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You see them everywhere. Gorgeous men and women with perfectly chiseled abs. If only I could look like that you think. And it’s that last part you fail to question.

As I began my quest to gain a better body, I’d say I’m doing it for health reasons. Yeah right. It took me a solid year to admit it was for vanity.

Obtaining abs takes work. It requires sacrifice in the gym. Many hours. Many sessions. Adjustments to diet. Assuming you are doing it to get a good body, why would anyone pursue such a thing?

As man, being manly = getting women = self validation. When “manly men” in the media all have six pack abs, it’s an easy connection. Sexy women = more desirable to men. It works both ways.

It’s insecurity for sure. And that insecurity takes work. You can play the high horse route, sure, saying stupid vane people. But then you still will be bombarded 10 ways from Sunday saying this is the body type we as a society value. Do you really feel 100% secure with your couch potato body?

I’ve come to terms that much of me wanting a good body = me needing validation from others. (1) From women. I must be seen as desirable and attractive (2) From men. The “not being a pussy” stereotype still runs strong.

If I am going to feel insecure from not having a good body and feeling insecure from having a good body, the latter feels better. It’s a higher quality insecurity. One that I’ve learned to accept. My name is Kevin, I’m vane (which also has health benefits woohoo) and I’m ok with it.

We can measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun. We can explain how gravity works and why the moon affects the tides.

But what about the effect people have on other people? Or the effect people have on an entire ecosystem? How do you explain that with some people you feel strengthened after and others weakened?

It’s clear that there is some other energy at work that we can’t quite explain yet.

The best predictor of whether a business will do well or not is the market. If there can only be a top 3 of winners, you have a problem.

3-4 years ago, if you were an EDM DJ, it was a great time to be one. We wanted more. We were willing to listen to new people. If you had a couple hit songs, we’d want to see your show. There is still a pretty good market here for newbies, but it is much more saturated.

If you are making a cola drink like coca cola on the other hand, you have a problem. We don’t need much more cola drinks other than coke and pepsi and the “healthy” cola brand I’m sure exists. That’s about it. You need to pick a different market,

In general though, we don’t need another one of the other one. We don’t need a podcast to be just like the Tim Ferriss show, we want Tim Ferriss. We don’t want a company like Alex and Ani, we want them.

So while you can draft off the backs of the leader in a good market, the better question then is, “why?”

Some people just want to run a business that works and makes money. They are not trying to change things. It’s more follow the path than be the leader. Totally cool. The rewards are usually less, but again, in a good market, Pepsi, Avis, and Lyft are still making good money.

Are you entering business to create change in the world or create a “me too” business that works? It’s never too late to shift gears.

Meditation helps me silence my inner critic — dealing with the neurotic, worrying, fearful part of me. I’ve learned that making environmental changes helps every bit, if not more, than meditation.

Tidying up my apartment feels better when I come home, eliminates stressing about having a dirty apartment, and helps quiet my resistance voice when working.

When I buy the things I’ve been putting off buying (toilet paper, chapstick, new light bulb), ditto.

When I moved in with my girlfriend, I also moved away from a toxic roommate. My life got better.

Perhaps today you don’t need meditation. Rather, sit down and identify the chronic stressors you can eliminate that will make your life significantly more enjoyable long term.

Do not seek self-improvement, seek self-changement. This shifts the mindset from “once I do X, then I feel Y” to a place of curiosity.

“Hmmm I’m pretty overweight now, I wonder if eating healthy and exercising is all it’s cracked up to be?”

“Hmmm I’m fairly lonely now, what if I changed parts of my personality and weekly habits? How would my life be different?”

“Hmmm, what if I started my own business, would I really be happier?”

The problem with seeking self improvement is you have no first-hand experience. You are only reading about the experience of others who profess the benefits of the change you are seeking. Your mileage may vary.

You may follow someone who worships the gym, only to find out you dread it. Keeping an open mind, you may decide Jiu Jitsu is your jam instead, rather than self-shaming yourself into not following a gym routine.

This loosens the reigns from “I need to this” to “I wonder if I did this, what would happen?”

  • Trying to improve yourself.
  • Changing your diet.
  • Changing how you interact with people.
  • Acting more enthusiastic.
  • Acting more optimistic.
  • Switching careers.
  • Bulking up.
  • Opening up your viewpoints.
  • Making new friends.
  • Staying in the relationship when it’s not convenient.
  • Sticking with the thing people say you’re not good at.
  • Making the first move.
  • Admitting you’re wrong.
  • Doing the right thing.

You’re in the arena trying. And it’s fucking weird. It’ll always be weird. Embrace it.

Let the critics criticize. Savor the champions. Either way, keep going. For you. You got this, you weird motherfucker.

You’ve gotten used to reading drive bys. You scan reddit, hacker news, email newsletter subscriptions, or your blog feeds for interesting articles. Then you proceed to open multiple tabs. Then you quickly scan the first paragraph and article to see if it is worth your time OR you read the comments to do the same. You’re being efficient!

But are you really?

Did you really understand the article from a skimming? Did you really get the gist of it from reading the comments? No, not every article will be worth your time and skimming is a useful skill. However, when it becomes your standard operating procedure, you can’t help but wonder, what’s the point in the first place?

Data extraction? Give me the hit of knowledge heroin, and I’ll be on my way. But for what? You are not reading the article so you are not getting the pleasures of reading it and you are not applying the advice so you are not getting the usefulness of the article.

You are more in love with the idea of wisdom than actually acquiring it. It’s like when you scan Facebook profiles and like your friends posts thinking you are being social, rather than actually hanging out. It’s efficient, sure, but satisfying, not really.

Maybe it’s time to go on a media diet or actually read the tabs you have open.

I love watching Netflix! Have you seen stranger things!

I don’t understand people who watch TV all day and easy entertainment like movies. I rather immerse myself in books and deep conversations. 

Let’s party and go to the hot bar and get drunk and try to hook up!

I don’t understand people who drink and do drugs and the hangovers

Let’s eat fast food and shitty GMO things

I prefer to optimize my diet and eat healthy all the time, often eating the same meal again and again to save decision making power.

Just how one side poo poos on the other, it’s easy to become the other side of the coin doing the same thing. Throughout most my adult like, I have found myself on the other side. Because it’s so much easier to say screw mainstream culture, screw pop music, clubs and nightclubs, stupid, superficial!

How many times do you actively seek out information that runs counter to what you already believe? If you identify as a democrat, how many republican books are you reading? If you do not like pop music, how many books/articles are you reading that confirm your view versus those that show you what you are missing?

Just like there is safety in following the heard, there is safety in following the counter melody. As easy as it is to be for, it’s easy to be against.

Much harder to say, “damn, I really understand what’s going on here” and play in both worlds.

For some, sex is a race to orgasm the quickest. But is that really the point of sex in the first place? Has the best sex you had been the quickies or the drawn out sessions, with teasing and foreplay?

Like trying to shoot loads the quickest to relieve a raging hard on, we can be quick to approach our careers, relationships, and everything else in the same way.

We don’t want to enjoy the pleasures of a relationship, we want a boyfriend or girlfriend.

We don’t want to enjoy the pleasure of improving week after week developing our bodies, we want to be beach ready in 4 weeks for Cabo.

We don’t want to enjoy the pleasure of building skills in our field, we want the dream job yesterday.

Even if it took 10 years to make it, but you never enjoyed the 10 years of getting there, was it really worth it if you are not fulfilled?

In attempt to make things more efficient, optimized, and profess hacks over the internet, it’s easy to lose sight of the point in the first place.

It may be more inefficient to only have phone customer service vs emails, but would your staff + customers be happier?

It may be less profitable to include gifts with customers orders for free they do not expect, but would that make your company and customers more joyful?

It may be a lot of work outside work to plan an awesome date for your girlfriend, should you choose the quick technique found on the Internet?

It’s much easier to do a 15 minute sex drive by before bed. Easier to choose the cheap clothes that never quite fit right. Easier to regulate your relationships on Facebook and through texts. Easier to default to your standard company policy than be a human being with a customer.

It takes work to break the mold and choose joy and delight over efficiency. But if you enjoy your life more, isn’t that the point in the first place?

Beautiful smiling cute baby

Following up from Till H. Gross‘ challenges, this week’s challenge was to smile at strangers as I walked down the street.

For starters, it was surprisingly difficult. The same mental chatter chimed in. Why would I smile at people? Am I smiling creepy? What if people don’t want a smile?

As I walked and passed about 100 people on the way to work, no one really cared. In fact, most people look like they are zombies.

Possible explanations: 

1. It’s early in the morning, so people are just waking up.

2. People are so wrapped up in their own bullshit, that they are unaware of their surroundings.

Most people are not even looking at others. A good percentage are just staring at the ground when they walk. The other majority look like they either have to take a shit or had a bad argument with their partner this morning. Rare is the person who looks like they are happy to take on the day.

And why should people care?

Of the 100 people I smiled at, what are the odds I’m going to see these people again? We are all extras in each other’s lives. So why smile at others?

1. For your own benefit. Smiling made me feel happier.

2. For the 1 out of 100 that does catch your smile and gives a slight smile back. It feels good. Additionally, just because the other people did not react does not mean they do not enjoy a smile.