A couple weeks ago I turned 30. Leading up to my birthday I wrote a post on what I learned in my 20s. But I did something else. I sent an email out to my subscribers (subscribe here) and asked readers age 37 and older what advice they would give their 30-year-old selves.
Hey, guess what? I got married two weeks ago. And like most people, I asked some of the older and wiser folks around me for a couple quick words of relationship advice from their own marriages to make sure my wife and I didn’t shit the (same) bed.
In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And those fucks I have not given have made all the difference. People often say the key to confidence and success in life is to simply “not give a fuck.
One day, when my brother was 18, he waltzed into the living room and proudly announced to my mother and me that one day he was going to be a senator. My mom probably gave him the “That’s nice, dear,” treatment while I’m sure I was distracted by a bowl of Cheerios or something.
Imagine this: you’re a kid again, and you want to sell lemonade in your neighborhood. So you set up your little lemonade stand with your cardboard sign written in crayon and get to work. The first day, one person comes and buys some lemonade. Then the second day, two people come.
Depending on your perspective, Immanuel Kant was either the most boring person on the planet or a productivity hacker’s wet dream. For over 40 years, he woke up every morning at 5:00 AM and wrote for exactly three hours. He would then lecture at the same university for exactly four hours.
Think about this for a moment: Why would you ever choose to be with someone who is not excited to be with you? There’s a grey area in dating many people get hung up on — a grey area where feelings are ambiguous or one person has stronger feelings than the other.
You can’t change yourself, so don’t even try. I know that’s not what the infomercials and self-help seminars tell you. But fuck it. They’re wrong. You can’t change. Like a thirsty man in a desert chasing a mirage, or a fat man peering into an empty fridge—there’s nothing there.
In the past year, despite hundreds of people asking me, I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to avoid all temptation to write an article about Donald Trump or the slow motion, 20-car pileup that is this year’s US presidential election. Until now.
In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day.
Self-awareness is like great sex: everyone thinks they have a ton of it, but in reality no one knows what the fuck they’re doing. The fact is that the majority of our thoughts and actions are on autopilot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.
I have something important to tell you. Something really important. I’m talking about life-changing, paradigm-shifting, plane-of-reality-transcending, poop-your-pants-and-call-your-mother important. But I don’t feel like writing it down right now.
When I was like four years old, despite my mother warning me not to, I put my finger on a hot stove. The stove was red and bright and shiny and I knew yummy food came from it, so the allure was irresistible. That day I learned an important lesson: really hot things suck. They burn you.
One day, when I’m a multi-billionaire, I’m going to buy a massive plot of land out in the frigid wasteland of the northern Yukon and build a vast complex of unnecessarily poorly-designed buildings. There will be no roads that lead there. No utilities. No central heating.
There’s no class in high school on how to not be a shitty boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, they teach us the biology of sex, the legality of marriage, and maybe we read a few obscure love stories from the 19th century on how not to be.
On my 20th birthday, I got drunk and peed on some old ladies’ front lawn. A cop saw me and stopped me. Fortunately, I talked my way out of going to jail that night. I already had an arrest record, but he didn’t bother to check. My 20s started out with a bang. At the time, I was aimless.
First Fact: At some point during evolution between plankton and Bon Jovi, apes evolved the ability to become emotionally attached to one another.
If you have to try to be cool, you will never be cool. If you have to try to be happy, then you will never be happy. Maybe the problem these days is people are just trying too hard. Happiness, like other emotions, is not something you obtain, but rather something you inhabit.
About six months ago, I wrote a post titled 6 Toxic Habits that Most People Think Are Normal. It became very successful.
I‘ve been working with self development advice for a large percentage of my life. I’ve come across a lot of concepts and ideas as well as invented quite a few of my own. But the following is one of the most important ideas I’ve stumbled across in my life:
If you’re a human and you have a brain, then you probably like using your brain. And if you like using your brain, then you love having those epiphany moments where your hair blows back and you go “Whoa” like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix when he learns Kung Fu from a USB drive in his neck.
Remember that part in the movie Titanic where those two guys are shivering in the middle of the night and they see the iceberg and they freak out and call the lieutenant and yell, “OMG, iceberg, dead ahead!” and the lieutenant freaks out and swings the steering wheel all the way to one side and
Look, I know you think the fact you feel upset or angry or anxious is important. That it matters. Hell, you probably think that because you feel like your face just got shat on makes you important. But it doesn’t. Feelings are just these… things that happen.
Note: This is the second article in a series about gender and equality. The first one is called What’s the Problem with Men? In it, I discuss a lot of the unhealthy cultural forces that lead men to oppress women (as well as damage themselves).
Almost five years ago today, my apartment lease expired, I shipped a few boxes to my mom’s house, packed a suitcase to (hopefully) last me a few months, and took off across the Atlantic. I had less than $1,000 in my bank account.
I saw a story on Facebook the other day. Like most stories that get passed around Facebook, it’s probably only 38% true and written by a 16-year-old. But regardless, I found it cool, and at the very least, thought-provoking. It was about a man named Mohammed El-Erian.
Years ago, I knew one of those guys who seemed to always be happy and excited. He was always just that bundle of warm fuzzies. First to give you a hug. Always happy to see you. Complimented you about things that had no business being complimented. We’ll call him ‘Jon.’
“We’re all going to die, all of us. What a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.” Yes, we’re all going to die. You and me and everyone else.
There’s a paradox that is stumping psychologists right now and it’s this: Over the past 50 years, despite the standard of living rising dramatically in the western world, happiness has stayed level, while mental illnesses, anxiety disorders, narcissism, and depression have all gone up.
It means that everything has a cost, even if that cost is not always immediately apparent. To achieve anything, you must give up something else. In today’s happiness-obsessed culture, most pursue just the opposite: we want to know how to be happy with no costs, all benefits.
Think of something in your life that you’ve wanted to accomplish but haven’t. Something deep down. Whether it’s because you haven’t gotten around to it, are too timid to go for it, or you took a shot and failed spectacularly. Conjure up in your mind that big failure of your life.
Four years ago on a sunny April morning, I slinked into my new office building, suit slightly too big, 24-years-old and clueless. It was my first day working at a large, prestigious bank in downtown Boston. The first day of the career that would ostensibly define the rest of my life.
You know the question. It’s the ultimate question. The question that you and I and everyone has laid awake at night thinking about. The question that brings equal parts wonder and terror to our feeble minds. Why are we here? What is the point of it all? What is the meaning of life?
Imagine you have a brother and he’s an alcoholic. He has his moments, but you keep your distance from him. You don’t mind him for the occasional family gathering or holiday. You still love him. But you don’t want to be around him.
In the early 1980s, a talented young guitarist was kicked out of his band. The band had just been signed to their first record contract, and they were preparing to record their first album. A week before recording began, they fired the guitarist. There was no warning, no discussion.
It’s that time of year again, where we’re all socially pressured into spending an inordinate amount of time around people that we’ve kinda-sorta known our whole lives, but who also drive us insane and make us feel like there’s no point to it all.
There are enough articles on this site to fill two books, so it can sometimes be daunting to know where to start. Below are what many consider to be my “greatest hits,” the articles that have been the most popular, the most shared, or had the greatest effect on readers’ lives.
Eighty years ago, researchers began one of the longest and most complicated projects to understand human behavior in history. It would take almost 50 years to complete. But their work would define an entire field of psychology.
How are you supposed to be confident about something when you have nothing to feel confident about?
Five hundred years ago cartographers believed California was an island. Doctors believed that slicing your arm open and bleeding everywhere could cure disease. Scientists believed fire was made out of something called phlogiston.
Hello there, friend. What’s that I hear? You’re pissed off at someone? Someone is pissed off at you? You have a fight in your life and you don’t know what to do? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
I used to have this problem. It was almost like an addiction. Except I wasn’t actually consuming something — rather, it was like an addiction of wanting to consume things that I couldn’t. I’m not proud of this problem. In fact, I used to hide it from family and friends.
We all have needs, both physical and emotional. And we all need to consistently fulfill those needs. Just as you never eat enough to last you forever, you never love enough to last you forever, or do something important enough to last you forever.
Depression blows. Anxiety isn’t any fun either.
There’s a fundamental assumption a lot of us make about sex that often causes a lot of skewed perceptions about why we’re not getting the sex/love we want. Men have a tendency to make the assumption that sex itself is a need, regardless of who (or what) it comes from.
Genghis Khan married his wife when he was 16 and together they had four kids. Today, geneticists estimate that 16 million men in Asia (that’s 1 out of every 200) are direct descendants of Khan. Now, I’m not saying Khan cheated on his wife or anything. After all, I wasn’t there.
You probably thought I was going to start this list off with something cute and cliche like, “Stop caring what people think about you,” right? Well, fuck that. Let’s offend some people.