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Neither a Contrarian Nor a Conformist. Simply an Individual.

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

True self-authenticity is the willingness to like what everyone else likes when it stands to reason to do so.

Being a contrarian has value, but only when it’s practiced non-dogmatically. When the crowd is moving in a constructive direction, it can be useful to go along with the crowd. If going along with the crowd serves your priorities and principles, then to resist the crowd is to resist yourself. And that is the complete opposite of being self-authentic.

Being true to yourself is about following the path that best meets your wants and needs. The amount of people who are also following that path is irrelevant. Useful things don’t magically become useless just because lots of people like to use them. If you’re getting rid of something because it’s taking up space, draining your energy, eating your time, or becoming a distraction, that’s a good thing. If you’re getting rid of something just because it’s becoming more popular, that’s an ego thing.

“I don’t want to be seen as someone who likes the same things as everyone else” is never a good reason to deny yourself the advantages, opportunities, and pleasures of that which genuinely captures your interest.

Conformity doesn’t equal “fitting in.” Conformity equals “fitting in at the expense of who you really are and what you really want.”

If you’re suppressing who you really are and what you really want in an effort to maintain a brand that says “I’m different,” you’ve fallen for a self-defeating trap.

It’s better to live as you believe and be considered a conformist than to spend your life chasing things that don’t really satisfy you in the name of seeming like a unique person to others.

A real individualist cares more about feeling interested than about looking interesting.

The Greatest Form of Loneliness

There is a least one form of loneliness that’s greater than the kind resulting from having no friends: the kind that results from having no conviction.

No amount of company can appease you if you have to compromise your ability to be truthful in order to keep it.

It’s only fun to be liked when it’s the real you that they like.

Authenticity & Acceptability

Honesty is necessary for personal growth, but it’s not sufficient.

Being real is the first step towards dealing with what’s wrong. The second step is learning how to build the right habits and do the rights things.

“I’m authentic about where I am” ≠ “I’m acceptable as I am.”

If You’re Going to Share Your Success, Then Please Stop Scandalzing It

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Acts of philanthropy are much better when performed by people who embrace their assets and achievements with a clear conscience and a celebratory disposition towards wealth.

I’m all for the notion of helping out and leveraging your success for the good of others, but you’re far more likely to be good at this if you’re driven by something greater than a sense of guilt towards your own success.

If you have an obligation to share your wealth, then you also have an obligation to treat the wealth you’re sharing as if it’s actually a good thing. After all, if you believe that wealth is evil, then why would you want to heap any of that evil upon someone else?

If you truly want to help people become successful, then help yourself become the kind of person who’s genuinely excited about success. When you treat success as if it’s something you need to apologize for, you misrepresent the spirit of goodwill and you teach others to be ashamed of the very thing you’re trying to help them achieve

It’s not enough to be the example of a good giver. You also need to be the example of a good receiver.

Generous givers don’t share their resources because it’s scandalous to have good things. They share their resources because it’s beautiful for others to have good things too.

If you truly believe that your own success is scandalous, then you shouldn’t ruin the name of charity by hiding behind the specter of philanthropic work. You should own your wrongdoing and do your best to make your scandalous situation right without putting on the facade that you’re doing someone a favor.

If you’re giving away a bunch of money to charities because you feel guilty for ripping a bunch of people off, that’s not philanthropy. And you’re not doing any good for society by equating such compensatory behavior with “random acts of kindness.”

If you can’t celebrate the surplus in your life, then go clear your conscience and come back to charity when you’re ready to practice it cheerfully.

If you’re going to be a giver, then it’s important not to despise your own gifts.

Your Existence Matters, but Your Work Is Always up for Debate

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Ontological value (how much your existence matters in a philosophical sense) is different from economic value (how much your work matters to someone you’re trying to impress for the sake of getting them to give you some of their money).
 
“I am special” ≠ “You owe me a salary.”
 
“You are special” ≠ “I owe you a salary.”
 
“You are just as important as anyone else” ≠ “Let me write you a check for that cool backflip you just did.”
 
When I woke up this morning, I felt like a million bucks. Are you going to give me a million bucks for that ecstatic feeling I had when I rolled out of bed? Probably not. I wouldn’t even hold my breath for a $5 gift card from Starbucks. My ecstasy means a lot to me, but very little to you. Unless I can translate my ecstasy into something that creates a little ecstasy on your end, you’re not giving me a dime.
 
Economic worth is a social game just as the concept of money is a social game.
 
If I say, “I’m worth X amount of dollars”, that would be in the same league as me saying “this sheet of paper is worth X amount of dollars” or “this tea leaf is worth X amount of dollars.” I can say it, but it doesn’t amount to anything until I can get someone to agree with my proposition.
Economic worth is an agreement between two or more parties. No single party gets to decide how much they, you, or anyone else is worth all by themselves.
 
Economic worth is the intersection between what one party is willing to work for and what another party is willing to pay for. To master money is to master that point of intersection.
 
Your existence matters, but if you want people to pay you, then you have to do work that matters…
 
…work that matters to someone else’s existence besides your own
 
…work that matters according to someone else’s definition of what matters.
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