Tag Archives: Happiness

If You Don’t Know What You Want in Life, Read This Post

When someone says that they don’t know what they want in life, I call BS on that. We all know what we want in our lives, but some of us don’t dare to admit it, not even to themselves. Let’s start with why they don’t do that.

David Hawkins introduced the map of consciousness in his book Power vs. Force. There are 17 levels in the map of consciousness. People who claim that they don’t know what they want in life are likely to be on the lower levels of consciousness.

There’s nothing wrong with being on a lower level of consciousness as long as you recognize it and work your way up. We all have our journeys in our lives, and I haven’t met many enlightened people, including myself of course.

If you find yourself on a lower level of consciousness, I hope this post would inspire you to work on getting to higher levels by letting go of your dysfunctional emotions and thoughts. Now, let’s go over a few levels of consciousness and see how they relate to the subject of this post.


People on the level of shame think that they are inherently bad. How can it be otherwise? They’ve been judged by their parents, teachers, or other authority figures as bad boys or bad girls.

Some of these folks realize that being a bad boy or girl is a lot of fun later in their lives, but most of them spend their lives believing deep down that they are bad people.

“How dare you think you deserve something nice when you’re such a bad person?”

That’s the undercurrent of their psyche that they aren’t aware of. Hence, they don’t admit what they want in life, not even to themselves.


Guilt is similar to shame with a slight difference. Instead of thinking that they are a bad person, people on the level of guilt believe that they have done something wrong. Most of the time, that belief is indoctrinated into them by the authority figures in their lives.


If the people on the level of apathy would admit what they want in their lives, they have to take action toward it. However, they’re so overwhelmed by their experience that they don’t believe that they can reach their goals. This is the level of learned helplessness.


Grief is a reaction to loss. People on this level have many losses in their lives. They have to mourn their losses first before attempting to go after new goals. So, it’s understandable that people on this level don’t dare to admit what they want in life.


People on this level are afraid to admit what they want in life because they have two choices if they do that. The first choice is to go after what they want and face the inherent dangers on that path. The second choice is the pain of knowing what they want but doing nothing about it.


On this level, the energy of the person is focused on what they don’t want instead of what they do want. The challenge here is to let go of the focus on the negative and formulate a constructive goal to work toward.


The person on this level wouldn’t admit that they want something because they believe that they are already perfect as they are. They wouldn’t acknowledge that they don’t know what they want.


Not knowing what you want in life is a sign that you’re on a lower level of consciousness. You can use this symptom to work on your psyche to let go of your shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, anger, and pride. Once you transcend those levels of consciousness, you’ll be crystal clear about what you want in life and work toward it.

Discharging Negative Emotions Trapped in Our Psyche

Yesterday, I wrote an introductory post about the letting go method by David Hawkins. The letting go method is a simple and effective way to process and regulate intense emotions. It involves staying with the emotion without expressing, suppressing, or trying to change it in any other way.

When you stay with an intense emotion, it runs its course, and it subsides. The next time you feel it, its intensity diminishes. As you keep using the letting go method, the once intense emotion eventually disappears.

The Pitfall of the Letting Go Method

There’s a pitfall when applying the letting go method. When you stay with your emotion, thoughts stemming from that emotion will come up. The danger here is to dwell on those thoughts.

If you pay attention to those thoughts, if you invest more mental energy into them, or in other words, if you dwell on them, you’ll only make the emotion stronger instead of processing it and discharging it.

The trick here is to become aware of the thoughts, acknowledge them, and let them go while staying with the underlying emotions. This requires some mindfulness which you can develop over time with practice.

The Emotional Labor Required by the Letting Go Method

So far, the letting go method might sound easy. Make no mistake, it’s a simple process. It requires only some basic knowledge of your expression and suppression mechanisms, but it can require some serious emotional labor at times.

When you’re hit with intense emotions of anger, fear, or sadness, you might get overwhelmed when you try to stay with them. In such cases, David Hawkins suggests that you stay with the emotion to the extent possible, and then express or suppress the remaining part of the emotional energy consciously.

How Does Letting Go Heal Your Psyche?

The letting go method requires your mindfulness of your emotions, especially the ones that you’re suppressing. This can be hard at times because it requires self-awareness and honesty. You might be angry, but you might not realize that you’re angry or you might deny it.

You need to acknowledge your emotions to be able to stay with them and to let them go. The emotions that you’re able to feel, acknowledge, and let go are the ones that are closer to the surface. As you let those superficial emotions go, more emotions will come up from the depths of your psyche.

David Hawkins makes a distinction between suppressed and repressed emotions. Suppressed emotions are the ones that we felt but decided to avoid consciously.

Repressed emotions are the ones that weren’t recognized consciously. They are trapped in our psyche, impacting our thoughts, choices, and behaviors, and we aren’t aware of them.

By letting go of suppressed emotions, you enable the repressed emotions to come up. As they come up, you apply the same technique to the repressed emotions. That way, your psyche is being cleaned up from emotions that were trapped in your subconscious for a lifetime.

If you want to learn more about how the repressed emotions get trapped in our psyche and impact our lives, I recommend the books Breaking Free and the Disowned Self by Nathaniel Branden, which are available in Open Library.

Connections between Emotions

David Hawkins mentions shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, and pride as lower levels of consciousness. He suggests letting go of thoughts and emotions stemming from those levels. You might think that desire and pride are positive emotions, but Hawkins defines them as weakening.

Another interesting idea from the book Letting Go is that all the emotions from those lower levels are connected to each other.

For example, you’re afraid of heights, and you have public speaking anxiety. By working on your fear of heights, you’re also indirectly working on your public speaking anxiety. Moreover, by working on a fear, you’re also working on your anger, grief, guilt, and shame.

The connection between emotions makes the letting go method a power tool. You don’t need to figure out all of your negative emotions and to work on them separately. You can work on any negative emotion as it comes up. That work will have a healing effect on all others as well.

Hawkins encourages working on your negative emotions proactively. In other words, he recommends to go toward the eye of the storm. Do you have a fear of heights? Go to a high building and face your fear. Do you have public speaking anxiety? Find an opportunity to get in front of people.


The goal of the letting go method is to let go of the thoughts while staying with the emotions. Distinguishing between thoughts and emotions is a challenge at the beginning because thoughts and emotions are tightly connected. We need to be aware of the danger of dwelling on thoughts which would increase the intensity of emotions that we’re trying to discharge.

Intense emotions are hard to endure. That’s why our knee-jerk reaction is to express or suppress them. It requires some serious emotional labor to stay with them. It’s a muscle we develop over time.

The letting go method is like a detox mechanism for our psyche. It not only discharges the energy of the emotions we feel at the moment, but it also cleans up the emotions that are trapped in our psyche for a lifetime.

Emotions are connected to each other in our psyche. When you discharge the energy of a specific fear like social anxiety, you also discharge the energy of all fears. Moreover, you also discharge the energy of other emotions like anger, grief, shame, guilt, and so on.

Can you imagine how fulfilling, peaceful, and joyful your life would be if you let go of your fears, anger, shame, guilt, and grief?

What Does Letting Go Mean Anyway?

I often refer to the letting go method by David Hawkins in my posts. Today, I want to dive deeper into this method and answer two questions.

  • What is it?
  • Why is it useful?
  • How to use it?
  • How does it relate to our daily life?

What Is It?

The letting go method is an effective way to process and regulate our emotions. It’s simple. It doesn’t have any side effects. It’s useful in all areas of our lives. It has a healing effect on our psychology and life. It only requires learning a few basic concepts but some emotional labor to apply.

Expressing an Emotion

When we feel an intense emotion, we tend to deal with it either by expressing it or suppressing it.

Expressing an emotion means communicating it to others or to yourself. You might scream to a family member when you’re angry. You might journal when you’re sad. You might dwell in thoughts of disaster scenarios when you feel fear. In other words, you act on your emotion.

When you act on your emotion, even on a thought level, you’re reinforcing the emotion in your psyche. You might feel relieved when you shout at a family member, but this will only result in greater anger the next time. If you don’t want to reinforce an emotion, don’t express it, not even on the thought level.

Suppressing an Emotion

Suppressing an emotion means being aware of it but using an escape strategy to avoid it. You might turn to alcohol when you feel stressed. You might grab a cup of coffee when you feel sad. You might turn on the TV, radio, or scroll through your social media feed to escape boredom.

You might suppress emotions by distracting yourself with thoughts. When you suppress an emotion, it stays in your psyche. You don’t process it, and you don’t discharge it from your system.

Letting Go of an Emotion

The way to process and discharge an emotion is to stay with it without expressing or suppressing it. This can be overwhelming at the beginning. By not expressing or suppressing your emotion, you give your psyche a chance to process it.

The emotion runs its course, and it eventually subsides. It might come back later, but its intensity will be lower. As you keep using the letting go method on the emotion, its intensity gradually diminishes, and it eventually disappears from your psyche.

Application in Daily Life

Suppose that you waste time on social media before starting to work every day. When you observe your emotions, you realize that you use social media to avoid the stress at the start of your working day. The next time you start your working day, you try to stay with those stressful emotions as long as possible and let them go.

Maybe, you can stay with your stressful emotions for fifteen minutes on the first day. Then, you succumb to your social media habit. Congratulations, you have at least processed fifteen minutes worth of stressful emotions.

Every day, you work on increasing that social media free period using the 1% improvements principle. You stay with your stressful emotions as long as possible without expressing or suppressing them, every day a little longer. Soon, you’ll reach an hour, two hours, four hours, and eventually a complete working day without checking your social media feed.


The letting go method by David Hawkins involves staying with an intense emotion without expressing or suppressing. That means not thinking about it, talking about it, communicating it, but at the same time, not avoiding it, escaping it, or trying to change it in any other way.

When you stay with an intense emotion long enough, it runs its course, and it subsides. It might come back later, but its intensity will be lower. As you keep using the letting go method, the emotion will eventually disappear.

So far, the letting go method seems to be simple and easy. It is a simple method, but it has some pitfalls. It involves some emotional labor. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the possible pitfalls and how to deal with overwhelmingly intense emotions.

Breaking Free from Childhood Hurts

It doesn’t matter that we are adults now. We still perceive the world through the lenses that we have developed in our childhood. We behave according to the belief systems that we have formed in our childhood.

Our unprocessed psychological scars from our childhood affect the way we perceive the world and the way we function in the world. When unprocessed, those scars reduce our enjoyment of life, prevent us from giving 100% in our lives and reaching our full potential.

Processing Childhood Hurts

Nathaniel Branden, the author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, has a book called Breaking Free on this topic. The subtitle of the book is How to Cut the Bonds of Childhood that Are Keeping You from Reaching Your Full Adult Potential.

Unfortunately, the book is out of print and isn’t available on Kindle. That’s a pity because it’s a must-read for everybody who is interested in making the most of their lives, but you can borrow it from Open Library or buy a second-hand copy from Amazon.

Discovering Childhood Hurts

Branden was a psychotherapist. In Breaking Free, he shares 22 questions to investigate childhood hurts.

The book is easy to read but hard to process. It’s easy to read because it’s based on the dialogues that the questions incited in Branden’s group therapy sessions. I could easily relate to those dialogues. And that’s what makes the book hard to process.

Some of the questions and dialogues also touched my own childhood hurts. Those are the memories I had suppressed, but I had to live with their consequences, even in my adult life.

If you’re experiencing the same persistent problems over and over, engage in self-sabotaging behavior that you can’t explain, or running in circles, the chances are that you have unprocessed, emotional scars from your childhood.

Being confronted with those hurts stirs up some intense emotions. Feeling the intense emotions, staying with them, and letting them go is a part of the healing process.

Example Questions

Here are three example questions out of the 22 shared and discussed in the book.

  1. Did your parents encourage in you a fear of the world, a fear of other people? Or were you encouraged to face the world with an attitude of relaxed, confident benevolence? Or neither?
  2. Were you encouraged to be open in the expression of your emotions and desires? Or were your parents’ behavior and manner of treating you such as to make you fear emotional self-assertiveness and openness, or to regard it as inappropriate?
  3. Did your parents encourage you in the direction of having a healthy, affirmative attitude toward sex and toward your own body? Or a negative attitude? Or neither?

I suggest that you read each chapter and then reflect on the question and your childhood. You might want to ask for help from a professional if you are overwhelmed by this process.

The book is based on the discussions about the parent-child relationships, but once you’ve processed this book, you can go ahead and ask similar questions about other dominant figures in your childhood. Typical examples are nannies, babysitters, teachers, friends, other relatives, and so on.


Most of us carry psychological scars from our pasts. If unprocessed, those scars obscure our perception of the world, make us behave irrationally, lower our self-esteem, and keep us from reaching our full potential.

The first step to healing our psychological scars is to discover them and feel the pain that they cause. In his book Breaking Free, Nathaniel Branden shares 22 questions to discover our early childhood hurts so that we can heal them.

Breaking Free is a must read for everybody who’s committed to personal development and to realizing their full potential in life.

Tap into Your Genius by Optimizing Your Mental and Emotional States

If there was a mental and emotional state that improved your creativity, your ability to think rationally, analytically, and critically, and as a result improved your cognitive performance, would you be interested in getting to know it and doing your best to get into it?

In my experience, there’s such a state. It is equanimity and mental clarity. To me, both of those states are the two sides of the same coin. Equanimity results in mental clarity, and mental clarity causes equanimity.

My mind works best in the absence of intense emotions and distracting thoughts. To me, this is what equanimity and mental clarity are all about.

How to Reach Equanimity and Mental Clarity

Equanimity and mental clarity require silence and relaxation. Noise and stimulation interfere with them. We need to sacrifice the external and internal obstacles to reach those states.

External obstacles to equanimity and mental clarity are obvious. These are the distractions in our lives. Here’s a short list of them.

  • Noise,
  • TV, radio, and distracting music in the background,
  • Substances like caffeine, alcohol, and so on,
  • Unhealthy food choices, overeating, heavy or stimulating foods,
  • Distraction through unnecessary Internet usage,
  • Newspapers, magazines, and so on,
  • Inessential communication and relationships with others,
  • Unnecessary objects in your environment, a messy environment.

The list goes on, but we can summarize it as everything inessential.

Internal Obstacles

Internal obstacles to equanimity and mental clarity are subtler than the external ones. These are the intense emotions, including the so-called positive ones, and irrelevant thoughts.

Handling the external distractions are straightforward. You switch off the radio and TV, stop indulging in coffee and social media, and donate all the useless belongings at your home.

Some of your addictions are harder to give up, but there are techniques to eliminate bad habits as well. The real challenge is the internal distractions.

Dealing with Internal Distractions

The best way to deal with internal distractions is to let them go. When an intense emotion or a distracting thought comes up, stop paying more attention or feeding more mental energy to it.

The ideal way to deal with an intense emotion is to stay with it without trying to change it, suppress it, escape it, or feeding it with more mental energy. If you stay with it long enough, it will subside by itself.

In some cases, the emotion might be too strong to bear. In such cases, let go as much as you can and use your escape strategies consciously.

In some cases, you might not have the time to stay with a distracting emotion until it subsides. In such cases, you can use the dark side of motivation.

For example, you can switch from the desire to distract yourself to the fear of the consequences of your distractions. You haven’t reached equanimity or mental clarity, but in your case, the fear might be a more productive emotion than desire.


I wholeheartedly believe that we are all geniuses. We need equanimity and mental clarity to tap into our genius. What keeps us from getting into those mental and emotional states is our internal and external distractions.

All we need to do to tap into our genius is to eliminate our distractions. It’s a long, hard journey, but a happy, satisfactory life is waiting for us at the end.

Drafting a Life Plan for Success and Satisfaction on Multiple Levels

David Allen defines a six-level model for work in his book Getting Things Done.

  • 50K+ feet: Life
  • 40K feet: Three- to five-year vision
  • 30K feet: One- to two-year goals
  • 10K feet: Current projects
  • Runway: Current actions

This model is not only useful for categorizing our work but for all kinds of resource allocation.

We can extend the model with further levels.

  • Legacy
  • Life
  • 10 years
  • 5 years
  • 1 year
  • Quarter
  • Month
  • Week
  • Today
  • Now

Legacy is your answer to the question “what do you want to leave behind when you’re dead?” For all the other levels, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do I want to accomplish in this timeframe?
  • What do I want to experience in this timeframe?

Life Areas

You can divide each timeframe into different areas, such as family, work, recreation, and so on.

All timeframes and life areas are optional. Pick the ones that work for you and work with them. For example, legacy might not be something that is important to you.

You might want to follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and focus on “the clouds and dirt,” in other words, legacy and now. You might even want to follow Eckhart Tolle’s advice, focus only on the now, and let go of everything else.

You can combine different life areas with different timeframes. For example, you might not be interested in starting a family now, but that might be the first item on your 5 years list.

Different Subpersonalities

When you’re drafting your plan, take into account the wants and needs of all the subpersonalities that are operating in your psyche. If you ignore one of your subpersonalities, they might get triggered unexpectedly and sabotage your progress, leaving you puzzled.

When you’re doing this exercise, I recommend a reverse engineering approach. That is to start from the end and come back to today and now.

You do that by taking a goal from a longer term and ask what you need to accomplish in a shorter term to achieve the long-term goal. For example, “what do I need to accomplish in 5 years to achieve this 10-year goal?”

Don’t Forget the Rewards

And of course, don’t forget to add rewards here and there in your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly plans. Otherwise, you’ll be risking an extinction burst, and your whole plan will collapse.

As I mentioned before, this plan isn’t only about time management. Resource allocation goes further than that. It includes allocating your finances and energy.

Multi-Objective Optimization

All of this might sound like a lot of work, and it is. You need to balance different timeframes and the wants and needs of different subpersonalities. Some of those requirements will be conflicting with each other, and you’ll need to make some decisions.

The benefit is that you’ll make conscious choices. The alternative to that is to burn yourself out, or one of your subpersonalities taking you over, and making you do the things that you regret later.

The main benefit of this practice is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re making progress toward consciously chosen goals.


We have numerous wants and needs in different timeframes that pull us in various directions all the time. As a result, we don’t make as much progress as we could.

The solution to that challenge is to draft a life plan that takes into account different timeframes and the wants and needs of our various subpersonalities.

Setting Goals for a Stress-Free, Fulfilling Life

Yesterday, I watched an interview with Vishen Lakhiani on Impact Theory. The ideas shared in the video are in line with my post called Are Your Goals Your Drug of Choice.

In that post, I shared an exercise to find out the unmet needs behind the goals you set. It’s a simple exercise where you ask yourself a simple question.

“Imagine you have realized your goal, then what?”

Keep asking the same question for your answers until you can’t find an answer anymore.

When we do that exercise, most of the time, we start with a material goal like financial freedom and end up with a basic need like freedom or security.

Our real goal is the basic need, but instead of working directly on that basic need, we work on the material goal.

That way, we don’t take the responsibility to meet our basic needs now and postpone that responsibility.

Means Goals vs. End Goals

Vishen distinguishes between two types of goals, means goals and end goals. We pursue our means goals to realize our end goals.

Most of our goals are means goals. When we question our means goals with the “then what” exercise, we find our end goals.

Vishen says that our means goals are mostly decided by the society for us. These are goals like becoming a lawyer, engineer, or a doctor.

Find Your End Goals

He states that there are other ways of reaching our end goals, but first, we need to find them. The “then what” exercise is one way of finding our end goals.

Vishen explains a complementary exercise. He divides the end goals into three categories.

  1. Experience Goals
  2. Growth Goals
  3. Contribution Goals

The idea is to make a list for each category.

Experience Goals

To find your experience goals, ask yourself the following question.

What do you want to experience in your life?

Here are some examples.

  • I want to visit a different country every year.
  • I want to have enough time to spend with my family.
  • I want to complete a triathlon.

Growth Goals

How do you have to grow to realize your experience goals?

You don’t go for a material outcome with the growth goals. You work directly on yourself. You increase your ability to produce greater value.

Material outcomes are mostly out of your control. Going after them stresses you out. Growth goals are entirely under your control.

Material results come as a byproduct when you work on your growth goals.

Working on your growth goals is a saner approach than working directly on material goals.

Contribution Goals

How are you going to contribute to the universe as you make progress with your growth goals?

Pay attention to the formulation of that question. It doesn’t say “once you reach your growth goals.” It says “as you make progress with your growth goals.”

You don’t need to wait until you reach a certain level to contribute to your fellow humans.

As a matter of fact, starting to contribute right now is a great way to make progress toward your growth goals.

Here are some examples.

  • I’ll publish a book.
  • I’ll reach 100,000 people with my public speeches.
  • I’ll help people to reach their potential.


Vishen Lakhiani argues that most of us adopt the goals that the society wants for us. Those are most of the time means goals.

We need to look behind those means goals to find our end goals. We can do that with the “then what” exercise.

Once we find our end goals, then we can find our own way to fulfill our end goals.

Vishen recommends that we come up with three lists to find our end goals, experience goals, growth goals, and contribution goals.

I suggest that you question your goals to find out whether they are means goals or end goals. If they are means goals, do the exercises in this post to determine your end goals.

Go directly after your end goals, and you’ll have a much more fulfilling life.

Are Your Goals Your Drug of Choice?

No life is perfect, and facing that reality causes pain. It’s our natural tendency to run away from pain. We all have our drugs of choice to avoid pain.

Some of us use recreational drugs. Others use alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine. The new generation prefer their gadgets.

A Socially Endorsed Drug

There is another drug that is not only socially acceptable but also encouraged, especially by the personal development industry.

That drug is having big hairy audacious goals. I’m not against setting goals. On the contrary, I encourage you to set goals and work toward them.

I subscribe to the idea that happiness comes from working toward a worthy goal. There is a pitfall when setting a goal though. Your goal might be a distraction to avoid facing your reality.

Audit Your Approach to Goals

There’s a simple test you can take to figure out whether your big hairy audacious goal is a vision or a distraction.

Just answer these simple questions.

  • Which actions did you take yesterday, last week, or last month toward your goal?
  • Which progress did you make yesterday, last week, or last month toward your goal?
  • What is your plan and your milestones from now until the accomplishment of your goal?

If you can answer these three questions with specific, realistic answers, you have a vision. If you can’t answer them or your answers are vague, then you have an illusion.

Evaluate Your Answers

Write down your goal and answers on a piece of paper. Stand up and walk around a little. Come back and pick up that piece of paper. Imagine the goal and the answers on that piece of paper belong to another person.

  • What would you think about that person?
  • Is that person realistic?
  • Do they have a good chance of realizing their goal?
  • Or are they fooling themselves?

Correct Your Course If Necessary

If you took this test and you figured out that your goal is more of a distraction than a vision, don’t worry. You can always correct your course or adjust your goal.

If you need some course correction, the posts mentioned in this thread might be a good starting point for you.

Then What?

Let’s do another exercise on your goal. Suppose that you have accomplished your goal. Then what?

  • What’s going to change in your life?
  • How will your days, weeks, and years look like?
  • How will you feel?

Keep asking the same “then what” question until you run out of answers. The “then what” exercise is similar to the “five whys” exercise. In the “five whys” exercise, we go back in time. In the “then what” exercise, we go further in time.

The Unmet Basic Needs Behind Your Goals

If you do this exercise, you’ll end up with some basic needs. Here’s an example.

  • I want to make ten million dollars.
  • Then what?
  • I’m going to retire.
  • Then what?
  • I’m going to have enough time to rest.
  • Then what?
  • I’m going to feel good.

The basic need you’re aiming for is feeling good. If this sounds familiar, I have two questions for you.

  • What keeps you from feeling good now?
  • What makes you think that you’ll feel good when you have ten million dollars in the bank?

Take Responsibility Now

Most of the time, we avoid taking the responsibility to take care of our basic needs. We postpone them to the future. We associate them with some big hairy audacious goals so that we don’t have to deal with them now.

If you want ten million dollars in the bank, because your basic need is security, I have bad news for you.

When you don’t feel secure now, you won’t feel secure with ten million dollars in the bank. You’ll always find something to be anxious about.

Your feelings determine your perception, not the other way around.

A person with a million dollar net worth might think that they’re rich, where else another one with ten million dollar net worth considers themselves middle class.

Fear of Success

We’re all aware of the fear of failure. Deep down, you might also be afraid of success. The best way to find that out is to do the “then what” exercise above.

  • Suppose that you want financial freedom.
  • Then what?
  • You’ll have a lot of time and money on your hands.
  • What are you going to do with that extra time and money?

Think about what you do with your extra time and money now. How does it feel to do that on a 10x scale?

If you don’t do anything interesting with your extra time and money now, how will you motivate yourself to work toward that 10x extra time and money?

If you indulge in drinking, partying, and drugs in your spare time, you might be afraid to do that on a 10x scale.

If you waste your spare time with distractions, you might not want to have that extra time and money, because your current job is more meaningful than that.

What If I Lose It All?

You might be afraid of success because you might be afraid that you’ll get used to the lifestyle, and it would feel much worse if you lost it all.

To clarify your mind about what success means for you, do the “then what” exercise. Write it out in detail. Write down your life story from the accomplishment of your goal until your death.

In other words, write your obituary.

  • How do you feel about your story?
  • Is it a congruent story?
  • Do some parts contradict each other?

Contradicting Desires

It’s natural that we have desires that contradict each other. That doesn’t mean that we have to let go all of them. You can do the obituary exercise for each desire.

Suppose that you can live as many lives as you want. Your task is to optimize each life for one of your desires. If you had multiple lives, how would you live each of them?

Don’t underestimate this exercise. It helps you set aside your limiting beliefs. As a result, you can come up with some exciting ideas to realize your goals.

When you complete the exercise for multiple desires, merge them into a single life story by making some conscious choices to let go some of your conflicting desires.


Happiness comes from working toward a worthy goal. Yet, you might use your goals to distract yourself from facing your reality.

To see if that’s the case, audit your approach to goals using the exercise explained in this post. If your answers don’t satisfy you, you can either upgrade your approach or modify your goals.

Sometimes, we postpone our basic needs by associating them with our goals. You figure out which basic needs you avoid by doing the “then what” exercise.

We think that our life situation creates our emotions. In reality, it is the other way around. Therefore, we need to take the responsibility of our emotions first.

Even though it sounds absurd, we might also be afraid of success. That could happen if our vision doesn’t inspire at all. We might be afraid of the realization of our vision, or succeeding and then losing it all.

In either case, the first step is to come up with a compelling, congruent story about our future.

Where Does Joy Come From?

An Ideal Day

Imagine an ideal day. You wake up early. You work out and take a shower. You have a healthy breakfast.

You work hard toward your goals. You’re focused. You’re in the zone. You do your best throughout the day.

In the evening, you spend quality time with your loved ones. No distractions, no TV, no Internet, no gadgets. Just some relaxing background music. Everybody is entirely present.

How would you feel at the end of such a day?

A Mediocre Day

Imagine a mediocre day. You don’t want to get out of the bed. You hit the snooze button repeatedly. Finally, you wake up and rush out of your home.

You grab a doughnut and coffee on your way to work. You’re only physically present at work. You just want to be there for eight hours to collect your paycheck. You distract yourself with the Internet to get through the day.

You switch on the TV when you get home. You eat some home delivery junk food and drink alcohol. You keep distracting yourself with the Internet.

Then, you realize that it’s past midnight. You go to bed. You have to repeat the same routine tomorrow.

How would you feel at the end of that day?

Those are just two days in your life. Aren’t they?

I disagree.

We repeat the same day over and over. If you had an ideal day yesterday, you tend to have an ideal day today. If you had a mediocre day yesterday, you’d probably have a mediocre day today.

Before you realize, your whole life will be over. It will be either a string of ideal days or a string of mediocre days.

The Feeling You’ll Have at the End of Your Life

Do you know what’s more important? Do you remember the feeling you felt at the end of your day?

You’ll have the same feeling at the end of your life, but this time 1000 times more intense.

Remember how you felt yesterday when the day was over. Do you want to feel the same feeling 1000 times intensified at the end of your life?


That’s the number of days I’ve got left. Maybe more, maybe less. You can check your number here. It isn’t that much, and that figure can crash to zero at any time.

“Since death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” Pema Chödrön

Let that sink in for a moment. Your life can be over at any moment. Do you get it? Are you aware of it at the gut level? How do you feel about wasting your precious time now?

Pleasure Makes You Miserable

We try to optimize our lives to maximize pleasure. We feel like more pleasure would make us happier.

  • More food.
  • More sex.
  • More entertainment.
  • More distraction.
  • More downtime.
  • More goods.

We all know where all of that ends, and I didn’t even mention alcohol and other drugs.

All of that ends up in apathy, bad health, boredom, emptiness, depression.

Our strategies to make ourselves happy make us miserable at the end.

Discomfort Gives You Joy

Then, there are practices that we avoid.

  • Working hard.
  • Exercising.
  • Living a clean, simple, healthy life.

We think that those would make us feel miserable, and at the beginning, they do. But at the end, they make us happy. They give us satisfaction.

Optimizing your life for pleasure makes you feel miserable. Doing your best working toward a worthy goal gives you joy.

For your own well-being, do yourself a favor and do something useful with your life.

We try to escape discomfort. The more we run away from it, the deeper we sink into it. The more we embrace discomfort, the more comfortable we get.

It takes courage and self-discipline to get out of your comfort zone and to stay out of it. Satisfaction, joy, happiness, even comfort is out of your comfort zone.

Doing Nothing Is Hard Work

Giving yourself the time and space you need and doing nothing once in a while is a critical part of success. Yet, no one does it nowadays. With all the distractions within arm’s reach, even doing nothing is hard work nowadays.

Peace of Mind

Peace of mind doesn’t come from avoiding discomfort. It comes from knowing that you have done what you had to do.

Abundance is Harming Us

We live in interesting times. We live in the age of abundance.

  • Abundance of calories,
  • Abundance of information,
  • Abundance of pleasure,
  • Abundance of comfort,
  • Abundance of goods.

And the list goes on.

In our 4.5 billion years of evolution, our ancestors had to deal with problems of scarcity. Therefore, we are wired to deal with scarcity.

We don’t know how to deal with abundance. This is a new skill set we need to learn. Perhaps, we need to create some artificial scarcities in our lives to deal this new condition.

Let’s go over each item to discuss how the problem manifests itself.

Abundance of Calories

The abundance of calories is the most obvious problem. There are people on earth who don’t have access to sufficient calories. However, the average person has access to an abundance of calories.

It is a challenge to have access to an abundance of calories without consuming them in excess and making ourselves sick in the process.

Most of our ancestors did not have this type of luxury. We don’t have the self-regulatory mechanisms encoded in our DNA. This is definitely a skill we need to learn.

Abundance of Information

I guess no one can object that we live in times of abundant information. Abundance of information can be a challenge in two ways.

The first challenge is to extract the signal from the noise. In other words, it’s a challenge to separate the correct, useful information from the incorrect, useless information. Search engines like Google are helping us with that challenge.

The second challenge is to let go of our addiction to less valuable, useless information, such as social media, email, news, and other types of Internet addictions.

Abundance of Pleasure

This is connected to the first and second challenges, but as an overarching challenge, it deserves its own section.

We use calories not only to feed ourselves, but also to feel pleasure.

We fool ourselves with all the information that is flowing from our TV’s, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones into believing that we have exciting, eventful lives.

We also fool ourselves with all the messaging apps and social networks into believing that we are connected with other human beings and have great social lives.

If you disagree with me switch off all of your electronic devices for a week and see how eventful your life is and what kind of a social life you have. If you do that, you will see that your life is pretty mundane and you don’t have as many real friends as you think you have.

We have access to an abundance of substances, such as alcohol, recreational drugs, and caffeine, like never before. Birth control and condoms made sex safe like never before.

Gambling, gaming, and other adrenaline inducing activities are accessible like never before. All of which can cause addictions and overindulgence.

Abundance of Comfort

Our ancestors didn’t have the level of comfort we have now. Most of us have easy access to safe homes, food, water, shelter, clothes, and so on. We don’t need to take any risks to access those basic necessities of human life. Our ancestors had to fight and/or make great effort to have those basic necessities.

In order to deal with the abundance of comfort, we need to get out of our comfort zones. We need to make physical exercise a part of our routine. We also need to cultivate courage by taking calculated risks regularly.

Abundance of Goods

Most of us are blessed with the means to not only cover our basic necessities but also to afford luxury products that we don’t really need.

If you think about it, anything other than our basic necessities is a luxury product. Our homes are cluttered with stuff that we don’t really need.


We are hardwired to deal with scarcity and we don’t know how to deal with abundance. We indulge in calories, information, pleasure, comfort, and stuff that we don’t really need.

We need to develop the skills to benefit from abundance without getting lost in it. Since this is the first time we experience this type of abundance, it requires our conscious effort to develop that kind of skills.

If we don’t develop those skills we not only risk living unfulfilling shallow lives, but also making ourselves sick in the process and living a shorter life.