Mental toughness programs, motivational speakers, self improvement books have a common purpose: to make you the strong and motivated successful person that you want to become.
Maybe, at times, you find yourself apathetic, realizing you are a grain of sand in desert of life. Maybe you have big dreams, but the reality of your failure to make them come true is even bigger. Maybe you feel like you have wasted your life and time is running short. Or, maybe you have smaller problems that you deem important.
Do you need to get mentally tougher? Even more motivated? No, you do not.
Toughness is never the best way to approach a potential long confrontation with the unpleasant realities of life, your own shortcomings and unfortunate events that strongly impact you.
Think of how very tall structures, planes or even living organisms are built. They are not fixed, immune, unbreakable, possessing absolute strength. Such structures would not be economically viable, since the strongest materials or designs are the costliest. Even so, they would still be permanently eroded by outside forces and would ultimately break down totally. Rather, they all have built-in elasticity and components that ensure resiliency. They are efficient, long term.
You need to be resilient, not tough. You should have the ability to cope with both good and bad, and get back to a middle ground as soon as possible. You should be able to function pushed just by your natural, intrinsic motivation. You should be able to pick yourself up whenever you are down. All these are personal actions, done at a personal pace – faster for some, slower for others. External support may be helpful when you ask for it, insofar as you attribute value to it. However, the effectiveness of outside support is rooted within yourself.
If you do not possess the above traits innately, not even partially, then no amount of literature, speeches or techniques can help you. The only option you have is transformation, evolution. Note that a traumatic experience that you do not overcome, tough transformational, does not mean evolution. This may be anything severely impacting you, from an having an accident to having your first business completely fail. Getting rebuilt into a resilient person is then the main object of your evolution. This is a process that changes you fundamentally as person. The older you are, the harder such reconstruction process would be. This process is not a theory you can learn, nor is it a purely intellectual endeavor. Since this is a different subject, it will be explored in a separate article.
If you do possess the above traits, even partially, then you only need work on improving and applying your own existing resilience techniques. They are part of your philosophy of life and you can quickly discover them by introspection.
The idea that you need toughness and motivation is flawed. These are childish, idealistic views of desirable human attributes. Long term, such artificial stimuli do no work. To some extent, they are even dangerous, since they create unattainable models and impossible expectations that drag you down whenever you are facing serious, sustained adversity – that is, when you are most in need.
Remember that life is not a sprint, is a marathon. Treat it as such. Take your time. Be resilient!
Do you like counter-intuitive facts? What if I was to tell you that the drug pusher, the dishonest cop, the profiteer or the employer of child labour perform useful, productive services? More than that, they improve the morality of the free market and do more good than thousands of emotional “anti-you-name-it” activists.
How can this be right? It sounds completely insane!
I’m sure you will love this book. I am closing with a quote by FA Hayek, another popular economist many never head of, but which greatly influenced the modern world:
"A real understanding of economics demands that one disabuses oneself of many dear prejudices and illusions. Popular fallacies in economics frequently express themselves in unfounded prejudices against other occupations, and in showing the falsity of these stereotypes Block is doing a real service, although he will not make himself more popular with the majority."
I was walking home one evening and came upon a clearly depressed man standing at the edge of a bridge, looking like he was about to jump. I called out to him to wait, and ran over to see what was the matter.
It’s this country, he lamented. It’s falling into ruin and there’s nothing I can do about it. The election was the last straw. I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Well cheer up, I said. We’re all in this together. Say, are you a conservative, or a libertarian?
A libertarian, he said.
That’s great! I said. See, you’re not alone. Are you a free-market libertarian or a libertarian socialist?
Free-market libertarian, he said.
Me too! I said. Paleo-libertarian or neo-libertarian?
Paleo-libertarian, he said.
Hey, so am I! I said. Chicago or Austrian school of economics?
Austrian, he said.
Me too, I said. Hayek or Rothbardian strand?
Rothbardian, he said.
Same here, I said. Are you a consequentialist or deontological libertarian?
Consequentialist, he said.
So I said: Die, you statist scum! and pushed him off the bridge.
Plenty of good, intelligent people make poor economic choices. You can spot lack of economic insight in their statements. Usually emotions and preconceptions undermine their judgment.
I finally came across a book on economics that tackles all the major issues, is very easy to read, while being very profound. Every subject has 1-2 pages. It summarizes the essence of what you would learn from reading the top 10 books on that specific subject.
Don’t plead ignorance on this issue. Don’t ignore the subject. I have heard all the excuses before. You’re not too old, or too busy or too knowledgeable in other fields so you can foul others or yourself into thinking you can ignore economics. Invariably, you will pay handsomely for the privilege of economic ignorance.
Note: I used to recommend Economics In One Lesson as the first book on economics people should read. It still is a masterpiece. Read it after The Concise Guide To Economics if you have not read any of them.
«In blurring the distinction between the rulers and the ruled, a democratic republic strengthens the identification of the public with a particular state. Indeed, while dynastic rule promotes the identification with one’s own family and community and the development of a “cosmopolitan” outlook and attitude, democratic republicanism inevitably leads to nationalism, i.e., the emotional identification of the public with large, anonymous groups of people, characterized in terms of a common language, history, religion and/ or culture and in contradistinction to other, foreign nations. Interstate wars are thus transformed into national wars.
Rather than representing “merely” violent dynastic property disputes, which may be “resolved” through acts of territorial occupation, they become battles between different ways of life, which can only be “resolved” through cultural, linguistic, or religious domination and subjugation (or extermination).
It becomes more and more difficult for members of the public to remain neutral or to extricate themselves from all personal involvement. Resistance against higher taxes to fund a war is increasingly considered treachery or treason. Conscription becomes the rule, rather than the exception. And with mass armies of cheap and hence easily disposable conscripts fighting for national supremacy (or against national suppression) backed by the economic resources of the entire nation, all distinctions between combatants and noncombatants fall by the wayside, and wars become increasingly brutal.»
"Actions create consequences. Consequences which produce new worlds, and they’re all different. Where the bodies are buried in the desert, that is a certain world, where the bodies are left to simply evolve, that is another. And all these worlds, heretofore unknown to us, they must have always been there, have they not?
Reflective men often find themselves at a place removed from the realities of life. In any case we should prepare a place where we can accommodate all the tragedies that sooner or later will come to our lives, but this is an economy few people care to practice.
You are the world you have created. And when you cease to exist that world you have created will also cease to exist. But for those with the understanding that they’re living the last days of the world, death acquires a different meaning. The extinction of all reality is a concept no resignation can encompass. And then, all the grand designs and all the grand plans will be finally exposed and revealed for what they are.”