“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the days that followed the win of President elected Trump, I was under complete saturation of news covering his win. I was willingly seeking to know everything about his plans for the future, the impact on the economy and whom he would choose on his team. The New York Times and CNN became my best friends.
That information was added to my usual blog and podcast subscriptions that were giving their 2 cents on the matter, my social media feeds that was completely submerged by the matter and, of course, most of my conversations with friends and coworkers. I notice the problematic as I was speaking to my girlfriend about Trump during lunch. I was giving her all the reasons why the wall was a crazy idea, why leaving NAFTA would be disastrous for the economy and on and on.
We are drowning under information. But the good news is that we can still choose what we let in or not. You can choose to turn the TV on or off, you can choose to visit the news website and you can choose to have presence on social media. You can create your own filter, impose yourself a strict media diet if you want. We’re not forced to consume information; we are just letting the door whole open.
Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been” – Kurt Vonnegut
I’ve always been an advocate of learning from my mistakes and brainstorming about what I could have done better. This makes a lot of sense in many situations, as oppose to others where it doesn’t. Rethinking can easily become a sinkhole. It’s easy to get lost in it and lose the clear picture. Sadly, we lose so much time thinking about the past, that we lose perspective about the present.
I could tell some personal example related to that. I often think what could have been different. What would have happened I had followed my father’s advice to leave for a full summer abroad to learn English when I was 18-year-olds? What about if I had been more serious during my College years? What if I had started seriously reading books at 16? I can go on and on about the countless missed opportunities.
These are all possibilities that could have happened, but they didn’t. The result is done and locked in time. There isn’t anything I can do about it today. The only possible way to change things would be to travel back in time. You could dig your past for all these “what if” moment, but it won’t change anything. It’s a dead end.
Our thoughts should simply be where they should. Right here, right now.
“When you say yes to something you don’t want to do, here is the result: you hate what you are doing, you resent the person who asked you, and you hurt yourself” – James Altucher
Do you remember the goofy movie with Jim Carrey where he was saying “yes” to everything for a whole year? That movie is so far from reality. You would say “yes” to everything for a year and you would be crippled by hundreds of shitty obligations that would make you want to puke every goddamn day that you wake up.
A while back, when I was younger, I was still going to University part-time to get some knowledge on the side. I had a bit of free time and I wanted to get involved in my student association. I happily volunteered to help. The president of the association asked me if I wanted to be on the committee for the organization of the end of the year party, it would take three hours a week max. I thought at that moment that it was a cool involvement. So I said, “Yes”. It didn’t count the 10-12 emails I had to read and answer every day. You can guess that each email was asking people to do tasks. Since I didn’t want to look bad, I said, “Yes”. What started as a 3-hour gig a week for fun, ended up as 10-15 hours. It was like having a second job. It wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore, it was an obligation.
A quick example of how much we say “yes” is our email inbox. A snapshot right now of your inbox would probably show a good deal of publicity or subscription you don’t care about. I’m in the same boat. I saw a newsletter from Quora today in my inbox, I don’t even remember when I registered to that website (and I sincerely don’t know what it is). I’ve probably used it once 3 or 4 years ago and I’m still receiving newsletters from the website. This is crazy.
Saying “no” more often should be a daily practice. Look at your calendar or agenda for one moment and you’ll probably see a bunch of appointments that are purely obligations. If we want more time for the important, to the stuff that we really want to do, we must say not somewhere else.
That’s the problem with modern life. We have so many choices, so many possibilities, that we end up losing sight of what truly matter.
There is a reason why we have cook books. Someone with better knowledge laid out what needed to be done to make a succesful recipe. The problem is when we think we can alter the recipe without compromising the end results. Think about it, someone already made all the mistakes for you, the blueprint to success is already in your hands. This can be apply to anything: business, powerlifting/bodybuilding, diet, sports, trading or anything you can think about.
“Too late, I found you can’t wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.” – Ray Bradbury
The whole idea of this post came to me while I was struggling writing. I didn’t know where to start after nearly a month off. I was searching for the perfect topic or the perfect idea. That fucking blank page. All the result of the fear of judgment. All that time, the only thing I should have done was to go with my guts. Write the damn thing and press publish. It might be shit. It might be good. It might be average. It doesn’t matter in the end, if I don’t press publish, it will never exist. Resistance will build up. The only solution? Doing it now.
“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atreides (Dune)
Deep inside, we fear change. We are afraid of going out of our comfort zone. Why do we feel that fear? It’s because what comes next is unknown. We can’t predict the future, therefore we cannot anticipate the chaos and turbulence that could happen in consequence. Still, it’s critical for each individual to embrace change.
Societies has evolved through time with revolutions, inventions, wars, new ideas and big changes. We aren’t where we are today because of stagnation. We are here because some people did it. They went beyond their threshold to make the human race evolve. Without changes, we would still be in the stone age.
It’s the same for each and every one of us. We need to confront fear. We need to go beyond the comfort zone. That’s the only way to grow. Stagnation was never the answer. Make the next chapter happen, whatever it is.
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” – Isaac Asimov
What I’m about to say will look nerdish. I was checking at a PC game on Steam the other day, Crusader Kings II, for those of you who care about it. For the others, it doesn’t really matter. My friends talked about that game for the past three years. They always told me how much I would like it. A historical game of conquest…well I guess that is exactly the kind of stuff I like! Having a shitty laptop, I told them each time that sadly I couldn’t run the game.
The other night, I saw the demo online. I had a doubt. You know….kind of a “what if” situation. I downloaded the thing. I started the game and…it worked! IT FUCKING WORKED! I sent an sms to my friend telling him that I made probably the stupidest assumption of the decade. He found it very funny. And he told me something like our assumption are most often bad. My first thought was: “If I was wrong about that all the time, what else could I be wrong about?” Here we are.
It made me see that these kind of stupid assumptions can crawl into our brains and affect much more important stuff in our lives than a video game. What if you’re not making the most important move of your life because of that? It’s worth thinking about it.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck
Last Sunday, I wanted to watch a movie. I didn’t have any idea what I would watch. I finally stopped my choice on a movie I’ve seen 8 years ago. It was David Lynch’s Dune. The version was three hours combining theatrical cut, extended TV cut and deleted scenes. The film was good, but it made me remember how great the book was.
After watching it, I was curious about the book follow-up Dune Messiah. I found myself reading about Frank Herbert, the author. I was astonished by the way the book was born. Herbert was making an article on the sand dunes near Florence, Oregon. He became really involved with his subject. The article was never finished. But it became the seeds of the book Dune.
It’s crazy that one of the best sci-fi novel of all time started just like that. Nothing fancy here. He didn’t have a sign of God or something like that. He was just inspired in the moment by something he was witnessing in his daily life. You never know what the world could teach you. That’s why you should always keep your eyes wide open.
“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca
Alexander The Great had a mission, he wanted to conquer the world. We can attack or defend his motives, but this isn’t the goal here. The one thing we can be certain is that he had one clear purpose and he didn’t deflect from it. Only death stopped him.
In each part of our life, we have a mission: work, community, relationships, education, hobbies and the list goes on. Those missions are different from one individual to another. Some people will have only one mission, others will have more. There are no rules about that.
What are your missions? It’s important to ask the question. It’s the only way to have a clear picture. It’s the only way to know if what we do matter or not. Missions will evolve. Some will stay. Some will go. But, you need to know them.
“They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves.” – Calvin Coolidge
Have you ever search for your keys only to find out they were in your hand? The answer can be straight in our face and we can be blind to see it. What we search can be so obvious, it’s natural to look elsewhere.
A while ago, I was trying to find ways to improve my strenght at the deadlift and overhead press. My first instinct was trying to find shortcuts. Maybe a new supplement could be my savior? Maybe I could add a new assistant exercise to my training? What if I wasn’t stretching properly? You can see where this was going.
After thinking about it, I concluded that if I wanted to get stronger, I needed to do more strength. As simple as that. I’ve added a few sets of singles (doing the maximum for 1 rep) to each session and after a week I was already seeing a big difference. We often try to find shortcuts, hacks, tips, tricks or whatever. We want to find the easy way to do things, because we want to avoid the hard way.
You want more money? Instead of cancelling your Netflix account, you could just find an another job or ask for a raise. You need to lose weight, drinking Coca-Cola Zero won’t make a big difference. What you need is to eat less carbs period.
We don’t need the new cool apps, the next productivity hacks or that new trendy idea. What we need is to stop bullshiting ourselves for one moment and do what fucking matters.