Tribal Council

As our lives slowly unfold, the relationships we have evolve as well as everything else. This makes sense because we are constantly changing: our bodies, our minds, our values, our actions…

One of the most vital choices you make for yourself and the wellbeing of your present and future self…is the people who surround you. You may eventually discover that your best friend is actually dragging you down, or someone close to you isn’t doing anything to support you.

Avoid people whom:
• are constantly complaining about the things they can’t control.
• show no interest in learning about the world, improving themselves, or having deep conversation.
• are mean (i.e. shit on people for the sole purpose of hurting them, or even worse, hate something about themselves and attack others in order to feel better).
• glorify laziness (e.g. “I woke up at 2pm, ate a bunch of garbage, played a shit ton of video games…it was lovely!” Everyone needs a cheat day, but living your life like this isn’t cool or laid back, it’s lazy and foolish).
• come up with excuses as to why they aren’t as successful as they could be.
• don’t challenge you in some way to be better.

Do your friends have any of the qualities? Let me know.

PS. There’s a new podcast today (#16 – How Being a Teen Mom Makes You Bulletproof), and I’m fucking thrilled about it! Check it out!

A Letter to a Hero

Wordsmith prompt #2: Write a letter to someone who has impacted your life.

Dear Joe Rogan,

Sometimes I get flack for being just another dude who talks about your podcast but I’m an enormous fan and you’ve changed my life. Roughly two years ago, I got kicked out of school and the woman I was prepared to marry left me. This was the darkest time of my life and I considered ending things. I had no job, didn’t exercise, didn’t eat well, had ideas and aspirations but wasn’t taking action on any of them, and simply had no direction, values, or principles.

Two things got me out of this mental prison: the practice of meditation, and listening to you rant about discipline and happiness. Both of these kicked my ass into gear by forcing me to realize that any outside forces which were blocking me were actually just in my own head. The world wasn’t out to get me…Shit just happens and you are either mentally and physically prepared for the storm when it comes, or you’re not. You taught me how to prepare for and conquer the storm.

It doesn’t work for everybody, but a lot of people (especially men) just need a jacked, bald, tatted comedian to shake them by the shoulders and say “Get your fucking shit together!” By following your basic formulas for developing meaning and satisfaction in life, mine turned from a pit of nothingness to being excited to live each and every day. The formulas include:

-Find something you love to do, do it all the time, get better at it.
-Write down the things you want in your life.
-Be a great person, even to the people who don’t deserve it.
-Have conversations with people, it’s okay if you’re not a genius who knows everything about everything.
-Realize that if other humans are doing it, you can do it too.
-When you’re feeling stressed, remember that you’re just one of 7 billion monkeys on a giant floating rock in space.

You’re an incredibly humble man, who has dedicated his life to solely doing what you want—bow-hunting, MMA commentating, podcasting, traveling, loving your family. You’ve worked your ass off and continue to work your ass off so that you may live the life you want to live. Thank you for showing me that all this was possible. Life will take the wheel if you allow it. I am working each day to ensure that life takes the back seat, so I can throw on my shades, turn up the music (or your podcast), and drive myself down the road I choose.

Thanks again brother,

Dill

Tell me about a person who has impacted your life.

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

Your Eulogy

To piggy-back off of my latest podcast (#15 – Expressing Gratitude) and yesterday’s blog on death:

An incredibly eye-opening and inspiring exercise is writing your own eulogy. If you were to die today, how would you want to be remembered? What kind of person do your friends, family, and the world see you as? What impact or mark would you like to have left on the planet? Whatever that answer is, you should be working night and day to get as close to that result as you can.

Here’s mine:

”Whilst Dillan had many flaws—douchiness, selfishness at times, stubbornness—he was a good person. He dedicated his life to aiding and inspiring people to be the best versions of themselves, though he was not always successful. By taking care of his mind and body, he inspired others to do the same. He showed others that it was possible to set goals, take steps to accomplish those goals, and fulfill them. He made people laugh. He made people think. He asked for many favors, but was always willing to help someone in need. He was firm, but he was loving. He was open, but he was secure. He was confident, but was aware of his flaws. He tried new things, but worshiped routine and discipline…

Because of his existence, the world is a better place than it was before.”

This can be quite personal, but if you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear your eulogy.

Memento Mori

Memento mori – Remember that you will die.

As I discussed in my last podcast (#15 – Expressing Gratitude), I believe we think about death in an incredibly unproductive way. Instead of ignoring the idea because it’s too painful, we should remind ourselves each and every day that everything that you cherish and are able to do right now…it will all be dust one day. This realization allows you to truly appreciate what you have in front of you at this moment, for this is the only moment that currently exists.

Yesterday, I got short with my mother because she kept pestering me to find a day in which I could paint her bathroom. All I was thinking about was my schedule and how time-consuming that would be. Then I stopped and thought about what it will be like when she’s gone…I won’t be able to apologize to her. I won’t be able to make it up to her by painting anything of hers…But I can make it up to her right now, by swallowing my damn pride and painting her fucking bathroom and having lunch with her while I still can.

Time Travel

From Andrew Kirby (one of my favorite YouTubers):

”I have a challenge for you. Do you accept?
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Journal on the following two questions for 5 minutes each. Start a timer. Take more time if you need.

Question 1: If you could travel back 5 years, what would you tell yourself? What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on?

Question 2: Imagine your 10 year “future self” has just been given the above task. He comes back and talks to you. What do you think he’d say?

The answer to this will give you some powerful shit.”

You Don’t Know

Last night, a friend and I went to a local bar for some wine and dessert. I had been suffering a severe migraine for most of the day, but wanted to stick to the plan with the hopes that human interaction and bread pudding would resurrect me. It didn’t. I was a vegetable.

The server came to our table and I said, “We’ll have edamame, bread pudding, fried oreos, and seared tuna please…Oh and two glasses of Cabernet.” That’s not how you order that shit. He looked at me like I was an idiot, and offered to start us with the tuna and edamame, then bring out the dessert. “Sounds great,” I said.

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for a long time. When people order like that it can be frustrating. You question if they’ve ever been to a restaurant before. But I felt like I was dying last night. I was in no condition to put together cohesive thoughts and speech. And that’s the point of this post:

You don’t know what’s going on with other people.

You don’t know what their day has been like. You don’t know if it’s the anniversary of their father’s death. You don’t know if their kid told them to ‘fuck off’ today. You don’t know, man.

Who knows? Maybe that person is just being rude and inconsiderate…but you have no way of being certain. It can be incredibly difficult at times, but a fantastic rule of thumb is to treat people with respect and patience as if they had a terrible migraine. Because you don’t know if they have one or not.

Do You Need It?

There’s this idea floated around by artists which says that they need their vices in order to produce great work. Journalists need Adderall in order to write their articles; musicians need marijuana in order to write creative melodies; comedians need alcohol and depression in order to write funnier, more relatable material.

This is bullshit. And most of us do this, too.

I did a podcast [#12 – Sober October] about developing your “sober skills.” I’m not a proponent of abstaining from drugs/alcohol. I think if done in a responsible and creative way, experimentation and dabbling can be fun and can provide you insights of consciousness which you didn’t know were possible.

The summer after graduating high school, my best friend and I dropped acid and went to a small show with a phenomenal local band. Not only was it one of the most amazing musical performances I’ve ever experienced, but it was then when one of the simplest, most transformative revelations hit my 18-year old tripping mind…I want to be a kinder person.

Drugs n’ stuff can be useful and pleasurable, but if you’re doing them with no aim or appreciation, then they’re just holding you back. You don’t need anything like that to be a more creative and fun individual. They’re simply tools which you can add (responsibly) to your belt.

Other than that, the most affective, sustainable, and evergreen tools for creativity, enjoyment, action, love, all that jazz…are: a consistent good night’s sleep; drinking plenty of water; exercising regularly, eating well; spending time with people who push you to be better; setting goals for yourself and working hard to accomplish them; and writing things down/checking in with yourself on paper.

Finally, a word on people who made their success on the backs of vices such as drugs and alcohol (e.g. Edgar Allen Poe, James Whitcomb Riley, Robert Burns, Hunter S. Thompson):

”But let it be remembered that many such people have destroyed themselves in the end. Nature has prepared her own potions with which people may safely stimulate their minds so they vibrate on a plane that enables them to tune in to fine and rare thoughts from “the great unknown!” No satisfactory substitute for Nature’s stimulants has ever been found.”
-Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Your Friends’ Shit

Keep a little notebook or write down in the notes on your phone all the best recommendations for friends give you (e.g. podcasts, articles, books, shows, movies, shops, parks…).

Set a day aside once a week or once every two weeks where your free time is spent attacking all these things your friends, the people who know you best, have dubbed worthy of your time.

If you can’t decide because there are simply so many, pick one at random from a jar to take the choice away from you.

Listening/watching/reading/doing what your friends recommend is a lovely thing to do because it gets you moving and trying new things…and nothing feels better than when you suggest a book to someone, they read it, and you both compare thoughts on it.

Home

BestSelf is a neat little company which sells decks of cards to get you moving and creating. There’s a deck full of activities to do to get you out of your comfort zone (e.g. bake cookies for your neighbor, throw out something in your room each day for 7 days, create a 60 second short film of you doing something, etc.) which I think is awesome. But they also have a Wordsmith deck, which is designed to get you writing when you feel blockage.

Not that I experience much blockage when it comes to writing in this blog, but I thought it would be a cute change of pace to include the occasional prompt in order to a) put this deck I purchased to good use, and b) take a break from the self-help lecturing I’ve grown so accustomed to, and get personal.

Wordsmith prompt #1: Write about the place you call home.

I despise the saying, “home is where the heart is,” but I must say home has never been a physical location for me. It has typically been wherever the most organized collection of my loved ones is.

Growing up as an only child for most of my childhood, making friends became a necessity. Not only have I always cherished the process of developing a friendship, but once solidified, I consider that person a brother or a sister. Hence, growing up, home to me was where all my brothers and sisters mostly were. This is what leads to a foggy life I think: when someone stays in the same area but all their friends move away. Is that place still home?

My mother though will forever be the centerpiece. She could move to Siberia and somewhere in my mind I’ll think, “damn, I kind of live in Siberia.” Anything good about me is because of my mother’s teachings or love, so it only makes sense that wherever she goes, a piece of me goes with her.

On a final, unrelated note: It’s insane to me how the majority of my dreams of me at home are my childhood home. There must be something cemented into our youthful, developing minds…something ingrained in our long-term memories. I never think about that house (which I spent my elementary school years), yet when I have dreams about home, I see each room clear as day.

Tell me about the place you call home.

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

Always Go

Last night, every inch of my being was telling me not to go to Muay Thai (kickboxing). I was physically and mentally exhausted. I hadn’t been in almost two weeks. My knee was aching. Our gym moved and is now slightly further away. Blah blah blah.

Despite the wishes of the devil on my shoulder, I went, and it was amazing. We had a dynamic and thrilling class (which we usually do), everyone was in a great mood (excited about moving to a bigger and better gym), and the class size was smaller (more intimate time with your training partner and coaches).

Whether it’s working out, going to class (school, training, lessons), meditating, doing something with/for a friend or loved one, playing with your younger sibling, whatever

Percentage of time I’ve regretted going: 0%

Percentage of time I’ve regretted not going: 100%

Always go. You’ll get something out of it. And you won’t spend any time wondering what it would’ve been like.

What is a Habit?

Here’s my definition of a habit:

Doing something—not liking it—over and over again, until you like it.

The two biggest problems everyone faces when trying to create strong habits in their lives are:

1) The “not liking it” part. This is resistance. Your brain and your body are uncomfortable doing this thing, and try to use this discomfort to make you believe it is impossible. The cure for this is taking action. Just do the fucking thing.

and

2) The fact that this doesn’t happen overnight. Building powerful habits to make you successful take time. The same goes with destroying shitty habits (though you may expedite this quicker by simply changing your environment). Going to the gym doesn’t put you in shape. But it does make it easier to go the next time. It plants it in your mind that you are a person who goes to the gym. Repeat, until in shape and enjoying the gym. Again, this will take a good bit of time, but it will happen.

I’ve found that writing down the habits you want in your life is a great way to maintain your willpower to build them. I made a video on that a while back. Make sure to not overload yourself with too many desired habits, because you’ll likely overwhelm yourself and burnout, give up, and feel like a garbage person.

Start with something simple. I really enjoyed creating the habit of getting up early because it ended up being a keystone habit: a habit you build which then breathes life to other awesome habits. It allowed me to read more, have more time to exercise, focus more brainpower on my content, and be more tired in the evening so I could fall asleep at an earlier time.

There’s a lot to say about the science of habits, but being mindful of what it actually is makes it easier to develop in your life. When you start out, you may feel good with all the motivation you feel, but soon, it’ll suck, and you’ll want to give up. That’s resistance. Don’t let it win. Keep going, and it’ll go away.

Do Something Alone

This week (today, if you can), do something on your own. Leave your phone. Do something where you are not distracted and are forced to soak in the present. It’s just you and your thoughts. No phone. Go on a trip. Go to an event. Go to dinner. Go for a long walk. Don’t bring your phone. Go somewhere you’ve been wanting to go. Be alone without being alone.

And no phone…

When You Fall

For many of us, our darkest moments—when we make the worst decisions and give in to the worst habits—are not when we make that first mistake, but the period of time following that mistake.

If you are trying to eat clean, and one night you and your friends are having dinner and you treat yourself and get some pie, there’s nothing wrong with that. Enjoy it. But what many of us do is shame ourselves, and then the next day or the next few days, we eat more garbage because we think, “Well, I’m already a piece of shit for breaking diet, so why stop now?” But you are perfectly capable of waking up the next day and declaring, “Well, that pie was delicious. But time to get back at it.”

I had a rough night this weekend. After a month of no drugs or alcohol, I went to a Halloween party and drank way too much and ate way too little. I had to be taken care of, a ton of my coworkers were there, and I threw up on my friend who was nursing me back to life. Not my finest hour. The following morning, I was a vegetable. I laid in bed all day, watched hours of shows and movies, and Door Dashed food to my house (I hate Door Dash).

Waking up this morning, all I feel like doing is continuing that train of laziness. But I know I don’t have to. So instead I trudged myself through my morning routine, sat down at my desk and began typing this blog post.

An event such as this would’ve embarrassed and paralyzed me in the past. But I apologized for my sloppiness, thanked my guardian angel, cleaned my room, and continued the process of getting my shit together.

When you fall, don’t dwell on the fact that you’re on the ground. Get the hell up and keep moving.

It’s Not Yours

Last night, I was leaving the gym, and when I pulled out of my spot in the parking lot, another car pulled right into the spot I was leaving. It was then that I was reminded: It wasn’t my spot.

Our possessions: our clothing, space, friends, pets, technology, knowledge…We believe in some strange way that these are things we own. Almost as though we are entitled to them. We’ve all seen busy mall parking lots where two cars are screaming at one another because they both declare that the spot they’re fighting over is theirs. But it’s just an area of concrete marked by rectangular paint which is slightly larger than the size of a car.

Now, obviously a parking spot should be less intimate to us than your favorite pet. But what I’m saying is that ownership is totally arbitrary. My cat is my cat because I found her roaming the streets of Salisbury and I took her home so she wouldn’t freeze and starve. Before that day, she was someone else’s cat. If a guy busted down my door and stole my TV. My precious TV, where I watch my HBO, my standup specials, and my sports. If he took that and brought it to his house and started watching whatever robbers watch (the Cooking channel?), then it’d be his TV.

Everything from your phone to the air you breathe…it’s not yours. You’re just borrowing it. So take care of it while it’s in your care. Take care of your friends. Take care of your stuff. Because you won’t have them forever.

Confidence

Confidence is not thinking you’re the shit. It is clearly defining your values and principles and sticking to them and maintaining them every day, week, month, and year.

Confidence is not believing you know everything. It is understanding what you know and having the curiosity and wherewithal to learn and seek answers.

Confidence is not going into a job interview and being certain you’re going to ‘nail it.’ It is working your ass off to prepare yourself, figuring out how that company is a good fit for you, and being the best possible self in the interview chair you can be.

The key word above is yourself. Confidence doesn’t come from pretending to be more talented than you are. This causes insecurity. Most of us are insecure because in some way, shape, or form, we are putting on a performance. We are lying about what our abilities and interests are. And when you lie, you can’t help but be insecure because there is always the possibility of being discovered a liar.

If you are unwelcome, judged, laughed at, in the interview…confidence will tell you that those guys are assholes, not that you suck. If you went in prepared, curious, aware, ready to ask questions, then that’s all you could’ve done. And if you’re judged for being the best ‘you’ possible, then there’s something wrong with the judges, not with you.

Leadership

Leadership isn’t something interesting until you’ve seen it done well first-hand. Leaders are not the same as managers or bosses. Leaders inspire action. Simon Sinek has written a multitude of amazing books on what it takes to be a leader in the real world.

The most effective leader I’ve ever known (and the sole reason great leadership is one of my life goals) is Mark Milecki. Mark was my General Manager at the Cheesecake Factory. And although we were just working with burgers and fries, he taught me how to take care of people, solve problems, and lead by creating leaders. We did an amazing podcast (#13 – Leadership, Done Right) on his climb of the ladder from busser to top-level GM. We also discuss his son’s battle against a rare form of leukemia.

In a nutshell, a leader must:

• listen to everyone, learn about everyone
• make everyone feel valued, but hold everyone accountable
• take responsibility for their own actions as well as their followers actions
• be willing to do the work that they request of their followers
• inspire others to be independent

This blog post is dedicated to the Mileckis.

Success

What is success to you? It has to be subjective. Success is not having this amount of money, or this amount of followers. You have to define what you want and what will make you successful.

My dream is to create content (podcasts, short films, writing, other posts) that reaches people and inspires them to climb the mountain of life. As of right now:

• I have around 100 podcast listeners
• I have 39 YouTube subscribers
• My last video currently has 33 views
• This blog has fewer than 10 consistent readers
• Only 4 people have subscribed to my weekly newsletter

In terms of reaching people, none of this is even close to the kind of numbers I’m dreaming of. But a few days ago, one of my closest friends reached out to me and told me everything he loved about my stuff, as well as the things that didn’t click with him. That’s success to me. People I care about consuming what I create and being inspired to think about it and how they can implement it in their lives.

I don’t give a shit about the numbers right now as I’m starting out. Perhaps they will remain low until I find my real footing. All I can do is focus my energy on improving my abilities and remain true to my Why. That’s all any of us can do. Don’t get bogged down by “lack of results.” Get better, and stay true to your purpose, and the numbers will eventually follow suit.

Trick Your Mind

It’s stunning how upset people get when you tell them they can do things they don’t think they can do. We like to be the ones who declare our own capabilities and inabilities. Aside from the countless videos I’ve made on YouTube and Instagram about building discipline and habits, here’s a simple mind-hack you can start today in order to make you more disciplined and gritty:

Tell yourself, out loud or in your head, that you are this person.

Practicing kickboxing is really tough at first (as is any new skill). One thing that made the shitty beginning stages fly by was the way I thought about myself doing it. Mentality is 90% of anything you’re doing. I would show up to class not knowing what I was doing, but in my head I was thinking “I’m a fighter.” I would talk about it, practice in and out of the gym, watch fights at home, and consume it. So although my skills were that of a novice, by all accounts, I was a fighter.

If you want to learn sign language, there’s not a legally-defined amount of words one needs to be able to sign in order to declare themselves someone who knows sign language. Practice it. Consume it. Be curious about it. You’re a person who knows sign language.

Don’t compare your skills to those of others unless you are learning from them. I suck at filmmaking. I have no idea how to edit clips together to tell a cohesive story. But guess what? I have a YouTube channel where I’ve made several films all on my own with the help of no one. I’m a filmmaker.

It doesn’t have to be an arrogant way of inviting yourself into every club that exists. Just because I clipped my nails today doesn’t mean I am a stylist. That’s obviously not my point. But when you want to get into something, don’t hold yourself back by focusing on all the things you can’t do. Lose yourself in your own curiosity and declare in your mind that this is the person you are.

I am a fighter.
I am a YouTuber.
I am a podcaster.
I am productive.
I am one who exercises.

Just because I’m not particularly good at any of these, doesn’t mean I can’t live those lives. The next time I don’t feel like working out, I’ll say, “Well, you’re someone who exercises, so you can’t skip the gym.”

You are…?

Left Breathless

One of the most memorable and best uses of my time was the two hours I spent walking through the Holocaust Museum yesterday. This short post is dedicated to the time and dedication it took to collect all the art, photos, artifacts, stories, and data from one of the worst human rights tragedies, which were all collected and displayed in such a horrifying and beautiful way.

Before you begin the exhibit, you take an I.D. card of a Jewish man or woman who lived through the Holocaust. Each card provides information of where they were from and you get their perspective of the beginning, middle, and end of the Nazis’ expansion and destruction. You take the card to be reminded that although we speak of this atrocity in terms of unbelievably large numbers and statistics, each one of those numbers was an individual.

If you are in the DMV area, and have never been, please take an afternoon to spend an hour or two walking through this extraordinarily important place. It is free, and it will leave a mark on you. It left me with a feeling of stillness. Not a calming stillness, but a stillness which left me breathless and unbalanced, physically and mentally.

Discomfort

Sometimes, a lot of the time, you’re going to be be uncomfortable. That’s just a fact. I used to despise the saying, “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” but it’s one of the most useful skills on can build.

Mind – It’s comfortable and easy to focus your mental efforts on entertainment and gossip. Take a second to think about how much time in a day you spend learning (on purpose). The world is constantly changing, and we must learn everyday…about the world, about ourselves, about the people and things around us.

Body – It’s comfortable to eat whatever the fuck we want and to lay on the couch instead of go to the gym. Those things are fantastic as a rare treat, or a celebration of your hard work, but you can’t live your life like that. And for those who respond to that saying, “I sure can! Watch me!” Okay, I’ll watch you live a garbage lifestyle through many years which you’ll probably pass on to your kids to create more garbage people. Suffer in the short term so that you and your genes will thrive in the long term.

Spirit – It’s comfortable to hate things about people. It’s fun to gossip and talk shit about people when they are not around. But this is like a slow-working poison. It’s bad for you, the people close to you, and the people you meet in the future. Kindness is easy when you’re in a great mood, but Jesus does it feel impossible when you feel like nothing. But difficult does not mean impossible. Be a kind person to your loved ones and enemies, without letting people walk all over you.

Don’t shy away from discomfort, welcome it into your home, and it will make you bulletproof.

Your Thing

Every one should have a thing. Something that is just for them, which they do by themselves (or with a few others who share that thing) which brings them peace. Preferably something challenging and where a skill can be improved.

This can be playing the piano, swimming, juggling, doing sudoku, yoga, reading comic books, taking bad (or good) photography…

I spoke to a buddy yesterday and he said he lacked a thing. And he was certain it was creating a void in his life.

These are my things:

– Writing this daily blog (I don’t mind if no one reads it. It’s just for me to start my day with releasing a small bit of creativity and philosophy. I don’t like journaling so I have to find replacements)

– Martial arts (Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu test my body and mind and I learn newer and better ways to move, defend myself, and learn)

– Editing podcasts and YouTube videos (It is not necessarily pleasurable during these processes, but the satisfaction of having completed the editing journey is truly meaningful to me. It’s like, “Hey, look at that! I did that!)

If you don’t have a thing, find one. Experiment. It’s crucial to one’s happiness and meaning. Make sure it’s something you do alone (or worst case, with a small group of individuals). Just for you. Not because you want to brag about it or show it off to your friends…it’s just your thing.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ: The art of grappling and submissions. To the layman, it looks like two sweaty athletes violently hugging each other. But it’s one of the most captivating and exhilarating activities one can do with their bodies and their minds.

My BJJ journey began yesterday. I’m not even a white belt yet. I have no skills. My coach showed me a few chokes and then we went to war. The way we started our rolling (sparring) session…it’s something I’ll never forget so long as I live.

As he was in a defensive state, I approached him, confused and timid. I chuckled and said, “I don’t even know where to start.” He looked at me calmly and without hesitation said, “Just start.”

In that moment, all of my worries of doing the wrong thing, looking foolish, or getting my ass kicked, simply faded into nothing. And for the record, my coach (a fifth-degree black belt) did kick my ass.

The point is: In whatever you’re doing, when you’re terrified to start because you have no idea what to do or where to go, just start. You’ll make so many wrong moves, your ego will be battered, you’ll look like a doofus…But as time goes on, almost like a funnel, you’ll get sharper, you’ll get smoother, you’ll get quicker. And three months will go by and a newcomer will start their journey. Then you won’t be the new guy or gal anymore. You’ll teach them. You’ll kick their ass.

As an end note, I can’t recommend picking up a martial art enough. It’s one of the absolute best journeys one can embark to develop their discipline, confidence, physique, and mental toughness. It’s also a phenomenal community of the kindest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet. Learning Muay Thai (and now BJJ) at Level Up Gym saved my life and helped shape me into the man I am now. And I’ve only just begun my journey. If you have even a little bit of time and money to spare, Google local martial arts centers in your area. It will be terrifying and you’ll feel like a fish out of water, but I swear to you…it pays you back fifty-fold.

World Series

Last night, the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros in game one of the World Series, 5-4. It was a special night, as Ryan Zimmerman was finally rewarded with his first World Series home run in Nationals history.

I don’t give a shit about baseball. I didn’t watch the game. I looked this information up two minutes ago.

The point is, the internet has almost an unlimited amount of free information. Use it to make you know things you otherwise wouldn’t.

”An educated person is not necessarily one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. Educated people have developed the faculties of their minds so that they may acquire anything they want, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.”
Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

30 Minutes

“All of humanity’s problems, stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
– Blaise Pascal

Could you spend 30 minutes in a room, simply sitting and thinking? In this age of technology and distraction, even the most enlightened of us find it difficult to resist stimulation of some kind—social media, texting our friends, Netflix, pornography…But if you struggle violently to just sit down and be still of mind and body, I think that’s a problem.

Practicing meditation has saved my life when it comes to my desire for artificial distraction. Sitting and focusing on the present moment (the breath, the sounds, the feeling of my body sitting down in the chair), you realize how beautiful this moment is. And this moment. And this.

My favorite meditation apps (I know, sounds counterintuitive) are Headspace and Waking Up. But besides organized, guided meditation, just try to sit for 30 minutes with your phone on airplane mode. Set the timer, and for that half an hour, pay attention to your thoughts and the world around you. Notice the things in your field of vision in focus and out of focus. Focus on your breathing, from the beginning of the inhalation, to the end of the exhalation.

Enjoy the stillness. Enjoy having nothing to do in that time.

Force Yourself

In creating “self-help” content, one of the deepest criticisms I have received is that I make it sound too easy to get your shit together, especially when it comes to people with paralyzing depression whom simply getting out of bed in the morning is a win. As if I’m saying, “all you have to do is acquire these awesome habits and you’ll be become super productive and get in great shape.”

This shit is hard, people. That’s why people get inspired by motivational speakers. That’s why people hire personal trainers and nutritionists. When left to our own devices, we are often shitty managers of our personal well-being.

I’ll clear the air with some sort of video in the future, but:

– No amount of personal development is a substitute for professional help if you require it.

– If you have some sort of debilitating mental or physical disability, my stuff isn’t for you.

My stuff is for the people like me, who for so long, simply lacked the ability to force myself to do things I knew were good for me, but didn’t feel like doing. Watch this video. Joe Rogan does a fantastic job of articulating this in terms of exercise.

The vast majority of us think we can’t do something, but we simply lack the ability to force ourselves to do it. This ability can be learned, and it can be trained like a muscle. I have experienced it firsthand.

Do

The biggest piece of advice I’d give to my younger self is this:

Stop talking. Stop thinking. Do.

It’s lovely to discuss with your friends or in your own mind all the incredible things you think you could do to make your life more adventurous, productive, colorful, lively…But often times, we say these things out loud, and the train stops when we get that dopamine hit of hearing, “Wow, that would be cool,” or “Yeah, I think you’d be really good at that!”

Not that I am any sort of success story, but I dreamt of starting a podcast for over a year. Dreamt…Tinkered with the idea, mentioned it to my friends, articulated how I’d go about it. I got a ton of affirmations about how my friends would listen to it and how they’d love to hear my voice on iTunes. But as Newton’s sixth law of Not Actually Doing Shit concludes, a year went by and I had nothing to actually show for it.

You have to just do, man. Once I finally swallowed my fear of imperfection (which never goes away when you create stuff), and just started putting things out there, the ball began rolling. I look back at the first podcasts I created and laugh at how unskilled I was. BUT I CAN ONLY DO THAT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN DOING IT EVERY WEEK FOR ALMOST A YEAR. If I had never started, I wouldn’t have acquired any skills, any knowledge, and worse, I wouldn’t have ever experienced that deeply fulfilling feeling you get when you have a delicious conversation with someone, edit it for several hours over several days, upload it, and see it in your iTunes library and know that that is your creation.

It literally doesn’t fucking matter at all what you want to do. For the love of Allah, just shut up and starting doing it. You will suck. You will not gain the respect of those who are better than you right out the gate. But you will get better, (and if you keep going) much better.

Do.

Some People

It’s a truly unfortunate fact, but once understood could save us a ton of time and mental strain…

Some people suck.

I currently make my income by serving tables and last night I had a purely low-class couple. By “low-class,” I’m not referring to their clothing or their skin color, I’m referring to the way they treated me and how my service was compensated. Not once did they say please or thank you. Each and every time I went back to the table, they needed something else. All I was thinking was “just get them out as soon as you can.” My expectations were low, but the final blow still hurt. Their bill was $90. I hand him the check and he slips me cash….5 bucks.

There is absolutely nothing more frustrating in the service industry than working your ass off for little to no payoff. I looked down at the depressed look on Abraham Lincoln’s face, said “I feel ya buddy,” but before I went into a pissed-off state of mind, I reminded myself something that put my heart at ease…

Some people suck.

3 Things You Need

In whatever you do, especially in a skill you wish to improve upon, you need three things:

1) Someone better than you. A mentor or a coach who challenges and inspires you to learn efficiently and desire the most out of yourself. Watch what they do. Listen to what they say. Spend time with these people and you will slowly accumulate their skills.

2) Someone of equal ability. A friend, teammate, coworker, rival…who is on the same level as you. Don’t improve merely to become better than them, but learn to love and bond over the growth process as you see this person and yourself advancing. Push each other. Win win.

3) Someone less skilled than you. So you may be a mentor for someone else. This gives you an opportunity to take all the lessons and hardships you have endured and pay it forward. When you teach something that you’ve learned, you get to learn it twice. Articulating your knowledge in a clear and concise way is the true test of how well you know what you’re doing. Also (on a more cynical note), it’s nice to get a confidence boost by seeing you’re not the worst at something. By seeing people who aren’t as proficient as you, it reminds you that you have improved, as long as it’s balanced out by the humility of “But I still have so much to learn.”

Balance these three things. Be inspired by each. They will help you climb the mountain.

Drink Water

This morning, I woke up to my alarm feeling violently groggy—almost hungover (even though I haven’t had alcohol in weeks). My sleep-aid app told me my sleep quality over the night was around 45%…my record low.

I forced myself out of bed more reluctantly than usual, went downstairs, and after going to the bathroom, did what I always do to start my day: drink a full glass of cold water.

Most of us don’t drink enough H2O. Even more don’t drink water right when we wake up, which should blow our minds when you think about the fact that your body has gone 7-10 hours (often times more) without water. It’s hard to fill up while you’re sleeping.

After my second glass, the fog began to fade. It felt as though I was coming back to life. Much of our exhaustion in the early morning could be eased by simply drinking some fucking water.

A water bottle helps. Fill it the night before and keep it cold in the fridge. It also helps you drink more throughout the day, and is perfect to take to a place like Chipotle (no wasting their cup and no temptation to get soda [poison water]). I prefer a Nalgene because it’s simple, cheap, and dishwasher-safe. If you feel like splurging, Yeti or Hydroflask are companies which offer great quality bottles. Perfect for camping or any activities where you don’t have time/access to keep refilling.

In honor of the cells in your body—before you reach for the coffee, drink a glass of cold water.

Everyone is Against You

A poem by Phillip Lopate (as seen in Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott):

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
frustration
discontent and
torture
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
association
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.