Tag Archives: motivation

Wise Sloth Video List: Growing Up And Becoming You

This list comes from my essays on self help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these other video lists:

 

 


My Philosophy On Leadership

Picture of a boss sitting on a box labeled "business," which is being pulled by three workers.... and a picture of a leader pulling the box labeled "business" with his workers.

You don’t become a good leader by memorizing a list of management rules. All the lists of advice on leadership ultimately add up to one simple concept: respect people. If you don’t understand that, no amount of advice will help you.

I’ve met a lot of people who worked in leadership roles and thought of themselves as leaders, but in their minds, they were a higher form of life than the people “beneath” them. It doesn’t matter if you’re older, more experienced, educated or hold more credentials than another person. You’re not better than anyone else. Even if you were better than someone else on some level, you’re still equal from the cosmic perspective.

Leaders don’t manage peons. Dictators do that. Leaders should see themselves as being responsible for cultivating the rarest, most valuable entities in the universe. When you look at your role like this, you can’t help but treat your workers with respect. You can’t belittle, harass or threaten people you value so strongly. Instead, you’ll find yourself looking at life from their perspective and treating them with the dignity you expect to be treated with.

When you treat others with kindness and dignity, you’ll find that they’ll value you in return. When they value you for who you are and how you treat them, you won’t need to belittle, harass or threaten them to do what you want. They’ll want to go above and beyond the limit for you, and they’ll be more loyal to you.

Regardless of how nice you are to them, they won’t respect your authority if they see you sitting around all day and taking long breaks. As a leader, your work ethic sets the bar for your organization. This means you have to work harder than everyone else. When they see you working hard and picking up their slack, they won’t have any room to complain when you tell them to do something.

In addition to taking responsibility for your organization’s workload, you also have to take responsibility for being the brain of the operation. As powerful as the supercomputer inside every human being’s head is, people tend to think only as much as their role demands. They could answer the hard questions that need to be answered to make an organization function properly themselves, but that’s not their job. Their job is to do what they’re told. So they’ll rely on you to think for them. This isn’t laziness. This is instinctual. You need to be able to rise to this challenge and make wise decisions quickly. When people realize that they can rely on you to answer all their questions and make wise decisions, they’ll come to rely on you. When they’re able to rely on you, they’ll respect you because you make them feel safe and secure.

Even if you do all of these things correctly, you’ll still find some people will still do the bare minimum that’s expected of them. Part of being responsible for other people is setting limits and being firm. As long as you aren’t abusive about it, people will respect the fact that you won’t let them get away with anything. In fact, when a human being obeys another person, it reinforces in their mind that they should obey that person.

This is why militaries force enlisted troops to salute officers. They tell the troops they’re saluting out of respect, but they’re really saluting to keep them in the habit of obeying without question. Forcing one human being to salute another human being in order to manipulate them into maintaining a servile mindset is unethical (especially if you punish them with a dishonorable discharge for failing to subjugate themselves to their equals), but that doesn’t mean requiring people to follow rules is unethical. Structure makes people feel safe, and they respect anyone with the strength of character to lay down rules and stick to them.

At any rate, everyone knows they’re supposed to follow rules even when they try to break them. You don’t have to get philosophical about how to discipline people. You don’t have to yell or give big speeches. All you have to do is tell rule breakers what they did wrong, how you expect them to correct the problem, and in worst-case scenarios, what will happen if they continue to neglect their responsibilities. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred they’ll correct the problem simply because they know they’re supposed to. If they don’t, then you give them a few warnings and eventually let them go. You don’t have to raise your voice or tear them down to do that. You can do it as calmly as Buddha. When other people see you discipline others firmly and with dignity, they’ll respect your authority not out of fear but because you’ve demonstrated that you deserve to be respected.

There’s more to leadership than just this, but ultimately the only way to learn the little details of how to be a good leader is by being a leader. Every minute of leadership experience you get under your belt improves your skills. Like learning any other skill, it’s good to start off small and work your way up. Doing something like managing an amateur sports team or teaching an informal night class is a good way to build your leadership skills before managing a large number of people who do big important things that have severe consequences.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

You Might Be Depressed Because The System Is Crazy, Not Because You Are

Suffering from high anxiety or depression is a sign of bad mental health. If you see a psychiatrist, they’re likely to diagnose something wrong with you and prescribe you pills to fix the problem,  but most of society’s anxiety and depression stems from the fact that the political and economic systems we live in are insane. So if you’re a logical, reasonable person, then the absurdities and abuses you’re subjected to will drive you to anxiety and depression. Think about these points:

Work places have totalitarian control over your life while you’re at work, and America has one of the largest prison populations in the world, but we’re told we live in the land of the free.

All day long the television and radio churn out commercials encouraging us to buy wasteful junk, and then we’re told if we buy that junk, we’re irresponsible and destroying the environment.

It’s fashionable to get drunk. It’s unconscionable to get high.

If you feed your family poison over the course of several years until they die, you can get the death penalty. If you run a tobacco company that poisons millions of people over several years until they die, you get a golden parachute.

The stock market is designed to fund companies at the expense of the investors, but when investors lose their money (in the system that was designed to take their money) the investors are told they were foolish with their money.

Houses cost twice what they’re worth and are so confusing to buy you have to hire someone to help you navigate the paperwork, and we blame the people who got tricked into buying houses that cost twice as much as advertised for the mortgage crisis.

A higher education is necessary to earn a living wage, but if you can’t afford a college education you’re told the reason you’re not earning a living wage because is because you’re lazy and worthless.

People are killing each other over which mythology is the most loving.

We’re taught that slavery is unconscionable, but almost all of our clothes and household goods are made by slaves in sweatshops.

Poor people work the longest hours at the hardest jobs, but we’re told they’re poor because they’re lazy.

America spends trillions on the industrial war complex to protect freedom, but America is the largest exporter of war.

Janitors have to take drug tests, but political leaders don’t. In fact, they have diplomatic immunity.

Police cars are designed to look intimidating, but they have the words, “To protect and serve” printed on the sides.

Shows like South Park and The Sopranos come with warning labels that say, “For mature audiences only.”

A man can take off his shirt in public, but women are told their chests are immoral.

Bribery is called lobbying, and propaganda is called advertisement.

When goods in a store are only sold at a 1000 percent markup instead of a 1200 percent markup, we’re told they’re on “sale.”

Banks call their investors “valued customers” but they charge you with fees for everything possible, even for not having enough money.

We’re told there’s no cruel and unusual punishment for breaking laws in the West, but going to jail is almost a guaranteed sentence to get beaten and raped.

The tax laws are so complicated you have to pay someone else to do them for you, and if you can’t pay your taxes or you fill them out wrong, you’re a criminal.

Workplaces use performance quotas to push workers to the limits of human endurance, and if that stresses you out you’re told it’s because you don’t have a positive enough attitude.

Self-help books and religious books offer ineffective, fantasy-based solutions to real-world problems, and when they don’t work, you’re told it’s because you didn’t believe in them enough or try hard enough.

Fox News is considered “news.”

We’re charged the highest possible cost for goods and services while being paid the lowest possible wages for our work, and we’re told that wealth trickles down and that supply and demand justifies our exploitation as necessary.

The celebrities we’re encouraged to emulate churn out mindless, idiotic, formulaic art. People who actually take stances on important issues are told they take life too seriously and should lighten up. And we wonder why the world isn’t improving.

We’re raised from childhood to believe romance and wealth are the most important goals in life, and when we spend our whole lives chasing them only to find out they don’t work in life like they do in the movies, we’re told we were childish for believing what we were taught on television.

Western society is a labyrinth of smoke, mirrors, contradictions, misdirection and dead ends. The lies and falsehoods are so ingrained in our society you can’t escape them. If you even begin to wake up to the reality of how un-user-friendly society is, it will cause you deep anxiety and depression, and when that happens you’ll be told by the television, your boss, your co-workers, your political leaders, your mental health professions, your religious leaders and maybe even your friends and family that there’s something wrong with you. And just like the military, you’ll be pressured to conform to their twisted mindset or be rejected and even punished by the brainwashed individuals who have given up the quest for sanity and given in to the status quo.

Anxiety and depression can be signs of mental health when the rest of the world around you is insane. If you don’t experience anxiety and depression, then you should be very, very worried, because that means you probably aren’t paying attention or asking the right questions, and that’s not mentally healthy.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

The Confidence Talk

Picture of a boy wearing a Super Man cape, holding his arms up triumphantly and looking confidently at the sky

 

Confidence is defined: “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

Self-confidence is defined: “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.”

Do those definitions describe you? Or would you describe yourself as more of a weak, scared, directionless, lonely, worthless failure who is spending your life sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else get what they want, all the while wondering how and why everyone but you seems to have life figured out and possesses the direction, drive, strength, and confidence to make the most out of life? If so, that’s okay. On one level, it’s a sign of mental health.

Everyone is born lost, weak, scared and confused, and nobody ever learns the true meaning of life. Nobody ever gets it all figured out. Nobody really has any idea what the hell we’re doing here. So nobody can prove that what they’re confidently doing with their life is right. The most confident people you’ve ever seen could just be confidently failing at everything that truly matters and making a fool out of themselves in the eyes of God or the cosmos or whatever. I’m not saying that anyone with any shred of confidence is wrong. I’m saying that humility is sanity, and the goal of becoming more self-confident can’t be to cultivate dogmatic faith in your perpetual supremacy because that would just be delusional. So if you feel a little lost, you’re just being realistic.

 

 

Another reason you shouldn’t blame yourself too much for being insecure is because you’ve been indoctrinated to feel inferior and set up to fail by your culture. Your school raised you to assume that if you don’t excel at bureaucratic testing, you’re not worthy of having a good job and thus a good life. Your economic leaders, who don’t pay you enough to live like a real human being, constantly remind you that if you’re not a millionaire it’s because you’re lazy and not worth a dollar. Your bosses teach you that you deserve to have to follow orders. Movies and sitcoms lead you to believe that if you’re not as beautiful and funny as your favorite fictional heroes then you’re barely a real person. Commercials brainwash you to believe that you’re incomplete, and the only way to complete yourself is to buy things you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. And religions teach you that no matter what you do, you’ll always be a worthless, unenlightened, selfish sinner who doesn’t even deserve the love of your own creator. When you grow up with the whole world telling you that you’re worthless, then your lack of confidence isn’t evidence you failed at what was expected of you; it’s evidence you succeeded at the task you were groomed for.

You were born unprepared, and before you could even get on your feet, the world pushed you down. So your insecurities aren’t completely your fault. However, if someone pushes you down and you don’t do everything in your power to stand back up, it becomes your fault that you’re still down. You’re a product of your environment, but you’re not bound by your environment’s definition of you. The key to freeing yourself from all the self-defeating beliefs the world has planted in your subconscious isn’t by cultivating and exerting raw strength of mind and willpower. When you do that, all you’re really doing is temporarily denying what you already believe about yourself. Your perception of your worth is never going to change until you change the criteria you’re basing your perception of your worth on.

Your objective worth isn’t defined by what people think of you, your rank, your success rate, your body fat percentage, the number of people you’ve slept with, the size of your sex organs, the money in your bank account or the clothes on your back. We’re all inherently, equally, infinitely valuable because we’re all cosmic miracles. You’re the rarest, most elegant, most powerful, and thus the most valuable thing in the known universe. Nothing you can ever do or not do can possibly change that by even a fraction of a degree.

And as long as you can think and move, you can solve almost any problem. You can grow out of any shortcoming as long as you set your mind to the task and never give up, but first, you need to believe your potential is limitless because you’ll only let yourself go as far as you believe you can. That self-assurance comes naturally when you stop defining yourself the way your primitive culture tells you to and you start seeing yourself for the cosmic machine you truly are.

 

 

To this you might reply, am I really that great? Are any of us really that great? After all, you said yourself, we’re all lost, which can be interpreted to mean we’re all failures. And on the cosmic scale of things, we’re all just pond scum festering for a brief moment in a far corner of the universe. We’re just biological waste that floundered briefly, died meaninglessly and was forgotten immediately. So why should anyone be proud of that?

You should be proud of what you are, because you’re part of something bigger than us that’s truly amazing, and the brevity of life makes our existence infinitely valuable while also rendering our fears and failures ultimately meaningless. You’re not an outsider looking in on the universe. You’re part of the grand design, and you should be flattered to be a part of it all. The mysteriousness of life isn’t cause to give up and loathe ourselves. It’s an invitation to explore and be awestruck.

Having said all that, life isn’t just a rosy theory. It’s a cold, hard, stressful place full of brutal consequences. If life keeps kicking you in the teeth, the reason isn’t because you were destined to fail. It’s just that your education is incomplete. You weren’t born as a fully grown, self-actualized, confident, mature adult, but you were born with everything you need to become one. However, unlike aging, personal growth doesn’t happen automatically. Every step you make on that journey has to be done consciously, deliberately and consistently.

If you want the fruit of life, you have to climb the tree of life to get it. If you want to reach the Promised Land, you have to cross a mountain first. The journey isn’t easy, but it’s manageable. You just have to take it one step at a time and never give up. If you’re scared of even starting, the good news is that the longest journey begins with baby steps, and you don’t even have to believe in yourself to take those steps. You can hate yourself, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll just walk right out of the darkness despite yourself.

The other good news is that the journey doesn’t actually have an end. Success and failure in life isn’t black and white. It’s not a matter of whether or not you reached the finished line. The way life works is, the more you grow, the better life gets. The less you grow, the worse life is for you. Every step you take is winning. The only question is, how much of your prize are you going to claim?

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

8 Steps To Build Confidence

1: Get in shape, and get yourself together.

If your body is unhealthy, your entire reality suffers. You’ll have less energy. You’ll have less motivation, which is just as well because you’ll be less mobile. You’ll have more aches and pains, and you’ll be more prone to depression. If you want to live life to its fullest then your body needs to be in optimal working order. Trying to build confidence while maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle is like walking an endless journey with your feet tied together. If you’re guilty of this, you shouldn’t hate yourself. This doesn’t change your intrinsic worth. You’ve already suffered the consequences by not feeling as good as you would have if you were taking better care of your body.

Everyone should recognize that everyone is equal regardless of their health and hygiene. However, our brains are hardwired with instinctual shortcuts that manipulate our subconscious and make us sexually attracted to healthy bodies. For right or wrong, better or worse, the reality of the world we live in is that the healthier you are, the more positively people will respond to you in general. The less healthy you are, the more negatively people will respond to you in general. Even if you’re the epitome of unhealthiness, there will still be people who will love you dearly, but life would have been a lot easier for you in general if you’d been physically fit.

You shouldn’t judge yourself and beat yourself up for being unhealthy. That’s not doing yourself any favors. That’s like making a wrong turn while driving, and then stopping the car and spending the rest of your life living under an overpass abusing drugs and alcohol to numb the guilt and punish yourself for making a wrong turn. This is only as big of a deal as you make it.

If/when you are physically fit, you shouldn’t be arrogant about it. Your physical fitness is good for you, but it doesn’t make you better than anyone else. But you do deserve to be proud of yourself. Your responsible behavior has rewarded you with a better functioning body to enjoy life with longer, and it looks good. It’s a lot harder to be depressed and insecure when you can look at your good looking body in the mirror and feel proud of yourself.  For better or worse, right or wrong, you’ll also find it much, much easier to flirt with the opposite sex when you look like you take care of yourself. You’ll also naturally have more confidence when talking to the opposite sex, because you already know you have what they need.

 

 

2: Educate Yourself

You’re not your clothes. You’re not your rank. You’re not your age. You’re not your skin color. You’re not your nationality. You’re not your penis size. You’re not your khakis. You are your mind. Everything you’ll ever do or say is defined by what’s in your mind. The way you grow and get better at anything is by learning. I can’t stress this enough, knowledge is the key to everything. If you’re not learning either from a book, a video or experiences on the streets, then you’re not growing. If you’re not learning then you’re stagnating. If you never learn anything, you’ll just stay a lost, confused, helpless child your entire life. Tragically, it takes just as much time and effort to stay stupid as it does to grow up. You have to do something every day for the rest of your life, you may as well do what makes you stronger and your life better.

The more you know about everything the better you’ll be at everything, but probably the most important thing you can teach yourself is how to solve problems. Anytime anything goes wrong in your life it’s because there’s a problem. The better you are at solving problems, the less problems there will be in your life, and the easier it’ll be for you solve them and move on. If you don’t know the first thing about problem-solving, then you shouldn’t be surprised if your life feels like one long string of problems. It’s not because fate is out to get you. Fate gave you the tools to solve your problems. You just need to use them. The better you get at solving problems, the more naturally confident you’ll be, because you’ll know that you have the ability to solve whatever problems life throws at you.

 

 

3: Know Yourself. Define your wants. Define your values.

If you have no idea who you are, what you believe, what you stand for or what you want out of life then you should feel directionless, because you are. It should also come as no surprise that you feel insecure about your self-worth because your perception of reality has to be based on something. If you don’t consciously define yourself then your environment will subconsciously define you by default. That’s when you end up basing your self-worth and life goals on what bullies, celebrities, and corporations tell you.

You don’t have to live that way. You can effortlessly and confidently stand up for yourself against all the naysayers in the world, but before you can stand for or against anything, you have to know who you are and what you believe. You have to understand your strengths to appreciate them, and you have to understand your weaknesses so that you can work within them. If you believe that you have to eliminate all your weaknesses before you can be confident, you’re wrong. Nobody in the world can succeed at everything, and nobody should. You just need to figure out what’s important to you and then figure out how you can achieve your goals using the gifts you have. Once you know what you want, and you’re firmly on the path towards getting it, then it becomes irrelevant how anyone else feels about you. You’re already making a B-line to where you want to be. There’s nothing anyone can tempt, threaten or distract you with. When nobody has any leverage over you then you have no reason to fear them, and you don’t have to work up the strength to stand up for yourself.

The first step every single person on the planet should take on the path to self-discovery is to complete a professional personality/aptitude test. Do an internet search for life skills or professional development centers in your local area and find one that offers personality/aptitude tests. They’re not exactly cheap, but it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your life. It’ll tell you things about yourself that you never knew. It’ll show you that your quirks aren’t failures; they’re what make you unique. They define your beauty and what you’re good at… and what you shouldn’t waste your time pursuing. They point the way to finding your own personal happiness. That’s priceless.

Once you have a rough idea of who you are, what you’re capable of and what you want, then the next step is to further explore who you are by doing more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Go out and find people who are like you, study the things you’re interested in, experiment with new hobbies. As you do these things you’ll further refine who you are and what you want. The clearer the path before you comes, the less strength it takes to stand up for yourself and follow your own path. You won’t have to stress over picking or justifying which fork in the road to take. The way will just be clear to you, and you’ll find yourself confidently running towards your destiny.

 

 

4: Love yourself.

You’re never going to allow yourself to improve your inner-self or your external circumstances if you hate yourself because you’ll have no motivation to succeed. In fact, a negative self-image becomes your motivation to destroy yourself, and your low expectations for yourself inevitably become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t love yourself then your future always looks hopeless no matter how good your life is. When you love yourself, then the future always looks hopeful regardless of what’s going on in your life. When you love yourself for who you are, your confidence is inherently tamper-proof. It won’t matter when you fail or someone treats you badly. If you base your self-worth solely on the fact that you’re an amazing, elegant, beautiful miracle then you’ll experience all the negative events in your life, not as soul-crushing mini-apocalypses, but as learning experiences at best or the cost of living at worst. But the more you love yourself, the less you even notice life’s little grievances, because you’re too busy celebrating life.

Many people who hate themselves were abused, abandoned and unloved at some point in their lives. If you’re one of those people, understand that it’s natural to respond to abuse and abandonment by feeling depressed and insecure, but I promise you that there’s more to you than what you’ve been led to believe. You deserve to love yourself. I can’t convince you to love yourself in a few paragraphs, but a licensed mental health professional can walk you through the steps of healing your emotional traumas. Therapy might be expensive, but healing your wounds will make you happier than buying new toys or doing more drugs. Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of resourcefulness. It may be scary, but it doesn’t cost anything to have a consultation with a therapist and find out what kind of help is available.

 

 

5: Acknowledge your successes, and practice accomplishments. View failures as practice, not apocalypses.

If you have access to a computer and are smart enough to understand everything I’m saying then you’re not a failure. Your mind (and thus your potential) is already greater than most of the people who have ever existed. If you have low self-esteem, you’re not giving yourself enough credit for all the little, accumulative successes in your life. You’ve done many great things, and you’re blessed in many ways. But don’t take my word for it. Write your own gratitude list, and try to make a habit of taking time to be thankful for the good things in your life instead of focusing so much on the bad things. The more acutely aware of your strengths, successes, and blessing, the more naturally confident you’ll feel. The more obsessively you count all your perceived weaknesses, failures and setbacks, the easier it will be to feel depressed.

If you’re having difficulty thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for, don’t worry, that can be fixed, but the only way your list is going to get longer is for you to take action and succeed at more things. Big successes are built on little successes. You don’t have to change the world today to feel good about yourself. Seek out little things you can do to improve your life. Find little challenges for you to conquer. Accomplish whatever is within your ability. It’ll give you something good to feel about today, and you can be confident about the fact that you’re moving forward… even if you fail at everything you attempt.

Failing at accomplishing a goal is only failure if you don’t learn anything from your experience. If you do, that’s not failing. That’s practice. You’ll never become an expert at anything unless you fail over and over again. If you keep practicing and allowing yourself to “fail” without beating yourself up over it then eventually you’ll understand what works and what doesn’t. Then succeeding is just a matter of going through the steps you’ve learned. Then young people will look up to you with admiration and want to know your secret to success.

 

6: Simplify your life, and don’t set yourself up for failure.

There’s not enough time in our short lives to experience and master everything. Succeeding at life can’t be a matter of doing, having and being everything. That would be impossible, but you have to do something. You’ll experience the most meaning and happiness by doing, having and being what matters most to you, personally. This requires you to define and work towards your goals, but it also requires you to eliminate distractions and obstacles in your life. If you live in a madhouse full of toxic people who bring you down, and you spend three hours every day stuck in traffic listening to mindless radio stations on your way to a job that you hate, then of course you’re going to be stressed, disoriented, impatient, frazzled and generally not your best self. You can’t be your most confident when your life revolves around coping with drama and misery.

The solution to your gridlocked life isn’t to buck up and work harder and complain less. That’s just becoming better at drudgery. The solution to your problem is to eliminate avoidable problems in your life. This may require you to move, change jobs, change companionship and/or change your purchasing habits. These kinds of changes can be intimidating, and they shouldn’t be made flippantly, but if something is holding you back, then you’re just setting yourself up for perpetual failure by keeping it in your life. If you choose to keep creating the conditions for failure then there’s nothing else I can tell you to help you build confidence other than, “Stop doing that.”

 

 

7: Understand that courage and confidence aren’t mutually exclusive.

One summer when I was a teenager I visited a lake with tall cliffs around it that people were jumping off of into the water. Enticed by adventure, I climbed the cliff and stood at the edge. As I looked down at the water, my legs felt weak, and my stomach roared with butterflies. I wanted to jump, but I was terrified. So I stood there for five long minutes searching my soul for the courage to leap. As my friends taunted me, I knew I was running out of time to prove I wasn’t a coward, but I hadn’t found the right thoughts to get me over the edge.

Finally, it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if I found the right argument because even if I did, the end result would be the same: My brain would stop chattering long enough for my feet to move forward. In that moment I realized all I had to do was shut my brain up for one second and act. So I did, and I jumped off that dizzyingly high precipice. I accomplished something that took significant courage without using courage. Once I got over the initial fear, I climbed back up the cliff and jumped again. The second jump was almost as scary as the first, but it took a lot less time to execute. The next summer I was doing backflips off the cliff fearlessly.  That’s how overcoming fear works. You learn to believe in yourself by doing the things you never believed possible.

 

 

8: Don’t invent excuses.

You’re the only enemy standing between you and self-confidence, and the strongest weapon in your enemy’s arsenal is excuses. There’s no argument you anyone can use to beat an excuse because excuses are logic-proof. They’re based on circular reasoning and create self-fulfilling prophecies which validate their premise. All of your excuses may sound perfectly logical on paper. They may look justified, but they’re based on the flawed assumption that you’re a passive victim of life who isn’t in control of the most powerful machine in the known universe.

Your excuses may help give your life structure and explain away all the bad things that happen to you, but they’re not really doing you any favors. They’re imaginary boundaries that you made up and exist nowhere else in the universe except your mind. They only limit those who make them. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who have an excuse for everything, and those who don’t have to make excuses. Neither of those types were born that way; they both chose to be.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

Signs You’re Mature… But Not Necessarily Old

1. Accepting responsibility for your fate.

If you’re lucky enough to be born into the right family at the right time and place you can achieve professional success while still being a whiny, co-dependent, indignant, incorrigible little bitch. You can get pulled through life kicking and screaming and have a place of success set up for you despite yourself. If you’re born into the wrong family at the wrong time you can have every advantage in the world stolen from you. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be born into poverty and oppression than prosperity and freedom.

That’s unfortunate, but that’s life. The universe doesn’t owe you an ass wiping, and even if it did, you can’t count on the universe to give it to you. Part of growing up is realizing that ultimately you’re the only person who is responsible for ensuring that you survive and make the most of your life. No other human truly owes you anything, and even if they did, you owe the world more than that. You stand on the shoulders of giants, and you owe a debt to everyone who played any role in creating a world where you don’t have to dress in loincloths and hunt rats in caves for dinner.

The goal of life isn’t to come up with the most valid excuses for why you failed. If you want to make the most out of your life and there’s a valid reason why that’s not possible then it’s your responsibility to beat the odds. Death doesn’t care about your excuses. You’re a walking, talking cosmic supercomputer. You’re designed to solve problems, and if you’re good at reverse engineering excuses then you’ve already proven how clever and resourceful you are.

You’ve got one life, and it’s your responsibility to prove the excuses wrong and make the most of your life and the world you’re going to pass down to the next generation. You don’t have to be old to understand that. If/when that lesson sinks in then you’ll be firmly on the path of maturity. Regardless of your age or position in society, if you’re a sniveling, selfish, spoiled coward then you’re immature.

 

2. Figuring out you don’t know shit about shit.

Humans are brilliant for the first few years of our lives. As children, we’re painfully aware of the fact that we don’t know a fraction of the information in the universe, but before we’re even out of high school, we convince ourselves we’re smarter than everyone who doesn’t think exactly like us. Then we get a few years older and realize how stupid we were in high school. Then we laugh at high school kids for thinking they’re smart while we congratulate ourselves for being smarter than them. Then when we’re elderly we laugh at mid-life adults for how arrogant they are and congratulate ourselves for being wise old men. If we lived to be 150 we’d undoubtedly look back at 80 and realize we didn’t know shit about shit then either.

No matter how much we learn we’ll only ever know an infinitesimal percentage of what there is to know. No matter what we accomplish, we’re still just a microscopic speck of dust on a slightly bigger microscopic piece of dust on a slightly bigger microscopic piece of dust.

You grow up a little when you figure out that life isn’t a pissing contest. It’s a maze with no beginning, no end, no warning and no instructions. So humility isn’t so much of a virtue one needs to exert effort to maintain, as it is the common sense response to acknowledging how hopelessly naïve you, and everyone else, truly is.

You knew this when you were a child. Hopefully, it doesn’t take you too long to figure it out again, because it really puts your life into perspective and helps you make the most of it.

 

3. Realizing all the adults in the world are lost little kids living in their own private self-centric fantasy world just like you.

You were born lost. You were raised on archaic, obsolete customs invented by monkeys.  All of humanity’s greatest heroes evolved from butt sniffing monkeys, and we’re still very close to that branch of the family tree.

Granted, humans sent a robot to Mars. We’re some pretty clever monkeys, but at the end of the day, all the congressional blue banners and tailored designer suits in the world don’t change the fact that the world is run by monkeys (of all colors) who have access to apocalyptic weapons.

But we’re not told that as kids. We’re told adults are a higher form of life than children, and our leaders are approved by God. And kids grow up believing that…to varying degrees.

Think of the world like an amusement park roller coaster ride. Some kids will ride any roller coaster with absolute faith in their safety because they know that roller coasters are marvels of human engineering, and they’re tested regularly by professional safety inspectors. Other kids will ride the ride but be terrified the whole time the roller coaster will fall apart and kill everyone on board because they noticed the wooden beams look rotted and the amusement park doesn’t hide the fact that it’s maintained by disenfranchised alcoholic carnies.

In the real world, sometimes amusement rides break and kill real people. The world isn’t run by the cast of “Full House.” The world is run by arrogant monkeys with more money than they know what to do with and access to the best drugs in history. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can start choosing which rides you go on a little more carefully and stop putting so much faith in the carnies.

 

4. Reading a book on a very important topic.

Want to be mature? Then read a book on a very important topic. If you don’t know how to read then the most mature thing you can do is learn how to read. The fact that older people already know how to read doesn’t make them better than you. Fate just gave them an earlier start. And if they haven’t read a book on a very important topic lately then no matter how many books they’ve read previously…you’re being more mature than them right now if you’re reading and growing while they’re stagnating mentally.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. There’s only one correct answer to the question, “Have you learned more about something very important lately?” If you answer “yes” then you get a maturity badge for today. If you answered “no” then you get a badge of shame. That’s how growing up and getting smarter works.

 

 

 

5. You think multiple steps ahead.

In order to behave like a mature adult who is making the most of your life, you first have to think like a mature adult. Mature thinking involves observing the world attentively, analyzing it objectively, breaking it down logically and drawing conclusions from supporting evidence. This requires looking outside your little bubble and thinking multiple steps ahead.

Think of life as a big chess game. We’re all competing for resources, chasing after our own personal goals, bumping into each other as we get in each other’s ways. Sometimes it may feel like we’re just drifting through life, but we’re drifting through a global waltz. Some people are so aware of the global dance they’ve identified and are tracking patterns in our movements and profiting from predicting where we’ll drift to next. At the very least, they can see trouble coming a mile away because they’ve read the writing on the wall, and they won’t be there when disaster strikes.

The point is not that we should all be market analysts. The point is that if you’re not thinking about where you’re headed in life and planning multiple steps ahead then you’re a hapless pawn. Mature people don’t drift through life. They plot the shortest distance to the Promised Land. If you’re 12 then this means you should be figuring out the most efficient way to master your classes and utilize your free time. If you’re 42 this means you should be advancing the limits of human knowledge and achievement.

 

6. Devising a life plan.

Thinking multiple steps ahead is a useful tool for solving day to day problems, but it’s also necessary to accomplish the specific responsibility of creating your 100-year plan.

Yes, spontaneity can be a virtue, but so can foresight. Someone once told me “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” That can be true at the same time as spontaneity is a virtue.

Look. You’ve got one life to live. You have a better chance of accomplishing more if you plan ahead. If you already have a plan, great! You get a maturity achievement badge. If you don’t have anything mapped out then you get a badge that says, “I’m lost, and I don’t care.”

 

7. Choosing your passion and dedicating yourself to it.

If you don’t figure out anything else about your life then the least you could do for yourself is find your passion and dedicate yourself to it. If you never identify your passion then what the hell are you doing with your life? You’re just going through the motions of life until you die and get replaced by the next automaton.

It’s irresponsible to spend your life doing things you’re not passionate about. You’ve got one life. You’ve got one chance to choose how you’re going to spend it. The goal of life isn’t to survive it. There ain’t no surviving life. The goal is to be here now making the most of it by doing the things we’re most passionate about…not just because that’s the most enjoyable way to spend one’s life but also because it’s the closest thing to immortality we may get. The way we spend our lives is how we go down in history. Maybe after the past gets flushed down the drain of time it comes out somewhere on the underside of the universe where it’s stored on faded, dusty cosmic microfilm that just sits there untouched for the rest of eternity.

Do you want to go down in history for eternity as the guy who sat there with his thumb up his ass while he played devil’s advocate his entire life and never grabbed life by the balls and threw an existential touchdown pass for the record books?

The universe didn’t go through 13.75 billion years of trouble bringing you into existence for you to sit here with your thumb up your ass or to settle for demeaning work at a boring job. I’m not saying to quit your job tomorrow and sink your life savings into a backyard oil wrestling league. I’m just saying, if you’re not doing what you want to them what the hell are you doing here? What’s all the sacrifice for if you’re just going to die unhappy and unfulfilled?

 

8. Refining your style.

You’re probably not going to get your face carved into a mountain, and even if you did, that mountain is just a speck of dust on a bigger speck of dust. That carving is going to get erased by time in a twinkle of an eye. Nothing you ever do will last for eternity. But you do have this moment right now. Life is like a piece of falling dust caught in a sunbeam for a moment. It’s brief and meaningless, but it’s your moment in the limelight. It might even be an audition. Strike a pose.

Despite all reason or likelihood you exist, and for some reason, you didn’t get to choose what you are, but you can choose who you are. You’re born with a microphone in your mouth announcing to all of history eternal who you are, and nobody warns you that as long as the clock is ticking the microphone is on. Is eternity going to hear you mumbling lame excuses or singing your ballad?

Why would you be here if not to be you? Think about it.

Being bland and cold and boring makes you look scary and authoritarian and adult. But that’s just because dead, lifeless robots look like that. It’s not really mature. It’s just dead and lifeless and scary looking.

 

9. Creating and correcting your philosophy on life.

Before you can plot out your life plan or personalize your identity you’re going to need to figure out what you believe about life and death. Growing up we’re told that only prophets and geniuses get to decide that, but it turns out that we all have to live our lives and suffer the consequences of our actions and inactions on our own. So since you’re ultimately responsible for living your life and making the most out of it you need to figure out what you believe and why. And you should really write it down just to be sure you really believe in something more concrete and useful than a few overgeneralized fortune cookie quotes.

Once you figure out what you’re doing here and express what that is and why then you can spend the rest of your life doing that meaningful thing you decided would make the most out of your life.

You’re going to patch together your own philosophy on life anyway. The only question is whether or not you’re going to be conscious of it. If you’re not conscious of it then you’ll likely end up basing your life on a hand full of random beliefs pushed onto you by other people who want to control and exploit you. If you don’t put an exemplary effort into figuring out and correcting your life philosophy you’ll end up like a FOX NEWS junky; even if you’re successful enough to buy a yellow Hummer you’ll still be a tool.

 

10. Defining your personal ethics.

You’ve got to learn more than 10 rules to navigate your way through life. There are rules for everything. There are rules at school, at work, on the road, in our banks, on our televisions, on our iPods. God never said, “Though Shalt not run at the pool.” But more people believe that than believe you should be able to get a refund if you purchase a wife who doesn’t please you.

We barely get any ethics from religion, and nobody believes every rule written in any religious book. For the most part we make up our own ethics. We patch together commandments other people told us. We filter that through our prejudices and experiences and subconsciously weave together the real list of rules we use to guide us through life.

If you just drift through life on autopilot you’re going to end up with a flotsam pile of ethics that you’re probably not going to follow yourself. You’ll just spend your life feeling guilty for doing things you don’t understand why you keep doing.

The difference between right and wrong is not the forbidden question. It’s actually the first question on the test. If you want to spend your life right then you need to figure out the difference between right and wrong, a task complicated by the fact that everyone in the world has a different answer. But that just means it’s all the more important for you to ask the hard, forbidden questions yourself.

 

 

11. Expanding the limits of human knowledge and achievement.

I’m not impressed by the Jeopardy champion or the guy who beat a supercomputer at chess. I’m not impressed if you can sell 42 used cars in a month. I’m not impressed how many clients you have. But I’ll be impressed if you expand the limits of human knowledge by say, solving an unsolved mathematical problem or finding the cure for cancer.

Glen Beck is a very successful family man by Utah standards, but from a cosmic perspective, his life will have meant far, far less than Carl Sagan’s life. That’s because Carl Sagan spent his life expanding the limits of human knowledge and achievement while Glen Beck spent his life sensationalizing disinformation to exploit gullible people’s fears for his own personal gain.

 

12. Helping other people.

Have you helped anyone lately? If so, that’s mature of you. If not, that’s immature of you. If you’re helping someone then you can take credit for behaving maturely regardless of how old or accomplished in the ways of the world you are.

Sometimes life isn’t complicated. This is one of those times. It’s mature to help people.

 

13. Coming to terms with your past. Finding absolution for your sins and regrets.

Old people act sanctimonious and demand respect, but they all messed up somewhere, and so will you. Everybody makes mistakes. We even feel guilty for things that weren’t anyone’s fault or that just don’t matter. Guilt, remorse, and regret are human emotions that appear across cultures and religions.

If you look at the mythologies humans have invented you can see patterns in how humans view guilt, remorse, and regret. We’ve come up with some pretty elaborate rituals to process those emotions, but at the end of the day, we’re just dancing monkeys wishing away an existential dilemma we’re not smart or brave enough to confront directly.

How do you deal with your regrets? Part of growing up is figuring that out. If you don’t have any regrets yet then congratulations. In the meantime, it would be mature of you to get a head start on figuring out how human beings find absolution when the need arises.

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

Signs You’re Old… But Not Necessarily Mature

1. You’ve held a job for a long time!

That’s not going above and beyond expectations. That’s the bare minimum you have to do to survive. Even if you have a good job, that just means you can afford to buy yourself more crap you don’t need. I’m happy for you, but that only guarantees you’re accomplishing the bare minimum of your own personal responsibilities required to survive. You may as well give yourself a parade for not being in jail or not committing suicide.

 

2. You got promoted at your job!

The world operates under this assumption: Society makes up the economy’s workforce, and through social Darwinism, the alpha members of society are destined to rise to the top of the corporate ladder; one way or another, the best, smartest people work their ways into the highest positions in every organization. So if you ever meet anyone who has a better job than you then you can just assume that they’re better, smarter and just all around more alpha than you.

The problem with that philosophy is that human beings aren’t tactical wolves, they’re butt-sniffing monkeys. There are a billion ways to get ahead in the world. Acting/thinking like a mature adult is just one of them, and not many people take that route because it will get you in trouble with the butt sniffing monkeys you work for as often as it will help you. At any rate, the mundane task you get paid to do to stay alive is not the purpose or measure of life. It doesn’t reflect the total sum of your character. It’s naïve to believe that rank always equates to maturity.

 

3. You got an award!

In the bureaucratic world we live in, someday you’re going to get a piece of a paper from someone saying how great you are. They’ll give one to you every couple of years you stay in school. When you get a permanent job you’ll get at least one per year. If you do any volunteering you’ll pick a few up, especially if you make sure everyone knows how selfless you are. You can even get a world famous award for putting a ball in a hoop over and over and over like a lab rat. Awards are a dime a dozen. The only thing they guarantee is that somebody likes you, and you feel the need to let other people know that you feel the need to impress other people.

That’s not impressive. That’s not mature…on multiple levels. That’s great if you got an award, and I’m sure you put a lot of effort into earning whichever one you got, but that’s not a milestone of maturity in and of itself. And mature people don’t gloat over their achievements privately or publicly.

 

 

4. You got married!

As a child I imagined getting married was like leveling up in a video game. Or your wedding clothes were like a cocoon that you spent the day in, and the next morning after a night of cosmic sex you emerged a new, upgraded human being. After all, if that’s not what happens then what’s all the fuss about?

The fuss is about convincing ourselves we’re cosmic creatures taking part in a cosmic ritual when in reality we’re just butt sniffing monkeys reinforcing the behavioral standards set by our butt sniffing monkey ancestors.

Great. So you decided to commit to spending the rest of your constantly changing life with another constantly changing person you just happen to want to rub your genitals against right now. You believe you’re fulfilling some God-given mandate by signing a piece of paper printed out by a bureaucrat who charged you $300 for that piece of paper. You think tomorrow you’re going to glow in the mirror because that piece of paper will change you who and what you are inside overnight?

And you’re going to love the other person forever. That’s beautiful, but it’s a conflict of interest to take credit for selflessly sacrificing yourself to the person you’re going to get to rub your genitals against every couple of days for as long as you give them everything they want and don’t piss them off. I’m glad you could come to a legal agreement with another human being that allows you to swap resources for sex for as long as it’s convenient for both parties. That would be clever except it’s what everyone expects you to do.

Getting into an archaic legal contract with another person after being pressured to your entire life doesn’t make you king of the world. It makes you unoriginal, and if you bought a diamond ring it also makes you a sucker for paying thousands of dollars for a worthless rock, and it makes you complicit in the human rights abuses being committed by the diamond cartels. That diamond ring is not an indicator of maturity either.

 

5. You had a child!

Parents act like they had to carry a ring to Mordor to have a child. Granted, pregnancy is hard, but getting pregnant is neither difficult nor novel. Everybody has sex. Having sex without a condom doesn’t make you better than anyone else.

If you had a child before you were financially secure, then you screwed up. You shouldn’t get to take credit for being an adult for making an irresponsible decision that is going to cost you your life’s dreams and force you to raise a human being in a less stable home than you could have if you hadn’t messed up. If you had a child before you were prepared then the existence of your child is a badge of your shame, not your maturity.

Even if you had a child on time, that’s not a sign that you’re mature. That’s just a sign you better get hurry up and get it together.

 

6. You kept a child alive for 18 years!

If you had a child then you better keep it alive for at least 18 years. Bragging about that is like bragging about not burning down your house for 18 years. That’s the least you can do. You only get to take credit for doing your best. If you had your child before you were prepared then you didn’t do you best. If you didn’t read every single child psychology book they sell on Amazon.com then you didn’t do your best. If your child is a screwup, then you didn’t do your best.

If you’ve ever said something like, “I don’t know what went wrong with my child. I did my best to raise him/her. Some kids are just born unreachable,” that really means you were a bad parent, and you’re in denial because you can’t accept responsibility for your failures. You’ve always been immature, but since you’ve spent so long asserting your superiority based on your title as a parent, you’ve blinded your ego from recognizing your obvious flaws.

You can impress stupid people by telling them you’re a parent who did their best. A mature person will just raise their eyebrow at you like Spock.

 

7. You have the power to command and punish others!

As long as you put an average amount of effort into not being an idiot, then at some point in your life, you’ll be handed authority over a group of people younger than you.  It’s just going to happen. And if you want to go out of your way to make it happen, you can pick a career field that leans more towards command than others. As a matter of fact, you only need a G.E.D. to get a job as a police officer. It’s not hard to get in a position of authority, and it’s even easier to yell at people whose only two options in life are homelessness and taking your abuse.

 

 

8. You hurt other people.

We’ve all got monkey brains with monkey brain cortexes. Sometimes it feels good to hurt other monkeys, but civilized modern, mature monkeys control themselves and find intellectual ways to work around hurting others. They certainly don’t take joy in hurting others or go out of their way to do it.

Everyone who hurts others thinks it makes them the alpha pack member. It doesn’t make you the alpha pack member. It makes you a waste of animated stardust.

 

9. You’re an ascetic.

Religions tend to promise that if you follow a strict moral code you’ll get to go to a paradise after you die. That moral code tends to boil down to never having any fun or experiencing any pleasure. Implied in that ascetic moral code is that the more free and happy you are the worse of a person you are. Thus, the more cold and rigid of a person you are the better you are, and you should be sad and remorseful all the time anyway for all the bad things you did in the past and know you’re going to do in the future.

Being silent and miserable makes you look serious and mature, but what’s the point in growing old if it’s just to bemoan and regret the time we spent here? Devoting your life to asceticism is as immature as devoting your life to rain dancing. There’s no point. It just wastes all the time you’ve been given to make the most of your life.

 

10. You’ve proven yourself obedient and faithful.

Obedience and faith are the two best traits you can ask for in a slave. As much human history and culture revolved around the use of slaves it’s not surprising that obedience and faith are held in such high regard. It’s been written in a billion books and pounded into every poor person’s head that it’s mature to be obedient and never question the people who were born before you to richer parents.

Modern psychology politely disagrees. It’s not mature to turn your brain off because it’s not healthy or productive to turn your brain off. It just makes you a slave.

 

11. You dress professionally at work and wear designer clothes in the evening.

Smart people in professional circles will tell you that “the clothes make the man.” And you can prove this by doing an easy, fun experiment. Dress up in a sharp, casual suit and go run errands around town. Then shave your head and put on some sweatpants and a stained Looney Tunes T-shirt and go run some more errands around town.

When you dress sharp, fortune seeks you out. When you dress sloppy, you repel fortune. There are a thousand psychological reasons for this that marketers understand better than the rest of us, but it all boils down to us being gullible monkeys. We’re so gullible we’ll even trick ourselves into believing we’re more alpha simply by dressing more alpha. And if we keep up the lie long enough, sometimes the lie ceases to be a lie.

For some people though, wearing designer clothes is just covering a turd with gold paint. If your conscience is fine with spending thousands of dollars on an outfit while people are dying in the streets from starvation then you’re probably a gold-painted turd.

 

12. You’re older than someone else.

When I was a child I was told to respect my elders. Nobody ever told me why because it went without saying that the older you were the more respect you deserved.

That’s simply not true. There’s no rational justification for that rule. Nobody owes you anything for staying alive. You were supposed to be doing that anyway, and everyone else who is alive has been doing just as well at staying alive as you. You don’t get extra points for being born before someone else. Everyone has equal worth in the universe.

You can be an old dumb ass. You don’t deserve respect just for being old. And if you did truly deserve respect you wouldn’t have to ask for it, much less try to demand it.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

%d bloggers like this: