I have a really strong desire to be the best person I can be. Not in the Army reserves sort of way, but eliminating weaknesses and building strengths. I think it's a ridiculous privilege to be alive, and I want to make the most of that. I have a human mind, so I want to sharpen it. I have a human body, so I want to strengthen and protect it. I have fellow humans, so I want to relate to them better, learn from them, and benefit them however possible.
Part of the human experience is having faults, and like everyone else, I have lots of them. Through my path in life, though, I've been lucky enough to really experience and understand that all faults can be fixed. Some of my biggest faults, like my social ineptness and my lack of discipline eventually got turned around into strengths. Once you go through that experience of turning a negative that feels like a part of you into a true strength, you see all weaknesses in a new light. Anything that I don't like about myself can be fixed completely.
This process takes time and effort, though, and I know that I have a limited amount of both. That means that at all times I should be making myself better in some way. I have long term campaigns like eating healthy, meditating, getting good sleep, traveling, etc., but I also add new things all the time. I never have the urge to put off fixing myself because I know that my life is only so long and that there are a lot of things to fix. For example, Mystery posted a video to his wall about the damage that pornography is doing to men. My consumption of pornography was probably lower than average anyway, but I quit cold turkey immediately after watching the video. I don't find things like that difficult, because my impulse to improve myself is much greater than any other impulse I have.
Some people may object, saying that it's best to be happy with you are and not feel like you need to improve and fix yourself. I agree with that, too, and I don't think that it's a contradiction. It's natural to be very happy with something imperfect, but still enjoy improving it. I've liked my RV since the first day I bought it, but I still fix and improve it as time goes on. I'm proud of my blog, but I always try to improve my writing and the blog platform itself. In fact, I think that a certain level of self esteem is necessary for long-term self improvement. You have to believe that you're worth improving and that you have the capability to do so. There's a difference between feeling like you have to fix yourself to be an acceptable human being and loving being a human so much that you want to become as good as you possibly can.
Just as being a programmer is useless unless you are actually writing programs, improving yourself is only part of the equation. Building yourself up only for personal satisfaction seems like a waste, but up to offer more to the world is an amazing thing. I build my work ethic so that I can make SETT into a great blogging platform for everybody, and hopefully help the spread of good discussion around the world. I invest in my health to keep myself able to produce for more years, and even to maximize the time I'll get to spend with my children and grandchildren. I quit porn because maybe doing so will improve my relationship with whoever I end settling down with. I improve my social skills to help me learn more from others and share more with them in return.
My favorite people in the world are people who share this obsession with practical self improvement. I love their genuine enthusiasm for life and for the experiments they're trying out themselves. My favorite part of the recent Japan trip I went on was the unusual concentration of self-improvers in our group. We ended up overshooting our first train stop by over an hour because we were all so sucked into conversation, excited to hear what everyone else was working on. Most people on the trip, myself included, actually took notes from each other.
It's such a great thing to be alive, and to get to experience what it is to be a human. Wouldn't it be a shame to not become the best human possible?
Photo is me at the top of Mt. Misen in Miyajima, Japan. Definitely worth a visit!
Awesome post Tynan, and love the photo. You really write a lot these days, and I am impressed by the high quality of the content you put up on your blog.
I totally agree that faults can be fixed. I also believe that anything can be learned (knowledge, skill, etc.). I think these realizations can be tremendously liberating. Many people often seem to categorize themselves as well as others into rigid stereotypes which makes it very hard to change, because you believe it's just how you are, how you were born, and you can't do anything about it.
I've thought about it and I think the reason why people often fail at self-improvement is because humans have many core goals, and they switch between them constantly. In other words, there is a conflict between various desires, goals, and interests that we have. I was watching a few weeks ago a lecture by Michael Norton, professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, in which he talked about the relationship between money, time, and happiness.
Basically Dr. Norton said that through his studies and experiments, he has found that people feel happiest when they spend money on others (irrespective of cultures and degrees of wealth; he did some of his studies in North America, Africa, and other continents). I thought about it and I asked myself: wait, if the answer to become happier is as clear as this, and we all know that by spending money on others we will become happier, why don't we do it? So I sent him an email asking whether he thought people really, in fact, want to be happier, or if they just think they want to be happier. And here's what he said:
So what I find interesting with people such as you, Tynan, is that you have a very strong will and immense motivational power to see through your biggest and most important goals, and to let go of your conflicting, less important (mostly short-term) desires and goals. I think it's a great way to become a better human being and to improve ourselves day by day; not by merely succumbing to short-term temptations and "goals" that will actually make us sadder and/or unhealthier in the long-term.
I think humans have many core goals, and they switch between them constantly. Some are short term, some are long term, some lead us to be happier, some sadder.
For example, we all have the goal to exercise and be healthy because we know this will make us better off; we also have the goal in any given moment to eat the tastiest thing we can find - which is usually something that is unhealthy and conflicts with our other goal. Sometimes we maximize one, sometimes the other - so it is very difficult to pin down which are the one or two goals that are most important, since any number of small goals can be the most important in any given moment.
Great post Tynan. I am trying to pick myself up by the bootstraps and improve. I know that the answers are not secrets, they are right in front of me. It's just doing those things that has become harder because I have let myself fall into complacency. I don't work out (exercise) other than mowing the grass, I drink too many sodas and alcohol and not enough water, and have let a lot of emotional stress cause me to not care and just want to be left alone.
I have outlined the things I need to do. I like your blog because it pushes me to get up and do something to help myself. It is like you said, there is a good feeling I get when I talk and interact with positive people.
I wanted to comment on how society changed, and why I think some things are the way they are. I watched the video about the porn issue. One allure to porn is the thought that your getting what you can't have. I don't think people live that type of sexual life that you see on the porn. In reality, there is no way I would treat a girl like that. I am very respectful of all people.
My church had a program on the porn topic, and it seemed to me that some (not all) people there wanted to guilt guys out to open up their personal fantasies of how they are so addicted to the smut filled poisonous filth. I was thinking "witch hunt" while listening to these people. Some women were really worked up to "out" some guys on this topic.
I thought to myself, almost everyone in our society has lived a life of niceties and entitlement. When I turn my focus onto women, I look at the things they fill their minds with as they go through life. I look at the magazines on the shelves at the grocery store with the subtitles: "How to get your man to marry you", "What you should be wearing for Summer", "Why you should be shopping and he should be working", "Don't stress about the extra pounds, just buy bigger clothes", "Things to not tell your man, especially your spending habits", "You need a maid to clean your house", "Live your life now, regardless of your partners feelings, he is just holding you back", etc
Today's woman have been "programmed" to live in a fantasy world where they have no accountability, no responsibility, no feelings for others. Of course, it isn't all women. A lot of them buy into this Disney World life that they should be entitled to. Oh, I know a lot of guys that have the same feelings about themselves too. It hits everybody.
The thing is we all have been feed Dopamine throughout our lives in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, it takes a hard fall and losing a lot of that stuff before people will go back to being appreciative of the simple things in life.
Great post Tynan, and you have inspired me to quit porn cold-turkey 3 days ago. However, after you quit porn, did you also quit masturbating altogether? In the most mature manner, what is your take on masturbation?
I don't know enough about it to really offer advice, but I don't think there's anything wrong with masturbation. The argument against porn, that it's extremely unnatural and messes with the brain, doesn't transfer to masturbation, I don't think.
That's true. Thanks, Tynan. I think you live by and talk about great principles and I value your opinions on things.
I think the issue of lust is the problem: Lust for women, lust (and/or love) for money, lust for man-made creations.
Masturbation is a personal sensation that isn't hurting anyone else or destroying your mind. I wholeheartedly believe that is a personal issue that no one needs to share with anyone else.
That's true. Thanks, JD. You're right. That is a personal thing that is no one needs to share.
My concern though, is that while masturbation may not be bad then, I'd say everyone that masturbates is masturbating with a lustful mind. What is your take on that (would masturbating still be fine)? And you're implying that porn "hurts" or degrades the porn actresses, right?
I view it like this, and this is only MY opinion. I am not perfect, and we do not live in a perfect world. I try to live a life that doesn't infringe upon anyone else, although, I can't avoid having friction with people in my life. I accept myself that I do indulge in some things that aren't good for me. I work on trying to control those desires and not being compulsive or letting those things take over all my thinking. I try to have moderation. I admit that I'm not always able to do that.
I view the "lust" as the part where a person lets the desire overtake their views and thinking to becoming obsessive. The person can't distinguish the difference between their lustful thinking and reality.
For instance, I fantasize about numerous things. The fantasizing brings me pleasure. I don't get lost in the fantasies and lose perception of reality. I think that is a normal, healthy way to go through life.
If you fantasize about a certain female during your "personal fun time", it's okay, as long as you know that is all in your mind for your enjoyment. And, you please yourself with these internal thoughts for a few minutes of your day, it is within the realm of being a normal human. Now, if you can't stop the thoughts and want to go act out on the thoughts by stalking someone, you have a problem. I would say 99% of us control ourselves and know not to let that happen. If you go out and do act on these thoughts, you will be infringing upon another person that may not want to be apart of your fantasy, thus hurting them and yourself.
Every person I know has a "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" syndrome. It's keeping the Dr. Jekyll under control is very important.
Fantasizing is a good way to deal with life's tough problems if you ask me. It is a way to cope and see the world in a different way. I read a book about a Holocaust survivor that was in a German concentration camp for over 2 years. He said he was able to survive the conditions and abuse by fantasizing and imagining he was somewhere else. It gave him a way to take his mind and thoughts away from reality, and gave him the hope he needed to not give up to the death chamber.
I like your view on this and it makes sense. I do think of things I do from a moral standpoint when I can, I happy to think of this particular activity as normal.
I'm wondering if the book your talking about is Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Well in any case, fantasizing as a healthy part of life is great then. haha
Hey, I really appreciate the time you took to respond and share this with me, JD. Thank you
Hi Tynan. Kudos for writing about quitting porn -- it's an issue that not too many people feel comfortable talking about, but porn addiction (and porn-induced ED) is becoming a problem for more and more guys.
I'm glad to hear that Mystery posted Gary's TEDx video. Maybe it will be an eye-opener for guys who can't figure out why they're having problems in bed. I think it's also fairly common for guys within the pickup community to experience some porn-induced ED or other negative effects of habitual porn use -- especially those guys who joined the community because they didn't have any women in their life.
For me, quitting porn more than 2 years ago was the best thing that ever happened to my sex life.
Also, Gary Wilson's site www.yourbrainonporn.com is a great place to go for more information.
check out www.reddit.com/r/nofap for a cool community of people who have quit/are working on quitting pornography
I can see your chest has developed a lot from working out Tynan. Looking good. And I agree with you about porn. For me it was when I saw James Marshall's speech at the 21 Convention on how your brain begins to re-condition itself to orgasam quicker if you watch porn. It's no suprise that my love life and drive to meet women has got better since I stopped. Now I've met a girl and it's the most intimate and mature relationship I've ever had.
Hey Tynan, I relate a lot to this post. Here are my thoughts on the matter. I don’t mean to be overly critical here, these are just some of the issues I am thinking about all the time:
You talk about fixing your faults, but how do you know they really are faults? I feel like a person shouldn’t be so concerned with “fixing” himself because there isn’t an objective way to make a human being better. You can make yourself more proficient and capable but has that improved who the real you is? If you get really ripped you will: look impressive, train your mind, learn things about yourself but you will also probably get your ego invested, suffer through a lot of pain and lose the time you could have spent otherwise with friends or enjoying the pleasures of life (although Arnold Schwarzenegger claims that working out is like coming…).
There is a main conflict in my mind between enjoyment of life and self improvement. You can argue that you get enjoyment out of improving yourself, but it is a different kind of enjoyment than eating ice cream or making out with a girl. At least I see a distinction in my mind.
Being a tennis player, I notice a difference between the intense satisfaction of a good training session and the light-hearted, pleasure seeking attitude I would have going to a party. In tennis I am at a high intensity all the time, my body is hurting and exhausted much of the time and my mind is playing all kinds of games that I have to deal with. It’s an arduous process and totally worth it, but I wouldn’t want to do that all day long.
On the other hand, going out with friends and partying can be very pleasurable, but doesn’t give me that same feeling of contentment that self-improvement through tennis does. I feel like both self-improvement and pleasure seeking are important and should be balanced against each other.This is why I am curious when you say things like “at all times I should be making myself better in some way." You could argue that enjoy pleasures is a part of your overall self-improvement but the purpose of pleasures themselves is to enhance life not to make you significantly more proficient in a skill or activity.
A couple days ago I read a book recommended by Tyler, whose blog is the only blog I read religiously.
Anyway, the book is about mastery, and it really rang true for me. In it the author talks about the different types of people who are NOT masters, and I am pretty clearly one of them. I'm "the hacker".
What that means is that I get some level of proficiency below mastery, get satisfied with it, and don't progress. I'm acutely aware of this - I get to the level where other people respect my skill, but never push myself as far as I could go / would like.
Impulsiveness causes a lot of failures, large and small. Giving in to impulsiveness means not doing the difficult and important work you want to do. It means breaching your commitments to yourself to live better. It leads to bad feelings and down-goings.
I started training in this topic a little bit ago. The gains are large.
It's one of the best feelings I've ever had, knowingly overriding an impulse to do something stupid or distracting by using my conscious mind. I detect the impulse/feeling, think, and channel my attention/energy elsewhere.
It's hard to describe how joyful it is pull back from making a stupid decision. And I think, "I trained myself to be able to do that. I wouldn't have done naturally." Magnificent.
When the topic comes up, people like to ask me how I work on it. I have a hard time answering.