The city where dreams are made. Or I should say the city of broken dreams.
For years, my neighbor on the right was Katy Perry. And my neighbor on the left is Cameron Diaz.
Why did those two celebrities get their dreams instead of the 1,000,000 struggling actors and musicians who left Hollywood empty handed?
I asked myself that question when I was still a teenager.
I wanted to be someone who got what they wanted.
We all WANT something…
The first answer I got came in the form of a ‘mental framework’ I memorized (a fancy way of saying a quote I memorized).
It was from the famous Columbia historian Will Durant:
“A nation is born Stoic and dies Epicurean.”
Stoics were people who believed in sacrificing the now to get something better later.
Epicureans lived for pleasure.
They believed in “YOLO” – you only live once – so get what you can today without thinking about tomorrow.
Durant was saying great nations and great businesses are built by people willing to sacrifice present luxury for a future benefit.
It also means nations and businesses and lives fall apart once they get into the hands of ‘soft’ people.
Victor Hugo said, “Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”
So my question to you is, “How soft are you?”
When’s the last time you went a day without eating, went camping and slept on the hard ground, or sat down and read a business book without getting up, went a month without going out to eat, did 100 push ups, or walked to get groceries instead of taking the car?
An Amish old farmer once told me, “Tai there are 3 types of people in the world. People who make things happen; people who watch things happen; and people who WONDER what happened.”
If you are wondering what happened to your dreams there is a simple answer….
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Today I was reading one of the great books of all time: The Analects by Confucius. One line in Book 15 stuck out, “I once did not eat all day and did not sleep all night in order to think, but there was no benefit. It would have been better to study.”
The answers are not within us. They are OUTSIDE of us – they are external.
You can’t just close your eyes and meditate and somehow magically have the answers to life’s hard problems pop into your head.
There are a whole bunch of dumb books and magazines telling you about ‘the truth within.’ It sounds great. Too bad it’s simply not true.
A few years ago, a friend of mine met a girl and married her in like a month. I asked him if he thought that was a wise idea. He told me that he had sat in silence and meditated and he received a clear answer from the Universe that this was the girl to marry.
A few months later I was hanging out with him again and I asked, “Hey where is your wife?” He told me that he was divorcing her because he had now gotten new ‘clarity’ from ‘within’ that she was no longer the right girl for him.
Kind of hilarious, I know. But I can’t laugh. We have all made stupid mistakes when we thought we were following our gut.
Meditation might be good for lowering your blood pressure and relaxing, but for finding the answers to life it’s a pretty poor way according to Confucius.
Look, I don’t care how you measure success. If you are spiritual maybe you consider Martin Luther King, JR. or Gandhi successful. Or if you’re an artist you consider Picasso or Mozart successful. Or if you like money you consider Sam Walton or Bill Gates successful. Or if you like sports you consider Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan successful…
Guess what? Everyone of those people got there BY STUDYING other people and external principles.
Picasso spent his whole life studying, so did Sam Walton, Gandhi, and Tiger Woods.
Michael Jordan had coaches. He didn’t meditate to learn how to shoot a basketball.
As the proverb says, “Study to show thyself approved.”
How did you learn English? You didn’t cross your legs as a baby, contemplate life, and somehow magically have the words form in your brain.
You listened to other people, you studied.
Sure we have some natural truth and instincts within us. The problem is most of our natural instincts do NOT work in the modern world. They are dead wrong.
There is an amazing book called Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by the Pulitzer prize winning Michael Moss. He shows how we naturally evolved to eat up salt, sugar, fat the second we find it. Now back when we lived in caves and in tribes that made sense. There wasn’t much opportunity to get extra calories.
But that natural craving instinct is horrible now in a world full of Doritos and Big Macs. It makes us fat, ugly, and die of heart attacks.
This is the scientific principle called “Mismatch Theory” and is explained like this:”Traits that were at one time adaptive in a certain environment, are now ‘mismatched’ to the environment that the trait is currently present in. This can present a number of problems for the organism in question.
One example is the taste of foods high in fat and sugar to humans. In Pleistocene environments, sugars and fats were relatively uncommon in the human diet.
In the modern Western diet, however, foods with such properties are relatively easy to acquire. This can be problematic since an abundance of such foods combined with the human adaptation to prefer them can, and often does, contribute to obesity and chronic metabolic syndrome.”
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