The Key To Getting What You Want

Around 2:15 Kyle Maynard says this:

“My dad said that the world was not gonna be tailored for my every need. So, that’s why he knew that I had to go and find a way to go and do it on my own.”

Amazing.

Watch the video. Then come back to this post.

I stumbled onto this via Tim Ferriss’ blog.

Read that quote above twice.

And then again.

Then think about it.

The fact that this fellow has no arms and legs forced him to realize a deep truth of life.

It’s not tailored to your very needs.

Go find a way and do it regardless.

See, on the inside he’s not different from us. He’s just had a way worse start in life, so it came easier to him to acknowledge his incompleteness.

We live in the Instagram era. People are being trained to not like something for itself, but to show a photo of them liking it, because it enhances their personality and broadcasts desired traits. It’s technology-fueled “shortterm over longterm”-paradigms. It’s media-fueled “saying not being” and “saying not doing”.

In the old days what you did defined you. That changed dramatically because of technology, networks, globalization and social media. Today you can censor the things that define you in the eyes of others, because you’re the director and the publisher now. The gatekeepers are gone and you manage your own media station about you via Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. You are your own China. And now we can get away with believing we are what we say to others.

I went for a run yesterday. 6 rounds around a lake close to my place. I lapped 2 girls a few times, not because I was so fast, but because those girls stopped all the time to take selfies of them “appearing” to run and workout, whereas in reality they barely went for a walk and my grandma would have outrun them. Their friends will never know. “Oh, look at Amanda in her Nike Free sneakers at the lake. LIKE.”

This is dangerous to health, happiness and longterm fulfillment, because when you can simply pick a role and start to broadcast it into the world, you no longer have to struggle and overcome. You now CAN tailor the world to your needs. At least in the eyes of other people, which is all that matters in the modern world. That’s why Gary Vaynerchuk says: “Everyone’s a media station now.” He’s right and cutting out the gatekeepers is a good thing, because it allows you to read my words and me to write theses words on a platform that connects us without obeying to the opinions of others.

The only problem is this: mindsets are universal and human beings like homeostasis.

Mindsets are universal means, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. The triggers and impulses to act or not act go deeper than the act itself. It doesn’t matter whether you sit in front of a math test or in front of a naked woman. Your ability to proactively approach something, judge it and in relations to that overcome it is universal. If you’re lazy in your spare-time, you’re very likely lazy during your work-times as well. Things go hand in hand. The car stays the same no matter what road it is on.

Homeostasis is the understanding that your organism likes the status quo. If you were put under ice-cold water, your body would start to shiver as a reaction to the shift in temperature. It tries to maintain the current level it’s at. The status-quo. It’s true for your body and your mind. Unless…unless your body/mind are constantly trained to stay adaptive/fluid and embrace change. They call this neuro-plasticity.

So, what does this mean for our quickly changing world of today?

People only tend to do as much as they can get away with. Homeostasis. Energy-prevention. Status-quo. Bend the world to your needs, not bend your needs to the world.

Right now, we can get away with broadcasting a streamlined, censored persona via social media. Selfies are still tolerated by the world.

But what if intelligent super-computer-heuristics, robots and ultra-hd-cams-4weeks-lithium-battery-drones step on the scene tomorrow and erase all the simple jobs from the map? The cashiers, the pizza boys, the cab drivers, the waiters, the Doug Heffernans?

What do you do with people that don’t fit into the workforce anymore and were hypnotized to believe the world is tailored to their needs?

You let them occupy Wall Street.

What if Google and Uber and Tesla team up tomorrow?

So, the bottom line is this. The world does not cater to your needs, although modern social media tells you it does. You have to go out there and knock on the door a lot, until you figure out a way to open it. You can’t show a picture of you appearing to knock on the door. You don’t have to cut off your arms to realize this. Just stick to what Stephen Covey calls “universal principles” and not to your Facebook profile picture. It’s all I write about. In every post. The former is always true regardless of the environment. It’s sentences like “Begin with the end in mind” or “First try to understand, then to be understood”. Take those as guidelines to a “doing not saying”-approach to life. It helps to stay adaptive. And when a change in the environment occurs, you’re good and you’ll thrive. If you practice the doing instead of saying long enough, doing turns into being. And that’s where the extremely successful people are.

This is the key to getting what you want.

The world is not tailored to your needs. It does not owe you anything. The hungry don’t get fed.

So, don’t take things personal, go out and find a way to do it regardless.

It’s no secret and no magic formula. That’s why I don’t have to wish you luck applying this.

The Key To Getting What You Want

Scan All Your Horizons

Last night at the club there was this short guy pickpocketing people on the dancefloor. It was dark, loud and people were drunk. So many didn’t notice. I was sober. I did notice and interrupted him, questioning what he was doing. He returned the wallets and I said, “What you were doing here is negative social creativity. You know what directions your life could take, if you turned that around into positive social creativity?” He looked at me in a blank way and responded: “I’m short, man. Look at me!”
I sensed that my words didn’t register with him at all, so I gave up lecturing him and handed the guy to the bouncers, which I would have done anyway regardless of his reaction.

Time and time again I’m amazed and in awe by people religiously dedicated to one extreme side of an argument/belief/idea/conviction. It’s toxic! It’s the old way. The more complex the environment gets, the less effective extremist views become, IF you want the whole planet with all of its population to survive and not only your tribe to make it. Cyclical progress is such an important understanding, that I’ll write an ebook on the topic and put it out for free in 2014.
See, it’s not about ignorance. The future is about, as said before, multi-disciplinary expertise. Or in other words, it’s about understanding extremes well enough, so that the balanced middle can be defined, too. Only a balanced middleground in any topic will provide solutions that are sustainable. This is true on a personal, developmental level and on a collective, global one as well.

Look for example at these two books:

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

I really enjoyed reading both of them and each provides a valid set of arguments for its thesis, still they are completely contradictory. “The Shallows” tells you the Internet dumbs you down and “Smarter Than You Think” comes to the opposite conclusion saying, the Internet/computers make you smarter than you initially realize.
The crucial, crucial thing to get in this century is, that both are right, they are just too narrow. It’s selective focus in a complex world. You don’t want to take a side anymore, you want to understand both claims and acknowledge each validity, in order to precisely define the boundaries of a thematic middleground, that’ll offer a foundation for longterm solutions.

Vaclav Smil, a shining example of multidsciplinary expertise, worded this perfectly:

I saw how the university life goes, both in Europe and then in the US. I was at Penn State, and I was just aghast, because everyone was what I call drillers of deeper wells. These academics sit at the bottom of a deep well and they look up and see a sliver of the sky. They know everything about that little sliver of sky and nothing else. I scan all my horizons.

That’s the gist of my rant. We have to start scanning all our horizons. The luxury of sitting at the bottom of a deep well and only seeing a limited part of the sky is over. Leave that to the last two centuries.

When you start to connect the dots, that’s when interesting things start to happen. When seemingly independent branches of science start to show overlaps, because you become better at understanding each one, that’s where the answers to tomorrow’s questions are. When biology, anthropology, chemistry and archaeology have a foursome, they make cute little babies called genetics and evolution. And the advent of them is extremely important for continued survival.

Don’t be that pickpocketer, that’s only aware of one extreme end, although he already has the skillset to go into the other direction as well. You have to bombard your mind with opposing ideas to create awareness. You simply can’t walk around and be thinking, what you’re doing is the only option there is. Regret will hit you hard, when you’re old this way.

So, start reading opposing opinions, in order to define the sustainable balance in between those views.

Then go on and read a lot of diverse things from a huge variety of topics. Life is short. You’ll need to be seeing clearly.

Scan All Your Horizons

The Killing Dynamic

If you’re male, you’ll want to pay close attention.

The following model will either break or make your life in this century. It’s the one denominator and the most important thing a man can understand.

The male population has turned into a bunch of grown-up boys still looking for play, entertainment and distraction. Yes, many of them support families, but that’s owed to mainstream social pressure and not the individual man’s understanding of his life’s path.

Jobs turn into competition opportunities, fulfilment is found in possessions and conquering.

If I can’t look inside to find out who I am, I have to search outside. The reflection in the mirror becomes more important than the one in front of it.

Competition, conquering, aggressiveness are all part of the male psyche and not bad in itself. They turn toxic though, when the man as a host for acting out those energies remains a boy.

And the one thing allowing you to determine whether someone is a man or still a boy, is the amount of self-pity he carries.

Self-pity is the most toxic emotion to male growth.

Feeling sorry for yourself is The Killing Dynamic.

What’s your life situation right now? Poor or rich? Ressources or no ressources? First world or third world? Girlfriend(s) or single? Potent or impotent? Responsible or in blame of others? Satisfied or unsatisfied?

The way a man responds to the things he perceives as painful struggle destines his greatness.

The world these days is packed with opportunities. We live in golden times that mankind hasn’t seen before. You can leave the house and don’t have to fear threats to your existence, that were very real to the vast majority of your ancestors. It’s called civilization. We have built safe bubbles around almost everything. And as a consequence men don’t hustle anymore, because when they were little there was no hunger cultivated. It was given to them and so when it’s not given anymore, they don’t understand and feel impotent and cry/blame/yell.

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

— D. H. Lawrence

What is it that you struggle with? What lies are maintained? Which concrete walls around you aren’t real?

This is not meant as a “Toughen up, soldier!” talk. It’d be wrong to take this as a lesson that men have to sacrifice. That’s not what’s going on. You don’t have to sacrifice. At least not within the paradigm that makes you feel sorry for yourself. Later on in your development you’ll have to give your gift to the world regardless whether it will be appreciated or not. That’s the only form of sacrifice you’ll encounter.

This is a lesson in becoming responsible and proactively reaching out for one’s life purpose. Being willing to respond to the moment as it is without inner resistance and mental pictures of idealized comparisons. Taking life for what it is, not for what it should be.

It’s a lesson in acknowledging the unbelievable complexity and randomness of the world without judging. Noone is out to get you. Shit just happens. Again and again.

Life is so short, it’s simply a waste of time to be sitting at home and drowning in self-pity.

The boy feels sorry for his situation, the man doesn’t.
The boy has no concept of change and self-empowering. The man has given up an idealized vision of the world and himself and thereby rediscovered his potence.

It’s because the boy is still small and insecure, that he takes himself so serious. He wants to get acknowledged and be seen. He doesn’t realize that the only thing that can be acknowledged is the bizarre humor contained in one’s life situation.

And with humor comes gratitude. So many people had it worse and so many people didn’t even get a chance. You don’t have to compare yourself to Obama or Bond, but you can look in the mirror and know what has to be done to make you move forward in an instant. Begin with a tiny step today.

See, we have created a system of cancerous growth and production. And this is not a judgment about the system. The kind of growth economies indulge in today is just a technology fueled manifestation of assessment tendencies in the human brain. We are prone to threats and like to surround ourselves with things to feel safer. Plus we like bargains. It is what it is. But be aware, that a system driven by production and consumption doesn’t want you to step up and take responsibility. It teaches you helplessness and reliance on authority from early on, so that you keep sitting on your couch and keep consuming what is being offered. It doesn’t want you to think for yourself.

Being responsible, being proactive, being decisive, resting in your core as a man and being willing to face without judgment whatever the moment in front of you has to offer…that’s the antidote to self-pity, the crippling emotion.

It’s a mix of mental non-resistance and physical resilience. They go hand in hand like yin and yang, reinforcing each other.

Mental non-resistance is achieved by meditation, presence and constant exposure to ever sharper models of thinking and interpreting the world. Models like Stephen Covey’s 7 habits.

Physical resilience is achieved by regular exercise, good nutrition, restful sleep, a healthy sex and social life and an understanding of the universal law of contraction and expansion.

As men we have bodies that ejaculate and then want to rest, thinking the job is done. Peace. Finally. “I just want to close my eyes and rest a little.” This metaphor doesn’t work in the real world. Wanting to rest creates resistance to what really is. There world is too big, multi-dimensional, coincidental and complex to allow you to rest. There will always be another thing until you die. You spent years of your life thinking what it will be like once school is finished, only to find out another thing is right around the corner demanding your attention. It goes on and on until you do your last breath.

The recurrent habituated resistance of not rolling with the waves eventually creates self-pity and all of a sudden you turn into Job experiencing the world as one orchestra working against you.

The feeling of having arrived is like a pre-sensor for self-pity to come.

Don’t fall victim to The Killing Dynamic.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Once you feel sorry for yourself, that self-pity brings it brothers and sisters along: impotence, helplessness, laziness, procrastination, narcissism, distraction, over-stimulation and boredom. They infiltrate your head with convincing arguments and next thing you know, you’re in a wheelchair in some nursery home, your body is aching, your vision is blurry, your dick is limp and the food tastes terrible.

Don’t fall victim to The Killing Dynamic. Not because you’re a soldier able to sacrifice, but simply because it’s a waste of time and you have to make space for some urgency to give your gift to the world before you die.

Learn the art of being bent by reality! Most people out there try to take the other route and want to bend reality without changing themselves. They create words like Burnout, which essentially is just a socially accepted phrasing for Depression, and think it’s ok if there is no guilt reflected back. It’s lieing to oneself and withdrawing from responsibility. It won’t work out in the long-term.

Never feel sorry for yourself again! Laugh it off and be grateful!

Good luck, buddy!

The Killing Dynamic

Weekend Links #2

The man who can make up his mind quick, makes up other people’s minds for them. Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clear and straight and lays bare the fat and the lean; indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.

By John Graham. Quote found via Ryan Holiday

 

 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a big, big proponent of audiobooks and the importance of constant “success self-hypnotization” and “use of transit-times” and immersion. If audiobooks or the preferrable Audible subscription are too expensive for you, you might want to consider podcasts. Here are some that I listen to:

Don’t consider these things news-shows, infotainment or disguised advertising and only listen to the newest episodes. I usually go back to Episode 1 and work my way through. This way you get an audiobook for free, because each of those podcasts has some sort of their own major theme that they keep rambling on.

 

Enjoy!

Weekend Links #2

Weekend Links #1

New section on the blog – some links, some quotes and some words to keep the mind fueled.

Quote of the week:

The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity.
Seth Godin

 

Enjoy!

Weekend Links #1

[Quick thought] Challenge forward

In 1948, a 30 year old fellow named Jean-Marie Loret somewhere in France was told by his dieing mother, that his father was Hitler.

The Hitler.

Boom.

Quite a shocker.

His mother had an affair with an unknown German soldier during World War I in a region where young Hitler was serving his country at the time. It made sense. Somehow. Sort of.

On a superficial level.

So, Loret bought into that thought of his mother and went on a rationalization spree coming up with the wildest narratives how and when Hitler personally influenced Loret’s life and guided him from the shadows. He was supported in that claim by one German historian that took Loret on lectures and tried to make him travel the world. Both made the news everywhere in the late 70s.

Loret then published an autobiography reaffirming the claim, that he is indeed Hitler’s son.

He even went so far and grew the socially outlawed mustache.

In 1985 Loret died. The controversy regarding his father remained unsolved.

Two decades later, in 2008, there finally surfaced some evidence that the fatherhood was unlikely and/or impossible.

Go check out Youtube or Wikpedia for a better explanation of this poor guy’s life and then imagine yourself being in the shoes of Loret.

One single thought fucked up this fella’s life royally.

And I don’t even care, whether that whole conspiracy was true or not. It doesn’t matter.

The point of this post is this:

WE ALL HAVE SUCH A THOUGHT IN OUR HEADS THAT MESSES US UP.

What is your version of “My father is Hitler”?

What is your overarching belief that is utterly wrong and ridiculous, but to you it feels real like gravity?

I am glad we move into an age of more and more technologization. Despite common belief technology is a blessing. DNA testing could have changed Loret’s life within weeks. But the technology wasn’t around at the time.

What if in the next 100 years technologies will be invented, that could solve YOUR current issues in seconds and do to your own personal dilemma what DNA testing could have done to Loret’s?

Well, it’s funny to think about, but they aren’t around yet.

So, you have to go with what you’ve got.

You have to go with you.

Thoughts are superficial and repetitive. Most of what’s going on inside your head every day was created by arbitrary influences and got dragged along by coincidence. It’s crazy and worth a hundred posts of its own.

For this quick thought today understand that challenging your beliefs is mandatory in the 21st century.

No upbringing is complete. People, although well-intentioned, mess things up. Including you. You were messed up by someone at some point and you messed someone else up somewhere at some point. So when you’re legally an adult, there are still many maps inside your head used to navigate this world, that are inefficient, useless and even harmful.

It is what it is. The 20th century was the last century of its kind that allowed black-and-white-thinkers to thrive. That’s over. Progress is cyclical and sustainability is only found in balance.

Don’t question yourself to a degree that you don’t function properly anymore. Stay self-beneficial or grow beyond thinking altogether.

The 21st century is the century of the holistic thinker, of the empathic thinker, of the big-picture-thinker, of the win-win-thinker, of the sustainable-balance-thinker. There is no tolerance in ressources anymore to allow for extreme measures one way or the other.

The same is true for your own beliefs about the world. The extreme ones have to go. What I call “negative extreme” Stephen Covey calls lose-win. What I call “positive extreme” Stephen Covey calls win-lose. What I call “sustainable balance” Stephen Covey calls win-win and Nassim Taleb calls “Antifragility”. What Taleb calls “fragility”, Covey calls lose-lose. I haven’t invented those ideas. I just remix them to put a different light onto them.

If your thoughts and beliefs about the world are win-lose, lose-win or lose-lose, you’re in trouble.

Challenge those beliefs forward, until they turn win-win. Create upwards spirals of routines and habits, that help you to move forward. The further we move into this century, the less tolerance there will be for extremes in thinking.

That’s why I called this body of thought “progretarian”.

Constant progress is at the core of it.

Are you an atheist? Are you deeply religious and/or spiritual? Well, both of these are extremes and each extreme serves its purpose. But no extreme is here to stay. The truth is in between. Extremes are relative, not absolute. They are dual in nature and don’t make sense on its own.
Atheism serves the purpose of rationality and empirical logic, religion serves the purpose of morally binding groups together in hostile environments, so that likeliness of survival increases. Both are valid options in certain environments. But as the world gets more and more global, there is only one environment left. And this calls for a third way. This calls for a new breed of thinkers in the middle, able to juggle both opposing ideologies and take the beneficial things without judging.

Challenge yourself forward.

[Quick thought] Challenge forward

Common Themes and Emerging Patterns

The following is something I have been doing for the last years now each January.

It’s become a valued habit of mine to look back at the past year and sort of pin down some of the recurring topics, that I believe will become even more relevant in the years to come. The headline of this post also could have been: “Common themes we saw first in the last years, that will keep getting more and more important/influential within the next decades.”

It’s good to have stumbled upon those patterns already and have some heightened awareness, when they’ll eventually become more urgent in the near future. Perhaps they won’t, I’m not predicting any specific future here, I’m just trying to make a semi-educated guess and with the understanding of “preparation is key” in the back of our minds, it doesn’t hurt anyway to have had a glance already.

One of the huge benefits of multi-disciplinary expertise is that the synergies created help to expose patterns. As I’ve been saying before, in order to navigate through this world with ease, you need detailed maps of that very world and the ability to improvise and trust your inner voice, once the maps are wrong. This is just a different phrasing for ying and yang, outer game and inner game. Detailed maps are gained by reading a lot of different, difficult stuff from a broad variety of topics daily. It’s bulk loading your mind with theory. The ability to improvise and trust your inner voice is learned by pro-actively engaging in life and the insecurities that come along. It’s constantly being in a massive action-taker frame of mind. One is useless without the other.

So, this post today is about enriching your maps with more detail to help you navigate the world in a more efficient way.

 

Common Theme #1: Culture of Hate

Hate has become a problem in the western world, because it has become a socially accepted mindset. And as a mindset it has become the default response towards anything “not us” and anything unfamiliar. It’s a protective coping mechanism rooted in the desire to make the world LESS complex, so that a very simple map is sufficient to navigate it somehow. If my opponent is a douchebag, it’s pretty easy to neglect his opinion and focus on things I believe already. But if my opponent is an equally complex human being, that used similar, analog rationality to come to his conclusions, I’m only left with the option to at least consider his opinions on a content based level or else I turn into a douchebag myself.

In order to understand his standpoint, I have to exert mental energy, because his conclusions go against my own established beliefs and questioning those creates cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is preferably avoided by most people. It’s stressful. It messes with a deep internal desire (slightly more dominant in males) to bring things to an end. And that’s exactly where the root cause for our hate culture is. People haven’t acknowledged yet, let alone internalized that the world is an endless stream of nonsensical bullshit. It happens and happens and happens again. “Everything’s gonna be alright” is an illusion told to kids, so that they keep going.

So, if our resistance to an ever-changing world is the inner game, then it’s outer game equivalent is hate. It’s like other lower-consciousness behavior patterns a “defense against change” and avoidance of cognitive dissonance.

What’s interesting about this is that cognitive dissonance is only a problem, as long as energy ressources are scarce. Within a hostile environment every opinion differing from my own is a threat to survival. If we were to go back a few 100.000 years, I’d say there are good reasons for hostility expressed via hate and everything it brings along. From tribal competition, differing survival strategies, genepool variety, environmental adaptability as a race to group bonding, group compliance and sacrifice…the list goes on and that’s likely why it’s still prevalent as an emotion/mindset/reaction pattern today. But if you go from many little, regional, symmetrical, isolated tribes of 150 people each to one global, asymmetrical, interconnected tribe of 7 billion, things change and advantages can become disadvantages, scarcity becomes abundance.

Regardless whether hate is an engrained ‘heritage’ or not, I believe humans to be extremely adaptive creatures, able to do differently and go against initial impulses, when survival pressure forces humans to.

I didn’t introduce or lead into this hypothesis, because from all the described patterns here hate is the most obvious one. Even fully plugged-in, mainstream guys have  a feeling there’s something brewing here.

Look at the comments of any Youtube-Video. Look at the reactions towards Google changing that very comment-system to force Google+ into it. Over at medium.com, probably the most buzzing blogging platform right now, one blogpost made the first 2 ranks again and again and again and again of the platform’s monthly Top100. I’m aware, that that post is located in Medium’s “Comedy Corner”, but still, have a look at it. It’s basically about mocking some guy being too dumb to know how to make a burrito. Justified hate disguised as humor. And funny enough, most of the responses to that post were filled with hatred, too, angrily asking why that blogger didn’t simply use a fork, to which that blogger then again had to respond with a spiteful update. The vibrational frequency in which that post is written resonates with people. Like a tuning fork. Or look at this Samsung commercial, which parodies what Android users believe to be typical Apple customers. What about Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign? What about paleo VS vegan? Religion VS atheists? Republicans VS Democrats? Obamacare YES/NO? Pepsi or Coca-Cola? What’s your opinion on gay marriage, abortions or gun control? No matter what side you’re on, I can tell that your default reflex is one of hate towards the other side and their stupiditiy. It’s already engrained. I barely touched the surface with my few and random examples.

And it doesn’t even have to be about polar opposites. Look at the way people drive. Do they curse? Do you notice anger and honking horns a lot? Dismissal of one’s own reality/importance/absoluteness generates hate as a means to silence that self-questioning source.

See, from a marketing and branding perspective: HATE is the desired response. It automatically positions you to be in the camp of that which you don’t hate. Give them an enemy and they will gather. Simple. When both camps hate enough, both parties win, because the Third Alternative disappears. Try having a smartphone today that isn’t Apple nor Android. Try having NO smartphone these days. It’s nearly impossible and that’s why brands want you to hate. It’s the easiest way of target demo acquisition, brand loyalty for free on top.

See, because of increasing technologization the world gets more and more addictive. Therefore more and more individual resilience is necessary to counter-act those addicting temptations. And one element of modern day resilience is a nuanced awareness of our prevailing Culture Of Hate and the ways, in which it instrumentalizes people.

Bare in mind, this is not an absolute observation of a deeper truth, but just a cultural tendency of this moment in time. I deeply believe people are good and friendly. I believe wealth and prosperity will increase as mankind marches on. I believe we’re generally prepared to tackle future’s challenges, but right now as technologization gains speed, there happen to be side effects. One of them being the just described “ad personam”-reflex in people to dismiss with ease in order to avoid stressful energy expenditure.

For 2014 I suggest to read the following books:

All 3 books provide a crucial and essential understanding of the fact that different people think in different paradigms of themselves, others and the world relative to their personal stage of development, upbringing, influences and surroundings. There are causal/correlational reasons for each stage and there’s validity in each person’s acting. Stages obviously differ in the degrees to which hostility and hatred are shown or existent as a reaction pattern, but to reflexively go ad hominem and simply dismiss someone as a whole, when that person disagrees with you, won’t work any longer in the coming decades. The foundational paradigm of my “progretarian approach” is the idea, that you become the best version of yourself and then help others to become the best versions of themselves, so that mankind can continue to thrive on this planet. This inherently involves a capacity to not take paradigmatic, narrow, extreme expressions of people’s realities personal and give them guidance to the next stages of healthy being regardless of one’s own petty interests.

With the model of Cyclical Progress in mind, remember that the solution to move forward is always found in a balanced middle. This is why full on empathy is no valid antidote against hate, because it’s just the other extreme. Both are stuck in the same, flawed paradigm.

If you haven’t read it yet, then add Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits if Highly Effective People” to that list, too. It’s, as well, written in a way that tries to shed light on different paradigms of thinking, that vary in their degrees of hostility. The Kindle version is on sale right now, too, so you shouldn’t think twice.

As a proactive exercise try implementing the habit of daily meditation. If you followed my line of thought above, then hate simply is an expression of resistance, whereas the solution to this lies in non-resistance.

 

Common Theme #2: Mental junk food

When market competitors decide to engage in a race to the bottom, the aforementioned “increasing addictiveness of things” is one resulting effect of that. A race to the bottom always leads to a loss of quality, otherwise it’s no race to the bottom. In Europe you can observe this, when you compare the retail company Primark with H&M. Primark is essentially H&M on steroids, which seems to work up to this point, but you simply can’t go cheaper than free. There’s a physical limit in every race to the bottom.

So, in order to keep customers hooked in such a race-to-the-bottom-market, you have to pull a different set of strings and amp up various elements of your product, so that it stays competitive. In terms of food the common tricks are simple. Producers simply change amounts of Salt, Sugar, Fat and naturally grown makes way for factory produced down to the last ingredient. This has turned into a wide-spread epidemic and the food products with the worst salt-sugar-fat-ratios are usually the cheapest. Look at the shelves of your supermarket. A pack of Spaghettis and a Ketchup bottle is the cheapest option by far to feed a family and the surest way to make all of them overweight. The second cheapest option is the fast food takeaway, which makes people just as fat. This obesity epidemic has been going on for quite some years now and I believe we’re close to leaving the negative extreme in  this decade in terms of Cyclical Progress. The whole paleo movement, all those vegans and a massive emphasis on local, organic and sustainable have increased awareness a lot. The notion that there’s a correlation between specific food intake and health is gaining power. It’s not just about the calories and it’s not just about the amount of accompanying workouts anymore. Everything is connected. Food is fuel and which specific fuel you intake governs the quality of energy available to you.

But. There has been a second junk food epidemic going on, secretly infiltrating most people’s daily lives from under the radar. And this epidemic is not about physical junk food you eat, but about mental junk food you consume. 2013 saw the rise of the viral news platform. Buzzfeed and Upworthy are its most prominent examples, that transform shallow and weird content into viral superworms by masterfully playing the social media piano and exploiting people’s emotional hot buttons. Things of no relevance whatsoever get shared the most, simply because they were designed to get shared by a numbed, lower consciousness crowd. Next to those Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are of course well established social media platforms, all able to provide each user with a unique stream of information (I don’t dare to call it News) catered exactly to his needs, search queries and brands he likes. On top of that, Google and Facebook introduced social graphs and edge ranks which potentially cut a user off from digital information research outside the boundaries of his social circle. Mainstream media meanwhile happily plays along as it understands as well the importance of clicks. Things get shortened and shortened to a point where only the headline is left. Everything gets blown up, made more important than it is, everything gets sensationalized and dramatized. Breaking news 24/7. TMZ puts illusionary narratives on top of events for the lower classes to digest. The Internet has morphed into one huge signal-to-noise problem. More and more noise and less and less signal.

Media junk food is a side effect of this. In order to get through to the consumer, increase quality and become a great signal or dumb down and find a common denominator among huge, differing masses. Social media platforms like Vine and Snapchat are born out of this. Do we really need time restraints on videos and picture messaging? No, but Vine without the time restraint is Youtube and Snapchat without the time restraint is just another imessage, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram clone. Those artificial, but deliberate time restraint implementations are a cultural response to the massive, massive amounts of noise people feel they are exposed to. “I don’t have any time, gimme the gist of it!” Facebook started to integrate the like button as a response option in private messaging lately. Why? Emoticons and stickers are a tremendous growth market in any chat platform. Why? Because those give people overwhelmed by noise and exploding inboxes the chance to still reply.

Have you had the realization lately that your life is so busy, movies don’t fit into it any more? Work, hobbies, social circle, family, events, gatherings, after work and gym. I keep hearing this left and right. At least my social circle really doesn’t go to the movies anymore. Who can afford to spend 3 hours at a stretch to watch the next Hobbit sequel? Of course, anyone could, if he just wanted to. It’s an illusion, because the amounts of time available to us have been, are and always will be the same. 24 hours a day. What has been changing drastically are the things occupying the spots available in our calendars. Those become more and more aggressive. So, while people believe there’s no time for the Hobbit anymore, in reality they consume 10-20 hours of Breaking Bad, Dexter and Game of Thrones per season. They consume way more and all that has been reconditioned are the attention spans of the viewer.

So, next to an obesity epidemic regarding our bodies, there’s a simplicity epidemic regarding our minds. Although people are digitally connected like never before, their streams of information are isolated, simplistic and narrow like a hundred years ago. A whole generation becomes conditioned to blown up, sensationalized cat accident videos, perceiving the things in their Instagram and Facebook feeds as real events, interspersed with soundbites from Fox News, collectively activated via push messages. With the heavy shift to mobile, we currently live in a single important screen world. Whatever app is active at the moment, dictates what we are exposed to and thereby consume. This explains why Twitter launched Vine and Instagram gets additional features every 8 weeks.  On top of that Google Glass is just around the corner, about to open up whole, new arenas of occupying our attention.

The emphasis is on short and sensational. That is what gets through.

Porn is the lowest form of mental junk food in this understanding. I don’t want to judge the first generation in history with broadband internet and FullHD cameras. It’s fully fine with me and if you enjoy rubbing one out, go for it. It’s mental junk food nonetheless, because it’s usually a substitute. Noone actually wants to sit in front of a screen and please himself, while mentally agreeing to the rules of the plot presented. Yes, sometimes it’s just letting off steam and again, it’s fine with me, but I still consider it junk for the brain, because it quietly and slowly shuts off the impulses that make you go for what you really want: real women.

“Short” and “sensational” are harmful implications for any society in the digital age, because it threatens the weaker individuals and robs them of possibilities to better themselves on their own. What is a kid today supposed to do? What if Facebook, Snapchat, Coca-Cola and Upworthy help not to raise the kid, but his mind – partially? What if there’s no sufficient, parental supervision, no educated reflexion on topics, no second layers of information gathering via tribes and libraries, no holistic, overarching thinking patterns, no critical education system creating versatile thinkers? What if the virtually created buzz feels real? What if what’s happening on screen, is perceived to be really happening instead of being orchestrated to provoke emotions and then sell stuff/opinions/agendas/lifestyles attached onto it?

In a world that gets more and more complex, multitudinal, asymmetrical, coincidental and multidimensional, the bar gets raised everyday. More general education is necessary for each individual, not less. The bullet point posts of the Mashables and Lifehackers won’t help you thrive or draw an acurate map of the world rich in detail.

In a way we see a similar evolution of things as we did with spam mails. 10 years ago email spam-filters weren’t up to par and the simpletons of our society fell for the tricks and believed what spam mails told them. Viagra for free, Bahamas and the lottery jackpot. This raised awareness, which then forced resilience on individual and collective levels. When resilience becomes big enough the threat disappears. Nowadays spam mails are mostly a thing of the past. The tricky thing with the news and the ever shortening soundbite are, they are a lot more subtle than spam mails. Once you get an understanding for spam mails, they become a pain in the ass. They are obviouly hostile and you want them to disappear. But who wants funny 6 second Vine videos and a unique Facebook stream full of events from your friends to disappear? Who wants the big, heavy newspaper and not the 140 character tweet?

It doesn’t matter that the few 100 tweets you read each day actually take up more time to read than that big and heavy newspaper would. It’s about perception and people get conditioned to focus on short-sightedness.

For 2014 I suggest a strict, year long news diet.

The idea was first proposed by either Nassim Taleb or Rolf Dobelli. It got popularized by the ladder and was the most shared/saved/seen content across all categories on Pocket this year.

I started my own news diet on Christmas Eve 2012 and never looked back so far. I don’t miss a single thing and I’m not in any disadvantage whatsoever. It’s amazing how little the news matters and is relevant at all. It’s like Dobelli explains in his articles, everything of real importance reaches you through word of mouth, everything else is noise. Try it yourself and experience how many brackets of time are available to you all of a sudden. It was the best thing I stuck with this year. I’m calmer, I have more time to read books and am generally more interested to engage, because I tend to cut off news chatter with friends and instead ask about their lives. I missed all natural disasters, all terrorist attacks, all political scandals and all breaking news this year and I’m totally fine. Check the links above and give it a try. A one year social experiment is no big deal. You can still skip early or return to news consumption as you please. At least you have to tell a nice story later on about the year where you personally boycotted the media.

In addition to this I want you to check out

It’s crucial to deeply internalize that you are not some third party beneficiary of the news. You are the target demo. The news is not there to educate you, but to hook you by design, so that you lose yourself emotionally in some narrative and then indulge in buying the advertised things. Of course this is very black and white and there is no conspiracy going on. An educated person can read between the lines and tell right from wrong, reality from theater. But it’s just as black and white to assume the opposite and perceive news outlets as well intentioned distributors of neutral information. Journalists write stuff to sell it.

 

Common Theme #3: The “I don’t understand”-Dilemma

The formation of the Internet forced a global information-revolution and created many, many new forms of jobs that weren’t in existence before. This is great, important and necessary. One side effect of rapid technological advancements though is what I call “the discomfort of tomorrow”. When new technologies emerge, they disrupt the status quo and tend to replace a certain low-level set of human workforce. The ones with the linear tasks. The assembly line workers. The cashiers, tellers and cab drivers. As I’ve been saying before, the more repetitive a job is, the more likely it is that a machine will do it in the next years. This again, is an expression of a cultural, socio-economical shift we’re experiencing called race to the extremes, or in Seth Godin’s words: race to the bottom and race to the top.

The iPhone as a device is only about 6 years old. We’re really just seeing the tip of the Iceberg so far.

The demand for excellence and the demand for dirt cheap will keep growing exponentially and when your only two options left are either up or down, this rush creates a vacuum in the middle of society. It polarizes things.  Society doesn’t need a pizza boy anymore. A drone can do that job without demanding holidays. Bye bye, pizza boy! But we do need some engineers to build that drone. Welcome, engineers!

It’s an obvious equation. Sort of. A 100 years ago, society promised you to be better off than your ancestors simply by you following the rules in front of you. Go to school, get a degree, marry young, pay your taxes, don’t make a ruckus, settle in suburbia, buy a car, obey to authorities, spend evenings in front of TV, vote for the person media approves of, get your things from the super market and go on vacation twice a year. The Henry Fords of the time created such an economic surplus that an average person with average effort could make a decent living. The social contract that provided our fathers and grandfathers with such a decent life is long gone though and its echo is still here. That’s why people are irritated and confused. Society is still run by this plot of obedience, conformism and trust in group think.

We go to school and trust the system. We go to college and trust the system. We get a degree and trust the system. We marry and trust the system. We buy and pile up credit, while trusting the system. We want to own property, because we trust the system.

When things go wrong, there’s an amazing dumbfoundedness. “I don’t understand.”

“Why? What? Huh?”

People get laid off and they never saw it coming. People get sick and can’t pay for treatment and they never saw it coming. Banks want their money back and people never saw it coming. People get diabetes and never saw it coming. They go broke and there’s no concept of turning it around. Shit happens and people never saw it coming.

It’s not that most folks are not engaged. They revolt and occupy Wall Street, they march and write petitions, but once the sea saw of power tilts in their direction there is no concept of what to do from then on. “I don’t understand. We did what we were told. Why don’t things turn out for the better?” Look at all the revolutions and civil wars in the Arabian world and Eastern Europe. The despots got thrown over for the most parts, but what changed afterwards in those countries? What will likely happen in Ukraine after the current protests? What about “Occupy Wall Street”?

This is not a question of intelligence, but rather one of shortsightedness. The system we have created over the last centuries still molds most of the people into worker bees, while what we actually need are queen bees taking charge of difficult decisions and embracing to stand out from the masses. The unsatisfied masses making up Occupy Wall Street graduated from a “school of life” that simply did not prepare them to come with concepts, when things change out of the blue. Disagreement only gets you so far.

Do you know anyone who got a degree and wasn’t able to enter the job market? Do you know anyone who moved back in with their parents? Do you know any people who left the country and are now 4-hour-work-week bloggers based in Singapore, Thailand or Argentina? Do you know any people who have to juggle multiple jobs to keep up? Do you know of any families where dad as well as mom have to work full time jobs?

Technology shapes us, because it’s essentially an extension of us. And this shaping process gains more and more momentum. So it’s not that society is bad, the world is hostile and politicians want to exploit the little man. The rules given to you by family, teachers, authorities and culture are well-intentioned. They used to be true in the 60s, but today they are completely and utterly out of date.

Things change and this is simply a lesson in adjustment. Learn to go with the waves. Again, because energy available via food has been a scarce resource for most of mankind’s history, the human brain tends to look for short cuts to not waste that precious energy. We learn XYZ and then zone out, going into autopilot from then on. Whenever anything remotely similar to XYZ pops up, we respond with the standard routine. That’s why for most people work is extremely boring and the only times they really feel alive is on vacation, because there’s no autopilot script to fall back onto. At least for the first few times, because most people tend to visit the same place each year again.

“Once I have a map, I follow those guidelines. Period.”

It’s understandable and it got our parents through the 20th century, but it won’t do for the 21st century. We’re like horses returning to the same water sources over and over, because they nourished us in the past. The sources are elsewhere now and so we have to roll with that.

Within the next decades more people than ever before will thrive. But not because they show up at 9am, perform linear routine task they are told to do and leave at 5pm. Those were the leisure 40s and 50s. That’s over. People will thrive, because they put in the effort necessary. People will thrive, because they get their world view in alignment with what’s actually going on. People will thrive, because they go against the status quo and embrace their own, innate weirdness. People will thrive, because they understand there’s a responsibility renaissance taking place. Risks and rewards are not in some corporation’s hands anymore, but back in your own. This new social contract only works with the strict commitment to keep the maps sharp and accurate and have them challenged daily with real world feedback.

It’s crippling to see people get caught in the trap of short-sightedness and fall victim to outdated trust in the system. “I don’t understand…!” has become so common and at the same time so easy to avoid. The tools to connect, accumulate and actualize are all there. All it takes is an understanding that every man is responsible for himself. No signing of an employment contract, no vote, no kind of money, noone else will change this.

For 2014 I suggest to read

Internalize that just like a piece of software you need regular updates to keep functioning properly. Education and learning don’t end, when you leave college. It’s not about knowing more than the next person or knowing something first to have an advantage. It’s about carving out your own unique path with as much detail-rich information as possible. Of course, noone can read or understand it all. That’s why humans cooperate.

But for the path ahead of you, you need to do more than your ancestors had to do at similar stages in their lives. Which is fine, because you’ll get rewarded more as well.

 

Common Theme #4: Male Impotence

Male impotence is why divorce transformed from a safety net into a game plan. It’s why Americans decided twice to have a black President for the first time in history. It’s why the Big Bang Theory is popular. It’s why Internet Porn is exploding. It’s why feminism seems to be necessary. It’s why James Dean wouldn’t resonate with people today, but some androgynous guy in Twilight does. It’s why the media mocks the symbol of “the father” in ads. It’s why Christianity and Judaism are in decline in the first world. It’s why CEOs are perceived as greedy manipulators. It’s why corporations aren’t viewed as super organisms that create excess value for host nations, but as parasite fraternities on steroids. It’s why women consider to become cops and men consider to become elementary teachers. It’s why children and teenagers have an easier time to hate on dad, instead of mom.

We’re at the crossroads historically. There is no guarantee that we survive as a race. Climate change, exploitation of ressources, pollution, over population, wars, super bacteria, cancer, Aids, toxic chemicals in fabrics and goods, nuclear energy, solar colonization. And everything’s powered by constantly evolving technology. You can spend a few lifetimes trying to tackle only one of those urgent issues. The advent of all of those combined makes up for a package to huge too ignore. And I don’t mean to be conspiratorial. Mankind always had to face nearly impossible challenges from ice ages to famines to Black Death. The only difference this time is that we have built channels of communication and cooperation that allow us to speak with one voice and act as one swarm. The swords in our arsenal are sharpened enough to slay the dragon on the horizon.

And that’s the core irony of it all. The weapon is available. The enemy is in sight. The tower is built to ring the bell and warn your fellows.

But noone showed up so far. Noone raised his hand yet and yelled “Let’s do this! I’m up for it!”. And it doesn’t have to be nor won’t be a single person. I’m talking about a rise of awareness in the collective mind of mankind, so that a snowball becomes an avalanche over time.

Like a pendulum young guys in the first world go from nihilism and boredom back to over-stimulation and excess. It’s an excuse to think there are no battles to be fought. The challenges are there. Plenty of them. But somehow we have created bubbles, virtual worlds and microcosms, that allow young men to opt out and proclaim “Not me! I’m good.”

See, the human penis is a device that HAS to get hard at times to do its job. It HAS to penetrate and enter foreign territory. It HAS to shoot its gift out there, without knowing whether there’ll be a reward down the line. It HAS to do this over and over again. The analogy is obvious. It’s true for male behavior in general as well, not only for intercourse with eventual reproductive success. Call this destiny, if you will. This is what men have to do: get hard, when needed, enter the darkness and give their gift again and again without the desire of geting something return.

That’s the core dilemma. Men do get hard, but not to leave a dynasty behind. They do it for their own benefit and enjoyment. They do penetrate, but not on nature’s terms, on their own. And they give, only to receive.

In a way, one of my foundational mantras “1st half of life = ME-focus / 2nd half of life = YOU-focus” is a diplomatic remix of that.

We’re experiencing a cultural vacuum of men not taking responsibility in the first world. It’s as if the whole country is alive and running, but its king has been asleep for years. People get by and keep doing what they’ve always done, but somehow there’s no real progress.

“What’s in it for me?” is probably the most destructive mindset out there today. Humans are not designed to move as a selfless swarm. We’re designed as individuals with different skills and abilities to combine them and to have adaptability in whom we choose as a leader. Different leaders are necessary for different times. I’m not nostalgic about socialism or communism or other utopian/dystopian visions. I want people to have everything they want AND even more. Only free markets provide appropriate incentives to growth. All I’m saying is: have a long term vision that’s greater than yourself, that doesn’t end with your own petty needs.

Male impotence is tightly knit together with all other patterns discussed above. It’s the key epidemic. If you solve male impotence, you solve the other issues along the line. Hate is a luxury of the weak. Leadership and responsibility only work long term with moderate mindsets, not with extreme ones. Mental junk food is a fill-in for people, not doing what they should be doing. And short-sightedness is a mindset rooted in long-term evasion of taking charge for oneself and one’s tribe(s).

Men have to re-learn that most of their work won’t be acknowledged by neither other men, nor women, nor their bosses, nor their paychecks, nor the world. It will be acknowledged, when the man being responsible for an effort is long gone and mankind survived and is still there.

For 2014 I suggest to learn the art of potency in terms with women

There is more to being a man than the “interacting with women” part, but I want to cover this in painful detail in future posts.

I know, I sound dark from time to time. I don’t mean to. I believe in people and I believe in  a great future for more people than ever before. But I also believe in change. That’s why I’ve chosen to write publicly. and in order to change for the better, we have to face and address what’s going on.

You don’t have to run for office tomorrow. You don’t have to cure cancer the day after tomorrow. Just focus on making yourself strong and becoming the best version of yourself you can possibly be. So when it’s time, you can give your gift to the world with a smile and don’t have to back out and say “Sorrrry! I’m too fat/dumb/lazy/uneducated/blurry/pathetic.”

Remember, “preparation is key.”

That’s it.

No, wait…two more things:

First, don’t tell me you skimmed over this post. Reading is fun. If I can write this up in one sitting while on a train, you can read it.

Second, if you only read two books out of all those recommendations make them Tyler Cowen’s “Average is over” and Rollo Tomassi’s “The Rational Male”.

Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of highly effective people” doesn’t even count. I just expect you have read it a few times. It’s one of the building blocks of this blog.

Lastly, this is not an absolute list, but simply a write up of the things I perceive to be urgent at this moment in time. I’ll add to it in the future and expand various themes. For now, 2 weeks into 2014, it’s a good start.

Thanks for reading!

Common Themes and Emerging Patterns