Being Mindful Of The Alternatives To Social Media

Being Mindful Of The Alternatives To Social Media

Many times, I find myself not knowing what to do with myself. I'm talking about those little moments of "free time" when I have no particular obligation or personal commitment.

Today I was going through that and, in that moment, my hand instinctively went to the letter R followed by the Enter button of my keyboard, which took me to Reddit. This mindless impulse has happened many times before. The sad thing is that after looking through the site I usually end up with a deep feeling of dissatisfaction.

Whether it's checking Reddit, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube it only turns out to be worth it about 10% of the time.  Sometimes I even find something that makes me feel angry or sad which is even worse. 

This needs to stop. Logically speaking, I should replace checking on social media with activities that are way more likely to be worthwhile. Doing this will make me mentally healthier and more valuable in general. 

A good way to make this change is to already have clear alternatives in mind or, better yet, have them written down so that, whenever I have the impulse to go on social media, I can instead look at an actual list. Because one of the biggest reasons for why I go on social media all the time is because I'm not fully mindful of the alternatives. So today I created that list.

This list of mine is made up of positive and fun things that I could do instead of checking social media. In my opinion, the more options I have the better, since that way I'm more likely to find something I'm in the mood for.

  • Walk my dogs - because in their eyes you can never do enough of that
  • Watch a movie
  • Go for a run
  • Play basketball
  • Read a chapter of Tribe Of Mentors
  • Read an article that I have saved on my Kindle
  • Read a chapter of a novel
  • Listen to a podcast - if you feel up to it, you can do it while running or walking the dogs!
  • Write a thank you letter
  • Call a friend
  • Talk to a stranger - I know you won't do it but hey, the option's always there
  • Answer some questions on Quora
  • Start or continue a post for my blog
  • Think of how I can improve this list (should I have more productive things or just more options?)

Side note: while I do think there's a place for social media, I think it's best used only when I have a deliberate reason. That way there's a pretty good chance it'll be worth it.

False Statements That You Should Pretend Are True

Even if they are technichally not true since they are absolutes, sometimes believing in these things can have huge benefits:

You are responsible for everything that happens to you.

This belief puts you in the driver's seat of your own life. It makes you look for what you could have done better so that you can improve next time. You see this mentality in a lot of great basketball players - even if the team loses the game because another player missed a simple shot, they don't blame it on them. Instead they say "it's on me, I could have done something." I think that's a sign of a great leader. 

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Believing in this makes it almost infinitely more likely that you'll be able to achieve your goals. Even if you end up failing, you will still get somewhere. As the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

In the end, everything will turn out fine.

This gives you the confidence to take risks.

What’s The Deal With Ayn Rand?

What’s The Deal With Ayn Rand?

One time when I was in college, one of my philosophy professors made the point that there aren't any famous women philosophers. She challenged us to name one, so I immediately blurted out "what about Ayn Rand?"  To that, she made an annoyed face and responded with "well, she doesn't count." I don't remember her exact explanation for why she didn't count but I know it was something along the lines of her "being crazy."

This is not the only time I've noticed this contempt for Ayn Rand and her philosophy.

Just yesterday I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls where an Ayn Rand reference came up. Rory, who is known as a very smart and driven girl, praises The Fountainhead, explaining that she was 10 when she first fell in love with it. Then the other character condemns Rand.

after I watched the show, I listened to a podcast called Gilmore Guys. It's a podcast where two guys and a guest break down each episode. It makes my experience of watching the show much more fun. Anyway, in the break-down of this particular episode, they were "disappointed" by Rory's love of Rand's work. They didn't explain why though, I assume because they thought the reason was self-evident.

I don't understand this. 

So many great people love her books. Just like Rory, I've heard many stories of people reading her work when they were young and it being a huge positive influence in their lives. They talk about her as if she was the catalyst to their success.

This leads me to think that there's something very valuable to be gleaned from her books, but apparently most people don't see this. I think that they are so focused on what they don't like about her that they don't see the hidden treasure. And after so many testimonials like the one below I'm convinced that there is a treasure. That is why I'm determined to eventually read her novels.

Though I've never read her work, I know I've been indirectly influenced by her, since the people that influenced me say that they've been influenced by her. What I do know about her is that she likes the free market, individualism, and personal responsibility, so she's alright in my book.

I've never heard of a person being driven to become successful and take control of their own lives because they read Karl Marx or Bernie Sanders or any other collectivist. If anything, I think those kinds of public figures discourage people. After all, their philosophy stands on the idea that the power to better your life is outside of you rather than within.

Shyness Is A Result Of Trauma

Shyness Is A Result Of Trauma

"I'm shy at first, but once we get to know each other I can be very outgoing."

When people describe themselves, I hear that sentiment quite often. A long time ago I was someone who may have said such a thing thinking it was just a part of my personality. Now I see the tragic implications of those words. 

To understand the implications lets first define what it means to be shy. I'm defining shyness as being fearful of expressing yourself around others. This does not include introverts, provided that they aren't timid or nervous when they are with company. Introverts can be shy but not all are.

I happen to be both - for the most part, I like to be alone, but when I'm with others fear does prevent me from expressing myself properly. Because of this fear I have held back many moments of self expression. Basically everything that makes life worth living.

In short, I have refrained from expressing myself for fear of facing punishment.

So where does this fear come from? I believe that shy people were once sensitive children who developed this fear as a result of past traumatic occurrences.

Though shy people may not have a present reason to be timid, they once did. Shy people were once in an environment where, to some degree or another, it was dangerous to be fully themselves. This danger can come in many ways and from many people including parents, siblings, teachers or school bullies. 

Perhaps, like me, these shy people had their curiosity squashed, their propensity for being playful and loud tamed, their feelings exploited, or their unique quirks ridiculed. Whatever it was, I guarantee that they had an expression that was natural to them that others around them didn't like and so, much like a nail that sticks out, they got the hammer. 

Pretty soon they learned that not all of who they are is accepted, so they start to suppress their true selves in order to survive. But the problem never stops there; this self-censorship is then internalized. It stays with them as they grow, even when there's no possibility of retaliation. What was once a necessary adjustment in response to their environment has now turned into unresolved trauma.

Now you understand why I think this is tragic. It's almost even more tragic that there are people out there who think shyness is just part of their natural personality rather than a result of the trauma-inducing environment around them. Without this knowledge, they have little chance of ever reversing it.

I remember being outgoing and carefree once. I believe basically every person was born that way. It is not until they get tested, silenced, controlled, humiliated, scorned, and beaten that they become anxious and reserved. One of my goals in life is to reconnect with who I was before that happened.

Why Your Book Recommendations Are Futile

Why Your Book Recommendations Are Futile

Have you ever had trouble getting your family or friends to watch your favorite shows, read your favorite books, adopt a certain perspective? That's the story of my life. Sometimes I read, watch, or listen to something that I find so valuable that I can't help but share it in an effort to improve the lives around me.

I'd say my success rate is about 2%. I used to get upset when it didn't work, but now I don't because I have learned of it's inherent futility. Though I still do it just because the opportunity cost of mentioning something I liked is so low, plus that 2% can be meaningful. 

Why Is It So Futile?

You may notice that, when you tell someone "you should consume x" in an unwarranted manner, many times the person won't do it. They may show interest while you talk about it just to be polite but the interest usually stops there. Even if they do end up consuming it, they will most likely give you the lukewarm response of "I thought it was okay." In most successful introductions of mine, I can easily tell that the person didn't find it as important as me.

If you want to test this out, go to someone and show them a video which you thought was really funny. I guarantee you that they will not find it as funny as you did. I also guarantee that the person would have found the video funnier if they discovered it themselves. There's probably a study like this out there that I'm too lazy to look for.

Most times, the person is resistant to your recommendation not because they think they'll dislike it but rather because they simply don't like being told what to do and how to feel. If they consume something, they want it to come from an internal desire to do it. It gives them a sense of free will. There's nothing wrong with that - we all have the need to feel that way.

Successful recommendations where the person gleans the importance that you gleaned only work when they are already looking for it. The person has to have the same goal in mind that you had before diving in, and that goal has to be self-directed. 

I know certain books, podcasts, activities that can improve the lives of my family and friends but I know that if I try to introduce such things to them when they haven't asked for it they will get nothing of value out of it. Conversely, they have recommended things to me that I resisted for the same reason.

Despite the frustration that this brings, I wouldn't have it any other way. Discovering our own way through life is fun, it's what makes us different, it's how we derive our own purpose.

Knowing This, What Can We Do?

The best, if not the only thing we can do is to set an example. We could show the valuable effects we have obtained from trying such things.

If you want other people to see the value in exercising, all you can do is be happy and healthy and hope that people like those results enough to try it themselves. 

If you want people to read a book that you think is important, maybe write a review where you talk about the value you've extracted from it, post it on social media.

Make your thoughts and feelings known to the world and let people listen only if they please.  The important part is in doing this without being pushy.

And of course this wouldn't be an Erick Muller blog post if I didn't tie this topic back to children. If these things are true for adults, if we learn and discover the importance of things best when it is not pushed upon us, it is most certainly true for kids. This is why compulsory schools and authoritarian parenting is so backwards. Just like adults, children have an inherit need for freedom, so we should give it to them.

For more on this I'd recommend How Children Learn by John Holt. It's one of those books I wish everyone would read, so you must read it now! 

I'm joking - of course I don't expect that recommendation to work. In the spirit of following my own advise, you can expect a review from me soon. 

Changing My Attitude Towards What I Consume

Today I just want to highlight 3 blog posts that I read from TK Coleman's Blog. If not for future reference, I'm also doing this to cement them in my mind by spending some time writing and thinking about them.

  1. How to Get Around Bodyguards and Make It to the Top Part I
  2. How to Get Around Bodyguards and Make It to the Top Part II
  3. How to Get Around Bodyguards and Make It to the Top Part III

I feel the need to save those words because I want to remember what I think is an important lesson. And I just can't say it any better myself.

I used to waste my time looking for flaws in things rather than ignoring them or extracting the value I could get out of them. For example, I've criticized movies or shows for being "anti-capitalist propaganda," I've dismissed thinkers for having (in my opinion) the wrong conclusion on a certain issue, I've laughed off quotes for not being applicable to every situation etc.

Those little reservations were guarding valuable truths, and I have been too skeptical to get through them. 

From now on I am going to choose to see everything I consume as an opportunity to learn and become a better version of myself.  Anything that doesn't have the capacity to do that for me (I'm looking at you, politics) I will simply discard from my life. 

The Dangers Of Determinism

The Dangers Of Determinism

In the world of philosophy, there is a huge debate between determinism and free will. The former says that our actions are determined by our past while the latter says that our actions can be chosen freely. 

I have nowhere near the amount of knowledge and wisdom to say which one is right. What I will say is that it would behoove us to act as if we did have full free will, even if it isn't true. 

That's because belief in determinism usually leads to inaction. Even though they may not know it, some people invoke determinism as an excuse to not improve their lives. You can see this with how they deflect personal responsibility: They may say "I was just raised this way" or "I couldn't get it done because of this other person."

That may be true - and it may actually be important to be aware of those causes - but what is more important is what you're going to do about it. 

Another problem with people that believe in determinism is that they fundamentally don't believe they can choose to change. Instead they wait for "the universe" to tell them when it's time for a change. They usually wait until they get a big health scare to start exercising or they wait until they get into a car crash to start driving more responsibly. Sometimes it may be too late.

Imagine how much better it would be if those people knew they could change their bad habit before a defining moment?

What we need to do, if we want to improve our lives, is to act as if we have full and unfettered free will.

People Love To Criticize

Just go to any comments section of any piece of work and you'll find someone saying how they don't like it. This is true of even the most beloved pieces of work that have stood the test of time. Just think of your favorite book, movie or song and I can immediately find you someone that is unimpressed by it.

I mention this because it's important to know that criticism is something no one person who wants to do great things can avoid. Anything that you will create will be bad to at least one other person, so there's no point in trying to avoid it. 

Remember that most people who criticize don't know what it's like to have created something they deeply care about. If they did, then they would empathize with the creator and refrain from writing that unproductive or mean-spirited comment. 

Those kind of people aren't the ones you want to listen to anyway, so just ignore them. And think of them as a symbol that you are putting something that matters out in the world. 

This post was inspired by this awesome post by T.K. Coleman.

The Importance of Clear Communication

I think nearly all of the world's problems wouldn't exist in the first place if everyone was able to perfectly communicate and interpret each other's thoughts and feelings accurately. Language barriers, misinterpretations, presupposed narratives, a lacking vocabulary, all contribute to most, if not all conflicts. Just look at almost any movie (especially romantic movies) - most of the problems in them could easily have been prevented if people just talked to each other properly. 

I think good communication skills are often the determining factor of whether a relationship is doomed to fail or not. I've seen firsthand how relationships slowly deteriorate because of a deficiency in communication skills. That includes some of my own relationships with my Spanish speaking family. Although I do speak Spanish, my vocabulary is not complex enough for me to be able to properly say what I mean. 

Not being able to speak my mind is one of my biggest fears. To me, it is a personal hell to live a life where you're never fully understood. This is why I admire authors and public speakers. They are able to express themselves the way that they want to, or at least to a better degree than the average person. Getting to that level is something I strive to do. This is a huge reason for why I'm blogging. Practice makes perfect.

Patience Really Is Everything

Patience Really Is Everything

The ability to delay gratification, or patience, is one of the most valuable qualities a person could have. Especially when it comes to endeavors that take years before seeing rewards. For example, it is needed to become a doctor, write a book, learn a new language, loose weight etc.

Patience is a prerequisite for doing anything great.

Patience is what differentiates successful business owners and not-so-successful ones. That's because if you try to get as much money as possible as soon as possible, you are not focusing on what you should be focusing on, which is to build a solid foundation that will make your company last.

Patience does not come easy to me.

I became hyper-aware of this fact ever since I started my project, which was an affiliate website. With this site, I have struggled to do the things that don't get immediate results but are crucial for the long term success of the site.

Namely, I have neglected the fact that I should fill the site with interest pieces. Those are articles that don't make money directly but make the site as a whole more interesting and trustworthy. Such value is harder to see and more delayed. But it is very important for any website to have that in order for it to survive long-term.

The reason why it's not that easy to just go for the long term benefits is because of my scarcity mindset. I think 'if I don't take the money now, I may not get any at all in the future because some sort of disruption may occur in the market.' 

While those may be legitimate fears, I shouldn't put too much weight in them. Besides, I know that the people that are most successful are the ones that are strong enough to not take the money. 

Patience is very important if I want to be successful with anything. So right now I'm doing everything I can to strengthen that muscle.