God is real, and He is good

We believe in one God,

the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

begotten from the Father before all ages,

God from God,

Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made;

of the same essence as the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,

and was made human.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered and was buried.

The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again with glory

to judge the living and the dead.

His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life.

He proceeds from the Father and the Son,

and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.

He spoke through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,

and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The more you study happiness, the more you uncover about the nature of happiness, going past the simple pleasures and understanding virtue, the more one image starts to stand out. God. Christianity is about happiness. This episode is about both. I’m going to explain Christianity. More than for you, this is for me. I want to reason some things out.

How do you be happy? Easy, just stop wanting things. The promotion, the new car, the six pack of abs, the girl. When you don’t want things, you are happy. It’s so simple.

How do you stop wanting things? The stoics said to practice discipline. The stoics were a smart bunch. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” – Seneca.

Smart people, talented people, people with everything, have said to be virtuous. “Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.” – Beethoven.

Jesus, Christians, and other religious people have recommended virtue, which is the antithesis of vice. Many Christians were very smart.

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38.

Most of religion is exactly this. The scripture is a how-to guide on how to be happy. Being virtuous is hard. It takes practice. Religion gives us a helping hand. God gives us strength. We ask him for strength. He reminds us when we slip, and he’s there to reward us when we do the right thing.

What’s the right thing? Being virtuous, following his commandments, not giving into vice. Be like Jesus. When we want to behave like Jesus, we want to be virtuous. When we want to be virtuous, we should try to act virtuous – like Jesus. When we act like Jesus, we do all the things that will keep us happy. Not just a momentary pleasure, but an unbreakable joy – that no one can take away from you.

Wisdom is happiness. YOLO is not. Don’t live life fast chasing fun will not lead to happiness. It will feel good, but the thrill is addicting, and mental addiction is the opposite of wisdom. John Milton said, “He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” The goal of wisdom – and the result, is everlasting mental, and spiritual freedom. I said that Christianity is about happiness. Well, Christianity is about wisdom.

Let’s dissect the Nicene Creed I started this with.

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen.

We believe in one God. Not many. To believe in more than one god, as the pagan religions preach, is false for multiple reasons. One, the scriptures, the written testimony of those that preceded and followed Jesus, the ultimately wise being, say otherwise. And, as Christians, we believe Jesus was ultimately wise.

The second reason is secular. If you believe in multiple gods, you necessarily diminish the divine power associated with the one God. To honor multiple gods is to not be holding the priorities and honor of the one God as your ultimate priority. So don’t do it.

The pagan gods play a large part in the history of the world and the forming of religions and even in the Christian canon. This is because the pagan gods of the Greeks, Romans, Norse and others are used as an example to highlight the beauties of the world. The poetry muses, the hero warriors, and the gods of various natural elements – Aurora with her rose red hair – these are all used to paint a beautiful picture of human and nonhuman elements of life. However, when it comes to wisdom and eternal happiness, none of these gods hold a candle to the truth and beauty offered by the Christian God.

In fact, like idolizing anything – whether a career, a pretty girl, or you, the pagan gods offered a distraction from ultimate wisdom, and with that, ultimate happiness. If we focus our attention on becoming strong or pretty or artistic, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. But it does take away from the attention we show to God – the attention we show to wisdom, and happiness right now.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.

CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

“The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher, and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because “it’s easy for grown-ups” and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no “unfair” advantage), it would not get on very quickly. If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) “No, it’s not fair! You have an advantage! You’re keeping one foot on the bank”? That advantage—call it “unfair” if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?”

Jesus proved the existence of Heaven when he rose from the dead. We are told this from the authority that is the Gospels and other scriptures. I often refer to authority as a bad thing. “Challenge authority.’ “Make your own decisions.” But we all believe, and must believe authority to some extent. Life would be chaos otherwise. To quote CS Lewis one more time,

“Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority—because the scientists say so.”

We trust authority. Even the most punk rock teenagers trust some authority. It just may not align with the authority you follow. This leaves us with a choice. We can choose the authority that is God and his followers that profess their own Gospels of the truth. Or, we can believe those who disagree. When it comes to science it gets tricky. The goal of Christianity is eternal happiness through not wanting things but instead honoring God. The goal of science is to make possible our wants and desires. So while scientific facts are not wrong, neither is that which I’m saying about God and which the Gospels have reported. You and I can live in the material world but live for the immaterial. And we should.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

One of the virtues that is unique to Christianity is hope. This is a theological virtue, meaning it exists outside of the simply human virtues such as chastity and humility. In hope we look forward to more great things. Dante had many levels to his Heaven, and without hope we imit ourselves to the greatness available. Again, in secular speak, we limit our own happiness by not living virtuously, including with hope.

To hope, as a virtue, is not to have a Disney fantasy about the world or the after-life. Hope is to believe in the spiritual truths accounted for in the Bible. It is to understand the nature of happiness – all that I’ve said already, and to understand there is the ability to be more. You can be more virtuous, a better Christian, with more of Heaven to love. You can be happier.

I used to be an atheist. I was guided by truth and science. Those were my religions. I thought happiness was the ability to overcome my fears. But John Milton didn’t stop his saying when he called us to conquer our fears. He told us to overcome our passions and our desires as well.

I didn’t want to believe the poet. I worked so hard to become sexy and strong. Now he was telling me not to indulge in the passions that I’d worked so hard to become sexy so that I could indulge. Deep down, I knew he was right. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to have sex with women just because I could. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to sell a product for profit to someone who doesn’t need it, but that person hopes it will make them happier.

So, I started following the advice of the great poet. I read the Bible and loved it for the wisdom and the stories. Then I read Christian literature. The CS Lewis, Aquinas, and others. I started going to church. I loved everything that I was reading, and I saw the wisdom of it. As I outlined above, I came to understand happiness from a secular point of view. It kept leading more and more towards the teachings of Christianity. I was an atheist, but now God was closer than ever.

The last thing I did was to want Christianity. To want to be Christian is to want to love God. It’s to want to live virtuously so that we don’t want things. To honor the theological virtues of faith, charity, and, discussed, hope. Knowing these virtues are incredibly difficult, and wanting the support of God to help us stick to it. It was wanting to be Christian, more than anything, that made me Christian. It was this wanting, with the understanding of happiness and Christianity, that made me love God above all else.

God is real and omniscient.  A common argument is why do bad things happen if God knows they’re going to – if he has the power to stop them?  Choosing God must be voluntary. There has to be a choice involved. If there isn’t, we are all just robots on autopilot. What’s the point of that? There’s no honor there. But if we choose to honor God, when there’s so much else we can choose – powerful, tempting options, then there is glory.

This is also why forcing Christianity doesn’t work. Since it requires voluntary submission, this must be allowed at the individual level and societal level. A Big Brother government from Orwell did not allow Christianity, but it forced virtue. The virtue is meaningless if it is forced – again there is no honor or strength required.

So too the Nazis prescribed a Christian society. When Christianity is forced, it takes away the internal choice. By forcing the external, they made the internal less likely. Loving God isn’t just going through the motions. It’s about complete, voluntary submission to the greatness of God.

I leave you with a call to action. Stop wanting things, so that you will be happy today. If you want that, and it is very difficult, look to God for strength. Love God. Amen.

Literally Hitler – A Review of Mein Kampf

 I recently read Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. It was one of the most interesting books I ever read. I don’t necessarily recommend you read it. Let’s talk about it.

Obligatory disclaimer: Hitler was an evil person. He is responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people, most famously Jews. Good Christians, and good people generally, don’t hate someone that isn’t of their religion or race. Hitler wasn’t a good person.

That said, Hitler, like all people, was a complex person. He was incredibly smart. He spent his youth reading all the books he could get his hands on, and developing an appreciation for arts and high culture. When he was 11, he spent the money he earned working a job to pay for operas and symphonies.

Hitler was a patriot and wanted the best for Germany from birth. His idea of “best” was quite unique for leaders of strong nations. Hitler was racist. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. But race was more than something to like and dislike and matter of preferences for Hitler. It was his ideology. And again, he was very smart, and his ideology was well thought out.

The man saw racism as a positive. His thesis was that race – our DNA and blood, contains not only physical and mental characteristics, but the capabilities of an individual. Intelligence, strength, creativity – these are all a part of our blood, which is passed from generation to generation.

Hitler saw the preservation of these characteristics as the most important function for humans. As some people are smarter than others, and more creative, and stronger, these people should breed with others that have favorable genetics so that their children will be even stronger, or at least not weaker. If someone has ultimate genetics, breeding with someone with inferior genes will weaken those genes. If preservation of superior genetics is your goal, you don’t want to do that.

He applied this to groups of people. Races of people. Adolf saw the Aryan as superior in creativity and intellect, and cited scientific and cultural reasons for this. Therefore, Aryans must breed with each other and not with other races.

I haven’t done much race research, and there isn’t that much of it – it’s such a taboo especially within academia that there isn’t much funding. Whether it’s true, scientifically or not, if the goal of your society is the preservation of your society’s genetics, then Hitler went about it in a good way.

He’s wrong when he tries to make it a Christian calling. To be Christian is to be Christ-like, and it’s a hard sell to try to convince me that Jesus would have called for the separation of blacks and the death of Jews. Everyone on the planet is capable of being Christian, and with that everyone is capable of living virtuously and being happy. To rob someone of this opportunity is decidedly non-Christian.

Hitler saw what he was doing as Christian because he envisioned the ultimate man – superior in intellect, strength, and creativity, as closer to God. Not in a way that he was closer to creating a God – just closer to the image of God. In that way, the individual would best be able to honor God, who we are created in the likeness of.

Christianity defines “likeness of God” as having the ability to choose right from wrong and to have the option of honoring all that is good. Hitler defined “likeness of God” as the human element – being closer to God in terms of physical and mental ability. He thought the man that is closest to God can do God the most honor, and that is worth it.

Because his Aryan race was deemed ultimate and closest to God, his race should realize the rewards of their superiority. They would have creative and material freedoms not available to others. Other races would be put in their place, and would be forced to stay there so that the Aryan would not be threatened. He proposed to enslave other races, such as black people. This slave class would work for the Aryan and not be allowed to interbreed. This would keep them in a state of servitude and also allow the “best” race the best spoils.

The Jews were a different sort of problem. They were competition. Highly intelligent and with a (well-reasoned) ability to survive struggle, Hitler saw the Jews as a threat to the Aryan in the “race” to comfort and the top of the hierarchy. There’s almost a recognition that they are doing good things that Hitler wished to be doing himself. So, rather than making them slaves, he sought to make them out as evil and have them eliminated.

Hitler did this by using propaganda. This was a very conscious maneuver. Hitler was well-read and had a great understanding of history and psychology. He used propaganda to persuade the masses. His book is a masterclass on propaganda and political influence. He brilliantly targeted his audience – the masses of the middle class and lower classes, to carry out his strategy. He did not make arguments to appeal to the intellectuals, but made his appeals to those suffering from economic hardship.

He blamed the hardships on the competing Marxist ideology which directly opposed into his thesis on race. Marxism was the ultimate evil according to Hitler. And the idea that people should be equally rewarded went directly against his idea that rewards would be handed out by race and, within that, merit.

Hitler isn’t wrong that Marxism is perhaps the most evil, harmful ideology ever invented. But the way he went about solving the Marxism problem was quite evil. What do they say about the road paved with good intentions?

The book gave me a new for the American Constitution. The Founding Fathers knew that if people are forced into a Christian world by tyrannical hands, that the individual would not be more likely to be Christian at heart. The choice that God leaves us must be made on our own accord. Hitler didn’t allow that for his people. The Founders did. They built the country on both individual freedom and strength, while Hitler built his on strength, intellect, and propaganda.

I prefer our way, although there are downsides to the American Constitution. Because of our liberal economic policy and freedoms of speech and media, the citizens are exposed to massive amounts of propaganda. While Hitler used the state, America uses television and advertisements to persuade the masses. This robs people of their ability to freely choose God (or not to) in similar fashion (psychologically speaking) as Goebbels’ pamphlets.

The book is fascinating. It’s biographical, and I’m always interested in reading how leaders of nations get into power and about their lives. Every president has a great story. Hitler’s no exception. It was hard to read because of the prejudice I had going in. I knew how evil he was and the destruction he caused to the Jews and the world. To continue reading and challenge myself to be objective was a battle and was rewarded.

It was rewarding to challenge my ideas and to be objective in challenging his. Again, they were well-reasoned. But it was also rewarding because there are some brilliant, wholesome ideas in his book that should not be ignored.

Hitler had theories on education that are still relevant today. He wrote the following on the study of history in high school:

Instruction in world history in the so-called high schools is even today in a very sorry condition. Few teachers understand that the study of history can never be to learn historical dates and events by heart and recite them by rote; that what matters is not whether the child knows exactly when this battle or that was fought, when a general was born, or even when a monarch (usually a very insignificant one) came into the crown of his forefathers. No, by the living God, this is very unimportant. To ‘learn’ history means to seek and find the forces which are the causes leading to those effects which we subsequently perceive as historical events.

At least when I was in high school, 85 years after this was written, we were still big on memorizing dates rather than learning to be critical of history and how we can learn lessons from understanding it.

He was not a big fan of foreign language being taught in lower levels of school, even though he knew that’s when foreign languages are best acquired. What is important is to learn your own language, and to understand the structure of languages. He didn’t want to the youth to learn French, and he wouldn’t want his Californian children to learn Spanish.

He was a big proponent of physical education. He thought that all youths should have two hours of gym time each day – an hour in the morning and evening. This would mold them into physically strong individuals and tamper energy that could be spent on less productive pursuits. He promoted general strength and aerobic training in addition to combat training. At young levels this meant boxing and Jiu Jitsu. When the war picked up, these students were physically ready to pick up a gun and fight.

Part of Hitler’s political idea was that of strength. The strength of the nation is of utmost importance in order to protect what is valued – in Nazi Germany that being race. This national strength relies on soundness of mind by leadership, strong individuals that are able to endure hardship, and technological superiority. While I disagree, and probably most disagree on his central value, Hitler’s Germany was a strong nation.

I recommend very smart people read this book. Like, really smart people. Not average, and not just smart. Kind of smart people with left leaning politics won’t get past the Jew stuff. Pretty smart people with right lean will agree with the reasoning, when you shouldn’t.

My other recommendation is we should work hard to protect Constitutional freedoms. They exist for a purpose that rewards every single citizen with the chance of happiness, a chance we don’t even have without them. America was founded by Christian rebels. They didn’t ask for conformity. The founders want us to rebel against tyranny. Tyranny in the form of oppressive government, in the form of corrupting ideologies – a la Marxism, and tyranny in the form of psychologically oppressive media.

Thoughts on wisdom

  • Wisdom is happiness. 
  • YOLO is not. Don’t live life fast chasing fun will not lead to happiness. It will feel good, but the thrill is addicting, and mental addiction is the opposite of wisdom. 
  • The goal of wisdom – and the result, is everlasting mental, and spiritual freedom. 
  • To start, think about what makes you happy. Seek to understand that. 
  • But, go deeper than that. Seek to overcome the insecurities that are keeping you from being happy – why do you want what you want? 
  • Got to be confident to do that. So find something to be confident in. 
  • Build a skill. A sport, play an instrument, write or paint, box or wrestle. If you don’t know what to do, get good at lifting weights. 
  • If you do have a hobby and skill you work at, you should still lift weights. 
  • Be positive. 
  • You can always choose your attitude. Choosing to be angry toward others is a deadly sin – meaning it destroys the soul. 
  • The soul is your capacity to be happy. Don’t destroy it. 
  • Also, being positive is just fun. Other people appreciate it. 
  • Develop social skills. Learn to talk to strangers, flirt, speak. Practice. 
  • Social skills aren’t completely necessary to develop wisdom. But you need to have monk-like discipline if you plan to develop wisdom without social skill. These skills help with confidence, pressing others to learn from their wisdom and challenge your own, overcoming insecurities, and finding love. 
  • Social skills, like all skills, develop with repetition. 
  • But not mindless repetition. Old people hit the Elliptical machine all the time and don’t lose weight. People drive every day and remain awful drivers. 
  • Conscious thought needs to go into your reps. You get stronger at the gym by adding weight to the barbell. You become better at skills by thinking about your failures and doing it differently next time. 
  • Social skills, overcoming wants, everything I talk about here, requires work. Most of it is internal, rather than external. 
  • External work can take away from internal work that’s more important. Don’t let it. 
  • Don’t be slothful. 
  • John Milton said, “He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” 
  • Insecurities are fears. Am I good enough for him? Am I good enough for her? Don’t have any of these. 
  • It’s only after you overcome your insecurities that you know the “real you”. 
  • Don’t be arrogant, vain. While it is not weakness in ability, it presents a weakness of the mind, and the spirit. 
  • Be honest in all you do. 
  • That’s why “just act yourself” is poor advice, unless you’re so wise as to understand it means to act uninhibited, with virtue and courage. 
  • Virtue? How’s that fit in? 
  • The first part of John Milton’s speech – passions, desires. Money, fame, women, drugs, rock n roll, status. Power. These are all things we get passionate about, that instill desire. That desire seeks to have power over us. 
  • That desire – that temptation toward passion or things or feelings, in Christian terms, is demonic. The demon tempts. 
  • Christianity is true. 
  • When someone or something has power over us, we aren’t free to live how we want. 
  • Institutions, people, do not have your interest in mind. 
  • They are out to profit, to meet an admissions metric, and to look good for their boss. Mostly, they are out to make themselves look good to others so that they then feel good. 
  • The narcissist, the adolescent, does this. He puts on an external appearance to protect an inner ego. Without the good looks, the money, the status, the narcissist is alone. And the narcissist is not cool with that. 
  • Do not envy what others have. 
  • The wise man is happy alone. He is content with what he has, no matter how much or little. 
  • Material things – promiscuous sex, status, wealth – these are all advertised to us because they feel good. Because they make us feel good, when we are rewarded with these pleasures, it doesn’t make us not want them, it makes us want more. 
  • “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25
  • Do not be gluttonous. 
  • When something internal has power over us, we aren’t free to feel how we want. 
  • Our own psychology doesn’t have our interest in mind. I’m interested in happiness. Our own psychology drives us to survive and reproduce, not to be happy. 
  • Intimacy is a great thing. But it can distract from internal wisdom. Don’t let it. Enjoy your relationships, enjoy sex. But don’t be left wanting. 
  • Never want. Never lust. 
  • “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” – Matthew 7:13
  • Most of us work our whole lives at a corporation so we can retire in a modest home and live like bums – sleeping in, reading, writing, hanging with family, and fishing. You can do that now. 
  • There’s an old fable of an Indian Chief. “Indian Chief “Two Eagles was asked by a white U.S. government official, “You have observed the white man for 90 years.  You’ve seen his wars and his technological advances. You’ve seen his progess, and the damage he’s done.” 

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”

The Chief stared at the government official then replied,

“When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water.  Women do all the work, medicine man free, Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing all night having sex.”

Then the Chief leaned back and smiled, “Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.”

  • That’s how the proverb ends. I propose an addendum. 
  • “Then the white man leaned back and smiled, “Only Indian man dumb enough to think he could maintain a beautiful system like that without having to fight for it.” 
  • You can be happy by yourself, meditating and virtuous, but the system you create that allows for that can come under threat. You can be happy, but if you want more people to experience that happiness, you need to help them. 
  • Material power doesn’t bring freedom. 
  • “Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to Alexander with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him, and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many people coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, “Yes,” said Diogenes, “stand a little out of my sun.” It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, “But truly, if I were not Alexander, I wish I were Diogenes.” and Diogenes replied “If I wasn’t Diogenes, I would be wishing to be Diogenes too.” – Wikipedia
  • How do you remove the shackles of passion and desire? 
  • Don’t be greedy. Stop wanting things. 
  • How do you stop wanting things? 
  • The stoics said to practice discipline. The stoics were very smart. 
  • “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” – Seneca
  • Smart people, talented people, people with everything, have said to be virtuous. 
  • “Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.” – Beethoven
  • Jesus, Christians, and other religious people have recommended virtue, which is the antithesis of vice. Many Christians were very smart. 
  • “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38
  • Most of religion is exactly this. The scripture is a how-to guide on how to be happy. 
  • Being virtuous is hard. It takes practice. Religion gives us a helping hand. 
  • God gives us strength. We ask him for strength. He reminds us when we slip, and he’s there to reward us when we do the right thing. 
  • What’s the right thing? Being virtuous, following his commandments, not giving into vice. 
  • Be like Jesus. 
  • When we want to behave like Jesus, we want to be virtuous. 
  • When we want to be virtuous, we should try to act virtuous – like Jesus. 
  • When we act like Jesus, we do all the things that will keep us happy. 
  • Not just a momentary pleasure, but an unbreakable joy – that no one can take away from you. 
  • It’s everlasting joy. It’s heaven on Earth. And God is with you. 

Day 2 of the Quarantine

Yo! Today is day two of the stay-at-home-except-to-go-to-the-store quarantine. I’m loving it. I’ve got good books. My brothers are here to hang. I’ve got good food, and a lot of it. And I can write. And I’ve got some thoughts. 

With that, a poem: 

Plague

Corona virus is a terrible plague

Sent from God he’s no longer being vague

He wants you to denounce old sick ways

So that your moral soul will not decay

 

We are all materialistic slaves

But the road to riches is brightly paved

Not in gold or green but with virtue

Which we can celebrate under curfew

 

It’s this virtue that overcomes all wants

Want for wealth and sex will no longer haunt

Mind and body when you choose otherwise

Just follow the Lord, and life never dies

 

Fire and brimstone are being thrown at us

Read old books and celebrate Christmas!

 

 

Corona virus isn’t a terrible plague in the numbers it’s killing. It’s a bad illness as far as that goes. It’s a terrible plague because of what it’s doing to the financial markets. That’s a plague I can get on board with. 

Yeah, I’m rooting for destruction to the financial markets. Fuck your money. 

The financial markets have been ruining people for decades. The markets promised baby boomers hope as they worked for decades to make a strong retirement: images of beaches and fast cars and fine wine. These cars and wine were sold as happiness. Without these, there is no happiness. That’s how they were sold. 

The generation skipped morality and boosted divorce rates, single-parent homes, adultery, and time spent in the office. Morality, Chistian values couldn’t compete with the shiny television ads that targeted, with precision, the insecurities of these aging heathens. Their lust for power, status, and sex had been building along with an economy that depended on these lusts since their youth. It became louder with each new technology they saw introduced. 

Millennials are next. There’s some hope that our generation can turn away – we can drop our hope in the financial markets to save us. This is my call to action: stop depending on financial markets for your happiness. 

My call to action is easy. I’m just asking that you stop doing something. We’re all so lazy (I read Netflix-use statistics). You don’t need to do anything. Millennials have been brainwashed to lust after sex and status from the moment they were born into this world by indoctrinated parents. They have a lot of unlearning to do, but this financial destruction is good for our souls. 

What’s going to happen long term?

One of two things will happen. The markets will be flooded with cheap injections by the Federal Reserve and things will slowly ramp up to where they have been. That will only happen if enough money is injected and confidence is restored. I don’t think that will happen. I think most boomers will be too timid to inject money back into a system they know can take it all away in a moment. That’s a lot of money that won’t make its way back into the markets. Also, buyers would have to get back to buying, and buying everything. Jobs would have to rebound so people can spend. 

Another option, one I’m rooting for, is a revolution of sorts. I want people to see the follies of their trust in an external system. I want people to turn toward the values I recommend and Jesus practiced. 

If this happens, we would see smaller communities built on trust and helping each other. The building of small, self-sufficient economies that would survive a strong downturn. 

As far as the day-to-day, life is good. I’m excited to be “working from home” I mean working from home. I’ve got books to read, starting with Dune. Let me know what you’re reading. I’m barely talking to people so I’d like to hear from you 😉 

How do you have fun these days? 

The quarantine is an  opportunity. A long one, it turns out. Read, do pushups and sprints, get some sun, and write out your thoughts. Don’t write for attention, just write because it’s a healthy way to meditate and articulate your thoughts. And to synthesize thoughts from all the reading you’re doing, which should be a lot. Call your family and tell them you love them. Strengthen the relationships you do have. Hold everything you have close, and be grateful for it. 

Come out of this corona thing stronger than you were. Remember, it’s strength that allows you to endure pain, including tough times. Be strong mentally, physically, and emotionally, and you are king. Or queen. Ladies. 

I want revolution. I want the financial markets to be destroyed, along with trillions in retirement plans. And yet, I’m an optimist. 

More individuals will find happiness as they are shown the false promises of glory that are advertisements for material things and beautiful retirements. Don’t wait for retirement. Be happy now. Be happy by not wanting things. Stop depending on financial markets, and everything else external for your joy. Love yourself, Christ, and others. 

American Beauty is an essay on happiness

Controversial opinion of the day: American Beauty is a top 5 movie ever made. Anyone interested in psychology should love this movie and watch it a hundred times.

The first time I watched the movie, when I was around 20, I had the same reaction most people have: “It’s a weird movie about a creepy old man who wants to live out his fantasy to bang a young chick and a sexually confused maybe gay definitely angry neighbor next door.” But that’s not it. I’m telling you. Read my essay then watch it again. Then tell me I’m right.

Not him!

Him, silly.

American Beauty is an essay on how to be happy. It describes an “ordinary” man who has a wife, a child, a house in the suburbs, and works a white collar job he hates. He has everything promised in the “American Dream” – down to the picket fence. It could be any one of my coworkers.

The movie takes us on a journey where Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) confronts his inhibitions and desires and becomes a master over his mind. The chain of events begins when he lays on his daughter’s friend Angela. He’s inspired by his lust for her and soon quits his job without worrying about the financial consequence. He will figure it out.

Yes, the way he went about quitting his job was arguably unethical. But that doesn’t matter too much as it relates to the main idea of the movie.

“BuT hE wOuLdN’t HaVe MoNeY” it doesn’t matter.

Kevin, line!

 

Lester would have been happy without the money. He would have been happy without buying the sports car. He would move into a tiny apartment if he had to, keep his job with “the least possible amount of responsibility” and enjoy the freedom that follows.

Freedom from what? He can’t buy anything. He can’t travel anywhere. And he can’t just bang all of his daughter’s friends.

Lester would forever enjoy freedom from wants. He doesn’t need to buy anything, travel anywhere, or even bang his daughter’s friends in order to be happy. Not even the one friend that’s a centerpiece in the movie.

The other protagonist that moves the idea of the movie along is the neighbor child, Ricky Fitts. The drug dealing “psycho” that almost murdered a classmate – back in the day, plays a complement to Lester’s character. He is going through life with much of the wisdom of Spacey, but at a young age. He is able to appreciate beauty, be happy, and love others. Lester’s final speech, as the credits begin to roll, incorporates lines from a speech Ricky gave when the plastic bag was flying around. This shares the common wisdom, but also goes a little further than Ricky, showing a calmness and acceptance compared to Ricky’s emotional speech.

It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. 

Another set of complementary characters are Lester’s wife, the Real Estate King, and Angela. These three people represent the antithesis to the wisdom and happiness of Lester and Ricky Fitts. They resent what’s “ordinary”, but in doing so just put on an appearance that’s not genuine and hides deeper insecurities.

The “villain” in the movie is the idea represented by these characters. The bad guy isn’t the macho mean Marine next door. It’s the idea that “In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times” – The RE King.

The three characters represent “success” in the material world. The RE King is financially successful and has a hot wife. Carolyn has a good job, her house is in order, and her garden is top notch. Angela is hot and presumably has lots of friends and suitors.

The problem with “ordinary” is that it isn’t exciting or fun, and therefore doesn’t lead to happiness. This is because so many individuals aren’t happy during the course of ordinary life, so they believe they must do things that aren’t ordinary to become happy. So they travel, they have affairs, they fire a gun. But these don’t lead to happiness. These things only magnifies the external image that’s supposed to make the individual happy without dealing with the problems inside.

Happiness isn’t found doing what’s ordinary. And it’s definitely not found doing the extraordinary. 

The worldly success these three characters experience doesn’t bring them happiness. It’s all a show. These characters project an external image to protect the sense of self they built up. They do this to protect themselves from their internal fears and insecurities. They are narcissists, and rather than face their internal demons, they mask them with pretty colors, expensive suits, and fun sex. The world sees this success and they are saved from sharing their insecurity of being alone. Is this true success?

The movie takes place over the course of a few months. It’s a small amount of time that Spacey is free and happy. He was miserable at his job and in his marriage, for decades. But if you asked him if he lived a happy life, he would say yes. I know that because he says so in the end, and also I relate to it. When you become a deeply happy person, you become happy forever. Not a fleeting good feeling, but a deep unshakable happiness. Happiness is a characteristic, not a feeling. Lester experiences eternal happiness. Heaven on Earth, for the Christians.

Eternal happiness is a real thing. More people should strive for it. I recommend it. Lester chose to find happiness in the last months of his life. He stopped caring about what other people thought of him. He allowed himself to be hated by his wife, his daughter, and his previous employers. He no longer lived for others and started living for himself. Of course, he never was really living for others. He was living to protect his ego from being damaged by the opinions of others, until he stopped.

I’m not recommending selfishness. I’m recommending loving others or having a family or working a job for the right reasons. The right reason is never to look good compared to others or to make yourself look good.

Lester started down this path inspired by a hot young girl. The man started lifting, eating well, and becoming stronger – physically and mentally. He did this with the hope that he might have sex with Angela. During his transition into a sexually attractive man, he comes to the other realization that he’d been living for other people, and becomes the wise, happy, misunderstood man that doesn’t compromise his values for others. When he is finally given the opportunity to have sex with Angela, she tells him she’s a virgin. In doing so, she admits that her whole persona has been a front, a fiction.

Lester, horny as he must be, steps back and refuses to corrupt her. To have sex with her as the cool, strong man he is would have the effect of encouraging her to have sex with strong men because it feels so good. These good feels and orgasms would make someone happy just like making more money selling real estate and firing guns will make someone happy – not for long. Lester realizes he is now a happy, strong person, and doesn’t need the validation of sex or any other form of validation. He is complete.

Lester confronted his fears and inhibitors, destroys them, and becomes happy. He’s able to have everything he ever wanted – in his case, young pussy. He realizes when it’s right in front of him that he already has everything he needs and that having sex with the girl will only fuel her to want more. So he does the right thing, and leaves her with a hug. Again, for the Christians, he becomes a preacher of the word of the Lord, rather than a strong devil.

            You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry, you will someday. 

 

Stoicism FAQ

  1. What is stoicism?

From wikipedia, which I think provides a great definition:

Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness) for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

The Stoics are especially known for teaching that “virtue is the only good” for human beings, and that external things—such as health, wealth, and pleasure—are not good or bad in themselves

Basically, not wanting material things and finding our sole meaning in acting virtuously which, the stoics propose, is how we can achieve happiness by living the present. Virtue basically means not wanting things.

 

  1. Who are “the stoics”?

From Daily Stoic:

It had three principal leaders. Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of the Roman Empire, the most powerful man on earth, sat down each day to write himself notes about restraint, compassion and humility. Epictetus endured the horrors of slavery to found his own school where he taught many of Rome’s greatest minds. Seneca, when Nero turned on him and demanded his suicide, could think only of comforting his wife and friends.

 

  1. Isn’t ambition good?

Ambition can be a good thing. The problem is that ambition – having a strong desire to accomplish, is often aimed at a goal that was developed with external influence. We are chasing a goal that we desire not because it is good for us, or will make us happier, but because of outside influences that are directing us to want things.

When we want things, we are necessarily not free. We can work hard to achieve and get those things that we desire (something, success with women, a promotion), but it doesn’t solve the problem that we want things.

Stoicism teaches to stop wanting things. To be an ambitious stoic is to be a by-the-book stoic – to renounce pleasures and most all things society asks us to participate in. Stoicism is internal work with internal reward, rather than working on external appearances or results.

 

  1. Then what do you do all day?

As a stoic, you don’t have to do anything. But you can do anything. The point is to be perfectly content at all times. It’s to find beauty in any moment.

Your Senecas and Epictetuses would probably be big fans of meditation. Simply sitting and being still for large amounts of time. Walking in nature. Appreciating nature. Being in love with someone who loves you and raising a family.

These are things that you can enjoy in the moment and that can keep you in the moment. The stoics stress living in the moment because it means you aren’t living in the future (wanting something different) or living in the past (regretting or wishing things were different). Happiness is found in the present moment, and no other.

 

  1. Aren’t experiences a good thing? Travel, etc?

This largely goes back to the ambition question. Experiences aren’t bad. It’s helpful to be a strong, well-rounded individual. This helps with stoicism because you will be more able to be content in the moment.

There are a couple problems with travel and racking up adventures or other experiences. One is that you don’t need to travel to get a unique experience. There are new experiences waiting for you in nature, at the sports bar down the street, and with the person walking past you in the crosswalk.

When we look to travel to give us new experiences, we ignore the beauty and the variety that surrounds us every day.

Don’t do that.

 

  1. What if I want my children to live easy lives?

People don’t live easy lives. While I think it is important for a person to be happy to be well-educated, most of that education will come outside of school systems. Your peer group and the influences your child is exposed to will have a tremendous effect on his upbringing and his opportunity for happiness.

Does your child start wanting at a young age – the newest toy or video game in the commercial and develop insecurities from children’s magazines? Or is he outside being creative with his friends with sticks and rocks in the park?

Do you work 80 hours a week so he can go to a great college, but put him in front of a screen so that you can stay focused on your job? Or do you go out to the park with him to foster that creativity and enthusiasm for play?

Wanting the best for your child, like most things, can have different meanings. Society’s definition of good life for your child might mean he has access to all the video games and snacks that he wants. Your definition might be he develops a joy of reading and makes friends easily. These require different types of parenting.

 

  1. Can you stop wanting without achieving success?

Yes.

This is a tough one. I’m not poor. I have decent savings. Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome at the peak of its power. It can be easy for us to say “stop wanting things” because we either have it all or have the option to have things that other people want. We have achieved “success”, to some extent, in the material world. Can this stoicism, this virtue, this lack of wanting, be achieved without first having that material abundance?

Stoicism can be practiced by anyone. It is probably more difficult to leave the material world once some success has been found. There is always more you can have. More money, more things, more friends, more status. No one will ever have more than everyone else in all these things. Especially when their metric is determined by others.

Once we achieve some success, we are rewarded. We get the promotion, and we get more money that we can buy things with. We buy a car and our neighbor gives us props on having a cool car. We charm the girl, and are rewarded with an orgasm.

These rewards are temporary, but they reinforce that we are doing the right thing. So, we continue to strive for more money, promotions, cars, and women.

 

  1. Isn’t stopping a pursuit just weakness or sloth?

No.

To change course, to stop a pursuit that you were working on because it no longer aligns with the person you want to be is one of the smartest things you can do.

There is a distinction to be made with weakness and sloth. Your virtue, your rejection of material things, must be genuine. If you are not honest when you are practicing stoicism, you will secretly envy others who achieve success, while you gloat to your friends that you don’t want things and quote the old stoics or my FAQ.

You cannot be happy while pretending to be stoic and virtuous. Honesty is a virtue, and all other virtues are false if you are not honest. To be virtuous in a world that discourages contentment and virtue requires more courage and strength than anything else in life. It is the opposite of sloth and weakness.

The strength is mostly internal. You are not signalling your intelligence or muscles to the world, so you are not externally rewarded for your strength. That is why, from the outside, it can appear as if you are weak and lazy. But if you are honest and virtuous, you will be unaffected when others call you names to try to bring you down. They chose their path, the material path, and yours conflicts with theirs. They live for external rewards, so just as it is important for them to be seen in the new sports car, it is important for them to be seen as strong and intelligent.

Strength and honor.

Book review: Lolita (hella spoilers)

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.” These are the first words in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita.

Dolores, little Lo, Lolita is Humbert’s obsession. She is what provides him with joy. She is what leads to his unhappiness. It is not her fault.

We all have a Lolita. It can be a step-daughter pretty girl you’re in the middle of a cross-country road trip (I hope it’s not). It can be your wife, who’s of legal age and always has been. Your Lolita can be whiskey, or your job.

Lolita is a manifestation of Humbert’s desires. Humbert is a pedophile. He is attracted to little girls. More specifically, he is attracted to the “nymphette” –  a small subset of little girls that are attractive to him. It’s hard to tell from the novel whether this “type” is simply the girls that show Humbert attention, or whether it’s the type of girl that behaves more promiscuous than girls her age, reads girl magazines, and shows awareness of her sexuality.

We want our desires to manifest and make us happy. This is what Humbert wants, and he makes it happen. He moves in with this girl of his dreams and builds an image that can work for his fantasy. Sound familiar, yet? We’ll get there.

We don’t know if the girl actually falls for him. He frames the book in a way to make it seem like it is a mutual falling in love – like the girl jumps on him when she has the chance because he’s a hot, older guy that should appeal to that kind of girl (nymphette, reads girl magazines).

However, it is later revealed that Lo has a revulsion to Humbert. She tries to runaway, she flirts with other men, and in quotes she says he raped her. It’s not the mutual love story he crafted early in the novel. He turns her into what he wants her to be in his mind.

Doing this is narcissistic, and it’s how he can get what he wants. He changes, after the fact, how she viewed him and acted towards him, in his mind, instead of changing himself into something that she would actually want to be with. Or, even more difficult, accepting that she will not want to be with him. This takes responsibility and work. Blaming others and changing events in your mind is much easier.

I wasn’t surprised when Humbert killed the man Lolita ran away with. The man was a creep, and wasn’t good for Lolita, but more than that, the dude was a villain in the narrative that Humbert had built for himself. Humbert wasn’t living in a rational world with individuals. He was living in a world where people are supposed to serve him and his fantasies. When a new man entered Lolita’s life, that served as a disruption to the narrative that was supposed to play out. When he murdered the guy, Humbert was the hero in the narrative he built for himself.

If your takeaway from Lolita was that this is a book about a creepy old man, and you are a good person because you are nothing like Humbert, then you simply aren’t self aware. We all have narcissistic qualities. As mentioned earlier, we project our wants and desires in our own love lives on our environment. This is a defense mechanism for doing something difficult – sacrificing and working to improve ourselves in order to find happiness instead of happiness happening because of events external to us.

It’s a beautiful book that exposes the dark in all of us (if we are willing) through a beautiful story written by a narcissist.

Humbert broke the law. He ruined a girl’s life. He killed a man. He is not good. But he is no less happy than the narcissistic reader that continues to find problems with the world instead of putting in the work to change.

Arguments against evolution are more practical than arguments against God. Change my mind.

[Note: I wrote this post for R/Atheism. It was kind of a troll post but also there’s meaning behind the argument I make. I didn’t expect an intellectual discussion to follow, and I didn’t get one. I also didn’t expect zero people to get the argument. I got a louder version of what I expected, “You don’t believe in evolution you RETARD that’s now how evolution works.” I’m paraphrasing. They don’t use the word retard on r/atheism because it’s inappropriate. It’s a weird subreddit.]

Argument against God: there is no physical evidence of a superior being/creator. Therefore we should not believe in the concept. If presented with physical evidence, we will change our mind.

Argument against evolution: we didn’t evolve from monkeys because there are still monkeys. Science is trying to destroy our connection with God, whose message is that we don’t need things to be happy.

By practical, I mean that which leads to the most long-term individual happiness/contentment.

The problem with the arguments above is there is lots of wisdom in the Bible and in finding contentment not through hedonistic pursuits but rather by rejecting vice and our “animal” instincts – which lead to more cravings. The Bible isn’t the only source that discusses hedonistic pleasure, you can build this up from science, but science lags behind religion in this department.

So while evolution is true, its findings don’t lead to further individual happiness but only lead to more addictions. We can fall back on the excuse “we’re just animals” but that’s a weak excuse, given our cognitive abilities that aren’t shared by other animals. There are all sorts of incentives at play by companies and grant approvers to prioritize theories that will lead to more profits. There isn’t much profit in the rejection of consumerism and vice, so there are lots of natural forces working against the theory of God.

I am not denying evolution. I’m saying the arguments against God are not that helpful to the individual’s long-term happiness given this context. Truth is an important element in happiness – one cannot deny the truth willingly and be happy. But also, one cannot deny the truth repeated in history that chasing simple pleasure doesn’t lead to long-term happiness.

Belief in God is more practical than belief in evolution. Change my mind.

It is important to be a generalist and learn a broad swathe of knowledge in order to succeed in the Information Age

It is important to be a generalist and learn a broad swathe of knowledge in order to succeed in the Information Age we are living in. Technology is becoming better and better. When technology becomes better, it increases the speed in which new technologies can be introduced. Technology is not linear; it is parabolic. We are deep in the parabola.

Because new technologies are introduced frequently, niche skill sets become obsolete at a rate which never before happened. The new technology ten years ago is useless today. The service that was hot five years ago is cold and slow today. Think AOL, Myspace.

To thrive, we must adapt at the same rate of our technology. We need to be able to learn new technology and new skills. Having this ability is far more important than learning any individual skill or service.

In the age of information, it should be easier to learn these new skills. We have access to every library in the world, online courses from the best colleges available for free, and videos and forums that answer specific questions. It has never been easier to learn at any point in history. It has also never been more difficult to learn how to learn.

Learning how to learn requires discipline. Anyone used to be able to make deductions and draw insight from a group of data. Then, that became more challenging as people had more facts available to them. It became less important to be able to draw insight because other people had been insightful. People didn’t have to. At that time anyone was able to memorize what they needed and regurgitate it.

These days even rote memorization is hard. We have so many distractions, and such quick access to information, that it discourages both insightful thinking and the ability to memorize. We don’t practice either. Insight is discouraged because we have a constant stream of other people’s thinking being thrown at us. We don’t have time to think. We get the constant stream from our television, which now has Netflix and other sources we can turn to for entertainment of any kind, anytime. We have our phones, which also have Netflix, in addition to social media which floods us with content from other people, some insightful and others that just regurgitate thoughts or statements.

We don’t memorize because we have such immediate access to information. All that information being thrown at us that keeps us from being insightful is saved to the internet and tagged for future access. We can access anything, anytime. We just need to “Google” it.

We learn how to learn by practicing. We learn skills, and then we learn higher-level skills. For instance, we learn the English language so that we can then learn the higher-level skill of marketing so that we can learn the higher-level skill of sales. Sales makes money. Once you learn to sell, you can more easily sell in another language, or to a new market. You’ve learned how to learn.

Another reason to be a generalist in this Information Age is to appreciate the arts and find wisdom in philosophy and history. By learning philosophy, we learn that we can reject the materialist need to compete and acquire things. The philosopher can find meaning without work and without obtaining things and experiences.

If an individual seeks meaning through things and experiences, he has no choice but to become a generalist that can learn new skills. The world is evolving too fast not to. You need to be able to learn, or need to understand philosophically that meaning can be found and happiness achieved without participating in trade. Even to get to that level of freedom – where you can be philosophical, will often require a baseline of comfort so that abstract thoughts can be explored.

There are some professions that do not require technical understanding. These include the business programs – management, sales, marketing. Everything else is being disrupted by technology. Why would these expensive jobs be spared from going digital? These jobs will move and they will move fast once it begins to happen. Programs already recommend optimum decisions. Google Analytics recommends ads based on what’s relevant to me. The next step is to create ads specifically targeted to me.

It’s these creative positions and jobs that manage decisions that affect people that haven’t gone digital yet. But people aren’t good at managing people. Machines will be the efficient, inexpensive managers that are reported to. It will seem inhumane, but that will only last until the jobs that are being managed are turned into technology. That won’t lag far behind.

I should create a management technology. Something that assigns people work, checks progress, reports that progress compared to others, compared to the self, identifies areas of weakness, and makes decisions based on the data. The next wave of great managers won’t be people.

It is important to be a generalist and learn a broad swathe of knowledge in order to succeed in the Information Age. The business people may have a leg up on others. They have been working on projects in different industries since they graduated. The sales skills they developed have not been specific to one product or industry. They know how to adapt to a new environment. That’s what they will be doing. They will have to develop technical expertise faster than they have. But it’s not new.

Boys are not men until they have been broken and reforged themselves

To become a man means to complete The Hero’s Journey. The hero’s journey takes a man into the darkest, scariest place a man can imagine. It is depicted in mythology as the bottom of the ocean with the meanest whale, or the dark cavern with the fire-breathing dragon. That is where the mythical treasure is found, before the hero returns to the normal world. Boys are not men until they have been broken and reforged themselves.

A man is no longer a boy when he is ready to face the world on his own. He has the skills, the courage, and the wisdom to interact with obstacles that stand in the way and to deal with challenges without being rattled to the point of psychosis.

In mythology, this deep cavern, the source of all insecurities and evil, is where the great treasure is found – the princess that needs saving, the father that was lost, or the pot of gold. So too in life, this dark place is where glory is found. And while the dark place is always within ourselves – in our own insecurities, it often takes external circumstances to overcome these insecurities.

Glory in the “real world” is often rewarded with the material receipt – a beautiful girl to wed or monetary wealth. The real reward is the spiritual wealth. We become strong in spirit when we choose to face our deepest fears and turn around our strongest insecurities. When we are physically, mentally, and emotionally strong, we can endure tough challenges and be happy during any trials. Happiness is found in strength, and strength is required to conquer those mentioned dark, scary, unknown situations.

When we overcome our strongest insecurities – whether it be women, money, physical appearance, or relationship insecurities, we often overcome the obstacles that prevented us from experiencing that thing (eg money, women). Women are attracted to the man who is not worried about being attractive to women, and feelings of wealth work the same way.

To break down our deepest fears and insecurities, we need to go to the proverbial belly of the deep-water beast. We need to go, at least psychologically, sometimes physically, to this darkness. These deep-sea monsters, these insecurities, are not easily defeated.

Your deep-sea monster, your insecurity, destroys you in the process of you destroying the monster. To be “destroyed” in heroic journey-terms, means to crush the spirit of your previous self. The weak, immoral, and lazy characteristics in you are destroyed. It means destroying the ego that holds onto the things your old self held in regard. Free yourself from the needs of those previously held insecurities.

These traits are replaced through the new and stronger version of the individual that makes it through the hardship. Strength and confidence, industry and determination, and virtue replace the dead characteristics, and you re-enter the world to share your new strength.

There is no cheating on the journey to becoming a mature man. Help can be picked up by lessons from others or your own experience. Ultimately, you are the only person that can destroy your insecurities. You can do all the reading and philosophizing you can manage. You can understand how dragons are destroyed and how your insecurities should be managed. But, until you put in the effort to destroy your insecurities, to destroy your past self – your dragon, your sea monster, you will not be free from the insecurity. You must go to the belly of the beast. You must develop the skills and the virtue necessary to become stronger than the beast and to destroy it.

That is the first half of the battle – destroying the previous self that held you down. The second part is to rebuild yourself. To reforge yourself means to take the new skills, the new virtue, and become stronger because of it. You rebuild yourself with the new characteristics.

If you don’t rebuild yourself, you can be destroyed during your battle with the dragon. It is uncommon to face your deepest insecurities – most people won’t do it. People will go their whole lives without facing these fears.

It is uncommon among those people that do face their demons to become better for it. Too many get caught up in the demons that they find them attractive. Instead of becoming the hero that destroys the dragon, many become the dragon that is a strong force of evil or vice.

The man who becomes attractive to women only to use them and lead them on destroys the women’s virtue and adds to the suffering of the world through the woman and her future partner.

The man who builds his financial empire, not to make the world a better place by enabling new technology but to build his own wealth to build power over others, destroys his virtue and adds to the suffering of the world by eliminating the possibility of others to compete and dig themselves out of poverty.

Becoming a dragon is attractive. It is strong and can kill enemies. It gets to have lots of sex and drive expensive cars. Evil will always be attractive. It is shiny and rich and powerful. This is precisely the problem with vice and evil. It consumes you by making you want more – more women, more money, more power.

There is more strength in virtue. There is strength in knowing you did the right thing, and can always do the right thing. There is true freedom is knowing you don’t need more – more women, things, or status.

When you choose to rebuild yourself with the new strength and virtue, that is when you have something to share with the world to make it a better place. It takes touching evil – killing the dragon, to find this strength. Then, it takes the strength and virtue to choose not to be a dragon, and instead to be a positive influence on others. That’s the hero.

Some people start out on their journey to conquer their insecurities by consciously attacking them. Others may be called by accident. A firing from a job, a hard breakup, or an encounter with evil – these are some events that can trigger the journey of the hero – or the villain.

Boys are not men until they have been broken and reforged themselves. This is because it takes breaking down and destroying the ego so that men can learn the wisdom and strength to handle challenges in the future.

While this is how all people become mature and learn to deal with hardship, there is a double standard that makes this more important for men that women. This process is required for men to be attractive in the sexual market, which is not the case for women.