How to Excel at Life

This is such a large topic that I’m writing a a whole book about it, but I will summarize it here. The book itself is a summary of summaries, so it’s difficult to summarize.

While the book will probably take me another year to finish, I’ve created a system that’s designed for you to most effectively thrive at each of these categories as easily and effortlessly as possible.

Think of this summary like the tip of an iceberg, you see what is visible at the top but there’s a whole lot more going on beneath the surface. A summary of the extensive benefits below the surface are given on the next page. It takes a lot less time to explain the benefits than to explain exactly how to get them.

If you want a super short summary then you can just read the first paragraph of each of the sections below.

Mind

Become more clear, minimize biases, blind spots, logical fallacies, and realize just how irrational, crazy and error-prone you are.

The main difference between someone who is smart and someone who is an idiot (which also manifests as the difference between a good scientist and a bad scientist) is that a smart person will scrutinize all the ways they could be wrong, all of the potential errors in their arguments and beliefs. An idiot will simply focus on looking for evidence to prove that they’re right and ignore anything to the contrary. A heuristic: smart people are open to being wrong, idiots are not open to the possibility that they’re wrong.

The more clear we become about our subjective bias, the more able we are to see the world and our life objectively. The most important aspect in becoming clear is to get outside feedback on your subjective experience. While it’s helpful to try and be objective about your life, it’s nowhere near as helpful as getting expert feedback.

The main hindrance to receiving feedback is rooted in being afraid of being wrong. Violence, in a way, manifests as the strongest resistance to someone telling you you’re wrong.

Being vulnerable is scary. Getting feedback on your vulnerability is even scarier. But for however hard it seems, the rewards are orders of magnitude greater.

Emotions

Learn how to befriend unpleasant emotions.

The most important pattern to stop is getting upset that you’re angry, getting depressed that you’re depressed, and getting ashamed that you feel jealous.

Emotions can get you stuck in loops: “I eat because I’m unhappy, I’m unhappy because I eat.” To break this loop you must break the habitual pattern of unhappiness triggering eating to avoid the feeling of unhappiness, because you know that it’s only a temporary fix and that it will make the problem worse later.

Most of these emotional loops are caused by resisting unpleasant emotions in some way. The mind resists what doesn’t feel good, but if you don’t feel good you cannot run away from yourself.

If you do not run away from it, generally what happens is when you start feeling an unpleasant emotion is that you start narrating some story about it in your mind. This story only reinforces that this is “bad” or “wrong” and contributes to the loops. Sometimes after the feeling has passed and the story is reflected upon it seems absurd, but in the moment you believe it.

Instead of trying to run away launching into a story about it, practice being their friend. Welcome the sadness, appreciate the jealousy, embrace the anger, treasure the worry, respect the jealousy, acknowledge the hatred, value the insecurity and laugh at the ridiculous of it all.

Instead of resisting the emotion or launching into a story about it, you want to retrain yourself to approach it in a more friendly way. Become curious about it like an objective observer. Notice where you feel it in your body. Where is it strongest? How far out does the feeling go? What does it do to your breathing? How does it affect your heart beat? What does it do to your blood pressure? What are all the effects it has on your body? Ask it what it’s trying to teach you. What can you learn from it? How can it be helpful? What’s the silver lining?

Emotions are not to be thought through, there meant to be felt through. You must meet emotions where they’re at—on an emotional level, not a mental level. That means welcome the sadness, appreciate the jealousy, embrace the anger, treasure the worry, acknowledge the hatred, find value in the insecurity and, most importantly, laugh at the ridiculous of it all.

It’s okay to feel jealous, it’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to not be happy all of the time. In fact, it’s suspicious if someone appears to be happy all of the time.

Security

Feel secure in yourself no matter what happens.

There are a lot of little things you can do like filtering the media you consume, learning self-defense and wilderness survival skills, getting a second passport, and spending the majority of your time in safe areas.

In order to feel completely secure, you must have trust in the inner and the outer. The inner is trusting yourself and your abilities. The outer is trusting that whatever happens is supposed to happen and is for your highest growth as a human.

Trusting the inner is done by challenging yourself, putting yourself in uncomfortable situations that will make you stronger and more antifragile.1 The more practical skills you have under your belt the more secure you will feel in yourself.

Trusting in the outer is a more abstract concept. People who are religious or spiritual put their trust and faith that a higher intelligence is guiding this process. People who have more atheistic tendencies may see this as a crutch for people who can’t deal with reality. But whether or not their is a higher intelligence guiding the process or it’s all just a bunch of Newtonian randomness is entirely subjective. This could all be some long dream or immersive video game that we’re playing. There is no way to know.

So instead of focusing on what subjective view is objectively true (which is silly and impossible), it’s better to focus on what is more helpful. It doesn’t matter if you believe that everything happens for a reason, but you will feel more secure and learn more from the unwanted things happening if you look at the world through this lens. By seeing this perspective as a lens more than a fundamental belief, it helps you from slipping into the negatives.

If you believe that everything happens for a reason, that everything in life is either a test or a celebration, then you will focus on relishing every pleasant moment and learning from every unpleasant one. When you believe in a higher intelligence, it puts your own fallibility in check and humbles you. On the negative side, you may grossly overestimate your abilities and chances of success, think problems in the physical are actual energetic problems, take undue risk, not understand probability, and not take action or prepare thoroughly because “everything will turn out fine.”

If you believe that this world is all Newtonian randomness, you may be more intelligently cautious, more accurate in your predictions, be less likely to confuse correlation with causation, and be less gullible. On the other hand, it’s easier to become pompous, cynical, depressed, grumpy, nihilistic, less likely to put yourself at risk for the benefit of others, miss out on opportunities because of your skepticism, and be afraid of death which often manifests as never truly living.

If you’re catching on, you will guess that I recommend utilizing both mental models simultaneously. These are not objective truths but lenses that you can look at the world through. What many people do is chose only one side and with it get all of the positives and all of the negatives. An intelligent person is open to both sides in a way that maximizes both of the positives and minimizes both of the negatives without having to “pick a side.”

Finances

Finances is a big one. The three aspects are how to make more money in a better way, how to better spend your money and how to have a better relationship with money.

In order to make more money in a better way, you first must be clear about the two ways of making money. You either create value, which when people give you money they are basically agreeing that it’s valuable, or you find inefficiencies in the system to extract value (like professional gamblers, day traders, and crooks).

Making money in a better way is about creating as much value as possible, not by focusing exclusively on profit but providing value to the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet. It’s also about recognizing the importance of the three currencies Time, Income and Mobility (TIM), and how the more you lack of one, the less value the others have.

For the work you do to be fulfilling, it needs Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (AMP). Autonomy is having control over what you work on, mastery is being able to get better at it, and purpose is where the work provides value towards people and the planet on top of money in your pocket.

Summarized, making money in the best way is where you’re paid well for your services that you enjoy doing, can get better at, and where you have control (to some extent) over your time and mobility.

How to specifically make more money depends on how you’re currently doing it. We’ll cover this extensively in the questions and go from there.

How to better spend your money first starts with being very clear about what you want and how to get it (the main goal of Mind). A lot of how we spend money is based on what we think will make us happy, but the science shows we’re really bad at figuring that out. Instead of using money to buy things, it’s better to use it to help you become more competent in the different needs that you have. We’ll go over the most effective way to do this based on who you are and what your situation is.

Having a better relationship with money is about the internal world. Many people who have a lot of money don’t feel wealthy. We often unconsciously think that money will solve all of our problems, it can help, but only if we’re smart with the way we spend it. This process involves moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset which involves changing habit patterns of thinking “There’s never enough” to “I have everything I could ever need.” The goal is to do this in a way that does not breed complacency but rather fills you up so that you can take more effective action.

Diet

Make it easier to eat healthier. This means using less willpower and removing friction from eating healthy.

Instead of putting willpower into choosing what foods to eat and what not eat, which is a constant effort, it’s more effective to put that willpower into making you want to eat healthy foods more and not want to eat junk foods.

The question then becomes how do you lessen craving for unhealthy food and increase the desire for healthy food?

There are many ways to go about this including different techniques for making healthy food more convenient and unhealthy food less convenient. While these are more superficial tips, they are still helpful and we’ll go over different ones suited towards your lifestyle.

The core of this process revolves around firmly implanting the concept of “When I eat good food I feel good. When I eat bad food I feel bad.”

The most effective way to naturally want to eat healthier is to become more aware of how food affects you. The more sensitive you become to the effects of food in your body, the more you will naturally gravitate towards healthy food. Good food gives you energy, vitality, and clarity. Bad food makes you lethargic, foggy and indifferent.

Most people in the Western world have a large majority of their focus on the outside world. They don’t pay much attention to what is happening in their internal world. They are also not very attuned to the subtle sensations. For example, they notice that junk food gives a very strong sensual pleasure in their mouth for a few seconds, but they are not as aware of how much it slows their mind and body down for hours afterwards.

The more time you spend paying attention to your body and noticing how it feels (similar to the practice mentioned in Emotions), the more you will notice just how helpful healthy food is and how much unhealthy food disrupts your process.

There are also different lifestyle changes that make this clearer and provide extra motivation. Many people spend the majority of their day overly stressed about the work they are doing and overwork themselves. When they’re done with their responsibilities for the day, they feel exhausted and can’t maintain in-depth focus. So instead of reading, they watch TV. Instead of learning an instrument, they drink or smoke cannabis. Instead of doing creative work, they go on social media. Instead of going to a social event, they watch random videos on YouTube.

The more you unhealthy you eat, the more you gravitate towards activities where the effects of unhealthy food are less noticeable. The more intense creative work you do, the more obvious the detriment of unhealthy food and an unhealthy lifestyle is.

So on top of putting more of your attention into your inner world, the more of your day you spend learning or in social situations, the higher the stakes are for optimal performance and the more you will notice when you are performing subpar. This creates a feedback loop. I want to be more creative and productive > I want to eat healthier > I feel better and have more energy > I want to spend more time being creative and productive.

Fitness

Fitness has similar effects on optimal performance that food does, as they are two sides of the coin of physical health.

The main difference is that there isn’t a crash for not working out like there is from eating junk.

Similar body awareness techniques that is used with food work for after you exercise, by noticing how you feel after a work out compared to before.

The more attuned you are to your body, the more you will notice desires for movement. You may feel a certain stickiness or stuckness in the mind that some people may interpret as being tired or out of it, but it’s sometimes a desire for movement (the more you regularly move your body, the easier it is to interpret these feelings). It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, it can simply be just going outside for a walk or a bike ride, doing some stretching and breathing, or doing some calisthenics.

You want to remove this idea that exercising is this big scary thing that you have to do and realize that it’s all about building momentum. You don’t need to go from no exercise to training for an Ironman triathlon. All you have to do is a little more than what you’re doing now. And then keep doing that.

It’s also helpful to focus on how you can make it more enjoyable. For example, running is kind of boring for me, but running with a friend is enjoyable. Hobbies like (extreme) sports, martial arts and dance are great for making exercise fun.

The best thing you can do for your fitness is to fall in love with one or more hobbies that give you extra motivation to get fit beyond just the health benefits.

There are a lot of different ways to make exercise more enjoyable, you just have to be creative with it. Based on your preferences I can help you figure out specific ways to do this.

Interpersonal

The most basic step is to be aware that other people exist, you have no idea what they’ve been through and that the world does not revolve around you. Most people realize this to some extent as they become adults, but we often need to be reminded of this fact as it’s so easy to get caught up in our subjective world.

Once you are aware of people, the next step is to try to not make their experience worse followed by figuring out how you can make their experience better. This involves basic things like don’t drive in the fast lane unless you’re passing someone and be aware of the space that you take up and how it impacts people’s experience.

When talking with people, focus more on being interested than interesting. Be curious about people, who they are, what they like, what they’re excited about and what they know.

When in groups, focus on how you can enhance the group dynamics. The different levels of group dynamics go:

  1. Afraid of the spotlight
  2. Embraces the spotlight
  3. Helps others shine in the spotlight

#1 comes from low self-esteem and #2 happens with higher self-esteem or a big ego. But #3 is where the real skill comes into play. The root of it comes from being interested in helping make other people’s experience better and being aware of social dynamics.

You will attract people who are similar to you. If you want to be around people who are care about you, then you need to be someone who cares about other people. The better you are at making social situations more fun for everyone, the more people will like having you around.

People who are skilled in helping others look good are connectors. Not only do connectors make other people look good, but they are also aware of what people would be benefited by meeting each other and introduce them. Because connectors are consistently helping people become more connected with each other, they make social situations more enjoyable and thus are more likely to get invited to events. Because they get invited to more events, their social circle has more opportunity to grow. While connectors see value in everyone, they are most drawn to other connectors who also want to connect them with the other connectors they know. This process leads to exponential growth.

Connectors are socially aware. They can see who contributes to the social dynamics and who is a drain. During the event, connectors will still treat the drains with respect, but they are less likely to invite that person to the next event. They can easily tell when someone wants to contribute versus someone who just wants to take.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that connectors are extroverts and that an introvert can’t be one. An introvert might not be able to be social as often as an extrovert, and may require other needs to be met in order to be on top of their social game, but hiding behind the label of introvert to justify poor social skills is a weak excuse.

Humans are social animals, we all have social abilities hardwired in us. Our upbringing in a consumerist society has far more of an impact on our social skills than whether we are in introvert or an extrovert. An introvert is actually has more potential to have better social skills because they tend to be more aware of other people and the space people take up in social situations. When introverts have low self-esteem they get caught in this awareness, the story in their head and their fear of worsening the group dynamics. But when introverts have high self-esteem, they are skillful in contributing to group dynamics without needing to take a lot of space, which is far more difficult for extroverts to learn.

The introvert vs. extrovert on social skills is similar to skiing vs. snowboarding. Skiing is easier to become competent but harder to master while snowboarding is harder to become competent but easier to master. Likewise, for extroverts social skills are easier to become competent but harder to master while for introverts social skills are harder to become competent but easier to master. The other difference is that introverts just aren’t able to practice as much because they need alone time to recharge.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, I will help you become more of a connector and thrive in social situations.

Romantic

SLOW DOWN.

While there are many reasons that relationships fail, the biggest root cause is going too fast in the beginning (both in the relationship and when initiating sex).

When hetero men try and force romance to happen faster, it’s often because they are objectifying the woman. It’s coming from a space of “I’m horny, and you look attractive enough to fuck. So I’m going to try and convince you it’s in your best interest to fuck me.” This type of behavior is not attractive to women, but it can be validating. And if the relationship is based on the man getting off and the woman being validated, it won’t be very healthy or last very long.

And not that there’s anything wrong with consenting adults doing whatever they want. However, if you’re wanting to become a master at life, the hookup scene takes way too much energy to put that much of your time into it (unless you go to sex clubs or play parties that get straight to the point). Casual sex is also super tricky to navigate in smaller social circles and communities and the upsides are short-lived and the awkward downsides are long-lasting. It doesn’t really build much except for your ability to go from stranger to sex quickly.

Instead of being guided by hormones, it’s more effective to be guided by a desire to meet awesome people. In the case of men, instead of trying to prove how you’re worthy of sex, instead your focus is on being interested in all the people, not just the pretty women. This builds interpersonal skills and your social circle. Someone who you may have a one night stand with and then afterwards it got awkward could instead have turned into a good friend who ends up introducing you to a woman who you have a strong connection with and end up falling madly in love.

For most men, the best thing they can do for their sex life is to make more female friends. You can learn a lot from intimate but platonic friendships. A lot of men’s sexual needs can be met by simply being around feminine energy and platonic cuddles and touch.

But what if you do fine making friends with women but struggle with getting “friendzoned”? Being friendzoned can be a host of different things. The place to start would be self-esteem. Low self-esteem often leads to neediness which manifests as you being way too obvious that you’re into her. In healthy relationships, how much you like each other is based largely on how much chemistry you have. If you are showing way too much interest based on how much she feels you two have connected, it will seem to her like you are objectifying, needy or in love with the idea of her. All of which are a turnoff.

After self-esteem, the next thing is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. If you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of her. How you demonstrate this is by meeting your needs, eating well, exercising, having a good mental outlook, being in touch with your emotions, being decently financially secure, being confident in yourself, and working toward your mission of helping the planet.

The mistake most men make is that they want to jump straight to sex (remember, slow down), thinking their problem is they need to get better at “seducing” or “picking up” women. *gag* When in reality, having your life together (by meeting all your needs) is by far the most attractive quality someone can have. When initiating a sexual connection, romantic skills are mostly just interpersonal skills with a little bit higher stakes.

Once you get to the point of initiating sexual contact is when the romantic skills start to branch away from the purely platonic. It involves being attuned to the sexual tension and being able to escalate it. If you have good chemistry with some, then some sexual energy will naturally come out while you communicate. Most men just try and raise the sexual tension to get to their goal (ejaculation). A skilled man, however, will savor all of the steps along the journey and play with the sexual tension.

Being good at playing with the sexual tension is where all of the juice in sex comes from. It is barely a skill itself and more of a conglomeration of many. In order to be good at this, you need to practice body awareness and how to communicate non-verbally.

The closest way you can get to learning outside of tantra is through partner dance. While various forms of dancing (e.g. tango or swing) can help, formless improvisation dance is by far the best, though it’s difficult to find classes that teach this. Contact Improv is the closest I have found, but it doesn’t deal with how you build up to the contact which is a whole dance in and of itself.

Romantic skills are by far the most difficult to master without someone guiding you and giving you feedback in person. I teach these skills, like how to become a better lover through formless improvisation dance and non-verbal communication, in Boulder, CO.2

Self-Esteem

The biggest difference between low self-esteem (i.e., insecurity) and high self-esteem (i.e., security), is that insecurity is constantly judging, rating and comparing itself against others, while security is just focused on doing what it wants. Take for example, two people dancing with each other. Insecurity is afraid of not dancing well enough (leading to poorer performance) while security is simply focused on making the dance more fun (leading to better performance).

Insecurity wastes an insane amount of mental energy overthinking everything, which leads to analysis paralysis, hesitation, awkwardness and second-guessing. It spends so much time aiming, that it rarely fires because it’s so afraid of missing the target.

Security, on the other hand, is focused on enjoying itself and getting better. It takes the ready, fire, aim approach. It takes action and embraces failure as the greatest teacher. Security wants to fail, because it understands if you’re not failing, you’re not progressing.

When a healthy desire comes up, insecurity is worried what others will think if it acts on it, security is worried what it will think of itself if it doesn’t act on it because of fear.

Insecurity is constantly trying to prove itself to everyone around, explaining, defending, and justifying every little thing it does to both itself and others. Security doesn’t care to explain itself unless there’s truly a problem.

Insecurity gives it’s power away to other people and events, in other words, it gets its sense of self from something it cannot control. If something went well, insecurity is happy. If something went wrong, insecurity is sad. If someone gave praise, insecurity is elated, if someone criticized, insecurity is devastated. Insecurity doesn’t care if it did something risky or immoral as long as the end result was favorable. Likewise, insecurity doesn’t care if it preformed to the best of its abilities and did the right thing if the result was unfavorable.

Security is fully in its power. It gets its sense of self not from things it cannot control, but how it responds to these events. It doesn’t care when life knocks it down, it only focuses on how fast it gets back to its feet. It does not revel in good fortune, which can easily go the other way, but on its wisdom and habits that helped it get there, which nothing can take away. It believes in its own opinion of itself over others’ opinions, especially people it doesn’t know. It doesn’t expect other people to understand, and it doesn’t waste much energy trying to get people to understand. If they don’t get it, they will not play a significant roll in its life.

Insecurity is threatened and intimidated by greatness, because insecurity compares itself to greatness and thus feels inadequate. Security is inspired by greatness and wants to learn as much as possible from it. Security knows that greatness is contagious and wants to surround itself with it.

Insecurity needs constant validation and for things to always go according to plan to feel perfect. Security feels perfect no matter what happens externally because it does not attempt to know what’s best for it.

Self-Actualization

The more motivated you are to help other people, the more motivated you will be to help yourself. The better you get at meeting your own needs, the more you will want to help other people meet their needs. The better you get at helping other people meet their needs, the more other people will help you meet your needs.

Maslow summarized Self-Actualization as “What a man can be, he must be.” The Self-Actualization process is not about becoming whatever you want to be, it’s about fully realizing who you already are.

At first that looks like doing what you want, what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. But the more you progress along this path the more it will lead you into doing what you’re afraid to do.

The Self-Actualization process is about how you can most effectively help the world. And like it or not, that often means there will be things that you don’t want to do, but feel like you have to.

When you’re firmly in this stage, you sacrifice your own well-being and convenience for the greater good, but if you go too far and forget to take care of yourself you won’t be much help to others. So it becomes a balancing act between self-care versus other-care.

The more you harness the power of self-actualization, the more motivated you will be take care of your own needs. After all, you’re not just doing it for yourself, but for the whole planet.

A big part of tapping into this power involves envisioning a better world and working backwards to where we are now. Imagine how things could be better and think about how you can help make it happen.

The more focused you are on relieving the suffering in the world, the more motivated you will be to take care of yourself. The more your own needs are met, the better you will feel and the more motivated you will be to help other people. The more you help other people, the more fulfilled you will be.

The Power of Multidisciplinary Mental Models

One of the biggest benefits of this approach is its ability to connect the dots, to make more sense of the world.

The more clearly you can see how everything interrelates, the more you can harness the 80/20 rule3 to channel your focus and attention in the most effective way to create a better life for you and everyone else.

If you are interested in seeing all of the benefits that this MMM system can help you achieve click the link below.

 

Click here to learn more about the benefits of the Multidisciplinary Mental Model System.

 

1. Antifragile is a book and concept coined by the genius Nassim Taleb. It refers to things that gain and get stronger from chaos and disorder. Read the book, you will become smarter. And then read his other books. [return to text]

2. As of now, these workshops are not open to the public, just clients. [return to text]

3. The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the work. Instead of focusing equally on all of the work, you focus  the majority of your work in that 20th percentile and try and zoom through the rest as fast as possible. [return to text]