And that’s stuff’s great. It’s toadly awesome. Go for it.
But I think that lost in the fog of good advice and good intentions is the fact that, all of us, every single one of us, already does something right, does something well.
We often look for success outside ourselves, as if it weren’t a part of us already. But looking back at the things I’ve made work, one of the things that worked best was to look inside myself. I’m not gonna be one of these hippies who tells you to never read another book again and don’t listen to other people. I think that’s naïve and a little self-contradictory given that we would never have found any of their advice if we weren’t reading books. Kind of like when Tim Ferriss recommended reading less in 4HWW (an amazing book and Tim is one of my life heroes; he’s one of the few people in the world with the courage to call a spade a spade and do so in a book while quoting effing Seneca…how boss is that? 2 He’s changed my life…ssshh…don’t tell him I said nice things about him, though; it would make things awkward between us), I was like: “Dewd, are you kidding?”.
So, my tip for you today is to look inside yourself. It is very well and very good to look outside as well, but I think that, often enough, implicit in this eccentric, exophilic, other-centered action is a total rejection of who we are and were. And that can’t be good. I mean, there’s being “素直” 3 i.e. open to new ideas, and then there’s thinking you’re an incorrigible pile of compost. Facebook photos and other outward appearances notwithstanding, I think most people are on the compost side; most people think very little of themselves and this very thought impedes their progress. Or maybe I’ve been in Japan too long and I’m just surrounded by pretty girls who think they’re ugly 4, I dunno…I do know that I like the “surrounded by pretty girls” part of that sentence; it’s a nice take-home image.
Certainly I looked outside myself for a lot for figuring out how to get used to Japanese. I mean, I googled hard…or whatever search engines I was using at the time…can’t have been Altavista…it’s weird…all I remember is using Google once and then never looking back. But I also looked inside. I looked at my childhood and what I had liked. I looked at what made me happy and what came easily to me (playing with computers, watching cartoons; I am a genius at watching cartoons…oh, and sitting on couches; if sitting on couches were an artform 5, my black belt would have so much gravity that light and other black belts could not escape it). I looked at what I could, would and was doing right and consistently already. And then I just expanded it: I blew it up like a balloon. I knew I could learn one word right, so the SRS was just a tool to repeat that process.
Basically, all I did was industrialize the good things I was already doing. 6 I mass–produced them. It’s like when you tell a girl a joke and she likes it so you keep telling the same joke over and over and over again. It always works. Haha. No, but…I bet you’re worried that “oh, no, I can’t just do more of…”. Sure you can. It’ll work. Think of yourself as being full of seeds 7. And you take one of those seeds and you water and fertilize the heck out of it until it grows into a massive…I dunno…let’s go with oak tree. A massive oak tree. So you do that.
The moral of the story is: less self-flagellation. You’re not a racehorse. You can’t whip yourself into running faster, only a jockey can do that and I’ve never liked short men riding on me. Or tall men. Or men period; it makes the friendship awkward. Less self-flagellation, less blame, less-self-fulfilling prophecies about what a POS you are, more looking for what’s right and how you can supersize that with ease.
Today, don’t go looking for something else right to do. You already have a lot of right inside you. You already have a lot of good inside you. So double it. 8
And this is why I hate New Year’s Resolutions, because it’s basically saying: “Last year was a washout, and I was a homophobic faggot, but this year, this year I’m gonna be awesome; this year I’m going to deserve to live; this year I’m going to earn the title of ‘human being’!!!!”. No, you do amazing things and you did them last year, too. 9 So just do even more of them this year.
- Thanks to Eliezer Yudkowsky for this genius line 🙂 ↩
- You’re not sure, are you? Well, let me explain to you just how boss it is: Even Tony Robbins didn’t have the guts to do this (and thus risk alienating a lot of people). Jim Rohn hinted at it but never went all the way. To my knowledge, Steve Pavlina and Tim Ferriss — oh yeah: and Ernie J. Zelinski — are the only
twothree who have had the Spanish eggs to do this and not be, you know, comically gloomy but seductively articulate hippie anarchists or anarcho-syndicalists or whatever disillusioned middle-class kids from the suburbs are calling themselves these days. ↩
- sunao, すなお, a special type of humility…the “cup open and empty and facing upwards” kind that Bruce Lee and Takashi HARADA talk about ↩
- I know, right?! ↩
- I’m not exaggerating: when I went back to Kenya in 2011, we’re sitting on the couch and my Mum goes to my sisters: “You see that, girls? That…is a boy who knows how to sit on a couch”…I’m paraphrasing, but my couch-sitting technique was complimented. I am exaggerating, but comments were made. All I’m saying is, I’m good with couches, man. ↩
- The danger here now is that I tend to try to industrialize everything and turn everything into a system or process where some things are best left as singleton trials ↩
- Wow, this could never go wrong… ↩
- recursively ↩
- Here’s an exercise: write down 5 awesome things you did last year. ↩