Powerless and powerful

I just listened to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis and this inspired me to write.

Do you know how powerful you are?

I’m not talking good looking, smart or strong. Do you know how POWERFUL you are?

Yes, you, the reader. You who are looking at these words at this very moment.

Do you feel powerful? You should. Because you and I are indeed very powerful people. How can I explain this? Let’s try this one: do you have a smartphone? (Or a tablet, or a computer of any kind). It is highly likely that you do. Most people do, anyway. If you don’t, in all likelihood, you have access to one, so it is practically the same thing.

You, with your smartphone in hand, are a fearsome force. You are so powerful that you literally have the combined knowledge and effort of the entire human species from day one – in your hand. And you have a brain and a body that can use literally EVERYTHING IMPORTANT the entire human species has ever found out. Take a second and reflect on this a bit. You, a human, have in your hand everything important that has ever been found out since many thousands of years ago. You have it. It is yours to use.

Doesn’t it sound absolutely crazy and amazing when you look at it from that perspective? It doesn’t sound like us at all! If I told you a riddle in the beginning that said: “I am something that can know everything that has ever been found out – within seconds. What am I?”, you wouldn’t have answered “me.” Because you don’t see yourself like that. You don’t see yourself as a thing that has so much power. You would have maybe answered “artificial superior intelligence” or “God”. But damn it, it is you! It is so obvious that we can do this, so why do so many of us feel so powerless all the time?

Why do we feel that “have to” do this, that we have to do that? You know that feeling when you would really not want to do something, but you feel like you have to, and despite you not wanting to do it, you do it? We’ve all been there, and there is nothing new in that feeling. People have been feeling like that since… well, since there have been people. The problem is that we keep feeling like that, and this problem is explained by two things: understanding and habits.

First, you simply don’t understand that you are practically an omniscient deity. You don’t understand that you are something that can know everything that has ever been found out. Nobody informed you that every choice in your life is your choice; every decision yours. You simply haven’t been told. But this is a relatively easy problem to remedy. I’m telling you right now, and I’ve told you before, and in all probability, you have heard it from some other people.

Or you understand it, perhaps, but you do not feel it. You know that you have superpowers, but you don’t feel them. You know that you can fly, but you have no idea how to go about it. Everyone has their triggers, things that make them feel their own power; I’ve heard that Tony Robbins and Dan Pena make you understand AND feel your power. My trigger was different: I read HPMOR and I got saturated by Voldemort’s character and something clicked. This was the sentence that simply turned everything around for me:

“… And since I have a tremendous distaste for stupidity, I suggest you do not say anything like ‘What do you mean?’ You are smarter than that, and I do not have time for such conversations as ordinary people inflict on one another.”

I don’t know why exactly this sentence or this character. I don’t like Voldemort as a person, and the HPMOR Voldemort is the scariest person I could imagine.

But there is something in this absolute disregard for “conversations as ordinary people inflict on one another”. HE SIMPLY DOESN’T CARE.

HE is the active agent in his life.

HE is the main role in the movie about his life.

HE is the main character.

He understands that he has power. He does precisely what he wants to, and he never does what he doesn’t want to do. If his circumstances prevent him from doing something, he doesn’t whine about it, but adapts so as to do something else he wants to do. He knows he can fly, feels that he can fly, and flies.

What do the most of us do instead? We make excuses for not doing the things we want to do. We whine about not doing something and we whine about doing something else. I really don’t like whining.  Complaining is the great enemy of man. It is a waste of time, a waste of energy, doesn’t bring anything productive, doesn’t produce happiness, doesn’t do ANYTHING. It is a waste, a terrible waste. Read this article.

SYNAPSES THAT FIRE TOGETHER WIRE TOGETHER.

HEY. IF YOU COMPLAIN, YOU WILL COMPLAIN MORE. AND IF YOU COMPLAIN MORE, YOU WILL COMPLAIN EVEN MORE.

Don’t ever complain, ever! If you can do something, DO IT! If you can’t, then don’t! Just don’t complain. This is the part with habits. You have to break your poor mental habits and build good new ones. Make it a habit of knowing that you’re powerful, feeling that you’re powerful and being powerful.

That an almost-all-knowing god can behave in any other way is… unacceptable.

Lessons learned from “The Invitation” (2015)

You probably already know my stance on fiction in general: it teaches invaluable lessons otherwise not taught. I recently saw a new movie called “The Invitation” and decided to write about it because it has so many valuable lessons for an aspiring Overhuman. So, here it is.

WARNING: MANY SPOILERS AHEAD

Okay, so, the movie is incredible on several different levels, but I will only comment aspects of it that relate to the topic of Overhumanity. The technical aspects of it, the impressive camera and editing – not my specialty, even though I do appreciate it.

What is my specialty, or, better said, what do I want my specialty to be? It would be knowing things and being able to do things. Especially when there is danger.

The plot goes like this: Will is invited to a dinner party by his ex-wife whom he hasn’t seen for two years after some tragic event transpired. There are his friends that he also hasn’t seen for two years. He brings along his new girlfriend, Kira. From the moment he enters the house he previously lived in, he starts to feel unsafe. Everything is off, somehow. All the doors are locked and windows are barred. There are 3 people that he doesn’t know: his ex-wife’s new husband, and two friends of theirs. They, including his ex-wife, are in some religious cult that teaches that death isn’t something to be afraid of and that we should accept it.

As the evening goes, more and more weird shit starts to happen. For each weird shit, there is an individual reason that is plausible. First lessons: when there is a series of weird incidents, their individual reasons might be plausible, but the fact that there are so many weird incidents in a row is highly unlikely without some overarching reason. In other words, if you notice that the windows are barred, the doors are locked, your hosts are in a death accepting cult, one of the invited people are missing, there is a shitload of phenobarbitals in a drawer… Yeah, sure, some individual reasons may apply. Hell, all of these things could be (and have been, in the movie) explained by individual, plausible reasons. Yet it is highly unlikely that they happen in such a cluster without a general reason that includes them all.

People will try to rationalize things and find reasons that are plausible, but if there is a sequence of unusual events, there should be an explanation for the sequence, not for the individual events themselves.

Going on to probably the most important lesson of the movie: trust your gut when it yells danger! No, seriously! I’m totally for not trusting our instincts in many different things; after all, we are cognitively biased creatures, and we often make miscalculations and appraise things poorly. But when it comes to danger, I believe that you MUST trust your instinct, even if it turns out to be a false positive. If you don’t feel yourself to be safe, do not ignore this feeling, don’t just put it away. Never ignore your instinct of danger.

Moving to another related lesson: don’t be uncomfortable with uncomfortable social situations. If there is peer pressure around you to do something you really don’t want to do, do not do it. If you are expected to nod your head politely even though you feel like your life is in danger, say something. If you are expected to stay at a dinner party where there are some seriously alarming things happening, go. Just fucking go man!

 

Here’s a little story that I read once and it immediately stuck with me (bold added by me for emphasis):

“You’re in a hallway waiting for an elevator late at night. Elevator door opens, and there’s a guy inside, and he makes you afraid. You don’t know why, you don’t know what it is. Some memory of this building — whatever it may be. And many women will stand there and look at that guy and say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lets the door close in his face. I’ve got to be nice. I don’t want him to think I’m not nice.’ And so human beings will get into a steel soundproof chamber with someone they’re afraid of, and there’s not another animal in nature that would even consider it.”

Can you imagine a cat do this shit? Cat would be like “GTFO, I ain’t getting inside there homie. Cat don’t care.”

They’re animals. They don’t give a fuck. They don’t have fear of socially uncomfortable situations. They will not enter a steel soundproof box with something that makes them afraid. We will, because our social awkwardness will override our instinctive fear. This is extremely stupid.

You don’t need to justify your feeling of danger. That’s something that’s yours and whatever your group is pushing you to do – don’t do it if you’re feeling endangered.

Okay, now a more abstract principle. I’ve previously written on resimplification or how, given time, everything reverts to simple things. This is a concept strongly tied to another concept I want to share with you, and that is taking a step outside and looking at the context. You will agree that this is too big an expression for a concept, so we’ll name it recontext.

What is recontext? It is when you say to yourself: “If I was looking at this situation from the outside, what would I notice? What would I think? What would I suspect?” For example, you’re walking out and you see a car crash in front of you. There are two people arguing. Recontext: “Has this been orchestrated for me? If not, how is it dangerous for me?” You take the exterior view of the situation, not your interior view. You go from FPS to RTS. You always ask yourself: “Is this intentional? Is somebody trying to manipulate me through this?”

If Will had simply asked himself this question: “How is this potentially dangerous for me?”, he might have done things differently in the movie. Instead, he feels unsafe, but it is not an explored notion in his head. What would you do if you were your own enemy? How would you think?

Then: finish your theories. For Christ’s sake, if you are already not going along with your gut instinct and getting the hell out of there, why are you simply saying to people “something dangerous is happening here”. Why? I mean, think about it from the perspective of the enemy. If they witness you say “something dangerous is happening here”, they will know that you know. And they will adjust their actions accordingly. For fuck’s sake, don’t tell your enemy that you know what he’s up to! If you’re not getting the hell out of there (as you should), then at least be smart enough to finish your theory. Let this entire process fold out in your mind: “I notice I feel unsafe. -Why? -I have noticed small details that are off-putting. Each can be explained for itself, but I feel that all of them have some sort of connection. -Do you feel in danger? -Yes. -Who do you suspect danger coming from? -I don’t know… I suppose my hosts and their friends. The house is barred from entry or exit, but it doesn’t feel like it’s for safety reasons. -What do you know about them that makes you uneasy? -They are weirdly friendly, and they are in a cult that seeks to accept death. -Okay, ask yourself this now: ‘what would a person that wants to accept death, is in a cult, has barred windows and doors – what do they want from me?’ -Well, if you put it like that, the potential reason is obvious enough… To commit collective suicide. -In other words, your hosts seek your death. Your hosts are your enemies.”

Will does pretty good on most of these lessons, but he should be more decisive and less emotional.

Here’s another lesson, more subtle. When it turns out that Choi was actually safe and that he simply went to work and then returned, Will started doubting his own sense of reality, thinking that he was maybe being paranoid. This was exacerbated by the rest of the group who also considered him to be too paranoid. This is a strong pressure, and Will let it influence him to a certain extent. You have 1) the group telling you you’re crazy and 2) the proof that one specific thing you were saying indeed was wrong. You feel crushed, because you lost. You were wrong, they were right. That’s when you start thinking they may be right about other stuff too. WRONG. The fact that someone was right about one specific thing is only partially convincing – you still have unaddressed fears that have nothing to do with that specific thing. And furthermore, you still have your fear which you shouldn’t doubt and shouldn’t need any reason for. It will be extremely difficult for you to proceed to be vigilant (paranoid in the eyes of others) when you have once been proven wrong. However, do not let the group dictate your feeling of danger.


Have you seen The Invitation? Did you like it? What did you learn? Do you have a good movie with this much learning potential? Leave me a comment!

How to make people do things: legalists and technologists

There are two mindsets people assume when they wish to change a certain behavior, fix some human-related problem: the legalist and the technological. The legalist says:

  • we’ll institute a rule
  • if the rule isn’t obeyed, we will punish

It is assumed that people will find a way to obey the rule and change their habits. You might also see the addition of an incentive, so this becomes a punishment or reward type of thing.

On the other hand, the technologist mindset is more concerned with designing systems that cannot support a certain type of behavior. There is no punishment included; all is designed in such a way that the thing a legalist would punish – is simply impossible to do. That way, nobody does it.

The difference between these two mindsets is well illustrated in this picture:

philosophers meme

Source: The Philosopher’s Meme Facebook page

While the first two are rule-instituting (i.e. legalist), the third one is technological – it steps out of the usual discourse and solves the actual problem.

When you are trying to train a dog, you can either inflict punishment for bad behavior so that the dog stops doing it (and you even might be succesful) or you can do things in such a way that the dog cannot even begin to behave badly.

Sometimes it will be impossible to go for the technological solution because you will, for some reason, not want to change the circumstances. However, it is often just a habit of thought that prevents us from changing circumstances, instead of inflicting punishment. It is the conventional way of doing things, so everybody does it that way.

Try to see which other possibilities lie outside of rule-making, that can also solve the problem.

Two Zen ideas

Idea 1: Witnessing

Our thoughts and our feelings are interwoven things, making up the same cloth. When you think thoughts, you see them and you do not attach yourself to them. They pass through you, you register them in your mind’s eye, but they do not take over you.

More importantly, when you feel feelings, like you saw your thoughts, you listen to what you’re feeling. Anger, confusion, love, depression, boredom, hate, aggression, shame. You are mindful of what happens within you. You register your feelings and you acknowledge them: “I am now angry.” Then, you may proceed to ask yourself why this emotion came, and then you learn much about yourself.

Zen is not about stopping thinking or feeling; nor is it about thinking only good thoughts and feeling only happiness. Zen is about witnessing what you’re feeling. Noticing the anger. Perceiving the excitement. Experiencing the depression. Hearing the shame. Witnessing.

Idea 2: Happiness

The first idea is the more important one; it is the basic notion, the point of departure. You simply notice how you feel, and you stay in that noticing mode.

However, there is another thing that happens sometimes, and it is happiness. Even when witnessing the most intense emotional pain, the most dire life circumstances, the most terrible loss, it is possible to feel happy still.

For happiness is not a thing produced by your life situation or by external circumstances. Happiness is a mindset. You start happy and then life happens, not the other way around. You broke up with your girlfriend and you’re lying on the bed, crying, experiencing very intense emotional pain. Witness it. Do you still have both your arms and legs? Is the bed not soft and warm? Do you not have a blanket? Do you not feel your body twitching and crunching in agony?

It is hard to accept this possibility, but many have experienced terrible things, and yet remained happy people. For the truth is that the very act of witnessing, if done often and much, is a thing that produces happiness. Something happens. A thing clicks. You detach yourself. A part still writhes in agony, but a part is happy just to be able to witness.

The one thing most people don’t know about human communication

A lot of human communication is not at all information exchange but a dominance contest.

You can hear this around a lot if you practice deep listening. It’s intuitive to think about our communication as if it was information being exchanged. You tell me information A, I tell you information B, now we both know A and B. This is one way of looking at it and it is not wrong. But it’s not the only way.

Say that you walk your dog. You stop in a smaller park with an apartment complex right alongside it. You play with your dog, you throw a stick around and you accidentally hit a freshly planted tree, not damaging it, but shaking it significantly. A person appears on the balcony of one of the apartments and yells at you. Let’s consider this dialogue:

  • What the hell are you doing!? Do you know what these trees are?
  • Uhm… Peaches?
  • Why are you here with that dog? Don’t you have someplace other to be?
  • What?
  • Get out of here, right now! You’re damaging those trees!
  • It was an accident.
  • Do you have to throw such a big stick around? They’re freshly planted!
  • I already told you that I didn’t do it on purpose, it was accidental.
  • It better not be! You have no business being here!

Has there been any pure information exchange? Well, if you interpret it enough, all of this was just information, but without twisting it too much, the only piece of information came from you: “It was an accident.” Well, what is the remaining 90% of this dialogue?

It’s fighting for power.

A dominance contest, where the person that’s yelling is trying to assert his/her dominance over you. Your entire childhood was likely one big dominance contest with your parents. Some pure information transpired, naturally, but a lot of it was likely “do this” and “do that”.

This dominance contest, trying to be dominant over your speaker, is by no means a thing left in childhood. Ever get those people that want to give you advice you don’t need?

  • No, no, no, you shouldn’t eat fructose or gluten, both are bad for you, you need to eat a lot of protein and fat.
  • Yeah man, but I don’t need to lose weight or anything and I feel just fine.
  • You’re not listening, I’m telling you this is best, just try it!

Dominance contest right there. What I’m hearing is “I know much more than you do. You should listen to what I’m saying.” Okay, maybe with some people it’s not like that – sometimes you’ll really get well-intended advice you didn’t ask for. But a lot of advice givers… Man, they love to dominate. I myself am guilty of this, so I know.

Sometimes this fight for power comes in more subtle nuances. I feel that when people change the subject, it often leads to them trying to dominate the conversation. Not always, but I’ve heard it enough times to see a pattern. Example:

  • I’m doing mostly pistol squats for lower body strength now. I figured it’s better than to pay a gym fee, at least in the beginning, when you can’t squat a lot, cause you practically have the additional weight on your body anyway, it’s just a matter of-
  • That’s dangerous.
  • Dangerous?
  • Look at how wobbly your knee is.
  • Yeah, I know, I need to do more work on controlling the movement-
  • I wouldn’t do it. I mean, why not do regular squats?
  • I can, but I can do a lot of them, while I want to achieve maximal strength.
  • Can you do a thousand of them?
  • A thousand? Well, I suppose no, but-
  • Well Shaolin monks do thousands of them. They repeat and repeat. They’re dedicated to what they’re doing.
  • Aha… Well, that’s… cool.
  • You see now what I’m talking about? There’s no need to push yourself too hard, because you’re actually slowing your progress down. You should focus on quality and rest enough, then the progress will come.

At a first glance, this is a normal enough conversation, but if you look at it deeply, you see that the second person is simply trying to dominate the conversation through subtle changes of subject. Look at the final advice (“focus on quality and rest enough”) and look at what person A was saying: “I’m trying to get stronger through pistol squats”. Is there any conflict between “focus on quality and rest enough” and “I’m doing pistol squats for strength”? No. They’re similar, but they speak about entirely different things. And yet, we feel like person B somehow “won” this conversation, despite the quite apparent lack of connection. I mean, what do Shaolin monks have to do with anything? They don’t, but person B feels like he won this discussion and, even more importantly, the listeners also feel like he won it.

By the way, all these examples are from my personal life (except the fructose and gluten, I made that one up). These are the things people say to me and I look at them, confused. Should I call them out on this or let them ramble? Should I also try to dominate or not?

Here’s another one, more recent (here you can see that monologues within dialogues can signal a dominance contest):

  • Sifu, have you heard about Steve Morris?
  • No, who’s that?
  • He’s a martial arts teacher, very interesting guy, speaks a lot about psychology in fighting.
  • He does Wing Tzun?
  • No, he’s a boxer, well, more of an MMA fighter than boxer to be honest, but does a lot of different styles, and I think I saw a wooden dummy in his gym in one video.
  • How old is he?
  • Around seventy, I think.
  • I don’t know him, but there are a lot of guys that do all kinds of things. A lot of people teach. They have their methods and they teach people. I mean, this guy, he’s a boxer. But what can you do, you cannot challenge him, he’s too old.
  • No, well, he’s actually quite youthful despite his age, he doesn’t look seventy at all.
  • Yeah but still, what can you do. There are a lot of people doing different things, teaching different things, but they all try to be the best, say they’re the best. They all try to sell you their system, their teachings. They convince you that this method or that method is better than the other one. I’ve had Wing Tzun guys trying to steal my concepts and my ideas, and then they sell them like it’s theirs. But you know, I’m not doing that, I’m teaching you mathematics, you know. Angles, distances, principles. I’m teaching you the scientific principles of Wing Tzun. It’s not Emin Boztepe Wing Tzun, it’s your Wing Tzun, it’s scientific Wing Tzun.

Who “won” this conversation? Clearly not person A (me). Despite the fact that there is no conflict present, we feel that person B “won” in this conversation and that I lost. I have been dominated. Again, what does the final conclusion have to do with my first mention of Steve Morris? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

How to handle people trying to dominate conversations?

It should be noted that this dominance contest is usually not a consciuos thing, and it is also usually not harmful in its intent. It simply happens, without anyone meaning any harm (or meaning anything, for that matter). This, however, does not change the fact that it is irritating.

I’ll disappoint you, but I don’t think there is a lot you can do. Because these people are seeking dominance, good argumentation will simply be ignored. And even good argumentation is not applicable sometimes because you have people that will change the subject much more often than you can counter-argument them.

One thing I do absolutely know now is this: don’t nod your fucking head.

Nodding your head is bad for two reasons: 1) you give approval to people trying to dominate you and 2) you set yourself up for believing their bullshit. You’ll find that not nodding your head is actually difficult, especially with someone that says some bullshit and nods his head at the same time. You almost do it instinctively, mirroring the movement. And if you don’t, they have some leverage over you, calling you out, making a joke, asking you if you agree. But still, don’t nod.

That being said, I will usually simply leave the conversation. I feel that it is not productive to listen to people that try to dominate over you. Just break the contact and leave.

Know this: if you decide that you will stay in the conversation, no dialectic (i.e. rational argumentation) will get you anywhere with these people. You have to use rhetoric, manipulating emotions and changing the frame of the conversation, as well as switching subjects. When I say changing frames, this is what I’m talking about. I dislike rhetoric as much as the next man, but it is the only thing that will work against someone trying to dominate.

Do you have any examples of people trying to dominate conversations? I’d love to hear them, leave me a comment.

“Fake” spirituality in martial arts and Parkour

Martial arts and Parkour are different things but share the same load of bullshit when it comes to the spiritual side of the practice. For example, there are many people within martial arts that view MMA as savage, brutal, lowly. Something that’s beneath them, their level of skill, their profound spiritual development. These are the people that talk about transcending conflict and not using martial arts to fight, but as a way of life. To them, MMA fights are primitive and they don’t encapsulate all there is to the martial arts: the meditative practices, the psychology of conflict, the philosophy of yielding and so on.

Much the same in Parkour. Look at this video:

So, the media wants you to see the big stuff, the flashy moves, but it’s actually about achieving awareness of yourself and gaining control, right?

I hear a lot of this mindset with older Parkour practitioners: there’s more to Parkour than simply doing big jumps, it’s about the mentality, the toughness, the discipline, the longevity. They have this image of a Parkour samurai on a spiritual path towards enlightenment.

How is it that these “spiritual” martial artists and traceurs are always the ones that never actually fight, the ones that never seem to do any big jumps? I mean, I know their story: it’s not about fighting and it’s not about doing big jumps. But what is it about then?

Imagine being a programmer. Alright, so you code in several different languages, in C, in Lisp, in Perl and so on. Now imagine that you start talking about these programming languages not being used for programming but to understand the world around you better and help you grow to be a better person. Weird, but acceptable, nobody has a problem with that. UNTIL you stop programming. Because, you see, programming languages serve us so that we can program things. Of course, we can see them in a spiritual way, but only if their primary function – and that is programming – is well satisfied.

Martial arts serve us so that we can fight. That’s it. That’s their primary function, and if you haven’t got the primary function covered, I don’t want to hear about any sort of spiritual development through martial arts. If you’re not interested in fighting but only spiritual development, then you should take up a meditative practice, not a martial one.

martial
/ˈmɑːʃ(ə)l/
adjective
adjective: martial
1. relating to fighting or war.

Relating to fighting or war. That’s the primary function. But, but, but, there’s more to martial arts than just fighting, you know… Yes, there is, but I’ll say it again: you have no business looking for some advanced spiritual practice if you don’t have the basic idea (fighting) covered. And at this point, many people will make the same mistake as I have done before, and conclude that they can in fact fight without ever testing it in a real fighting situation (dojo fighting excluded, ring fighting included). As I’ve said before, you have to test what you’re doing. You absolutely have to, and no pacifism or spirituality should be your excuse for not testing it. Be spiritual after you’ve tested it and know for certain that it works for you.

And as for Parkour, it’s main purpose is to move efficiently. There is a lot of fucking efficiency in doing an enormous jump that other people wouldn’t even think about doing. Why is doing big stuff associated with lack of control or discipline? Most of the guys I see doing big stuff are the most controlled and most disciplined Parkour practitioners. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing someone do something really big and impressive while at the same time being undisciplined and lacking control. Do you know how much mental focus you need to have if you want to do big stuff? Much more than for your pussy-ass tiny rail precision repeated 200 times (because it’s more spiritual to repeat one thing 200 times than it is to do a big jump). And imagine the level of control you need to have if you start doing flips along with your Parkour! That shit is so demanding!

I feel like everyone is just trying to find excuses for being losers and not pushing themselves enough in both of these fields. I’m definitely at fault for having done this in both Parkour and martial arts.

It’s not better to practice your tiny cat leap a zillion times instead of doing big scary stuff, if you haven’t already done the big scary stuff, but are able to. (Note: if you’re weak and can’t physically do the big stuff safely, then you need to get strong ASAP – before you do it).

It’s not better to practice your meditative forms instead of fighting in a cage, if you haven’t already fought enough in the cage. It’s more spiritual, yes. More meditative, more elegant. But it’s not the way of martial arts.

A thousand things to keep in mind

A person can be into a lot of things: poetry, running marathons, playing drums, coding, making flavored chocolate. Besides these hobbies, a person can be into a lot of mindsets: the entrepreneurial mindset, the humanitarian mindset, the hedonistic mindset… In other words, you can have a person that’s all about doing business and earning money BUT ALSO about helping other people through charities BUT ALSO about eating a lot of good food and smoking weed. All the same person. If you’re reading this blog, you too probably have completely unrelated or almost conflicting interests and mindsets.

It’s important to have the meta-understanding that you cannot be into a lot of things simultaneously. You cycle through your mindsets, but you don’t have them all at the same time. What is important is how often do you cycle between these mindsets and what this frequency does on a general level to you.

So, let’s take some of my mindsets to illustrate. There is the Zen-Nihilism mindset that says “Don’t worry, nothing is really important except of what you yourself make important, notice things around you, be present”. Then you have the action mindset: “Just do things, don’t overthink, finish your projects, create plans, make 80/20 analyses”. Then you have the entrepreneurial mindset “How can I make this profitable?” Then there’s the comedic mindset in which you try to find humor in every situation, its narrative being “Life is so ridiculous sometimes, and I am so ridiculous, let’s pull a prank on that guy, let’s make a witty comment on what that other guy said”. I guess there are a lot more other mindsets, like the hedonistic mindset “Let’s just eat and drink a lot, sleep, yawn, rest, not do anything.”

It is important which mindset you are in. Chances are, you have several of them and you cycle between them. If you’re totally into comedy and making jokes and puns all the time, you will not produce good business plans, and vice versa, you will not be funny or enjoyable when creating business tactics.

What I used to see in myself is the need to find the right mindset. You know, the right one, the one you should be in. When you’re totally serious and all tactical and strategic ‘n’ shit, there’s no chance in hell you’ll crack good jokes. And then someone will say to you something like: “Hey man, why are you so serious, relax”. And then you might go into comedy-mindset because it will seem that you shouldn’t forget about laughing either. But then a business situation will arise and you will have to snap out of comedy, because you shouldn’t forget about doing business either. But then stress will come up and you will go into hedonism-mindset, because you shouldn’t forget about enjoying life either. But then you’ll start feeling like shit because you’re not accomplishing your goals, so you’ll go to strategy-mindset, because you shouldn’t let your life just happen to you either. But then you’ll start overthinking, and you’ll go to the Zen-meta-mindset because the basis is still being present, noticing things. And you’ll just cycle and cycle and cycle, only occasionally being in the appropriate mindset.

It is important to understand these two things:

  1. You cannot be in all your mindsets at once.
  2. There is no right mindset to be in.

There is no right mindset, only appropriate or inappropriate. The catch is, sometimes the mindset you’re in decides on what’s appropriate and what’s not. Sometimes the businessman in your head will decide that things A, B and C are important, and it will decide that it itself (the business-mindset) is appropriate for this.

I do not know which rules underlie all our mindset changes, and I do not know if it is something we should (or we even can) influence. If we can though, that’s totally meta and I have no idea who it is in my head that decides upon the mindset.

That being said, I feel like I sometimes get “stuck” in one mindset. In other words, I feel something pleasant when I’m reminded (by an old article or someone saying something) of a mindset I used to be in. For example, if I re-watched One Piece now, I would TOTALLY feel the adventure-mindset (travelling a lot, improvising and NOT planning under any circumstances, meeting new people). For some time now, I’ve been mostly into strategy-mindset and business-mindset. I haven’t done Wim Hof’s breathing exercises for a week now. And then I watched the beginning of VICE’s documentary on him and I did some of the breathing and said to myself “Hey man… But this is who I want to be.” And it was a genuine feeling. I imagine I will soon conclude that I want to be someone else: someone strategizing and being an active agent in his life; someone that’s focused on earning money and building a business; someone that’s focused on learning and reading books; someone that’s focused on lifting weights and sleeping and eating a lot. I will genuinely want to be that type of person, and then I will genuinely want to be another type of person.

Some personal coaches and authors will insist that you must adopt the one right mindset. Dan Pena comes to mind with his business and action mindset. But the problem here is that it’s his business and action mindset that states that a business and action mindset is the only one needed. But what about relaxing and reading and eating? According to him, that’s being wimpish. Is it? I’m not sure it is.

I think you should regularly remind yourself of all your mindsets. Cycle through them more often. Don’t get stuck in hedonism for two weeks. Don’t be only about business for seven years. Cycle. Remind yourself. Rest, but work. Work, but rest. Strategize, but meditate. Meditate, but strategize. Cycle through all your different personalities. I think that’s the best way to live life.