Characteristics to look for in a long term romantic partner

Choosing a long term romantic partner is one of the most selfless things you’ll ever do. It costs most of your money and freedom. Paradoxically though, it’s also one of the most selfish things you’ll ever do. Your partner is also sacrificing most of their freedom and money too. If you two work well enough together, you’ll be able to grow and accomplish more together than apart. If you two don’t work well together, you’ll tear each other down, and by the time you break up you’ll both be farther behind in life than you were when you met each other. In order to find the best long term romantic partner for you, you need to be ruthlessly selfish about screening potential partners. When you find the right one, give yourself to them as completely as you would want them to give themselves to you.

Here are a few criteria you would be wise to look for when screening potential long term partners.

They’re proactively engaged in a lifelong quest for knowledge and growth.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who actively, consciously and consistently learn new things, explore their interests and expand their horizons… and those who sit there and stagnate and become dull and flawed. If you spend your life with the first kind of person, they’ll lift you up as they lift themselves up. The latter type will drag you down like a boat anchor. Not only will they keep you from achieving your external goals, but after you spend enough years with another person you’ll adopt their personality. If that person is a dullard, you’ll become one too. Then that will be the reality you’ll experience for the rest of your life.

Facing life alone will make you a more vibrant person than living in cold comfort with a child stuck in an adult’s body. The more time you spend becoming a strong individual, the more you’ll attract similar mates. Once you find the right one, you can spend the rest of your lives moving forward together.

They’re not self-centered, demanding or judgmental

When two people share their time, resources and energy equally, they can accomplish more together than they could have alone. That’s called a symbiotic relationship. When one person takes everything the other has and barely gives anything back, that’s called a parasitic relationship, and it’s not sustainable. When one person constantly empties their bucket and never gets it replenished, they eventually run dry. Then they start acting frustrated and resentful. When the spoiled, codependent parasite doesn’t get what they want, they start throwing tantrums. It’s a vicious cycle that inevitably ends in a dramatic breakup that leaves the host broke and depressed while the parasite just moves on to the next host without learning any life lessons.

Nobody is all-good or all-bad. There are millions of self-centered, demanding, judgmental parasites out there who are smart, interesting, funny, strong, successful, attractive and moderately generous. They have enough going for them to make you consider looking past their selfishness. Maybe they do deserve a chance, but if you give it to them, proceed with caution. Self-centered people can be generous and charming when they want something from you, but their prime prerogative is themselves. Sooner or later you’re going to take a back seat to their ego, and your needs will be treated as less important than their wants. Don’t be surprised when you wake up one day and realize that your life is just an accessory to theirs.

They’re able to take criticism and accept responsibility for their actions.

You can’t become a better person if you never change. Specifically, you need to figure out what your bad habits and character flaws are, and fix them. You shouldn’t even wait for someone else to point out your flaws. You should be proactively searching yourself for them and finding ways to fix them before they bother anyone else enough to call you out. If you do that, not only will you be happier and more successful in life, but you’ll be an ideal mate. Someone would be very lucky to spend the rest of their life with you.

You don’t need luck to find the right person to spend the rest of your life with. Pay attention to your dates. If they automatically get defensive and angry every time anyone points out their flaws, then be very cautious of that person. They’re probably never going to change. They’re going to build an impenetrable wall of circular, logic-proof, self-fulfilling excuses around their ego that will protect them from ever having to accept responsibility for their actions. They’ll never grow, because they already believe they’re perfect. As they stagnate in their own ignorant arrogance, they’re going to get more toxic and more stuck in their ways.

 If they’re unwilling to accept responsibility for the problems they create, they’re going to have to find someone else to blame, and it will inevitably be you. You have precious little time on this Earth to find yourself, identify your dreams and work towards achieving them. If you have to spend half your life defending yourself from irrational accusations and cleaning up someone else’s messes, you’re probably not going achieve your dreams. Even if you do make it, you’ll probably still be miserable. You’ll also find that as you grow and change while your partner stays the same, your goals will gradually become different. Eventually you’ll probably find that you’re both moving in different directions. When that happens your toxic partner will probably harass you to give up your stupid dreams. They’ll continue to make you feel bad for being yourself and hold you back from fulfilling your potential.

They think rationally.

Sanity is defined: “having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense.”

A mental illness exists when “ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.”

Unreasonable people with bad judgment and no common sense are always stressed out over nothing, and they turn simple tasks into major disasters. Irrational people are effectively insane. I’m not saying they’re bad people. None of us are perfect, and we all deserve to be loved. I’m just saying, spending the rest of your life with someone who has a condition that causes them to be a danger to themselves and others and needs to be managed constantly, is a huge and costly responsibility.

Hunky meat head studs and ditzy blonde bimbos make great one night stands (if you use a condom), but they make bad life-partners, because they’re better at ignoring and creating problems than solving them. Improving your quality of life depends on solving the problems that make your life suck. So if you want to be happy and secure in your old age (when you and your partner’s looks have faded) then marry Sherlock Holmes.

They have the same or compatible domestic goals/standards.

You’re going to spend most of your life either at work or at home. When you look back at life on your death bed, about half of what you see will be your house. It’s half of your reality. It’s half of your universe. Spending that much time in the same environment will shape who you are and how you feel. So it’s vitally important that your home fits you. The decorations, cost, noise-level, pace, cleaning schedule, etc. should fit your personality. If your environment fits you like a glove, you’re going to find it pretty easy to be happy. If your environment doesn’t fit you at all, you’re going to find it pretty hard to be happy.

When you move in with another person, you have to share your environment. So it’s equally important that both of you fit your environment. If your partner is stifled by your environment, then they’ll get frustrated and stressed. Then you’ll have to live with a frustrated, stressed person, and that will frustrate and stress you out. The cycle can escalate quickly and lead to new problems.

Obviously, people who share a house will have to make compromises, and couples who communicate rationally will be able to find common ground peacefully. But the more you have to compromise, the less often both people get what they want. If nobody ever really gets what they want, you have to wonder why you’re together when you could just as easily be with someone else who wants to live the same way you do.

They have the same or compatible interests and passions.

If you have no personality, interests, hobbies, ambition or style then you’ll be happiest living with another blank person. Ideally, you have found some topic or hobby that you’re so passionate about that you clear your schedule to make time for it. That will give your life meaning and direction, which will make you a healthy life-partner. If you’re going to share a house with another person for the rest of your life, you should pick someone else who has a passion of their own. It’ll keep them growing and glowing, which will make them a positive force in your life.

If your partner discourages you from doing the thing that defines you and gives you joy then they either don’t understand or care about you. You’re not going to be happy if you spend the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t understand and care about you. If your partner loved you, they would encourage your hobby. If your passion is bowling, then you should find someone who will buy you bowling-related gifts on your birthday and won’t mind coming to watch you bowl. You might also strongly consider finding someone who enjoys bowling as much as you do. Then neither of you will have to take time out of your schedule to support the other’s passion. Plus, sharing your passion is a profound connection for you to bond over.

They have the same or compatible philosophies on life.

No two people are going to see eye to eye on everything. So finding the perfect person for you isn’t a matter of finding someone who always agrees with you. You can be perfectly happy with someone who doesn’t even believe in the same religion as you. The thing about that is, your belief system guides your actions. People with the same belief system as you are likely to have compatible domestic and long term goals as you. Plus, sharing similar beliefs is a huge bond you share. You don’t have to share that bond, but it’s nice if you can get it… and with over 7 billion people in the world, you can find it if you look hard enough.

They’re financially responsible.

When most people move in with a long term partner, they do it for love, not because it’s a cold, calculated business decision. Little did you know, moving in with someone is the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make in your life. Live with someone long enough, and all of your finances will become tied together.

In a world that revolves around finance, you can’t live a decent quality of life without money. Housing, food, clothes, and free time all cost money. Nothing is more expensive than retirement, and that takes a lifetime of financial responsibility to save up for. You might find temporary happiness with a poor, charming, irresponsible job-hopper, but they’re not going to help you build a secure life for you and your children. They’re going to bleed you into perpetual poverty. Since one of the biggest causes of divorce is financial problems, your relationship probably isn’t going to last forever anyway. It’ll just hold you back for a while.

They treat you with kindness.

There’s no point being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t treat you with kindness. That’s half the point of being with someone: they treat you well, and your life is better with them than without them. Even if you’re patient enough to put up with an unkind lover (which is an oxymoron), they’re going to empty your bucket sooner rather than later, and the longer you stay with them, the more miserable you’re going to be. There’s no point being with someone who isn’t kind. Even if they’re a good provider, they’re just helping you survive to be miserable another day. You should spend the rest of your life with someone who regularly goes out of their way to say and do little things to make you smile and feel good about yourself. That’s a person worth waking up next to everyday for the rest of your life.

They build you up.

When assessing potential long term romantic partners, the question you have to ask yourself is, “Do they build me up, or tear me down?” The more they build you up, the more seriously you should consider spending more time with them. The more they tear you down, the quicker you should untether your life from theirs.

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How pop culture warps our perception of reality

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Pop culture is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images, and other phenomena that are within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid-20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. Heavily influenced by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of the society.”

The United States of America would have a mainstream culture even without mass media. However, every aspect of life in America is so saturated with mass media that you can’t even walk into a grocery store or dentist’s office without seeing televisions, magazines and advertisements. Since every American has been raised on ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes and images broadcasted through mass media, those ideas and behaviors have become America’s mainstream ideas and behaviors, and since the rest of the world also consumes American mass media, America’s habits are becoming the world’s habits.

This wouldn’t be a problem if most of America’s mass media were enlightened and humanitarian. Unfortunately, intelligence in American media is the exception, not the rule, because media producers don’t sit down and ask themselves what they can do to edify the general public and make the world a better place. They ask what they can do to make more money, and the way you make money is by creating a product that costs a little as you can get away with paying, and then you sell it to as many people as possible for as high a price as you can get away with. In order to sell a product to the most people, your product has to appeal to the most people.

It’s hard to sell something to everyone, because individuals are so different. Plus, we’re all cognitive misers, which means our brains are programmed to use mental shortcuts to help us navigate our way through life without thinking. Sometimes this is efficient and useful to the individual, but sometimes it causes one to think irrationally, which can be bad for marketers, whose job it is to convince people to buy a product, because it’s hard to reason with irrational people. This can also be good for marketers, because irrational people are easy to manipulate… especially if the manipulator understands psychology, and thousands of trained therapists, who should be making the world a better place, are making a comfortable living advising businesses on how to better manipulate their customers.

Almost every incarnation of pop culture in the mass media is a product. The lyrics to your favorite songs are products. Your favorite movie/television characters are products. Your favorite sports team is a product. Your politicians are products. Even the news you learn about the world from is a product. Most of the products you’re being sold are themselves (just like the advertisements promoting them) designed to appeal to the irrational, short-sighted, base instinctual desires in the primitive part of the brain. Pop culture in general is a dumbed down reflection of reality that’s designed to appeal to the most idiotic region of people’s subconscious… for the sole purpose of duping people into consuming profit-driven products. To put it more bluntly than that, pop culture is designed to turn its fans into hardworking, non-thinking, politically impotent consumer whores. To be fair, not all pop culture is as bad as that, but here are a few ways pop culture does warp your perception of reality:

Pop culture provides immature authority figures to mimic

Children learn behavioral values by mirroring or imitating whichever authority figures they spend the most time around growing up, which is usually their parents. Adolescent and teenage children also mimic the authority figures in their own social group and age range. In other words, kids tend to look up to the coolest kid in class. When children spend more time home alone watching television than they do interacting with real people, they mimic the authority figures they have to go on. This might not be a bad thing if the adults and alpha kids in pop culture set a good example by acting like mature, self-actualized, educated thinkers. However, most characters in pop culture tend to be irrational, anti-intellectual, petty, whitewashed consumer whores. They come in several different flavors, but they all add up to stupid.

The grotesquely brain dead hero type: Dumb and Dumber, Almost every Will Ferrel movie, Zoolander, Family Guy, Keenan and Kel, Spongebob Squarepants

The lovable, high class, successful, petty idiot type: Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, Friends,

The overly-sanitized, neutered youth pastor type: Danny Tanner, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, every show on Disney TV and Nickelodeon

The petty, sexy, trashy, edgy, ruthless type: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, True Blood, Shameless, The Sopranos, Dexter

The problem with growing up learning from authority figures such as these is they don’t live in the same cold, hard world as real people do. So mimicking them won’t prepare you to survive in the real world. It will only prepare you to be a petty, suburbanite who worries more about having sex and making money than educating yourself or changing the broken world you live in.

Granted, a common theme found across all mediums of pop culture is that you should be yourself, break the mold, dance to the beat of your own drummer, and not worry about what other people think of you. This inspirational message is undermined by the fact that most of the characters telling you this are petty, materialistic, backstabbing, perpetually horny yet sexually dysfunctional, irrational suburbanites. The way they rebel is by changing their hair color, dressing different, listening to different music, hanging out with different people. They rebel by becoming a different flavor of consumer whore, but at the core they’re all made of the same plastic.

Pop culture normalizes a consumption-based economy built on slavery.

Watching fictional characters living exactly like you is like looking into a mirror that reflects the world around you. When you spend your entire life in the same place you were born, and the only thing you know about the outside world is what you see in a mirror, you come to the logical conclusion that the entire world is just like your little bubble. If you only ever experience one flavor of reality, that’s the only reality you can imagine. The longer you experience that reality, the more your brain will rewire itself with schemas to help you navigate and survive your environment without you having to think about it. Eventually it becomes so ingrained in your brain, that your kneejerk response to anybody criticizing your reality is cognitive dissonance.

The lives of most pop culture heroes take place in a universe much like our own, where people spend their lives working as hard (or as smart) as they can to make enough money to impress the opposite sex, get married, retire and provide for their family. They wear designer clothes, and aspire to own expensive things. They accept that suburbia, the ghetto, the gated community and congested city life is the norm. They accept the status quo and structure their lives around it.

Children who are raised on pop culture grow up to become adults who spend their lives working in an economy designed to make the rich richer by setting up the poor to fail. They believe that, like their television heroes, they’ll achieve the American Dream, but in the real world, most people’s lives are never ending drudgery. Some Americans can’t see that, because their brains have rewired themselves to believe they live in Television Land. So they’ll spend the rest of their lives as wage slaves who are destined to become millionaires, and they’ll defend the system that guarantees they never will.

Sexual Censorship only creates anxiety and confusion.

Censorship laws in America are based on American Christian values, which are not mutually exclusive to what the Bible says. The laws are based on a few cherry picked Biblical passages loosely interpreted to conclude that sex is a taboo subject that’s immoral and shameful to have anything to do with most of the time, and the more open and exposed to sex you are, the worse of a person you are, and the worse your life going to be. That’s why it has to be censored.

This line of reasoning is based on a loose interpretation of a primitive Middle Eastern mythology, as opposed to a modern, enlightened, scientific, practical, healthy, productive understanding of sexual psychology. There isn’t one single psychological study that concludes it’s mentally unhealthy to deprive humans of sexual stimulation. However, there’s a world of evidence showing that sexual deprivation is mentally unhealthy.

Children who grow up in a world where sex doesn’t exist and civil law even says that sex is bad, will have to struggle to cope with the contradiction between their learned values and their biological sexual urges. This is a recipe for anxiety and unhappiness. Coincidentally, a distracted, self-loathing population is easy to control.

At the same time as pop culture censors sex and legitimizes irrational sexual taboos, its creators also understand that one thing most people have in common is the desire for sex. So they cram as much as sex as they can into almost every product they create. They put sexual images in places that don’t even make sense. Even the underage heroes in children’s television programming wear sexy, revealing clothing. PG-13 sexual stimulation is everywhere, which makes everyone want sex more than they already do, but then the censors step in and tell everyone that their feelings are wrong. So the population stays in a constant state of heightened lust, shame and anxiety.

Censorship of verbal vulgarity is institutionalized insanity.

American censorship laws reflect the belief that the words, “shit, cunt, fuck, ass, dick, crap, cock, pussy,” and a few others are inherently evil. They’re cursed phrases that will cause harm to those who hear them… but only some of them some of the time. So these words have to be censored sometimes, usually when kids are around. There’s no logical justification for this. It’s not even based on passages from the Bible. It’s just creating a problem out of thin air where there doesn’t have to be one.

People who grow up with a fake problem their entire life tend to eventually accept, and even embrace and defend that problem. People who spend long enough living under rules that don’t make any sense will eventually stop questioning their leaders when they create new laws that are obviously bad. A population that wastes its days dancing around pointless rules and stressing over pointless anxieties doesn’t have a lot of free time left over to focus on fulfilling their true potential or changing the world.

Entertainment news isn’t news. It’s entertaining insanity.  

If you’ve never left your bubble, and all you know of the outside world is what mass media tells you, then the mass media will shape your view of the outside world. Since mass media is littered with fiction and disinformation, you have to rely on someone to tell you what really happening in the world. News programs advertise themselves as presenting an accurate perception of reality. They espouse to follow professional standards of journalism, but they rarely live up to their claims.

If news sources told the truth, they’d have to admit that they’re a for-profit business competing against thousands of ruthless competitors. Their “news” is a product, and they have to sell as much of it as possible to the most amount of people. In order to do that, they have to give the customer the product they want most. News agencies have spent millions of dollars on focus group research determining that all of their customers have a base instinctual desire for entertainment, controversy, sex, mild violence, gossip and self-affirmation. The news businesses that sell those products make the most revenue. Those who don’t, go out of business. The biggest and most successful news businesses also have close ties with big businesses and the government, and they cater to their interests even when that’s not in the consumer’s interests.

So news reporters weave a dumbed down, titillating, petty, skewed perception of reality for their sheltered viewers. If that’s all you know of the world, you’re going to be very confused and misguided. In a best case scenario, this will cause you to devote your life to worrying about relatively unimportant issues while ignoring major issues. In a worst case scenario, you’ll devote your life to defending your own oppression.

Pop Culture is white noise.

The lyrics of most pop songs don’t make any sense at all. Most of them celebrate codependently obsessing over relationships, and even inspirational songs fall short of offering a road map to a better life (or mention that the source of most or your problems is that you live in an oppressive economy designed to make you poor). The plots of most sitcoms revolve around solving minor domestic problems. Reality TV presents a version of reality where everyone is dumb, rich and good looking. According to pop news, the most important thing happening in the world today is whatever the most beautiful celebrity did. The plots of most movies revolve around falling in love or beating a psychotic villain. Pop art may be the most vapid incarnation of pop culture.

It’s all white noise. It’s a screen saver for your brain. Sure, sometimes we all need to give our brain a rest and just enjoy the moment without stressing over all the problems in the world. But pop culture is everywhere all the time, and it’s always hollow. So it perpetually drowns out life. It keeps everyone from fulfilling their potential, which keeps humanity from fulfilling its potential.

The radio is all dumb all the time.

Most radio stations play the songs the biggest music production companies tell them to, which is pop music. Even if it’s country, rap, metal, goth, techno, indie or any other genre, they’re all the same songs sung to different sounds. It’s all white noise produced and distributed by the same for-profit companies catering to their customers’ base subconscious desires. In between the songs are advertisements that have been meticulously designed to manipulate your subconscious into buying things you don’t need for an unfair price and being excited about it. The celebrity DJs who narrate this never ending river of auditory idiocy talk like goofballs and rave about celebrity trivia and petty issues 24 hours a day.

When you wake up every morning, and your first exposure to the outside world is 30 minutes of commercials, songs about codependency and famous people talking about toilet humor,  you orientate your perception of reality around the context you’ve been given. Since your only frame of reference for how to behave is how you’ve seen and heard other people act, your natural inclination is to act like an idiot too. You’ll think anyone who doesn’t act like you is stupid or crazy.

The ubiquity of advertisements normalizes consumer culture.

Commercials are brain washing. They’re designed to bypass your conscious logic and self-interest to subconsciously manipulate you into spending money you can’t afford on things you don’t need. They’re specifically designed to make you think and act irrationally so that you’ll act in your own disinterest.

Every genre of pop culture is fortified with advertisements. There are even advertisements for products built right into songs, sitcoms, movies, radio commentary and news articles. Driving to work you’ll see billboards with advertisements. Ads are spray painted on the sidewalk. They’re put in your mailbox and slipped under your door. You can’t escape them if you tried. They’re all telling you that there’s a problem in your life, and the only way to fix it is to buy something.

When products are all you see, they’re all you know. Pop culture consumers would have a hard time imagining a world without Gillette, Coka~Cola, McDonalds, Pampers, Colgate, Calvin Klein and Cheerios. People who are obsessed with buying things don’t have time to stand up for child sweatshop workers or migrant field laborers. Instead, they spend their lives enthusiastically feeding the system that creates and sustains poverty, and by spending all their money on things they don’t need, they end up staying poor and trapped in debt their entire lives as well. They just have better toys to distract themselves from reality with.

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The Confidence Talk

Confidence is defined: “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

Self-confidence is defined: “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.”

Do those definitions describe you? Or would you describe yourself as more of a weak, scared, directionless, lonely, worthless failure who is spending your life sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else get what they want, all the while wondering how and why everyone but you seems to have life figured out and possesses the direction, drive, strength and confidence to make the most out of life? If so, that’s okay. On one level, it’s a sign of mental health.

Everyone is born lost, weak, scared and confused, and nobody ever learns the true meaning of life. Nobody ever gets it all figured out. Nobody really has any idea what the hell we’re doing here. So nobody can prove that what they’re confidently doing with their life is right. The most confident people you’ve ever seen could just be confidently failing at everything that truly matters and making a fool out of themselves in the eyes of God or the cosmos or whatever. I’m not saying that anyone with any shred of confidence is wrong. I’m saying that humility is sanity, and the goal of becoming more self-confident can’t be to cultivate dogmatic faith in your perpetual supremacy, because that would just be delusional. So if you feel a little lost, you’re just being realistic.

Another reason you shouldn’t blame yourself too much for being insecure is because you’ve been indoctrinated to feel inferior and set up to fail by your culture. Your school raised you to assume that if you don’t excel at bureaucratic testing, you’re not worthy of having a good job and thus a good life. Your economic leaders, who don’t pay you enough to live like a real human being, constantly remind you that if you’re not a millionaire it’s because you’re lazy and not worth a dollar. Your bosses teach you that you deserve to have to follow orders. Movies and sitcoms lead you to believe that if you’re not as beautiful and funny as your favorite fictional heroes then you’re barely a real person. Commercials brainwash you to believe that you’re incomplete, and the only way to complete yourself is to buy things you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. And religions teach you that no matter what you do, you’ll always be a worthless, unenlightened, selfish sinner who doesn’t even deserve the love of your own creator. When you grow up with the whole world telling you that you’re worthless, then your lack of confidence isn’t evidence you failed at what was expected of you; it’s evidence you succeeded at the task you were groomed for.

You were born unprepared, and before you could even get on your feet, the world pushed you down. So your insecurities aren’t completely your fault. However, if someone pushes you down and you don’t do everything in your power to stand back up, it becomes your fault that you’re still down. You’re a product of your environment, but you’re not bound by your environment’s definition of you. The key to freeing yourself from all the self-defeating beliefs the world has planted in your subconscious isn’t by cultivating and exerting raw strength of mind and will power. When you do that, all you’re really doing is temporarily denying what you already believe about yourself. Your perception of your worth is never going to change until you change the criteria you’re basing your perception of your worth on.

Your objective worth isn’t defined by what people think of you, your rank, your success rate, your body fat percentage, the number of people you’ve slept with, the size of your sex organs, the money in your bank account or the clothes on your back. We’re all inherently, equally, infinitely valuable because we’re all cosmic miracles. You’re the rarest, most elegant, most powerful, and thus the most valuable thing in the known universe. Nothing you can ever do or not do can possibly change that by even a fraction of a degree.

And as long as you can think and move, you can solve almost any problem. You can grow out of any shortcoming as long as you set your mind to the task and never give up, but first you need to believe your potential is limitless, because you’ll only let yourself go as far as you believe you can. That self-assurance comes naturally when you stop defining yourself the way your primitive culture tells you to and you start seeing yourself for the cosmic machine you truly are.

To this you might reply, am I really that great? Are any of us really that great? After all, you said yourself, we’re all lost, which can be interpreted to mean we’re all failures. And on the cosmic scale of things, we’re all just pond scum festering for a brief moment in a far corner of the universe. We’re just biological waste that floundered briefly, died meaninglessly and was forgotten immediately. So why should anyone be proud of that?

You should be proud of what you are, because you’re part of something bigger than us that’s truly amazing, and the brevity of life makes our existence infinitely valuable while also rendering our fears and failures ultimately meaningless. You’re not an outsider looking in on the universe. You’re part of the grand design, and you should be flattered to be a part of it all. The mysteriousness of life isn’t cause to give up and loath ourselves. It’s an invitation to explore and be awestruck.

Having said all that, life isn’t just a rosy theory. It’s a cold, hard, stressful place full of brutal consequences. If life keeps kicking you in the teeth, the reason isn’t because you were destined to fail. It’s just that your education is incomplete. You weren’t born as a fully grown, self-actualized, confident, mature adult, but you were born with everything you need to become one. However, unlike aging, personal growth doesn’t happen automatically. Every step you make on that journey has to be done consciously, deliberately and consistently.

If you want the fruit of life, you have to climb the tree of life to get it. If you want to reach the Promised Land, you have to cross a mountain first. The journey isn’t easy, but it’s manageable. You just have to take it one step at a time and never give up. If you’re scared of even starting, the good news is that the longest journey begins with baby steps, and you don’t even have to believe in yourself to take those steps. You can hate yourself, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll just walk right out of the darkness despite yourself.

The other good news is that the journey doesn’t actually have an end. Success and failure in life isn’t black and white. It’s not a matter of whether or not you reached the finished line. The way life works is, the more you grow, the better life gets. The less you grow, the worse life is for you. Every step you take is winning. The only question is, how much of your prize are you going to claim?

Practical Steps to Building Confidence

Follow the teachings of a delusional, selfish, short-sighted, sociopathic guru

There is a popular and relatively successful school of thought that advocates building self-confidence by thinking and behaving like an alpha pack member of society and ruthlessly exploiting everyone around you until you turn into The Wolf of Wall Street. If you build your life around a philosophy of uninhibited selfishness, there’s a good chance you’ll end up rich, powerful and arrogant. The downside is that your empire will be built on pain, and you’ll leave the world a worse place than you found it. You’ll have an ugly, hollow life to look back on, and you’ll miss out on invaluable opportunities for unadulterated joy. When you die, your death will likely be celebrated, and you won’t (or at least shouldn’t) feel comfortable facing eternity.

Granted, this is just my opinion. I believe you can and should fulfill your potential without hurting and exploiting other people, but if you want to know more about how to achieve confidence through sociopathy, here are some links you can research:

The Red Pill (a forum about being an alpha male)

Everything by the author, Robert Greene

Everything by the author, Ayn Raynd

Get in shape, and get yourself together.

If your body is unhealthy, your entire reality suffers. You’ll have less energy. You’ll have less motivation, which is just as well, because you’ll be less mobile. You’ll have more aches and pains, and you’ll be more prone to depression. If you want to live life to its fullest then your body needs to be in optimal working order. Trying to build confidence while maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle is like walking an endless journey with your feet tied together. If you’re guilty of this, you shouldn’t hate yourself. This doesn’t change your intrinsic worth. You’ve already suffered the consequences by not feeling as good as you would have if you were taking better care of your body.

Everyone should recognize that everyone is equal regardless of their health and hygiene. However, our brains are hardwired with instinctual shortcuts that manipulate our subconscious and make us sexually attracted to healthy bodies. For right or wrong, better or worse, the reality of the world we live in is that the healthier you are, the more positively people will respond to you in general. The less healthy you are, the more negatively people will respond to you in general. Even if you’re the epitome of unhealthiness, there will still be people who will love you dearly, but life would have been a lot easier for you in general if you’d been physically fit.

You shouldn’t judge yourself and beat yourself up for being unhealthy. That’s not doing yourself any favors. That’s like making a wrong turn while driving, and then stopping the car and spending the rest of your life living under an overpass abusing drugs and alcohol to numb the guilt and punish yourself for making a wrong turn. This is only as big of a deal as you make it.

If/when you are physically fit, you shouldn’t be arrogant about it. Your physical fitness is good for you, but it doesn’t make you better than anyone else. But you do deserve to be proud of yourself. Your responsible behavior has rewarded you with a better functioning body to enjoy life with longer, and it looks good. It’s a lot harder to be depressed and insecure when you can look at your good looking body in the mirror and feel proud of yourself.  For better or worse, right or wrong, you’ll also find it much, much easier to flirt with the opposite sex when you look like you take care of yourself. You’ll also naturally have more confidence when talking to the opposite sex, because you already know you have what they need.

Stages of a relationship

Stages of friendship

Why women like assholes

Why men should wear nice underwear

The cost/benefit analysis of being fake to impress people

Tips on internet dating

Educate Yourself

You’re not your clothes. You’re not your rank. You’re not your age. You’re not your skin color. You’re not your nationality. You’re not your penis size. You’re not your khakis. You are your mind. Everything you’ll ever do or say is defined by what’s in your mind. The way you grow and get better at anything is by learning. I can’t stress this enough, knowledge is the key to everything. If you’re not learning either from a book, a video or experiences on the streets, then you’re not growing. If you’re not learning then you’re stagnating. If you never learn anything, you’ll just stay a lost, confused, helpless child your entire life. Tragically, it takes just as much time and effort to stay stupid as it does to grow up. You have to do something every day for the rest of your life, you may as well do what makes you stronger and your life better.

The more you know about everything the better you’ll be at everything, but probably the most important thing you can teach yourself is how to solve problems. Anytime anything goes wrong in your life it’s because there’s a problem. The better you are at solving problems, the less problems there will be in your life, and the easier it’ll be for you solve them and move on. If you don’t know the first thing about problem solving, then you shouldn’t be surprised if your life feels like one long string of problems. It’s not because fate is out to get you. Fate gave you the tools to solve your problems. You just need to use them. The better you get at solving problems, the more naturally confident you’ll be, because you’ll know that you have the ability to solve whatever problems life throws at you.

My approach to thinking/problem solving

The value of knowledge

They’re giving away free superpowers at the library

How to become an expert at anything

How to become a genius

It’s not cool to be stupid

Your ability to think obligates you to

If you want to know how to impress the opposite sex, then learn as much as you can about the opposite sex. You’re going to have to learn how the other half of the planet thinks eventually. You may as well get a head start and learn as much as you can from the masters.

A useful Reddit forum on seduction

Tips on impressing women

Tips on impressing men

Tips on flirting with men and women

Know Yourself. Define your wants. Define your values.

If you have no idea who you are, what you believe, what you stand for or what you want out of life then you should feel directionless, because you are. It should also come as no surprise that you feel insecure about your self-worth, because your perception of reality has to be based on something. If you don’t consciously define yourself then your environment will subconsciously define you by default. That’s when you end up basing your self-worth and life goals on what bullies, celebrities and corporations tell you.

You don’t have to live that way. You can effortlessly and confidently stand up for yourself against all the naysayers in the world, but before you can stand for or against anything, you have to know who you are and what you believe. You have to understand your strengths to appreciate them, and you have to understand your weaknesses so that you can work within them. If you believe that you have to eliminate all your weaknesses before you can be confident, you’re wrong. Nobody in the world can succeed at everything, and nobody should. You just need to figure out what’s important to you and then figure out how you can achieve your goals using the gifts you have. Once you know what you want, and you’re firmly on the path towards getting it, then it becomes irrelevant how anyone else feels about you. You’re already making a B-line to where you want to be. There’s nothing anyone can tempt, threaten or distract you with. When nobody has any leverage over you then you have no reason to fear them, and you don’t have to work up the strength to stand up for yourself.

The first step every single person on the planet should take on the path to self-discovery is to complete a professional personality/aptitude test. Do an internet search for life skills or professional development centers in your local area and find one that offers personality/aptitude tests. They’re not exactly cheap, but it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your life. It’ll tell you things about yourself that you never knew. It’ll show you that your quirks aren’t failures; they’re what make you unique. They define your beauty and what you’re good at… and what you shouldn’t waste your time pursuing. They point the way to finding your own personal happiness. That’s priceless.

Once you have a rough idea of who you are, what you’re capable of and what you want, then the next step is to further explore who you are by doing more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Go out and find people who are like you, study the things you’re interested in, experiment with new hobbies. As you do these things you’ll further refine who you are and what you want. The clearer the path before you comes, the less strength it takes to stand up for yourself and follow your own path. You won’t have to stress over picking or justifying which fork in the road to take. The way will just be clear to you, and you’ll find yourself confidently running towards your destiny.

What you should know about yourself

The prime prerogative

Signs you’re mature but not necessarily old

Signs you’re old but not necessarily mature

Love yourself.

You’re never going to allow yourself to improve your inner-self or your external circumstances if you hate yourself, because you’ll have no motivation to succeed. In fact, a negative self-image becomes your motivation to destroy yourself, and your low expectations for yourself inevitably become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t love yourself then your future always looks hopeless no matter how good your life is. When you love yourself, then the future always looks hopeful regardless of what’s going on in your life. When you love yourself for who you are, your confidence is inherently tamper-proof. It won’t matter when you fail or someone treats you badly. If you base your self-worth solely on the fact that you’re an amazing, elegant, beautiful miracle then you’ll experience all the negative events in your life, not as soul-crushing mini-apocalypses, but as learning experiences at best or the cost of living at worst. But the more you love yourself, the less you even notice life’s little grievances, because you’re too busy celebrating life.

Many people who hate themselves were abused, abandoned and unloved at some point in their lives. If you’re one of those people, understand that it’s natural to respond to abuse and abandonment by feeling depressed and insecure, but I promise you that there’s more to you than what you’ve been led to believe. You deserve to love yourself. I can’t convince you to love yourself in a few paragraphs, but a licensed mental health professional can walk you through the steps of healing your emotional traumas. Therapy might be expensive, but healing your wounds will make you happier than buying new toys or doing more drugs. Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of resourcefulness. It may be scary, but it doesn’t cost anything to have a consultation with a therapist and find out what kind of help is available.

The value of life

Why you shouldn’t commit suicide

Reasons to be kind outside of religion

Does penis size matter?

Acknowledge your successes, and practice accomplishments. View failures as practice, not apocalypses.

If you have access to a computer and are smart enough to understand everything I’m saying then you’re not a failure. Your mind (and thus your potential) is already greater than most of the people who have ever existed. If you have low self-esteem, you’re not giving yourself enough credit for all the little, accumulative successes in your life. You’ve done many great things, and you’re blessed in many ways. But don’t take my word for it. Write your own gratitude list, and try to make a habit of taking time to be thankful for the good things in your life instead of focusing so much on the bad things. The more acutely aware of your strengths, successes and blessings you are, the more naturally confident you’ll feel. The more obsessively you count all your perceived weaknesses, failures and setbacks, the easier it will be to feel depressed.

If you’re having difficulty thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for, don’t worry, that can be fixed, but the only way your list is going to get longer is for you to take action and succeed at more things. Big successes are built on little successes. You don’t have to change the world today to feel good about yourself. Seek out little things you can do to improve your life. Find little challenges for you to conquer. Accomplish whatever is within your ability. It’ll give you something good to feel about today, and you can be confident about the fact that you’re moving forward… even if you fail at everything you attempt.

Failing at accomplishing a goal is only failure if you don’t learn anything from your experience. If you do, that’s not failing. That’s practice. You’ll never become an expert at anything unless you fail over and over again. If you keep practicing and allowing yourself to “fail” without beating yourself up over it then eventually you’ll understand what works and what doesn’t. Then succeeding is just a matter of going through the steps you’ve learned. Then young people will look up to you with admiration and want to know your secret to success.

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

My theory on responsibility

Simplify your life, and don’t set yourself up for failure.

There’s not enough time in our short lives to experience and master everything. Succeeding at life can’t be a matter of doing, having and being everything. That would be impossible, but you have to do something. You’ll experience the most meaning and happiness by doing, having and being what matters most to you, personally. This requires you to define and work towards your goals, but it also requires you to eliminate distractions and obstacles in your life. If you live in a mad house full of toxic people who bring you down, and you spend three hours every day stuck in traffic listening to mindless radio stations on your way to a job that you hate, then of course you’re going to be stressed, disoriented, impatient, frazzled and generally not your best self. You can’t be your most confident when your life revolves around coping with drama and misery. The solution to your gridlocked life isn’t to buck up and work harder and complain less. That’s just becoming better at drudgery. The solution to your problem is to eliminate avoidable problems in your life. This may require you to move, change jobs, change companionship and/or change your purchasing habits. These kinds of changes can be intimidating, and they shouldn’t be made flippantly, but if something is holding you back, then you’re just setting yourself up for perpetual failure by keeping it in your life. If you choose to keep creating the conditions for failure then there’s nothing else I can tell you to help you build confidence other than, “Stop doing that.”

Understand that courage and confidence aren’t mutually exclusive.

One summer when I was a teenager I visited a lake with tall cliffs around it that people were jumping off of into the water. Enticed by adventure, I climbed the cliff and stood at the edge. As I looked down at the water, my legs felt weak, and my stomach roared with butterflies. I wanted to jump, but I was terrified. So I stood there for five long minutes searching my soul for the courage to leap. As my friends taunted me, I knew I was running out of time to prove I wasn’t a coward, but I hadn’t found the right thoughts to get me over the edge. Finally it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if I found the right argument, because even if I did, the end result would be the same: My brain would stop chattering long enough for my feet to move forward. In that moment I realized all I had to do was shut my brain up for one second and act. So I did, and I jumped off that dizzyingly high precipice. I accomplished something that took significant courage without using courage. Once I got over the initial fear, I climbed back up the cliff and jumped again. The second jump was almost as scary as the first, but it took a lot less time to execute. The next summer I was doing back flips off the cliff fearlessly.  That’s how overcoming fear works. You learn to believe in yourself by doing the things you never believed possible.

Don’t invent excuses.

You’re the only enemy standing between you and self-confidence, and the strongest weapon in your enemy’s arsenal is excuses. There’s no argument you anyone can use to beat an excuse, because excuses are logic-proof. They’re based on circular reasoning, and create self-fulfilling prophecies which validate their premise. All of your excuses may sound perfectly logical on paper. They may look justified, but they’re based on the flawed assumption that you’re a passive victim of life who isn’t in control of the most powerful machine in the known universe. Your excuses may help give your life structure and explain away all the bad things that happen to you, but they’re not really doing you any favors. They’re imaginary boundaries that you made up and exist nowhere else in the universe except your mind. They only limit those who make them. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who have an excuse for everything, and those who don’t have to make excuses. Neither of those types were born that way; they both chose to be.

My Approach to Thinking/Problem Solving

Click image to view source

This guide details the steps I use to solve problems. It’s also an excerpt from my first book, “Why: An Agnostic Perspective on the Meaning of Life.”  This isn’t the only way to solve problems, but it’s a good place to start.

  1. Ask a question.
  2. Gather data
  3. Identify the variables you have.
  4. Identify the variables you don’t have.
  5. Sort the data.
  6. Apply formulas.
  7. Ask sub-questions.
  8. Question your answer.
  9. Apply the solution.

STEP 1: ASK A QUESTION

The first step in this process is deceptively simple. Anyone can ask a question; the skill lies in knowing which questions to ask, and, once you’ve picked a question, knowing how to ask it.

In your finite lifespan there are an infinite number of questions to ask and thus an infinite number of answers to learn. So which questions should you ask? You could try to answer as many of them as possible, but that would be futile. You could focus on trying to answer the hardest ones, but that would be foolish, because the hardest questions aren’t always the most important.

You need to answer the most important questions first, and if you have time after that you can answer whatever questions you want. Otherwise you’ll waste your life fretting over inconsequential issues while ignoring the questions that truly matter and have the biggest impact on your life and potentially every other living creature.

So whenever you ask a question you should also ask yourself if there’s a more important question you could be asking instead. And at some point you should decide what the most important questions in life are. Then you should systematically answer them in descending order. Obviously, the most important question you can ever ask is, what is the meaning of life?

Once you find an important question to ask you need to make sure you’re asking the right question to address the heart of the issue. Psychologists, doctors, and mechanics have to excel at looking past the symptoms of a problem and identifying/addressing the root cause/s. If you’ve ever been married you’ve probably had arguments that could have been resolved much quicker if you could/would have just addressed the real reason you were angry at each other.

Politicians face this problem every day as well. You can’t eliminate crime by asking, “Should the death penalty be legal?” or “How many times should you be arrested before you’re sent to jail for life?” Sure, those questions addresses crime, but they don’t address the heart of the issue. So to focus on them is to hack away at the branches of the problem but never touch the trunk. To end crime you first need to ask, “What is crime?” Then you need to ask, “What causes people to commit crime?” Then you focus on that/those cause/s.

STEP 2: GATHER DATA

The second step of the problem solving process is to gather data (a.k.a. variables). This isn’t just a good idea or something that’ll help when you get stuck in a rut. You have to do it. If you don’t articulate the data then you don’t have any information to deduce the answer from. So you don’t actually have an equation at all.

Intelligent investors know this well. They would never buy stock in a company without knowing as many variables about the company as possible. You wouldn’t marry someone without knowing as much about them as possible. A jury wouldn’t pass a verdict on a defendant without knowing as much about the case as possible. If you’ve ever bought a used car that turned out to be a lemon you definitely know the value of gathering variables before coming to a conclusion.

Sometimes we refuse to even try to find any variables or we refuse to acknowledge the variables that are right in front of us. This is why people say not to talk about religion or politics. It’s common knowledge that people have already made up their minds on these topics and refuse to think about them. So discussing them (analyzing the variables) is futile.

Half heartedly identifying the variables in an equation can ultimately be just as bad as not identifying any of them. Just missing a piece of the puzzle can cause you to hit a dead end or make a wrong decision. This is easily exemplified in war. A general can know everything about military strategy, but if the enemy has one secret weapon or launches one surprise attack the tide of the war can change. Rocket scientists are no stranger to this fact either. When you send a space craft to another planet you have to calculate every equation perfectly or years of work and millions of dollars worth of research and design are going to end in disaster, which has actually happened.

The principle applies just as much with every day questions as it does with rocket science. If you’re only half heartedly articulating the variables in the questions you ask then you’re only half heartedly thinking, and that will get you half hearted answer, and that will either produce a wrong answer or no answer at all.

STEP 2A: GATHER THE DATA YOU HAVE

When you’re solving an algebra problem in a text book you’ll sometimes be given a few of the missing variables to plug into the equation. In real life you’ll also usually be able to identify a few of the variables of a problem immediately, but inevitably you’ll realize you’re missing variables. If you weren’t missing any variables there wouldn’t be a question to ask. You would just see the answer.

To be successful at solving real world problem you need to be acutely aware of this fact, and after you ask a question the next thing you need to do is articulate the variables you have while keeping in mind that you probably don’t know all of them.

Lawyers, auditors, and consultants all pay special attention to this step in the problem solving process. When they’re faced with a new job they immediately try to gather all the information about the issue at hand. They know that they won’t have anything to do if they don’t gather all the data available. Then, only once that data is collected will they be able to find holes or areas of improvement on the data system they’re working with.

What’s the first thing a detective does after arriving at the scene of the crime? He analyzes the crime scene to gather any readily available data. When the murderer is standing over the victim with blood on his hands the detective doesn’t have to think any further to solve the problem, but if the culprit has fled the scene the detective has a missing variable on his hands.

STEP 2B: GATHER THE DATA YOU DON’T HAVE

Sometimes you don’t have all the data at hand though. In that case you have to try to gather the data you don’t have.

Imagine you’re cleaning your house, trying to put everything where it should be, and you see a dirty sock lying next to the hamper. No big deal. You know all the variables to the equation of “What should I do with this sock?” You practically unconsciously pick it up and put it in the hamper. But suppose you saw a gun lying next to the hamper. Then there would probably be some variables missing from the equation that you would need to identify before taking actions, such as “Is it loaded?” “How did it get there?” “Where is a safe place I can put this?” etc.

What if, when you found the gun lying next to your hamper, you didn’t try to identify the missing variables before taking action? What if you assumed you knew them? You might end up shooting yourself or someone else. You might leave it in a place that a child will find it. The burglar who dropped it might still be in the house. Never assume you already know everything.

Anyone who has ever worked in an office with an arrogant manager knows the consequences of answering questions without trying to identify the unseen variables. Many businesses have been bankrupt by managers who assumed they knew everything and consequently made faulty decisions. Even in businesses that don’t go bankrupt, an arrogant and ignorant boss can make life a living hell for the employees who have to cope with his poor decision making skills on a daily basis. Socrates would have made an excellent manager because he believed, “I know that I don’t know.” Or “I know that I know nothing.” (Depending on the translation)

If you’re humble and wise enough to try to identify the variables you’re missing there are countless ways you can go about doing it. Detectives extrapolate clues from the variables they already have to point to the variables they don’t have. Inexperienced small business owners who want their business to grow recruit marketing firms who already know the variables involved in increasing sales to tell them what variables they’re missing. Students writing term papers just have to study their topic to death until they learn what they didn’t know they needed to know. How successful you are at identifying the variables you don’t know depends on how creatively and persistently you search for them.

Inevitably though, you’ll have to make many decisions without knowing all the facts. That’s life. All you can do is minimize the risk of making an incorrect decision by identifying as many variables as possible. Then, after the decision is made you should be mindful of your ignorance and be ready to jump back into the problem solving process if it becomes obvious you did in fact make the wrong decision because you didn’t take enough variables into consideration. If you can’t identify enough variables it might be wisest to abandon the whole situation all together. If you’re a politician who wants to invade a country that you know very little about the wisest course of action is probably to just leave it alone.

STEP 3: SORT THE DATA

So you’ve asked a question and identified as many of the variables as possible. That information is only good for regurgitating until you make sense of the data. In algebra this means finding meaningful relationships between the variables. If somebody told you that A=B and B=C then you could easily see the relationship between A and C. They’re the same. In the real world you also need to sort data by finding meaningful relationships between variables. But don’t worry. It’s not always that cryptic.

Suppose you just got promoted to assistant manager at your high school job. One of your new duties is to make the work schedule for all the employees. You’ve identified who works at the business, what shifts need to be filled, who has asked for days off, and who has any other conflicting schedules. Now all you need to do is to determine the relationships between each of the variables to determine who should work when.

Answering the question of who should work each shift should be easy if you have all the information at hand. However, sometimes the data set you’re working with is much more complex than that. In those cases you need a more powerful tool to sort the data.

STEP 3A: APPLY FORMULAS

A formula is defined as:

  1. “a statement, especially of an equation, of a fact, rule, principle, or other logical relation.”

Every field of study has its own facts, rules, and principles for making sense out of data. The reason for this is because every data set has patterns whether you’re talking about math, farming, psychology, interior design, engineering, biology, chemistry, dating, raising pets, cooking, fixing a computer, or anything else.

Without patterns data sets are just chaos. Very rarely in life do you ever find complete chaos. So anytime you’re trying to solve a problem try to identify patterns and figure out rules to explain these patterns. If you’re lucky somebody out there will have already identified the rules you’re looking for.

If you want to find a mate there are patterns and rules for dating. “Rules of the Game” and “The Rules” are books about dating based on formulas (though their accuracy is debatable). There are definitely patterns and rules for making money. The book, “The Intelligent Investor” is one big formula. There are patterns and rules for making music. It’s called music theory. Social skills are merely formulas for interacting with people. You might want to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” There are even patterns and rules for everyday living. Collectively, they’re called wisdom. Religions and self-help books are little more than formulas people have developed by analyzing the patterns in life.

There are also formulas for thinking. This whole chapter is a formula for thinking, but there are countless more sub-formulas. The more of those you can find or create the better of a thinker you’ll be. Here are a few examples of formulas related specifically to solving problems:

The simplest way to make the broadest changes in a system is to change the basics.

If you don’t know which direction to take when solving a problem then just shoot out in any direction, and eventually you’ll find a pattern to follow or a clue to point you in the right direction.

Make as general and as vague of an answer as you can and then slowly get more and more specific. This way you can always reference your more specific answers against your vague ones to make sure they’re in line with your overall goal.

Consider the unlikely.

The first step to finding the solution is finding where to look.

Find a parallel or analogy of your problem.  Seeing the problem in a different setting may give you a better perspective to see an answer.

Consider the extremes. They’ll help you put the problem in perspective.

Ask if the problem you are trying to solve is one among many that stems from a more basic problem.  If you can solve the basic problem then you can solve a slew of other problems in the process.  Maybe the basic problem is one stem of an even more basic problem.  Keep tracing back.

A sign of higher-level thinking is being able to think in multiple dimensions.

Another sign of higher-level thinking is being able to associate facts.  A sign of still higher-level thinking is being able to associate facts from distant sources.

A complex problem often has multiple causes, which would require multiple solutions.

There are always at least three solutions to any problem, and if you can find three solutions you can find more.

Formulas are an indispensable way of making sense of mathematical and real world data. Undoubtedly you already use thousands of formulas in your life to identify patterns in real world data sets without even realizing it, but once you do you can consciously and systematically develop them. When you do you’ll be a much more powerful thinker, and as a result you’ll enjoy a much more successful life.

A word of warning though, many of the formulas people use to help them understand the world they live in and subsequently act upon are wrong. Surely you have a friend who is always asking, “Why do I keep dating bad people?” Your friend is probably using a bad formula for choosing partners. Countless people have lost fortunes in the stock market using faulty formulas. Wars are lost and governments crumble because of inaccurate formulas. So if you find that bad things are always happening to you it’s probably not because you’re the most unlucky person in the world. Realistically, it’s probably because you’re using bad formulas. You should humbly and brutally reevaluate your formulas.

STEP 3B: ASK SUBQUESTIONS

This step is where you’re going to do the bulk of your actual work. The easiest way to explain it is to start with an illustration and go from there.

What’s the answer to the problem, 12X34? Work out this problem on a sheet of paper, and you’ll realize that in doing so you had to solve the equations 4X2, 4X1, 3X2, 3X1, 8+0, 6+4, and 3+1. You had to ask seven sub questions to answer the one question you really wanted to know.

When you think about it every step in an algebra problem is asking another question. The same is true with solving real world problems. If you’re not asking more questions then you’re not getting any closer to answering the first question. So if you can’t get any further on a problem you’re working on then you need to ask yourself, “What questions have I asked?” “What questions haven’t I asked?” “What questions do I need to ask?” etc. You might realize that you haven’t asked any questions at all, in which case it’s no wonder you haven’t found an answer.

If a detective is trying to solve the overall problem of “who done it” then the sub questions would be, “What is the motive? What evidence is at the scene of the crime? Who was the victim close too? etc.” A computer technician will ask himself a series of sub questions when trying to figure out why a computer doesn’t work. “Was there an error message? If so, what was it? Is the problem hardware or software related? Have any changes been made to the system lately? Is the computer turned on? etc.” If your question is, “Which couch should I buy?” you might ask yourself sub questions like, “How much money do I have to spend on a couch? How much room do I have? What colors match the room I’m going to put it in? etc.”

Each sub question can even have sub questions of its own. The better you can get at finding the right sub questions for the type of issue you’re working with then the better you’ll be at solving problems.

STEP 4: QUESTION YOUR ANSWERS

The next step in the problem solving process is to prove your answer (or anybody else’s answer for that matter). If you get the wrong answer on a math test you might have to take the class over. Getting the wrong answers in life can cause misery, insanity, injustice, financial loss, war, etc.

A lot of times we don’t want to prove our answer. We get the answer we want to hear and stick with it, but all this really does is create a fantasy world that keeps us from perceiving reality correctly, which causes us to answer more questions wrong because we’re stuck calculating future questions using incorrect variables. This results in the illusion of a rosy world, but in reality it only propagates a dystopian society.

This is why it’s important to be objective about your answers. If you’re not objective about your answers then you’re not a thinker, and all your answers are going to be wrong.

 “Objective” is defined as:

  1. “Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices. 2. Based on observable phenomena; presented factually”

On paper that sounds great. Nobody would say, “I prefer to base my decisions on emotional or personal prejudices rather than on observable facts.” But everybody does it. People go to mind-bending lengths to conform observable facts to their emotional and personal prejudices even if it doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes we do it loudly, and sometimes we do it quietly in the back of our minds.

Take this two question test.

What do you believe strongest in?

How often do you deliberately doubt and challenge the validity of that belief?

Ironically, the stronger we believe in something the less likely we are to question it. This type of stubborn faith is often praised as a virtue, but the less likely we are to question our beliefs the more likely we are not to take into account all the variables. The fewer variables we take into consideration the more likely we are to be wrong about it. So the stronger we believe in something the more likely we are to be wrong about it.

Furthermore, when you tell someone to have faith in something and that they shouldn’t brutally analyze it you’re really telling them it’s good to be uninformed. You’re being the enemy of truth. And for what? If we question an idea we’re not going to hurt its feelings. It’s not going to get back at us for cheating on it. All that can happen is we increase our knowledge and perceive truth more clearly. Whereas if we don’t question our beliefs all that can happen is we increase the likelihood that we’re wrong. When that happens there’s no end to the pain we can and will inflict on ourselves and others. There’s also no end to how much control we can give other people over our lives.

How many people do you think have read this and said to themselves, “I’m not one those people. I wouldn’t sell out truth for emotions or personal prejudices. I wouldn’t think less about the things I believe the strongest.” The people who say they won’t sell out truth are the most likely to do it. If you truly believe you wouldn’t then you won’t guard yourself against it. On the other hand, if you admit to yourself that you have and/or will sell out logic for a selfish answer you’ll be cautious not to let it happen again.

In fact, a wise person wants, yearns, begs to be proven wrong, because if you learn that you’ve been wrong about something then you can become right, and thus you’ll have gained. If you refuse to be proven wrong then you might keep your pride, but at the end of the day you’ll still be ignorant and will continue to make faulty decisions to the detriment of yourself and everyone else in your sphere of influence.

STEP 5: APPLY THE SOLUTION

On a math test when you solve a problem you simply write down the answer and wait to see if the teacher tells you that you got it right. In life applying the answer can be as easy as putting on the socks you’ve chosen to wear today or as complex as writing a book about the meaning of life. It can be as rewarding as choosing which foods you want at a buffet or as perilous as choosing whether or not to use lethal force against an attacker. The only advice there is to give for this step is to make sure your answer is correct before applying it. If you’re unsure whether or not to act or you don’t have the courage to act then you obviously don’t understand the situation well enough. If you did there would be no debate left. There would only be action.

THE LIFESTYLE OF A THINKER

Learning how to think doesn’t make you a thinker any more than knowing how to shoot makes you a soldier. Being a thinker is a lifestyle, and it’s not a lifestyle that’s only useful to a few people like the lifestyle of a soldier is only useful to a few people. It’s not even just a skill that can be useful to everybody in the sense that say cooking is a skill that can be useful to everybody but you don’t necessarily have to be good at it. Thinking is the way to be a successful, self-actualized person. It’s vital for everybody to master.

Why do some people make a lifestyle out of thinking and some people don’t? The answer isn’t genetics. It’s motivation. Either external circumstances forced them to come to a clearer understanding of life or they figured it out on their own. Either way, every thinker has come to some version of the same conclusion:

We’re thrown into this life with no warning and no preparation. We’re born lost. In fact, we’re so lost most people never even realize they’re lost, and nobody even tells us that. If anything, we’re encouraged to just accept the world for what it is and to not ask questions.

To make things more confusing for us, the few explanations and instructions we are given differ from source to source. It’s like trying to play a game you don’t know the rules to and where everybody you ask tells you something different. The result is that we spend our lives bewildered and in a daze. And in the end all we have to look back on is chaos and anxiety.

But there’s hope. If we can make sense of the world we won’t be at the mercy of our environment. In fact, we can take control of our lives. How? We can perceive truth and empower ourselves using logic.

Being a thinker means realizing this and deliberately and consistently trying to make sense of the world you’ve been thrust into. It means the frustration of being lost and powerless fuels your curiosity to learn as much as you can. But this doesn’t just mean reading as many books as possible and cataloging the information in your brain. It means constantly looking at the world around you and questioning it. A curious person wants to know how everything works, because the more you understand the more empowered you’ll be. So thinking isn’t a chore. It’s a never ending opportunity to become more powerful.

The better you understand that the more you’ll want to think. Thus, the more you will think. The more you think the smarter, stronger, and happier you’ll be. The less you think the dumber, weaker, and sadder you’ll be.

Choose your own adventure templates and prompts

Below are 5 choose your own adventure E-book templates and prompts. These are all public domain. So you can share them and profit off them freely. Click each link, download the Word Document and follow the instructions to create your very own choose your own adventure story.

120 page template with exploration themed prompts (Start here)

120 page template with general erotica themed prompts

120 page template with specific erotica themed prompts (A.K.A. Caprice’s Adventure)

120 page blank template

370 page blank template

The 36 Adventures of Captain Buigardo (A 1 page inspirational plot map)

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow to preview these files before downloading them, but I’ve pasted 1/3 of each of the table of contents below to give you an idea of what you’re getting into:

Blank Table of Contents

Exploration Themed Table of Contents

General Erotica Themed Table of Contents

Specific Erotica Table of Contents

If you liked these templates and prompts, you may like these as well: