Thirty Three Lessons In Thirty Three Years

1. Growth Mindset Is THE ONLY Mindset
Dr Carol Dweck’s book ‘Growth Mindset’ probably did more than anything to set me on a path of self-development. In the book, she describes the difference between the ‘Fixed Mindset’ and the ‘Growth Mindset’. In describing the fixed mindset, it was as if she was describing me. I was someone who was born with a natural ‘talent’. This ability was spotted very early, around age 3. As I grew older, I would use this talent as my identity and my way of relating to others — who became a source of validation as I demonstrated my artistic abilities. As a consequence, I developed a huge ego around my identity, which was as fragile as my social situation, because when I went to art school the validation ended. My self-image unraveled, along with my self-belief. It wasn’t until I read Dweck’s book that I was able to put all this into context, and understand what had happened in the first 25 years of my life. From that point on, my mindset changed for the better. I’m still unpacking the lessons of the growth mindset to this day, and I have a long way to go.

2. Never Give Yourself Away For Free
I no longer believe in the idea of ‘talent’ — what one person can do, another can do. However, I do believe that we are all born with certain natural abilities. These can be sources of great power, if they’re continually challenged and nurtured in the right environment. But they can also be tools of self-destruction, if they’re not accompanied by self-respect: your abilities can be abused by bosses that want you to do two jobs for the price of one; you can be lead into professional situations that milk your soul dry, and you will justify it all by saying ‘at least I’m using my talents instead of doing something I’m not good at’ — Never give your natural talents away for free, just because you got them for free! This isn’t about ego, this is a basic rule of self-determination. This is also related to lesson №1: if you have an ego around your own abilities, your search for validation will ironically lead you into abusive situations: the manager’s high praise at the job interview becomes his volte-face as slave-driver once you’re on the payroll.

3. Don’t Be Poor
I have learnt that money is (almost) everything. We’ve all heard the platitude that ‘money isn’t everything’, and the mantra ‘my self worth and my net worth are two separate things’. But this is the comfort blanket of the poor. Being poor sucks. I have actually been poor. You can’t DO anything. And more importantly, you can’t do anything for OTHERS. The world is filled with young people who have bought into a Socialist mindset. Being Socialist in 2018 is like going to history’s largest feast and choosing to make do with bread. It is ignorant and pathetic to choose poverty in a world that has the highest GDP in Human history. You only need to skim a bit off the top and you have more than enough for you, your friends and family.

4. Money Isn’t For You, Here And Now, It’s For The Future, Others And Emergencies
I define ‘wealth’ as ‘stored energy’, in very simple terms. My reasons for acquiring wealth are equally simple and direct. I do not build wealth for TVs, cars, boats, or creature comforts. Wealth is stored energy: the INERTIA OF THE POWER TO BUY. It is for when you really need it, or when someone you love really needs it. There is no ‘thing’ I need right now… until I really need it NOW. If you’re building wealth for any other reason, you have to understand that your enjoyment in attaining that thing or situation is ultimately shallow and feeble, however much pleasure it gives you in the short-term.

5. Freedom At The Expense Of Buying Power Isn’t Freedom
One rationale for building wealth is that it buys FREEDOM — which I define as ‘freedom of schedule and place’. I’m careful to define freedom in this way because I find many people have a nebulous idea of ‘being free’ or ‘being their own boss’, but those best intentions often create a new nightmare. Maybe you have a fantasy of living in a commune and picking fruit, living free, walking along beaches, sheltered from the practicalities of Human civilization. Nice story babe. Then you break your leg. It WILL need to be fixed by a doctor, and that doctor WILL need to be paid. So… don’t be poor, money is for when you need it; never sacrifice buying power at the expense of an idealization of Freedom. I have been guilty of burning my boats in pursuit of ‘breaking free’ — leaving a bad working situation always has a psychological benefit, but it almost always put me in a more precarious financial situation. Freedom minus buying power equals zero.

6. Expecting Stuff For Free Only Speeds Up The Survival Hamster Wheel
The operative word here is EXPECT. It’s not that getting free stuff is bad. It’s the EXPECTATION that causes poverty. If you’re going to be wealthy, you will need to pay for stuff. So expect to PAY to be WEALTHY. It’s counter-intuitive, but I’ve seen with my own eyes how this mentality only speeds up the hamster wheel of poverty. It can be very explicit: getting money from the government creates a learnt-dependency. I’ve seen this in friends who lived in luxury for years on generous handouts. They were intelligent, mentally stable and highly creative. Yet, despite dreaming up endless business ideas, they could never get anything off the ground because not paying for stuff was always easier. It can also be subtle: in my days of being poor, I was thrifty to the point that it sabotaged my time and health. This toxic frugality inspired me to walk 10 hour journeys rather than get a £10 train ride. I cringe at the time and energy I wasted on SURVIVAL, when £10 is little more than dust.

7. Abundance Is The Norm
Wrapping up lessons №3,4,5 and 6, I have come to realize that the Earth is an abundant planet. This might appear to contradict lesson №6, but again the key is expectation. There are so many things available to us, the idea of expecting anything for free as part of a SURVIVAL STRATEGY is redundant. Abundance is the norm. Survival is a fallacy. The difference is a question of mindset and focus.

8. You CAN Waste Your Life, and that’s NEVER good
People like to say ‘well, even though it came to nothing, it was a good experience’. I have found myself saying this many times. Look, its utter bullshit. You WILL die. You have ONE life. Reincarnation is not an excuse for procrastination. It is very painful to admit that you have wasted your life, because it’s a fundamental truth that we can do nothing about. It is the origin of regret. But if its the truth, its better to admit it sooner while we can still change course, because one day it will simply be TOO LATE. Now, time wasting is both obvious and subtle. I’m not necessarily talking about the obvious — the jobs that were utterly unfulfilling and underpaid, the time getting qualifications that I didn’t need, the doomed relationships, the internet browsing, addictive behaviors, needless arguments, aimless social interaction, smartphones, over-thinking, idle supermarket browsing, etc. I’m talking about those endeavors where its easy to say ‘at least I got the experience’. These ‘experiences’ are the most dangerous of all because they trick you into thinking you’re winning. How do you judge if an ‘experience’ isn’t a waste of time? It will have a momentum that puts you closer to your goal faster, either by standalone power or its cumulative effect on multiple areas. It’s that simple. You can consider anything else a waste of time.

9. Travel for Objectivity (Before Deciding On University)
One thing that is never a waste of time, if done with an open mind, is TRAVEL. Do travel and see the world. See as much as you’re willing and able to see, as early as possible. A lesson I learnt late is that global travel should be done before going to University, if you’re going to go to University at all. The simple reason is that travel gives you perspective on where you come from and who you are. University is really a luxury item that no 18 year old knows how to use. Especially art school. UK art school education is essentially a 3–4 year freedom of schedule taster. It is a tasting menu in freedom. Going from the highly regimented schedule of school (which is designed to produce robots in uniforms) to the non-schedule of art school is a wasted opportunity for most art students. How can you use your time effectively when you don’t have a greater objectivity of who you are and where you come from? How can you form objectives for yourself without that wider understanding? Take the outrageous funds required for ‘higher wrote memorization’ (higher education), and give yourself a real world education instead.

10. No Speak English? Bye Byeeeee!
At first, this will seem to contradict Lesson №9. I recommend travel for gaining perspective on who you are and where you come from. But I’ve also learnt that if you’re going to live anywhere that doesn’t have your native language as it’s main language, you better learn that language FAST and WELL. Because if you don’t, at best you’ll be a second class citizen, hiding behind your fluent native partner, and at worst, you’ll always be the stupidest person in the room. Languages are fun. Languages are interesting. But I’ve learnt that I’m not a linguist, so the option to live in a country that doesn’t speak English is off the table. In an age where many people in the West are jumping ship to live in exotic lands, I caution those people to look beyond the palm trees and white beaches: a language poorly spoken makes you sound really stupid. A language poorly spoken isolates you. A language poorly spoken is fatal in a survival situation.

11. There Is No Reward In Enduring A Painful Situation
Living in a foreign country without knowing the language also taught me that there’s no use in enduring pain ‘for the experience’. It’s easy to confuse this with the platitude ‘no pain no gain’. This refers to the idea that learning and growth are often accompanied by some discomfort. While true, if this is used as a justification to indulge in a painful situation, simply to see what lesson comes out of it, then you’re insane. I’m guilty of overstaying my own welcome in a country (and job) that was fucked, even after I was offered a chance to leave, and be paid to leave! Instead of taking the money and running, I decided to stay on for another 5 months, because I wanted to finish a project I had started, and to see if there was anything new to learn. From the moment I signed the dotted line, I knew it was the wrong decision. Every day was worse than the one before; the wrongness never went away, it just multiplied upon itself, until I left empty-handed, with the project finished, at the cost of my sanity. If you’re in a painful situation that you’re trying to justify with logic… GET. OUT. Another facet of this lesson: there is a tradition among artists of ‘suffering for your art’. I call bullshit on this, because it’s the same problem. As an artist, I’ve used this same rationale too many times. Did I make good work that I’m proud of? Absolutely. Could I outwork any other artist? Absolutely. But what is the triumph in doing so? We like to mythologize over the Michelangelos who break their backs painting Sistine Chapels. But that’s due to poor working conditions. There’s no correlation between quality of work and poor spinal health. If you should masochistically injure yourself in the process of creating your masterpiece, the only person who cares is YOU. This bullshit of ‘no pain no gain’ is often further mythologized by — what I call — Male Disciples of Struggle. Men like pain. Men like bootcamps. Men crave that transcendental rite of passage into manhood. Walking hot coals. Heavy Deadlifts. I love that too. But all too often, it’s chasing pain for pain’s sake. As a rite of passage — yes. But don’t make the mistake of chasing the thrill of pain. The payoff is a fantasy.

12. The Heart Knows
Which leads me to №12. We ALWAYS know what the right thing to do is. We do. We just don’t admit it to ourselves. The key in this admission is that we need to listen to the heart rather than the head. Logic always seems so tempting. But the fact is, the heart is able to quantify any situation much more completely and objectively. The emotions we feel when faced with a decision are there to guide us. Emotions only seem obstructive because we’ve been culturally trained to ‘think’ before we ‘feel’, when it should be the other way round. Feel the situation first, then, if you even need to, think it over. The fact is that logic has us chasing some externalization. Logic has nothing to do with what we actually NEED, here and now.

13. Where You Are Should Always Be Where You Want To Be
Closely related to №11 and 12. Get out of any situation that is not where you want to be. Define where you want to be, and go there. We put needless blocks in the way of our goals. We think we have to strategize scaling tall ladders, when if we want what we actually say we want, we can usually have it (almost) instantly. Just the other day, someone said to me “I want to go back to South America and build a meditation retreat. But first I need money, so I’m going to get a job. Any job.” First of all, if you want money fast, a job is the lamest way to do it. Second, this person was looking for minimum wage jobs; waitress, hotel porter etc. Lame. Not because I judge waitresses or hotel porters, but because this person was going to take work she hated, and she knew it! I said “If you want to be in South America, why aren’t you already there? Go there. Make it work. Set up an export business. Fund your life there.” After looking her dead in the eyes, I could tell she didn’t really want to go to South America and set up a meditation retreat. It was a pure, exciting, dangerous fantasy. In reality, she just wanted the comfort of her dependable minimum wage hotel job, with mediocre colleagues and a bitchy boss — because that’s all she knew. The point is, be clear why you want something, and if you want it, FUCKING GO GET IT.

14. Avoid Irrational Women
There is a glitch in our society. I’m hesitant to give it a name, so as not to add to the endless names we give to identity politics phenomena. Nevertheless, this glitch is real. As a man, I’m under constant threat of physical violence from other men who might have an irrational issue with me. This threat is a good thing, because it ensures that things between me and irrational men remains civil. Men know that other men can do terrible, lasting physical harm, which they do not want, so the threat of violence is enough to prevent violence between men. However, this boundary doesn’t exist between men and irrational women. The glitch in our society is that a woman can act irrationally towards a man, but since society presupposes that women’s irrationality brings no threat of violence, then society concludes that preventative violence used against women is off the table. In other words, men are forbidden to defend themselves against female irrationality. Of course, violence is never acceptable behavior, except in self defense. But male-on-male baiting stops at baiting because society deems there is a threat of real violence. When a women baits a man, and the woman cannot be reasoned with, the only winning move is to walk away. In the course of life, one will encounter situations where others have a problem with you: they feel threatened, they’re jealous, they’re envious, they hate your family, they hate your friends, they misread you… the problem is theirs. I have been in a handful of situations where this person was a female authority figure. In each situation, I lacked the social capital that would highlight an individual’s irrational behavior and so, unfortunately, the only winning tactic was evasion.

15. Non-Reactivity For The Win
Adding to Lesson №14, I’ve learnt that remaining non-reactive in any situation is always the wining move. This doesn’t mean passivity. It also doesn’t mean passive-aggression, pretending not to be affected by others, or painting on a smile in any situation. These are all TRYING TO BE NON-REACTIVE. Which is ironically reactive! Non-reactivity is SELF-OBSERVATION. As long as you’re observing and conscious of yourself, in the present, you’re impeccable. On the other hand, as soon as you react, lose your temper, snap, run off, or smash your fist on the desk, you LOSE. You’re giving away the innate power of the present moment. This is especially true for men, and truer the older the man is. A man who is non-reactive is a boss. The definition of a LOSER is a reactive man.

16. Impulsivity Is Enemy №1
Going deeper into reactivity: perhaps my biggest sticking point to date (and almost everyone else’s, if they were honest) is impulsivity. I believe everyone has to a lesser or greater degree some form of impulse control disorder. Addictions, compulsive thoughts, social media, sugar addiction, pedophilia, alcoholism — I believe they all have a similar pathology. The unwashed masses live in a writhing maze of temptations, treats, pleasure-seeking, comforters, smartphone swiping, legal highs in the form of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, and all the illegal pitfalls of the three dimensions. The result is a lack of will-power, a weakened prefrontal cortex, an open door to every disease, low self-esteem, poverty, and danger. There is a direct and undeniable correlation between low impulse control and poverty. There is no conspiracy per se, we just live in a culture that doesn’t cultivate self discipline. Thus, the masses are kept in their place by their own lack of self control. Impulsivity will sabotage your health and wealth, opportunities, relationships; impulsivity is THE long-form barrier to all success in any area. I have come to realize, after honest introspection, that my impulsive moments were my most costly moments; financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

17. Self Discipline Is Priority №1
So it follows that if impulsivity is the enemy, then Self Discipline and self mastery really are First Base. A lot of people pay lip service to ‘being spiritual’ and all the exotic abilities that come with so-called ‘higher awareness’ — intuition, prescience, telepathy etc. But many of those same people haven’t even got the lower chakras sorted! Many are still struggling with issues of sexuality, eating habits, decision making, self expression, and so on — the basics! If life has one meaning, and if there’s one thing that can elevate your quality of life, it is self discipline: the ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and not do what should not be done, when you’ll say you won’t do it. That’s it. Now show me someone who sticks to their 30 minutes of meditation a day without using it as just another way to indulge in thought addiction. What, you can’t sit still without thinking for just 30 minutes bro? Show me someone who never takes one bite of chocolate or cake, even when inundated with free offers on a daily basis. What happened to your ‘no sugar this month’ promise bro? Show me a guy who makes it through 90 days of NoFap, while going out every night and talking to stunning women. What, you can’t even stop touching it bro? We think that self discipline means abstinence — but that’s bullshit. In other words, we think we’re disciplined when we create an environment absent of triggers: the meditators living in silence, the chocoholics banishing chocolate from their home, the NoFap guys living a life of self-imposed isolation. No. Real self-discipline is CONTINUALLY RE-AFFIRMING in the face of temptation. So few people can do this, it is tragic and dangerous. And yet, self-discipline is the one thing that can elevate your health, wealth, happiness, self-esteem, and quality of life. It has to be the №1 Priority. I personally admit to struggling with self discipline my entire life. I’ve made it my life’s mission to cultivate self control. I’ve failed many many times. Yet, self-discipline is the only game in town, so I continue to play it.

18. Sleep
As I write this, its past 4am. I’ve been compelled to write this article, and when I write, I write in one sitting. So I’m contradicting myself. Yet, I’ve learnt something about sleep. Sleep is the foundation of self-discipline. When I lack sleep, the door is wide open to act on any temptation or impulse that may come up during the day. The body searches for easy calories. Bread gives way to cookies, which gives way to cake. Dairy, coffee follow. White sugar, red meat. Bad temper. Poor attitude. Emotional bank account withdrawn. It is good to know that I can function on low sleep for short bursts of time — but a lifestyle of low sleep will sabotage one’s best efforts. I have forgone sleep out of machismo. While it earned me Bro Points from Joe Rogan-ish ‘Male Disciples of Struggle’, low sleep did little more than lowering my testosterone and kill the following day’s to-do list.

19. I Am Gullible Therefore I Am Not Gullible
I’ve come to learn that I am incredibly easy to fool. Maybe this is true of many people — nobody stayed poor by underestimating the public’s gullibility. However, all I know for sure is my own gullibility. Ideas seep into my head by mere exposure. They filter into actions and course-corrections automatically. Yet, knowing this about myself also makes me the least susceptible to culture’s deceit, propaganda and falsehoods. I have always had a negative view of media. As an investor, I get paid for my skepticism; blindly shadowing other’s views is the fastest way to lose money. In reality, we’re all investors, whether we like it or not. We direct our time, money and energy; we ‘buy in’, by default. What we consciously buy in to, that’s the question. If we’re to see the world with our own eyes (which is fundamental to all my life lessons), we absolutely must come to our own conclusions, rather than shadowing others’ opinions, or parroting someone else’s words. Mainstream media has become so deceitful, it is no longer representative of any kind of reality. The essential truth is that the lies of culture, advertising and mainstream media have been crafted in such as way that you buy in to the message by mere exposure: like a lump of radioactive material, mainstream media’s effect is decided by mere PROXIMITY, regardless of your intelligence and skepticism. So… since I consider myself gullible by default, I totally block out the noise of media.

20. Everyone Wants (And Needs) You To Be Cool
We’re told ‘just be yourself, just be cool’. This is excellent advice, because you realize that most people are meek, self-loathing, and slowly going downhill. They crave a cool person to make themselves feel better. It papers over their own inadequacies. This makes ‘being cool’ a valuable commodity, because it is rare. It is rare that someone is able to selflessly breathe value into a room. It is rare that someone expresses themselves without the filters of social conditioning. It is rare that someone has a childlike amusement in life. It is just so rare, in an age of smartphone-induced shyness; everyone caught in an echo-chamber of social media and narcissism. People who call themselves ‘spiritual’ are usually the worst: the first pitfall of spirituality is over-self-involvement. Cool story babe. You’re trying to solve your own autism. But why not just decide to be cool? Drop your own logical self analysis and make people LAUGH. And as the world descends into earnest political correctness, this rare commodity is only going up in value.

22. Everyone Is Tired And Scared
When we were young — if we had a happy childhood — we looked up at our parents and we saw them as rocks. They we in control; they were infallible. I’m glad I had such a childhood. But as we grow older, we see their worry, doubt and weariness. And we as we grow into them, it slowly becomes apparent… nobody is driving the bus. Billions of Humans are desperate, indecisive, concerned, fearful, and hesitant. This exists on every part of the wealth spectrum. The wealthy will pay the most confident, loudest, most entertaining and shiny person in the room — the wealthy are no less tired and scared than the poor. The poor experience desperation more viscerally, yes, but the power of money to cause sleeplessness and fear should not be doubted. If you don’t know, you never had money. Yet the fact that I know the inevitability of tiredness and fear Humanizes everyone. It is a leveler, and — if I start with the intent to minimize others’ tiredness and fear — it gives me hope in my ability to offer value.

23. Expect A lot Of Yourself And Nothing From Others
Given Humans’ intense focus on their own survival and self interest, I’ve found the best rule of engagement with others is to expect nothing from anyone. Nobody owes you anything. Everyone is struggling. Everyone is scratching their head, wondering what happened. On the other hand, you can always seek to control your own actions. The very best you can do is have high expectations of yourself, set the example, and be committed to your own growth.

24. Your Family IS A Factor In Your Success
An unpopular concept: your family DOES play a large part in determining your success. This idea is unpopular among those who subscribe to self development, because nobody wants to be told there is a limiting factor to their journey. However, I have seen evidence to the contrary too many times, both in others’ lives and my own. Children of divorced parents WILL grow up to suffer rocky relationships. Children of impulsive parents WILL wrestle with impulsivity more than others. It is extremely difficult is grow out of and move beyond the energy that crystalizes your childhood. I would go as far to say that by around age 8, you’re pretty much set in terms of who you are. The rest of life is negotiating ways around who you are. You can always change philosophically — you can adopt mindsets that differ from your parents. But do be aware that these mindsets are borrowed… whatever mindset you take on, it will still be colored by the emotional pallet that was given to you in your first decade of life.

25. Nothing Matters
It actually doesn’t matter what you choose to do in life. You can justify doing anything. Be lawyer. Be a scientist. Be an artist. The core concept is this: the actual ‘doing of the thing’ is nothing more than a placeholder. Maybe its your ‘life’s mission’… maybe it isn’t. It actually doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you’re a success at that thing (oh, and I don’t believe in that ‘success-is-whatever-you-define-it-to-be’ crap. Success = It buys me freedom. See my definition of freedom). Now, the process of making the ‘doing of the thing’ successfull is the same, regardless. The same rules, processes and metrics apply. This is always somewhat unsatisfactory to hear, since we are often naively invested in ‘the thing’ and we tie our identity to doing that thing… yet if you just do that thing, the best you can be is a hobbyist. To actually GET PAID to do that thing means getting outside of your self, and doing a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with that thing. The classic example is an artist who doesn’t want to market themselves. Well guess what, marketing is the same process if you’re an artist, dentist, plumber. So that being the case, you don’t have the luxury of deciding what matters.

26. Nothing Matters: Forgiveness
One day it will all be over. It will all mean nothing. Your hate, victimhood, loneliness, vengeance, your desire for validation. It is all useless. It becomes nothing. Death is inevitable. For a good death, forgive others. All before death is feeble.

27. Everything Matters
When you become an avid observer of your self and your surroundings — instead of reacting to reality — you realize there is never ‘nothing’ going on. Energy is being expressed, shifting, and multiplying on itself all the time. Every word. Every note. Every intent. It all culminates. A common cold. The number code to open the door. A ‘chance’ encounter. A delayed flight. Everything has meaning that originates somewhere. Nothing is throwaway. There is no coincidence. It’s my day’s mission to make note of everything — any crumb of complacency in menial tasks, any misplaced focus, the mood of a room, a bad omen. You see a sign that says ‘work wanted’. You walk inside. The place is nice. Few tables. Could be easy work. Nice little job. Small kitchen. The Latino cook’s deadened glances briefly flickers past stacks of dishes. There is something frenetic and worrisome in the air. As you chat to the Italian barista about the cakes, he says to ask the boss about the job — a lady serving customers. He says he’s only been here 2 months. He’s young and handsome but has a slightly hunched, submissive aura. The large boss brushes past, puts her hands in the air, says ‘look, if its about the job just hand in your CV’, and runs away without waiting for your acknowledgment of her words. What do you want from this situation? You already know this situation. Everything is there for you interpret. No guesswork. You know. There is NEVER nothing going on. We get so lost in the surface level of things. We think we are somehow obliged to accept the superficial and ignore the drawbacks out of practicality, sensibility and ‘common sense’. I disagree. Reality is so much more detailed. Everything matters and it’s all waiting for you to feel.

28. You Can Only Have What Your Already Are
“I want” — and it moves further away, because ‘wanting’ re-affirms not-having! While I’m ‘wanting’, I’m pushing away the exact thing I crave. Instead, I want to cultivate the habits and state of someone who already has the thing I aspire to. You can only have what you already are. And if you’re given it before your time, you WILL give it away, or it will be taken from you.

29. Emotional Situations Mark Growth
Put yourself in any situation that conjures strong emotions and you can bet that you’re learning. One can embark on a journey of self-development and take an overly-logical approach, feigning ‘growth’ by assuming the impact of a given situation can be expressed by logic. But you’re just grappling with the concept of ‘growth’ like fumbling a party balloon — you’re not actually getting anywhere NEW. The measure of growth potential in any given circumstance is the intensity of emotion it provokes. Logic protects you from growth in this sense. A rather sheltered graduate may wish to have some ‘crazy experience’ that will ‘break them out of their comfort zone’ in the name of ‘self-development’… so they decide to work as a dish washer in a fast-paced kitchen. Well, it’s stressful, in a sense. It might be something new for an upper-middle class law graduate. But it’s not exactly putting much on the line. Same goes for extreme sports, and sky-diving. Meh. It’s a fairground ride. It makes great Instagram pics. Put it on your Tinder profile. You’re an adrenaline junky bro. But in the end, these are examples of safe-space adventure holidays. They put nothing EMOTIONAL on the line. That’s a bit harder to put on IG isn’t it? If you want to really go hard and deep, I recommend you take your childhood dreams and wrap them in barbed wire and airport pat-downs. Whatever that means to you. Utterly destroy your illusions. Put yourself on the line. Throw a dart on a map and go there with nothing but a pen, pad and passport. Be truly vulnerable. Don’t feign growth with safe-space Instagram experiences in well-mapped tourist-designated bubbles. ACTUALLY FUCKING FEEL.

30. Beware Of Resistance and Self-Protection
The flip-side to being willing to ‘feel’, is being unwilling, which I term ‘resistance’. You can tell resistance in someone’s posture; their inadvertent smile of embarrassment when pressed slightly out their comfort zone; evasion of difficult social situations; the yawning, lethargic feeling of not wanting to be challenged; the lack of vulnerability; over-seriousness — I know it all well because I fight my own resistance to ‘feeling’. We are too damn logical and serious. We need to let loose — especially men. Men are designed to the be the cue ball, not one of the colored balls. That means being open, flowing, vulnerable, and non-judgmental. Society has us logical, wooden, self-judging, and ultimately, failing to be willing to FEEL. This unwillingness to feel emotion is a protective measure. It builds a calcified cacoon over our selves and our growth. I may be repeating myself: ACTUALLY FUCKING FEEL.

31. Ask For Help
It’s a simple one, but it needs to be said. Wanting to do things yourself is a noble aspiration. But someone’s desire for independence can be exploited, in a big bad world. Science is easy to memorize, art has to be felt by experience. You can shorten your learning curve just by being guided by someone who knows about the artform of your field. I would have done well to drop my arrogance of independence, to seek out expert mentorship.
32. Self Development is HARD Work: Letting Go
Going back to lesson №1 — having a growth mindset is fundamental, but actually changing who you are is HARD. To change who you are, your habits, your thought patterns, to transcend yourself — this is really asking LOTS of yourself. So many people talk about self development, and its easy to talk about. Actually developing yourself in a meaningful way — you have to make that your daily pilgrimage to get anywhere. In this context, HARD means persistent focus. It takes persistent focus on your weakest areas to elevate yourself beyond your current self. Many are sold on the idea. Few make the inner journey to actually transcend themselves. This is what I’ve realized after living for 33 years, and closely observing my habits, and seeing how 10 and 15 year old habits come and go. It is actually quite shocking to see how consistently someone can do something for a decade or more without changing, especially when you’re the someone, and you’ve watched it happen every day for 10 years. Although Carol Dweck’s book had a big impact on me, I’m facing the fact that after around 30, a man’s persona beings to crystallise. It loses the fluidity that it had, and takes on a progressively viscous form. I remember my first day at university, I completely re-engineered by personality, versus the personality I had at school. I did this several times in my 20s. I’ve played many characters. But at a certain point, the person you spend the most time being is the person you become. This makes you more grounded. But it also makes you seem ‘old’ and calcified. I’m trying to find ways of refreshing myself with the fluidity of youth. But I see so few people in their 30s able to do this, I’m aware that it is asking a lot. To my credit, I’ve cultivated a life of freedom, which gives me a certain spark other married/mortgaged millennials don’t possess. But still… the key to this fluidity of persona — in my opinion — is the ability to let go; to be without filters; to be totally unself-conscious. To not be wooden. To open your throat and not be afraid of the sound that comes out. In the end, I consider that to be true freedom. It is rare, and prized. Transcending your own bullshit and being your true self is a million dollar skill, and it feels awesome. It’s worth the hard work.

33. Remember People’s Birthdays
I forgot my grandma’s birthday. She called to say she was upset. She said how important it was that she heard from me, because I was important to her. I felt terrible. The following year, I forgot her birthday again. Days later, she was rushed to hospital after having a stroke. I held her hand as she lay in a vegetive state on the hospital bed. I spoke directly in front of her, making jokes with exaggerated movements. She could not speak and barely move, but as tears rolled down her face I knew she was aware of the situation. Ten days later, I held my mum and brother as I watched the last breaths leave my grandma. Small gestures can make the difference, you never know what is around the corner.


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Copyright 2019 Tom Badley.
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