. The key here is to put yourself in an ideal environment to produce self-improvement.

What have you done today? That’s the big question you need to ask yourself. Don’t fucking bother with what you’re going to do next month if you aren’t already on top of what you are doing RIGHT NOW to advance your goals. Procrastination is rampant in our society. The internet, alongside a multitude of other causes, has given us infinite instant gratification. The first step towards personal growth is to banish your dependence on the feelings of gratification, validation, and satisfaction you get from social media (or booze, drugs, masturbation, etc.). Set your sights on doing something today that is conducive to your goals for the future.

Once you’re working on the elements of your life that actually matter, you will notice that you look forward to the progress you will be making in the future. Too often in life, we do things simply because we’re supposed to. When we wake up in the morning without a cause to wholeheartedly put our energy towards, we fall into a stagnant idleness that breeds a feeling of contempt towards ourselves and the lives we find ourselves drifting through. Stagnation is the enemy of success. To prevent stagnation, we simply must engage exclusively in activities which we are passionate about.

Passion is key to exponential growth. I’ll write more about this in the future, but I’ll say now that if you don’t really care about something you’ll never improve as a person. This can be anything, as long as you believe in something. Be strong, passionate, and dedicated to whatever course you take in life. If you find yourself doing something just because you’re supposed to, ask yourself what you’d rather be doing. Quit your soul-sucking job and chase whatever “stupid dream” society has told you was impossible. The same people who tell you “you can’t” and the same idiots who work 9-5 jobs for dickbrain bosses they can’t stand. The only one who cares about you is YOU; start acting like it.

The key here is that not only to always be working towards something you care about, but also have an internal definition of success. If you rely on outside sources for approval, you will constantly be disappointed. No matter how good you are at what you do, other people will always fail to provide adequate validation due to jealousy, incompetence, or apathy. By framing our mind as “becoming”, rather than “producing”, we will always succeed. If today you are closer to becoming your ideal future self, you have succeeded. Always remember that.

Again, growing into the person you want to be will not be easy. It’ll be hard work, but here’s the most important part…

Difficulty is irrelevant.

The ONLY factor that matters here is whether what we’re doing is worth it. If you complain that becoming the person that you truly know you are meant to be is “too hard”, you clearly are not meant for great things. If you want to be a writer, then write. Whatever you want to do, do it TODAY. Disregard your thoughts of difficulty; if you’re working on achieving the thing that you really, truly desire, any work that brings you closer to that goal will be worth doing. This is essential, my friends. The simple act of doing worthwhile work is the most basic component of personal growth. The reason so many people hate their lives is that they slave away every day to get a paycheck. Their work is a meaningless number on a spreadsheet; the worst fate you can face is slavery of the mind. Carry fear in your heart of the robotic stagnation that comes with indentured servitude to an indifferent corporate master. Never forget why growing into the best version of yourself is important; always remember your mission.

Growth, passion, and dedication are the three ingredients that add up to an explosion of productivity. Forget about postponing the things that must be done. Shut up and do it. If you are like me, you are damn sick of being told how to live by an ignorant society. Do what really matter in life, and ignore haters who shit on your dreams.

If you’re satisfied with a mediocre life, coasting towards death one paycheck at a time, then I’m happy for you. People like me can’t exist without people like that supporting the infrastructure. However, I will never live in a world where I am not constantly forging myself into something a little closer to perfect. I’ll never stop getting better, and neither should you. Remember that you are the only one in your life that matters. Never neglect yourself; remember that working to refine yourself into something greater is the most worthwhile work in the world.

You will fail many times before you ever achieve the success you desire. Your failures will refine you into a being far greater, one capable of smashing through the barriers that hold back so many others. For every failure, count two victories in the future. When you fail, you gain a strength that can only be gained by trying and failing. This is an essential stage of growth, and it is possibly the most difficult. Never forget in your weakest moments that only by being shown how great our weaknesses are can we finally overcome them.

Ignite a fire in yourself that screams for MORE. Always be thinking of ways to improve. Never let your enemies drag you down. Your endless quest for success will begin incredibly slowly. Over time, you’ll notice a subtle change in your mind. You’ll hunger for more, to achieve more every single day. You’ll burn with the desire to become what you’ve always known you could be. Soon, that burning desire, that result of your great strides towards growth, will become an exponential explosion of improvement in every aspect of your life. It’s hard, but you don’t care any more. It seems endless, but now you’ve gone from dreading your labors to taking joy in your improvements. Suddenly you look up to see that the endless mountain you’ve been climbing has a peak. You’re on your way there, my friends. Your climb begins now.

Related reading:

http://therationalmale.com/2012/01/13/just-be-yourself/

http://yohami.com/blog/2012/01/03/be-yourself-do-what-matters/

Greed is good

shrek

People are stupid. We see what we want to see. We ignore the things we don’t want to believe are there. Our society is programmed to drudge through life without questioning our surroundings. However, this is not a practical method for living life. Men must break free of societal conditioning to realize the true state of things in their environment. We can apply this line of thinking to social interactions, though the implications are broader.

In general, people want more for themselves. People tend to want a bare minimum of “equality”, but we’d all prefer to have a big house than a small one. The current zeitgeist in this country, however, suggests that each citizen should do his best to further the Great American Dream. A wife, kids, self-loathing and a white picket fence. Naturally, the Dream holds slightly different promises for women, but that’s a whole other issue.

These parts of our mentality as Americans seem opposed, and they are. Through religion, law and grandmothers (a dying breed), a great belief is inculcated in us of the Common Good. This status quo of every person doing their part equally throughout society is a logical fallacy. Naturally, some will exploit the opportunity available in any system they’re placed in. Further, unless you’re a Buddhist monk, you probably have desires for worldly objects such as power or affection, in any of their respective forms. A huge majority of men these days simply accept the reality that they’re been spoon-fed their whole life. They work in jobs they hate, slowly growing old. They die fat, sad and alone.

Meanwhile men who seem like vagabonds, men who should be despised for so drastically breaking the societal mold, live awash in a sea of choices for potential mates. These men who are breaking the rules of society, who often have trouble with Authority, are perceived as whatever people may wish to see. Some hate them for going against the established norms. Others adore them, wishing to cast off the chains of oppression placed upon them by a predatory social hierarchy.

I am a vagabond, and I am proud of it. I do not accept my forced slavery to society. I will not work a job I despise to pay for a house I don’t want. One day I’ll settle down, however, I will not be coerced into spending my prime years of Manhood squelched by the feminine imperative. This life I have chosen is clearly not for everyone. Nations rise and fall on the power of their citizens. Similarly, the only reason I can thrive in this broken system is the labor of the expendable state of Sheep-Men who work at “an honest job”. These men toil to be a “Good Man”. They “Do The Right Thing”. These men do these things because they’ve always been told that this was the right way.
Spoiler alert boys: the only right way to go in this world is the way your gut tells you. Some of us are called to travel the world and find out just what the wide world has to offer us. Others of us are called to establish a legacy, to carve a lasting slice out of the world for ourselves and for those who come after us. In the end it doesn’t matter much what you want out of life, as long as you get out there and chase it. The world will never allow you to have whatever that thing is that you’ve always longed for. You must aspire to take it. Figure out whatever that thing you want is and cast off your Sheep-Man-Shackles. Reject the establishment, become a vagabond, and work to achieve the dream you’ve always been told was impossible.

Related reading:

If you can handle a 700 page book, Tony Robbins’ new book is a brilliant in-depth examination of personal finance.
MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

http://boldanddetermined.com/2013/01/28/the-21-rules-of-the-rich-and-how-you-can-emulate-them/

http://therationalmale.com/2014/11/04/moments-of-clarity/

http://illimitablemen.com/2014/03/01/the-problem-with-social-neoliberalism-part-1/