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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in the Man Up private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
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How To Find Happiness And Fulfillment As A Man
David Tian Ph.D. explains how genetics can influence our happiness partly.
David Tian Ph.D. introduces Flow, a concept you will need to be successful in socializing.
In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. tells us why we need to constantly challenge ourselves.
David Tian: Boom! Stop. In episode 67 of Man Up, I answer the question of, how to find happiness and fulfillment as a man?
Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I am David Tian, Ph.D., and this is: Man Up!
Welcome to episode 67 of Man Up! I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and I’m in Jakarta hanging out with some friends here. If you can see I’m in a beautiful suite here at the Hermitage.
The question for episode 67 comes from Daryl and Daryl asked the question, just double check what that question is. Where was the question on my computer? Okay, how to find happiness if you’re a man. It’s got some context on it. Boils down to…Daryl wants to know how to find happiness as a man! I’ve actually… because when I find a good question asked on the Man Up show, I try to see if I can build a bigger course around it because I might need more time than five minutes. It’s a real challenge, I’m excited by this, but it’s incredibly challenging to answer these big questions in five minutes that’s why most of these have been going long. But I really want to try to keep it to five minutes. So I’m going to choose one aspect and be able to give some great advice in five minutes but a fuller answer – it deserves a fuller answer – and I can deliver that fuller answer in a free course that’s coming out soon. So look out for that. It hasn’t opened yet – it hasn’t launched yet. We haven’t released it yet. We’re still just editing it and making it pretty but it’s going to be out soon. So keep an eye out for that. Okay!
How to find happiness as a man? And here’s one of the biggest problems that men in the modern world face. They’ve been facing this for decades. First of all, just to make you understand – to help you understand – there are many things that are genetic about your happiness. Science has actually proven whether you’re a negative person or a positive person, it is partly influenced by your genetics. So whatever genetics you get, you’re going to have to work with that. So if you’re naturally a temperamental – like I had more red muscle fibers where I fire faster, like I have just fast reaction times. I’m more passionate about like things. I get that from my mom. In a different way from my dad. It gets passed down like just that… umph! Like a quick, quick, quick! Right? Whereas I see other people, and their parents are the same way are really more like just kind of cool and slow. And that’s cool too! But it’s frustrating when you’re fast, fast, fast! So that’s partly genetic. You got to deal with that. So that’s a set point.
So you start with your set point but there’s a lot within your control. In the free video course – the free course – I go through the many things that are in your control. The factors that are controllable by you. But one of the biggest ones and one of the ones that plague men the most? Is the activities they do during the day are not making them happy. So if you have a job that you hate, or if you have a job that you’re doing just for the money and you’ve been doing it so long that you know… but if you’re doing your job just for the money, you’re a sellout. In way you’re just like a prostitute. You’re taking money to do something, you’re doing something you don’t want to do, in order to take the money.
So you’re a prostitute of society! It’s okay, I used to be a prostitute too… for society. When I was like in NUS we really love the professorship. I love to research! I kind of like the teaching. I hated the marking. I hated the control that the university had over me. It was a very conservative type of institution. So I said, screw that! I threw out the shackles of that kind of constraint and I found freedom in activity and is of a specific type of activity that gets you happy. There is…what’s within our control. A lot of that’s within our control is what we do during the day and here is one activity, there’s one activity that every human being, when you do this activity will bring you intense joy, happiness, fulfillment, pleasure. No it’s not sex… or it could be sex. What is this one activity? Scientists have called it something and I’ve actually, in my course Limitless and in another course, a new course called Invincible, have devoted hours – in Limitless there are at least two hours, same with Invincible – on this concept. Because if for you to succeed in socializing, you also have to apply this concept to socializing, to attracting women. It’s a scientific concept. I’m going to refer you to a book that goes into extreme detail on this. It’s the landmark exposition of this concept and it is called Flow. Got that? F-L-O-W. That’s the first book that you should go through. Don’t read it word for word it’s going to bore the fuck out of you. Just skim it at first just to get the basic idea. And then there are new books on this, on the same sort of concept. A great one is called “The Rise of Superman”. I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s actually a pretty good book. It’s called “The Rise of Superman”. Google that, find it in Amazon. Two books are “Flow” and the second one is “The Rise of Superman”. I recommend both of those. In “Flow”, it’s a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Comes out of many years of research. That was published I think in 1990 and its now a foundational work in psychology. This concept has been used to great effect in the highest performing athletes – Olympic athletes, professional athletes, musicians at the highest levels, bankers at the highest levels, finance people at the highest levels. This is true throughout all these different areas of life.
What you need to do is to fill your days with activities that bring you Flow. Insofar as these activities don’t bring you Flow, you will not be happy. Insofar as they do bring you Flow, you will be happy. In a nutshell, Flow. There are 12 characteristics of Flow activity that Csikszentmihalyi’s book helpfully charts for you. I’m going to boil it down to just three. It’s kind of dumbing it down, really. You should really read the book. But dumbing it down to three and the first characteristic is “it’s an activity where you lose track of time”. I’ll give you an example, like video games. Some guys really derive pleasure from video games. Though that’s not going to make you very social but it brings you pleasure and joy and happiness in a way. You just have to fill your life with more social versions of Flow activities. But here we go, right? Play a video game, you lose track of time when how often has it been so you’ve picked up the controller and you thought, “I’ll just play for fifteen minutes” and it turns out it’s like three hours. You lose track of time.
The second is there’s a challenge. It’s got to be challenging, it can’t be too easy. It’s got to be challenging. But you have to have the resources to meet that challenge. It’s challenging but you have that resources to meet that challenge. In other words, it’s not too easy, it’s not too hard. It’s right there so that you have to focus completely and you have complete, a 100% focus, to that activity in order to do the activity. Okay, so you’re playing at your level, but it’s challenging. And thirdly, the third characteristic of a Flow activity is that you get immediate feedback on your performance. This is why many students in a university never experience Flow when doing the university work because it takes a week or two weeks or a month for the professor to hand back that assignment for you to know whether you did well or not. Therefore, you will never achieve Flow because you need immediate feedback on whether you got it right. So in a video game you know immediately whether you scored or whether you got killed. Or when you’re playing sports, it’s the same thing. When you’re playing music, the same thing. Those are all activities where it’s easier to reach Flow.
You have to find for yourself and ask yourself right now, what activity do I derive a lot of pleasure in where I lose track of time, it’s challenging… not too hard, not too easy but it’s challenging enough for me to put 100% focus on, and I get immediate feedback on whether I’m doing it correctly on my performance. Activities like that you should be filling your days with. If you have… if you’re filling your days with these activities, you’ll feel completely happy. It’s only when you’re not doing these activities that you find what am I doing with my life. Even worse when you’re doing activities that are negative that don’t bring you Flow. That bring you out of Flow actively that you just dislike intensely.
Throughout life, I’ve only met successful people for whom they’ve curated…they’ve created lives where they can spend most of their days engaged in activities that bring them Flow. So right now maybe you hate your job. Well right now, you hate your job. After work, start engaging in Flow activities that actually will lead to something else. I should add that as a fourth. Has nothing to do with Flow but has to do with your happiness and fulfillment. Find meaning in life, build value so that the next day it will build on itself. Don’t just whittle away your life. You know, playing video games with no meaning to it. Don’t just like surf the internet as I know many men – single men in Singapore are doing. Don’t just do those mindless activities. Do Flow activities that really challenge you and keep you a hundred percent focused. And you’ll find that you’ll get really, really good at those activities. And whenever you get really, really good at something, you can monetize it. You can actually turn that into a career. Believe it or not. This is the new world.
Okay! So one, that was just one key tip! That was just one! I go into extreme detail on Flow itself in Limitless and Invincible. Flow is just one component though of happiness. Okay, that’s just one component. I’ll just throw out two more. Another is meditation has been shown to really help you get into Flow and to help you get rooted, and calm, and centered. And another one is taking care of your health and fitness. And I go into those in the free course. Lookout for the free course coming out. We haven’t released it yet but it’s getting ready to come out.
So look out for it!
In the meantime, join the private Facebook group, click the link, join the group. I’ll see you inside, until then, man up!