A big mistake I made in my youth was assuming there aren’t any rules to life. As long as I wasn’t getting arrested or expelled from school, I thought I was free to “create my life” however I saw fit. Much of this came from having a big ego and living in a sheltered suburb. Though, a Progressive-Liberal worldview that viewed “traditional thinking” as a Sin provided a philosophical backing for some of my misadventures.
In reality, humans have needs that have to be met (no questions asked) before they can move onto the higher parts of life. These needs form a pyramid structure with survival-level requirements (food, shelter, safety) at the base and self-actualization (you could also call it “spirituality”) at the top. In the middle are the activities that most people spend their whole lives pursuing - career, relationships, fitness, etc. Studying Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good place to start when considering this concept.
I don't bring up needs-fulfillment as some kind of abstract intellectual exercise. Rather, in a very practical sense, this is how humans function (for the most part). If you are missing multiple lower-order needs, you will find it very difficult to satisfy loftier desires over the long term.
Let’s say you want to start a business in your free time. You have a good idea and hope that after a couple years investment, you’ll be able to leave your day job and pursue this passion project full time. And yet, no matter how good your idea seems on paper, you have trouble focusing night after night on getting the work done. Sometimes you even start to doubt your overall vision and get frustrated.
What often happens in these types of situations is the person has fixated on a higher-order need (becoming a successful entrepreneur) while ignoring more “mundane” aspects of life like health and sexuality. Especially if you are of the achiever mindset, it can be tempting to try and skip over the baser parts of existence in an attempt to gain riches and quickly cement your name in the history books. Nature does not take kindly to these types of cheaters, however.
The would-be entrepreneur who lives a lethargic lifestyle squanders massive amounts of energy. His poor health habits reduce his focus and productivity, and thus directly harm his business. This would-be entrepreneur also will subconsciously dislike himself for being out of shape and lazy. Anxiety about his health produces cognitive dissonance, making the problem even worse. How can you tout your credentials as a leader to potential investors if you can’t even motivate yourself to go to the gym three times a week? If this man keeps ignoring his fitness needs, part of him will always feel like a phony while giving pitches.
Now, you might say, “Sure, but lots of successful people are out of shape. Look at Winston Churchill or Chris Christie.” Exceptions here and there don’t disprove the fact that a hierarchical ordering of needs is the strongest and most consistent way to approach life-satisfaction. Christie may be fat, but I can bet you that his other needs are being more than fulfilled. It’s fun being the Governor of a historically corrupt state.
What Does This Mean In Reality?
If you want to be great at something - make sure you’ve mastered the “lower levels” of life first. In order to function at maximum productivity, you need to (this is just a sample, one could add more to each category):
Have a clean and well lit living space
Make enough money to live without excessive stress
Have clothes that are comfortable, fit well, and look reasonable
Consistently eat nutritious and balanced meals
Have enough of a social life to never feel lonely and to stay connected with others
Be in the dating game, so you can release sexual tension now and then and enjoy the company of the opposite polarity
Get regular exercise
Have a regular work schedule that gives you a sense of routine during the day
Start to think about questions like “who am I?” and “what do I stand for?”
Identify your values - what really matters to you, and what can you live without?
If any of these needs are glaring holes for you, it will be much more difficult to become elite at whatever skill or profession you desire. Often times we can be completely blind to the things holding us back. It sounds ridiculous in retrospect, but there was a period of time where I wanted to write after work, but couldn’t seem to bring myself to do it most nights. My lack of motivation was distressing me, but you know what the problem was?
I didn’t own a desk.
Pathetic, I know. I had recently moved and was taking my time with the whole setting up the new house deal. I was sick of putting together furniture, and just didn’t want to deal, so I was going to coffee shops after work, writing on the couch, or really anywhere else I could sit. Every single night I had to waste energy thinking: “OK where am I going to work tonight? The coffee shop? Eh, their Wi-Fi was shoddy last time. Maybe the couch? Damn the roommates are already sitting there.” This internal monologue was a big wast of time, and combined with the fact that I was already a bit tired from working earlier in the day, it always shifted the odds towards "not working tonight. Going to surf the internet instead.”
Once I realized my problem, I bought a good desk, swivel chair, and lamp to go with it. Suddenly, writing became 10x easier. Who would’ve thought? This is kind of an extreme example - most people probably wouldn’t be this stupid to try and write without a desk - but it illustrates a larger point. If you aren’t taking care of your basic needs, you can’t reasonably expect to progress onto the next levels of life.
Be honest with yourself. Where are you slacking right now? And do you notice a connection between your laziness in this area and other parts of your life? Is your diet of fast food crushing your energy levels, which in turn is hurting your performance at work? Is your fear of approaching women making you sexually frustrated and therefore uninspired about life in general? Is your Netflix addiction throwing off your sleeping habits and making you feel rushed and anxious each morning? Identifying bad habits is just part of the equation. You then need to track how your inability to fulfill the more basic needs impacts other parts of your life.
I like how viewing life as a hierarchy of needs keeps me grounded. I take care of business during the day, working from 9 to 5:30 to secure the money I need for food, shelter, electricity, and everything else. After work I take care of my health needs by swimming laps, playing basketball, or working out. In between, I pay the bills, get car maintenance done, do my laundry, and clean up my room.
Early in the night I can often be found socializing with friends or going on Tinder dates. Now, I am not perfect in any of the categories thus far mentioned, but they are all things on my mind that I seek to take care of before sitting down to write posts like these.
Why? You may ask. Well, who the hell am I to come on a men’s self improvement subreddit and give advice if I don’t follow it myself? That’s a fake way to live, for sure. But it’s not only that. As I’ve said, I've found that locking down the lower-level needs subconsciously gives one permission to explore the higher parts of life. If you’re effortlessly taking care of the “mundane” parts of life, then starting a side business suddenly isn’t unrealistic, or even that hard. You actually have excess energy since you are living well, and also will pick up numerous side benefits from your lifestyle. Your success at your day job gives you contacts who can help you out. Your sexual prowess gives you the confidence to see yourself as a leader who knows what he wants. And so on - it all snowballs.
Furthermore, I talk about controversial ideas a lot like the New World Order. I assert that a brainwashing program is currently being used against the American populace, which at first appears to be an unhinged claim. And I’ve learned it is kind of unhinged to make such statements - even if they are backed up by copious evidence - if you’re not balling out in the rest of your life.
You could be totally correct about the New World Order, but if you’re a fat neckbeard, that really shouldn’t be your biggest concern in life. If you want to participate in the culture war at that level (or do anything at a high level, really) you better be able to back it up by being a high functioning person across the board. If you are, then nobody can really touch you.
What’s the Point of this Post?
You might be thinking, “This guy just told me the secret of life is to be good at everything. What the hell?” That’s not the point. The point is that to achieve great things, you must start at the base and then build upwards. If you are struggling with women, instead of trying to memorize more pick up lines and PUA tricks, ask yourself if you’ve mastered the lower levels:
-Are you in good shape?
-Are you well dressed?
-Do you have enough money to enjoy a night out?
-Does your social circle give you ample opportunities to meet new people?
Once you master these needs, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to hold Frame. Then you’ll actually KNOW you deserve love and recognition, instead of trying to trick people into giving it to you.
My blog is http://legendary-peace.com/