Choices, Not Talent

• Exercising regularly
• Reading everyday
• Setting goals and accomplishing them
• Creating a budget and becoming financially secure
• Feeding a passion (a hobby or dedicating yourself to it)
• Being disciplined even when you feel like garbage
• Being the absolute best you can be each and everyday (kind to all, a great listener, respectful to yourself and others, working your ass off, being helpful)…

None of these are talents. It’s not like people either have these traits or they don’t. Each one of these are choices. They can be trained and practiced if you want them to be fused with your being.

What do you choose?

Our Biggest Fear

Fear of failure is real and ubiquitous. But the most pernicious fear among us is the fear of success.

It sounds strange when read or spoken. Fear of success though is the most dangerous of anxieties because we rarely admit it exists and therefore we hesitate in giving it a name or a face.

We all want to succeed. But if we do, we’ll have to live up to whatever that means. Are we capable? Are we worthy? Will we crumble when we reach that altitude?

One Day

Last night, I found out that my cousin had died.

I’m saddened (or relieved) to say that we weren’t too close. Yet, this was one of many reminders to come…that our time is limited here.

One day, that will be my mother, my father, the woman I love. It will be you. One day it will be me.

Love what is around you. Spend time and laugh with the people in your life while they are still conscious. Have conversations with them. Learn and grow with them.

Our life is like a book. Even the greatest novels in the world have a final chapter…a page where the words stop. What do you want your book to look like?

Who You Are

I typically preach that there exists nothing but the present. The past is a memory, arising in the present. And the future is anticipation or anxiety, also arising in the present.

Having said that, here’s a factoid which promptly and vigorously gets my ass in gear when I’m feeling lazy or unmotivated:

Where you are right now is a combination of each and every choice you’ve ever made. Everything you’re doing right now is creating the person you will be in the future.

So when we put things off, slack off, make poor financial decisions, eat garbage, etc…it feels good to give into the short-term pleasure of giving in to craving. But at some point down the road, we know we will have wished we made better choices. We know this. We don’t get that time back. We do however get the chance to make healthier moves today to set us up for an alley-oop tomorrow (damn Dill, excellent sporting reference).

”Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Compare Yourself

One of the most insidious and ubiquitous habits we concede to is comparing ourselves to others—physically, financially, in sport, in relationships, creatively… Plain and simple.

What’s worse, is when we compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. A month ago, I began my journey in Brazilian JiuJitsu. I went up against several other white belts who were destroying me each and every time…No shit! They’re months ahead of me.

The options were: A) Stop going to class out of shame or fear, or B) improve my skills so eventually I’d be able to hold my own on the mat.

You want to sing but your voice sucks. And you know all these people who can harmonize naturally. Forget them. If you want to be a great singer, they’re not impeding your training. You are.

There’s only one person on this planet you should be comparing yourself to: who you were yesterday.

I don’t care if I’m better than any other white belt. But I damn sure better be better than I was a month ago.

The Best Day

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.

I began my new job, my first full-time, “big boy” vocation. It was lovely. Time flew by. The atmosphere was that of fun-loving, hard-working individuals and I’m so excited to meet new people and learn new skills. When we went over compensation I literally got teary-eyed. Avoiding breaking down into a solid cry, I wiped my eyes.

Everything just sort of hit me at once. I looked down. I was wearing a suit which I loved. It made me feel powerful (probably the white in me). As Bill Burr said, “I just wanted to take over some shit.” I drove my new car to work, which I bought with my money. I realized that I was in a completely different world. A world I had created for myself. In September, getting out of the restaurant and owning my own car were merely fantasies. This stuff may seem simple to most but this is a big deal for someone who has spent most of his days letting life happen to him as opposed to being in the driver seat.

Here’s what I’m getting at: It won’t happen tomorrow. It will take time and doubt and rejection and judgment and failure and everything else you’re afraid of…but if you begin taking steps toward the life you want to live, you will get there eventually. Others will get to theirs quicker than you, and in a smoother and more graceful fashion. But fuck them. They’re them and you’re you. Deep, I know.

Take a step each day, and after a year you’re 365 steps closer to where you want to go.

Thank God It’s Monday

After a rejuvenating and fun-filled vacation, I return to the computer and to my routine.

I hope you had a lovely holiday season, and an even lovelier 2019. Mine was full of growth, developing new habits and skills, and working harder to secure the life I want to live. I have a ridiculously long way to go, but by simply taking a few steps, I’m closer than where I was. I bought my first car. I’m done working in a restaurant and begin my first full-time job today. I wear a suit to work. I write checks to make monthly payments…My brain is malfunctioning as my body takes the form of an adult.

I took about a week off from this blog and the podcast. I spent my time with family I haven’t seen in a while and with a close friend who is also a creator and performer. Hanging out with her and her comedian friends for a weekend was a true joy. We were laughing and conversing constantly, two of my dearest activities. I was on her podcast, which you can check out here.

Having a week of peace and zero responsibility was the perfect way to ring in 2020, but each morning, I could feel myself withering away. I missed my routine. I missed my gym. I missed jiu-jitsu. I missed sitting down and doing the work. So I’m happy to be back here in this chair.

I started a book during my trip and halfway through, I’m convinced it’s the best book I’ve ever picked up. It’s called The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

Here’s the thesis: Over here you have the life that you live, over here you have the life you truly want to live (the habits you carry out, the body you have, the money you make, the things you create)…
In between these two things, is Resistance.

Resistance takes many forms, but it is always internal. Resistance is the enemy. It is the only reason you don’t do your work. Identify it. Destroy it. Do the work. Happy Monday!

Tomorrow

Since there’s no reception in the woods, I am writing this yesterday. Whoa.

Tomorrow is 2020. That’s pretty damn cool. It’s also, just the day after today. It won’t change you. Only you can change you.

Enjoy your time. May you be happy and healthy. And thanks so much for supporting the page or podcast however you do.

Much love!

Today

Today, I leave for a cabin in the woods to spend New Years alone in nature. I’ll be reflecting over the past year and of what’s to come. We all need some specialized time for ourselves.

Treat Yo’ Self

This year, I’ve been incredibly good at sticking to my routine, not breaking keto diet, getting great sleep, and not spending money.

Last night, it was my final evening working in a restaurant. After the shift, I got beers and ate triple chocolate cake with two good friends. We laughed our asses off. We gorged ourselves. We stayed up late. It was so much fun.

I woke up this morning exhausted from the lack of healthy sleep and I can feel my body trying its best to process the garbage I consumed last night. Normally this would put me in a slightly depressed and shameful mood, but I do this so irregularly that I woke up embracing the sluggishness with a smile.

There’s a difference between treating yourself and living life to treat yourself. I truly believe most of our lives should be spent not pursuing our “mouth pleasure” or “surface level” desires and cravings. That way, when you do pursue them, you enjoy them more because they’re a special gift you give to yourself.

A large portion of our dissatisfaction comes from the constant treats we give ourselves. Watching Netflix is sweeter if it’s the treat we allow ourselves after a week of working on our passions. Vacations are sweeter when we’ve worked our asses off for a while. Days off are sweeter when we’ve worked 7 days in a row.

Treat yourself. Give yourself some mouth pleasure. But don’t live your life like that.

Dealing With Mean People

Sometimes, we struggle to do the things we know we should do because it feels unfair.

It’s difficult, sometimes seemingly impossible to be kind to those who are nasty. Why should I sacrifice my respect and kind-heartedness to this evil bitch, when they are so clearly unwilling to give anything to me at this moment? That, by definition, is unfair.

I would certainly never advocate for letting mean people walk all over you.

”Know one should ever resort to violence, but everyone should know how to fight.”
– Joe Rogan

However, there exist several benefits to not stooping down the the level of those who are acting passive aggressive, hurtful, or down right disgusting.

• You build mental toughness by not letting this asshole get to you or by losing control of your emotions. Don’t give them that power.

• You show the world it’s crystal clear, that they are the asshole.

• You walk away from the situation not hating the person, but feeling pity for them since they’ll probably spend most of their life dissatisfied and lonely.

Be kind to everyone and don’t let the worst of humanity get to you. Be bulletproof. Not only do you probably not know their full story, but if you’re a respectful individual living by your defined values and principles, there’s nothing some bully could say to meaningfully affect your life.

New Year New Me

One of the best YouTube videos I’ve seen this year is by Thomas Frank. He articulates why we don’t stick to our New Years resolutions. Check out the video here.

Put simply, we fool ourselves. We believe when the date on our phone goes from 2019 to 2020, we’ll have more energy, more time, more willpower to do all the things we know we should be doing to live a happy and healthy life. But we don’t. We’re the same person we were yesterday. We have the same time constraints, the same bad habits.

The only remedy is to stop giving a time for things. “I’ll start being good with my money in two weeks.” Or “I’ll begin pursuing my passions tomorrow.” If you’re really going to make a change, why not start today?

The motivation or momentum you feel at the beginning of the year won’t last. Definitely take advantage of it if you experience that boost in energy. Just know it is temporary, and that the only thing which will provide you the change you want is building long-term habits to reach your goals.

The morning you wake up and don’t feel like going to the gym at all…that’s the most important time to go. It’s when you prove to yourself that you don’t do helpful things when you feel like it, you do them because that’s just what you do.

Christmas

Merry fucking Christmas!

Enjoy your family time and your gifts, but remember:

1) All the best gifts are free to give: a smile, making someone feel important and loved, having fruitful conversation, laughing with someone until you cry…

2) It’s doesn’t have to be a holiday to give these gifts to those you care about.

Best wishes to anyone reading. Have a safe and pleasant holiday!

2 Questions

Ask yourself these questions:

1) What are your deepest passions? Things you’d want to be a part of your life forever…

2) What are you doing currently to ensure they are a part of your life forever?

My Biggest Turn Off

My least favorite quality in a person is hurting other people because you yourself are hurt.

I think passive aggression is a root of evil. It’s typically a sign of someone not having control of their own thoughts or emotions.

It’s fun to hurt others when we feel down. We believe it’ll make us feel better. But it never does anyone any good. It causes a wake of damage and erodes relationships, bit by bit.

Be kind to others, even when they’re wrong. This is a difficult task, but so rewarding.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a necessary thing. You can’t have everything you want all the time. Many things you want must be sacrificed in order to get the things which are most important. I wrote a blog post about how to figure out what’s most important to you.

Sacrificing your mental health and fitness for people and activities which don’t make your life better is a bad sacrifice. Sacrificing going out all the time, blowing your money, and living most of your life consuming…for pursuing your goals and dreams…that’s a great sacrifice.

Gifts

Do you remember the gifts you received for Christmas in the past, or your previous birthdays?

Or do you remember the places you’ve been with the people you love?

Gifts can be great, but they’re no replacement for people and memories.

The Biggest Lie I’ve Ever Told

Wordsmith prompt #3: Describe the biggest lie you’ve ever told.

While no highly specific example comes to mind, for the majority of my life (until quite recently), I’ve given off this persona of extreme confidence and assurance in myself, my actions, and my words. That’s almost always been a lie.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been void of confidence in my abilities. My (inner) self-confidence has always been what has held me back the most. At times I seem certain of my capabilities, but deep down I’m thinking, “There’s no way you can pull this off.”

I’ve always cared about what people think about me. Always. I think most of us are like that and if you say otherwise you’re either lying or lack proper self-awareness. Lately, I’ve been learning how to channel all this energy. I try to care about what the right people think about me.

Also, a phenomenal antidote for lack of confidence (which I’ve written about many times) is finding a difficult task that you love, doing it over and over again, and getting better at it. In this arena, martial arts has been that muse. I’ve learned about how to respect others’ abilities as well as my own, how to become better by using discipline, the difference between deliberate and pleasurable practice, and how I handle getting my ass kicked…literally.

As I’ve been getting my shit together in recent days and months, I have more days where I feel excellent about the things I do and say, but this demon never goes away entirely. I’ll always question myself. I’ll always wonder if I’m doing the right thing for my life and the lives of others. I’ll always debate whether I’m helping people or hurting people. Always.

I’m curious…What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?

Check out BestSelf’s array of productivity tools to get you taking action, writing clearly, and trying new things!

Minimalism

You’ve probably read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or seen the Netflix rendition. There’s a beautiful happiness hack in cleaning and organizing your living space. The best way to do that for my own space has been by simply reducing the sheer amount of shit I own. Clutter is damn unlikely to occur when you don’t physically own a ton of things.

This is obviously easy to say as a single guy with no kids, but the vast majority of us only use about ten to twenty percent of the things we own: clothing, books, furniture, knick-knacks. What if you got rid of all the things you don’t use on a regular basis? All the things which don’t bring you constant meaning and fulfillment?

Many of us are sentimental. I’ll admit, though I threw away 80% of my belongings several months ago, I still have a shoe box loaded with concert tickets, old playbills, and other memorabilia. You don’t have to throw everything away. However, a lot of the stuff you think you can’t live without because it means something to you deep down…if you tossed it out, a week from now you literally won’t remember it was thee in the first place.

There’s an amazing documentary on Netflix succinctly titled ‘Minimalism.’ It’s inspiring and will put you in the right mindset if you choose to pursue a life of less.

The way the lifestyle is defined by the Minimalists (the dudes this documentary is based on) goes something like this:

Minimalism is the opposite of not caring about your stuff. It’s about removing all the distractions and the things you don’t actually need or only care about on a surface level. That way, you can focus all your attention on the things that really matter to you. Own less. Live more.

If you are having trouble starting, try the ‘33 Challenge.’ On day one, get rid of one thing. The next day, get rid of two things. The third day, three things…and so on until you’re getting rid of 33 things on the 33rd day.

Do Great Work

Who sets out to be mediocre?

What reasons do you have for not doing the best work you can? How’s that working out for you?

Be Interested

The most interesting people on the planet are the people who are the most interested. Habit #5 of Covey’s Seven Habits is Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

A small personal example: People began asking me way more questions when I started my podcast. I started the podcast because I am incredibly intrigued by other people and their passions and accomplishments.

There’s a ton of research that shows you instantly become more interesting, more likable, easier to talk to, etc…if you show interest in other people and the world around you, and if you let other people talk about what they’re interested in.

”Even our friends would much rather talk to us about their achievements than listen to us boast about ours.
La Rochefoucauld, the French philosopher said: ‘If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.’
Why is that true? Because when our friends excel us, they feel important; but when we excel them, they—or at least some of them—will feel inferior and envious.”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Being Sick

I’m finally getting over being incredibly sick since three days ago. I suppose that’s offensive to anyone with a real sickness or disease…But I felt truly debilitated. I’m always like that when I’m ill or hungover…useless. I regress into a child-like state and need to be taken care of because it hurts to stand up, read, talk, and think.

I know having a bad cold isn’t a traumatic event for most people, but it makes me violently insecure because I’m unable to do any of the productive things which give my life meaning: BJJ, exercise, read, podcast, write, have conversations with friends…Life consists of highs and lows, and these moments always bring me back down.

BUT! This morning is the first morning since it began where I don’t want to blow my brains out (figuratively). After going through a low, I find it helps to identify it as a low, remind yourself that you won’t feel this way forever, and get back on the horse. It’ll be a rough and sluggish start, but you’ll start moving forward in some way, shape, or form. You just have to do it on purpose. Live your life on purpose.

If You’re Good

“If you are good at something, other people will say it about you.”

Just like on a resume, don’t tell people what you’re good at…Let your history, accomplishments, and results speak for you. If you’re amazing at kickboxing, don’t say so, just be fucking amazing at kickboxing. Other people won’t be able to deny your talent and ability.

Dream Journal

Using your phone Notes, or a physical journal, you should track your dreams.

Not only will this increase the likelihood of lucid dreaming, but you’ll also wake up remembering your dreams at a much higher rate.

Plus, it’s so much fun to read a short snippet of a dream you had and be reminded of it entirely.

You Are

You’re enough. Sometimes we just need to be told that. You are.

Take Responsibility

Pride is a really tricky thing. Not only is it fun to criticize others, but our natural tendency is to defend ourselves and confirm our thinking. But we’re wrong a lot of the time. It’s good to be wrong. That’s how you learn and grow. And it’s great to have your mind changed.

Sam Harris (my favorite philosopher) suggested to Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter) that he add a “This Changed My Mind” button option to posts on our Twitter feeds. I think that’s a lovely idea.

The next time you experience conflict, even if it truly isn’t your fault at all, contemplate openly how you could be responsible. I’m not suggesting you put literally every problem and chaotic event on your shoulders, but this habit will improve your leadership skills and build a huge amount of trust and respect from others.

I’ll leave you with two things:

1) Simon Sinek (one of my idols) has an awesome short talk on this subject.

2) “Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes—and most fools do—but is raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why You Can’t Stay Disciplined

I did a podcast this week about why we struggle living a disciplined life [#19 – Why You Can’t Stay Disciplined].

In a nutshell:

1) We’re impatient. We want results and progress immediately and get discouraged when we work hard and nothing happens…but it will if we keep going.

2) We sacrifice long-term satisfaction for short-term pleasure, instead of the opposite.

What You Need To Hear

I believe in treating people and ourselves with patience, kindness, and respect. BUT, sometimes, we need someone to take us by the shoulders and firmly declare what it says on my coffee cup, “No one cares. Work fucking harder.”

Sympathy is required always. People have different lives with incredibly different privileges and abilities and obstacles. The thing is, the world rarely gives a fuck about your problems. This means you have two options really: 1) You could wait around and do nothing, hoping the world will eventually see how hard you have it and keep complaining about the things you can’t control. Or 2) You could do everything within your being to push through and live the life you want to live.

Choose option 2.

Don’t Tell People

A quality which makes someone insurmountably powerful is not telling others of their goals or success. This can be difficult, especially when you want to tell your friends.

Let your results speak for themselves. Be ripped, and never talk about it. Start your passion project, and don’t bring it up. Do something aesthetically stunning, and don’t post about it on social media. Try it.

This is how you prove to yourself that you’re living life for yourself and not for the sake of impressing others.

Lord Chesterfield said to his son:

”Be wiser than other people if you can, but do not tell them so.”

The Quickest Way to Being Happier

The absolute quickest way to a more blissful life is from basic stoic philosophy:

Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t.

It’s simple, but it takes practice. Here’s a quick example…A few days ago, after only having my new car for TWO DAYS, someone hit it in a parking lot and drove away. I was furious. It felt as though the universe was punishing me. I kept questioning how this could happen to me. I mean, ten years of driving and never a scratch on any car I’ve driven and then, two days into having my own car…boom.

During that first hour of realization I was angry. And what is anger? It’s just us reminding ourselves over and over again why we should be mad. Then I stopped. I did a few mindfulness exercises. How could it have been worse? The car could’ve been totaled. I could’ve immediately gotten a call saying my dad has been diagnosed with cancer…

This helped…But what really cleared the fog was when I completely shifted my focus on all the things I could control in this situation. I was lucky enough to have a witness leave a note with the car’s information on my windshield. I could call them to hear what happened. I could call the police and tell them I have a witness. I could call my insurance company to see what they could do. I could tell my friends the story in a humorous manner. I could laugh about how crazy it is that someone hit my car after having it for two days.

When you only focus on the things you can’t control, you lock yourself in a dark, musty room. You ask people to come in the room with you, and good friends will humor you for a bit. They’ll agree with you about how bleak and disgusting the room is, but eventually, you have to get the fuck out of the room.