Are you an achiever? Do you dream about being the wealthiest person in your family and unlocking the best possible life?
Well, you’re probably making a lethal mistake:
Achievers put off their present enjoyment for future fulfillment. But when you do this, you get neither.
In fact, loafing can help you tap into your natural flow state, attract love into your life, and experience joy every moment you’re awake.
In this episode, I reveal how to cultivate your sense of leisure so you can become happier.
Listen to the episode now.
Show highlights include:
- The weird way being a lazy bum makes you happier, more fulfilled, and more successful (9:29)
- How your drive to achieve is a sneaky cope that suffocates your love life (10:09)
- The toxic belief ingrained into achievers which makes it impossible for them to find love and happiness (10:40)
- The “Fulfillment Formula” for detonating your destructive habits that repulse love (11:48)
- 3 major and proven ways to guarantee your fulfillment according to psychologists (13:42)
- The counterintuitive reason becoming stinkin’, filthy rich makes you miserable (13:52)
- The “State of Flow” secret for creating unlimited happiness in your life (and how to harness it by doing nothing) (19:42)
- Why approaching an intimate relationship like it’s a business is a surefire way to get dumped (37:11)
- How losing more than 3x your salary can make you happier and more fulfilled (39:11)
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Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host.
In the previous two episodes, we’ve been exploring the natural confidence, courage and self-control that comes from training in the martial arts and from accessing the parts of us that are like warrior parts or fighting parts, and when it comes to the martial arts, in particular, the development of certain virtues, such as perseverance, integrity and self-control, and instilling in us this lesson of the importance of skill and, in many cases, skill trumping talent, especially when you apply effort over time or hard work, or practice or training. [01:04.5]
Then, of course, facing our fears and making that a habit, and then, finally, experiencing the results and rewards of long-term training and discipline, and all of that coming from embracing the journey of getting better at martial arts. That is all in addition to just the sheer enjoyment of the activity of training, which, for many people, will be more enjoyable than standard weightlifting type of workouts or steady-state cardio.
We also explored the downside, the dangers of an overreliance on that at warrior or energy, or, more specifically, a kind of killer instinct, especially as a case study in pro fighters, but also in anybody who relies a lot on that type of energy that gets things done in their lives to accomplish these goals or if they allow these parts of themselves to set the big goals in their lives, and spending a lot of their time or their lives devoted to achieving these goals and relying on that kind of killer energy to get there, exploring as we did in the previous episode, then in the long-term, experiencing burnout and the toxic imbalance in their lives. [02:23.1]
Now, in this episode, we’re going to be swinging in the opposite direction in the other extreme and I am toying with the idea of naming this “the art of loafing” or “the importance of laziness or of leisure,” something along those lines, and the main question being, who can best enjoy life? What type of an approach to life maximizes or leads to the greatest enjoyment of life?
Because the martial approach to life, especially exemplified in martial arts and in the warrior parts of us or the warrior archetype, which I haven’t discussed in these episodes yet, focusing, more specifically, in the last episode, on the killer instinct, these are important parts of us that have a lot of power and resources that we can call upon in certain circumstances, especially for those parts of us that still feel the fear of physical safety or that feel the fear that comes from being unable or not trusting enough in the self to control the anger that might be underneath. This could come from the effects of abuse in childhood or from bullying in childhood, being the victim of bullying or the victim of abuse.
I go into more detail on that in the episode two episodes ago that gets into the caveats, first of all, especially childhood sexual abuse, but also the more severe the abuse is, the more that other interventions such as interventions that teach or train mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, how those might be more called for at the beginning. [04:12.4]
Then towards the middle stages, then the therapeutic value of martial arts can really make a big difference, but that training in martial arts and training in being able to control the killer instinct or control that warrior energy in you can go a long way to developing and encouraging the natural confidence and courage, and self-control and self-reliance that come from long-term training in the martial arts and fighting and facing your fears, especially facing physical danger and staying there at the edge of your comfort zone. [04:51.5]
A lot of that can contribute to building up this trust in yourself, by your inner-child vulnerable parts. When they’re afraid of their own safety, especially physical safety, when that gets triggered because of growing up with bullying or growing up with abuse, trusting in yourself enough to relax—because you’ve proven to yourself and to those inner-child parts of yours that you have that self-control, self-reliance, that courage, that confidence that come from this type of training—so that the outcome is a life lived without being sensitive to the fear of physical safety and just fear, in general, knowing that you’ve got this. [05:40.3]
When your higher self says to your vulnerable inner-child parts when they get triggered, “It’s going to be okay, I’m here. I will protect you. I will take care of it,” it will come from a place that makes a lot more sense to these inner-child parts because they can observe or witness you having gone through these physically-challenging training sessions over time and kind of proven to yourself and to them that you can do it, that you can rely on yourself, that you can control yourself, that you do have that courage to step up and step out of your comfort zone, which develops a natural confidence as a result of these experiences over time.
Then, if you extend this even further, that’s what we’re going to be looking at now in this episode, extend it even further, you know what, to just be and only accessing this type of warrior energy all the time, because, as I pointed out in the last episode, over-reliance on this type of killer energy, regardless of whether you can control it– [06:50.4]
Just over-reliance on it, making it sort of like your home energy all the time, instead of in short spurts or when needed or just for that training session, for that one hour or two hours a day of training sessions, but always being there, which is sort of what I was explaining, one of the liabilities of doing this as a living if you’re a pro fighter that you’ll then need to have a kind of come-down process, in addition to when you’re getting ready for a fight, a building up process.
But now coming back to daily life, coming back to your loved ones, to your personal life, having a kind of come-down process and realizing that those short bursts of warrior energy as a result of all the training, so that you can control that—you can turn on that killer side of you, modulate it and regulate it for specific purposes, whether it’s for an actual physical fight or it could be for business or sports, or arts or music, whatever it is. Actually, those are short spurts—and your main way of being is calm and carefree, and loving and joyful, and really enjoying life that that’s your main way of being. [08:03.7]
It can actually happen, so that you are able to experience, as a default, love, joy, fulfillment, peace, calm, confidence, as well as courage inside, without having to rely on the kind of physically taxing warrior or killer energy. That’s what I’m going to be discussing in this episode, kind of balancing it out with the further stage of treatment for those who are still suffering and feeling the symptoms of that fear and that kind of background fear and anxiety as a result of toxic childhood upbringing or abuse or bullying.
Okay, I’ve got four points for this episode and, like I said, I wanted to and I’ve been toying with the idea of titling it “the importance of loafing” or “the art of loafing or leisure,” or even laziness, depending on how you look at it. Then the big question that could drive or just start to inspire or ignite the episode’s train of thought is, who can best enjoy life? This is a major question, a guiding question, in ancient philosophy. Who best enjoys life? What type of person best enjoys life? [09:17.8]
There’s a particular dominance strand in Asian philosophy exemplified, in my opinion, by the Daoist, specifically the Zhuangzi or the Daodejing, which really brings out the importance and art of loafing. In case you don’t know what loafing is, loafing refers to the act of not doing any work per se that it’s more of just lazing about and following your heart’s desires, in the sense of like leisure, just downtime. That’s one way or that’s a good way to putting it, loafing in downtime. [09:55.0]
It’s important to think about downtime because achievers and a lot of my audience, maybe you are an achiever or have strong or dominant achiever parts in you, just as I do, achievers started off very early on with, and it’s actually a coping strategy to deal with trying to get attention approval, love, and acceptance from their parental caregivers very often, but from those who, when they were young, they needed to get that love and connection the most from.
Their way of doing it was they settled on achieving as a kind of pleasing or achieving as a kind of rebellion, but either way, eventually, they just let go of the reason they started being achievers and just got caught up in achieving. Then it became achieving for its own sake, having lost the reason they started achieving in the first place, and they never stepped back and asked their question why. Why am I working so hard at this? Why am I achieving?
It’s sort of like “What’s the point?” and they’ve forgotten the point, because, for them, deeply, deeply ingrained in them is this toxic belief that’s a deep insecurity that unless they achieve or accomplish such and such, a moving goalpost, by the way. [11:08.8]
If you’re an older achiever, you’ve experienced what it’s like to not actually be able to enjoy for very long your achievements and needing to keep moving the goalpost further and further, and never actually then being able to rest for very long, for more than, I don’t know, an hour, a day, a week, a month before that restlessness. The anxiety of not being enough comes up again and you’ve got to go set the new goal and beat yourself up to get there, and, eventually, in your forties or maybe earlier, burning out, and maybe then asking the big questions of, Why am I doing this at all in the first place? Will this really bring me what I really want?
What you really want is a feeling of worthiness and the reason you want worthiness is because then you think that you will be loved and happy and fulfilled. How about, instead, you start with the aim in mind, the final aim, which is fulfillment and fulfillment coming from happiness and love, especially, and start there? [12:13.0]
What actually brings fulfillment or what actually brings happiness? And now we have started where Aristotle was asking the very same questions, as all great philosophers, and especially in the ancient times, did. What’s the point of life and what will bring enjoyment of life? What will bring happiness? And happiness is defined not as pleasure, as many people think of it in the 21st century, kind of watered down and dumbed down the idea of happiness into just mere pleasure. But maybe this word “fulfillment” more accurately captures what a 21st-century person would think of it as or ought to think of it as. Fulfillment is a much bigger thing. It includes calm, peace, contentment, but also joy and fun and fulfillment, excitement, and meaning. What would bring fulfillment? [13:03.0]
There’s actually quite a lot of research in this relatively new field, though it has been at least two decades now, actually three decades, since serious research began in this field called “positive psychology”. In positive psychology, they’re studying the positive parts of psychology, like happiness and love and fulfillment, what actually makes our lives enjoyable.
In positive psychology, you learn all kinds of things that have been studied and shown to result consistently in human fulfillment and I’m going to cover some of those. There are three things. This is the first point. The first point is start with fulfillment, and then I’ll point out three major ways that the research has shown that we can guarantee our fulfillment or the points that most likely will lead to fulfillment in life. [13:51.5]
It’s really important to pay attention to the research because the actually shows us that the things that will bring this fulfillment to life are not the things that achievers are generally aiming for. Success, especially wealth and short-term pleasure, generally will not bring fulfillment and will, in fact, waste a lot of your time in the sense of you can spend a lot of your life devoted to something that actually, in the end and during the whole thing, during the journey, and even if you do succeed, doesn’t bring you fulfillment.
Another example is status, which doesn’t bring fulfillment, and another example is just pleasure. Success and status can afford you pleasure, but pleasure, after a very short period, doesn’t bring fulfillment. Now, fulfillment requires some pleasures in it and there is pleasure in the fulfillment, and pleasure is incredibly subjective, so if you train yourself, you can find pleasure in many, many things that, for achievers, you don’t think that you could derive pleasure from. [14:58.2]
Achievers, generally, make it very difficult for themselves to experience pleasure, and they make it almost impossible for them to experience it for themselves to experience fulfillment. They do this by narrowing that window or filter by which these experiences can come into their lives and give them pleasure and give them fulfillment, and, instead, they make it incredibly difficult for that to happen.
The first thing to notice is don’t get caught up in the trivial questions, like how do I get more success? How do I make more money? How do I bang more girls? How do I get more sex? How do I get more pleasure? Because those will catch you up. Those were a trap that will not lead to the thing that you really want, which is happiness, fulfillment, love, joy and peace.
Just start just realizing that, and starting from the end goal and working your way backwards can free you from the toxic burdens that achievers take on uncritically, unconsciously, that they took on many, many years ago, decades ago, that they’ve forgotten about. [16:07.0]
They’re still laboring under those pretensions, under those false assumptions, under that false information, really, about what will bring them fulfillment, happiness, love, joy and so forth. Now bringing in and understanding and taking into account the new research now as a grown up, right now, you can replan and remap your way of approaching life, such that you can actually enjoy it in the now and not have to put it off until some far-off goal is finally accomplished only to discover that that far-off goal, once it’s accomplished, hardly brings any fulfillment or happiness at all and is only a momentary pleasure.
The art of loafing. Loafing is really important and I just want to make this really clear. This is the main point of this episode that it has been 30-something episodes and I have been pointing out the dangers of burnout for achievers, entrepreneurs, and all kinds of other achievers, a fighter being a particular type of achiever and warrior and all that, that there’s burnout. [17:15.3]
One of the antidotes, one of the most powerful antidotes to this is appreciating trying to do nothing, and this is the Daoist principle, the art of doing nothing, and that’s not a popular translation in Chinese studies for the Daoist principle of wuwei. It’s often translated as something else because usually the people translating it are professors or academics, and they’re achievers, so they don’t like the idea of doing nothing. They call it something else, like effortless action, which is partly true. It depends on what they’re trying to get at.
Wuwei is a kind of flow, but it’s even deeper than that. But just on the bare translation of it, just the bare meaning of it, actually it does mean non-action, just those two words, the negation of action. Part of it is the embracing, the Daoist point of actually not doing anything, so actually taking some leisure time. [18:11.8]
For those who are in creative pursuits who require their imagination, anybody who works in innovation, you already know this. Those of you who are more pencil-pushers—and you probably don’t see yourself as that, but if you’re just grinding, grinding, just trying to get more work done and your work doesn’t require much creativity, imaginative thinking or innovation, then you may not have noticed this, but if that’s the type of work you’re doing—there’s a real ceiling on how much you can succeed in life.
If you are a middling achiever and you want to become a more successful achiever, one thing to notice is that you should schedule and block out a lot more time to do nothing. You might notice maybe at other times of your life, when you had more freedom, maybe in university, though some people, depending on how they approached their university studies, they didn’t have much of this downtime, but maybe you can recall a time in your life when you had a lot more downtime. [19:06.3]
In that downtime, you allowed yourself the luxury, so to speak, of thinking of the more important, deeper questions—so, instead of rushing about trying to check off items on your to-do list, you actually take the time to just daydream about what is really important to you, because that changes as you evolve as a person, what you really enjoy, and giving you the time, leisure and space to be with yourself and to have the downtime, the time itself to explore the things that bring you pleasure that can actually lead you into flow.
Positive psychology research has shown that there are very few factors that actually consistently lead to human happiness or human fulfillment, and one of those few factors that is actually within our control that will lead to fulfillment and happiness is flow, the state of flow and activities that bring you into flow. [20:03.3]
Most people who work at a job for a living, most of them don’t experience much flow in their day jobs. They’re doing the day jobs to make some money and that’s fine, but if you are just caught up in doing this day job that’s not very fulfilling, so that you can make a bunch of money, finally, after you make a bunch of money, you can finally retire after a certain point, after making some millions, and then do the things that you really love to do.
You probably don’t even know what those things are. If you’ve been just slaving away at your day job, trying to save up some money, you probably don’t even know what those are. Maybe you’re just thinking, Oh, I just want to sit on a beach. I just want to rest.
Most achievers, by the time you hit your 30, those achiever parts of you don’t even really know what they want to do. They just want to rest because they’re exhausted and maybe that’s what they need to do. Actually, that is what I’m suggesting they need to do more of, except don’t wait until the end when you’re finally retiring at 65, 70 or whatever. People are retiring later and later in life and not allowing themselves the joy of enjoying, the joy of enjoying their lives, but instead slaving away continually, unthinkingly, unreflectively, for some far off goal that may never be attained or may never come. [21:15.3]
For most achievers, it’s in those times of loafing, downtime and leisure, of having nothing pressing to do in particular, but sort of just following your heart’s desires and your whims, and noticing inside, in yourself, your thoughts and feelings about what you really enjoy doing, what brings you enjoyment, what your real preferences are and desires are, and what your big dreams are, and allowing yourself the freedom to think big, that requires downtime. Just being with yourself, not rushing and running errands or doing your data entry or to-do lists, but just taking some time for yourself, that gives you the freedom of mind to find those things that bring you flow. [22:00.0]
Another thing is you’ll discover, if you stay with the art of loafing long enough, that there is an art of it to it, just as the ancient poets and the not so ancient poets know and have discovered, that just in the simple, the mundane, the ordinary life, the simple, the plain, the ordinary, we can discover the greatest amounts of pleasure.
That fulfillment comes not from slaving away at some far-off goal, hoping that, at the end of it, we will finally feel worthy. That’s a lie. That’s a big trap. That’s the achiever’s trap and the myth of achievement that I’ve been addressing many episodes towards.
But, instead, taking a note from the poets and from so many ancient philosophers that available to us in our simple, our plain, our ordinary day-to-day life, our experiences, that if we attune to them, if we are mindful of them, if we pay attention to them, if we focus on them, they alone can bring us these pleasures and the enjoyment of life. [23:10.7]
That won’t be available to us unless we stop our striving and pause, preferably pause for longer than a moment. Maybe you can take an entire day. Maybe you can take an hour or two each day to let your mind wander. Maybe you can just only do it in your meditation.
For hardcore achievers like how I used to be, you can barely afford what you think you can barely afford, 20 minutes a day for meditation. Fine, in those 20 minutes, allow your mind to just wander and just notice those thoughts. Don’t meditate so that it will make you richer, though, if that’s what you need to do to get started, that’s fine.
But, hopefully, you’ll reach a point where you’ll discover the intrinsic pleasure of just sitting with yourself and allowing your mind to wander and flow, and roam where it may, noticing that you have the resources within your own mind of discovering and experiencing all the fulfillment, the joy and the happiness that you’ve been sling away for for so long and putting off, and not allowing yourself the permission to do it, to experience it. [24:16.6]
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The first point is to start with fulfillment and happiness, and ask yourself, What would actually make me fulfilled and happy, and what does the research say about that? rather than take it for granted that success and status will bring it, because it won’t. That’s what the research says. [25:10.5]
Beyond a certain amount, a relatively medium amount of success and status will lead to some pleasure, but it won’t lead to greater fulfillment beyond that. Then it’s declining returns and then it becomes a waste of time, and now you’re slaving away for no good reason when you can just pause and realize all that you need to find that fulfillment, joy, love and happiness reside within you.
Now, this is an advanced lesson, I suppose, for those who are still deep in their trauma. This is Episode 30 something, so I think it would be fun to stretch out and do a one like this to point out these deeper truths. If, however, you get easily triggered and your anxiety comes up easily, or you’re very fear-driven, then you should listen to the earlier episodes. [26:00.8]
But for those who have this relatively regulated, their fear and their anxiety relatively regulated, and they’re hardcore in their achieve mode, just pointing out that you don’t need to attain that success in order to find that fulfillment and happiness, and sense of worthiness.
In fact, if you can experience flow, and gratitude is another way of approaching it, in the present moment, just in the simple, the ordinary and the plain day-to-day life you already have, then you have already won the game of life, because all of these other achievers slaving away for some far-off achievement are just hoping that, at the end of that 30-year, 40-year journey of slaving away, they will finally attain what you already have attained right here and right now in your mind—just by sitting with yourself or just by taking a walk in a beautiful park just noticing nature, or in a pleasant conversation with a friend where you can go as deep or as surface level as you like, joking around over a drink and some nice weather—and that that level of fulfillment is also available to you. [27:07.7]
Or you can experience enjoyment of life just in the movement of your physical body or just being, or just reading a good book or just listening to music that really moves you and that you can get immersed in.
Or for are those more advanced, mature people, the great joys of just looking in a child’s eyes and seeing the full presence that they bring to life and being fully present with them, and just seeing life through their eyes can bring you, in that simple and relatively ordinary and plain experience of life, this full fulfillment and joy, and peace and calm, that achievers put off and don’t allow themselves to experience.
How many male friends I have who are fathers, who have kids, who don’t allow themselves the vulnerability to be with their child and be present with their child, and instead see themselves purely as providers, financially and materially, for the child, and that’s their way of loving the child. [28:14.2]
No question that they love the child, but they don’t have the emotional maturity or wisdom to realize that more than those material things that you think are going to fulfill the child, more than that, because the child does not live in the future, the child needs your presence and, even more importantly, you need your presence because it’s in the present that you actually experience life. You don’t experience it in the future, because, technically, the future never come. It’s in the present that you experience life.
But these achievers don’t allow themselves to be present in the present and, because of that, they miss out on the enjoyment of life, slaving away at some far-off goal—slaving, I say, because they don’t really enjoy that activity, their jobs or whatever the heck they’re doing most of the time, and they’re doing it unmindfully. [29:07.2]
They’re doing it with their mind just in their heads, focused on some future worries or goals, putting off the present enjoyment for the promise of some future fulfillment. That, again, never comes because the fulfillment can only come in the present and it can only be experienced, therefore, in the present.
Children and maybe pets have a really powerful way of bringing us back into reality, which is in the present. Hopefully, you will learn that lesson soon enough, maybe through this episode and it will help galvanize that realization for you that it’s in the present that we experience and, therefore, can find fulfillment, can only find fulfillment in the present. [29:57.1]
That first point about starting with fulfillment and happiness, asking what brings fulfillment and happiness, what has the research shown, it’s not striving after success and status. That won’t do it, so what is it? The second point being flow, finding your flow, and there is a ton of research on flow. I am, of course, referencing Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept. This is now how many decades? At least three decades of research that is almost incontrovertible on the power of flow.
You can just Google it, capital “F”, Flow, flow psychology, and you’ll see a huge amount of research and lots of pop psychology about it as well, so you can bone up on that. I’ve, in fact, created entire dating skills courses built around, partly built around the concept, this concept of flow, so I’m going to kind of take it for granted here that you know what it is, and also in the interest of time.
The third point being, finding freedom and control in your life. Finding more freedom and control in your life. A lot of achievers actually don’t have and don’t experience much freedom. They’re slaving away for three or four decades, so that they can be free. [31:05.7]
Achievers or beginning achievers, beginner achievers, think that creating a business or starting a business is a way to get more time in their lives. If they were to stop and actually interview any serious or long-time or veteran business-owners, they would be quickly disabused of that notion, but that’s what they’re aiming for.
They want freedom, but they’re doing it in a way that will guarantee that they don’t have time freedom. Maybe if they can cash out and exit way down the line, then they can have freedom, but it’s just the same, the same as slaving a way for three or four decades at some corporate job, hoping for retirement funds, so then when you’re old and wrinkly, finally being able to have the leisure time to sit on a beach. That’s the old-fashioned way of approaching career and I know there are still plenty of people who buy into that trap and, hopefully, they wake up to the reality and the time-boundedness of that old model of career. [32:04.7]
But freedom, the more freedom that we allow in our lives, the happier we’ll be, and the more autonomy, the more control, and so they’re related, the freedom to decide for yourself how you will spend your time, the freedom to decide for yourself what you will eat that day, for instance.
You can imagine in a school setting where you’re not even free to choose what clothing you wear because it’s a uniform, and what food you have because there’s a meal plan and it’s just one meal plan, so you sit down and then you get served whatever meal it is that day. Then you have your regimented schedule, your school schedule that’s just chalk full and it’s not really decided by you very much, but by the school.
It feels good to be able to decide, for those who didn’t have that, to decide what clothing you could wear, what you could eat and what classes you would take at what times, doesn’t it? Just having that freedom and the autonomy to decide within the very strict structure itself, just having that freedom to decide felt really good and you wouldn’t want to go backwards to having somebody else decide all of that for you, not for very long anyway. [33:06.7]
A part of human psychology is that we derive fulfillment from being able to control or even just having the illusion that we can control as the research shows. Planning your life and designing your life in such a way that you maximize your freedom to choose what you do with your time is a way that will lead to more fulfillments in your life.
If that’s what you are achieving for, there are probably, if you just put your thinking cap on, wiser, smarter, more optimized ways of doing that, so that you don’t have to slave away 30, 40 years in order to achieve it. You can have that relatively quickly.
Then the fourth point being relationships, relationships as the big-risk, big-reward factor that the research has shown, if you have a good relationship and if you have good relationships, the quality and the quantity of your relationships, and most of it coming from the quality—it’s better to have a few deep relationships than many superficial ones, but quality and quantity matters. [34:07.7]
But what it shows is, if you have good relationships, that will be the biggest factor for your happiness. That will be the biggest contributor to your fulfillment in life, especially any intimate relationships where you experience love.
Conversely, or on the flip side, if you have bad relationships, whether they’re work relationships, friendships, in your intimate relationship or maybe with your children, that will really tank. That will be the biggest contributing factor to your unhappiness, to your lack of fulfillment, to your suffering. One thing you might notice about relationships is, if you have a bad one, it kind of follows you around throughout your day, even if the person is not there, because you’re just ruminating on it all the time.
It’s a big-risk, big reward-factor, and if you can figure that one out, it’s the biggest reward, so just pointing it out. That’s Point 4. I have courses around this, and I’m just sharing the research, flow, autonomy, relationships, the three biggest factors that will lead to fulfillment in your life that are within your control, and I have courses around all three of them. [35:10.4]
In fact, for flow, I have multiple courses. It depends on [the context], “Lifestyle Mastery”, and then in the dating context, “Invincible.” For freedom, autonomy, control, designing your life and lifestyle, I have a whole course, “Lifestyle Mastery”. Of course, for relationships, I have a whole course called “Rock Solid Relationships” because there is a skill set to achieving these, to creating these.
Achievement, in and of itself, obviously, is not bad. I’ve spent the last two episodes focusing on a particular type of achievement, but achievement that involves activities or is primarily dominated by activities that aren’t fulfilling or enjoyable for some far-off goal, like 30, 40 years, whatever it is, whatever that timeline is, even five, 10 years, putting off your present pleasure or present fulfillment for the hope of, way down the line, finally being able to be fulfilled and that won’t even come first. You’re just so exhausted. You just want to sit on a beach and do nothing. Then, hopefully, you’ll find fulfillment and joy, and love and peace, and all of that. [36:12.0]
That standard way or the old way of approaching career is crap and the achievers way is a trap, because that success and status won’t bring fulfillment. It’s a lie. Fulfillment can be found in the now by training other things that actually aren’t what typical achievers do.
You might find flow in something that has nothing to do with your current day job that you don’t really enjoy this day job, and without the loafing time, without that downtime, you will never have discovered the thing that will really bring you fulfillment in the now, that thing that really will bring you the enjoyment of life, the thing that will bring you into flow consistently.
Then, similarly, if you don’t have that downtime to dream, to strategize, to think more deeply and reflect on yourself, you won’t be able to discover those areas in your life for which finding freedom and being able to control are most important. [37:11.4]
Then, finally, if you don’t have loafing time, you’re not going to have relationship time, because intimate relationships are not optimized by strict agendas. You don’t approach an intimate relationship like it’s a business. You need a lot of being mindful and present, and in the present moment, so that you can actually enjoy it and immersing yourself in it and forgetting about the anxieties that achievers normally have about the future.
Just to recap, the things that bring fulfillment and happiness for most achievers will require some downtime to reflect on this big question, “Who can best enjoy life?” The first point is, start with the end in mind. Start with the fulfillment that you’re actually aiming for, because that will lead you. That will redirect you in the right path, not the success/status path that you slave away at, doing something you don’t really enjoy very much, hoping that it will finally bring fulfillment at the end of the rainbow, the elusory rainbow there. [38:15.0]
But starting with it and working your way backwards, and when you work your way backwards, you’ll discover the second point, which is flow, consistently orchestrating your life so that you can consistently enter flow.
The third is designing your life to maximize your freedom and autonomy, and control of your time and what you do, and who you spend it with, and that leads into the fourth, that relationships, especially your intimate relationships, are the biggest factor in your fulfillment, but it’s also a big risk. Big risk, big reward, so you’ve really got to figure out that factor.
Of course, I’ve got courses on all of these, “Lifestyle Mastery” and “Rock Solid Relationships”. Flow and dating is covered in “Invincible”. You can get access to all of those if you just join the “Platinum Partnership”, which gives you access to all of the online courses. [39:06.0]
I’ll just end with one illustration by case study and this is my client, Bob. Bob came to me as a very successful financier. He was a trader at the global level. His line was more than 5 million a day that he was authorized to trade by his banks, and his desk was so high up there that I think he told me that there were only five other individuals in the entire world in his bank, which is a multinational bank, that was at that level, so if he got sick or he had to go on vacation, they had to get somebody else from [London]. He was tasked in a certain area, right? Somebody else from London would be tasked to handle his desk out in Asia. Anyway, this Bob was making multimillion-dollar year-end bonuses and he’d lose 3 million in a day, and then next day make 5 million or something like that. [40:00.0]
Bob discovered that his work, while it was exciting and adrenaline-rushing—when we hung out, he would be on his phone, checking the trading lines constantly—by his late-twenties, he was already burning out and already questioning the meaning, really, the bigger picture of his work that he slaved away 60, 70, sometimes 80 hours a week doing, what the point of it was because he was saying to me, “All I’m doing is making these rich people richer and I’m not really”—he says—“contributing to the things that really mattered” to him.
He discovered in his downtime what he actually enjoyed. He was loafing and he discovered that he really enjoyed making music, mixing music, in particular, and he just wished he had more and more time to do that, but he couldn’t. He had less and less time to do it.
One of the big lifestyle choices that he made when he got into a relationship was that he would start to plan his escape, his early retirement in his early-thirties, and it took a while. It took over a year to plan that out, but then he did it, managed to exit that. [41:12.6]
By that point, he had two daughters and you should see that the joy in his face, seeing him several months after he began his so-called early retirement, and he’s now managing his own private family fund and foundation, which I think he has got a team of just two people, two other people helping him with that and it’s relatively work-free for him. I think he mentioned something like just two or three hours of work on average a day and settling. He’s making a lot less money per year, a lot less.
I’ve seen this over and over that guys who have a $250,000 a year job and they’re slaving away at that would discover that they actually were much happier and much more fulfilled doing something else that only made them $80,000 a year and that they were happy to make that, to have made that shift. [42:07.8]
Bob is just a more extreme example of that, adding another, I guess, digit to that, but experiencing the happiness that comes from having the time to take his daughters to their recitals, to their practices, to their extracurricular events, to play on the playground with them and not be checking his phone, to spend quality time with his wife, take her out on dates and be fully present without checking his phone, and his friendships. Then to have work that has bigger meaning for him, either it brings him greater pleasure, like his music, or it has deeper meaning, like his foundations and his foundation work.
The amazing thing was this realization only came as a result of pausing and he has colleagues who he started with, same age, now in their forties or are approaching their forties, who are still doing the same thing, burning out, burning out their private lives. They can’t hold down a relationship. Of course, then they can’t have children. [43:08.5]
Then, to numb the meaninglessness of their lives, they drink or do drugs, whatever it is that’s typical of high-powered finance as these guys age and hit that midlife crisis, and then maybe then they will be forced to look at the questions, ask themselves the questions that Bob, luckily, was already asking himself in his late-twenties and just going through that lifestyle mastery process around which I’ve designed a whole course called “Lifestyle Mastery”.
He was able to reorient himself, discover the more important priorities in his life, and give himself the art, practice the art of loafing enough to discover and prioritize the things that really brought him flow and meaning, and then was able to orchestrate his lifestyle, such that he got that freedom, autonomy and control that would enable him to spend more time in his flow, on the activities that brought him flow and fulfillment, therefore, the relationships in which he was able to give and experience love. [44:09.7]
Just that was worth so much money that he was able to take the loss in money, because it was more meaningful than the money and that’s something that is like an achiever’s trap that you think more money will do it. “More money will make me happy. More achievement will make me happy.” That’s a trap. It’s a lie. There are other things that will make you happy, yes, but it’s not the things that you were brought up to believe.
Many achievers just bring up and use the phrase “brought up.” Many achievers come from families that had financial insecurity. As a result of this financial insecurity, they were fed lies—not conscious lies. The parents bought into these lies just as well—lies born out of fear and part of it is this middle-class or lower-middle, or even upper-middle, these beliefs that are just false about what will actually bring happiness and fulfillment, and the best ways to attain the money that would enable you or enough money to enable you to have the freedom, the minimum amount of money to have the freedom, to lead into fulfillment to choose what to do with your time, and the people you spend time with and the activities that you do with your time, that you don’t need that much. [45:21.8]
Many guys making half a million a year or whatever, or less, six figures a year, would actually be happier making $70,000, $80,000, $90,000, but doing something that is meaningful and that they really enjoy in the moment, so they’re not putting off their present enjoyment for some future promise of fulfillment, but that right here in the present, here and now, they are having a life of fulfillment and enjoyment.
Okay, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it with anyone you think could benefit from it, and I appreciate all the feedback you guys have been giving me. Give us a rating on Apple Podcasts if you liked it, and I hope to see you in the next episode.
Until then, thank you so much for listening. David Tian, signing out. [46:09.0]
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