Your Future Self

One of my favorite mindsets or habits to implement is also one of the most simple:

Do favors for your future self.

How many favors has your past self done for you recently?

We blow things off for later as if it will be someone else entirely who must eventually bare that responsibility. Naturally, time passes, and we get struck with the reality that it is in fact us who must do the thing.

Just do the thing now. Your future self will be thrilled. You guys should be friends; you’re more alike than you think.

Doing

The combination of every choice you have ever made led you to where you are right now.

Everything you do right now will lead you to where you will be a year from now.

What are you doing?

Which?

What matters most…?:

How many books you have read or what you have gained and retained from them?

How many people you have been with or what those relationships meant to you?

What other people think of you or what you think of yourself?

Child/Parent Evolution

In a stupidly simplified model, this seems to be the series of stages we go through with our parents:

1) Our parents know better than we do. They teach us to speak. They feed and clothe us. They are Gods in our eyes—all-knowing, all-powerful.

2) We know better than our parents. During the most angsty, hormonal, insecure, confusing period of our lives…we feel our parents clearly do not understand us and they have no idea what is best. Right, because they have never been through what we went through at 16.

3) Finally, as we mature, we realize that we and our parents know different things. We have different capabilities and specialties. Hopefully, we can learn constantly from one another. In our eyes, they have gone from Gods, to idiots, and now to peers or teammates.

Letting Someone Go

Wordsmith prompt #6: Write about a time you walked away from a person.

We often hear the advice, “You are who you spend your time with,” or something like, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Instagram posts or spouts of wisdom like this often advocate that we eliminate or cut out toxic people from our lives; but unless you have actually had to do this, you have no idea how complicated and emotionally scarring this process can truly be.

What it asks of you is astounding:
1) Confirm that your relationship with this person is doing more harm than good.

2) Cut off ties with this person so their toxicity stops weighing you down.

Hmm. Two steps seems doable, but there’s no guideline or proper training on how to do this as gracefully and effectively as possible. Hearts are bound to be broken.

I had a friend (we will call her Paulina) with whom I hit it off immediately. We had ridiculous fun in the beginning of our relationship. After a while, I noticed that things went awry whenever I would bring up optimism, self-development, the beauty of life, or otherwise pursue any sort of deep intellectual discussion (i.e. the things which are most important to who I am as a person). What I was hoping would be playful and mindful conversation turned into heated disagreements. I was progressively understanding that we had severely conflicting values.

Eventually, things got to the point where I was not enjoying occasions which involved drinking or group settings with Paulina. Slowly, I began to feel mentally and emotionally drained; as if I had to censor or alter myself to make sure she would not erupt or shut down.

Dumbing down who you truly are is exhausting.

One day, I put the pieces together and reluctantly came to the conclusion that constant connection with Paulina was making my life harder; not boosting me up to be better. What the hell do I do, just stop talking to her? Do I sit her down and level with her?

I simply halted all attempts to go out of my way to spend time with her. If it happened organically, then so be it; but I would not willingly play into my own unhappiness. It became clearer and clearer to her that I was no longer interested in reaching out or spending quality time. I did not feel graceful or good about it at all, and still doubt whether I did it the “right” way or not. It felt like a zero-sum game: for one to win, the other must lose.

One thing was certain though: my mental health improved tremendously. At the end of the day, that’s the point of something like this.

Paulina knows that I will always love and respect her, and if she ever needs anything that I am here for her to reach out. However, being best friends with someone with violently opposing values is a recipe for an unstable and exhausting time.

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

Self-Awareness for Decision-Making

My friend and collaborator, Colin Smith, just released his first online course! The course takes us through psychological and neurological terms which may seem complicated, and defines them in easy-to-understand, short videos. By better understanding our minds and the nature of how we think, we can set ourselves up to be way more effective in accomplishing our goals and making great decisions.

I was lucky enough to be a beta tester, and I loved it. It’s short, digestible, interactive, and yes…it’s free.

Please check it out! It takes very little time and I guarantee you will get a lot out of it. I certainly did.

Self-Awareness for Manifestation

Getting Back On

…The horse, I mean.

Not long into this quarantine, I found myself slipping when it came to my eating habits. It began with donuts; then led to a daily ritual of consuming all kinds of sweets and junk food. I was sinking.

I could feel my body being sucked down into the mud. My thinking slowed. My motivation dwindled. And worst of all, each day I ate poorly made it that much easier to do the same the next day.

Breaking negative momentum is difficult. Breaking positive momentum is effortless. It’s easier to eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos again, than it is to sit down once more and write for two hours.

It’s never a glamorous transition, but when you feel yourself sliding into negative momentum (i.e. developing a shitty habit like drinking heavily each night or eating poisonous junk), forgive yourself, then stop doing it.

Sounds like piss-poor advice, but it’s that simple. We often keep the train going because we think: “Well, I’m already a piece of shit. Might as well keep it going.” But we don’t have to do this.

Just because we won’t instantly feel amazing that first day we end our binging, doesn’t mean that great feeling won’t come. This past weekend was my example:

Friday: ate shit, felt like shit
Saturday: first day I ate well, still felt like shit
Sunday: ate well again, felt slightly better
Monday: just woke up, feel great!

It’s a progressive process. Be patient. On Saturday, I was bored and felt as though I should just eat some sweets since I already felt like garbage. Not eating this garbage won’t make me feel any better, I thought. But it will eventually!

Play the long game. you’re not a bad person for developing bad habits; it’s natural and it’s easy. Just notice when it happens, forgive yourself, and get back on the fucking horse.

Pull the Curtain

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to see Kevin Hart give a talk in Philadelphia. The topics included, roughly, how to create the life you truly want for yourself, and how to discover what’s actually important. I think that second one is highly pertinent to what’s going on now.

How does one figure out what’s truly important to one’s being? Well, what if you stripped everything away and you observed what’s left?

Kevin (we’re on a first name basis) told us the story of when he was recovering from his car crash. He was in a hospital bed for weeks, unable to use the bathroom on his own, wondering if he’d ever walk again. He told us that during those days, he would look around his room and notice the same ten people filtering in and out. These were his closest confidants, his beloved family members.

There were no crowds of fans applauding and cheering his name. There was no line of flashy cars. No designer clothes. No exotic mansion. During that time, there was but one thing: the relationships he had with others.

This is a heightened scenario compared to what most of us are experiencing right now, but the two are analogous. Right now, you don’t have how cool people think you are, you don’t have whatever you can buy at a restaurant, you don’t have your gossip, or how many people you’ve slept with.

All you have while we’re all stuck in our homes are the connections you have made during your time on this earth. How much have you helped people? How much have you loved others? Do you make your friends laugh and feel important? Do you do things for your family without being asked?

This forced-isolation is pulling away the curtain and exposing exactly how strong our connections are. Take advantage and make them stronger.

Grateful For…

Expressing gratitude is a phenomenal way to start the day.

In my journal this morning, next to my hourly schedule, I wrote:

Today I’m grateful that:

• my Mother is alive and I get to have conversations and laugh with her

• I have books and internet access to explore new worlds and connect with friends

• I’m not sick, no one in my family is sick, and I have all of my limbs

What are you grateful for?

Seven Steps to Happiness

In this order:

1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

4) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

6) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

7) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

April Fools

On this day, I feel like posting a blog that doesn’t have any actual content and doesn’t provide any sort of value.

Explore

With all this free time, it’s vital that you maintain structure in your days to avoid falling off the rails.

However, this is also a great opportunity to explore creative projects. Fuck it.

Write poetry or short stories. Record your thoughts for ten minutes. Start reading that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand. There are no wrong choices. Just pick something and do it.

Procrastination

It’s a defense mechanism.

We have tasks and duties which will most likely give rise to stress, anxiety, and discomfort. So, we tell ourselves “I’ll do it later.” Then we get that wave of relief as if the responsibility has fallen on someone else’s shoulders.

Meanwhile, the ‘later’ time comes and we question why we didn’t just get it done before.

You’re not lazy for procrastinating. You’re just being defensive.

Handling Feedback

Receiving a bit of feedback yesterday, I initially reacted as most humans do: I tensed up. Luckily, the visceral response lasted only half a second, for I am honing my skill of taking criticism.

It is a skill, and can be trained. Clearly, it does not come naturally to people. We usually respond to criticism with defensiveness and deflection. However, if we dream to ever improve upon something, we need the eyes and ears of others.

It’s analogous to crafting a sculpture: The process may be painful and arduous, but it’s the only way to shape a masterpiece.

I’m aware that giving criticism is a different skill entirely; not all notes are given with grace or are well-articulated. Plus, not all critics’ words carry the same weight. But for the sake of this post, let’s focus on one’s ability to allow criticism to improve their skills rather than destroy their egos.

Before responding to feedback, I ask myself these three things:

1) Does the critic want me to improve?
2) Have I received this same feedback more than once?
3) How focused am I on my ego right now?

If the answers are yes, yes, and a lot, then it scarcely matters how they’re delivering it…I do my best to apply the feedback.

This is heavily simplified (self-criticism), I’m aware; But developing our skill of taking criticism allows us to be grossly more efficient and sufficient at whatever it is we’re working on.

The Worst Roommate

We are constantly lost in thought. From the minute we wake in the morning to the minute we drift into sleep at night, there is a tiny ‘us’ talking in our heads: giving us instructions; questioning our decisions; judging; prodding; poking; criticizing…

It’s as if we live with the shittiest roommate in the world—only worse, because they follow us wherever we go.

It’s common to think we can go to war with this roommate. But no matter how well we do, they will always come out on top. For the roommate is tireless, insatiable, never-ending.

Since we can never ‘beat’ them, our only option is to befriend them. It’s like treating a bully with nothing but kindness and respect…They begin to lose their power—growing weaker and quieter.

You can never stop thinking, no matter how much you try. But thoughts aren’t the problem. The problem is our nagging level of dissatisfaction which comes from identifying with our thoughts. We attempt to hold on for dear life to the pleasurable and positive thoughts and emotions, and to repel and evade the undesirable and negative ones.

But it’s possible to simply notice these thoughts and feelings as they arise. The idea is to pull the curtain out to reveal the truth: These are just sentences and images arising in the present moment.

You don’t have to be a robot to do this successfully. The next time you get annoyed, rather than try to distract yourself, or constantly remind yourself of how annoyed you are…Try this:

1) Notice the feeling (“I’m annoyed right now. I feel tingling in my face.”)
2) Question the origin (The feeling, not the event. “Where did this feeling in my face and head come from?”)
3) Be completely curious (“Where does this feeling go?”)

You’ll quickly realize that it’s nowhere. It’s like a ghost. The curtain is pulled and there’s nothing but you sitting in your car or standing in line…experiencing whatever it is you’re experiencing in the present moment.

Wisdom in Solitude

Your friend calls you today and asks for a list of your best tips and advices on how to stay sane during this quarantine.

You compile your list and email it to her. You look closely at the list.

How well are you following your own advice?

”Wisdom is nothing more profound than the ability to follow one’s own advice.”
-Sam Harris

Only Everyday

When was the last time someone you know did everything perfectly in their day?

“You will screw this up. But only everyday. Forgive yourself.”
– Cy Wakeman, No Ego

When Does a Habit Become a Habit?

When it’s easier for your body to do it than to not do it.

This morning, I woke up to nothingness because I forgot to set my alarm. I woke up at 6:58. My alarm would’ve been set for 7.

Humans are excellent at adapting—to the good and the bad.

Here’s how I developed the habit of flossing (my teeth) everyday:

Floss > hate it, gums bleed, uncomfortable, worst 30 seconds of my life >
(next day) floss > still hate it, don’t want to do it >
(a week later) floss > don’t love it but can get it done in 20 seconds, gums don’t bleed anymore >
(a month later) floss > don’t even think about it.

That’s a habit. Doing something over and over no matter how uncomfortable it is until eventually—and inevitably—you don’t even have to think about it.

Build the Road

That’s the key to getting what you want.

A year from now, what do you want your life to look like?

• What is a typical work day for you?
• What is a typical off day for you?
• What does your bank account look like?
• What skills have you developed and strengthened?
• How strong are your relationships with your friends and family?

Connecting that life and the one you’re living now lies a road, waiting to be traveled.

It’s your job to build this road and mercilessly continue your journey down it. You can discover what it looks like by breaking it down:

• ”What would half a year of progress look like?”
• “What would a month of progress look like?”
• “What would a successful week look like?”
• “What would a successful day look like?”
• “What can I do right now to move forward on this road?”

Do that. Do it everyday. You’ll travel down the road. Then keep going.

I made a bad YouTube video on goal-setting. It’ll help you if you don’t know where to start.

Don’t Feel Like It

Feel violently groggy this morning.

Didn’t sleep well. Tossed and turned all night. Much work to be done today…

Shopping for the apocalypse. Spreadsheets for work. Taxes. Moving shit into the attic. Building furniture…

Don’t feel like doing any of it.

Just want to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Can see my bed…Could just walk over and lay.

But can’t. Not feeling like doing a thing says nothing about ability to do the thing.

Do the thing.

Survive

Think back…

When was the most depressed you’ve ever been?
What was your most humiliating experience?
What was the most physical pain you’ve been in?
When was the worst you’ve ever been rejected?
What’s the lowest you’ve ever sank?

Though you would not wish to repeat any of these…you’re here.

You made it through all of that. Humans are survivors. We’re built to endure.

Keep it up.

MindHive

My good friend—and most recent podcast guest—Colin Smith, along with his partner Chris Varano, run a blog in which they peruse through simple and effective methods for one to live a more optimal life.

With Colin studying psychology and Eastern philosophy, and Chris working in the medical field…the two combine their technical and spiritual perspectives for how we can improve our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.

I imagine we will be doing several more collaborations in the future.

Check out their incredibly important work here: MindHive.Online

Bubblewrap

Wordsmith prompt #5: What do people say you can’t do?

I wish I had some entertaining, hardcore examples of people flooding my inbox with hate mail, shouting me down, or declaring I have no right to pursue a dream…But the vast majority of those in my life have showered me with a level of support of which I am eternally grateful.

I’m an incredibly open person and I try to be as articulate as possible with my thoughts and emotions. At times this makes me sound like a cheeseball—when I’m telling my friends and comrades how much they mean to me. Other times, I sound like a dick—giving my honest feedback or criticisms.

Most people are aware that there’s a time and a place for speaking your mind. I’m a logic and evidence-based non-believer. But if a friend’s mother just passed away, and she said she wasn’t heartbroken because “she’s in a better place,” I would feel no inclination to retort “Well, there’s no actual proof for that.”
No. God no (pun intended).

However, in most day to day scenarios, I feel like we’ve been conditioned to soften and often times censor our speech in the hopes that we don’t hurt other people. I’m all for not hurting other people, but if a person’s intentions are not to bring harm to another, then openness and honesty (even brutal honesty) are more beneficial than they are damaging.

Put another way, I find constructive honesty to only be as damaging as the receiver allows it to be.

Whether it’s feedback in the workplace, your close friends sitting you down and leveling with you, someone destroying you in an argument…The battle seems to be short term comfort vs. long term health.

Telling your best friend that you despise her boyfriend because he’s a piece of garbage and is dragging your friend into a swamp…That’s uncomfortable as shit in the moment. But wouldn’t it be more uncomfortable two years from now when they’re still dating and you’re only voicing your concerns behind her back? Your intentions are solid. You’re not trying to hurt her; you’re trying to save her!

I’ve been criticized in the past for speaking my mind and possibly hurting others. People can find it blunt, rude, or plain disrespectful. But I get a selfish bonus of not having to hide my motives or values behind a curtain. Plus, I would never say something without letting the other party know that I don’t intend to bring them emotional harm. But if we’re constantly softening the blow, nothing improves. Nothing gets done.

Speaking my mind also allows me to course-correct. I say incorrect shit all the time, but if I didn’t, how would I learn that I’m an even bigger idiot than I originally thought?

Talk. Make mistakes. Learn. Then talk gooder. Allow your ideas and arguments to grow. Polish them each day; otherwise we develop bad habits, become complacent, and stunt our intellectual and emotional growth.

Let’s acquire thick skins instead of placing everything in the world in bubblewrap.

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

Finding the Opportunity

Since beginning a new full-time job at the start of the year, it has taken the front seat of the majority of my time and energy. I don’t see it as a new burden which has taken me away from my passions. Instead, I perceive it as a challenge in which I must adapt to severe change.

Keeping up with short, daily blog posts has been easy enough. However, I’ve stepped away from my weekly newsletter, created zero YouTube videos in four months, and haven’t recorded a new podcast in over a month. That’s on me.

For better or worse, my stuff isn’t huge enough for any significant number of listeners to complain. But everything on this website embodies the clearest picture of what matters to me.

So, it’s time to come back to home base; i.e. it’s time to get my shit together, practice what I preach, and develop routines and schedules which allow me to pursue my passions.

As always, let’s begin with my favorite list—What I can control vs. What I can’t

Can’t control:

• Everything being closed/cancelled (gym, events, work)
• The fact that I’ve slipped up in the past
• Other peoples’ time-availability and interests

Can control:

• How I take advantage of the opportunity of more down-time (spending more time with my mother, getting more work done, reading more, saving money by not going out)
• Creating the best possible work I can right now (In the beginning, it makes more sense to be consistent and improve rather than obsess over people liking your stuff)

Matt D’Avella (my favorite YouTuber) made a great video on batching—a productivity technique where you have a certain time on a certain day where you complete certain tasks. Using this as well as creating checklists for myself, I’ll get the train moving again.

It’s easy to let things slip away when you have an excuse of something else necessary and seemingly gigantic.

”How can I film a video each week when I have to hit my numbers for work?”

”How can I write this essay when I have to reorganize my entire closet??”

You can always do both. Just sit down, breathe, and plan it out.

Final note: This is naturally a strange time. I’m aware that finding the opportunity during the spreading of this virus and the closing of businesses sounds like a privilege many people do not have. I have many friends working in the service/entertainment industry who will be massively affected by the closing of restaurants, theaters, and other organizations. If this applies to you then I wish you nothing but the best. Much love.

When

“I’ll be happy when____.”

No you won’t.

”I’ll start being disciplined when____.”

No you won’t.

This is the New Years resolution syndrome. You’re not going to all of a sudden have different morals, values, drives, capabilities…when you wake up one morning.

If you want to make a change, you might as well make it today.

Forgetting

It’s fairly common that I’ll have a day where I don’t feel like being organized or disciplined. I’ll question if being strict with my diet or having a routine each morning and evening is really making me happy. Spoiler alert…it is.

What is actually happening is that I’m stuck in the moment of discomfort and I’m forgetting or losing sight of the long-term satisfaction of having my shit together.

It’s a slow, arduous process which rarely sees results. But when the results reveal themselves, it’s like uncovering gold.

Stick to the process, especially when you don’t want to. Don’t forget.

Write Something Everyday

Even if it’s only a sentence.

Plan your day. Describe how you feel. What are you grateful for? What do you want to do today, this week, this month, this year?

Write it down.

The Importance of Phone Calls

When you’re doubting yourself, questioning things, failing, need advice, or simply have to bounce ideas off someone…who do you call?

Venting is a waste of time. Truly. Venting is just bitching to make yourself feel better or to blame others, certainly about things you can’t control. I’m not saying you need someone to call so you can vent. But you should have a council of people at your disposal to help you through certain situations.

I personally have a select few people I call regularly. They give me energy; reminding me of how simple the task at hand probably is; reminding me that I’m overthinking it in this or that way. Most importantly though, they call me on my shit if they feel I’m just looking for sympathy.

These are good people to have. Assemble your team. It’s up to you.

”There’s a difference between having resources and being resourceful.”

Thick Skin

I’ve said it before, but it’s one of the most important attributes you can develop.

We all have feelings. Everyone experiences a fluctuation of emotion. That’s okay.

But we’re fucking psychos. If we’re constantly letting our thoughts and emotions dictate our lives, reality gets fuzzy and we can end up in a place we didn’t have to be.

No one is thinking about what you’re doing more than you are.

No one is judging you harder than you are.

People don’t want you to fail as much as you think.

No one is a master of all and we’re all terrified.

You’re not a genius, but you’re not a dummy either…Be a student each day and try your damn best and eventually you’ll get to where you need to go.

Simple Money

All of the best pieces of financial advice I’ve heard are the most simple to implement:

• Live below your means
• Buy assets, not liabilities
• Spend after you save, not vise-versa