Archives for category: Mind

Today, I will be sharing something that I learnt that just blow my mind.

When you do something new, there is always a chance that you would find a road block, so always prepare a backup plan, or multiple backup plans.

Lets say you are starting a gym regiment, if you cannot go to the gym today, then there is the backup plan of doing body weight exercises at home like pushups, pullups and situps.

If you are planning an activity on saturday say, hiking, you would need to bring backup supplies like water, compass and raingear. You would also prepare a backup plan for wet weather. If it rains, you can arrange to go with your friends to a coffeeshop or table tennis place. If the bus does not go, you have the map to walk or have researched if car rentals cover the area as well.

This applies to a lot of material areas of life outside of relationships. Research this and study it well.

Below are the things I wished I did as a teenager to make my dating life in university and in adult life easier. This was inspired by a post from all places, the manosphere (wisdom does exist there).

For men still in their teenage years, take note and research the below well:

1. Hear your parent’s advice and at the same time make your own plans and decisions. The older you get, the more you end up talking like your parents and the more that you find out that your parents were correct. For example, in teenage years, you think romance is the king in deciding who to stay with for long term relationships. In adult years, especially past 30 years old, suddenly factors that seem “old-fashioned”, like social economic status and your ability to get along with your potential spouse’s extended family seem very important. My guess is that your parent’s advice is good for you when you hit the age that your parents are at now. I would listen very carefully to my parents and at the same time navigate my surroundings carefully based on my understanding of the environment. In short, your parents are soft indicators of what would happen to do if you don’t make any changes (this may be good or bad depending on how good your parent’s lives are.

2. Hit the gym.  As mentioned in the Boron Letters, having strong arms is the easiest (compared to other ways like making a ton of money) way to avoid fights and for other men to respect you. For scientific nerds (I was one myself), the tipping point starts at bench press with 12.5kg dumbsbells, and at 17.5kg dumbbell bench press, you will be at comfortable region. Also, hitting the gym and running(in small amounts, not marathoning amounts) builds a sexy body (muscular and toned).

3. Do a sports/physcially hobby. One, you can only have reasonable time to do this before you have a steady girlfriend. Secondly, you will learn things that you cannot learn in another way. One of which is to learn how to learn physical skills.

4. Learn music or drawing. This is the way to develop your emotional quotient. This is important for your communication skills and for understanding women. It helps in your interpersonal skills. If learning music, more impressive first instruments to learn are piano, violin and guitar. I would avoid less mainstream instruments as my first instrument as that has negative social signaling effects.

5. Stop being concerned with what people think of you. For further explanation, read the explanation in Roosh’s original post. Also read Ribbonfarm’s article on losers, socialpaths and clueless. Being concerned with what other people think usually causes you to ignore your own material interests or buy into other people’s hidden agendas.

6. Learn to understand women better. This would be challenging as to my teenage self I would prefer to instead play video games, sports or hang out with my bros. Again the best way to understand is having female friends (not girlfriends) and then books. Dealing with the female members of your family does contribute to the understanding as well. This is where guys without sisters or who do not spend much time with their female family and relatives would be a bit handicapped.

7. Have a backup plan to earn a living. Nothing sucks like having a girlfriend to hang out (and do other things with) and have to shelve it because you are broke or because your job sucks up all your free time. I would read Steve Pavlina’s blog article, (starting with this article) and also maybe check out the location independent/lifestyle design scene (Link is from Location Rebel by Sean Ogle.

Research all the above and study it well.

 

 

For boys and men, one of the reasons to find a girlfriend/life partner is the fear of loneliness. The feeling of loneliness is described very well in a post by Dotseng: The point of vanishing.

When we are young and before school, we have our parents or caretakers to accompany us and chase away the feeling of isolation. During our young school days pre-puberty, parents and friends form our companion ship so we do not feel alone. After puberty, from our teenage years until the end of university or formal school, some of us will have girlfriends, but the rest of us will have our friends to keep the feeling of loneliness at bay.

Once we start work and if we are not attached, the feeling of loneliness will start in earnest. Even if we have our circle of friends, we will feel something is missing. Our parents may still be there and still give us unconditional love, but we do not feel as strongly a part of our family as we felt when we were eight years old. Society starts to put on the pressure, with advertisements, relatives and friends asking why we do not have a girlfriend, wife or even children.

The feeling of loneliness is a very strange one. One may be stuck in the Siberian wilderness, but once you have a girlfriend beside you, the feeling of loneliness may go away. Which is strange. When you look at it, two people fill up the space in the Siberian wilderness pretty much the same. There is still a lot of empty space around. Yet the feeling of loneliness disappears.

Sometimes, even if your girlfriend is beside you and you feel emotionally disconnected from her, or if you feel that she does not understand you, then you will feel lonely as well.

So the question to ask yourself is, when I am looking for a girlfriend, or spouse or life partner, am I trying to run away from the feeling of loneliness?

What you need to be aware of is that part of your mental and emotional distress about being single is the contribution from the feeling of loneliness.

We can run away from the feeling of loneliness using distractions. We can try to reduce the feeling by doing kind deeds and loving actions. Yet it will always be there, like part of a human condition, just like breathing or eating.

There is no technique to overcome the feeling of isolation and loneliness. There is only to study loneliness well so that you can factor it into your plans for life.

Ways to study loneliness

  1. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling lonely?’
  2. Practice some form of meditation or contemplation.
  3. Review your life so far, especially on the challenging periods of your life and what lessons can you learn.

One of Da Zong’s favourite posts from James Altucher is the post on how to win games.

Da Zong had learnt spent time training in aikido, tae kwon do and tai chi respectively. He had also seen his friends try to learn tennis, table tennis and golf. After doing aikido for six months, Da Zong felt like he was a hot shot. He then watched Karate Kid (2010) and then joined his local tae kwon do club. Hot shot’s ego got taken down with hilarious (well for him now, not at that time) comments like “Why are you holding a knife hand, you think you’re a ninja?”.  Three months later, Da Zong started tai chi, this time, he learnt his lesson and kept a humble mindset.

So here is Da Zong’s method to learn physical skills/physical game when you are a total beginner.

  1. Enroll in a class taught by a teacher. It really doesn’t matter whether your first teacher is a national level or city level or whatever.

Physical skill is learnt by drills and by seeing the performance of your teacher. Unless you are God’s gift to the world in this field (chances are you are not), you need to learn from a teacher. Note that teacher doesn’t have to be a professional fee paying commercial teacher. If your office has an ex-state level champion in tennis and he/she offers to teach you the game, chances are that will be good as well. To be honest,the small dance studio near your house might actually have one of the top teachers in your state too. Anecdotally, Da Zong’s tae kwon do teacher  near his house still helps to coach tae kwon do teams competitively too.

2. Drills for basic skills are the foundations of the entire physical game/skill. Each game will have a different way to practice the drills.

Basic skills are the foundations and building blocks of the entire game. For table tennis, it could be the strokes and the footwork. For golf, its the basic swing. For tae kwon do, its the front kick and turning kick and stance.

The basic skills are like individual words in a langauge, without the words, you cannot build sentences.

If your training is serious, you will have a lot of repetition of the basic drills over and over again. This is the most important part.

Each game/skills trains the basic drills differently. For tae kwon do, there could be a lot of follow the instructor mass drills done individually. For table tennis, your teacher could be partnered with you for the basic racquet drills or you could be practicing with your team mate.

You could be doing drills with your instructor correcting every mistake in every action. Or your instructor could be letting you do the drill by yourself for 1 hour non-stop without any comments. Both are valid. When your instructor corrects your actions, you are helping to remove weaknesses/ excess action in your drills. When your instructor lets you practice non-stop, you are building the muscle memory and body awareness needed.

3. You will be very awkward when you start learning physical skills. You have to get used to not understanding what you are doing and why you are doing wrong.

In the beginning, you will keep making mistakes. Your strokes or footwork won’t be correct and you will not know why. For the smart people who always did well at school, this could be very frustrating.

The real reason is that your brain and your body cannot keep up with the skills. You need to dutifully practice the drills once a week until your body and brain can catch up. You need to have faith to over come this hump. This is why sometimes, a non-intensive beginner class can be better than an intensive course when you start.

Your brain has not had the time to grow the circuits to recognise the patterns in the game. For Da Zong it took his brain 5 years before he could even begin to visualise some of the aikido moves he was doing. Your body also needs to grow in awareness of space, balance, muscle position and movement needed to have a feel for the game. This leads into our next point.

4. Cut the urge to watch youtube videos or read articles or books on your game at first.

Wait, doesn’t this sound lazy. Well, for the first year, Da Zong read tons of books on aikido and tae kwon do. While Da Zong could sprout the history of aikido non-stop, it didn’t help him in his aikido. Looking back, this was because his brain wasn’t ready to process what he read with what he was learning (see point 3 above).

How do you know that you are not ready to watch youtube videos or read books yet. The key indicator actually is: is watching this video/ reading this book fun? If the answer is a pure “Yes!” you are reading the book and watching the video for pure entertainment value. If your answer if half hearted and it feels a bit like work, then you are ready ha ha.

It would feel like work because now you feel like you have to remember the points you see in the video or take down notes. Or sometimes it would be a bit deflating because you see a point that now you see it, you will have to practice at your next trainining (e.g. keep my elbows in at all times ha ha). It can still be fun, but now the feeling of work or seriousness will join in the fun.

And if you read too many books/videos in your first year, your enthusiasm for reading too many will drop down a bit. Readers will still go and do this anyway but oh well.

6. You will eventually get it if you keep training regularly.

While in year one you understand nothing. Sometimes, by year 3 or year 5, insights may become to you just naturally.

7. Your teacher will repeat pet sayings. In year one, they will be mystifying and frustrating (cos you cant understand them). In year two, they will be annoying. In year three, you may understand one word here and there.In year four, you may start parroting them yourself. In year five, you realise that the pet sayings are the deep teachings of the art hidden in plain sight and you realise what Japanese Traditional Martial Arts call Okuden (Deep Teachings or Hidden teachings).

8. Your teacher will also get puzzled and frustrated why you can’t pick things up, do basic drills properly. It is the naturally cycle of life.

9. You will keep thinking in your first three years, why your teachers keeps teaching you the same things over and over again or why your teacher doesn’t teach you new things. After your first three years, you will keep thinking why your teacher keeps teaching you new things instead of letting you just the old things. This is because, your teacher can really see that you are ready, and cos you are ready, your brain is really absorbing what your teacher is teaching, and you go a lot slower cos you can see a lot of what you need to refine.

10. You have a tendency to want to rush your training at the beginning (eg three lessons a week). It is better to have a slower start (eg one lesson a week for the first year), and then slowly ramp up. Ignore this if you are a six year old training to be an olympic athlete (you and your parents have my deepest respect).

Overtraining at the beginning when your mind and body cannot take it is not productive. Like in running, if you do not take a break, your performance decreases. They call the days where you run (at a training and not maintenance level) when you should be resting as wasted days. Which is why a traditional martial arts story:

“Teacher, if I train once a week, how long until I get black belt?”

“Three years”

“If I train twice a week, how long until I get a black belt?

“Five years”

“If I train every day?”

“Seven years”

The exception is for intensive courses like one year residential black belt courses or things like SEAL and special forces training. The intensive courses usually have a selection phase to admit only candidates who are ready. Usually these candidates are either naturally talents (like your buddy who never ran in school or after work, beats all your friends at the marathon you guys joined for fun) or who have trained consistently (maybe in other areas) for years before.

11. Don’t keep changing teachers or styles unless your teacher or manager says so.

There is a temptation in your first three years, when you hit frustration, to think that the style or school where you are training is not suitable for you. The grass is always greener on the other side. The only exception is when your teacher/manager tells you so change.

12. Your body may need to improve to keep up with the skills. Following the training excerises to train your body and mind

You may need flexibility, then do your ballet or tae kwon do exercises. It may be timing and coordination, then do your sports, music (eg pentatonic scales), aikido drills. It may be physical strength, then do the relevant body weight or gym exercises taught by your sports/field. Your mind may need training, do the visualisation exercises, meditation, or the studying of game plays that your teacher has taught you.

13. Learn from your teacher in not just the skill, the personality and other intangibles

Personality and other intangibles are needed to succeed in a physical field. For aikido, it would help if you are calm and centered. For ballet, maybe if you are graceful. For music, if you are expressive and open and warm person. Of course there are times when you teacher is not a model for human emulation, but usually your teacher would not reach competence in a field if he/she did not have some of the intangibles needed.

Now, for a tl:dr (too long, didn’t read summary)

  1. Join a class/course
  2. Train once a week / as frequently as the class course is conducted
  3. Don’t read or watch youtube videos in the beginning (first three years), until your teacher tells you to do so (trust me they will)
  4. Pay attention to the basic drills
  5. In your first three years, dont be frustrated when you can’t understand anything and everything you do seems to be wrong.
  6. Keep at it until you decide you don’t want to do it any more
  7. dont keep changing teachers or change styles unecessarily.
  8. Train your body and mind using the exercises that your teacher has taught you specifically for the field.
  9. Learn from your teacher, in not just the skills but the mindset, personality and other intangibles.

Research this well as this is the meta skill to learn and master any physical field (sports, martial arts, music, field craft, physical crafts).Academic fields are obviously different.

 

 

Back in elementary school, Dazong didn’t really interact with girls but did not feel that very awkward around them. It wasn’t that he felt girls were any different, but that he preferred to play soccer and video games with the boys.

 

Puberty came to Dazong about early 14 plus. Unfortunately Dazong was in a single-sex school. Coupled with the fact that Dazong went home after school, there was no opportunity to meet or date girls around his age. Throughout this time, Dazong kept praying (he was religious) that he would find a girlfriend, and that the girlfriend would make his life magically complete.

 

There was a combined school trip when Dazong was 15. A prank by his schoolmates that time led him to sit next to a girl on a bus for the beginning stages of the trip. She was cool, played the guitar. She was kind and volunteered at charities on the weekends. She was kinda cute in her own way. Most of all, very important for a 15 year old, she had the same taste in music. Things went well for a few days. Then one time on the trip back, somehow he decided he wanted to lay low and skip seating next to her. It wasn’t a rejection (or deliberately intended to be one). So she rejected him too, with the common words “lets just be friends.”

 

Dazong couldn’t let go probably for the next ten years. Having the first crush reject you was very traumatizing, and Dazong wasn’t close enough to anyone, not even his parents or his peers. After that, Dazong didn’t realize why he was rejected, and like a lot of young boys, thought that he made a mistake and that he could do something to “win her back.”

 

Dazong intellectually knew that there was a scientific field called psychology, but he didn’t know that the field of psychology would apply to what was going through. He thought that he would be unloveable and that there was either something wrong with him fundamentally or that there were skills that he did not know, like tying a knot or learning how to spell or learning how to do addition, he could learn mechanically how to get a girlfriend.

 

Little did Dazong know that becoming mature was a critical process in getting a girlfriend. After all, the sportsman or jock who were behaving immaturely had their pick of the most beautiful girls in school. Later in life, Dazong would experience for himself the character building and pain of sports training.

 

Dazong thought that by sacrificing himself for the family that he was being mature. Yet he threw anger tantrums very often and did little to positively contribute the situation other than spend very little money. His mom asked him not to work as to concentrate on his studies to get a high paying job later in life.

Da Zong was reading an article on dealing with anxiety from the blog Bakadesuyo.

James Pennebaker had developed a method called expressive writing. You can read more about it in the original blog post. When I read it, I felt like I was slapped in the face in a good way.

To summary, you write about the traumatic events that you had experienced in the past. It is like a diary or like a journaling practice (link refers to article from Steve Pavlina).

For Da Zong, writing this blog is an exercise in expressive writing. The most important effects from expressive writing were two things. One, was that writing forces you to confront the objective facts from your past. So when writing the Da Zong story, Da Zong counted that he had been rejected by maybe seven women in the past. When reading that sentence on a piece of paper, it makes the belief “There is something wrong with me, I will never find a girlfriend in my entire life” harder to believe.

Two, the act of writing clarifies and sharpens your logical and strategic thoughts about a subject. There was a quora reply from Venkat from Ribbonfarm, that writing needs two skills, the skills of sharpening your words, and the skill of sharpening your ideas. Even if you belong to the first group of writing only to sharpening your words, the act of writing will still sharpen your ideas to a small degree.

If you are not comfortable in publishing an online anonymous blog, you can:

  1. buy journaling software
  2. keep a series of word documents
  3. or run an offline, local wordpress site on your computer.

This is the tool sharing for today. Like all tools, it can be harmful if not applied in context. It can be useful when used appropriate. Research and study this well.

This monday, I was reading the email list from the psychology blog, Bakadesuyo. There was a clickbait to Dan Pink’s “The most important thing I learnt in Law School.”

In summary, if there is a big hairy complicated situation, once you understand the basic 1%, the rest of the situation is easier to grasp. For example, the 1% of Da Zong’s blog is, how do I get from a place with no girlfriends/casual dates, to a place with a girlfriend/casual dates.

This situation works because all too often our minds tries to tie in all the details at once, or our emotions are distracted by some juicy details. In other words, we miss the forest for the trees.

Like the 5 whys of Toyota, this is something easy to easy but very hard to do. As an intellectual exercise, try the 5 whys on why you want to find a girlfriend/ get casual dates. As a quick and deep guess, the ultimate reason is because past puberty, we suddenly get a dash of loneliness when we do not have a romantic partner (as pointed out by Dotseng and School of Loneliness).

As an aside, pre-puberty, we get the same loneliness when we do not have family (for the younger children) to family and friends  (for older children) to friends (for pre-puberty teenagers). As orphans and other children separated from their parents would point out, pre or post-puberty, we still feel lonely if our parents were not there. As children with parents, our parents fade back into the emotional background when we feel loneliness. I myself was guilty when in school days, I complained to myself I felt lonely because I had no friends, never mind that I saw my parents everyday.

Dan Pink used it to understand complicated topics in law. We can use it to apply to our situation.

For example, “How do I build an attractive upper body?” The 1% (simplified answer) is “Go lift heavy things and go running (to build a flat tummy).” “How to I change my low income career to a higher earning one?” One of the 1% answers “Learn Javascript. Then get a job as a javascript developer.” “How do I become a writer/better writer” 1 possible answer: “Write a blog post everyday. (Incidentally this is what Dazong is doing)”

This is one of the powerful tools for analysis and for solution and execution. Like every other tool, it is useful when it is appropriate and potentially harmful when it is not. And like Musashi said in the Book of Five Rings, “Research it well.”