Gut First, Mind Later

There comes a time when letting your mind quack about a situation becomes highly counterproductive. Whether you’re in class with a question burning the inside of your skull, or debating whether or not you should approach that good looking girl in a club, your mind, then, won’t help. You have to listen to your gut. Not even that, because your gut doesn’t require listening, as it has no words to offer, only impulses and feelings. If I say “listening”, this might lead you to accidentally listen to your brain instead.

No, you shouldn’t listen to your gut, but feel it instead.

Feel your gut, shut your brain up.

When introduced to an impulse you know will be doubted and overthought by your brain, feel it. Experience it in all its glory. Then execute on it. And what your brain would try to tell you about it.

 

Working At Midnight

I love working at midnight.

While during the day, my brain constantly nags me to grab my phone, to watch videos that were just posted or snapchat stories that were just updated; at midnight, many people have gone to sleep.

And my brain finally decides to focus.

No sounds in the house except for the constant hum of the fan spiraling above my head. Sure, there are always people at the other side of the globe (or just watching Netflix late at night) to release content no matter how late it is for you, but when darkness finally rises outside my window, my brain shuts down its daytime worries and finally enters focus mode.

If not for the sleepiness eventually imposing itself when ignored for too long, 1AM would be my best time to get any type of work done.

 

 

Photo credit: Lucas Gallone

I’m Obssessed With My Own Success

Not with anyone else’s. Not with the success of the kid next door. Not with a random company that sold for millions of dollars. Not even with the success of my role models.

I’m obsessed with my own success.

I couldn’t put it into a clear sentence until now. I just knew one thing. I couldn’t breathe. I still can’t. I’ve been procrastinating, and it has been driving me crazy. I can feel it in my guts. The hunger. The craving for something bigger. But I haven’t been putting in the work.

Now it’s close to 1AM, and it just came to me:

I’m not sleeping until I get a couple of posts in.

Not the “I’ll-write-a-bit-and-then-watch-a-youtube-video-for-motivation”.

It’s bs and I know it. I’ve been watching videos and playing games because I don’t truly know what I should be doing.

The month I took a cold shower every morning was one of my best. It’s been a moment since I’ve stopped, and I’ve felt it. I’ve been flinging myself into uncomfortable situations less and less. Been procrastinating even more.

Now that school is over, I have to create my own homework assignments.

All these hours I’ve spent playing random games on my phone or watching videos on Youtube are gone. I can’t get them back. All these hours could have been spent writing posts on here, getting better at playing the piano, or learning a new skill: but they haven’t.

Dwelling on that won’t help me at all though.

The present is the present is the present. There’s no true past, only ideas we can remember from it. There’s no true future, only an everlasting present. The present is the only thing there is, everything around it is either immovable, unchangeable or a set of actions soon to become part of the past, immovable and unchangeable. There is no “if”. There is what happened, what you’re doing, and what you will do; however, this life is a single path, not a tree. Your decisions will lead you down one single path, whether you like it or not. The choices we’re brought to make in life often make us think of it as branching, where our choices could lead to different outcomes. But do not be mistaken: there is what exists, and what doesn’t. What doesn’t exist isn’t tangible. The “if” isn’t truly out there. You will live one path of life. Whether you choose to ponder on how else that path “could have” gone is up to you, but ultimately, you are the one digging it. Whether you want to complain about how that path could have been a branching tree is your choice, but watch where you’re digging, because there’s a cliff up ahead, and you’re not looking straight.

I’ve been caught up in imagining a tree in which my success could happen, which bothered me, as I was aware my actions weren’t matching up. I’ve been focused on the branches, the possibilities, the different actions I could take to get there, instead of just owning my path and executing in the present moment.

I haven’t been executing like my guts tell me I should. This may even be the second manifesto piece I’ve written. No more. I’m 17, and I know that I can’t go another single day without pursuing my vision and executing on it. Nothing else matters, apart from staying healthy; as, without a vision, I’ll just be looking for distractions, and not to what I could be doing to make myself happy. Without knowing what I truly am shooting for, the goal that I’ll have until my last dying breath, I’ll just be sleepwalking my way through life. And that thought truly scares the hell out of me.

I know that writing in this form works for me. So I’ll do it. I know that I want to keep playing the piano, so I’ll do it. In the days when I feel lost, I’ll remember these two things, and execute on them, no matter how I feel.

I look around, and I see old friends still stuck where I used to be. In a land where sadness is both despised and involuntarily embraced.

It may sound condescending, but I’m not trying to be.

An old me made friends with these people. An obsolete version of who I used to be. Some of them have grown to be compatible with me still, for better or for worse. Some haven’t. It’s the way life works.

But I can’t focus on that. I have to move on. Because until I have reached the success I’m aiming for, I won’t be able to breathe, and the hunger will drive me mad. So it’s time to do; it’s time to act.

 

 

Picture credit: Lucas Gallone

To The Guy Who Used his Phone During the Break at the SAT

You want to get into a college? Really? You’re working this year because you wanna get into higher education and then have a job that will follow guidelines and rules that you will have to agree to?

I don’t think so.

Something as easy as giving up texting for a couple of hours, you weren’t able to do. Better than that, you protested. You contested. You said that those who enforced the rules and had to take your phone away made you “waste your *precious* time and money”. Pardon my Frenchman’s French, but I think you waste your precious time not with the SAT but by sitting on your @ss and using your phone all day, seeing how you couldn’t let go of it for 2 hours.

Yes, I’m being judgmental. But I’m trying to make a point. 

If you want something, you get it. You don’t play the victim. It’s easy to see when people do it, and harder to notice when it’s your own turn.

The Real Problem Behind Labels

There’s this mainstream idea that “labels are bad”, and “you shouldn’t label people”. I think it’s absolutely true, but that we do a terrible job of explaining what that phrase actually means. Here’s my attempt at offering my point of view on the subject. 

Go back to when you were a kid. Now, you just snuck candies in your room without your parents noticing (let’s say they told you not to do it). Your parents ask you where all the candies went. You say you don’t know. They ask if you ate it. You say no. They ask if you took it. No again. Then they find the candies in your room.

At this point, your parents could easily use the dreaded term: “liar”, and tell you to not be a liar. Here’s the huge problem with that: we’re all liars. From an innocent “Yes, that looks good so on you”, to telling yourself “I swear I’ll start working after that one episode”, to saying you didn’t do your homework because you “didn’t have time”, yet finished half a season of Dexter during the weekend, it’s a part of our daily lives. And using the term “liar” makes it seem like there are only 2 alternatives: being an evil liar, or only always saying the truth, the “good” option. Which is false. You don’t tell your friend who just lost their dog that “it’s okay, dogs live less than humans anyway, it was about time he died”. It’s not “nice”, and wouldn’t be considered “good”, yet, it’s the truth.

We lie all the time, big or small, to ourselves or others, but we aren’t “liars”. Those lies are not always “bad”. Saying “I’m sorry” when learning about someone in your class who’s grandfather just died is not mean at all, yet you may not care 100% of the time, because people die everyday, and her grandpa was 93. It’s still a nice thing to say, and not big “E” liE, but one that’s meant to reassure someone you probably feel empathy towards. 

An additional reason why calling someone a liar, cheater, bad student and more is a terrible idea is the way we associate with labels. If you call someone a liar, that sticks with them. Although their lie might have been a one time thing, let them hear it a couple of time and the term will become a small but noticeable part of their person. The “bad student” example explains this really well. I’ve seen a countless number of my friends putting themselves down simply because they haven’t been getting straight A’s students their whole life, and their parents, sometimes teacher (but a big part is themselves) are there to remind them of that. Those teenagers might then think they are bad students, which is probably absolutely false. Like the term “liar”, the word “student” means more than just what we associate it with. A student learns, likes to learn, and strives for knowledge instead of just sit in a class and earn grades to go to college, get a job and be able to stop learning. Maybe that teenager isn’t seeing their A in Art, and the fact that it’s the only class they really like and feel excited about. Why? “Because art won’t get them to college”. Screw that, welcome to the internet. And that’s just one example, maybe you like to play an instrument, math, video editing, building chairs, are really good with people, I don’t know! The thing is, telling yourself you’re a “bad student” is probably untrue, and is certainly not going to help. Maybe the problem is just that you haven’t found what “thing” you want to be a student in. Or you have, but it’s video games, and you don’t think that there’s anything to learn, create, or get out of the entire subject. Which is absolutely false.

So if your sibling, daughter, son, or friend ends up doing something you don’t like but want them to stop that behavior, don’t call them a liar. Instead, ask them to “be honest with me next time”, don’t tell them to “stop being a liar”, or “don’t be a liar”. Because once you tell people what you like them doing -being honest- and make sure they don’t feel attacked when you tell them, is the moment they will actually hear you out.

A Letter From My Future Self – Dear Mentor

Leo Gura is the owner of the website and Youtube channel Actualized.org. He puts out videos every week, on a very consistent schedules, videos that often last for 45 minutes to an hour (or more) without making any cuts. This is my letter to him from my future self in December 2018.

Hello Leo,

My name is Robin Playe, a frenchman living in North Carolina. You must get thousands of these everyday, so I’ll keep it concise.

I am currently a senior in high school, turning 19 in a couple of weeks. I first stumbled upon your videos on Youtube about 4 years ago, during one of the lowest points in my life. I was depressed, but fed up with that state of mind, and actively looking for ways to come out of it. This is when I came across a video of yours called Why Am I Depressed? – The Shocking Truth Behind Your Depression.

Watching this changed everything. I felt as if many things I knew to be true but scared to execute were suddenly given permission to be believed, and additional knowledge was coming, pouring in. I have always been fascinated by psychology, which I will study in college, the main reason why your videos were so fascinating to me. Self-awareness has since been on top of my priority list and something I constantly try to improve on. Out of the many, many hours of your content I ended up listening to or watching, 13 of your videos I went through slowly and took long, detailed notes of (62 handwritten notebook pages).

As I kept watching, I tried to also take action, and not just engage in “mental masturbation”, as you would describe it; only taking in content but not actually doing anything with it. I started doing meditation, explore different subjects, and tried to hone in on what I thought to be my passions.

But here’s the thing. My 20 minutes meditation sessions got harder and harder to keep up with, and after about 2 solid weeks, ended. I tried picking it back up multiple times, but failed even more.

I started to see your determination towards enlightenment, but felt as if it was too much for me at the moment. The turning point of my depression had been when I moved back again from France to the U.S. I had, then, stopped being a people pleasure, explored my masculinity, as well as worked on my my emotional awareness, following some of your (best) content like How To Be Attractive – The Ultimate Attraction Strategy and How To Master & Control Your Emotions. Much of the information shared  seems like really basic information when I listen to it now, but wasn’t on my first time listening to them. Nevertheless, I felt that spiritual enlightenment was just too big of a commitment, especially including the fact that I was (and still am) in high school and absolutely not financially independent, among other factors.

It became obvious to me then. Self awareness was what I needed to keep pursuing, along with finding my life purpose, to build the necessary foundation for living my extraordinary life. Since then, I’ve decided to take the habit of doing at least 5 minutes of meditation per day; a small amount, but the habit itself is more important to me. I meditate more on days when I want to, and force myself to do that amount during tougher days (or more, sometimes). I have also, since then, decided to take the habits of taking at least 1 cold shower a day, often in the morning, in order to set the mood and foundation for my life: being able to throw myself into highly uncomfortable situations in order to grow as a human being and grow out of my comfort zone.

This next one is something that’s hard to declare in a publicly permanent manner, but one that’s been very important to me, and not talked about, as far I know, in any of your videos so far. I have decided to join the group NoFap, am now completely rebooted, and still on a very good no-PMO streak. I believe that PMO was having a very negative effect on my own psyche, and quitting it is one of the best decisions I could have taken in my entire life.

On top of all this, I have now written and published an ebook, something I’ve been meaning to do since I was a little kid, writing the first chapter of a novel in my blue notebook. I remember it like it was yesterday.

But all of that, although having had to be done by me kicking myself in the ass, is in big portion thanks to you. I don’t know where I would be at this point in my life if I hadn’t stumbled upon your content. Sure, what I’ve achieved so far could be considered small, but is, most importantly, the foundation for a soon-to-be freshman in college that wants to build an extraordinary life for himself.

Thank you for what you do and keep living your extraordinary life,

Robin Playe

The Kid Who Dug Up Dinosaur Bones

Humans of New York recently posted the picture of a little kid on their website with the following caption:

“I want to be an archeologist. That’s a person who explores the desert and looks for dinosaur eggs and Egyptians. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’m already watching Jurassic Park and collecting dinosaur stickers. And once I found a piece of coral in the shape of a heart.”(Bogotá, Colombia)

And that got me thinking.

I was that kid, once. Okay, I’m still only 17, but bear with me.

I wanted to be an archeologist. I owned these small solid sand blocks that you’d have to dig through with tools to find dinosaur bones inside of.

I was crazy about them. I’d sit for hours, just concentrated on that one task, digging those blocks, until the fake rarity would point out its nose at the extremities of my tools.

Why did I want to be an archaeologist? The thrill of the search. The patience required that would eventually lead me to something I knew I would discover. The joy of the process.

I still am that way, but just haven’t found what truly puts me in that state. The state of everything else around you getting faded, all that matters being the task at hand. The innocent joy – happiness – of simply enjoying the process, even more so than the end reward in itself. I’ve only stopped wanting to dig up dinosaur bones because of the reality of the actual job of being an archeologist. But in a way, I haven’t stopped dreaming. I still crave to dig through blocks of solid sand, sitting in a chair, glasses up my nose, tools in hands, time sitting still, with only one objective in head. I still want to be an archeologist.

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