As a kid, video games fascinated me. I remember begging my mom to buy me my first “rated M” game Call Of Duty Modern Warfare, because all of my friends were already playing it. She caved. I spent my nights slamming Dr. Peppers, cursing kids out in the pre-game lobby, falling asleep at 2am — just to wake up an hour before school started to play one more match.
You could call me addicted. Moreso, obsessed.
As time went on, I built my first PC. A fun little hobby that opened an entire new world of games I could play. League Of Legends and World Of Warcraft were my thing. For what seems like 5 years, I was glued to my screen every night (after I hit the gym! It was my “treat.”).
I will not be the guy that tells you to stop playing video games. I made it out just fine — and I see my time playing them as a net benefit to my life. I no longer play them — but there are many lessons to pull from my time as a gamer.
Why We Become Obsessed
Why do we become so obsessed with games? A few reasons.
The mind craves order. It despises chaos. Humans pursue a hierarchy of goals to maintain mental order. This can be conscious or unconscious. Assigned or created. Both leaders and manipulators know this. Corporate workplaces have daily goals, weekly goals, yearly goals, and personal goals that they assign to you. This reduces the uncertainty of what you need to do daily. Culture and politics have goals. Political leaders get you to rally behind their vision for the world, bring clarity to how they are going to accomplish that (goals), and ask for your vote.
Want to add more firepower to this? Use storytelling. As we’ve discussed in previous letters, all understanding is metaphorical. Story based. One thing has to come before another. This word has to come before this word in order for this word to make sense to you. One goal has to come before another in order for it to make sense. Understand the perspective — the metaphorical world — that people are talking about before the rest makes sense. That is to say you need to understand the setting of the story. What’s next? The rising action. Then a battle of the protagonist and antagonist. Then the falling action and resolution.
When we don’t understand something, our mind fills in the blanks of the story. This is called an assumption. You don’t have a piece of the puzzle, so you imagine it based on your experiences. Your programming. This is dangerous, and often useless. A distraction from what is truly important to you.
This causes obsession. When something makes little sense to us — we have the urge to make sense of it. In order to make sense of it, we need to uncover the rest of the story. We want to understand what came before, after, and in between.
Transferring Obsession — The Key To Extreme Success & Not Caring What People Think
Arnold was obsessed. Walt Disney was obsessed. Elon IS obsessed. Joe Rogan IS obsessed. Did they care what others thought of them? Did they care about the people calling them crazy? No. They were hyper-focused on actualizing an idea that they were passionate about, regardless of the short-term payout.
Obsession, to me, signals ordered consciousness. A difficult-to-distract state of clarity. Some call it flow, others call it presence. We can label it all day, in reality — it just feels good.
“To make an original contribution, you have to be irrationally obsessed with something.” — Naval Ravikant
What story do you want to understand? What is the tip of the iceberg that sparks excitement in you? Dive deep into that. This is where most people go wrong. They deny themselves the permission to dive into an iceberg of opportunity.
A recent example. I came across an Alan Watts 2-part lecture called “You Are God.” That sparked excitement in me. It was a novel perspective that caught my attention. Wtf? I’m God? How is that possible? So rather than closing my mind to a new idea (like most people in the pre-rational and rational stages of development would) I dissected it. I had to piece together the story. What led him to saying that? Horizontal and vertical questioning. Since then, I’ve listened to the lecture 10+ times, noticed his teachings in other content I am consuming (like Actualized.org lectures on God Consciousness), was able to make connections (pattern recognition) and at least gain some form of understanding.
I still don’t understand it fully, but that’s the fun in it, no? Will we ever explore every square inch of the iceberg we are obsessed with?
Now, all of this obsession stuff is great, but how do we obsess in the right direction? A direction that will lead to extreme success?
“Follow your obsessions until a problem starts to emerge, a big meaty challenging problem that impacts as many people as possible, that you feel hellbent to solve or die trying.” — Justine Musk
Obsession, in my eyes, is associated with the flow state. People that naturally become obsessed with things are entering the flow state over time and labeling it as obsession. Entering the flow state is a science. I want to introduce you to 2 things.
1) Steven Kotler’s 5 Intrinsic Drivers
The 5 intrinsic drivers are curiosity, passion, purpose, autonomy, and mastery. We have discussed this before — but I want to bring your attention to the “purpose” driver.
You cultivate passion by pursuing your curiosity and making connections at the intersections of your curiosities. Purpose is born when these “intersections” gain real world utility. What is a big problem that you want to solve in the world? How can your curiosities solve that big problem? Don’t know? Cool, now you have things to research and rabbit holes to go down.
My purpose is to end human suffering. That lights a fire in me. I am doing that by studying philosophy, business, spirituality, and other things that allow me to spread my message. I am obsessed with this. Random opinions mean nothing because I can bring my focus back to my purpose. This is key.
2) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Model
There is a progression to following obsession. It is a balance of challenge and skill.
You can kick into degrees of the flow state at any given moment. You need a desired outcome, clarity on how to get there, and a challenge that matches your skill.
If you are pursuing a specific goal (desired outcome) and the journey is boring, you need to increase the challenge. If the journey makes you anxious, you need to increase your skill. You do this through self-education via the internet.
This will make sense soon.
Mid Koe Letter Plug: If you want access to 170+ social media growth, monetization, branding, marketing, sales, and performance strategies — join 1000+ members inside MMHQ. Koe Letter readers can join for $5.
Creating The Game You Want To Play In The World You Want To Live In
A game is a structured story. That is why we love them so much. Games give you a structured, goal or quest oriented way of achieving a desired outcome — the happy ending of a story.
Everything is a game if you perceive it as a game. Games imply rules, skill, challenge, and milestones. We can consciously create these. This is how you predict obsession and give yourself something worth focusing on. That is to say, something worth caring about so you can stop caring about the things that don’t matter.
When done correctly, other’s opinions, modern distractions, personal insecurity, and potential mediocrity stop existing. They only existed in the first place because you gave them your attention.
Humans are divine creators. When we are tapped into optimal experience, flow, or the present — we open up room for creation.
Let’s create our own game:
Creating Your Reality
As humans, we create our own reality. Your reality is based on your perspective and perception. That is how we make sense of the non-sensical. It’s all labels, symbols, words, and interpretations strung together into a story. It’s all imaginary — as the only thing there is is the present moment. Psychological time — the past and future — are just parts of the story that you remember. The points in time that you were conscious of. The 1 out of 7 billion perspectives you had at that point in time.
If you want any situation to be in your favor — shift your perspective to a point where you can create an advantageous perception of the situation. Perspective is the camera, perception is the lens. Most people have a camera on a tripod with a blurred lens. They won’t move their camera or try to unblur their lens. This leads to the inability to see the situation for what it is.
Let’s say you are in a busy coffee shop and see an attractive person. Where does your mind go? I guarantee it will be from a faulty perspective, one that doesn’t serve you. Your mind will start making excuses.
“What if she denies me and everyone notices? That would be embarrassing.”
“What if she has a boyfriend? I shouldn’t even risk it.”
Every excuse imaginable will flood your head. Notice these thoughts, pause, breath, and see the situation for what it is. If you approach the girl and she denies you, the situation is over. Everyone is off in their own little reality. They won’t care in 5 seconds and you will probably never see them again.
This goes for anything. Afraid to speak in front of a camera and post it online? What’s the worst that happens? Somebody calls you a “dweeb” in the comment section? Does that comment warrior not have an entire life to live?
Don’t make one comment your entire world. Zoom out. Gain perspective.
Creating Your Character
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” — Carl Jung
In many video games, the first thing you do is create your character. The one that you want to play as. The character that you believe will play the game best. Pull out a pen and paper, this is where things get important.
From my experience, the only way to stop playing the game is to win the game. If you want initial success in growing on social media — you need to play the game. Once you have enough leverage — once you reach max level — you can do whatever you want.
- What does the maxed out version of your character look like?
- What skills and traits will that character develop?
- How much gold will that character earn?
What is your vision for the future (desired outcome)? What are the steps to getting there (goals & clarity)?
Writing Your Story
Life unfolds in chapters and phases.
If you were to imagine a story of your life being written, what is being written right now? What chapter are you in? Are you the protagonist or antagonist? What battle are you fighting? Are you on the winning side? What perspective is this being written from? Did you care too much about asking the girl out at the coffee shop? If so, did you redeem yourself?
“Happiness is the feeling that power increases – that resistance is being overcome.” — Nietzsche
Stories are how we create meaning in life. Meaning is found in the struggle, the battle, the resistance being overcome.
Are you going to play to win? Or are you going to play to help others win? Are you going to pursue your own character’s storyline? Or are you going to be an NPC in another characters storyline? It’s all within your control.
Winning The Game
Everything is a game.
Social media growth, online business, confidence, self-improvement, skill acquisition, etc. Everything.
You start the game by learning the rules, mechanics, and principles.
You play the game by keeping your attention on an intrinsic hierarchy of goals.
You win the game by achieving those goals, gaining experience (XP), and maxing out your character’s desired traits.
There is no way around this. You either play the game or get played by the game.
The only way you can stop playing is if you win.
— Dan Koe
What Happened This Week
Digital Economics Founder’s pricing is live — with 11 spots left. This is a 30 day intensive cohort to build your brand, implement my rapid content system, and secure your future in the digital economy.
We had a content psychology training in MMHQ. This is a 1.5 hour masterclass on how to capture attention, structure long and short form content, and my APAG copywriting framework for writing compelling content without templates. Koe Letter readers can join for $5.
A podcast went live on how to get into flow state and how to turn your curiosities into a business. Listen here.
A YouTube video just went live on the future of creative work and how to make a fortune pursuing your genuine curiosity. Watch it here.