Life is like a dark room.
On occasion, we find a candle so that we can see, but not for long.
The candle provides vision and direction.
But the flame will die out, sparking fear in our souls that we will never find our way… unless we move with faith that we will find the next candle.
The human mind bounces between clarity and chaos.
Chaos is our default state.
Clarity is the byproduct of ordered information that fills our consciousness. Our mind is clear when what we pay attention to is clear.
This is an explanation for human behavior.
And explains why people report that the most miserable part of their days is between 10am and 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.
People hate their jobs, yet jobs provide a more enjoyable state of mind than being alone with yourself and your random thoughts.
Humans fill their day with activities that structure their minds.
We always want to be doing something. Seeing people. Playing games. Writing. Designing. Creating. Preferably investing our attention in something useful.
When we are alone, psychic entropy ensues.
We catch on to a coherent line of thought for no more than a few minutes, then get lost in the unknown.
Our mind grasps at negative thoughts and they multiply.
The cure to this state of mind is knowing how to direct your attention.
Meditation teaches you to focus on your breath.
Meta-cognition teaches you to question your thoughts.
Learning to be alone is learning to order your mind in any circumstance for enjoyment.
It’s ironic that people want to maximize freedom.
That’s the opposite of what they want.
People don’t want freedom, they want autonomy.
They don’t want limitations projected on them, they want to create their own limitations.
Your self is a definition.
Self-imposed or accepted limits.
The self is your psychic body. You are not physical.
You are an amalgamation of the ideas, beliefs, and distinctions that you perceive as important based on your programming.
Your self determines how you interpret situations which determines how you act.
Your self determines your destiny.
You are free to define yourself however you want, but most people accept who the world says they are.
If your self was unlimited, then you would die, because death is metaphorical.
It is the destruction of distinction within consciousness.
If the distinction between self and other is dissolved, then the form that is your self is dead. Ego death. You become one with the Universe. Most people want this because it sounds cool. It’s another status game to them.
Alright alright enough with the abstractions, let’s make this practical.
Clarity is the key to enjoyment.
But enjoyment isn’t the only piece of the puzzle.
We can enjoy a life that someone assigns to us, but that does not bring fulfillment.
Sustainable, long-term clarity comes from 2 sources:
1) Self-generated goals in alignment with a conscious future.
2) Soceity-generated goals in alignment with an unconscious future.
One is created, one is assigned.
If we don’t want our life to be the product of someone else’s vision, we must take control of our own.
Let’s dive in.
Most People Don’t Need Motivation, They Need Clarity
Motivation is like standing on one side of a canyon.
The other side looks like a Utopia. Everything you could ever want. Beautiful people, music, cars, houses, all calling your name to take the leap, but you don’t have a way to get over the canyon.
Clarity is the first plank of the bridge toward the other side.
Motivation can be illustrated with the behavior molecule, dopamine.
When something is “far” away from us, we desire it more.
When we acquire that thing – like a house, car, pretty person, watch, or even something like an internet course – we feel good for a bit.
But then it becomes normal.
We know this as the “honeymoon” phase.
Now, dopamine is not bad. It’s one of the most important neurotransmitters in your life. It is the drive behind your dreams.
The problem is that we don’t know how to utilize it.
Most people drown in motivation.
They see so many things out of their reach, especially on social media.
Over and over again they waste the most precious energy source to act on their dreams.
And even if they do acquire what they want, like a car, they don’t know how to swap their focus to sustain their enjoyment of that thing.
The “here and now” neurotransmitters like serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, and endocannabinoids give you satisfaction and appreciation for what’s in front of you.
While some people take drugs like molly and marijuana to send them into the present moment (I’m not judging, I’ve taken them too), there are more sustainable ways to do this.
1) Mindfulness & Detail
Notice the detail that your senses can provide.
When you are on a walk, try to see more than you’ve seen before.
Snap out of your mindless and “normal” routine of living on the surface.
Notice the extravagant detail in the leaves of a tree, the blades of grass, and the shine of the light on cars as they pass by.
When you cook a meal, notice the differences in texture, taste, and feel. Try to pick apart the ingredients.
When listening to a song, dig deep. Can you hear the subtle layers in the background? Those were intentional by the Creator. They want you to notice them.
You can see why food critics, music lovers, and yogis enjoy certain activities so much. Because the present moment is enjoyable.
This is reality. An ever-flowing quality of experience.
Apply this strategy when you acquire something that is border lining boredom. There is an entire world you have yet to discover.
2) Developing An Intrinsic Philosophy
Let’s imagine a young bodybuilder.
They start going to the gym for vanity, but stay for therapy.
They desire a strong, aesthetic physique so they can attract a partner and command respect.
But, after a year or two, their progress drastically slows down.
They’ve built a great body, but what’s next?
It didn’t change how many people they attracted. Maybe it bumped them up in the social hierarchy a bit. But for what? A bit more attention? Is it worth spending 7-8 hours a week on this still?
So, they look inward.
What has this brought to my life?
Why do I keep showing up every day?
Where would I have spent my time otherwise?
How has this impacted the people I meet, the conversations I can have, and the career opportunities open to me?
They realize that their material pursuit was deeply immaterial. As are most, but people glance over that fact.
Their pursuit for better gave them an identity that influenced positive decisions. It prevented them from being like the mindless masses.
It’s better to pursue something superficial than it is to do nothing with your life. You either learn what you don’t want, so you can pursue what you want, or you find depth, meaning, and spirituality along the way.
3) Learning & Education
95% of people will scoff at someone that buys a new Porsche GT3.
That’s because they only see the surface.
And they can’t open their mind to think that the other person’s identity is more than just that snapshot of their life.
What if the person that bought it was a mechanic?
What if they derived deep satisfaction from digging into the machinery?
Now, what if the average Joe made the same purchase, but decided to learn something new? Rather than sitting around and acquiring more material?
They can learn their way into a deeper crevice of reality through education.
They study the car’s parts, history, and how to drive better.
They start visiting the track and the car becomes a consistent part of their lifestyle. One that brings enjoyment and flow.
They construct a house of meaning under the foundation of material. Most people keep laying a foundation and never build anything worth keeping.
With this knowledge, the key to the good life is a disciplined balance between meaningful dopamine sources and creating satisfaction when you achieve those goals.
Enjoyment VS Pleasure (Choose Your Dopamine Sources Wisely)
Enjoyment comes from investing attention.
Pleasure comes from spending attention.
Investments are long-term.
Purchases are short-term.
Enjoyment is process focused.
Pleasure is outcome focused.
Enjoyment is progress toward a long-term goal.
Pleasure is achieving a goal without effort.
Our goal is to maximize the enjoyment in our everyday life. That’s all anyone is trying to do. But they don’t zoom out enough to create a perspective that is distraction-proof. They focus on what can bring pleasure right here and now.
We don’t want to get stuck scrolling social media, having meaningless sex (in more ways than physical), and winning arguments in the comments that lead to absolutely nothing but time wasted.
We want to act on our goals, build something beneficial in reality, and impact others in a way that brings enjoyment to our lives.
I talk a lot about having a vision for the future.
Because at every point in my life where I have made substantial progress (and enjoyed every second of it) I was hellbent on actualizing a vision I held in my mind.
People that have experienced the same know this power.
That’s why I write about it so much.
I want to understand it more.
I want to write to the point of having a process that helps more people create and actualize their own vision.
One concept I’ve coined that has helped many is the Anti-Vision.
In brief, it is how you realize what you don’t want.
The things you hate and don’t want as a part of your life.
Does this mean you can get rid of them immediately?
Of course not.
You can’t just quit your job or move out of your hometown if you’ve built an entire house of responsibilities around it. There is more on the line than just money if you quit your job. Be smart about this. Long term game.
To create your anti-vision:
1) Observe society as a habit – Pay close attention to the people around you in any situation. Why do they do what they do? What is it leading towards? Are they somebody that you want to be?
It could be as simple as observing the groceries in their basket, observing their body, and realizing you don’t want to end up slow, overweight, and lazy through your shopping habits.
2) Reflect on your past – What are experiences that you never want to experience again? What were the lowest lows of your life? What caused them? Have you done anything to prevent that from happening again?
Make this a conscious practice in your life.
3) Make a list of what you don’t want – Pull out a notebook and get specific. This list should make you uncomfortable.
Keep this somewhere safe. When something new comes to mind, add to it.
4) Realize where you will be if you keep doing the same thing – You are your habits. Where will your life end up if you have the same lifestyle in 10 years?
Do you want that?
5) Transmute that energy into a passionate vision – What will you have to learn, build, and execute daily to avoid your anti-vision?
If you want to turn your vision into a brand, and your notes into content so you can build an authentic one-person business, check out 2 Hour Writer here.
Your vision is your frame.
It is what you hold in the back of your mind to guide your daily actions.
It’s not about having long-term or short-term focus, it’s about having both.
Now that you’ve created a specific anti-vision for your future, you’ve primed your mind for pattern recognition.
Yes, it is helpful to get specific on what you want out of life, but I will leave that to you.
Take the time to write out the opposite of your anti-vision. Get specific as to what your dream life looks like.
By doing this you allow your mind to register opportunities you would have normally missed.
Your vision may not be “strong” yet, but you cannot improve what doesn’t exist.
With your vision in the back of your mind, start executing a better future through education, practice, and building.
How To Learn & Build
Schools can’t, and won’t, teach you how to build your dreams.
Schools are intimately connected with the government, politics, and economy. Their conditioning process (education) is set up to keep these things going.
Anything that gives individuals power is a threat.
Self-education is a requirement on your journey.
It’s obvious, you can’t achieve your goals at your current level of development.
You will have to learn the skills necessary to achieve them.
It wouldn’t be challenging otherwise, would it?
Challenge plays a crucial role in the flow state, enjoyment, and dopamine – but only if you take on challenges that aren’t too boring or difficult. Play at your level, but try to make it to the next level.
If you want to retain everything you learn (or at least the important things, not the noise) then you must build as you learn.
Here’s what you do:
1) Write Down 10-20 Specific Skills, Interests, or Topics That Will Actualize Your Vision
Now, we need clarity on what we need to do every single day to actualize our vision.
Most people fail to make tangible progress because they don’t realize that a lifelong habit of education, skill acquisition, and practice is how you build a better life.
This is not optional.
If you don’t have time carved out each day to practice your craft, for life, then you aren’t going to make it anywhere meaningful.
Life itself is a practice and people aren’t showing up.
They sit at home and distract themselves with mindless entertainment.
You don’t have your ideal lifestyle because you aren’t living that lifestyle now, but on a smaller scale. As you get better at what you do, the time you spend doing it will increase, and money will become inevitable.
The key to all of this is specificity.
Don’t write down “web design.”
Write down “how to create landing pages that are actually useful to businesses.”
Don’t write down “the gym.”
Write down “diet and training principles to lose 10 pounds of fat in 6 weeks.”
Do this 10 times minimum.
If you don’t see how the skills or interests will aid in your vision, remove them.
2) Leverage Dopamine Through Pattern Recognition & Momentum
Connecting ideas or noting patterns in reality raises dopamine levels in the brain.
It’s the same reason cocaine feels so good (dopamine) but this is much more sustainable. It is addictive.
This process becomes more powerful with momentum.
Think of it like doing a sudoku puzzle.
You come up with one answer – dopamine increases.
Then, like magic, other answers click into place and you can’t stop solving the puzzle – dopamine compounds.
The same thing happens when you have an idea at night that triggers 10 more that keep you awake.
When you notice one idea that connects to your vision, your signal-to-noise ratio increases.
Your attention narrows on more relevant information and your mind lights up with excitement.
This is why it feels so good to “live with purpose.”
3) Learn & Build – Eliminate Useless Information
Everyone is telling you what to do.
They’re projecting what they deem important onto you.
If you aren’t where you want to be in life, nothing is as important as your goals.
Not the news, not your friends’ relationship problems, and definitely not who’s getting elected.
On the election part – why are people so up in arms about gas prices and whether or not they can have a baby?
Because it’s easier to submit a vote than it is to change your life.
I’m not saying these issues aren’t important to you, I’m saying that “voting” is the worst way to go about it.
Build a business so you don’t have to worry about gas prices.
Build an audience and present your perspective to millions so you actually have an impact on the votes of your bodily rights.
The only way to bring your vision into reality is to create.
To create, you need boundaries for your creativity (or else things get too chaotic and overwhelming.
You need goals turned into projects so you have something tangible to work on. These provide the boundaries for your learning and creativity.
Break down your vision into goals now. Yearly, monthly, weekly.
Turn all of them into milestones for a tangible project you can work on, like a personal brand or one person business. Something that is holistic and evolved with you. Not a static business model that sounds too good to be true.
With your vision and project in mind, start building and learning.
Work on your project daily regardless of if you know what you are doing.
You don’t know what you are doing because you haven’t encountered a problem to frame your learning.
That is the best way to learn.
Encounter a real-world problem.
Research specific information to solve it.
Keep a steady flow of information from your consumption.
Solve the problem, enjoy the dopamine, and let momentum carry you into a season of intensity.
The rest is in your hands.