I’m sure you’ve been there before — there was something about that day that was just different. You were awake. Aware. Confident. Optimistic. Focused.
You felt like you could accomplish anything, and chances are, you probably did. You were able to notice things on another level, feel things to a different depth. Your usual breakfast tasted better, your morning jog felt more invigorating. People looked at you differently, treated you differently — you felt loved. Your day was, for all intents and purposes, perfect.
Alas, it was not meant to last. You went to sleep that night, and although you slept soundly, the magic faded. You awoke the next day, and the enchantment was gone. Everything felt normal — worse, even. Breakfast was bland, the grass was a dead piss yellow, and people paid you no more attention than they would a speed limit sign. Everything a distant dream, you basked in the memories of a warm, fleeting occurrence, awaiting the next advent of miracles; an endless cycle of jitters.
There’s No “Recipe” For Becoming Great
They’re rather interesting, these magical days that feel like they’re from blue. I’m no stranger to such occurrences occasionally in my life, and if I could exchange anything for a formula to this trance-like state, I might be willing to give up my left testicle (well, maybe).
The larger part of the blogging & writing industry has fallen madly in love with self-help articles and motivational woo, all in an attempt to seek out a life perpetually like the above. They’ll tell you things like, “Do these 28 things daily and you’ll become the best!” or, “Read these books Bill Gates read and you’ll become Jesus!” or, “100 habits of successful people.” Seriously? You couldn’t narrow that down anymore?
Whether I make my bed, tell myself I’m pretty in the mirror, or do power poses to project an air of idiocy, it really doesn’t produce a large enough effect for a long enough period of time. What the majority of these kinds of articles and blogs propose is, at best, a temporary measure, and like all things, humans adapt to them. When you first start out, making your bed in the morning might feel invigorating. Sure. But eventually it becomes part of the daily grind — it might even start to piss you off in the morning. “Fuck this bed.”
All of us obviously have a huge desire to attain what we view as greatness, and we are led to believe if we follow A, B, and C, we will attain it. But really, stop to think about it — if it was that easy, far more people would have exactly what they want. There wouldn’t be a need for all of these motivational articles and “brainhacking tips” to circulate the Internet in the first place.
It’s almost like cooking recipes or instruction books: most of the time, there’s always unique nuances to how everyone does things. Even if different people follow the same recipe, their results end up being outrageously different. And such is the fatal flaw with the self-help wave: reading a book a week for me is a nuisance, not a benefit. And telling myself 10 positive thoughts or things I’m thankful for every night just makes it harder to sleep.
Desire Is Not Necessarily Prerequisite For Change
The excuse thereafter is if you followed the recipe but still didn’t attain the expected results, it was because you didn’t want it enough. “Not successful? It’s because you don’t actually want the success that badly!” “Not getting fit? That’s because you don’t actually care about your health that much!”
What a load of garbage. If wanting something was enough to get it, we would all be far happier and satisfied than we are.
And telling someone who’s tried their hardest and failed that they simply didn’t want it badly enough is just an extra kick to the groin while they’re down. It certainly helps no one. Those kinds of statements are no more than condescending swipes at people, made to further groom egos.
Despite what seems intuitive, bettering yourself is not a matter of following recipes or having wet dreams about yourself. The answer, instead, is your environment.
Surround Yourself With Good Things
Remember earlier when I mentioned humans adapt? One of the few things you will find is no matter how rigid a person might seem, they are affected by their environment.
You can be as happy and cheerful as you want, but if you work in a cold office with white walls, stuck in a dull, empty cube, staring at paperwork and having no human contact or conversation for 40 hours/week, 52 weeks/year, you’re going to be miserable.
Likewise, if you’re trying to attain a fit body, but your pantry is stocked full of potato chips, processed and jarred queso, and other garbage food, you’ll come home one evening, tired and lazy, and you will pop open a bag of chips. I guarantee it.
One of the things bloggers and other motivational speakers get right is that motivation and focus come in waves. What they miss is telling you how to defend yourself during the low tide.
You can’t constantly feel motivated and focused. You’d have to be superman. So you need to know how to defend during your low-focus and low-motivation moments, as those are the times you are most liable to fall. It’s like having an inner skeptic that finds it odd your enemy would reconcile and gift you a giant horse despite being massacred.
That defense, in other words, is modifying your environment. The reason some recipes work when you follow them is because, by and large, a lot of the steps in those recipes are direct changes you make to your environment. But the shortcoming lies in the fact that there’s too much of a focus on just doing those things as opposed to why you’re doing those things.
When you surround yourself with the right people, the right environment, and the right “traps” to fall into, you will be forced to adapt to this new environment whether you want to or not. Talk to the same negative people everyday, and you will find it exceedingly difficult to be uplifted and positive. So find new people to talk to. If the alarm is on the other side of the room, you, quite literally, have no choice but to physically get up to shut it off.
If you’ve got nothing but celery and hummus to snack on in the refrigerator, then by god, that’s exactly what you’re going to eat when you come home lazy, hungry, and tired from work.
Beyond The Self-Help Articles
You owe yourself something better than constantly reading through motivational articles, only to then experience minor improvements to your life despite doing everything you were told. You owe yourself something better than constantly trying and failing, only to be told repeatedly your desire for it wasn’t strong enough.
It’s okay to seek help from outside yourself, because sometimes we need the motivational boost. But you cannot rely on recipes. And you cannot rely on your own emotions and desires.
Put the time into modifying your surroundings. You would be surprised exactly what tiny little shits are contributing to your slowly-building stress day-to-day. The image need not be vivid, but sit down at some point and imagine what a perfect day would be like to you: how would you feel? What would you do? What would be there? What wouldn’t be there?
And then configure your life to fit that image. Get rid of that junk food. Put gym clothes next to your bedside, ready to wear when you wake up (along with a glass of water). Use plugins like Ultidash to set your tasks and block distracting websites. Do whatever it is you need to change what you see, what you hear, what you do when you aren’t focused. Because the moments where you’re slouching are going to happen, and the only surefire way to stop it is to have a rigid chair forcing you to sit upright.
By forcing a strong hand against yourself, you will find these moments of up and down, torment about why you failed to adhere to a promise you made to yourself, and any guilt or frustration, slowly fading. With fewer opportunities for you to pull yourself back down, you can focus all of your effort on pursuing your desires — because we both know that you do want them. Badly.