Category Archives: Action

The Coming Year is Dedicated To…

Over the last couple of days, I re-read Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

In it, he tells the story of William James, and his year of personal responsibility.

Here’s a blog post from Manson about it: The Prime Belief. Go read that before continuing on – the rest of this post will make a whole lot more sense if you do.

That’s where Imma dedicate most of my available fucks to this year – 100% responsibility for my own life – knowing that how I respond to everything is all Lyman, all the time.

No blame, no fault finding, no thinking that because of my genetics or my upbringing I suck too much to live a useful life.

Blame, fault finding, and woe is me are always options – they are responses that I’ve pulled out of my pocket in the past. Mostly the last one. I was (am? yes, am.) such a special snowflake that everyone but me has this life thing figured out. Poor Lyman, might as well just kill yourself. But wait, even that is asking too much of a scared and weak little piece of shit like you.

This doesn’t come up as much as it used to, but I still do it waaaaaayyyyyy too much more than I want to. Probably even more than I consciously realize.

This is about living the Serenity Prayer, with a focus on courage and wisdom. It seems to me that serenity is actually a by-product of acceptance, and I’m really good at faking that – dying on the inside with a bullshit smile on my face, and hiding from the world if I can’t manage that smile.

I’m going to work on developing:

  • acceptance (for really reals) when it comes to the things I cannot change (for really reals)
  • courage to change the things that I can
  • wisdom to know the difference

I’m not asking a god to grant me anything. I’m asking present Lyman to develop these things, so that future Lyman can live a richer, fuller life.

Just Do It! isn’t going to work here. The only thing to “just do” is point yourself in a direction and move. Here are the tools I plan on using to point myself if the direction of acceptance, courage, and wisdom:

Life gonna test my resolve here – that’s what life does. I’m gonna fail, over and over again. That’s what humans do.

I don’t give a fuck.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

 

Breaking it Down

I posted the following reply to a question in the Happiness Trap Online Interest Group on how to make a big move towards your values, when you can’t break it down into smaller goals:

“Thanks for asking this xxxxxx. I’m no expert in ACT, and not a therapist, just a guy for whom ACT has been a lifesaver (literally), so I should probably keep my mouth shut… but I’m not going to. 🙂 Plus, I have no idea what your situation is, so this is as probably more of a reminder to myself. I’ve never experienced something that couldn’t be broken down. Even when the depression flairs up and one of my values is to get to work, just asking myself “Can I move my right leg” will usually work. If I don’t want to shower, can I get undressed and turn the water on? From a non depression standpoint, if I’m afraid to ask for a raise – can I start walking toward my boss’s office? Again, caveats galore, and I hope I didn’t insult your situation with my petty examples.”

I thought it might help the poster, and it really was a good reminder to myself (I need a lot of reminders.)

It’s not the achieving of the goals that matter – it’s the movement toward them, no matter how small. Jim Rohn said:

“The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” (source)

It’s the movement that makes us who we are. It’s how we vote for the person that we want to be.

 

How To Make It Without Faking It

I’ve always hated the phrase “Fake It Till You Make It.”

I like to think of myself as an honest person. Or at least as someone who tries to be. I fail  more than I’d like to admit, but I think that on balance I’m more truthful than not. Unless that’s just a lie I’m telling myself… anyway…

This is why the phrase “Fake It Till You Make It” bugs me so much. The last thing I need is to be lying to myself.

The fucked up thing is that it works! Our actions (the faking of it) create the desire to take more action, lather rinse repeat (Till) , which can (not always, but often) bring us to the desired result (the making of it.)

There are better ways to state it (“Bring your body and your mind will follow” comes to mind), but the principle is sound.

Still didn’t like it. Still felt inauthentic, and my identity wouldn’t allow me to feel inauthentic.

But… after reading this article by Mark Manson, some kind of light came on. I connected the idea of identity (which I have read about before but Mark’s motherfucking F-bombs always seem to get through to me), with the idea of Mini Habits (shout out to Stephen Guise and his literally life changing book), and another idea that I’m sure isn’t original but bubbled up to my (not very often) conscious mind:

We are what we are thinking, feeling, and doing right now.

Mark mentions the Buddhist idea of Anatta in his article, often translated as “no-self.” I’ve always liked that idea, but not for the healthiest of reasons.

I hated myself, so the idea that this thing that I called me didn’t really exist was pretty damn appealing. Unfortunately this self that I loathed sure seemed real – it stalked me all day and all night. Every waking hour it was there, reminding me of what a piece of shit that I was.

Someone once asked me why I was so into personal development. Here’s the answer:

I told myself consciously that I was doing it to become a better person. Unconsciously, I think it was because I was trying to kill the enemy – me – without ending my own life. There were times that I did try the suicide thing. I don’t recommend it, except in extreme cases, with the assistance and approval of others. I had neither.

Then (read, years and years later), I learned that Anatta can be translated as “no-permanent-self.”

Hmmmm… that’s interesting. This links it up with another idea from Buddhism – Anicca, which means impermanence. This allows for the very real experience of a self, but recognizes the fact that everything changes. All the time. Everything.

And I’m part of everything.

I’m changing. All the time. Every second of every day.

And if this “I” is constantly changing, I’m hating something that doesn’t exist anymore. By the time I notice it, it’s already gone.

Therefore ergo incognito summa cum laude, it’s only what I’m doing, thinking, and feeling right now that “I” am.

And the conditions of my life are as they are because of the actions, thoughts, and feelings that my past lives participated in (Yay for a secular understanding of Karma and Rebirth!)

Combine this with the Mini Habits concept (stupid small actions instead of big dramatic changes) – and you’ve got a great way to neutralize that karma you’ve created for yourself in your past lives – the ones that you lived just moments ago.

So let’s not fake it. You can’t anyway. You were what you were. You are what you are.

Let’s be what we want to be, right here, right now. Don’t expect instant changes (you’ve still got all of that past karma to burn off, remember?), but one small change, repeated over time, can make all of the difference.

 

Bring It On!

Facebook post from May 7, 2017: "There isn't much that annoys me more than coming across what seems like an excellent personal development resource, then finding out it's endorsed by Oz and Paltrow. Whoops, glad I didn't step into that horseshit."

That’s a Facebook post I made about a year and a half ago.

Sometimes I’m wrong.

It’s not that I’m going to join Goop or start trying every snake oil product that Dr. Oz shills for. But I was (mostly) wrong about the product that I’m referring to above: The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with the ideas in this book and it’s follow up (if you couldn’t tell already.) I’ve found some value in some of what Stutz and Michels offer, but at the same time both books are so full of woo-woo nonsense that they can be difficult for someone with my mindset to get through. The signal to noise ratio really rides the line with these guys.

But… these two books (the first one especially) came so highly recommended by Brian Johnson (my perpetual personal development crush) of Optimize.me, that I did finally give them a break and try out their stuff.

And the very first tool – The Reversal of Desire – is something that I can say has helped more than anything to get me past fear and pain.

I’ll let Brian tell you more about it:

So the next time you feel fear, see pain on the horizon that you want to avoid, or are already in the shit and are want to quit, don’t forget:

  1. Bring It On!
  2. I Love Pain!
  3. Pain Sets Me Free!

Again. And again. And again.