When it comes to getting stuff done the host of the podcast said he just does it like it’s not an option. He doesn’t give himself a choice.
“It’s like brushing my teeth. I don’t just decide one day that I don’t want to brush my teeth.”
For most people brushing their teeth isn’t much of an option in the morning but a ton of people don’t do it at night. The consequence if you don’t brush your teeth in the morning is that people will smell your bad breath and from then on label you as the bad breath monster. During sleep hours though the bad breath monster doesn’t breathe fire in anyone’s face. Sure, there might be gingivitis and cavities but that’s down the road. It’s all about the short-term consequences.
However, if brushing your teeth took 15 minutes then many more people would not do it in the morning either. Chewing gum would then be in the pockets of every person. It’s always a question of effort vs reward. In that world people would point and say, “you see that guy? He brushes his teeth….EVERY DAY.”
When we don’t want to do something we bargain with ourselves. Bargaining usually means telling ourselves we’ll do something later or making up our own science. Potatoes have vitamin C, therefore french fries are good for you. If you bargain long enough the costs rise due to inflation and then you have to pay more.
Getting started is the hardest part. Your brain just wants you to save calories to save yourself for more dire situations. Subliminally it’s congratulating you on the 1000 calories you just put in yourself. Look how fat you are. You’re beautiful. You don’t need to change a thing..muah muah. Life has always favoured those who are better than most others. Being better often takes work. During your waking hours what are you working on?
It’s almost 1 PM. I’m going to go brush my teeth now.
For most people it seems that nothing gets done unless there are consequences. I spent many years trudging my unmotivated carcass for 8 hours a day at jobs I disliked doing. Even if I didn’t care much of getting fired the idea of going through that process was enough for me to carry on. Rather than have to sit in the hot seat it seemed easier to just continue on the escalator of misery.
The human mind is always calculating equations figuring out if it’s worth it or not for you to waste calories. It doesn’t know that calories are plentiful. It’s operating from a world 100,000 years ago when you would be desperate enough to drink a squirrel’s blood.
While you brush your teeth and notice your dirty bathroom sink your brain tries to tell you that it’s not dirty enough for you to waste 5 calories on. It won’t easily withdraw 5 calories until your sink is so gross you can no longer respect yourself or until you expect company over.
To get things done you need to get in the way of your brain. You need to remind yourself that it will only take 2 minutes to clean the bathroom sink. You used to spend 9 hours a day being occupied with far more laborious work…so what’s 2 minutes of light scrubbing? Then you close by threatening to call yourself a loser. That’s what I call Art of the Deal.
We were talking about the people we mutually knew and which ones were successful. Automatically he spits out names of people who might be making a 6-digit salary. I responded by saying, “If I delivered parcels for as many hours as he works I would be making $100,000 too.”
Some guy with a wife and 3 kids might take home $100,000 after taxes but he’s taking it home to split 5 ways. He’s working 60 hours a week for $20,000 a year.
Almost everything we have today is more than what people dreamed about for most of human existence. If I could go back in time they would be oohing and awing at my tales of grilled cheese sandwiches. In my best ancient Sumerian I would summarize how I walk to this place called a supermarket where we buy food by picking what we want and lining up. Then I tell them how it’s not as great as it sounds because life gets really boring when you don’t think anyone is out to kill you.
“It’s really difficult to die,” I tell them. I go on by saying that some people even try to die but are unsuccessful. They tell me those people aren’t trying hard enough. I concur. If you fail at suicide it means you don’t want it badly enough.
At this point they are undecided on whether I’m from the future or just a nutjob but they’re infatuated with my great storytelling. When your best entertainment is flinging your own feces at each other you only need a minor gimmick to be the center of attention. I have to cut it short though because even in Mesopotamia no one likes a showoff.
As I transport back home I semi-conclude with the familiar notion that life is a game of the mind.
I take some solace in knowing that everyone will die one day and be quickly forgotten. Some like to think they’ll leave a lasting legacy not realizing that their grandchildren will see their photo on the wall and only think, I hope I don’t end up looking like that guy. That’s your legacy. Your perceived accomplishments will be as enviable as the stories of how people used to walk 5 miles to school. The younger generation will want to be nothing like you. They pity your life.
We live our life to cater to our future feelings which will die with us whether resolved or not. Feelings of guilt and regret do nothing except torment us. Perhaps they had significant utility in the past when we were in tribes but now they are just obsolete software features.
Life used to be your fitness. Now exercise is something you do so that you don’t look and feel so decrepit. Flavoured carbohydrates are plentiful and adequate. It’s not a coincidence that if you’re poor and uneducated you’re likely to suffer and die sooner. When the tipping point is near they’ll drop guns and potato chips on the streets and let us take care of ourselves. We’re present-day neanderthals unaware that our kind is due for extinction.
A chapter of a book I’ve been reading says, “compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Not to who someone else is today.” The chapter suggests that even being a tiny bit better than yesterday every day can have an exponential effect. Perhaps concentrating on people who are supposedly better than you is depressing and discouraging.
Okay, so I started with making my bed. Well, that was easy. Time to clock out.
The following days I continued to make my bed and throughout the day I would look for something to accomplish. Something fairly easy of course. I think we tend to overwhelm ourselves with tasks that we don’t end up doing them. If you make small deals with yourself you’ll be easier to convince.
It’s not hard to convince yourself to do 1 push-up. Every following day do 1 more than the day before. In 30 days you’ll be up to 30 in one day if you can do 30. Most people do zero in a month. Starting with that first push-up can get momentum going.
I’m maxed out at 33 proper push-ups in a row. Things are cleaner around the house. I’ve been writing on another blog. I should be more mindful with being a bit better than yesterday because I slack off sometimes. I’m still making my bed. A little better every day is much better than no improvement in a whole year.
It’s also beneficial and scary to ask yourself if you are better than yesterday, not literally but in the past year or 2 or 3 or even 10. Are you a better person? Are you more enlightened? Are you fatter? Have you stopped picking your nose? Are you sadder? What’s the trajectory look like? Are you lying to yourself? Are you lying to yourself?
Knowing what you’re going to do in life and having found what you want to do can be two different things. I find it hard to believe that many young adults find what they want to do or how they want to live their life. Maybe just a year ago their mother was still packing their lunch and washing their underwear. A year later they’re expected to choose what they want to do for the rest of their life when they don’t even know anything about life or themselves.
Most people didn’t find anything, they just picked something. Other times they let life choose for them. In order to find something you need to go on a journey and that takes time. Every stage of boredom, depression, joy, doubt, is part of the process. They’re all clues to the mystery. Rather than hate yourself for those stages you should examine them more closely because they’re trying to tell you something. The sooner you face them the sooner you get to your destination.