Five ways social media totally F**KS you up – Read this if you want to quit (Taking Control Series, part VI)

This may surprise you but social media will be one of the causes of the downfall of mankind. Okay, maybe that’s a little too exaggerated. But, exaggerated or not, social media definitely has done and will continue to do damage to our society. Here are eight quick facts to warm you up before you continue to the real article:

  1. Roughly 3.1 Billion People Are Social Media Users Worldwide
  2. Around 210 Million People Are Estimated To Suffer From Internet & Social Media Addictions
  3. Teens Who Spend 5 Hours A Day On Their Phones Are 2X More Likely To Show Depressive Symptoms
  4.  Young, Single Females Are Addicted To Social Media More Than Any Other Group
  5. 71% Of People Sleep With Or Next To Their Mobile Phone (This is a no-no because it damages your quality of sleep)
  6. 10% Of Teens Check Their Phones More Than 10X Per Night
  7.  50% Of People Driving While Using Smartphone Are Checking Social Media (Yikes.)
  8. Over 240 Million Americans Check Facebook Daily (74% Of All Americans)

Generally, teens are the main “victims” of social media. And that’s a problem because teens are the future of society, believe it or not.

So, now that your mind is primed, let’s begin.

I. It’s designed to cause addiction

The average American spends on average 1.74 hours of each day on social media. If you think this is bad, and even if you don’t, don’t worry – this number is set to rise every year. The main reason being that the more time you spend on each social media platform, the more money it makes.

The main source of money for social media is their advertising platforms; companies paying for their advertisements to be shown to their users. The longer you stay online, the more ads they can show you, the more they get paid. Now it’s no surprise that business is in the habit of making money, but you should know how social media makes theirs. They’re taking more and more hours of your life so they can make a bigger buck.

II. Its main trap is causing a false sense of accomplishment

If this sounds familiar, it’s because video games do the exact same thing. You get a dopamine rush in exchange for your time. In the case of social media, you get dopamine boosts when you’re getting likes, getting comments, getting followers/friend requests. This is a problem because humans inherently choose the path of least resistance. So if sitting on your ass in your undies in your bedroom is a way to “make friends”, why the fuck would you bother going out there in the wild to do the same.

III. It can cripple your self-esteem

Self-esteem is something we need to all guard with our lives. Having yours damaged or losing it almost entirely can literally destroy your life in one way or another.

This damage happens because of the false perception of reality we have from social media. Let’s use Instagram as an example, it is filled to the brim with (self-proclaimed) models, athletes, photographers, and public figures. Keep in mind that the popular ones are popular because they are the top 1% in their “field”, so the female models you see were probably always gorgeous. The male fitness models you can often see were probably jacked sometime before they were even close to being Insta famous. And the people that show an amazing lifestyle, might actually just be full of it.

Ah, I almost forgot.

They all pick the SHIT out of what they post, and I mean that fully. These people pose for and take over 100 photos, pick 3 to 5 that turned out decent (on a good day), edit them, and then post them with breaks in between for several weeks. Let me summarize it likes this:
The photo you see has been professionally edited, professionally shot, and professionally posed. And note that the people that do this, they do it for a living. It’s basically the same as you playing hobby basketball on the weekends with your friends and then looking at the highlight reel of LeBron James’es last victory and getting all sad because “he’s just so damn perfect”.

Well no fucking shit, right? When you put it that way, it’s blatantly obvious. It’s his job to be great, to be the best he can possibly be.

You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, period.

IV. You lose your ability to interact with people in real life

You lose, your ability, to interact, with people, in real life. I think that’s pretty clear. The less you do something, the worse you get at it.

V. Has no longterm value for 99% of people

The remaining 1% of people are those that make an income out of their Instagram pages. For the remaining 99% of people, social media is a death trap. You put in on average over 12 hours a week into it, only to get absolutely nothing of actual value back from it, ever.

Like any addiction, you need to fight it. Like any addiction, it will make you fight this article. You’ll probably think what I said is a bunch of bullshit stacked high, that I have no proof for any of this, that I’m just overreacting. Maybe… maybe. But if you’re willing to go deeper into the rabbit hole,  the truth is just a few Google searches away.

Thank you for your time.

Stay woke.

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Beating the sun up, the stuff of champions (Taking Control Series, part V)

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”
– Ben Franklin

Beating the sun means waking up from bed before the sun rises. This can be done by waking up at 5:00am every day. While I do believe there are many benefits to waking up this early, they aren’t really specific health benefits or anything proven by hardcore science. Regardless, I do believe waking up early is a very good habit to develop and here’s why.

Headstart your day

The definition of a headstart is “an advantage granted or achieved at the beginning of a race, a chase, or a competition. Ex: “a 10-minute head start.

By waking up early you are giving yourself a head start, you have hours more to yourself to get whatever you want to be done finished. If you have kids or are living with someone else, this means peace and quiet for you to do your stuff first. This can be finishing your morning ritual in peace, reading your favorite book, getting some work done for your job/yourself, etc.

Grinding out a workout

There is no better time to get a workout over with than in the morning. Nothing can pop up and stop you from going and it will give you a boost for the whole day. In my personal experience, when I’ve completed a light-medium intensity workout in the morning I feel better the whole day. And if you don’t already work out, you should take this opportunity of waking up early to do exactly that.

Start with something simple at first, like this workout I found after looking for 10 minutes online

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For the more hardcore and manly, read this article on prison workouts. And also, to find over 1000+ workouts like these, visit darebee.com! It’s an amazing free resource that I recommend to anyone interested in working out.

About working in the morning

In the past months of waking up early, I have to say mornings are the best for getting things done. You have plenty of time to complete your morning rituals without having to rush and stress, and as long as you avoid social media, e-mail, and your phone in general – you will be a productive machine. In the morning I find that I have the most creative energy to do my writing or anything that requires real mental effort. Leave tasks like checking & replying to e-mails for later in the day. Do this because tasks that don’t require real creative input but just “mindless” effort are a lot easier to do and for longer. You will perform better overall if you leave them at the end of your working schedule.

Obsessed with success? This one is for you, the rest can skip ahead

If you’re a person that is truly ambitious, you probably have heard of how important it is to remind yourself of your goals daily. The early morning is as good a time as any to get down to goal setting and review.

Your goal(s) can be short or long term. I suggest having both at all times to stay in the game. In terms of self-motivation, it is a lot better to have a system than just a single goal. For me, my short term goal system is my weight progression in the gym and my long runs on Sundays. Because I train for a total of seven to eight times per week, I take everything training related very seriously. Each training in the gym I try to add weight to the bar or pump out at least one more rep than the last training.

Some tools you can use if you also take it seriously:

  • Ideal Bodyweight Calculator + The average weight of athletes in different sports at your height.
  • Strength Standards – After you input your weight and age you can see the classifications you belong to.
  • Wilks Calculator – The Wilks Coefficient or Wilks Formula is a coefficient that can be used to measure the strength of a powerlifter against other powerlifters despite the different weights of the lifters.

But how do I wake up early?

It’s actually not that complicated, but it takes a while to ease into it. What I initially did was wake up at about 7:00am. So I decided to apply a variant of Kaizen to it, I woke up 30 minutes earlier each week. For a person that gets up at roughly 8:00 am every day, the progression would be:

  • Week 1: 8:00am
  • Week 2: 7:30am
  • Week 3: 7:00am
  • Week 4: 6:30am
  • Week 5: 6:00am
  • Week 6: 5:30am
  • Week 7: 5:00am

Note that if you are feeling up to it, you can also wake up 30 minutes earlier every three or four days instead of a week. This would be a bit more challenging but definitely also doable. With that said, you could also go full badass and just start waking up at 5:00am with no easing into it.

Important: The optimal recommended amount of sleep is seven to eight hours per day. So have that in mind when you make a plan to wake up early.

Personally, I sleep about 5.5 to 6.5 hours a night and I function well enough. I make consistent progress in the gym, I’m able to focus and complete all my tasks, I’m able to follow my diet to a tee. But, I do admit to taking a nap daily. Sometimes, I experience massive burnout and I sleep for several hours during my leisure time in the day.

Thanks for reading.

Wake up early.

Beat the sun up.

Cheers!

How to improve your productivity and live a happier life by limiting information intake (Taking Control Series, part IV)

The sheer amount of information of no actual value that is being spread around is at an all-time high in history. Almost anywhere you look you’ll either see or hear some “new information” from one news source or another.

Today I’d like to tell you how and why you should avoid the plague that is information overload, something that may literally be costing your society thousands upon thousands of productive hours per day.

Key fact #1: You do not need to know every single piece of new information as it comes out.

In fact, if something doesn’t directly concern you and your life, you shouldn’t be consuming it at all. On top of that, even if it concerns you but it doesn’t really matter right now, you should probably ignore it as well.

“But what if I miss something important? What then??”

Trust me, if something important happens, someone else will tell you. And they’ll probably do so without you even asking them to. Please don’t be the kind of person that sits on news websites for an hour in the morning reading about every random thing happening on the planet. If you’re hell-bent on getting your news fix in the morning, stick to news sources on specific fields that you have a specific interest in. Though I think even that is a bit of a waste of time.

Key fact #2: Negative information provides you with no value at all. Block it completely and shun anything and anyone that produces it.

Avoid negative information at all costs. News outlets love to fearmonger and use the negativity of the world to sell their subscriptions and get people hooked. It’s nothing new but I’ll still repeat, bad news travels faster than good news. And the faster news travels, the more revenue it’s publisher generates.

Most of us have our own problems to deal with, do we really need the problems of the rest of our planet clogging our minds as well?

Key fact #3: We modern day humans are pretty scatter-minded and easily distracted. Just one text message or phone call at the wrong time can kill one hour of productive work.

Turn off all notifications from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram right now, you’ll thank me later. Also, turn off notifications from any other app you have that has a habit of constantly notifying (for me that was Gmail). Once you’ve eliminated all distracting notifications, you’re ready for step two.

Every time you sit down to work or do something that requires focus, put your phone somewhere where you can’t:

  • See it
  • Reach it

Personally, I either leave it in another room or I make sure it’s at least three arms-lengths away from me under a bag.

Summary (tl;dr)

  1. Don’t read news articles
  2. Avoid negative information
  3. Mute your phone and keep it out of reach

Thanks for reading. The point of this article is super simple to get, so it’s not really long or word-dense. Hope that’s okay!

My blueprint to building self-esteem (Taking Control Series, part III)

Self-esteem is an internal sense of worth. It is how you see yourself. How you see yourself is a big factor in the actions you take and the thoughts you think. The better you think of yourself (not be confused with egotism) the bigger your goals will be in life and you’ll take a lot more actions that take you out of your comfort zone. While on the flip side, the worse you think of yourself the fewer goals you will have in life and you’ll most likely be taking self-destructive actions or other time wasting actions.

Most guys will probably associate this concept with picking up girls, as self-esteem and confidence are usually emphasized as key factors to success with girls. I just want to say while it is very true that a high self-esteem will help you pick up girls, why stop there?

Self-esteem is something that can lead to success in various fields of life. The more self-esteem you have, the more care you will take of yourself in general. You’ll take better care of your teeth, your skin, your hair; some start working out to either get a bit jacked or get fit; others start businesses or other ventures on the side.

And guess what, the more self-benefiting actions you take, the more your self-esteem will improve. It basically loops around, pushing you towards constant improvement. With most people, as they improve and as their self-esteem improves, their ambition and goals improve as well.

The main thing you need to do before you succeed in anything in life is to actually want to succeed.

This is how I’d start my self-esteem improvement journey:

Step I: Escaping the downward spiral

Take control of yourself by eliminating self-destructive actions or anything that damages your self-image.

If your room is a dirty mess, clean it up. Even if the whole city you live in is an absolute trash-filled hellhole, you have 100% control over how your room is. It doesn’t have to be pretty or fancy, but it can and should be tidy and in order.

If you don’t shower every day, shower every day. An overwhelming majority of people on this planet can recognize that you haven’t showered, so do it. It’s super simple if you really think about it, you can do a pretty good job in 10 minutes. Are you trying to lie to yourself that you don’t have 10 minutes? That’s bullshit, and you know it.

Unless your beard is a part of your “aesthetic” and it’s well kept and styled, you should be shaving every morning. This will build up your discipline by providing you with consistency and making you look better kept.

Fighting cognitive dissonance, stopping the bad thought from winning.

“A lie told often enough becomes truth.”

If you’re the type of person that constantly thinks to themselves thoughts like:

  • Nobody likes me
  • I’m completely worthless
  • Nobody wants to be my friend
  • My life is horrible

Guess what, you should fucking stop. What do you think will happen from replaying that same cassette tape over and over again inside your head, every day non stop? You sure as shit aren’t going to solve anybody’s problems, especially not yours. All you’ll do is convince yourself even further into thinking negative thoughts.

A belief is a thought we have repeatedly!

Think anything long enough, and it will become your belief.

What I recommend as a solution to taking control of your thoughts, is…

Meditation

I’ve talked a lot about meditation in the past because personally, I’ve seen massive benefit from it. I myself meditate 20 minutes a day, most of the time in the morning. Generally, I’d say it takes about one to three months of regular meditation (between 5 to 20 minutes a day) to really feel a benefit from it. Here is my article on meditation.

Through meditation you will learn three key skills:

  1. How to recognize thoughts
  2. How to change those thoughts
  3. How to create your own thoughts

Since this series is all about taking control, I had to include the main way of creating your own thoughts. Because once you create your own thoughts or can modify the ones you get randomly, you will be able to create beliefs that will allow you to live a better life.

I’ll repeat once again, this isn’t a quick fix, it takes at least a month to see a real benefit from meditation. But, if you start off by meditating 20 minutes a day and you stick to it at least 6 days a week, you might even experience a strong benefit quicker than most people.

Thank you for reading. Remember, I can only give you the seed, I can’t tell you everything or do anything for you. You have to take control!

One simple trick to surviving any long day and having more mental energy (Taking Control Series, part II)

Power nap. Power. Nap.

Isn’t that for little kids in kindergarten?

Maybe you think napping is for lazy people?

You might, after all, we all have that one coworker which we swear spends four hours a day “napping”, as they like to call it.

If you have any such misconceptions, think again. Many scientific studies have reported that a power nap that is as short as 20 minutes can improve mental alertness, physical/psychological performance, and general mood. Here are some suggestions to get the most benefit from a power nap:

  • Plan the nap at a proper time in your day; for many people, sometime between noon and 4 p.m. is best. Or whenever you get back from work or after several hours of mentally or physically exhausting work.
  • Don’t sleep too long. This is important because a 20 to 40-minute nap will usually give you the boost you need without keeping you up at night.
  • Like a (crappy) computer, you need time to boot up. Give yourself about 10 to 15 minutes to wake up fully before you resume doing something demanding.

But you probably knew this, so I want to share a little secret of mine. I have something better than a nap.

It’s actually better than just a cup of coffee!

It’s something amazing called, wait for it…

… a coffee nap!

A coffee nap is a combination of drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a nap right after.

Now at first, this might seem a bit weird. Coffee is something we use to stay awake for longer, how will that help anything at all. Well, because coffee actually takes a while to reach the brain. Depending on a few different things, it takes about 20 to 40 minutes for caffeine consumed to be caffeine absorbed and transported to the brain. This gives us a window of time where we can take our nap.

Once our alarm rings and our nap is over we can almost instantly jump into action because of the combined effect of caffeine and nap.

An important part of this trick is drinking the coffee almost instantly. It helps if it’s an espresso shot or ice coffee. You want to give yourself as much time to nap before the caffeine reaches your brain, which is generally 20 to 25 minutes for this trick. Once you’ve downed your coffee, set your timer/alarm between 20 and 25 minutes and get to nappin’!

Don’t worry if you have trouble with falling asleep fast. Studies have shown that even just being in a state of restful half-sleep improves the benefits of the nap.

3-Step guide

  1. Chug cup of coffee
  2. Set timer to 25 minutes
  3. Find a comfortable position and NAP

Bonus tip: The effects of sleep, in general, can be improved by sleeping with the legs raised slightly so they are above the level of your head while sleeping regardless of your sleeping position. This means that even if your sleeping in a chair, as long as your legs are above your head you will benefit from this bonus tip.

Why you should wake up and eat at the same time every day, think Swiss clockwork! (Taking Control Series, part I)

“Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind.”
― Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

First I’d like to welcome you to this new short series of articles I will be writing. My goal with this short series is to provide a few simple steps you can implement right away to improve the quality of your life by just optimizing the actions you take daily and adding a few healthy habits. My idea is to make this as simple as possible, and completely free. I will upload another part every day, for a total of seven a week for two weeks. The amount of steps I’d suggest you implement at least per week is three, and after a while, you can implement as many as you can.

Reminder: Building habits can be a challenge for some people. While these steps will be simple and free, I can’t guarantee they will be easy to implement.

Now that that is out of the way, time for the article!

The first thing I want to bring to your attention is a “system” that works subconsciously in a lot of animals, including humans. It is something that helps us survive by determining where we are in regards to everyone else around us. The question which this system tries to answer is,

“Where do I stand in comparison to the others? Am I near the top? Or am I near the bottom?”.

With this, we determine our position in the dominance hierarchy. The answer to this question defines our future actions. This system is very important in ensuring our survival.

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An example of a dominance hierarchy/pyramid

For example, let’s say you didn’t have this subconscious system and you were in a bar frequented by the members of the local boxing gym. You might not be able to realize that you shouldn’t mess around with some of the people, mainly because they might take it as an attack on their authority and you might end up getting smacked. I’ll give another more relatable example. Your company is hosting a party for all it’s employees to celebrate the quarter’s great success. In this situation, the inability to recognize dominance/authority could lead to you damaging your career. Where in the previous situation your inability to recognize the physical superiority of some people could lead to you getting beaten, in this situation your inability to recognize rank and status could lead to you harming your career (and with that your future). Not something you want, probably.

With that said, the dominance hierarchy can change based on the environment. The same person that was at the top of the pyramid in the boxer bar might be near the bottom at the company party or vice-versa.

The higher up on the dominance hierarchy someone is, the better their life is. They have access to what they need to survive and enjoy life. With this comes an increased production of serotonin, one of the four main “feel good” hormones. The increased amount of serotonin leads to:

  • Increase of confidence
  • Improvement of mood (in other words, you feel happier)
  • Feeling more relaxed due to a lower amount of stress hormones in the body

While the opposite is true for someone lower down the dominance hierarchy. Their life is generally worse. They have less or no access to what they need to survive and enjoy life. With this comes a decreased production of serotonin, mainly due to the fact that the brain cannot allow itself to relax because of the perceived risk of “attack” from those above your in the pyramid. This decreased amount of serotonin leads to:

  • Decrease of confidence
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Increased stress hormones (that weaken your immune system and your ability to resist urges)

By now you’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with eating and sleeping?“, it’s actually simple!

Our brain loves consistency, it’s why it forms habits. Consistency to our brain means stability, stability means no active danger. By doing the same things at the same or very close time every day, we create this consistency our brain loves. The more we do something, the easier it becomes to do it. And eventually, it requires almost no active mental effort at all.

The lesson here

By implementing structure into your day, you create a better environment for your brain to operate in. By just deciding on a time to do what you already do every day you can improve your quality of life within a few months. All you have to do is sit down for 10 minutes and then write down a timetable for yourself with your daily activities. I’ll give you my morning routine as an example.

5:00 AM – Wake up (I get about 5.5 to 6.5 hours of sleep every night)
5:05 – 5:30 AM – Personal hygiene (Brushing my teeth, washing my face, shaving, etc.)
5:35 – 5:55 AM – Shower & skin care products.
6:05 – 6:25 AM – Mindfulness meditation (20 Minutes)
6:30 – 7:00 AM – Breakfast & supplementation (Usually I read my secondary book while I eat my breakfast)
7:05 – 7:40 AM – Homework or other short tasks I can get done fast to get my brain active and working.
7:45 – 7:50 AM – Chug my morning coffee drink (5 – 8 g of instant coffee, 6 g sugar, 200ml milk), if I feel mental fog that morning.
7:50 – 8:25 AM – Room for error or entertainment (Sometimes I  drag out my morning routine, so I don’t have time to revitalize with entertainment)
8:30 AM – Leave for class

You don’t need nearly this degree of accuracy in your timetable, this is just what I do on a non-running day. When it’s a running day, I steal one hour from things like homework time and entertainment. The main thing is having structure.

Hope this helps. As always, I can’t break everything down here, there is a degree of action you should take yourself if you intend to implement anything I talk about. I think for this specific case, this article should be enough.

Thank you for reading, every second you spend reading my work is an honor to me.

Cheers!

How to become an expert in anything in 6 months, honest!

For our purposes, an expert will be someone in the top five percent of the general population in some field of expertise.

The chosen field is very often programming, digital marketing, design, video editing, and many more. Although the chosen field may be different, the goal of the person is usually the same. Be skilled or knowledgeable enough about something to the point where someone else would pay you for what you can do for them. And this might actually remind you a bit of the reason you went to college.

If it did, it should have! This is the exact same promise that leads people to college. The idea that they will be taught something that someone would pay for. But sadly, for most people, it turns out to have been partially a waste of time. In college, you are taught more general knowledge about your chosen field in comparison to developing specialized knowledge, which is the type that people would actually pay you for. Most people that actually manage to get a job after getting their degree actually work in a different field than they studied for, or they begin learning how to work in their field from scratch once they get the job. Meaning that in most cases their education didn’t actually provide them with the skills their future job needed.

But, when you self-study/self-educate/autodidact, whatever; things are different. You can cut off the fat right from the start by omitting all the filler information you’d generally be drowned in and getting right into taking action. And of course, initially, you’re going to suck, hard. But no champion athlete became a champion because they spent years studying their sport instead of playing it. Their greatness comes from 80% (or more)  deliberate practice and the other 20% is a mix of other things like theoretical knowledge, intelligence, mindset, etc.

But you probably aren’t an athlete, let alone a professional one aiming to be the champion. That’s okay, neither am I or most people on this planet that are successful. The method I will be talking about today is called DSSS, which is an acronym that stands for:

  • Deconstruct
  • Selection
  • Sequencing
  • Stakes

Let’s break this down.

Deconstruct

In order to properly be able to master a complicated skill, you need to first break it down into smaller and more manageable parts. What are the key things in the process you desire to master that are essential to it being done well? You also need to think in terms of results in this part, estimating the value of each of the perceived essential actions.

Selection

This “step” is basically the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. You need to identify what 20% of actions produce 80% of results. For example in playing the guitar, you’d need to identify what 20% of chords can be used to play 80% of the songs. Be aware that this ratio isn’t set in stone, and it is possible for it to be skewed more or less in any direction, but often it can be 90/10 or even 95/5.

Sequencing

As the name might suggest, this involves creating a sequence or a specific order of what you learn first, second, third, you get the point. This can only happen once we have identified what our most important 20% of activities are. I suggest figuring out a way to track progress and determine a unit of time to dedicate to each sequence. Sticking with the previous example of playing the guitar, let’s say your first sequence would be two weeks of learning four chords. So that is two chords per week, not a lot really. Your main focus during these two weeks would be perfecting these chords as much as you can. Once you learn the second one, you can practice switching between them as well.

Click here and make sure your audio is on if you think four chords are too few.

Stakes

The only reason you don’t slap your hand onto a hot stove is that you know how much damage and pain it will cause you now and in the future. While permanent damage is a great motivator, our goal is to find something that will push you to stick with your goal of learning without leaving you as physically and mentally scarred. This is where accountability comes in. An interesting example I’ll use is that of the Jewish man A.J. Jacobs.  I mentioned Jewish for a reason. For a long time he had wanted to get in shape, but he could never really commit to it. So one day he decided to write a check for $1,000 and give it to a friend with the instructions that if he was to give up on his goal, his friend was to donate the money to the KKK. As you may assume, he was very motivated to stick with his goal.

Also, you should have these two facts in mind:

  • Having a person that holds you accountable regularly increases your chances of success by up to 2x
  • Having a financial stake increases your chances of success by up to 3x

A suggestion

If you were to pair this strategy with several others like The Pomodoro Technique and The Feynman Technique, you should definitely improve your odds of success within six months. An important note for those who got this far, the exact time will not be six months. It could be less and it could be more. The general guide I’d provide is six to twelve months of diligent practice or study. That will put you in the 5% most skilled/knowledgeable in the world at something.