“Most of the challenges that we have in our personal lives come from a short-term focus”
The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In these studies, a child had to choose between receiving a small reward immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, during which the tester left the room and then returned.
The obvious issue with self-help is this: its ultimate goal is to reach a point where you no longer need it.
Think about it: The whole goal of personal growth is to build yourself to be the person you’ve always wanted. The whole point of pursuing happiness is to reach a point where happiness no longer has to be pursued.
I only ever experienced real writer’s block once in my life.
March 2014 was the worst month of my life. My grandfather died, my girlfriend broke up with me, my father decided to never speak with me again, and I had to struggle with quite a few serious health issues.
Not the end of the world, but the closest thing to my world ending I had ever experienced until then.
When it comes to writing, my mantra is, “Punch the damn keys.” I once wrote that, “if done right, tears turn into gold.”
“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” — Ambrose Redmon
I began writing in my most vulnerable years. I was dumb and arrogant, as most teenagers seem to be, and I did my best to pour greatness into every sentence I wrote.
But I was also lying to myself, writing about what I didn’t know, pretending to know, and I got caught and people could see that I wasn’t willing to let them in — I was building this wall to protect my true self from anyone who would be searching for it behind my words. There was nothing that belonged to me in the stories I wrote.
There’s this poem by a Romanian poet, Mihai Eminescu. It’s called To My Critics, and the last verses go like this:
It is easy to write verses Out of nothing but the word.
At the time, Bezos was worth around 9 billion dollars, yet he worked from a less than impressive office, drove around in a Honda, and had a terrible sense of fashion.
Today’s richest man was working from headquarters located on the same street as a pawn shop, a heroin-needle exchange, and a “porno parlor.” His office, the badly stained carpet, the desk, made out of a door propped up on two-by-fours, all give the impression of the kind of hopelessness that people often encounter whenever they embark on the strange and perilous odyssey of building a business from scratch.
Success is not easy. Overnight success is so statistically improbable that we might as well think it doesn’t even exist.
The struggle is real. Just imagine in what kind of conditions Bezos was working when he first started his company, if this was what his office looked like when running what had grown into a 30 billion-dollar company.
The same way Elon Musk had to borrow money to pay the rent for his apartment in the early days of SpaceX, all successful people had to deny themselves pleasure and comfort in order to bring their dreams to life.
There’s no way around it, I’m afraid.
And there are certain aspects of success that rarely get talked about. We romanticize success to the point that it feels like a walk in the park. You do what you love, always a smile on your face…
Here are seven brutal truths about success that no one ever talks about.
Back when I was in high-school, during one of my kickboxing practices, I had to act as a sparring partner for a few weeks to one of the best fighters in the country.
It was the most humiliating and excruciating experience in my life. There’s no other way to put it. There was nothing I could do to even touch the guy, let alone beat him.
Yet, even though I consistently got beat, my skills improved considerably. When I look back at the four years I spent as a fighter, I often remember that one time I got a lucky jab at him or when he broke my nose.
Quentin Tarantino once compared our work towards progress as running a race.
If we run against people who are slower than us, yes, we win, but if we race against people who are much faster, we’ll come last every single time, but our time will be much better.
We live in a society that loves winning.
Winning is the only thing. The desire to be first. To be the best there is.
There are some victories that are impossible. Sometimes, a good defeat is its own reward. Sometimes, the best we can do is fight an impossible battle and manage not to lose it.
Having to fight against someone with far superior skills would provide me with the kind of mental clarity and focus that made me be so present in the moment that everything was moving in slow-motion.
If I wasn’t careful, I’d find myself on the floor, trying to figure out what day of the week it was.
I couldn’t win, but I still struggled. And I enjoyed it so, so much.
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
Loneliness, defined as an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. The key word here is perceived.
Loneliness, defined as social pain — a simple mechanism that forces us to seek others. The key word here is pain.
A perceived pain, for even one who is surrounded by others might end up feeling lonely. Some might say that’s what real loneliness actually is: feeling alone when you are, in fact, surrounded by others.
Today, when we’re all connected via invisible waves of technology, there are but two great tragedies: one is to be lonely alone, the other is to be lonely among others.
I often wonder which is the selfish option of the two?
“the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it — basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” ― Charles Bukowski
Even as a child, Muhammad Ali took great pleasure in being different than the rest of his peers. He did so not because he was a rebel without a cause, but he certainly did it for the applause.
His defiance of the rules became most apparent when he began to train as a boxer. He refused to fight in the usual way, instead developing a style that would compliment his speed and agility. It was frustrating to try to punch Ali, as he kept dancing around the ring.
A few years later, he’d both irritate and confuse his opponents with his bold statements. After all, what could a fellow boxer expect from a man who claimed he was so fast that he could turn off the light switch in his room and be in bed before the room would be covered in darkness?
As children, we are often taught by our teachers and elders that there’s a certain way of doing things. There are rules and laws and norms that must be obeyed, unless we want to be ridiculed or even marginalized by others.
What we aren’t told, however, is the fact that a strong sense of self is the by-product of doing things our own way, the side-effect of ignoring the rules and venturing within ourselves for our own definitions of who we are and what we’re capable of.
The price of conformity is often a life of predictable boredom.
The price of independence is a life of introspection, constant struggle, and backbreaking work towards self-growth.