Contentment is King


Contentment means being happy with who you are and what you have. Embracing imperfections and accepting that differences is reality. That everything you need to be happy, you already possess... in your mind.

Unfortunately contentment isn't sexy, it doesn't sell products, and it's not something you can show off. Discontent with ourselves does all that shit.

 
ALL of our problems stem from discontent
— Leo Babauta

JEALOUSY: Behavior economist Dan Ariely says, "Jealousy and envy spring from comparing our lot in life with that of others". People are competitive to a fault. Keeping up with the Joneses assures a life of trying to impress people that don't give a shit about you. Your friend just got a new iPhone? Car? House? Well, you better one up them if you want to keep up.

ANGER: People become angry when they don't get their way. Sometimes it's trivial, like when they want to get home but they're stuck in traffic. Sometimes it's a big deal, like when someone you don't like is running the country you live in. Contentment has taught me that anger stems from the fear that people won't be OK if life doesn't play out the way they want. It's fear of accepting reality. The reality that the world doesn't revolve around one person. A life full of anger doesn't end well.

#droppinheat

#droppinheat

DISTRUST: Distrust is the main reason people can’t be content with who they are. They don’t trust themselves to be happy as is. Rather, they resort to sacrificing years of their lives tying their self-worth to external sources that they erroneously believe will make them happy.

I had trouble trusting myself in the past. I was dissatisfied with many aspects of my life: 

  • MONEY: More wasn't enough.
  • CAREER: I tied my self-worth to my career and prioritized it over health and family.
  • PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: I had low self-esteem and was out of shape.
  • POSSESSIONS: I wasted money on things I didn't need just for a fleeting sense of happiness.
  • SOCIAL LIFE: Going out to the same clubs and bars week after week became depressing.
  • LOVE LIFE: I was lonely and probably reeked of desperation when trying to meet women.
 

Discontent is the default setting

The human brain is wired to have a negativity bias. It's designed to find problems and fix them. A method of progression where dissatisfaction is a prerequisite. For evolutionary purposes, it's how humans survived. In today's world, it's why I always assumed there was something wrong with me.

So it’s no surprise that contentment feels unnatural, why happiness is so illusive, and why beating yourself up over dumb shit feels normal.

 
If you start with the mindset of fixing whats wrong with you, it doesn’t end once you have a successful change.
— Leo Babauta

Until I learned about contentment, my self-development journey felt like it would go on forever. Maybe that's part of the self-development business plan: Don't tell people there is an end and have their predisposed bias for fixing themselves coming back for more and more. 

Contentment exposed my root problems and taught me how to fix them for good. It showed me that I'm OK as is and I always have been. I'm able to be grateful for what I have right now and see that my life is pretty great. No matter what happens in the future, I know I'll always be OK

Contentment isn’t a matter with being content with your situation in life and never trying to improve it. It’s a matter of being content with what you have — but realizing that as humans, we will always try to improve, no matter how happy we are. If we don’t, we have given up on life.
— Leo Babauta

Change is inevitable and so are opportunities for growth. I'm always open to growing as a person. Especially now, since it doesn't originate from dissatisfaction with myself. I find fulfillment in progress.

 

Happiness is a choice and contentment is the solution

MONEY: I know how much is enough and I know more money can't make me that much happier. As a result, making money isn't constantly on my mind. Freeing me up to focus on the important things in front of me.

CAREER: I'm venturing into new careers that are better suited for what I want out of life. It’s unstable and that's OK, because I trust that I'll do just fine.

FAMILY: At age 96, my grandfather knows he doesn't have much time left. So spending quality time with him is my utmost priority. I'm grateful to have a chance to spend his last days together, making sure he goes out with a bang.

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Paulina thinks I'm attractive - that's all that matters.

POSSESSIONS: Wanting less has simplified my life. More time, more money, more happy.

SOCIAL LIFE: Quality over quantity. No more superficial friendships that weigh me down. Life is too short to fuck around.

LOVE LIFE: It’s awesome. Shout out to Paulina!

 

Contentment is incredibly simple, but, like everything worthwhile in life, it's difficult to achieve. It's not for the faint of heart. It requires going against the norm. Taking a journey that is cold and lonely because contentment isn't socially acceptable. The ability to overcome adversity is a requirement because it's an uphill battle with no finish line. It's a lifelong commitment that is challenging but the reward is priceless.

Contentment teaches me not to take life for granted; not to waste my time on this earth worrying about trivial things like other people's opinions or my insecurities. It removes all the distractions in my life so that I can focus on what is important to me.

Life is pretty awesome... when you already have everything you need.

 

THE GAME CHANGER


This is my bible. It’s the most important book I have. A book that I take with me to keep me grounded. A book that is timeless.

LIVING IN WESTWORLD

I'm not here to talk about theories or whether or not the show is good. I'm here to talk about how the themes of the show relate to my life.

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read any further unless you want key story elements spoiled, because I'm about to get into this shit real fast.


 
In this world... I can be whatever the fuck I want.

In this world... I can be whatever the fuck I want.

Watching a film or TV show is like navigating through life: both are a subjective experience. When you think a film or TV show is good, it's because it connects with you on a deeper level. The specific details of what happens in the show aren't as important as how it makes you feel

 

Westworld is one of those shows that connects with me. Season 1 is about beliefs. Throughout the season, characters struggle to figure out what is real and what isn't. In my life, I face the same struggles. Does money lead to happiness? Do my actions line up with my values? The show's creators intentionally force you to come to these crossroads. They want you to figure out what is and isn't real in your life. They are telling viewers like me to wake the fuck up.

 

 
I feel you girl.

I feel you girl.

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?
— Bernard

This question is in the opening scene of the show for a reason: it's the first step you need to take if you want to be "conscious".

For a long time, my reality was that of a host. I trapped myself in a loop: wake up, battle traffic, work an unfulfilling job, battle traffic, eat terribly, sleep little, repeat. For years this loop was my reality. I let the "Gods" program me. These "Gods" took on many forms: my families' expectations, societal norms, consumerism, etc.

Dr. Ford is that thing holding you back in life. He's social norms, your boss, or even your family.

Dr. Ford is that thing holding you back in life. He's social norms, your boss, or even your family.

It wasn't until I began to question my reality and confront my deepest fears did I realize I wasn't living the life I wanted. I knew I had to change my life or face being stuck in my loop forever. But life isn't as simple and the truth is often illusive.

 

If you can’t tell, does it matter?
— Host

Being able to tell what is real is important because beliefs influence actionsOne of the downsides of the human brain is that it can easily be tricked. For William, he believed getting to the center of the maze would give him meaning. For me, the center of the maze was that life goal I used to dream of; the one I rationalized to believe was what I wanted. I need to prioritize work because more money is necessary to live a good life. As I've found out recently, that is not real

For both William and I, there was nothing at the center of the maze. It was an illusion. I used to chase beliefs that weren't real and, much like William, this wild pursuit drove me crazy. So crazy that I foolishly let them define my life.

 

It’s my cornerstone, isn’t it? The thing my whole identity is organized around.
— Bernard

Complacent, insecure, and scared. I subconsciously held on to these cornerstones and let them define me. And, much like Bernard finally realized, I had to let them go in order to move forward. Today, these old cornerstones no longer control me. I choose what my cornerstones are through the actions I take.

 

It begins with the birth of a new people. And the choices they will have to make. And the people they will decide to become.
— Dr. Ford

I see Westworld as a metaphor for self-development. The show's themes are the steps you take to discover who you really are. So if season 1 was about questioning your beliefs, then season 2 is about what actions you take to define who you are. I'm in my season 2 right now: through my actions I'm discovering who I am. 

If the show resonated with you like it did with me, then maybe that's a sign you want to discover who you truly are too.

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL FEATURES


I shot a couple photo options for this post. Below were the other contenders. Enjoy!

The "your parents don't want me dating you" shot.

The "your parents don't want me dating you" shot.

The "this pose sounded better in my head" shot.

The "this pose sounded better in my head" shot.

Taking Control


"Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself." - Sartre
 

Jean-Paul Sartre, an early 1900's French philosopher, playwright, and novelist was a proponent of Existentialism, the doctrine that man creates his life himself. In 1946, he gave the game changing lecture "existentialism is a humanism".

"The idea of freedom occupies the center of Sartre's doctrine. Man, born into an empty, godless universe, is nothing to begin with. He creates his essence— his self, his being — through the choices he freely makes (existence precedes essence)"

In other words: we're born, we exist, and we define ourselves by our actions.

 

 

My Past Existence: How I defined myself

I used to coast through life. Taking the easier path whenever I had the opportunity. I wasn't growing. In terms of actions towards a rewarding life, I wasn't taking any. In terms of actions towards a regretful life, I was taking many:

 

  • Victim Mentality: When things didn't go my way, I complained. This victim mentality trained me to not take responsibility for my actions. It was much easier to blame external variables than to own up to my shit.

 

  • Fear of Uncertainty: I ran away from many opportunities to grow. I let other people's opinions have control over my life. I paralyzed myself.

 

  • Reactive: I waited for life to happen to me. Waiting for that ideal job to land in my lap, that perfect girl to walk through the door. I thought of myself as a good person so I thought I was entitled to have good things happen to me. It took me 25 years to realize that life doesn't work that way. I was ruining my life waiting on the bench for coach to put me in. Instead, I should have been busting my ass like Kobe and become a player/coach that put myself in the game whenever I wanted.
 
A coward isn't a coward because he thinks he's a coward, he is a coward because he does cowardly things. 
 

My actions defined me as someone afraid and complacent. Unsurprisingly, I never thought of myself being that way. Since we discover who we are through our actions - not our thinking, my actions were facts revealing who I really was.

 

My first step to turning my life around.

My first step to turning my life around.

 
"Reality exists only in action." - Sartre
 

Not wanting to go back to that life was enough reason for me to want to change. I knew if I didn't change my actions, I'd continue to get the same results. By letting discomfort be my compass, I started to make moves towards what I believed was the right direction. 

 

 

My Current Existence: Rebuilding my reality

  • Pursuing an enjoyable career: Prior to film editing, my family had a big influence on my career choice. They wanted me to stay close to home and get a steady job, regardless if I liked it or not. They had good intentions but they were just projecting themselves onto me. I let them steer my career choices for a long time. It wasn't until I made the choice to move to NY to pursue a career in film editing that I finally broke that chain. 8 years later, it was one of the best decisions of my life. That is why my recent career change to camera operating doesn't scare me. I believe that as long as I'm making progress, I'll be okay.

 

  • Turning death into growth: When I got Lymphoma my oncologist told me that no one knows how you get it. I interpreted that as bad luck; something that was out of my control. I took this uncontrollable experience as a way to grow; to take control of a terrible situation. 10% of life is what happens to you, 90% is how you react. Said differently, 10% of life is out of your control, 90% of life is in your control.

 

  • Not getting friend-zoned: My track record of getting friend-zoned was as reliable as Lebron's hairline receding. I took major steps not to get in the zone with Paulina. It was extremely challenging and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I envisioned a certain type of relationship with Paulina and worked to make it happen. Luckily for me, she felt the same way.

 

Through my actions, I proved to myself that I have some control. It's taken a very long time and is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but it's an invaluable tool I now have in navigating through life. Knowing that I have some control over how my life gives me the confidence and track record to work towards a fulfilling life.

It makes me feel like Kyrie Irving when he took control of the Spurs in 2015.

This is what it feels like to have control of your life.

This is what it feels like to have control of your life.

 

"Man is responsible for what he is." - Sartre
 

I am responsible for how my life turns out. Me and me alone. My actions define who I am. I had let my life go bad because I took bad actions. Now, my life is on the upswing and it's been, largely, a conscious effort. It's liberating.

I think this is what freedom feels like.

 

 

THE GAME CHANGER