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Distraction Is The Greatest Trap Of The 21st Century

The Middle Ages, also known as the “Dark Ages,” was an era filled with war, ignorance, famine, and pandemics.

What came after set the scene for modern civilization – The Renaissance Era. A cultural, political, and economic rebirth that housed many of the thinkers, artists, and scientists we know today.

History repeats itself, and the Digital Dark Ages are among us.

But, there is a light on the horizon.

The Digital Dark Ages are a time of distraction, closed-mindedness, and cheap dopamine.

We’ve lost touch with the belief systems that gave an individual a sense of certainty for their future.

And, if we don’t take it upon ourselves to create our own sense of purpose, we distract ourselves to maintain the little sanity we have left.

Having a vision – that you create – gives you a sense of control over your life. A purpose that fuels your present actions.

That vision presents a hierarchy of goals that increase in challenge as you acquire the skills necessary to achieve those goals.

This is how you create an endless source of good dopamine.

A vision that is a conscious personal creation forces you to focus your mind.

A focused mind is the source of life enjoyment.

Without a vision, you inevitably become a slave to the system.

You will shy from thinking about your future because it seems painful, hopeless, and uncertain.

Because of this, you will find solace in a few things:

1) The societal machine

The clear path of going to school, getting a job, and retiring happily is enticing. So, you relinquish your freedom to choose and do what you’re told.

2) Momentary pleasures

Deep down, we know we aren’t making the right choice.

That is painful.

So we numb our minds with endless scrolling, sitcom binges, and foods that taste good for a few seconds but lowers our ability to function at our peak capacity – because why would you need to if your future is already decided?

3) Modern distractions

Distractions are not just digital.

They are everything that doesn’t align with your vision.

And if you don’t have a vision, how are you going to filter what is important from what is meaningless?

The catalyst for these distractions is you. Your identity.

You were told what to learn, think, and do.

You didn’t question it, but accepted it as fact.

So, your mind is narrowed on everything that reinforces that identity and feels threatened by anything that does not.

All 3 of these can be grouped into one thing, the greatest trap of the 21st century:

Closed-mindedness.

Signs Of The Closed Minded

Closed-mindedness is the inability to see beyond your narrow perspective in any situation.

If your perspective only shines a negative light on that situation, even worse.

Let’s take social media comment sections as an example.

How common is it for someone to completely miss the point of what’s being said, interpret it for their benefit, and leave a comment that resembles nothing of the original message?

Like when you read a polarizing political post, feel offended, and conveniently leave out their perspective because it doesn’t align with yours.

Little do you realize that your perspective is not absolute truth, nor is theirs. And, if you seek to understand both, you inch your way toward a life of peace and creative problem-solving.

People don’t realize the depth behind these simple, unconscious actions. You are destroying your life. How? Because you aren’t creating it. Without intentional action, the only way is down.

Not only is this closed-minded, but it’s also distracted.

People can’t focus their mind on a holistic outcome, and instead, cherry-pick what they see, start arguments, and get absolutely nowhere.

This is another embodiment of the quick-fix mindset.

You “win the game” in your own mind, reap the cheap dopamine of doing so, and reinforce that bad habit… making it harder to break the more you do it.

The universe is an infinite song. Uni-verse. One song.

Songs are symbolic of stories. Stories form the structure of games.

All understanding is metaphorical, and the mind makes sense of the world by stringing symbols into stories.

The inevitable highs, lows, pushes, pulls, yins, and yangs that construct your understanding of life.

Most of it can’t be put into words.

Language is useful, but extremely limiting.

This is why the structure of games order our mind and allow us to tap into the flow state.

In essence, closed-mindedness is assuming what you think the story is, rather than what it actually is.

If you assume that someone else’s words can plug into the story running in your head, you’re in for a bad time.

So, let’s start expanding your mind.

None of this happens overnight.

This is a process of making the unconscious, conscious, and correcting your behavior over weeks, months, and years.

Let’s go over a few common traits that would indicate closed-mindedness.

I’ll leave it up to you to become aware of this in your everyday life.

As you become aware, I encourage you to slowly correct your actions with the strategies we talk about in the next section.

Awareness begets improvement. Improvement begets awareness.

1) Assumption and Expectation

Most people are walking distractions.

They are the distraction. Their identity distracts them from truth.

Your reality is determined by your conditioning.

That is, your identity that houses your perspective. Your perspective houses your beliefs, thoughts, and experiences that you hold as truth. For most people, this perspective, or worldview, is shared with your parents, culture, and society.

These are limits on what you think is possible.

If all you know is school, work, and retirement, your behavior will follow.

Your programming is a network of hardwired assumptions and expectations of the world.

Unless you can expand your mind beyond them, you are doomed to a life of the limits that others imposed on you.

Scratch that… the limits that you imposed on yourself.

2) Selfish Perspective

Outside of the present moment, everyone is acting in alignment with a specific goal.

This goal can be conscious, subconscious, or unconscious.

Most people are unconscious, they act in a way that favors their survival. And, if humans survive on a conceptual level, they act in a way that reinforces their hard-set beliefs, assumptions, and expectations. They act in a way that confirms their self-image.

How do you spot this in the real world?

It’s not hard.

Look at any political post.

How many people are in the comments arguing about how the other side is wrong? How many are willing to die over their beliefs?

Republicans will defend their political stance as the best because they are republicans.

Every freelancer will defend their business model as the best because they are a freelancer.

Every Christian, Muslim, and atheist will defend their belief system as the best because they are that belief system.

What people fail to see is that these people are human too.

They went through a different cultural, social, or even business conditioning process that hardwired beliefs in their head.

In their mental, physical, financial, and spiritual environment, those beliefs serve their identity the best.

If you want a more holistic version of truth, you must be able to transfer your consciousness into their mind. You have to prove yourself wrong.

Everything is relative, and you have to understand that in some countries, your beliefs would have you physically killed.

They don’t care how “right” you think you are.

And from the perspective of the universe, everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.

3) Literal Interpretation

When I say “disappear for 6 months to work on yourself,” how do you perceive that statement?

Do you think I’m actually telling you to disappear?

Or do you think I’m using a metaphor for higher-impact writing?

Whether you are a Christian or not, when you read the bible, do you think that Noah took 2 of every kind of animal on a giant ark in flood?

Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, and that’s the point.

Focus.

Understand the essence, lesson, or truth that the words are pointing at.

And please, for the love of all things holy, don’t message me about typos in my writing.

Same story.

Focus.

4) Missing The Point

This is similar to literal interpretation of words.

Internet trolls are notorious for intentionally missing the point of any given post.

They laser in on the one thing that has nothing to do with the message as a whole.

You wouldn’t take one lyric from a song, play it on its own, and expect it to make sense.

The uni-verse (one song) is the same.

Don’t miss the point of life, or any of its multi-dimensional aspects, by lasering in on one part of the story.

The low point in your life is a part of the bigger picture.

If you can’t see it, your mind lacks order, and will consume you.

5) Vision Avoidance

We discuss having a vision for your life in almost every letter.

This is intentional.

Your vision isn’t clear in an instant. You need a constant reminder. That way, you can reflect on recent experiences to start moving in a better life direction.

The thing is, some people avoid this thought entirely.

Every single person knows that deep down they are capable of more.

But, the path to actualizing that potential isn’t clear, and the opposite of clarity is confusion.

To mask that confusion, they distract themselves with momentary pleasures.

The instant gratification feels good now, but hurts later.

Acting in alignment with your purpose hurts now, but feels good later.

Flip the switch.

Open Your Mind – The Art Of Zooming Out

Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. – Bruce Lee

Everyone knows that quote, but how many have sat with it, questioned it, and let it fill their mind with insight?

Most people read it, think that they “win” the cliche understanding game for a quick dopamine hit, and close their mind to the depth beyond the sentence.

Peak experiences seem to be the result of one of two types of focus:

  1. Hyper-focus on what’s in front of you, doing.
  2. Radical open focus that grasps at nothing, being.

All something or all nothing.

Understand that these are peak states of consciousness. They are difficult, if not impossible, to sustain if you have worldly responsibilities.

Closed-mindedness in this sense can be useful when your attention is engaged on a hierarchy of goals in alignment with your vision for the future. You are “at one” with a task. Your mind is empty of thought because there is nothing to think about. You just do.

So, open-mindedness, in the most extreme sense, is opening your mind beyond all form, limitation, and distraction. At one with the universe as opposed to the task.

In this state, you don’t hold onto thoughts. You are the silent observer underneath the layered ego.

Open-mindedness comes in stages.

An example (in no specific order):

Stage 1) You believe religion is the only path to salvation.

Stage 2) You believe religion is mind control.

Stage 3) You believe religion has deep truths when interpreted from a metaphorical lens.

In business, this is similar:

Stage 1) You believe freelancing is the best business model.

Stage 2) You believe most business models are scams.

Stage 3) You believe that all business models hold truths that can be used to improve the one that aligns with your interests.

Oh, and would you look at that, a course that gives my perspective on how to do just that.

We all know a few people that have adopted, and identified, with each of those perspectives.

Some are more open-minded than others.

And, the ones that are, lead to less suffering and more success.

The benefits of open-mindedness are obvious:

Deeper intelligence, heightened creativity, less reactivity, fulfilling relationships, novel content ideas, and other things like artful navigation of what would be polarizing domains like politics.

So, let’s dive into some practical steps to open your mind.

And, as always, please internalize that this is not instant. Quick fixes in your thinking are against the point here.

This is a lifelong practice.

Meaning, it has to become a part of your identity if you want the outcomes of open-mindedness.

If you can’t do it every day, why are you doing it?

1) Critical Thinking 101

Hold all thoughts, ideas, and opinions in the realm of possibility until filtered through direct experience.

You do not have to prove something right or wrong in an instant.

You are allowed to let things marinate in your mind without identifying with any side of an argument.

2) Work Towards A More Holistic Identity

Your identity houses your perspective.

Your perspective houses your beliefs.

Your beliefs influence your thoughts, emotions, and actions.

So, if we adopt an identity that is greater than us, our mind opens as such.

This is how you develop your ego.

If the ego works to survive what we identify with, and we identify with say humanity, then we will act to preserve humanity.

I am not 100% certain about this, but I believe this is what some people mean when they identify themselves as God. We aren’t talking about the Christian notion of God here. We are talking about what Brahman, the Absolute, Source, Infinity, Mind (not brain), or the Universe.

Think of it like this.

If you are on a sports team, the “Snowbirds,” then you will identify as a Snowbird. The spirit of that team forms a collective ego that fuels your games. That spirit is also transferred to fans that identify with that team.

The same is true for identifying with a corporate job, religion, or family.

Be careful, be conscious, and fix problems as they come up in how your identity impacts the world. Certain identifications will either close or open your mind.

Please note: we are identifying in mind or spirit, not physicality or intellect.

If you want to identify as something hyper-limiting, like a toaster oven or an apache attack helicopter, be my guest. Or, go back to the previous section on “intentionally missing the point.” Unless the point is humor, of course, that’s useful.

If you are the Universe, which you are, then your petty human problems lose their weight. And, you can see political, cultural, and even global creation and destruction from a better vantage point.

What is the point of identifying as the Universe?

Not for nobility, status, or any other selfish endeavor that pops into your mind, clearly, but by improving your decision-making in a way that benefits more than yourself.

That is, seeing beyond your survival. Thinking twice about going from one surface-level pleasurable distraction to another.

How is your life’s work going to impregnate the minds of the world?

If you love beer, can you open a brewery and transfer that passion into your customers?

If you love philosophy, can you start writing online and transfer your understanding to others?

From a universal perspective, this is reproduction, or creation. You transfer obsession through spirit, because humans have transcended (and included) the physical.

The physical is important of course, but it is only a fraction of the total importance in our lives.

This all sounds great, but how do we develop ourselves to embody this?

3) Collecting Consciousness

This takes decades, and I can only speak from experience here.

I am not an almighty guru here to tell you exactly what to do.

This is my level of understanding and what I am working towards.

To collect consciousness, you need to understand the multiple perspectives that form a superior identity.

You need to transfer consciousness and seek to understand, not judge.

Like how a predator can transfer consciousness into their prey and predict their next moves. And if they make a mistake? Even better, that’s how you understand with time.

If animals can do this, you can. Marketers, writers, and creators have to do it all the time.

Transfer your consciousness into your reader, are they going to like, engage, and share your content? Or do you need to rewrite it?

I teach this from a more practical lens in 2 Hour Writer.

Transfer your consciousness into the driver that cut you off, are they in a rush? What if their mother is in the hospital? Or should they only care about your selfish need for a comfortable drive?

Focus on the big picture here, not the minor details. There is of course no way you can know every single person’s thoughts about a situation.

But, you can understand their actions, note patterns, and observe outcomes. We want to understand the experience, whether it can be put in words or not.

Of course, you can’t speak someone’s language by seeking to understand their perspective. We are seeking the essence here beyond mere human existence. Like how “strength” reflects in culture, society, animals, science, and the universe.

When you study a bodybuilder as an identity, their perspective on food is different than the average person’s.

They don’t have to think about deciding against junk food. They just do it because it results in an optimal outcome for their goals.

A successful businessman doesn’t have to think about being consistent in business. It’s just what they do.

The Universe doesn’t have to think about a star or planet exploding, because in the grand scheme, something else comes into being.

This is something I want you to contemplate for yourself.

Start by identifying as the highest version of yourself. This should align with your vision.

Study the people that have done what you want to do.

4) Pause & Question

A challenge:

Study the exact opposite of your beliefs in any domain.

If you are a vegan, study carnivores.

If you are a freelancer, study creators.

If you are a Christian, study atheists.

Approach the situation by trying to prove yourself wrong.

The few people that can do this will launch their progress through the roof.

This is difficult, and you will experience an ego reaction.

Your mind will have an imaginary battle with the beliefs you exposed yourself to.

You will feel threatened. Fight or flight from a belief. Humans are interesting. That is your concept of self working to survive.

When you are aware of this reaction, question it.

Questioning is how you learn.

Pick something you disagree with in business, religion, or even health, and work through the following questions.

When more questions come up, keep questioning.

  • Is there something I can learn in this situation?
  • What goal are they working to achieve?
  • Does that align with my goals? And does it matter if not?
  • What is the context they are saying this from?
  • What is the essence or lesson of what they are saying?
  • Can I incorporate an aspect of their beliefs into my own?

With time, these should birth some incredible insights.

5) Think Macro, Act Micro

You are a perspective vessel.

Your actions, whether you are conscious of them or not, have an impact on the world. And on the timescale of your physical life, that can add up quite a bit.

As you open your mind to hold a more holistic perspective, your actions must follow suit.

Think big picture, forget the petty details, and act.

The only way to acquire true knowledge is through mistakes.

Knowledge is infinite, and in the relative world, nobody will be absolutely correct, only relative.

Your job is to make mistakes, correct them, and allow humanity to improve over eons, not just your microscopic lifetime.

Think bigger.

Please don’t end your journey with this letter.

If you want to open your mind, you are going to have to change your mental habits.

You have to set an intention to seek truth – even if it doesn’t benefit you – and adopt open-mindedness as a constant practice in your life.

The highest version of every single one of you is open-minded.

Try to expand your mind to embody that identity.

Let your actions slowly reflect that.

– Dan Koe

What Happened This Week

The first Digital Economics Sprint starts mid-February. We will create your niche of one, write 20+ foundational content pieces, and gain clarity on the future of your brand – in 14 days. You can secure your spot by being a part of Digital Economics.

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In Modern Mastery, I posted a client acquisition strategy for creatives (like designers) that helps you build an audience at the same time.

>> Readers can join for $5

2 YouTube videos went live last week. One on The 4-Hour Workday and another on doing a hard reset on your life.

>> Watch the videos here

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Dan Koe

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 6-7 figure creators. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

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