Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wisdom from the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

In continuing with the Twenty Men exercise, I dusted off my copy of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass recently. It's the first time I've read it in its entirety in eleven years, and the passage of time naturally makes you see things you did not see before as a teenager.

Note: The pages cited are those found in the Dover Thrift edition of the Narrative.

The first passage I found particularly enlightening was in his description of how he, by blind luck, managed to avoid the true dregs of slavery (if only for a time):

"I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's plantation as one of the most interesting events of my life. It is possible, and even quite probable, that but for the mere circumstance of being removed from that plantation to Baltimore, I should have to-day, instead of being here seated by my own table, in the enjoyment of freedom and happiness of home, writing this narrative, been confined in the galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it as the first plain manifestation of that kind providence which has ever since attended me, and marked my life with so many favors. I regarded the selection of myself as being somewhat remarkable. There were a number of children that might have been sent from the plantation to Baltimore. There were those younger, those older, and those of the same age. I was chosen from among them all, and was the first, last, and only choice.

I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I suppressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence. From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me in its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me from the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving praise." (pg 18-19)

This is quite a powerful passage. Firstly Frederick Douglass is here recollecting how monumentally lucky he was. Ultimately he was not going to waste that opportunity under any circumstances. Secondly, he tells of how, even in the deepest depths of his enslavement (his memories of which are brutally detailed in previous chapters), he would never let his mind for one moment believe that he would remain a slave throughout his life.

This conviction, and the opportunity he was given, was the catalyst for Frederick to defy his predetermined role in society. Frederick Douglass was already beginning to take a route from the 48 Laws of Power: that of recreating himself.

When in Baltimore, his mistress begins to teach him the alphabet, and he gets to the point of being able to read three-letter words, but his master then discovers the practice and forbids it to continue any further. However, this did not discourage Frederick. He'd been given another opportunity, and he wasn't going to waste it:

"Whilst I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was glad of the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had gained from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read." (pg 20)

When Frederick continuously comes under suspicion by his mistress for trying to read, he creatively, even deviously, finds another plan to get around this obstacle - anything to achieve his goal:

"From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I was in a separate room any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected of having a book, and was at once called to give account to myself. All this, however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.

The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends with the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers. With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places, I finally succeeded in learning to read. When I was sent of errands, I always took my book with me, and by going one part of my errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson before my return. I used also to carry bread with me, enough of which was always in the house, and to which I was always welcome; for I was much better off in this regard than many of the poor white children in our neighborhood. This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in turn, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge." (pg 22-3)

Frederick Douglass gets even more creative when it comes to teaching himself how to write:

"The idea of how I might learn to write was suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey's ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters, after hewing and getting a piece of timber ready for use, write on the timber the name of that part of the ship for which it was intended. When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side it would be marked thus - "L." When a piece was intended for the starboard side, it would be marked thus - "S." A piece for the larboard side forward would be marked thus - "L. F." When a piece would be marked for the starboard side forward, it would be marked thus - "S. F." For larboard side aft, it would be marked thus "L. A." For starboard aft it would be marked thus - "S. A." I soon learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters named. After that, when I met with any boy who I knew could write, I would tell him I could write as well as he. The next word would be "I don't believe you, let me see you try it." I would then make the letters which I had been so fortunate to learn, and ask him to beat that. In this way I got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite possible I should never have gotten in any other way. During this time, my copy-book was the board fence, brick wall, and pavement; my pen and ink was a lump of chalk. With these, I learned mainly how to write. I then commenced and continued copying the italics in Webster's Spelling Book, until I could make them all without looking on the book. By this time, my little Master Thomas had gone to school, and learned how to write, and had written over a number of copy-books. These had been brought home, and shown to some of our near neighbors, and then laid aside. My mistress used to go to class meeting at the Wilk Street meeting-house every Monday afternoon, and leave me to take care of the house. When left thus, I used to spend the time in writing in the spaces left in Master Thomas' copy-book, copying what he had written. I continued to do this until I could write a hand very similar to that of Master Thomas. Thus, after a long, tedious effort for years, I finally succeeded in learning how to write." (pg 25-6)

Frederick Douglass showed extreme ingenuity here, because, as in Think & Grow Rich, he dedicated himself and all of his thoughts for a specific goal and had a specific purpose, one which built in to his overarching life purpose which he would not give up: being a free man. Despite the setbacks, he still devoted all of his thoughts to these purposes, and was willing to do anything to fulfill them.

Frederick Douglass is now in the employ of a cruel Mr. Covey, and he is sadly and longingly looking upon the ships in the Chesapeake Bay:

"Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesapeake Bay, whose broad bosom was ever white with sails from every quarter of the habitable globe. Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer's Sabbath, stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the countless number of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utterance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty, I would pour out my soul's complaint, in my rude way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of ships:— 

"You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you, the turbid waters roll. Go on, go on. O that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! The glad ship is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I'll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God helping me, I will. It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave. I will take to the water. This very bay shall yet bear me into freedom. The steamboats steered in a north-east course from North Point. I will do the same; and when I get to the head of the bay, I will turn my canoe adrift, and walk straight through Delaware into Pennsylvania. When I get there, I shall not be required to have a pass; I can travel without being disturbed. Let but the first opportunity offer, and, come what will, I am off. Meanwhile, I will try to bear up under the yoke. I am not the only slave in the world. Why should I fret? I can bear as much as any of them. Besides, I am but a boy, and all boys are bound to some one. It may be that my misery in slavery will only increase my happiness when I get free. There is a better day coming." (pg 38-9)

Those last sentences are quite telling, as his employment with Mr. Covey was the nadir of Frederick Douglass' life, but "as bad weather comes, good must also." Frederick knew that whatever he would value later on, he would value more because of the hardship he faced. This thought certainly allowed him to avoid the depression that could be described earlier on in that passage. If a man is to give in to such thoughts, the rest of his life will surely follow them.

Later, Frederick is exhausted and cannot work. Still, he ran seven miles to seek his master's protection (the man who had sent him to Mr. Covey). When he returned, Covey had set out to whip him, but Frederick did the unthinkable and began to fight back.

"This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed self-confidence, and inspired me again with a determination to be free. The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full compensation for whatever else might follow, even death itself. He only can understand the deep satisfaction which I experienced, who has himself repelled by force the bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before. It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom. My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me." (pg 43)

A man pushed to the brink will be forced to discover the true depths of his soul. Frederick was willing to fight for himself - a very big thing in those times for a man in his position. Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness. And it was a bold thing indeed for a slave to strike back at a master. It is no wonder that such experience - of striking a master (and essentially getting away with it), would fill him with confidence, and spur him still forward, ever upward, to his goal.

In the employment of a Mr. Freeland, Frederick Douglass begins to put his first serious plan at escape into motion. He resolved that 1835 would not go by without him making a major attempt at winning his liberty. He is joined by a group of other slaves:

"As the time drew near for our departure, our anxiety became more and more intense. It was truly a matter of life and death with us. The strength of our determination was about to be fully tested. At this time, I was very active in explaining every difficulty, removing every doubt, dispelling every fear, and inspiring all with the firmness indispensable to success in our undertaking; assuring them that half was gained the instant we made the move; we had talked long enough; we were now ready to move; if not now, we never should be; and if we did not intend to move now, we had as well fold our arms, sit down, and acknowledge ourselves fit only to be slaves." (pg 51-2)

Listen to these words. They are applicable for a whole assortment of life situations. Half is truly gained the instant you make the move, because fear is the greatest burden in holding a man back. I must tell myself this more often.

Frederick Douglass is at this point determined on a hard course that will prepare him for his ultimate goal of freedom:

"About two months after this, I applied to Master Hugh for the privilege of hiring my time. He was not acquainted with the fact that I had applied to Master Thomas, and had been refused. He too, at first, seemed disposed to refuse; but, after some reflection, he granted me the privilege, and proposed the following terms: I was to be allowed all my time, make all contracts with those for whom I worked, and find my own employment; and, in return for this liberty, I was to pay him three dollars at the end of each week; find myself in calking tools, and in board and clothing. My board was two dollars and a half per week. This, with the wear and tear of clothing and calking tools, made my regular expenses about six dollars per week. This amount I was compelled to make up, or relinquish the privilege of hiring my time. Rain or shine, work or no work, at the end of each week the money must be forthcoming, or I must give up my privilege. This arrangement, it will be perceived, was decidedly in my master's favor. It relieved him of all need of looking after me. His money was sure. He received all the benefits of slaveholding without its evils; while I endured all the evils of a slave, and suffered all the care and anxiety of a freeman. I found it a hard bargain. But, hard as it was, I thought it better than the old mode of getting along. It was a step towards freedom to be allowed to bear the responsibilities of a freeman, and I was determined to hold on upon it." (pg 61)

This was a sort of mental and physical exercise that certainly prepared him for his destiny. It was a hard choice, but he made it and got it done. He did not shrink from responsibility, but gladly took it, and became a better man because of it.

Chapter 11, the final chapter of the Narrative, also has a number of other potent scenes. Frederick plays the part of deceiver beautifully (Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions). He describes how he softened up his master to make him think that he was not going to run away, when that was his plan. He also resolved on a specific date to run, which is again, a manifestation of some of the philosophy described in Think & Grow Rich.

Frederick also demonstrated some other tact in this chapter. By refusing to state how he actually escaped, he did not expose his tactics or anyone who might have helped him, thus making it easier for other slaves to escape and harder for slaveholders to detect them. (Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary)

In Frederick Douglass' career as a slave and his ultimate escape from it, we see how his determination allowed him to overcome all hardships, and that he was willing to pay any price to be free. He clearly had his desire set, his goals in mind, and a plan to get them, and he did. Out of all of the Twenty Men I've chosen, Frederick Douglass' life was perhaps the hardest. The fact that he overcame such hardships, and became a successful man, when every aspect of society tried to forbid his doing so, should truly inspire and galvanize those of us in much better circumstances to make the most of ourselves. It is a lesson well-worth incorporating.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wisdom from Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is a big movie now, and my like of it compelled me to read the book it was based on, written by Marcus Luttrell with the assistance of Patrick Robinson. It is a compelling read, with much wisdom to be gleaned in its pages.

I'll share some of the wisdom I found most profound below:

 "I was about twelve when I realized beyond doubt that I was going to become a Navy SEAL. And I knew a lot more about it than most kids my age. I understood the brutality of the training, the level of fitness required, and the need for super skills in the water. I thought I would be able to handle that. Dad had told us of the importance of marksmanship, and I knew I could do that.

"SEALs need to be home in rough country, able to survive, live in the jungle if necessary. We were already good at that. By the age of twelve, Morgan and I were like a couple of wild animals, at home in the great outdoors, at home with a fishing pole and gun, easily able to live off the land.

"But deep down I knew there was something more required to make it into the world's top combat teams. And that was a level of fitness and strength that could only be attained by those who actively sought it. Nothing just happens. You always have to strive." (pg 53)

Here we see Marcus Luttrell identifying clearly his life purpose. If you've read Think & Grow Rich you will know what this means. We also see the influence of strong masculine role models in this chapter- his father, his mentor Billy Shelton, and we will also see the influence of the SEAL instructors later on.

In chapter four, Marcus and some others managed to make a four-mile run in thirty-two minutes. He describes how the instructors at BUD/S harangued those that could not:

"I remember, vividly, him yelling out to them that we, dry and doing our push-ups up the beach, were winners, whereas they, the slowpokes, were losers! Then he told them they better start taking this seriously or they would be out of here.

"Those guys up there, taking it easy, they paid the full price," he yelled. "Right up front. You did not. You failed. And for guys like you there's a bigger price to pay, understand me?"

"He knew this was shockingly unfair, because some of them had been doing their genuine best. But he had to find out for certain. Who believed they could improve? Who was determined to stay? And who was halfway out the door already?" (pg 117)

Later in the same chapter, Chief Bob Nielsen, the lead instructing petty officer, makes these remarks:

"Your reputation is built right here in first phase. And you don't want people to think you're a guy who does just enough to scrape through. You want people to understand you always try to excel, to be better, to be completely reliable, always giving it your best shot. That's the way we do business here.

"And remember this one last thing. There's only one guy here in this room who knows whether you're going to make it, or fail. And that's you. Go to it gentlemen. And always give it everything." (pg 123)

After this, the trainees meet the commanding officer, Captain Joe Maguire, a onetime commander of SEAL Team 2 and the future Rear Admiral commanding SPECWARCOM:

"First of all, I do not want you to give in to the pressure of this moment. Whenever you're hurting bad, just hang in there. Finish the day. Then, if you're still feeling bad, think about it long and hard before you decide to quit. Second, take it one day at a time. One evolution at a time.

"Don't let your thoughts run away with you, don't start planning to bail out because you're worried about the future and how much you can take. Don't look ahead to the pain. Just get through the day, and there's a wonderful career ahead of you." (pg 124)

This is sound advice which Marcus echoes later in the chapter:

"I later learned that when a man quits and is given another chance and takes it, he never makes it through. All the instructors know that. If the thought of DOR enters a man's head, he is not a Navy SEAL.

"I guess that element of doubt forever pollutes his mind. And puffing, sweating, and steaming down there on that beach on the first night of Hell Week, I understood it.

"I understood it, because that thought could never have occurred to me. Not while the sun still rises in the east. All the pain in Coronado could not have inserted that poison into my mind. I might have passed out, had a heart attack, or been shot before a firing squad. But I never would have quit." (pg 136-7)

Again, if you have read Think & Grow Rich, you will recognize the similarities to the philosophy Hill laid out and what is written in these preceding passages. Thoughts turn into actions, and actions turn into habits, and habits become your destiny.

Later on, Marcus describes the dedication and sheer pain tolerance of his comrades when the operation goes terribly wrong:

"Then Danny was shot again. Right through the neck, and he went down beside me. He dropped his rifle and slumped to the ground. I reached down to grab him and drag him closer to the rock face, but he managed to clamber to his feet, trying to tell me he was okay even though he'd been shot four times.

"Danny couldn't speak now, but he wouldn't give in. He propped himself up against a rock for cover and opened fire again at the Taliban, signaling he might need a new magazine as his very lifeblood poured out of him. I just stood there for a moment, helplessly, fighting back my tears, witnessing a brand of valor I had never before been privileged to see. What a guy. What a friend." (pg 225)

This quote is self-explanatory. One cannot help but marvel at the hardness of these guys, and the dedication they had for their friends. Think about the so-called tight spots you've been in in life. How many of us have complained at the slightest inkling? Then think about what these guys went through, and you'll realize how pitiful it is, and strive to improve yourself.

"I could still hear gunfire, and it was growing closer. They were definitely coming this way. I just thought, don't move, don't breathe, do not make a sound. I think it was about then I understood how utterly alone I was for the very first time. And the Taliban was hunting me. They were not hunting for a SEAL platoon. They were hunting me alone. Despite my injuries, I knew I had to reach deep. I was starting to lose track of time but I stayed still. I actually did not move one inch for eight hours." (pg 246)

Consider Marcus' discipline under such stressful conditions, and again, think of the stress you faced. Did you keep your composure, your discipline? Let it serve as motivation. It certainly does for me.

"Right after that, must have been around midnight, a new figure entered the room, accompanied by two attendants. I knew this was the village elder, a small man with a beard, a man who commanded colossal respect. The Taliban immediately stood up and stepped aside as the old man walked to the spot where I was lying. He kneeled down and offered me water in a little silver cup, gave me bread, and then stood up and turned on the Taliban.

"I was not certain what he was saying, but I found out later he was forbidding them to take me away. I think they knew that before they came, otherwise I'd probably have been gone by then. But there was no mistaking the authority in his voice. It was a small, quiet voice, calm, firm, and no one spoke while he spoke. No one interrupted either.

"They hardly said a word while this powerful little figure laid down the law. Tribal law, I guess. When he left, he walked out into the night very upright, the kind of posture adopted by men who are unused to defiance. You could spot him from a mile off..." (pg 296-7)

There were about eight men with AKs interrogating Marcus in this room, but the village elder trumped all of them with his dominant body language and voice. His status as the elder was probably known by them, but he played the part. His frame was one of dominance and self-assurance, fostered by the mindset of his own status. This is the Strategy of the Crown, described in law of power #34.

Nearing the end of the book, two more passages are profound:

"I looked at the silent bell outside the BUD/S office and at the place where the dropouts leave their helmets. Soon there would be more helmets, when the new BUD/S class began. Last time I was here I'd been in dress uniform, along with a group of immaculately turned-out new SEALs, many of whom I had subsequently served with.

"And it occurred to me that any one of them, on any given day, would have done all the same things I had done in my last combat mission in the Hindu Kush. I wasn't any different. I was just, I hoped, the same Texas country boy who'd come through the greatest training system on earth, with the greatest bunch of guys anyone could ever meet. The SEALs, the warriors, the front line of the United States military muscle. I still get a lump in my throat when I think of who we all are.

"I remember my back ached a bit as I stood there on the grinder, lost in my own thoughts, and my wrist, as ever, hurt, pending another operation. And I suppose I knew deep down I would never be quite the same physically, never as combat-hard as I once was, because I cannot manage the running and climbing. Still, I never was Olympic standard!

"But I did live my dream, and then some, and I guess I'll be asked many times whether it had all been worth it in the end. And my answer will always be the same one I gave so often on my first day.

"Affirmative, sir." Because I came through it, and I have my memories, and I wouldn't have traded any of it, not for the whole world. I'm a United States Navy SEAL." (pg 379-80)

This passage particularly struck me. Despite all the injuries, the loss of his friends, and the mental anguish that came from all of it, Marcus still says it was worth it. Here you can really see the faith of a man who had found his purpose in life, and his persistence in fulfilling it.

"In the fall of 2006, Marcus Luttrell was redeployed with SEAL Team 5 in Iraq. At 0900 on Friday, October 6, thirty-six of them took off in a military Boeing C-17 from North Air Station, Coronado, bound for Ar Ramadi, the U.S. base which lies sixty miles west of Baghdad - a notorious trouble spot, of course. That's why the SEALs were going.

"The fact that the navy had deployed their wounded, decorated hero of the Afghan mountains was a considerable surprise to many people, most of whom thought he would leave SPECWARCOM for the less dangerous life of a civilian. Because even after more than a year, his back was still painful, his battered wrist was less than perfect, and he still suffered from that confounded Afghan stomach bug he had contracted from the Pepsi bottle.

"But the deployment of Marcus Luttrell was a personal matter. He alone called the shots, not the navy. His contract with the SEALs still had many months to run, and there was no way he was going to quit. I think we mentioned, there ain't no quit in him. Marcus wanted to stay, to fulfill his obligations as leading petty officer (Alfa Platoon), a position which carries heavy responsibilities.

"To me, he said, "I don't want my guys to go without me. Because if anything happened to them and I wasn't there, I guess I would not forgive myself." (pg 385)

This is part of the afterward that closes out the book, and to me it perfectly summed up Marcus Luttrell and his entire life's philosophy and experiences, and those of the SEALs - their brotherhood and the strict devotion to fulfill their purpose, to never quit from the fight, and ultimately, to win.

This book increased, massively, my respect not just for the SEALs, but to all who serve and have served in the armed forces. These are all warriors, and their attitude is perfect. It is one of winning, and should be adopted for all forms of life. This is a book every man should read.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Everyone Loses on Valentine's Day

I read a very good article by Mark Manson yesterday, which detailed a bit about how Valentine's Day causes everybody to lose. For those that are single, it can be a massive blow to their self-esteem. 'Look at all those happy couples! Surely there must be something wrong with me!' They will think. We've all probably been there at least once. I used to think that way before discovering game, even though I always knew that Valentine's Day was dumb.

And for those in relationships, it can be awkward. It, as Mark Manson says, essentially tries to force romance out of people, and really, this kills the mood. It also creates unnecessary and burdensome expectations for everyone. For men, it reinforces subservience. 'Happy wife, happy life!' It puts a man under undue pressure. He is supposed to do something special, to 'please' his woman, not because he wants to, but because he is expected to due to an arbitrary 'holiday.' Never mind the constant, year-long strive to be an excellent man, the kind that women naturally want to be with. He should just drop everything to essentially please a woman who may or may not have earned it, all in the name of a 'holiday.'

For women, the burden is equally as intrusive, though in a different way. She's essentially supposed to be the passive party, and in being placed on a pedestal, is supposed to show gratitude toward, and praise her man. Forget if he brings nothing to the table. His sudden generosity is supposed to overcome her defenses and she is supposed to reciprocate the 'kindness' he's shown.

Not to mention the vapidness of the entire thing distorts the sexual market and essentially acts as a barrier to entry, raising the price of female affection. This further distorts and burdens the already-fractured relations between the sexes in the modern world of dating.

The following might sound surprising of me, given my propensity to bash many of the tenets of modern left-wing ideology, but Valentine's Day is truly a marker of capitalism run amok.

There, I said it.

Don't get me wrong, capitalism is bar none, the best economic system yet devised by man, but like Aristotle wrote all those thousands of years ago, the Mean between excess and deficiency is where virtue is to be found. Valentine's Day is an excess of capitalism. It is in truth, just an excuse for people to try and sell you something. These people pile on feelings of guilt and anxiety, and then use those heightened emotional states to make a quick buck, without providing anything of real value. And, sadly, it works. The human desire for love and sex is simply too strong for it not to.

And so, in truth, everyone loses on Valentine's Day.

Men lose.

Women lose.

Singles lose.

Couples lose.

A healthy dating market loses.

The only ones that win are the fat cats that want to sell you something: the card and candy companies, and the makers of all those stuffed animals, etc.

So, this Valentine's Day, no matter what your status is, do everyone a favor, and abstain. Just act as you always would. You'll be free of anxiety, and ultimately happy. Valentine's Day 2014 We all lose.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Think & Grow Rich

I was fortunate to be able to pick this book up, almost by accident. It was on Roosh's list of recommended books to read and given how much I got out of the 48 Laws of Power, it seemed a no-brainer. The funny bit of trivia regarding this is that I stumbled on the work somewhat by accident (my intention to read it went on the backburner for a bit) through reading several articles on Victor Pride's website, Bold & Determined.

It was an eye-opening read. It gives primacy to the power of thought and ties in well with some of the lessons of the 48 Laws of Power- namely that emotional states are contagious, and you need to be consciously aware of who you are allowing to influence you and what thoughts you allow to enter your head.

More than that, it gives a practical guide to controlling your own thoughts, lays out a blueprint for doing so, and provides a step-by-step philosophy for the mindset of success.

"Thoughts, whether positive or negative, immediately begin to transmute themselves into their physical equivalent."

I thought that was the best quote of the book. It is an old adage that you become what you think about, so you need to be aware of what it is you think about. I would suspect that most people think about nothing, or are too busy thinking negative thoughts, blaming others for their own problems, being miserable. The prevalence of narcissistic 'social justice' ideas gives much evidence to this hypothesis. These thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. Excuses for failure are all too common. And this, I would venture to say, is the leading cause of widening income inequality. In the age of the internet, everyone can at least be a part-time capitalist. Everyone has a hobby that can be turned into a moneymaker (and if someone doesn't that says a lot about him, first and foremost, that he needs to find one).

I've stated before that one of my own weaknesses is that I'm very self-critical, too much so. I'm a perfectionist. If things don't go exactly my way, I tend to get frustrated, which leads to negative thoughts that then translate into their physical equivalent. Perfectionism is good in moderation, but I have it too much. Think & Grow Rich allowed me to more fully see this weakness.

It also allowed me to more fully analyze my goals. Think about your goals. Start to make moves toward them. Make them specific. I need to apply the principles of autosuggestion more stringently, to overcome any negative coding in the subconscious mind (another useful aspect of this book).

One of the most amazing things was when Napoleon Hill talked about his imaginary 'Master Mind' council of figures he admired. It was so startlingly similar to my own Twenty Men exercise that I thought I might as well just be plagiarizing him. I guess there's nothing new under the sun. He took it further though. He actively imagined himself sitting with those men he admired and talking with them. That's something I'll need to do myself.

Though I admittedly found some of it a bit hokey, stuff that might as well be proto-New Age mumbo jumbo, the core philosophy is golden, and every man should read this book.

Read or download Think & Grow Rich here. Think & Grow Rich Napoleon Hill Self-Improvement