WARNING: The goal of this article is to show you that material success does not equate to happiness.
It was 2 in the morning, and somehow I couldn’t fall asleep. As I lay in bed, I couldn’t stop feeling depressed.
I thought about things that I’d done wrong in the past; things that I’d fucked up big time. I realized how deeply I’d hurt some people, and I felt like a piece of shit for hurting them.
I wondered why I was even put on earth—what the fuck was I doing? I’d made so many mistakes. I felt afraid; as if I’d never get any better. It didn’t feel like anything would improve. I felt like I would just be condemned to a lifetime of depression, mediocrity, and self-loathing.
Just one day earlier, I’d received multiple emails from men thanking me for making Masculine Development. Men were thanking me, telling me that they’d lost their virginity or gotten a girlfriend after reading my advice on game. One man emailed me, telling me that he wanted me to coach him 1-on-1.
I’d made a ton of money from eBook sales that day, and to top it off, I had sex with a beautiful girl who I’d been seeing for a couple of months, before going to bed.
What the fuck happened?
Learning to Enjoy the Process
As I’ve talked about before, one of the most important aspects of self-development is learning to enjoy the process. What this basically means is that you derive gratification from the process of GROWING, rather than waiting to be happy.
A lot of guys think that they’ll be happy once they achieve a certain goal. “I’ll be happy once I get a girlfriend,” the man with no game says. “I’ll be happy once I’m making a million dollars a year,” the man with no money says. “I’ll be happy once I have a killer body,” the overweight man says.
What they don’t realize, however, is that it isn’t the act of achieving a goal that makes you happy. It’s the process that you undergo on the way there.
Eckhart Tolle said that there’s two ways to go insane. The first, is to never get what you want. The second, is to get what you want. The idea is that if you tell yourself “Oh, I’ll be happy once I get X,” then either way you NEVER end up being happy.
When you don’t have X, you’re not happy. But then when you get it, you shift your views to something else, and say that you’ll be happy once you get that. It’s the classic example of the guy who earns $55,000 a year and wants to climb the corporate ladder.
“I’ll be happy once I get that promotion and earn $75,000 a year!” he says. Well, then he gets that promotion and isn’t happy. Now, he’s surrounded by people driving Mercedes and BMW’s, so he tells himself: “Oh. Well, maybe I’ll be happy when I’m earning $150,000 a year!”
Then, he busts his ass to get another promotion, and now he’s surrounded by guys driving Lamborghinis and spending $200 on steak dinners like it’s nothing. “Hmm, I’m not happy yet…maybe I’ll be happy once I’m earning $500,000 a year!”
Do you see the point? He’ll never be happy, because of a concept known as the “Hedonic Treadmill.”
Hedonic Treadmill: The Great Materialistic Trap
The Hedonic Treadmill, otherwise known as the Hedonic Adaptation, is a very well noted phenomena in psychology. It’s basically the idea that human beings’ emotions adapt to whatever their surroundings are.
So, for example, if you take a poor kid and put him in a mansion, he’ll be happy for a week or two. But then he’ll be upset because his caviar wasn’t prepared the way he likes it, or because the maid was an hour late one day.
If you’re just starting to learn game as a newbie, maybe you get your first lay from a cold approach one night. You’re ecstatic; “Wow! That was awesome!” you’ll think. Then, it’ll happen again, but you won’t get the same surge of excitement.
Sure, it’ll still be cool, but you won’t be as happy as the last time. Then, it happens again. And again. And again. Soon enough, you’re not happy anymore. This is why a lot of guys become obsessed with learning game; they end up chasing a fleeting feeling of validation that sleeping with hot girls gives them.
The Hedonic Treadmill applies to EVERYTHING: finance, women, bodybuilding, and more.
I’ve fallen into this trap so many times in my life, and I fell into the same trap that night that I was lying in bed feeling miserable. I was upset, because I didn’t have “enough.”
I was upset, because I wanted more money. I wanted more girls. I wanted a better body. I wanted MORE. I didn’t feel like I’d done a good enough job. I should have done better. I could have done better. I focused on all of my failures, rather than focusing on how far I’d come.
And then it hit me: “If you can’t be happy now, then you’ll never be happy.”
Self-Acceptance: The Ultimate Paradox?
This is a very tricky concept to understand, especially to people who are just getting into self-development. It’s tricky to understand, because you need to do two completely contradictory things at once in order to succeed at improving yourself.
On one hand, you need to see your weaknesses. You need to realize that you’re overweight. You need to realize that your game sucks. You need to realize that your finances aren’t where they should be. You need to realize your flaws.
This will drive you to improve them. When you realize that you’re overweight, you’ll start implementing my advice on how to shred fat as fast as possible. When you realize that your game sucks, you’ll take action to improve it. You’ll go out and start practicing at your local nightclubs, bars, or parties.
When your finances aren’t where they should be, you’ll start learning how to sell eBooks for profit, or how to invest properly. The point is that when you accept where you’re at, you’ll take action to improve your weaknesses. If you don’t accept where you’re at, you’ll just stay in a permanent state of denial and stubbornly refuse to change anything.
Paradoxically, however, you must also be okay with where you’re at.
You must balance the desire to change yourself and improve, with enough self-love to maintain a healthy perspective. You see this a lot in the field of self-development: some guy becomes obsessed with improving himself, and he can’t seem to find happiness.
He’s always down on himself, even though he’s improved leaps and bounds over the last year or two. Despite the fact that he went from being a scrawny nerd to a jacked, confident player, he’s still somehow searching for that elusive feeling of happiness.
He doesn’t realize that it’s inside of him.
Happiness Comes From Acceptance
Interestingly enough, suffering doesn’t come from experiencing negative events; it comes from RESISTING these negative events. It comes from refusing to accept reality for what it is.
How funny it is that we create our own suffering, and we perpetuate it by stubbornly refusing to take reality for what it is.
Now, to be fair, I think that there’s clearly a “base level” of material things that you need in order to have happiness…but that level is A LOT lower than most guys think.
What if I told you that all you need to be happy is good food, clean water, shelter, and air? That’s it. You don’t need a Mercedes, you don’t need the newest designer clothes, you don’t need a harem of gorgeous women (although it helps), and you certainly don’t need external validation.
The key to happiness is to simply accept reality for what it is, without filters, without judgment, and without resistance.
When you fully embrace reality, with open arms, and you welcome it, amazing things happen.
Accept Your Flaws (An Exercise)
I realize that if you’re not very far along on the self-development journey, this may all seem like nonsense to you. Maybe you just stumbled upon this article from a google search, or maybe you’re a self-development veteran.
Either way, I’d like to do an exercise with you. Pick one thing that you don’t like about yourself. Whatever it is.
Maybe you don’t have enough women in your life, or maybe you don’t have enough money. Maybe you’re insecure because you feel ugly (even though women don’t care about looks) or maybe you’re upset because you’re fat.
Whatever it is, just write it down. Really let it sink in. Really let that feeling of anger, sadness, or disappointment sink in.
Become okay with that feeling. Realize that you are where you are. No amount of anger, frustration, self-loathing, or sadness will change this. No amount of emotion will alter your reality.
Fully accept the fact that you’re overweight, or that your game sucks, or that you’re poor. FULLY EMBRACE IT. After focusing on this flaw for a while, you’ll start to become okay with it.
For a long time, I was insecure about my height—I’m only 5’8″ and as a newbie it always pissed me off seeing tall guys get the hot girls. And what was crazy, too was that even though I KNEW looks don’t really matter (game matters way more) it still bugged me.
So, every day I made it a priority to look in the mirror and just tell myself: “Well, I guess this is how it is.” After a while, I started to not give a fuck. Why would I care about something that I couldn’t change?
And even if I could change it, why would I get so insecure about it? It literally makes no sense. If you want to change something, JUST CHANGE IT. Don’t get butthurt, don’t get mad, don’t beat yourself up…just accept it and change it!
Once you accept your flaws, you become free.
Changing Your Flaws
Now, paradoxically, that you’ve accepted your flaws, you can change them. If you can’t, then that’s fine. But, if you can, it’s time to take action.
Read my article on how to actually accomplish your goals and implement its advice. Develop a game plan to change your flaws.
Do you want more women in your life? Do you want to have more fulfilling relationships with women? Okay, then follow my advice on going out to night clubs and bars, and start meeting more women.
Do you want to get more money? Okay, then learn about the principles of wealth and start implementing them into your life. Or maybe you want to get a better body? Okay, then start working out and dial in on your nutrition.
It’s really that simple—you have to learn to set goals, while simultaneously being happy with what you’ve got. If you tell yourself that you’ll be happy once you achieve a goal, you’re literally rewiring your brain to never be happy in the present moment.
You’ll achieve your goal, and then say “Well…I’m not happy now. OH! Maybe I’ll be happy when I achieve THIS goal!” And then you’ll achieve the next goal, and you’ll say: “I’m still not happy…maybe once I get THIS goal!” And so on and so forth.
I know that this is difficult to do, but you must learn to accept where you’re at while simultaneously aiming for a goal.
And what’s funny is this actually empowers you to change your life even MORE, because you’re always HAPPY! When you’re just content with where you’re at, it’s easy to go to the gym! It’s easy to go learn game!
Why? Because you’re in a good mood! It’s when you say “Ugh, I’m so fat,” that you have a hard time feeling motivated. It’s when you say “Ugh, I have no girls,” that you have a hard time getting the motivation to go out.
But if you accept where you’re at, it’s an entirely different picture. Thinking: “Wow, I’ve lost 2 pounds in the last week!” makes it fun to go to the gym, because you feel like you’re making a difference in your life.
Thinking: “Woah! I made $30 today from the stock market!” makes it way easier to invest more, because you feel like it’s paying off. Focusing on the positive, interestingly enough, encourages you to take MORE action and change things even MORE.
Learning to accept where you’re at, while simultaneously aiming to be better, is one of the most difficult, yet powerful lessons that any man can ever learn in the field of self-development.
Tips to Help Along the Way
I realize that this is all a lot to take in, so I’m going to give you a few tips to help you achieve this powerful state of mind.
I cannot stress this enough. MEDITATE! FUCKING MEDITATE! When you meditate, you train your mind to focus on the present moment. What this means, is that rather than growing depressed over the past or anxious over the future, you learn to just focus on the present moment.
Meditation trains your mind to accept reality for what it is. It trains you to gain control over your emotions, and better yet, it exposes emotions that have been hiding from you.
When you start to meditate every day, you’ll start to notice what little emotions hide from you, that you never noticed before. You’ll start to recognize the signs of anger before you explode, you’ll recognize the signs of depression before it becomes full blown.
In short, meditation will not only train your mind to be happy with what you’ve got, but it will give you laser focus, and a more calm, collected, state of mind.
2. Gratefulness Exercise
Every morning, I write down three things that I’m grateful for. There’s a reason that this is a part of my Morning Routine for Zen-Like Focus and Massive Motivation.
The goal of this exercise is to train your mind to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. For example, here’s what I wrote down the morning after that depressing night I had:
- I am so happy and grateful that these emotions are coming up. Now, because I’m aware of them, I can start to deal with them.
- I am so happy and grateful that I have coffee to drink this morning. Most of the world does not have this luxury. This delicious coffee will make me more alert, and help me focus on my goals.
- I am so happy and grateful that I’ve come this far. Just a few years ago, I was a completely depressed, socially awkward virgin. Now, I’m not perfect, but I’m a hell of a lot better.
Notice how I reframed the terrible night that I had before. This is the power of re-framing: something that seems bad can become a good thing. ANYTHING that seems bad can be a good thing.
As Nietzsche said: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Those emotions coming up? Great, it’s a chance to deal with them. That guy who punched you in the face for talking to his girlfriend? Great, now you can recognize the signs to look for in an aggressive guy. You’re sick? Nice, a chance to relax and focus on developing yourself.
Do you see? Even if I can’t think of anything “good” that morning, I just reframe “bad” things.
3. Eliminate Distractions
We have it a lot harder than our ancestors did. Sure, we have more conveniences than they did…we have computers, cell phones, cars, and more. But these same advancements also make us miserable.
Constantly browsing Facebook and comparing yourself to other people is a surefire way to never accept yourself, because you’re always comparing yourself to others.
Only browse Facebook to check up on old friends. Don’t constantly whip out your phone when you get bored; focus on relaxing and being at ease with the present moment.
Don’t check your email 5 times an hour. Learn to eliminate these little things that distract you and take your mind off of the present moment.
In summary, learning to accept yourself for who you are, while simultaneously aiming for goals, is a very difficult and paradoxical mindset to achieve. Most men go too far in one direction. They either completely accept their mediocrity, and don’t do anything to change it, or they become so obsessed with achieving that they’re never happy.
Some men spend a lifetime chasing goals, only to find out on their death bed, that what they were searching for was inside of them all along. As cheesy as that sounds, when you learn to just enjoy what you’ve got, you’ll be way happier.
I’m not perfect. I get lazy sometimes. I feel depressed at the state of the Western World sometimes. I get rejected by women, I get insecure, I say things that are stupid, and I fuck up.
But, I’m happier than 99% of guys right now…by simply accepting these things. I don’t deny them, I don’t resist them…I simply accept them for what they are, and make an effort to improve.
I hope that you guys can learn to do the same, because it will literally change your lives. I hope you all enjoyed the article, and as always, I’ll see you next time.