Currently I have my head in this
“The disease of our time is that we live on the surface. We’re like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep.” – Steven Pressfield
How can failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?
Suffering is a moment of clarity, when you can no longer deny the truth of a situation and are forced into uncomfortable change. I’m lucky that I didn’t get into everything I wanted in life, or I’d be happy with my first good job, my college sweetheart, my college town. Being poor when young led to making money when I was old. Losing faith in my bosses and elders made me independent as an adult. Almost getting into the wrong marriage helped me recognize and enter the right one. Falling sick made me focus on my health. Inside suffering is a seed of change.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?
‘Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.’ Desire is a driver, a motivator. In fact, a sincere and uncomprmising desire, placed above everything else, is nearly always fulfilled. But every judgement, every preference, every setback spawns its own desire and soon we drown in them. Each problem to be solved, and we suffer until it’s fulfilled. Happiness, or at least peace, is the sense that nothing is missing in this moment. It’s okay to have a desire. But pick one and pick it carefully. Drop the small ones.
In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
Happiness is a choice you make and a skill you develop. The mind is just as malleable as the body. We spend so much time and effort trying to chnge the external world, other people, and our own bodies, all while accepting ourselves the way we were programmed in our youths. We accept the voices that talk to us in our head all the time as a source of the truth, but all of it is malleable, every day is new, and memory and identity are burdens from the past that prevent us from living freely in the present.
What advice would you give to a graduate college student right now that is about to enter the ‘real world’?
Advice: Follow your intellectual curiosity over whatever is ‘hot’ right now. Do everything you were going to do, but with less angst, less suffering, less emotion. Everything takes time. Ignore: The news. Complainers, angry people, high-conflict people. Anyone trying to scare you about a danger that isn’t clear or present. Dont do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are. Self-esteem is just the reputation that you have with yourself. You’ll always know. Ignore the unfairness – there is no fair. Play the hand that you’re dealt to the best of your ability. People are highly consistent, so you will eventually get what you deserve and so will they. In the end, everyone gets the same judgement.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession?
‘You’re too young.’ Most of history was built by young people. They just credit you when you get older. The only way to truly learn something is by doing it. But don’t wait.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Mementro mori – “remember that you have to die.” All of this will go to nothing. Remember before you were born? Just like that.