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In Case You Missed Out on Bitcoin

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“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”- C.S. Lewis

If you’re one of the ones who missed out on bitcoin, I’ve got some good news for you: there’s still time for books.

According to Amazon, you can get classics in history, economics, philosophy, science, and literature for as low as the price of penny stock. And you won’t have to worry about the value of your investment dropping when other people get rid of their old copies of the same books you buy.

If you’re bullish on knowledge, invest in books ASAP. The only bubble you need to worry about is ignorance.

I’ve heard many people say they wish they had bought just a little bit of bitcoin 5 years ago. I hear ya, but that train has left the station and there’s nothing you can do about it besides get smarter for the next opportunity you’ll need the intelligence to recognize.

If you think this is sarcasm or satire, think again. In every generation there are people who regret their past failure to aquire useful knowledge. You can avoid making that same mistake by acting now. Don’t look back on this day ten years from now and think to yourself “Man, I would be so much happier, healthier, and wealthier had I only listened to that one nerdy guy who told me to get in on books.”

I began with C.S. Lewis. I leave with you with the words of Atwood Townsend:

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”

Beware of Philosophical Fomo

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Are you really going to just stand there and take that?

Have you ever found yourself in an unproductive discussion that you really wanted to escape, but you were afraid it would be close-minded of you to leave? Have you ever forced yourself to explain your behavior or beliefs to someone when you really felt like it was none of their business because you were afraid it would have been intellectually dishonest to ignore them? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then you may have been a victim of “philosophical fomo.”

I define “Philosophical Fomo” as a condition in which a person finds it difficult to terminate an unproductive discussion because of a fear of missing out on the mere possibility that something good will come out of it if they hang in there for more time.

Beware this sinister enemy. It’s the cause of much uneccessary misery in the world.

Deep down inside, many people have bought into the notion that they are being dishonest or dogmatic if they don’t entertain every single contrary opinion regardless of context.

Contrary to popular belief, critical thinking isn’t about placing equal value on all opportunities to engage in debate. Yes, some conversations truly are a waste of time. And while it’s possible that you’ll sometimes make the mistake of giving up on a conversation too soon, it’s also possible that you’ll make the mistake of staying in a conversation for too long. There’s going to be a risk involved either way. So instead of basing your choice on the fear of missing out, base your choice on a passion for maximizing opportunity.

Use the same logic you’re already using for everything else

When you go out for lunch at a restaurant, you use standards to determine what you order. If you’re vegetarian, you cross meat off your list. If you’re allergic to garlic, you cross garlic off your list. If you hate BBQ, you cross BBQ of your list. If you need to keep your carbs low, you cross the sodas and starches from your list. You don’t just walk into a restaurant and say “give me whatever you got because something good might come out of it.” Instead, you order with a purpose in mind.

In this very scenario, it’s quite possible that something cool and life-changing could happen if you abandoned your usual standards. However, you already know that’s not a good enough reason to abandon your standards. Even though you know anything is possible, you also understand that everything isn’t purposeful.

Positive outcomes can come from any direction, but that doesn’t mean you should treat all directions as if they’re equally likely to produce positive outcomes. This is the exact kind of logic that you use to buy groceries, drive to work, and a thousand other things. You don’t start with the mere possibility of something good happening. You start with a set of parameters determined by your goals, needs, and values. And then you proceed to evaluate the possibilities based on that criteria.  Now take that same logic and apply it to conversations.

Most people can easily grasp the fact that some ideas are better than others, but they have a difficult time believing that some conversations are better than others. I’ve seen people completely victimize themselves by voluntarily remaining in the presence of someone who was insulting them or irritating them solely because they believed it was “only fair” to hear the other party out. That kind of assumption is a fatal tool in the hands of a manipulator who enjoys pushing buttons and pulling triggers.

If I were the kind of person who got my thrills by roping people into toxic or time-wasting discussions, then my ideal conversational partner would be the kind of person who believes things like “Well, everybody deserves to be fully heard.”

If you’re open to creating more freedom in your life, please consider the following proposal: everyone does not deserve your time, energy, and attention.

Think about how absurd this kind of thinking sounds when you apply it to almost anything else. Does everyone deserve a little money from you? Does everyone deserve a little physical affection from you? Does everyone deserve an opportunity to car pool with you? Does everyone deserve a little portion of room and board from your place of living? Of course not. When it comes to any other kind of scenario, we would be very judicious about who we shared our resources with. Why treat conversations any different?

Don’t run from the truth, but make sure you look for evidence before you assume someone is leading you to truth

In case you’re tempted to believe I’m advocating a position that says you should always avoid conversations that aren’t pleasant, then let me be clear: If a conversation is truly challenging you to be more truthful, then you owe it to yourself to stick with it and learn from the challenge. Being irritated with people who challenge you isn’t an excuse for being irrational.

However, if you’re going to stick with a challenging conversation, at least look around for some evidence that the conversation is actually constructive. Sticking with a challenge isn’t necessarily the same thing as sticking with the truth. If someone were to repeatedly stomp on my toe because they believed it was good for me, that would be very challenging for me to deal with. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stand there and put up with it unless I get some darn good evidence that such a challenge is worth my time. It’s one thing to be weak and timid in the face of a healthy confrontation. It’s another thing to get wrapped up in your ego’s need to prove how smart and tough you are.

If you truly care about being rational, then you won’t turn your brain off when it’s time to evaluate the quality of conversations you find yourself in. If you truly care about being open-minded, then you’ll be open-minded to the idea that some conversations are holding you back from more important things.  If you feel the need to stay involved in an unpleasant conversation because you have reason to believe that a greater good is at stake, then keep at it. But if you can see that a conversation is going nowhere, don’t be held hostage by irrational definitions of being open-minded

One of the biggest keys to personal freedom is learning how to guard your heart and mind from energy vampires. Many people simply don’t give themselves permission to establish healthy boundaries. Don’t be one of those people. Maybe it’s true that everyone deserves their day in court, but it’s also true that you’re not required to be a juror for every single case.

If You Think You Can Do Better, Then Go Do It

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“I can do better than this.”

Surely you’ve heard people utter this phrase before. Here are a couple of common examples:

“I can do better than this relationship.”

“I can do better than this job.”

Sound familiar? Here’s my proposal for anyone who uses the phrase “I can do better than X” when referring to a situation they’re thinking about leaving:

You can do better than that kind of talk. Much better.

Anytime you say “I can do better than X” where X equals a situation you’re currently a part of, that means one of the following things is true of you: you’re naive, you’re bluffing, or you’re selling yourself short.

Here’s a quick argument for that statement:

When you say “I can do better than X,” then either you’re right or you’re wrong.

If you’re right, then you’re selling yourself short because you’re sticking with something that not’s worthy of you.

If you’re wrong, then either you know you’re wrong or you don’t know you’re wrong.

If you know you’re wrong, then you’re bluffing because you’re boasting about options you don’t even believe you have.

If you don’t know you’re wrong, then you’re naive because you’re overestimating your options, underestimating your obstacles, and bragging about it at the same time.

Therefore, you’re naive, or you’re bluffing, or you’re selling yourself short whenever you say “I can do better than X.”

At this point, you’re probably expecting me to make some kind of critical evaluation of each option. Maybe this is the part of my post where I mock the naive people, or call out the bluffers, or offer encouragement to the ones who sell themselves short. Nope. My word of advice to all three categories is the same: If you genuinely think you can do better than X, then you should go do better than X.

Pursuing the possibilities that you sincerely believe are most compatible with your true value will be good for you no matter what category you belong to. If you’re naive, it will make you wise. If you’re bluffing, it will make you be honest with yourself. If you’re selling yourself short, it will make you realize your true potential.

For the naive, reality has an astounding ability to shatter illusions, deflate delusions, and punish bad conclusions.  For the bluffers, there’s nothing that makes a person speak the truth or stop telling lies quite like being forced to put their money and their muscle where their mouth is. For the ones who sell themselves short, well that’s an easy one: if you really have untapped potential that’s being stifled by conditions that are lesser than you, then nothing will make this more obvious than your decision to bet on yourself.

I would not only argue that it’s good for you to actively pursue your perceived best option, but I’d also contend that it’s far more hurtful to you and others when you do otherwise.

Consider the following two dangers of thinking you can do better while remaining in the same place:

  1. It makes it difficult if not impossible for you to be satisfied — When you’re in “I can do better than this” mode, you tend to evaluate through a lens of unfair comparison. The situation you’re in is easily scrutinized because you have access to a ton of data about it. The situation you fantasize about is easily idealized since your romantic perception doesn’t get challenged by the surface-level exposure you have to it. Don’t get me wrong here. Finding satisfaction doesn’t mean that you have to always believe that your current situation is the best of all conceivable worlds. However, being satisfied does require you to believe that the option you’re choosing is the one that gives you maximum fulfillment given your current knowledge, your current values, your current resources, and your current limitations. To state that less formally, you’re not going to be satisfied in any situation where you feel like you’re being ripped off, robbed of what you deserve, or restrained from doing what you really want to do. This kind of scenario not only ensures your dissatisfaction, but it also sets you up for resentment. And that brings me to the second danger..
  2. It’s unfair to the other party involved — The moment you start identifying with a narrative that says “I deserve better than the situation I’m choosing to remain in” guess what happens to the way you see the other party involved? Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you’re going to treat them like you’re doing them some kind of favor. And that stinks for the other party. If you show up to your job like it’s beneath you, that stinks for your employer. If you see your significant other as someone who’s standing in the way of your ability to create the amazing love life you truly deserve, that stinks for your significant other. The biggest favor you can do for something or someone if you truly believe you can do better is to go do better. If you have to hold back your best self in order to be in a voluntary relationship, then you’re also holding back the other party from being in the kind of relationship *they* deserve: a relationship where their presence is celebrated and continuously greeted with appreciation and respect. And those are things you simply can’t provide as long you see yourself as the tireless martyr who righteously puts up with an inferior party or position.

In light of these two dangers, the way forward seems clear: If you think you can do better than X, then make X your Ex and go do the better thing you think you’re capable of doing.

If that seems too calloused and cruel for your disposition, then you’re compelled to one logical conclusion: admit to yourself that you’re actually in the best position you could possibly be in at this current moment given your own unique combination of priorities, preferences, and principles. Sure, you could make more money, or have a funnier spouse, or have a job with a nicer office, or whatever else you imagine, but you’re not okay with chasing after those luxuries if they have to come at the expense of your moral principles, or your aesthetic preferences, or your, personal priorities. That’s totally fine, but that just means you can’t really do better because you’re already doing the best you can do within the context of what you’ve decided is right for you.

So go do the best you think you can do or realize that you’re already doing it.

Either way, don’t disparage the people who have to work/live with you by staying in a situation that’s beneath you, complaining about how it’s holding you back, and treating your partner/peers as if they should be honored by your half-hearted effort at tolerating their mediocrity. You can do better than that. And so can the people who have to listen to you say that.

What Are You Running From?

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I recently had someone tell me they were questioning their love for writing.

When I asked for a reason, they said it was because they didn’t write enough. “If I really loved writing” they said, “then I would be more consistent with it.”

Well, I guess I don’t love reading then. For my entire life, I genuinely believed that it was my #1 pastime. It gives me more pleasure than anything else. But ever since I got married, started running a startup, and got old enough to lose my ability to pull all-nighters, finding time to read is one of the hardest things for me to do. Sometimes, and I’m truly horrified by this thought, entire days get away from me without me picking up a book. So that settles it, folks. I don’t really love reading because I would be more consistent if I did.

Here’s the assumption we’re making when we reason like that: If you truly love something, the power of your love will compel you to behave in a manner that’s consistent with your priorities and principles.

Is that really true though? Is “love” truly enough to ensure our ability to do the right thing? Is there anyone on this planet who has never ever behaved in a manner that was inconsistent with their claim to love someone or something?

This kind of logic fails to take into account what Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” with a capital “R”:

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever resolved on a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever felt a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.

Here’s the idea in a nutshell. If you’re just goofing around and wasting your time on things you know you’ll regret, the seas will part for you and let you through to the other side of mediocrity. Take one step in the direction of your evolution, however, and life will start to seem like it’s trying to drown you.

C.S. Lewis once observed that you never get to experience how strong the wind is blowing until you try to walk against it. That wind is Resistance. And whenever you “go with the flow” by living as if nothing matters, you’re cooperating with Resistance. But once you decide to live purposefully, you’re walking against the wind of Resistance and all your weaknesses will be brought to the surface.

Too many people treat the process of “finding what you love” or “following your passion” as if it’s some kind of golden ticket that exempts them from the otherwise normal human experience of self-doubt, temptation, stress, risk, and adversity. “If I can just figure out what I love,” people think, “then I will have the confidence, clarity, and inspiration I need to do the right thing all the time.” No you won’t.

When you figure out what you love, your responsibilities will double, your distractions will quadruple, you’ll have moments where you forget why you fell in love, you’ll have expenses that make you wonder if you can afford what you love, and you’ll experience a few insecurities and fears you didn’t know you were capable of having. That’s not just how life works. That’s how love works.

If you want to take the easy way out, go ahead and tell yourself that you don’t really love what you know you love. Go ahead and let yourself off the hook while you wait for some magical thing called “passion” to come along and save you from the uncertainty, fatigue, and discouragement that eventually knocks at everyone else’s door. If you want to defeat the resistance and live the adventure you came here for, then start listening to your conscience and get after the things you know you need to do.

Instead of telling yourself “If I really loved X, I would have found a way to do X”, ask yourself the following:

“If I didn’t really love X, then why am I’m utterly incapable of ignoring X without being continuously haunted by the conviction that this is something I need to do?

Sometimes you know what you love not by what you run towards, but by what you can’t run away from.

What are you running away from? Better yet, what’s the thing that won’t let you run away in peace?

Relax, Everything Doesn’t Need to be Easy

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Nearly everything you can imagine is easier said than done.

Taking a shower and brushing your teeth is easier to talk about than it is to actually do. Preparing a meal or riding a bike is easier to talk about than it is to actually do. Going to the gym, making changes in your diet, becoming a better listener, establishing healthy boundaries, hosting a friend’s birthday party, learning a new instrument, showing up at your job— it’s all easier to talk about than it is to actually do.

Most things, from the simple to the complex, require an increase in the expenditure of time, energy, and effort when you make the shift from merely talking about them to actually doing them. This simple and widespread fact has never been a sufficient reason for failing to engage in constructive action.

If you have something you’re thinking about doing, don’t refuse to do it merely because it demands a greater amount of hard work. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll have to figure out a way to deal with scarcity and sacrifice anyway. That’s just what happens when you decide to become someone who acts on their ideas.

Yes, change is easier said than done, but it’s much better done than said.

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