Don’t: The B.S. of the American Religion

I lost a friend.

I didn’t tell her I got married. I didn’t tell anyone. I eloped. Later, I told people. 

She wrote me, “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.” And she stopped talking to me.

It’s a cliche to say, “Then she wasn’t really your friend.” That’s not true. I thought she was one of my best friends. I was sad.

It’s a cliche to say, “People tell you who they really are. You have to listen.”

Not everyone tells me who they are. And it’s really hard to listen.

“People are really good about making your happiness all about them. She was a thief of your joy.”

But I let her. I think about it. I wish we were friends.

It’s hard to open the door and let the world in every day.

I’m afraid to go against the American religion.

But Warren Buffett said, “You have to say no a lot!”

And some admiral said to make your bed every day.

But what about gratitude and waking up the same time every day? And if you don’t vote, do the terrorists win?

And meditation and working out and Marie Kondo?

Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo!

What the f*ck is up with Marie Kondo?

DON’T Make Your Bed

When you sleep, up to a million microscopic dust mites crawl all over you.

They crawl into your mouth, your nose, and they dig into your skin. You breathe them in all night and they can trigger asthma attacks.

Over $1 billion a year are spent on mite-related illnesses.

Mites survive in moisture and humidity.

Like when a 98-degree human is sleeping in the sheets. But if the sheets dry out when they are left unmade, this will kill off the mites.

Don’t make a bed, save a life.

DON’T Keep a Gratitude Journal

I’ve been guilty of daily gratitude. Writing it down. I’m grateful for my kids, etc.

Here’s what happens: It becomes a chore. And then instead of writing down things I’m truly grateful for, I get superficial just to get it over with.

Plus, “happiness” is an addiction. If you get the happiness drug every day, you need more and more to get happy.

Like with any other drug.

Pace it out. “Studies show” writing gratitude once a week and going a bit deeper will result in higher levels of happiness.

DON’T Vote

I’m vote-shamed every election. I never vote.

Well, I voted once. For town councilman in a tiny town of 100 voters. Three days later, I got a letter from the IRS. They found me.

Now I don’t vote.

People then tell me. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to an opinion.”

People also say, “You don’t care about anything.”

And some people say, “When you don’t vote that’s like voting for [the opponent they hate that week].”

And others say, “How can you work for change if you don’t vote?”

Shut up.

First off, I don’t understand most of the issues enough to feel qualified to vote.

Everyone says, “This tariff WAR is out of control!”

It’s a war? Are guns being fired? Lives lost?

I ask one simple question: What were Chinese tariffs on U.S. goods? Nobody can answer.

I can’t even Google it. I still don’t know the answer. Hard issues are filled with nuances. But everyone has an opinion. I’m anti-opinion.

Secondly, I don’t care if I have a voice.

But I like to tell my stories. Everyone gets to choose what sort of voice they want to have.

Which is why I write. Which is why I respond to many of the emails I get based on my writing. Which is why I give talks and participate in innovations that I think will help humanity.

Part of the reason I care is because I want to make money.

When you create something that will help people, then you can make a lot of money.

I care about people but I also care about money because I want to feed my family and I’m getting older so I don’t want to work so much.

I want to stop giving time to the things I hate so I can give more time to the things and people I love.

Third, when I don’t vote, it doesn’t mean that’s the same as a vote for the candidate you hate. I didn’t vote for him or her either.

Fourth, there are many ways to work for change in life,

It’s really hard to be a good, decent person. Someone who doesn’t try to control the things they can’t control.

Someone who listens. Someone who tries to understand. Someone who is generous.

We are like a stone thrown in the water. If thrown at just the right angle, the stone will hit the ocean and ripples of the water will hit every shore.

The other day I gave a homeless person a Zimbabwe $1 trillion bill.

Every day he stands on the corner of my block and shouts all day long while asking for money.

I gave him the $1 trillion bill. He stopped shouting for a second. He was silent. He turned the bill over and read both sides.

He looked at me. He smiled. That’s change.

DON’T Wake Up the Same Time Every Day

Experiment #1:

I tried this once: I slept from 4–8 p.m. and from 4–8 a.m. for a month straight.

I was unemployed and running out of money and doing random things to make enough money to live. I needed to make about $20 a day at the time. I had just been thrown out of graduate school.

I wanted to be a writer. I was trying to write 3,000 words a day.

My friends all worked. So from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. nobody bothered me and I was able to write.

Then I slept. Then from 8 p.m. to about 11 or 12, I would eat dinner and hang out with my friends.

Then I’d write again until 4 in the morning. Then I’d sleep from 4–8 a.m.

Eight hours of sleep a night. I felt great and I was amazingly productive.

Experiment #2:

For a month I went to sleep an hour later every day and then slept eight hours.

So the first day I woke up at 6 a.m. The second day at 7 a.m. The third day at 8 a.m. Etc.

Mid-month I was sleeping all day and up all night.

I still slept eight hours a day and felt great. The only time I don’t feel great is when I don’t sleep eight hours a day.

Sometimes my sleep schedule was so messed up I couldn’t see my friends. But I was very productive. And other parts of the month I was able to be more social.

I had an hour extra each day and used that extra hour to write. I guess the math works out that I lost a day each month but I only look like I’m good at math.

Plus I enjoyed telling people about my experiment. That was fun.

Sometimes when the sun lifts itself above the office buildings and high rises and spills its molten lava light into the day, it’s OK to be surprised and in awe of it.

DON’T Meditate

Meditation is like cryptocurrencies: 95% of it is a scam.

And yes, I said that on CNBC in August 2017. Stop saying I pump shitcoins.

Take TM for instance.

TM is short for transcendental meditation, a popular cult.

Many people who loudly say they are “atheists” are still willing to pay thousands of dollars to a cult where they get their secret mantra and are taught how to meditate.

That’s not being an atheist. That’s being a sucker. Con men love you.

You don’t need to pay money to learn how to think.

Then there is meditation with “goals.”

Goal-oriented meditation is when people meditate to get a certain objective. Like “enlightenment” or “relaxation” or “law of attraction” or “positive thinking,”

I have met thousands of meditators. I’ve never met anyone who claimed to be “enlightened.”

I first meditated when I was about 13 years old. I had a goal.

Specifically I wanted to learn how to astral project my “soul” out of my body so I could invisibly watch women taking off their clothes.

Is it #MeToo if it’s invisible and in the astral world?

But that goal got me to try many different styles of meditation over the years. Everything from Vipassana style, to Zen style, to Compassion/Tibetan style, and so on.

Meditation is “brain practice.”

The brain is a machine.

There’s input (your past experiences, your diet, the present) and there’s output (a non-stop barrage of mostly annoying thoughts).

The idea of meditation is to sit there, see one of those annoying thoughts, and say, “There I go again.” Catching the firefly that lights up for a second.

You do that over and over. And why do we need this practice?

Because when we dwell on something an old ex did, or what the boss said that morning, or something a politician did, the dwelling is not very useful, or is going around and around and accomplishing nothing… we can stop ourselves and say, “There I go again,” and move on to something more productive and less anxiety-producing.

You can meditate in a second. Not in an hour. Every time you are angry at someone just think, “There I go again,” and try to not be angry.

You can do this practice all day long.

That’s meditation.

DON’T Think Positive

When people say, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds in a month,” they are thinking positive.

Or when they think I’m going to get that raise, this is positive thinking.


But then expect to be disappointed, sad, and frustrated.

And you will fail. Actions are more powerful than thoughts.

I went rock climbing once. I was terrified. If you see the rock above you that you have to grab, you can’t think your way to that rock.

You have to do it.

Practice something so much you no longer have to think so hard. The right process becomes natural.

You DO instead of THINK.

The person who wins at chess is the person who looks at all the things that can go wrong. THEN considers how to win. Negative and positive.

But, most importantly, they make a move.


DON’T Say Yes or No

Say yes to everything in your 20s so you can try many things.

Say no to most things in your 50s because most things don’t amount to anything

But don’t say yes to bad things in your 20s.

And sometimes say yes to family and falling in love and making friends and helping people in your 50s.

It’s all confusing. There are no rules.

I want to say yes more. But then after I say yes, I think I want to say no more.

I want to say yes and no a lot and then sort it out later.

I don’t know.

DON’T Be a Minimalist

I threw out all my stuff and lived in Airbnbs for years.

People say, “It must be great to be such a minimalist.”

I said, “Experiences are better than things.”

Now I have things. I don’t feel any different one way or the other.

Marie Kondo says, “Lay out all of your items, hold each item to your heart, and keep it if you love it.”

That’s a lot of work, Marie!

I don’t want to work so hard. I’d rather throw it all out.

And I don’t know if I love any objects. That seems weird to me.

I feel the exact same way now as when I had nothing: some days sad and some days happy.

DON’T Work Out

I asked Jocko Willink what he does for exercise. He shrugged his shoulders. “Some pushups.”

No gym? No 20-mile runs? No weights?

Between 1990 and 2007, a million people went to the emergency room for gym-related injuries. 114 died.

Between 1990 and 2007, zero people went to the hospital for reading-related injuries.

Read a book, take a walk, avoid sugar.


DON’T Have Goals

Have a goal and every day work towards it.

This is a bad idea.

If you are trying to get good at something worth getting good at, then every day you will learn more.

You will get more knowledge as to what goals are worthy. You didn’t have this knowledge in the beginning. Your goals will change every day. They SHOULD change.

Have process instead. Goals are “thoughts” because they don’t exist yet. Every day DO something.

I’ve been pretty messed up all my life. But I try to be a good person.

The only reason I have a podcast is to ask the people I admire how they got better. Maybe I can learn 1% of what they do.

I write books not to lecture the masses from my mighty pedestal. But to tell my story. I love doing it.

And if I’m entertaining enough, maybe people will find something they relate to in my stories.

I’m very lucky. I try to be healthy. And be generous. The one thing I learned: when you help others, your average happiness increases.

But maybe that’s bullshit also. I’ll tell you when I find out. 

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