Archive for the ‘Master Your Mind’ Category

I talk a lot about action.  My favorite philosophy book: the Bhagavad Gita.  For me, no other philosophy is as applicable today as when it was written. Still, non-action is occasionally preferable to action.

For example, shutting up during a negotiation until your counterpart stumbles or buckles under the pressure.


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a full gas tank

In my experience, I’ve found only 2 ways to effectively deal with jealousy.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), some of my friends are better-looking than me, taller than me, make more money than me, and are more popular with the ladies…

…Not that it’s a competition, but let’s face it, sometimes it is.  And sometimes, it sure feels like you’re getting creamed.

One way to deal with jealousy is to tear the other person down.  Diffuse.  Detract.  Talk trash.  Obviously this is a very low-level way of coping, but sometimes you can’t help it and boy, does it feel good, am I right?

Just kidding.  Or, perhaps, half-kidding.


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set of weights

I have a friend who’s a Gamer (video games, not the other kind), and he recently asked, “How do you have time to write, go to the gym, and play video games?  Don’t you work?”

“I dunno,” I told him.  “If it’s important enough, you just find the time.”

Now that I’ve had more time to mull it over, I think a more accurate answer would be: “You make time according to how important it is to you.”


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tsunami warning sign

There’s a concept I like to call HILP (High Impact Low Probability).

I consider an event or activity to be HILP when it has the potential to drastically alter your life, but whose chances of occurring are exceedingly rare.  In other words: High Impact, Low Probability.

An example of a positive hilp is, say, becoming an overnight millionaire from some phone app you created a la “Flappy Bird.”  It’s a life-changing event, but not one you can count on.

An example of a negative hilp might be having your business wiped out by the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Again, transformative in scale, while being rare and unpredictable.

I can think of at least 2 applications for this concept:


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Some people scoff at self-help, associating it with fake optimism and mental horn-tooting.  I get it.  I know it’s not possible to always feel happy, present, and fulfilled; to never feel tired, jealous, or afraid.

But for those who would find it altogether risible, I would ask them not to dismiss the forest because of a few rotten trees.  Just because Isaac Newton spent much of his life chasing the philosopher’s stone, doesn’t make bunk the rest of his work on calculus, optics, and gravity.

To me, self-help has never been about earth-shattering discoveries and previously unknown magic-bullets, but rather the gradual accumulation of infinitesimal changes that can transform our lives when viewed as a whole.

I think another reason self-help gets a bad rap is that some of its proponents have a nasty tendency to dismiss others’ claims of disadvantage.  No, poverty is real.  Death is real.  Accidents, disease, and family dysfunction are real.  Self-help should not be a weapon to bludgeon someone into self-blame and censorship; it is simply a tool to improve one’s lot, even if by a little (but sometimes by a lot) despite your starting position.

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I once read that Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace both came up with the theory of evolution independently.

They both traveled to exotic places (the Galapagos Islands and the Malay Archipelago, respectively), observed the local species of flora and fauna, and sought to explain the cause of their differences.

The funny thing is that they were both stumped until each read Malthus’ essay on human overpopulation and applied its ideas to the species they were studying.  Many famous biologists have since noted how obvious evolution by natural selection seems and wondered why the theory took so long to formulate.

Can you imagine?  All because of some paper they read.

How many ideas have you come up with, dear reader, because of some random article you read, or some rare conversation you had?  How many stories of mythology were heard, how many interactions of schoolchildren were observed, before J. K. Rowling wrote the masterpiece that is Harry Potter?

Good output, it would seem, requires good input, and plenty of it.

Other times, you might have more than enough swimming around inside your head, but you just need time and space to process it, like cream separating from milk.

That’s where those long walks on the beach come in.


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So I had a conversation with a good friend last night.  I shared that I had been going to the gym consistently for the past 2 months.  He asked me how I got myself to do that.  I thought about my reward system of coffee and manga, about how I wanted to remain attractive to my girlfriend, about my health and longevity.  But really, I told him, I think it’s because I tell myself that if I just show up at the gym, I consider that a success.  Inevitably, I get in a good workout anyway, but that’s not what I tell myself in the morning when I’m tired and hating life.

He then shared that he had done his trampoline workout 112 days in a row.

“Today was your one hundred and twelfth day?!” I asked.

“Yup, 112 days,” he said.

“How did you do that?

“Same as you.  I just tell myself all I have to do is crawl out of bed and onto the trampoline.  Then just stand up.  Of course, I’ll start bouncing a few times and then I’ll go for longer.”

So there you go, dear reader.  Like your work–creative or otherwise–all you have to do, no matter how lousy you feel, is just show up.

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