The Key to Discipline

The key to great discipline is having the right purpose.  Getting bad grades, doing unproductive work, having trouble focusing is often not a result of poor method or health— it is a result of poor incentive. 

So if you want to be more productive, reconsider WHY you are doing this work. Are you doing it because you HAVE to or because you WANT to? And if you are doing it because you have to, then either spend as long as it takes until you find the right purpose or don’t do that work at all because then you will continue to suck at it. 

A powerful purpose is one that emotionally moves you, and it drives you so that you don’t have to force yourself to do it. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you have one.

Arguments

It takes two people shouting for something to be called an “argument”. After all, if only one person is shouting, then it is either called relationship abuse or lecturing. 

So if you feel inclined to blame your partner, parent, friend, or whoever it is that you are arguing with that it is their fault that you guys keep getting into arguments, think again.  You may realize that, in refusing to even try to understand their situation or accept that they may be right, you are just as responsible, if not more responsible, for the argument.  And that is definitely a humbling experience.

Tough Times

 If you’re going to pray, don’t pray for a miracle or for good luck.  Through my experience, that doesn’t always seem to work. Instead, pray for strength.  The strength so that no matter how bad it gets, or how bad it is, no matter how many mistakes you make or how many failures come your way, pray for the strength to not give up, to not lose faith in the great person you are becoming.  Pray for the strength to always see the happiness in the present moment, to remain optimistic no matter how dreary things get.

Because in this life, the world isn’t always going to play nice, but when you foster the strength to persist and keep moving forward no matter what happens, you obtain a reward better than short-term miracles— positive long-term habits.

What it Means to be Smart

Intelligence is a very stupid word.

 Some people may think that those who get the best grades or can ace that standardized test are naturally smarter than others.  In reality, they’re either just smarter at doing that type of thing OR (more likely) they just worked harder.

So while a math genius may look smart in a math class, he could look dumb in a party.  While a social genius may look dumb at school, she could look like a genius when it comes to politics or sales.

Thus, don’t ever feel bad about the way you are, because in this world, talent is only based on the circumstances. There’s a place out there where you will feel smart, and don’t ever stop looking for it.

How to Deal with Worry

We all have worries and insecurities in our daily lives, and worries become absolutely horrendous when they stubbornly haunt your conscience to the point that you have trouble thinking about anything else. In this article, I will teach you how to overcome those worries so that, while you may still be aware of them, you will have the confidence and the temerity to think positively anyways.

The first thing you need to know about worrying is that worrying is the mental result of you not accepting the possibility of an outcome you don’t want. Thus, in order to overcome your worries, you must first learn to accept what you don’t want to have happen. Here is a five-step plan that I use this to overcome my own worries (it has never failed me, and I don’t think it should fail you):

Step 1: write down exactly what you are worrying about. This makes it absolutely clear to yourself what you are worrying about so you can overcome it.

Step 2: write down the worst possible outcome that could happen, or, in other words, the worst possible manifestation of your worry.

Step 3: write to yourself that you accept that worst possible outcome (whatever it may be). Accepting the worst possible outcome doesn’t mean that, for example, you have pessimistically accepted your loss before the competition has even begun– it merely means that you have accepted the possibility of losing. The purpose of writing this down is not only to create a record of your thought process, but also more importantly, to take you in the first step toward taking your acceptance of the worst possible outcome to heart.

Step 4: write down everything that you think you would need to do (that falls within your abilities) in order to prevent that worst possible outcome from occurring. The more clearer and concise these directions are, the better.

Step 5: Resolve to do just what you just wrote down. As long as you are doing those all those things, you have no reason to worry because: #1– you have already accepted the worst possible outcome, #2– you are taking all the steps necessary to prevent that outcome from occurring.

A Discussion on Happiness

 The idea that you would be happier tomorrow when you get something, do something, or find something that is not present in your reality today is flawed in the sense that you will always be living your life until the day you die searching for something else tomorrow. For instance, many people tend to believe that they will be happy after getting into a relationship with “the One” or they will be happy once they find the career they are passionate about.  To think such a way will almost ensure that you will never really be happy in the long term because once you get that thing (assuming you do get it), you will be happy for a short time, but this feeling will soon subside as soon as old habit kicks in and you start attaching your happiness to another thing you don’t have. Happiness is a habit, not a goal. Thus, you can only find happiness in the present moment.

This is why, when we look at the bigger picture of the world today, we see that although we have more technology, more opportunities, more money than we have ever had on average than we ever had before, people don’t really report being any happier— because we as people have gotten used to it.  

This also points out the flaw behind motivational videos, which basically tell you to work towards something with all your heart, sweat, and tears because it will all be worth it at the end.  

Pursuing any goal with that motivational-video mindset will only lead to a life of burnout and frustration because you will constantly be sacrificing your happiness today on the promise of a better tomorrow that will never come because tomorrow will really just be like today.  

Then you may ask, “why work towards any big goal at all if getting the end result isn’t really going to make me any happier in the long run?”   

Because, when you look at the great people in the history of the world that have led the movements, made the inventions, done the big things that most of us dream would be impossible today, they did not do those things because they wanted their name to be on Wikipedia (a few did, but notice how their success didn’t really last very long); they pursued those goals because they just enjoyed the pursuit itself so much that they wouldn’t be able to be happy without being able to continue doing those things.

Another question you may ask is, “Why get into a relationship if it is not going to make me any happier in the long term?”

Because a relationship should not be pursued on the basis of a fantasy of the end goal (ie having a family, being married, living a love story), but rather instead should be pursued simply because you find that spending time with that person makes you happy.   Knowing this, ask yourself the next time you are pursuing some big goal or project, “Am I just making myself do this because I think it will make me look good in front of others or am I doing this because I actually want to do it?”  Honest and devoted introspection will bring you the right answers on how you should best spend your time if you want to be happy.

Simple, but True

When it comes to any competition, whether it’d be in a skill, a race, or a common pursuit toward a goal, there is one thing you must always remember: the second you think you are ahead, you are behind.

What do I mean by this?

It is quite simple actually: people tend to work more hard when they think they need to catch up with the rest. Likewise, people tend to work less hard when they think they have everything figured out. Thus, the key to staying ahead is always seeking to improve yourself, and always avoiding self-complacency.

Because if you don’t, one day you may find yourself in the same position as the infamous hare when he raced against the tortoise: waking up to see yourself get beaten by the person you least expected to lose to.

Why Successful People Work So Hard

No matter how much we may want to succeed in our careers, no matter how much ambition we may have toward our lives, sometimes we all can’t help but wonder how awesome it would be to retire and live the rest of our life with no responsibility, no pressure, no deadlines. We think about this when we are having a really awesome vacation, when we are relaxing in bed and enjoying the soothing scent of the pillows, or when we feel the early-morning-pre-coffee blues.

So why do the people who succeed in their careers at astronomical levels (ie Jiro Ono, Mark Zuckerberg, Beyonce) over an extended period of time continue to work so hard, continue to aim so high in everything they do even though they have well over enough money to retire in relative comfort?

The answer isn’t money, ego, or a desire for status. These are all short-term rewards.

The answer is, at its core, actually quite simple: the desire to have fun.

Just as the raconteur works hard to prepare his story beforehand so that he can feel great when he nails the jokes just right at the party, or the star athlete practices her shots so she can feel the adrenaline rush of confidence during the big game, Steve Jobs worked so hard on his presentations because he felt that the times when he had the most fun in his presentations was when he practiced and prepared for them to the best of his ability. Similarly, Jiro Ono (arguably the greatest sushi chef in the world) doesn’t enjoy making sushi just because he is making sushi– he enjoys making sushi because he enjoys it when he makes amazing sushi.

You see, the core impetus for consistent top performance and preparation isn’t always the monetary and status reward for a job well done– it ultimately stems from whether we get an emotional joyride out of it along the way.

Selling an Idea to an Audience

People want to read what they already believe deep inside— if you can word something in such a way that it embodies a person’s beliefs, a person’s story, a person’s soul, then you have not only garnered an audience, you have garnered a book, a story, a speech, a play that will live among people’s memories forever, because while people do not always remember what you told them, they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel.

We Are the Masters of both our Past and our Future

One big debate that has plagued humankind for centuries is this: some people see their lives as a victim to the arbitrary forces of circumstance, while others see their lives as a direct result of the actions they take and the thoughts they think.

I am inclined to believe more in the latter– I have faith in people’s responsibility and control over their past and their future, and this is for three reasons.

Firstly, the actions we take have a strong correlation over the progress we make toward our goals. This is undeniable– people who have succeeded in the long run have always needed to work hard to get there.

Secondly, if someone chose to not believe that they are responsible for their past and their future, then why should they be inclined to put effort in anything? Yes, thinking that you are responsible for your past can lead to consequences of guilt and “beating yourself up,” but I don’t think anybody can improve without having a sense of being responsible for their failure to begin with. Having faith in your control over your life is crucial to making a successful effort toward anything.

Thirdly, while we may not have control over what enters our mind, we do have control over what we choose to dwell on. Surely this is easier said than done, but the proof that this ability of ours is all around you: think about the countless times you have observed yourself and others mentally deny, procrastinate, and choose to ignore certain facts and details in their lives.

Thus, while I can not say that we have 100% control over our lives (after all, there is still luck to take into consideration), we can make sure we get pretty damn close to that.