One of the biggest mistakes I see with people who obtain new information, or wake up, is that their first instinct is to tell everyone else about it. When I first read about silver and its investment potential, I wanted to tell everyone I knew about. I saw the coming storm ahead, and determined silver was going to be the best way to get through it. I told all my friends and family only to have an incredibly limited success rate. With some of my friends not buying until silver was already up by 50 to 100%, then getting wiped out the following decline. I’m incredibly grateful for all that experience taught me.
When you're first learning about an issue, solution, or idea, it is very unlikely that you are going to explain it in simple and logical terms. It is more likely that you will skip through important facts that to you, seem to be self-evident, but to other, make no sense at all. It is also likely that people will think that you are personally attacking how they live or their views on the world. This is only make people defensive and unable to hear what you are saying. And if what you’re talking about is a solution, how do you even know that it is right for the person you’re talking too. Seeing my friends sell out of silver because of the downside volatility helped me to realize that things that work for me, don’t work for everyone else.
Solutions tend to be very personalized, and new perspectives of the world will be coloured by your previous life experiences. The best thing to do in a lot of cases is to keep your mouth shut, and figure out how to apply the idea, or implement the solution. When people feel like they are getting attacked, they will look at you with critical eyes, and figure out any inconsistencies in the way you live. We all have this grand vision of the world and how it should be, but preaching isn't the way to get there. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. When you live out what you’re talking about, you are personally creating that change in the world. And going forward, it makes it an easier conversation to have with those around you. Instead of attacking their identity, you are simply talking about things that you are doing in your own life. While it is still highly unlikely that they will change anything in their life, the potential is there because their brain is more likely to be in a state to think about multiple potentials.
By focusing on making the changes yourself, not only are you more likely to do them, but it will also open you up to making more changes in different areas. I think that we don’t even need to “wake up” anybody else, if just the people who were awake would stand up and make the changes that they know are necessary, 90% of our problems would be solved. I know that I don’t want fluoride in my water, but I haven’t told my local council member that. I know that BPA is bad for me, but I still buy cans of beans that aren't BPA free. But I also don’t beat myself up about these things, the point is only to focus on yourself before preaching to other.
I think it is important to make room in your life by letting go of what you don’t use. It reminds me of the story of a Zen Master, and a potential student. The student comes in and asks the master to teach him what he knows. So they sit down for tea, and the Zen Master begins to pour for his guest. As it reaches the top of the cup, he continues to pour, it flows down the sides. The student cries out, ‘what are you doing?’ The Master replies, ‘I cannot fill a cup which is already full.’ I feel like this applies to so much of our lives, we hoard things just so that we can feel full, but it limits the new experiences we can have. I think it is rooted in the idea of scarcity and that you never know if you are going to have enough. To get past this mentality is quite the struggle, but I find that it is well worth it.
I find the experience of emptying my cup to be like nothing else. It is liberating in so many ways. With physical possessions, it is like letting go of weights that have been tied to your shoulders. With time commitments, it frees my mind to think about what excites it, opposed to being fixed on my obligations. With relationships, I have found that I give myself the freedom to be me again, not the fixed image the other person have of me. I'm not exactly sure how to really describe the feelings, but I find that removing the excess in my life has been extremely fulfilling. It has allowed me to place a greater emphasis on the things that I love in my life.
With my wardrobe, I am free to wear clothes that I love, each and every day. In the past, I would cycle through about 8 different shirts, 3 different pants and so on. Usually I only had one or two shirts I really enjoyed wearing, as well as one pair of jeans that fit just right. By making room in my life for these things, I realized that I didn't have to wear these shirts and jeans that I didn't like. Instead I could wear that pair of jeans that I loved, every day. I could alternate between the two shirts that I feel calm, cool, and collected in. Everything else I could give away, in hopes that someone else will find the value in. In a lot of ways, it is actually quite selfish to hold onto things that you don’t find value in.
Just imagine if you had lent your favorite pair of jeans to a friend who took months to give them back and they weren't even wearing them, they were just sitting in the back of their closet. Personally I’d be pretty ticked off. Just imagine all the days of good use they could have gotten. I think in some ways it is the same with all the excess clothes that we each have sitting in the back of our closet. It could be the gem to someone else's wardrobe, if we were only willing to give it up. This can be applied to relationships, to jobs, to living accommodations, to physical possessions, and so on. I think there would be a lot more happiness in the world on everyone’s part, if we all started to make room in our lives for the things that are important.
James Dines had a quote that said never try to cheap out on food, shoes, or financial advice. I completely agree with him on the topic of shoes. We spend most of our waking life in our shoes and they have a tremendous impact on the well being of our existence. I remember working for my Aunt for a summer, and I had terrible shoes, but didn’t really know it. I knew they were old and beat up, but I didn’t know how much pain they were causing my feet. I figured my feet hurt because I wasn’t use to working standing up. Every night I would get home and my feet would be screaming with pain, but I just figured that was normal. It wasn’t until that same Aunt convinced me to step up my shoe purchase to a $160 shoe that I truly got to see the difference that higher quality shoes make. My feet no longer hurt when I walked, and I actually started to enjoy it. As time went on, I ended up stepping my taste up another level to Alden dress shoes. I think shoes are a simple solution for creating personal well being.
A major benefit I realized when I switched over from sub $200 shoes to my expensive leather dress shoes, is that my feet no longer smelled. This was a major deal for me, because my feet could gag a maggot before. They smelled like burnt popcorn and the second I took my feet out of my shoes, the odor would hit. Which sucked cause my feet were super hot in my shoes and it felt nice to let them cool off. With my Alden’s I have yet to have that problem. I have one pair of shoes that I have owned for a year and a half, and have wore damn near everyday for the last 5 months, and absolutely no smell. There are two factors in creating an environment where your shoes don’t stink. The first part is getting new shoes, with a preference for leather lining like Alden, Allen Edmond’s or any other fine shoe maker. This limits the space that bacteria can grow inside of your shoe and makes them faster to dry out, which is also really important. The next factor is adding in new socks, and with a strong preference to Merino wool. Merino wool will keep your feet cooler, help to dissipate the moisture, and naturally repel odors. It is hard to go wrong with this combination. Recently I worked a week straight with the same socks and shoes each day, and it wasn’t until the end of the week where I found any hint of odor. The odor was only in the socks, so I gave them a wash, and they are as good as new.
The next major benefit that comes to mind with my nice dress shoes is the comfort factor. With goodyear welted shoes, your feet are sitting on a bed of cork. As you walk, your feet naturally impress into the sole, making a custom molded shoe. The benefit of this can’t be overstated. After just 2 or 3 weeks the shoes are designed to fit like a glove to your feet, and your feet only. I had a friend tell me that it took over a year for his cheap dress shoes to get comfortable, and it is now getting close to time where they need to be replaced. Whereas with my shoes, I went through a few weeks of pain, have custom molded shoes I love, which will last me for 20+ years if I treat them right.
Goodyear Welted shoes are designed so that the sole of the shoe can be replaced, so that the livelihood of the shoe is extended to 20 years if the shoes are taken care of. On one of the Alden forum’s, a man named McArthur has a pair of loafers from 1974 that he still wears, and they look better today due to the patina than the day he bought them.
This was a solution that was forced upon me years ago. When I was around 13 years old, our family was moving to a larger house in town, and at the time of my moving, my mother gave me a choice. At the new house we could get high speed internet, or we could get cable TV. It was a one or the other kind of deal. This was a no brainer decision for me. I was going to pick internet. At that time in my life, I spent most of my free time playing computer games like Morrowind, while listening to music that I downloaded off the internet. Looking back, I feel like the decision to ditch the TV has been a great decision in a number of ways.
The first benefit to ditching the TV comes in the financial realm. It saves you the money of the actual cable bill itself, you are less likely to go out and buy the biggest and newest TV again and again, and you’ll save your time that can be put into more productive uses.
The second benefit of ditching TV is the ability to direct your own thinking to a greater extent. Even with satellite TV where there is thousands of channels, all the content you're watching is pre-planned and pre-packaged Some big corporation had to approve the show that you’re watching and may have created the show to influence your thinking in known or unknown ways. A good example of this would be Cable News and their preference for negative news stories. I’ve heard stats that say the ratio is around 12-1 of negative stories to positive, and there is some underlying programming to this. The news show is saying that the world is a dangerous and scary place, you need to know about these threats and dangers as soon as possible, so make sure you tune into the news each and every day so you can be safe. While this may not be pretty, this is predictive programming that creates an audience each and every week.
The third benefit is the time that you save and all the other places that you can allocate it. For me this time was spent playing computer and video games, reading fiction books that I loved, researching interesting things up online, doing different sports in school, and just spending time in my head thinking about random stuff. The hours really add up over the years. While I’m not a hardcore time management guru who says you need to efficiently reallocate all this time, I feel like a certain percentage of it will be used in more useful and fulfilling venues naturally.
Taking the time to learn what emotional intelligence is, and then learning how to develop it will have far reaching impacts in your life. Emotional Intelligence is the concept that Daniel Goleman has popularized with his books on the topic. The basic idea is that emotions affect our lives, whether we want them to or not. So learning how your own emotions work, and then the emotions of others, will create a more enjoyable life for yourself and those around you. The four areas of emotional intelligence are self-management, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management. The first step is to recognize your own emotions and what is causing them. Once you have figured out your triggers, you can move on to finding ways to counteract them, which will create a better life overall. Then the exact same concepts are applied to the people around you. With Social Awareness you learn what emotions the people around you are feeling. With relationship management, you create better interactions between people.
The first benefit of emotional intelligence is that you gain a deeper understanding of who you are, and what goes on in your head. I have always been very introspective, working to figure out who I really am. So when I heard about the idea of emotional intelligence, it was something I was interested in learning about. After reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and getting just above a passing mark on the quiz inside, I realized how much I had to learn in this area of my life. Looking back, I never gave emotions the respect that they deserve. I always thought that they will were the masters of the uninformed or unintelligent, and that they had no role in the life of an intellectual. What I learned was that by ignoring my emotions, I had in turn become a slave to them. I had no idea when I was getting emotionally triggered, let alone what to do about it.
Once you have figured out your own emotions, and have found ways of dealing with your emotional triggers, the world around you will make so much more sense. Instead of this idea of rationality that economists talk about, you began to see how irrational the world is, and how it linked back to emotions. It becomes obvious how the powers that be manipulate us into doing and saying things that are against our best interest. Advertisers hone in on our emotional deficiencies, saying that if you buy their product you will be happy, cool, have hot girls around you, or whatever. This doesn't make sense when you think about it logically, but when you think about it from an emotional point of view, all the pieces start to come together.
Learning about emotional intelligence and figuring out how to apply it, which is a lifelong process, will have far reaching and lasting impacts. You will be able to deal with the toxic relationships in your life, develop better and deeper friendships, create romantic relationships, develop financial freedom, simplify your life, and live out your dreams. I actually can’t oversell the benefits of emotional intelligence. It has been said that emotions dictate the vast majority of our decisions every day. These decisions begin to come under our control when we figure out the emotions that are triggering them.
The idea of following your passion has been a concept that has been vastly overused, but still has a lot of value to it. The way that I think it applies best is to what you do with your free time, but has benefits for work and school as well. I think that the things that excite you is basically a way of saying this is what you should be doing right now. For me personally, what excites has changed dramatically over the years. In my work year after high school, I got really into a computer game. I spent months getting really good at it and reached a peak where I was ranked 2nd out of 50,000 people. Then came the time where I was just done with it. I didn’t want to look at it, hear about it, or even think about it. A few months afterwards, I started down the road of learning about finance and investing. I was reading $200 worth of books from Amazon every few weeks. While that is still one of my hobbies, it isn’t nearly as intense as it was at the beginning.
For me, I look at my passion and my excitement as an honest indicator of whether I should be doing what I’m doing or not. I’ve stopped trying to force myself to do, what I “think” I should be doing. One example that comes to mind is book lists. It has been a popular trend to find a book list that you “should” read and slowly work your way through it. While I don’t think this route is bad, I certainly don’t think it is optimal. I personally hate having things I think I should be doing, and have that act as a weight that I carry around on a daily basis. I much prefer to be free of any obligations, that way I feel quick, agile, and better able to focus when I so choose.
I’ve always found time management to be such a breeze when I’m in the midst of an intense learning phase. My mind is constantly figuring out ways that I can spend more time doing and learning about what I love. When I was learning about finance I would wake up in the morning, pull out a investing book and read for an half hour before work. I’d read during my half an hour lunch break. And then I’d spend my evenings either reading or golfing. I felt incredibly productive and absolutely loved what I was doing. On the other hand, there has been many times where I’m reading a book, and I can only get through a few pages before my mind starts to wonder. I take that as a sign that I’m not truly interested in the subject matter.
I think it is silly to become a renaissance man, simply to say that you are. It makes far more sense to live an awesome life that you love and realize that you have become one naturally. Here are some examples of my interests:
I love having a long term, strategically minded brain. Most of the things that I have learned over the past 5 years have been things that I have looked at as strategically significant if they were applied over a lifetime. For me these things have included learning about investing, finance, and money; emotional intelligence, dating and relationships; and health, fitness, and vitamins. By figuring these out at a young age, I will have the rest of my life for them to pay dividends.
I believe it is the exact same idea with personal development. Learning investing and dating at a young age only took me a few years each. I now have years for the investment to pay itself back.
For investing, I have been at it for around 4 years. At first it was a very expensive process. I was buying $300 or $400 worth of books every few weeks, in order to really immerse myself in the topic. I figured out that the two investment vehicles that had the most potential in my mind were precious metals and rental properties in Alberta. For the last 4 years I have been invested in precious metals, and having nothing to show for it. The price of silver is back where it was 4 years ago.
Walking has been a big part of simplifying my life. I don’t think there is anything simpler than grabbing a pair of shoes, or going barefoot, and walking to where you are going. At first I found the experience of walking to be incredibly painful. My legs tightened up and hurt for days at a time afterwards I realized this was because I didn't have any leg muscles, and my walking had forced me to start building them up again. I also find walking relaxing and meditative. I'm a thinker, and love to spend my time pondering different ideas or concepts, and figuring out how I could use those ideas in the real world. Walking allows me to do this without any real distractions. I get to have my body moving which helps to disperse built up energy, and I don’t have to worry about the things related to driving.
There are numerous people in history who have spoken about walking and all the benefits it provides. Henry David Thoreau would make himself some breakfast, then choose a direction and walk for hours. He would explore the wilderness around his cabin. Thomas Jefferson said that the morning is for learning different ideas, and the afternoons are for long walks. He felt that it was a good habit of able bodied men, and that with time, you could greatly increase the length of your walks. These walks seemed to help clarify the thoughts of these great thinkers, and enable them to better put those thoughts into words.
The next benefit of walking is the muscles and posture that it helps to develop. The habit of sitting all day has been disastrous to our health. For me personally, it had caused a utter lack of back muscles. So when I overexerted my back, I pulled a bunch of weak muscles in my back, causing long term damage. I believe walking, and standing, help to build all the muscles in your body because you don’t have anything to support yourself or lean on. I think other things should be done to build muscles as well, but walking certainly doesn't hurt.
I love how simple walking is for me. I no longer own a car, and it has been quite a while since I owned a bicycle. I find it such a relief not to have to worry about looking after these items. I no longer have to pay for insurance, gas, repair bills, parking passes, or have the general responsibility of car ownership. Even not having a bicycle is nice. I don’t have to worry about people stealing my bike, or figuring out how to fix it when it gets broken, or getting run over when I'm biking on the road. It is extremely liberating to just walk, not having a care in the world.
Buying Organic Food is another form of voting with your dollars, and its success has been well documented. Ten years ago, I don’t even think I knew what organic food meant, let alone why I should eat it, now my diet is almost 90% organic, and I'm not alone in making the switch. Major superstores are devoting larger and larger sections to organic food, and local producers are finding that demand is outstripping supply to a great extent. I talked with a local organic farmer who said that he doesn't have enough food to sell. All of his produce is spoken for by the local community groups, and he doesn't have enough to put on the shelf at the grocery store of his longtime friend. The benefits of eating organic food are largely to your health, but these purchases also help to create a better farming system in general.
The main benefit of buying organic is getting to have food that is synthetic-pesticide free, as well as Non-GMO. It has been shown in studies that even small amounts of the Roundup Chemical in the water has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, just imagine what it is doing all over our food. This goes even further with Monsanto’s corn crop that is genetically modified in order to produce and excrete Round Up from within, this mean that these chemicals are present within the food we eat. The genetically modified cells can actually transfer its DNA to the bacteria in our guts, enabling them to produce the Roundup chemical. Personally, it isn’t a risk I’m going to take for myself.
The next benefit is that Organic food tends to taste better. I’ve talked to a number of my friends who don’t normally eat organic, but came and bought organic groceries with me a few times. They reported that the fruits and vegetables tasted better than the regular ones. This could be the extra vitamins and minerals that are present in Organic food, but it could also be that the synthetic-pesticide residue isn’t very enjoyable.
The final benefit to eating organic is that you are helping to create a more livable world. Instead of having synthetic-pesticides sprayed everywhere, GMO crops being planted, and companies like Monsanto buying off our politicians, we can have a world we enjoy. A world where your food makes you healthy, not sick. A world where honest hard work is what gets you ahead, not corruption and stealing.
I believe one of the most powerful revolutionary acts, is to simply connect with the people around you and talk about real issues. This is something that I've only recently began to understand the true importance of. For the past number of years I have had this idea that I was alone in the world when it came to the ideas and perspectives that I held. That if I shared what I thought with the people around me that they would think I was crazy and wouldn't want to be around me. This was very isolating, and pushed me to spend most of my time alone learning about what I was interested in. Yet there has been a seismic shift in public perception recently with the unveiling of the NSA spying scandal and Edward Snowden. With mainstream papers like The Guardian and The Washington Post reporting on it, I believe it has opened the floodgates for people to have open discussions about government corruption and the 1984 society that is being created. Instead of automatically being labelled a conspiracy theorist, real discussions can now occur. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for it all.
In a lot of ways, I think taking the time on my own to learn about all the different things and coming to my own conclusions has been incredible. It allowed me to build a solid intellectual platform that is no easy task to break. On the other hand, I believe the metal is hot and ready to strike. With the public now so much more open to the ideas of government corruption and a big brother type society, I believe I have a message to share.
The message that I have is twofold. The first part of it includes taking all of the individual news stories and putting them together in a comprehensive model of the world. When you look at the IRS scandal, where they were targeting their political enemies, connect it with the NSA spying of every single thing you do and say, and add in the demonization of Edward Snowden as a terrorist for simply blowing the whistle, it begins to make sense. Everyday citizens who stand up and do the right thing, will be tracked, surveilled and listened to, and ultimately targeted. These targeting could include tax audits, SWAT team raids, or simple executions.
The second part of my message, and my reason for creating my blog is what we can do about it. With the NSA scandal exposed, the great masses have been awakened to what is going on. The conversation has shifted from “you’re a conspiracy theorist for talking about government corruption” to, “wow, we are in a police state, but there isn't anything that we can do about it”. I’m looking to change that. I've made this blog to highlight the changes that I have made in my own life. These changes are simple, yet the more people that make them, the better off we will be.