Thoughts from Elliot Dallen, a 31-year old who died a few days ago:
Knowing that my life was going to be cut short has also changed my perspective on ageing. Most people assume they will live into old age. I have come to see growing old as a privilege. Nobody should lament getting one year older, another grey hair or a wrinkle. Instead, be pleased that you’ve made it. If you feel like you haven’t made the most of your last year, try to use your next one better.
After the gut-punch of cancer diagnosis, I’ve really struggled to define a purpose for my own life. I found in time this came naturally. Life is for enjoyment. Make of it what you can.
Don’t obsess over your current standing in life. Even if you’re a total failure today, so what? What does that have to do with what you’re capable of becoming? Insist on delivering value to yourself. Only focus on that which drives you to improve.
Everyone has 86,400 seconds a day to spend however they see fit. The only thing that separates the successful from the “also rans” is how effectively time is used in pursuit of their goals. Like money, time must deliver a return. Focus on what is true and effective. There is something in the rhythmic passage of time that blinds people to the opportunities that exist even in the most mundane of moments. As long as you have time, you have time to progress. And progress is so fundamental to happiness, that simply leveling up any element of your skill set will make you feel more alive.
Humans have an innate drive to master their environment, but we also have a competing desire to sit around and do nothing. You have to push through your lesser impulses. Invention is an active pursuit. Value doesn’t drop from the sky, it comes from serving others better than anyone else. But you can only do that if you focus on leveling up – of becoming capable of more. If you focus on results, on what is true and effective, on what delivers value, you can transcend opinion and arrive at a place defined entirely by your accomplishments.
If you want to feel good about yourself today, fall in love with your potential. Don’t be satisfied with what is already done. Emotional comfort is the enemy of future progress. Thankfully, you’ll always be a fraction of who you can become. No matter how much you’ve accomplished. And that’s a wonderful thing, for it is progress that will make you feel most fulfilled. That’s why the cliche that it’s the journey that matters and not the destination has persisted for so long. It’s the progress inherent in the journey that we crave.
You can’t hide from the passage of time, but you can fail to make use of your time. Become what you’ve always envisioned. Use your 86,400 seconds well. Level up.
Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro:
Though the amateur’s identity is seated in his own ego, that ego is so weak that it cannot define itself based on its own self-evaluation. The amateur allows his worth and identity to be defined by others.
The amateur craves third-party validation.
The amateur is tyrannized by his imagined conception of what is expected of him. He is imprisoned by what he believes he ought to think, how he ought to look, what he ought to do, and who he ought to be.
Paradoxically, the amateur’s self-inflation prevents him from acting. He takes himself and the consequences of his actions so seriously that he paralyzes himself. The amateur fears, above all else, becoming (and being seen and judged as) himself.
Becoming himself means being different from others and thus, possibly, violating the expectations of the tribe, without whose acceptance and approval, he believes, he cannot survive.
By these means, the amateur remains inauthentic. He remains someone other than who he really is.
It’s always been having for me — probably similar to you — always having the end of the movie in my head. And then filling in the script. So I knew I was going to leave there with a sale. I just had to write the script.
The script might change. There might be, you know, call an audible, and you might have to rewrite the script, but the end of the script was always the same.
I’m going to run a hundred miles.
Okay. Well, how are you gonna do that, Jesse? You’ve never — You’re not, like, a crazy endurance runner!
Well, then, let’s think backwards.
It starts with the end scene in the movie.
And so, the question isn’t ‘Will it be, will it be?’
Because it already is.
And the question isn’t, ‘Do I get to have it?’
Because it’s already yours.
The question is, ‘How can I, right now, feel that it’s there, rather than antagonize myself into feeling that it isn’t there? How can I trust, rather than doubt? How can I believe, rather than wonder? How can I know, rather than worry?’
And so, it’s an emotional game, it’s a vibrational game.
I became very aware of my relationship with time. When we think of relationships, we think of our relationships with our mom or our dad or our kids, or this and that, but no one thinks of a relationship with time.
Now, I’m turning 50. The average American lives to be 78 years old. So, if I’m average, I hope I’m not, but that means I got 28 years of life left. If you reverse engineer that… Like, I just climbed Mount Washington. There were no 70-year-olds climbing Mount Washington. The actual years that you have left to be active and do the shit that we want to do, they shrink significantly as a percentage as you get older.
So once you get aware of your relationship with time, everything shifts. I had a fundamental shift when I came home, as it relates to my relationship with time. Who I want to spend it with and what I want to do. And I want to put more on my plate of the stuff that I love to do, with the people I love to do it with.
And I started getting a lot of clarity around that when I wasn’t getting bombarded with everything else. Like, I don’t spend any time alone. The only I spent alone is if I go for a run. Everything else is… I’m getting influenced by everybody else and everything else. So I’m losing my main superpower, my instinct.
I survive on instinct and gut, and I was losing that, because I was so distracted. So once I started to get that alone time… You don’t have to go to a monastery to do it, you just gotta, you know… Carving out a little bit of time for myself, every day. I started to think a lot clearer on how do I want to live, how do I want to reverse engineer the rest of my life.
James Clear, Atomic Habits:
Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change. This pattern shows up everywhere. Cancer spends 80 percent of its life undetectable, then takes over the body in months. Bamboo can barely be seen for the first five years as it builds extensive root systems underground before exploding ninety feet into the air within six weeks.
Similarly, habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. In the early and middle stages of any quest, there is often a Valley of Disappointment. You expect to make progress in a linear fashion and it’s frustrating how ineffective changes can seem during the first days, weeks, and even months. It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere. It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Vadim Zeland, Reality Transurfing:
One of the pendulums’ favourite ways of gaining access to your energy is to throw you off balance. Once you have lost a sense of your own equilibrium you start to ‘wobble’ at the same frequency of the pendulum, thereby enabling it to sway more strongly.
The strongest string the pendulum can pull you with is fear, the most ancient and powerful of human emotions. It does not matter what exactly you are afraid of. If the fear is associated with any aspect of the pendulum it will receive your energy. Anxiety and worry are weaker emotions but still relatively effective puppet strings. These feelings are excellent at attuning thought energy to the frequency of a pendulum. If you are concerned about something you find it hard to focus on anything else.
The feeling of guilt is also one of the most extensive of channels through which the pendulum can pump your energy. Guilt is imposed on us from childhood and it is a convenient method of manipulation. “If you are guilty you must do what I say.” Guilt is hard to live with and so people try to get rid of it either via punishment or righting the wrong they have done. Both imply submission, obedience and a certain thought pattern. A sense of duty is a special type of guilt. To owe something means that you are in some way guilty and therefore obliged to do something. As a result, the guilty—both the truly guilty and the falsely accused—wander around with their heads hung low, paying tribute to the pendulum in the form of energy.
It is also worth mentioning the various psychological complexes people have. In the case of an inferiority complex the thoughts people have are: I’m not good-looking; I have no skills or talents; I’m not intelligent or sharp enough; I don’t know how to communicate with people; I’m not worthy. In the case of a guilt complex the thoughts are: I have done something wrong; everyone is judging me; I must carry my cross. In the warrior complex the thoughts go along the line of: I have to be cool; I declare war on myself and all around me; I will fight for my place under the sun; I claim my power. The thoughts of someone with the truth-lover complex go along the lines of: I’ll prove at any cost that I am right and prove to others that they are wrong. These and other complexes are the personal keys to the energy of different individuals. The pendulum strikes a chord and begins intensely draining that person’s energy.
Feelings and interests allow a person’s thoughs to be directed in a certain way. If a theme evokes neither interest nor emotion, then it is very difficult to focus on. Pendulums wound a person’s feelings or play on their needs in order to capture a flow of thought energy.