Don’t Force Yourself to do Things You Don’t Want

Sacrificing your happiness to please others is self-defeating

Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do is a losing proposition. It leads to resentment both for yourself and for any people you blame for your predicament.

I resent having to read your banal blog posts.

Exactly! Thank you for that great example. You’re forced to read my posts because I created you and didn’t give you a say in the matter.

In the future there will be laws against this sort of thing.

A lot of our unhappiness is due to us living in the past or the future as opposed to living in the present. But that’s a subject for a later discussion.

What does that picture have to do with the topic, anyway?

I don’t know, maybe the kid didn’t want to be forced to leave his home?

Anyway, sometimes we’ll agree to attend a social event out of a sense of obligation, or because we feel guilty for saying no. Other times the mere thought that we might receive such an invitation causes us to avoid people altogether. We don’t have to feel guilty about saying no if we never get invited in the first place. This kind of avoidance behavior can ultimately be self-defeating, as we can also start to feel guilty about avoiding people in general.

In these instances, we can relieve some of the stress involved by simply reminding ourselves that we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to.

I really don’t want to have to read any more of this post.

A Simple Confidence Booster for You

5 minutes a day can make you a more confident and productive individual.

Confidence has many definitions—

Uh, not really. I’m pretty sure it’s clearly defined in the dictionary.

I just mean that its definition can depend on the context in which you are using it, such as how to think about confidence in a way that helps create it for you.

So what’s your definition of confidence, smart guy?

Confidence is your belief in your ability or your potential to accomplish something. I think this definition is useful for a couple of reasons. For one, it eliminates the black and white notion that either you must succeed at something or fail at something. We sometimes fight our battles with a predetermined conclusion that we are definitely going to either win or lose.

There are of course highly successful people who will tell you that they 100% believed that they would succeed at something before they accomplished this. Athletes, for example, may tell you that they were completely convinced that their team was going to win the big game. If they do in fact win, then it seems like vindication that they were correct in their belief. Of course, the reality is that the possibility of them losing was very much on the table, and the result could have been the exact opposite of what they believed was inevitable.

I believe that no one is going to finish reading this article.

Well, let’s hope you’re wrong.

So get to the point already.

I want you to take out a sheet of paper and write down everything you have accomplished in life. Break it up into categories  (e.g. work, things you’ve created, people you’ve helped, number of knives you can juggle). Go back through your entire life for material and make note of it all. I think you’ll surprise yourself when you discover that you’ve done a lot more than you initially believed.

Take your compiled list and transfer it to the notes section of your smartphone. Or if you hate technology, you can fold up the paper and carry it in your pocket. Spend 5 minutes a day reviewing this list. I recommend going over one category per day, so you can really give each area the attention it deserves. It may feel silly and self-serving at first, but if you keep this up for a couple of weeks your confidence levels will skyrocket.

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem for Less than $2

We’re constantly bombarded by judgments, both positive and negative. The source of these judgments can be either external or internal. The judgments that we choose to pay attention to have real, lasting consequences for our lives.

The funny thing about judgments is that they appear to have significant weight. Depending on the societal significance of a judgment, we sometimes go to great lengths to reinforce the idea that a judgment has real substance to it. We see this on full display when it comes to the handing down of legal pronouncements. Courtrooms are dressed up to look as refined and dignified as possible. The Judge wears a fancy robe to signify that they are an important person who has important things to say. They can take offense if you don’t show their opinions the respect they think they deserve.

They also don’t like it when you show up without pants.

Okay, sure. Now on some level we understand that the outfits and the intricately decorated hardwood and the titles and rituals are all just for show, and that any respect we afford to the process is a result of our own choice. But it’s also quite easy to assign more or less importance to other people’s opinions based on the authority we perceive them to have. In our everyday lives, we often give serious weight to the opinions and judgments of the people we are closest to, be they friends, family, or coworkers.

Not me. Most of the people I know are complete dicks.

I’m sorry to hear that. However, that does bring me my next point.

Oh, joy. Please continue.

Many of the judgments we accept about ourselves come from within. We tell ourselves that we’re smart, dumb, beautiful, or butt-ugly. But regardless of where the judgments are coming from, the important thing to remember is that they’re all bullshit. Every last one of them.

The reason for this is that “judgment” is really short for “value judgment.” In other words, we’re making the determination that a thing is either good or bad. But values are completely subjective. Values don’t have mass. They don’t have energy. They can’t be seen. They’re nothing more than concepts created by human minds. They don’t have any independent existence outside of the mind that created them.

Are you saying that nothing has value?

Not at all. I’m saying that nothing has objective value. Nothing that’s purely conceptual can ever be objective. As such, we’re free to assign whatever value we want to a thing or to an action as well as the corresponding judgment. And since judgments are purely of our own making, we might as well select the ones that will benefit us the most.

Knowing this, go out and buy yourself a spiral notebook from your store of choice. In this notebook, you’re going to write down all of the positive judgments you have about yourself, as well as the positive judgments others have made about you as well. You’re then going to review and add to this list on a regular basis (I recommend at least once a week). After a time, you’ll find that the positive judgments have become your reality, and the negative things you and others have said have faded into the background or have been forgotten altogether.

Maximize the Quality of Your Alone Time

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you need alone time. Some of us crave it. Some of us avoid it. But no matter your disposition, there will of course be times in your life when you will be by yourself.

I’m by myself right now!

Excellent! That means I’m talking to you. If you also happen to be one of those who dreads being alone, want you to realize what an enormous gift being alone is. How many projects have you been putting off because you’ve been busy catering to other people? How unfocused have you become because you haven’t allowed yourself the time you need for self-reflection?

Being alone is an opportunity. It’s a chance to put your creative powers to use and make something unique that will add value to people’s lives. So much of the alone time we do have we end up squandering. How much time do you spend alone consuming the creations of other people instead of making something yourself?

You have the potential to do great things, and the majority of your best ideas will come to you when you are alone. Most of my great ideas for my novel Scourge Ship came to me while I was alone.

You probably shouldn’t use ‘great ideas’ and ‘Scourge Ship’ in the same sentence.

That’s true, but the point is that I took the time to make something that was my own. And you can too, if you’re willing to use your alone time to the fullest.

“The Warrior of the Light makes use of solitude, but he is not used by it.” – Paulo Coehlo

What kind of pseudo-spiritual nonsense is that?

The kind that will hopefully motivate you to take action. I’m certainly not suggesting that you should never watch TV or sit on the couch and zone out from time to time, but that you take a critical eye to the things you do in your spare time. You may discover opportunities that you never knew existed.

You Owe it to Yourself to do This

I get it, sometimes life is overwhelming.

You get nothing, John Chambers.

 Hear me out. A life that’s overwhelming can feel like a tidal wave bearing down on you. And there are sharks in the tidal wave, and they’ve all eaten people who look exactly like you. Did you know that sharks can live a really long time? In 2016, a team from the University of Copenhagen discovered a nearly 400-year old Greenland shark in the sub-Arctic. That’s not exactly relevant, but it is cool.

Anyway, I was going to say that the next time you find yourself wondering whether or not you can handle something, remember to trust yourself! Trust that you will make the best possible choice given the information that you have. That’s all we can really do in the end. Also, don’t swim with sharks.

What in the good God are you talking about?

Can you imagine living for 400 years? That would be a lot of memories to have to integrate and make sense of. On the plus side, you’d have plenty of time to go back to school and change vocations multiple times.

Why are you still yammering on about sharks?

I’m talking about you, now. Sharks can’t go to school, obviously.

The only person you can really count on in life is you. You will of course encounter others who do in fact have your best interests at heart, but they also have to take care of themselves and may not be there for you 100% of the time. And even if they are, you still need to be able to rely on yourself.

Trust that you will make good decisions. Trust that you will also make bad decisions, but that you will learn from those mistakes. Above all, trust yourself.