(This is Ces.) I forgot I couldn’t record with Wally this week so I recorded a solo episode. I tried to talk through some ideas for future gaming life lessons videos.
My brother picked up one of Michael Hyatt’s productivity journals. He asked if I liked Hyatt’s book Your Best Year Ever. I enjoyed it but didn’t take as much action on it as I planned. (That happens a lot with books. Motivation is very high to put a Sharpshooter on someone when I’m reading Bret Hart’s autobiography, for example.)
One thing that stuck though, was the emphasis on mindset being really important. I’ve been, well, thinking about thinking a lot this year. And I’ve started noticing it coming up in other books I read.
Here’s an excerpt in The Achievement Habit:
This also means that we have the power to alter our perceptions, revising perceptions that bring us down and enhancing those that help us. Your outlook on life is deeply entwined in your propensity for success. Miserable blowhards can achieve, however they still wind up miserable. That’s not success. Success is doing what you love and being happy about it.
In the past year I’ve been trying to untangle success and happiness. It started after reading Solve for Happy where I really saw that so many things required for success (at least how it’s often defined) were almost directly opposed to happiness.
I was listening to DHH on The Unmistakable Creative podcast (Unlearn Everything You Know About Business) and he seems to genuinely find happiness in his work. He has good intrinsic motivations. And actually enjoys programming enough to make videos of himself programming.
There’s a difference between that and being a workaholic. You can be willing to put all the hours in and hard work in to succeed. But whether you’re happy or not will depend on mindset.
I’d highly recommend this Unmistakable Creative episode or his appearance on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. Particularly if you want to shift your mindset away from money being a prime motivator.
His main point about becoming a multi-millionaire: life didn’t change that much.
If your life is stressful because you struggle to put food on the table, that’s different. This is more for the knowledge worker that wants to be a very rich knowledge worker.
You should look for happiness in the day to day. Mr. Moneybags has bags of money. And bags of money contain money, not endless bliss.
This is an excerpt from Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism is True:
If you accept the idea that many of our most troublesome feelings are in one sense or another illusions, then meditation can be seen as, among other things, a process of dispelling illusions.
Your feelings are illusions (but illusions can be powerful)
I’ve come across ideas like this but for whatever reason, Why Buddhism is True is the first time it seems to be sticking. It might be because the other times it’s been an aside and then it jumps into the how-to of meditation or some exercise in stoicism.
You’re feeling things so strongly mentally that it carries over into your physical space. Your anxiety feels like tightness in your chest. It’s that pit in your stomach.
That’s the same feeling you’d get 10,000 years ago when it could be helpful to feel like you’re in that much danger. Because you may very well have been in actual danger.
You can learn to look at bad feelings as illusions that aren’t useful. It takes some of that power away.
Just like a magic trick. It looks like that assistant just cut off my hand but it turns out my actual hand was eaten by a seal a long time ago. You’re just seeing a fake hand being detached. When you learn the trick, the original illusions loses power.
If you need to remove power from a bad feeling, remind yourself that it’s an illusion.
Distance yourself from feelings (and you just might get to know them better)
An aspect of the book I enjoy is that Robert Wright acknowledges a lot of opposing ideas that come about when learning about meditation and enlightenment. He explains loving kindness meditation but also says it hasn’t worked for him yet.
If you want to get to know someone then you spend a lot of time with them. You stay close.
It can be the opposite with your feelings. You start out so close to your feelings. They’re all you know. If you’re right in the fray of the battle it’s hard to keep any strategy in mind. Jon Snow probably was just trying to get air while climbing up a pile of bodies.
Meditation lets you create some space.
It’s a small space at first. And at first you’re just going to recognize that you’re in the fray at all. That creating space is even possible.
Then you’ll create enough space between you and your feelings to get a sense of their shape. Taking a step back allows you to see the picture.
Now for the bigger picture. With enough practice, you’ll create enough space to see how the feelings interact with each other. You’ll see which ones have been dominating your mind.
With that awareness you’ll slowly be able to influence those interactions. You won’t be able to flip the switch off completely on each feeling but maybe you can dim them and let a lava lamp shine.
Will this dull the good feelings? (Up to you!)
I went to Universal Studios recently. It reminded me of one of the first times I went to Disneyland growing up. The Indiana Jones ride was new that summer. The line was long but also really entertaining the first time through. It was a bit of an illusion itself.
A couple decades later (if only age and slower metabolisms were illusions) and every ride has a pretty interesting line experience. Optimus Prime is saying he needs my help specifically. I’m about to be turned into a Minion. There’s even a live concert before the Jimmy Fallon ride.
I’m aware that they’re ways to make you forget that you’re in line. Sometimes it works. I liked that live concert for the cleverness behind the magic trick itself. I loved the Hogwarts line because I forgot it was a trick at all. I lost myself in it.
For the good feelings, I suspect you’ll still find ways to enjoy what’s happening. Even if somewhere inside you know it’s an illusion.