It is Day 5 of my “Less things, more happiness” challenge.
As mentioned in previous days, I wanted to volunteer to experiment with this science-backed happiness-boosting practice. After many weeks looking for something I’d like, I finally went through with it.
I spent a good portion of a day volunteering my time for a beer festival. The festival was not charitable. If it was, they did not make it the main selling point. This was a good fit for me because I am selfish person.
Although I would like to think I am kind and selfless at times, I rarely do things outside of my own interest. I learned this by being brutally honest with myself and examining my behavior. Therefore, other volunteering events would have been too much of a stretch for me.
Serving food to the homeless just would feel like too much of a chore. I wish I was a bit more kind, but that is just how it is. Maybe in the future, I will try a volunteer event that is more selfless.
As for my experience during the event, I had a decent amount of fun. I was assigned to pour beer into people’s cups. There was a large truck parked behind me and around twelve taps of different types of beer built into the side of the truck. I enjoyed the process of seeing tangible progress. I probably poured over three hundreds glasses of beer that day. And as the day progressed, I got faster at pouring.
Looking back on the event, I am not sure if I felt happier after it. There may have been a slight increase in happiness, but I was definitely not overflowing with joy.
It may be because I knew the event was commercial and so the benefit I was giving people did not really seem like much. They had already paid for the event. Having said that, I did meet a nice elderly couple who volunteered with me. They said they had done this every year for years because they liked the community and wanted to give back. So maybe there is some value to volunteering for a corporate event.
The other volunteers I worked with were all friendly and upbeat. It was a cool little community. And it was fun seeing so many young guys so excited to drink endless beer, especially since I was the one who could give it to them.
In the future, I would like to try a purely selfless volunteer event like helping homeless people to see if there is a greater impact on happiness. I will have to work my way up to it though. I have done it before though and suspect there not to be a huge difference (at least in the short term). I did spend time with old people in a retirement home when I was young and I do not remember being that much happier having done it. I remember getting a bored after listening to one person talk for a reaaallly long time. Some of the old folk there really are bored.
When I get to that age, I want to make sure to be like Warren Buffett and other old entrepreneurs. They have a career, lifestyle, and network of friends that they love and love them back. They have so much fun, even in old age. They do not have to wait for someone to come visit them every few weeks.
The final notable was the mean lady. Towards the start of the day, I did not know you had to pour beer in a special way. You have to tilt the bottle almost sideways to let the foam pour out or 80% of the cup will be foam. I did not know this so I handed this lady a glass of foam. She gave me a nasty look and said something like, “You obviously do not know what you are doing.”
One of the volunteers kindly explained the process to me and the lady demanded that someone else pour for her. I would have felt a lot worse a couple years ago, but meditation, improving empathy, and studying successful people has helped. I understand how she might feel about poor service after paying real money for an event. I also realized this was a minor incident and I was still healthy. Nothing had actually hurt me unless I let the words affect me. I put my ego aside because logically, I was a beginner. Quickly, I moved on from it.
Hours later, I had gotten the hang of pouring to the point where one person told me I was the fastest beer pourer out of several volunteers. Another volunteer who just arrived thought I had been doing this for ages. The same lady came up in line and I tried to help her. She did not give me eye contact and told me she wanted someone else to pour for her.
This did not affect me that much (though it did affect me slightly). I am still not to the point of perfection where it does not affect me at all. I do not know if that is humanly possible, but it does seem like I am moving in the right direction and can improve even more.
After my reflection, here are the key takeaways (which might help you on your happiness journey):
A change of attitude to enjoy and appreciate the mundane things in life more. After reflecting on my childhood visit to a retirement home, I was reminded of Dan Sullivan. He is a successful entrepreneur and podcaster. When he was young, he had a lot of time to develop his conversation skills with people who were over sixty years old. Rather than be the guy who clearly does not want to be there, I believe I can have more fun and improve myself even in boring situations. Don’t disregard elderly women, for example. Many of them used to be pretty girls at one point.
Loosen your expectations. I think going into an event thinking it will be lots of fun or guarantee you lots of happiness can lead to disappointments. Unless you can consistently find stuff that tickles your fancy.
Don’t let small things get you down.
Feel out what is fun for you and move towards it. This event helped me feel out what I enjoy most and it taught me that I am probably not going to have the most fun in the world getting drunk based on my personality and interests. Nonetheless, I did have some fun and it was a lot more interesting than sitting at home bored.
Selfless volunteering (that is charity based rather than commercial) may lead to more happiness?
You may not see short-term results of happiness exercises, but they may come over the long term (months out)?
Fun facts of the day:
I cut my fingers twice (on the outside) and hand them bandaged. I am not sure what cut me. The glasses I were handed were smooth with no sharp edges. It may have been from a ring someone was wearing since they were tiny cuts. It still remains a mystery.
One guy kept calling me “THE MAN” because I was the one hooking him up with all his drinks (by default – since I am the beer pourer). Another guy told me I made a friend. A small confidence boost. I never saw him again after the event so it was more like a friendly acquaintance. Nonetheless, happy times.
Another guy asked me if I would pour him a second round if he immediately shotgunned the first cup I poured him. I was not told I could not allow this so I did. And he chugged the whole thing like promised. He returned to the line numerous times and did the same thing. Some of these people really could drink. Surprisingly, I did not see any violence or really stupid behavior during the event despite there being at least 200 people there. Most of them seemed to be able to control how much they should drink.
If you are wondering, the volunteers were not allowed to drink at the event. This does not bother me since I am not into alcohol that much (though I do respect the craft and all the thousands of variations there are).
Did Volunteering Help With My Happiness?
Yes and no. I think it did feel good helping out so many people in such a high volume, high turnover place. Overall, I was surprised that no fights or really rude people came about (except for that one lady) given such large numbers. I felt proud that I was able to re-adjust my emotional state when that lady got me. It’s an important part of happiness to celebrate your wins.
The reason I say this was so-so was because it was a “fun” event. I didn’t really feel like I was helping someone in need or in a worse off situation from me. The value I gave was low to medium. The amount of fun I had was also low to medium. I don’t drink much, though I did appreciate all the different varieties of alcohol that was there.
Ultimately, my experience was maybe a 6.8 out of 10 because I didn’t have that fun of a time or feel like I was helping someone worse off (which I feel may improve my happiness more). Though the studies that I found support this assertion say a simple thing like giving five dollars to a stranger has an effect. An arguably, volunteering my time for a few hours is worth more than that.
Maybe my attitude or outlook on the whole thing is the problem. Or maybe I need to just give a few strangers five dollars, preferably people who really need it. This was a fun experiment to run and maybe I’ll run these other experiments in the future.
Most people aren’t as plugged into the personal development space as I am. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to create a comprehensive list of all the top active personal development influencers across the web. The list covers the most impactful leaders for all content platforms, including social, podcasts, and blogging.
As a note, these are modern leaders that are currently active, who have a face and have the largest influence on a raving fanbase.
Evan has one of the top Youtube channels to help people achieve success. Evan is most well known for his “_______’s Top 10 Rules of Success”, which are video montages of a successful people giving success advice. He covers successful people of every domain and skillset, including entrepreneurs, talk show hosts, actors, athletes, world peace leaders, marketers, motivational speakers, philosophers, and martial artists. Here’s an example of one of his videos:
Evan has over half a million YouTube subscribers and posts numerous videos on a daily basis.
There are two qualities I like most about Evan’s videos. First, he spends a lot of time to create curated content in a form I appreciate most: video interviews of top achievers. Second, some of his videos are really well curated and obviously require a lot of digging to find each clip. The video below is the best example I could find. He made a montage of dozens of billionaires and other successful people talking about why you should follow your passion.
I was flabbergasted after watching this. His team probably had to manually watch and dig through a hundred hours of lectures to find the one moment when they talk about the topic.
Joel Brown of Addicted2Success.com
Joel started his site addicted2success.com on the side while working a full-time job. Slowly but surely, it became one of the most visited self development sites in the world. He was even offered $1 million for it, which he declined.
Joel runs a podcast with the same name. He has many high-hitting guests on his podcast, including millionaire entrepreneurs and meditation gurus. Joel’s content has a flavor of general self-development advice, covering everything from habits to vision boards. There is an entrepreneurial flair to this content, as most of the role models and podcast guests are successful businessmen (Steve Jobs, Grant Cardone, etc.), though he does occasionally add in other big figures, like Gandhi.
Andrew Ferebee of Knowledge for Men
Andrew started with humble beginnings. He was completely broke and emotionally affected from a breakup with his girlfriend. The podcast he ran on the side, Knowledge For Men, saved him from homelessness. He grew a large audience and leveraged that into a business to help men become the best, masculine versions of themselves.
His podcast is one of the top podcasts in the world for this market. Every episode, he interviews an expert in the men’s dating or self improvement industry. Andrew’s flavor of personal development has a clear focus on a dating, relationships, and returning to your masculine, ancestral self.
James Clear of Jamesclear.com
James Clear runs a high traffic self development blog that gets over 1 million visits per month at jamesclear.com. His articles have a focus on habit and behavior change with scientific evidence. Therefore, he covers topics like dealing with procrastination, habit formation, breaking bad habits, focus, and creativity. He is well known for his writing ability. He often adds scientific and historical evidence in the footnotes of his articles.
Jaime runs an audio and video podcast called Eventual Millionaire where she interviews millionaires. She has already interviewed over a hundred millionaires and is still going strong. You can learn a lot about how to make money from these interviews, but that is not all you will learn. The millionaires interviewed often talk about other tips, like productivity, mindsets, goal-setting, happiness, purpose, fulfillment, and setting up automated systems.
Jaime started from scratch with no connections to any millionaires. Over time, she grew great networking skills and created a rolodex network of influencers and entrepreneurs. She’s often mentioned by other top influencers.
One thing you should know is that her podcast had a clear entrepreneurial focus. The advice is geared towards other entrepreneurs. This is the one of the only unfortunate things about her content, since not all of us want to become millionaires by starting a business. However, it seems like that’s how a majority of her guests made their money.
In terms of brand exposure and traffic, Todd Herman is not well known. However, behind the scenes, he is a superstar. Todd works directly with many top influencers and entrepreneurs on the web, including Kimra Luna, Pat Flynn, Ryan Lee, Amy Porterfield, and Jeff Walker. He is well known to the audience of these influencers since he coaches them as well.
Todd started his journey as a mentor to the well known motivational speaker Jim Rohn. From there, he started and grew his coaching program for athletes. He has helped Olympians and billionaires reach higher levels of mental toughness and performance.
Todd has a podcast called the Grit ‘N’ Hustle Show where he brings on successful people to interview. You can find more content from him on his blog http://toddherman.me/blog/. Todd’s current focus is on helping entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs improve their goal-achieving ability, productivity and mindsets. He has a flagship program called the 90 Day Year.
Jordan and AJ Harbinger of the Art of Charm
Jordan is a cofounder to one of the oldest personal development podcasts in existence, The Art of Charm. This podcast is over a decade old and still running strong. It’s now one of the top podcasts of all time in iTunes. It gets over a million downloads a month. It started out as a dating and pick-up artist podcast, which slowly morphed into a comprehensive men’s improvement podcast. The flavor of Art of Charm development is all-encompassing, though there is a focus on men’s networking, communication, body language, and dating skills.
Their network of contacts in Silicon Valley has allowed them to get some high-hitting guests, from top entrepreneurs to scientists. You can get advice from everything from how to build a network to how to improve your emotional intelligence to how to get matches on Tinder.
Pay special attention to advice they give on networking, social skills, and emotional intelligence because that is their specialty and what they leveraged to achieve their success.
Other than James Clear, Mark is one of the only top self help bloggers who writes longer form, personal articles. He has one of the world’s top read blogs at Markmanson.net which gets at least a million readers a month. Mark started out blogging about dating advice as a pick up artist. He soon transitioned to general men’s dating, and then, to self development in general.
He calls his material “life advice that doesn’t suck” and has positioned himself as the “anti-B.S.” self development guy. His flavor of topics focuses on:
Not caring what other people think.
Mid to long-term relationships.
Life skills and knowing yourself.
Lately, Mark has lately been expanding outside of these topics and writing on what he pleases, which often includes politics. He also offers a subscription service for his premium articles and authored a book called The Subtle Art to Not Giving A Fuck, after the success of his blog post with the same name.
Mike Dillard of Self Made Man
Mike walked into work one day and told his boss he wanted to quit to start his company. Although his boss doubted him, he became a wealthy entrepreneur. Mike runs a podcast called The Self Made Man, which interviews some of the world’s top CEOs. His mission is to empower men who can change the world. The podcast is business-focused, but any man can benefit from the general lessons of mindset, happiness, and goal-setting that are also discussed. I like how the show often dives into Mike’s personal life, mistakes, and struggles because you learn how money does not guarantee happiness and what healthy mindsets you should have to stay resilient no matter where you are in life. You can find more at http://selfmademan.com/.
James runs a personal development podcast that focuses on more broader range topics including health, wealth, love, and happiness.
Thanks to his background in sports reporting and interviewing celebrities, he has gotten interviewees including doctors, retirement experts, relationship coaches, nutritionists, fitness experts, New York Times best selling authors, and millionaires.
Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Ramit is the best-selling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and a blog of the same name. He built a multi-million dollar business of his blog. Ramit’s blog started out as a personal finance passion project. It has evolved into a blog and business to help people in their 20s to 40s with earning more and becoming successful CEO’s.
Ramit’s flavor of personal development blog posts are hyper focused on getting raises, freelancing on the side, automating budgets, networking, and starting online businesses. The techniques he teaches has an undertone of “mastering your psychology.” He has a distinct, outspoken style to his writing.
There are a lot of animated self-help book summary YouTube channels out there. But the biggest has to Fight Mediocrity (also sometimes known as Phuck Mediocrity). What he does is simple: He creates animated book summaries of top self-development books that last around 5 minutes long. And he will inject his own review of the book at the end (and sometimes sprinkled throughout the summary).
There is a definite focus on quality over quantity. Unlike most other YouTube channels, he will not upload a new video for 1 to 4 weeks. Here is one of his videos to give you an idea:
He covers a lot of the most well known self help books, so they get a lot of popularity on YouTube. There are a few up-and-coming YouTube channels that do something very similar, like Obtain Eudamonia (same thing, more colors).
Practical Psychology is very similar to Fight Mediocrity except his animated videos focus on scientific studies rather than book summaries, though he does the occasional book summary as well.
Marc and Angel of Marc and Angel Hack Life
Marc and Angel are a couple. They run the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. They have a large audience of 130,000 email subscribers and over a million monthly readers. They have been blogging for many years and are well known in their space. Their topics cover a broader range of self development. Their articles are more generalized and list-based, with a focus on improving happiness, relationships, motivation, and dealing with overwhelm.
You will like them if you prefer “listicles” and a conversational tone. They tend to bounce around many general self help topics and give advice from the heart, like Zen Habits, rather than focus on data or scientific evidence.
I would prefer if they gave more evidence for most of their posts rather than just give me 10 tips on how to be happier. I get skeptical when they do that since it could just be their opinion on what makes you happy. Nonetheless, they have achieved quite a large blog following.
James run his blog Jamesaltucher.com and his podcast The James Altucher Show. Both are wildly popular. His blog attracted hundreds of thousands of readers a month and his podcast attracts millions of listeners a month, rivaling the audience of a lower quality HBO TV Show.
James’s writing is unique. Every article pulls you in with shocking, and sometimes offensive, curiosity. He reveals embarrassing and evoking stories and feelings from his past. And occasionally, he gives you some advice. The topics he writes about can range quite a bit, but often, the advice is a small tip based on daily life, like how to persuade better.
His podcast has a format where he brings a successful guest on to be interviewed. His guests range from successful entrepreneurs to authors to spiritual teachers (kind of like Addicted 2 Success). What makes it unique is that James sometimes spends weeks preparing for his guests. He reads all of his guests’ books at least once.
John Lee Dumas and Kate Erickson of Entrepreneur on Fire
John, and his wife Kate, erupted onto the podcast scene a few years ago with a new style of podcast: a daily interview series of top entrepreneurs. With thousands of episodes already releasaed, they forged one of the largest beginning entrepreneur tribes online. Their podcast is a great free resource for you to learn from wealthy, happy CEO’s.
Their personal development content has a focus on male 9-to-5 employees who want to start a business. While there is a lot of business strategies, Entrepreneur on Fire also has a lot of general self help advice as well, including goal-setting journals like The Freedom Journal and advice on building habits.
Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.net
Top blogging experts like Pat Flynn and Corbett Barr have claimed zenhabits.net as the most popular personal blog of all time. Still run by just one person, Zen Habits attracts over two million readers a month.
If you start reading the blog, you will quickly realize it has a focus on minimalism, simplicity, meditation, and building good habits. His articles (and entire site) has a minimal design and only features text — no images, social media, or graphics. Similarly, his writing style follows this theme.
I personally would prefer if he gave more evidence for some of his advice. But pay particular attention to his advice on writing, blogging, simplicity, minimalism, or meditation. He has quite a lot of experience and success in those areas, as you can tell by the popularity of his site.
Andrew Warner of Mixergy
Andrew is a successful entrepreneur who sold his company for millions of dollars after the Dot Com Bubble of 2000. After getting tired of retirement, he returned to the scene with his interview site Mixergy.com.
Thanks to his network, he has interviewed over 1,000 entrepreneurs, ranging from startup founders to CEOs of billion dollar companies like AirBnB. Andrew offers some of his interviews as free videos or audio podcast episodes; he sells some of the as premium content for a monthly fee. He has covered interviews on nearly every topic related to entrepreneurship, from copywriting to scaling a business.
Although his content has a clear entrepreneurial focus, there is plenty to learn about general self-improvement, earning more, mindset, habits, productivity, or goal-setting.
Brendon has a large presence on YouTube, his Facebook page, and his blog Brendon.com. He runs a multi-million dollar training company and the site Growth.com as well. Brendon covers a wide range of general personal development principles, including leadership, peak performance, goal-setting, meditation, staying positive, and productivity.
If you want to learn from him, his YouTube should be your first stop. He gets tens of thousands of views for each of his weekly videos. The next stop would be his Facebook page, which has millions of fans. He posts tons of Quote cards and other inspirational content on there frequently.
Leo has one of the largest personal development presences on YouTube. Leo’s flavor of content has a meditation and spiritual-focus, though he keeps it objective enough so that you can learn from him even if you are not religious.
Leo draws from the large amount of books he has read and the science he has learned to back up his points. Here’s one of his videos:
Most of Leo’s content has an undertone of “becoming the best actualized, higher level spiritual version of yourself.” There is a clear focus on moving towards enlightenment.
Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and 10x Talk
Dan has coached coaches of successful entrepreneurs through his program Strategic Coach. He runs a podcast called 10x Talk. Although his target audience are ambitious entrepreneurs, many of his podcast episodes focus on habit practices, techniques, and mindsets that are beneficial to everyone. He has very specific strategies with coined names from his program that he teaches you to help you feel more fulfilled, happy, and defeat procrastination.
Michael Hyatt is a well known player in the online space. He runs a podcast and blog at michaelhyatt.com and calls himself, “Your Virtual Mentor.” Michael has authored best-selling books like Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want and Platform University: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
There is a definite focus on helping people stop drifting through life, discover their passion, and turn it into an online business by building an audience. If that is not for you, he also touches on how to shift your mindset for success, productivity, and leadership.
Tony got his start apprenticing under an old self development and motivation legend, Jim Rohn. Starting out as a broke janitor, Tony rose through the ranks. Decades later, he runs a billion dollar set of training companies. Tony started out in the infomercial business but has sinced transitioned to in-person live events for thousands of people.
He is still mainly an offline guy. He is well known for his book Awaken the Giant Within and live events Unleash the Power Within and Date with Destiny. He is the most well known self development man to the mainstream market.Top celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Maria Menounous, and Usher have attended his events. Tony’s content is focused on general personal development principles, such as unleashing your full potential, discovering motivation, rekindling relationships, improving your energy levels, and becoming wealthy.
Steve is known as one of the first personal development blogs to ever be created on the Internet. He is still around to this day. His articles focus on a more general, non-spiritual, daily-life style form of personal development. Steve blogs at stevepavlina.com.
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings
Maria started her blog for fun. Originally, only her friends read it. Over time, it grew to be one of the largest personal blogs in the world. Brain Pickings is borderline not personal development. I would not recommend it for a beginner.
The topics Maria writes about are often philosophical, esoteric, and intended to make you think. Occasionally, she will profile a recognizable successful person. But usually, she just picks interesting people. Her topics are all over the place. They include storytelling, history, love, powerlessness, courage, crisis, self-pity, and creativity.
Her articles usually are not “How to” or intended to specifically teach you a specific way of doing something. The beautiful images she chooses for her articles make them really stand out.
Marie worked as a bartender, fitness instructor, and for NASDAQ, but never felt fully fulfilled. She started a life coaching business online, and it slowly grew into a multi-million dollar business that teaches beginners how to succeed in life and start their own business.
Marie produces content on her blog and Youtube channel once a week. The topics she talks about focus on general self-development tips that her female-dominated audience struggle with, which are usually psychological shifts. These shifts include dealing with imposter syndrome, feeling overwhelmed, getting over perfectionism, why you should embrace gratitude, and adopting an abundance mindset.
You will not get any technical tactics on starting a business for her content because she is more focused on overarching beginner strategies. She has two taglines, which she says in every episode of her videos. These are, “The place to be to create a business and life you love.” and “The world needs that special gift that only you have.”
Tim is the undisputed heavyweight. His name and his 4-Hour Work Week brand is the most well known in the self development and tech entrepreneur communities. Tim’s book The Four Hour Work Week launched him into the scene from nowhere. Its focus is on optimizing your life and business to get the most return in the least time possible. An interesting fact is that Tim’s book was not an instant success. It was turned down by a dozen publishers and it required a lot of smart networking to spread the word.
Tim is known as the “human guinea pig.” He tests weird techniques, supplements, pills, and drugs to optimize his sleep, performance, energy, and fitness so his audience knows what’s best. Tim’s style of personal development content is more focused on lifestyle design, outsourcing a business, medicines, and weird techniques.
Tim’s podcast is one of the most downloaded of all time, hitting over 100 million downloads. His podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, started as a fun experiment to document the conversations he was having with top performers, thanks to his connections as a tech investor. Over time, his guests have gotten increasingly interesting, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Foxx. His podcast is focused on deconstructing the performance of high achievers so you can optimize your life. Each episode is usually a long form (one hour) interview or question-and-answer session.
Brian Tracy is a motivation, sales, and self help legend. He is spoke of on the same line as other legends like Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, and Jim Rohn. Brian started as a high school dropout working odd jobs. In his early 30’s, he discovered self development and sales, which transformed his life. In the next couple decades, he became a top salesperson and motivational speaker in the nation.
Brian creates content every week on his Youtube channel, Facebook page, and blog http://www.briantracy.com/blog/. The content is high quality, high production, and actionable. It may be too high production and cookie-cutter for some people though. Brian is a great person to follow because he has decades of actual experience negotiating, selling, and improving productivity in business to back up what he says. His content focuses on time management, earning more money, improving as a salesperson, public speaking, and running a business.
Brian is most well known for his “Eat That Frog” productivity concept, which pushes you to finish the task you dread the most first.
Gary burst onto the Internet scene a few years ago and has become one of the most followed social media influencers with the most engagement. He mainly gives entrepreneurial-themed advice and his main topic of interest is emerging social media platforms. Topics cover everything from staying motivated, productivity, growing a business, and growing a following.
He primarily operates on YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat. But his team creates offshoots of his content on Instagram, Tumblr, podcasts, and every other social media or blogging platform.
Lewis Howes of The School of Greatness
Lewis has been in the online business space for several years. He became a millionaire by teaching other entrepreneurs how to sell more products by leveraging webinars. Lewis started his podcast The School of Greatnessearly on to help listeners become the best at what they do. It’s now grown to be one of the top self-help podcasts in iTunes. Although his business is for entrepreneurs, his podcast, and the book with the same name, covers topics that can help anyone succeed.
The show interviews everyone from successful entrepreneurs to billionaires to Youtube stars to scientists to coaches. There are also episodes with just Lewis talking on his own on self improvement concepts.
Topics you will hear about in the show include earning more, motivation, generosity, self-belief, taking time for yourself, burning out, mental shifts, persistence, and standing out. There is a focus on more psychological and “internal game” topics.
Pay attention to Lewis’s advice on networking and digital marketing because that is his specialty.
Will’s Personal Development Blog
This is me. I’m an up and coming blogger, podcaster, and YouTube on personal development. My unique spin is that I filter all my advice through two filters: is it science-backed and/or is it coming from someone who has achieved massive success in the field? A lot of the content nowadays isn’t backed up with evidence. For more info on what I have to offer, check out my About page.
As you can see, personal development comes in many flavors. Differing interests, personalities, and delivery create different content. Choose who you think will help you and suits you best.
Did I miss anyone? If you know of a huge personal development influencer that is not mentioned, leave a comment to let me know.
So this is a crazy, yet short and sweet piece of advice.
Napoleon Hill spent his life studying 500+ of the richest people in the world in person thanks to his access with Andrew Carnegie. He wrote books telling us how they did it and how you can do the same.
One of the things that he said was that he and Carnegie found that if you are unable to make a quick decision even when you have enough information you need, you will not follow through on your goals or be successful.
Now, this is important for two reasons:
First, note that he says you need enough resources. This means that making decisions without enough information is foolish and it doesn’t matter how slow or fast you make them.
Second, once you have the necessary info, you have to make your decision quickly. Hill went on to say that successful people make decisions quickly and are slow to change. Unsuccessful people make their decisions slowly and are quick to change.
Examples of History
Henry Ford was so stubborn with his decision about the Model T car even when every one of his colleagues told him to give up.
Yet he eventually succeeded.
I’ve put this concept on the side for a while. I was a partial skeptic because I wanted to make sure if this is really an end-all be-all rule. What if you make too quick a decision and make the wrong decision? What if that screw up hurts you badly and you could’ve have succeeded by just taking more time to think it over?
It makes sense, right? Some decisions become very clear which one is better if you are given a lot more time to do the research. Common examples are mathematical, logical games like chess or poker.
Perhaps what Napoleon means is that life is not like chess. There are too many unknowns, and you’re playing with incomplete data.
Perhaps Napoleon means that most of us fail because we spend way too much time delaying action by analysis paralysis. We could spend months or even years delaying a decision and gaining marginal or no benefit from doing so.
Maybe that’s what we should truly avoid.
What I do know is that recently I watched a speech by billionaire Kevin Plank of Under Armour. His speech, similar to billionaire John Paul DeJoria’s who came from homelessness, really pushed out any type of excuses or limiting beliefs I had about my situation, education, geographic location, or anything else.
“Get off the fence. Commit. Pick your poison. If you’re in it, get in it. If you’re at Company A, don’t spend all your time thinking about whether or not you should be here or not. Pour everything you have into it. If you make a different decision, make it full speed and move on. And never look back.”
His message is simple. Commit and put 150% into it.
He’s a guy who is very quick to commit and go full speed at something.
With this additional evidence, I think it’s clear for me that the best move for me or you at this moment is to just go full force 3000% at something. Decide quickly and move. If you make a mistake, at least you learn something and can pivot.
You can’t sit in a cave or isolate yourself with books and expect to be able to prepare everything perfectly in life ahead of time. Just go for it.
Kevin says that he meets a lot of young people who can’t decide between 2 companies. He tells them to quickly make a decision and put your heart and soul into it. He’s definitely not one to spend hours a day living in regret at the wrong decision he made or mulling over if he made a mistake.
Perhaps you shouldn’t either.
Maybe there is some benefit from talking to others in a field beforehand. You can definitely get valuable information from other people, alumni, friends, LinkedIn, or your network over coffee meetings or interviews. And that can save you a few weeks or few months of heartache from finding out a job or industry is not what you imagined it to be.
But there is a threshold of marginal returns from overanalyzing and overthinking.
Morale of the story:
Commit. Decide what you want to do. Get specific. Do it.
If you decide you want to get a job in fitness, for example, commit. Get a job in that field immediately. Try it out. Put your heart into it.
It’s day three of my challenge to be happier and not depend on unnecessary, materialistic items. See day two or any of the previous posts to see what this is about. Just make sure to follow along and practice this with me.
I went through a standard workout (about 10 to 15 minutes of slow to moderate exercise on one of those elliptical machines and some moderate weight lifting).
I am writing this a few hours after I exercised and I believe I felt my happiness and mood lifted slightly when I was on the elliptical. When I went back home, it kind of went back to normal and may have even dropped due to the mind-sucking power of all the YouTube I watched.
I exercise almost every day and on a daily basis, I do notice changes to my happiness. However, in the long-term, I do feel better, especially when I remember that I have sweated and worked hard to make my body healthy and more attractive.
Does it automatically make me go from feeling average to the happiest person on earth like a magic pill? No, but I do think it helps. My highest moments of pleasure from exercise came from the end of really tough 30+ minute runs.
Laughter is a great medicine for happiness
I did another happiness-boosting task by chance. I did not consider doing it as part of this challenge, but it was always something I wanted to add into my routine to boost my happiness.
Today, I listened to maybe 20 minutes of stand-up comedy from top comedians on Pandora’s free music player. I stumbled across it. I didn’t even know they had comedy stations.
For me, it’s hard for me to laugh and I did not laugh once the whole time (even though I skipped the comedians I did not like). Certain types of comedy (people being idiots or screwing up badly) make me laugh if it’s well orchestrated. Think Jackie Chan movies, like Rush Hour, or Bill Cosby.
Unfortunately, a lot of the white comedians that came on, like Daniel Tosh and Louie CK, were just insulting other people. I listened to 20 minutes of people doing stuff like that — like complaining about how terrible the neighbors are.
Some people love this whole “exaggerated complaining” humor. The constant laugh of the audience in the background made this clear. But I just kept thinking, “Just because everyone else is laughing isn’t going to trick me into laughing. This is straight up just insulting people.”
I have watched a lot of “Try Not To Laugh” challenges on YouTube afterwards, but it rarely makes me even smile. I guess I’m just a tough cookie.
It has to be something fresh, so even the old Jackie Chan scenes don’t work.
But if you are not like me, I highly suggest putting on something to make you laugh every day. It really does brighten your mood and happiness.
I read in a self-help book that a man cured his incurable illness by doing nothing but watching comedy videos all day for weeks on end. I can’t remember what book it was. I just remember that they never cited the study, which annoyed me because I couldn’t check if it was true. Nonetheless, there may be some truth here.
I read in the book 50 Secrets of the Longest Living People that a half-century-long study was done on nuns and those who stressed and worried less lived longer.
Laughter is the best medicine and it’s crazy how many people do not even consider doing something like this. And because of that, they go weeks or months without laughing once.
Update: I am reporting back and updating this article to let you know that I have been keeping (fairly) consistent with trying to listen to humor in my free time. Good news. I finally had a few laughs. It took a long time, but it’s worth it. Even if I don’t get a hearty laugh out, it elevates my mood. What has really helped is a change of attitude. If I just open my standards up to laugh at stuff easier, it actually makes me more likely to actually enjoy it.
We talked about the good. Now, for the bad…
I will keep this section short because one part of happiness is consciously making sure not to dwell on unhappy emotions. Dr. Rick Hanson, psychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, said:
“The brain is like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.”
This basically means that we can dwell on one negative event for hours, but easily forget about multiple positive event. We are genetically wired to have this bias because it helped our ancestors survive in the dangerous wild. Preparing for one negative event prevented death. In the modern world though, it usually just hurts us. Make sure you celebrate your wins, no matter how small. I write them down in an online document and try to reference them at least once a week.
Now, I did have moments of loneliness and unhappiness today. Looking back, I could have made more of an effort to shift my focus when they occurred. But I have been making a somewhat conscious effort over the last year and I think it’s made a difference.
When I am feeling down, I immediately shift to positive thinking without even thinking about it sometimes. But not always, and I need to work on that.
A source of this unhappiness comes from unconscious comparison of my life to famous people on social media. I have tried using Strict Workflow as a free website blocker but it only acts a timer, which doesn’t work well since I just wait for it to come off the allotted time.
It’s tough because there is a lot of useful content on social media too. It’s tempting. However, I have decided to download a complete website blocker to try it out. This blocker will block social media websites forever no matter what I try and do.
For now, I want to share with you two lessons about happiness I learned from successful people:
You can have fun and enjoy life in a lot of different ways right now.
Don’t buy into the rigid belief that you cannot have fun or enjoy yourself because a certain person or thing isn’t there.
While I think it’s important to have friends since we are wired to be social creatures, I don’t think you need hundreds of friends. Think of the Dalai Lama. This man spends his entire day meditating. Yet he is always laughing and smiling in his interviews.
The takeaway is: Take enjoyment from simplicity. Start having some more fun. Of course, work towards your long-term goals, even if they are a bit superficial. You might achieve them. But you can have a lot of fun and happiness without them too.
Conclusion and Future Plans
It was a standard day of happiness practices. Today, I tried new practices that I rarely did before.
My takeaways for the day were:
Realize you can have more fun right now. Then do it.
Recognize and celebrate the good events more.
Spend less time dwelling on the bad.
Use a site blocker on social media sites.
Enjoy life more.
Work on social engagements and relationships.
Realize there is nothing wrong with still working towards long-term goals, even if they are superficial. Money is important. If you can’t afford to hang out with friends and go to social events, that’s a problem.
But the biggest takeaway is this:
Talk to more strangers and brighten their day.
Here is why:
It has been a while since I had a decent conversation with a stranger and pushed my comfort zone. Many weeks or months have passed. I have lost track. I feel like I am slipping back to my old ways of complete shyness. It might be time for me to get back into it.
My goal is to start small: talk to one new person a day. At least attempt to keep a light-hearted conversation going (beyond just “Hi”).
In Day 4, I hope to maybe try another attempt at watching comedy to make me laugh. I will also talk about the “Jar of Awesome”, which is a cool method to boost your self-love, self-esteem, and happiness based on
I have decided to save one of the days of this challenge for a time where I can volunteer and share my experiences.
Now, I have a question for you:
What are your thoughts on these challenges? I think they are fun (if they are not too long, like a 30-day challenge) but I also do not like the fact that it’s a lot of “opinion giving.” I do like the standard list-type posts I do because it’s more based on facts and studies.
With a challenge, I cannot help but go into an “opinion mode” on my thoughts, which may be less useful to you. But it is counterbalanced by the fact that you get to see my struggles and follow along. Which do you like more?
As you can tell, for this day of the challenge, I talked more about other personal development struggles I am working on beyond just happiness, like my shyness. Did you like this or do you want me to focus on happiness for this challenge and save the rest for another challenge?
If you would like to check out details on Hardwiring Happiness, click here. It really explains our whole happiness bias in detail and how to fight it. If you purchase through my link, I will get a commission at no extra cost to you.
Have you ever wondered why we are attracted to what we are and why do we behave in the way we do to attract others? Why are boobs, for example, so attractive if they are just blobs of fat on the chest? Today, I am going to address those issues.
The Red Queen is an iconic book on human and animal mating and competition based on evolutionary biology. Even though it was written over two decades ago, it remains a cornerstone book in the field with millions of copies sold. Many of the theories in the book have held through the test of time.
When it was written, it clashed with what most scientists believed. Yet nowadays, many of these beliefs are commonly held.
This is a great book to understand human science, sex, attraction, reproduction, and evolutionary biology. Here are the useful insights I learned from the book:
What is the Red Queen?
The central concept of the book is what the book was named after: The Red Queen.
“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” -Alice in Wonderland
The Red Queen is a fictional character from Alice in Wonderland, who must run just to stay in place. This concept is used as an analogy for how natural selection and evolution work. All the advantages one group in a species has, which allows it to survive and reproduce, are not helpful in the next few generations because it’s passed down to everyone else. Their descendants are once again competing on an even playing field. Therefore, it’s a constant race to stay ahead.
The Red Queen concept does not only apply to competition within a species. It also applies:
Between species, especially hosts versus parasites or viruses. The AIDS virus, for instance, is great at coming up with new “keys” to “locks” (mutations to avoid the human immune system).
Male vs. female courtship (women try to evolve ways to better detect how worthy men actually are while men continue to exaggerate their attractive traits and vice versa).
Here are the lessons I learned (note: most of the points in this book are theories rather than conclusions):
A study asked people which imaginary person playing tennis they would find more attractive: one who was strong, competitive, dominant, and determined; another who was easily intimidated by a stronger opponent, uncompetitive, and playing for fun rather than to win. Women found the first more attractive. Men did not when the genders were switched.
The same scientists showed did a similar experiment. They showed two videos: one of a man with his head bowed, nodding meekly at an interviewer and another who is relaxed, leaning back, and gesturing confidently. Women found the latter more desirable and sexually attractive. Men did not when female versions were shown. It seems relaxed and confident body language matters more for male attraction.
These preferences may be there because our female ancestors had to assess which men had the potential to be successful, wealthy, and/or high status one day to properly choose them and have a better chance at surviving.
When surveyed on sexual fantasies, men imagined multiple partners in one sexual session and cared more about the visual and their own physical pleasure. Women imagined one partner for the whole session and focused more on their own responses their partner’s touch, feelings, and emotions. This matches the high market demand for porn from men and high demand for erotica for women. Women care less about the visual so they would rather enjoy reading text.
Women care much more about the demonstration and traits of status than menbecause it mattered a lot to her ancestors in survival and reproduction. Men care more about youth and beauty because female status did not matter much to their ancestors.
Interestingly,women can identify modern proofs of status that did not exist in the past. An example would be someone with a Bugatti or Armani suit. These brands and goods did not exist for her hunter-gatherer ancestors yet she can still recognize the status behind them.
A study by Dr. David Buss found that men care more about physical beauty while women care more about status, wealth, and power. Men are not that attracted to women who have low beauty but high status and money. When they studied high earning women in first world countries, they found that these women emphasized wealth and status more, not less, when looking for mates.
A similar study was done that surveyed what genders looked for but broke it down on a spectrum of long-term relationships to short-term hook-ups. For females, physical attractiveness is more important for short-term flings and how good of a husband and father you are is more important for long-term relationships.
Why do people care so much about how attractive the face even if the body is good? Your face tells a lot about your genetic health. Generally speaking, the more the face is a composite or “average” of all the faces in your community, the more attractive it is. Avoid extremes with parts of the face or asymmetry.
Men overestimate how much muscle they should have to be the most attractive. Women overestimate how skinny they should be most attractive.
Fashion evolved to show status, wealth, youth and beauty, to stand out, and/or to improve how physically attractive you look.
Male humans are more interested in traits that signify female youth and fertility, while females are more interested in traits that show who will be a good father and husband.
Males for most species generally want to mate with as many mates as possible while females look for quality of partner instead. This is because females must invest more because they have to carry their children inside of them for at least 9 months and males have little-needed investment.
Most people are average and cannot get the limited supply of attractive people. Average men learn to settle with average women.
Women are better judges of character and care more about character than men because their ancestors needed to in order to find a loyal father.
Women care more about having a long, recognizable man of character. This is illustrated in films because famous actors are often cast to return while new actresses always appear (example: James Bond films).
Females had to choose their mate long before he matured and become a tribe leader. Therefore, they had to develop accurate ways of identifying traits that indicate future success. These traits might be poise, self-assurance, optimism, perseverance, decisiveness, intelligence, ambition, and efficiency. (Note: I had to jump in here and say do not get discouraged if you are not perfect. Girls are not perfect at identifying successes even to this day despite their thousands of years of genetic programming. We all know a girl who chooses a guy that end up not being so successful.)
Females find men who are taller more attractive. (Again, that does not mean you are doomed if you are short. You can make up for it in other ways.)
It’s not about being good. It’s about how much better you are relative to everyone else. Evolution is a constant arms race.
It’s not how smart you are, it’s how much smarter you are to everyone else.
It’s not how fit you are, it’s how fitter you are to everyone else.
Many species are more attracted to symmetrical mates because it’s very tough to grow symmetrically and it shows you had a healthy growth period.
Contrary to popular belief, evolution is not about constantly evolving to be better versions of ourselves. It’s about keeping in a state of stasis free of disease and negative mutation. Evolution does not lead to utopia or perfection. It leads to what is best for one group, may be worst for another.
Every advantage one species has does not become an advantage anymore after a few generations. It is a constant battle.
Example: brown seals give birth to a few white seals, who camouflage better in the snow. But in a few generations, every other seal has the advantage as well. Plus, the browns bears hunting the seals develop white fur to camouflage as well.
The creation of DNA is incredibly efficient. There are only a couple errors every million. I wonder if businesses have ever studied how DNA is created and used it to improve factory and business efficiency.
While fashion trends and tastes change, the waist-to-hip ratio has been a long-enduring attractive feature among all cultures. The smaller the waist, the better. Scientists theorize this is because it is hard to fake having a small waist and it is thus a good indicator of female health and fertility.
We have two genders (no more and no less) and have sex because it creates variety (which increases chances of success), removes mutation, and switches up our genetic traits.
If species must choose between survival and reproduction, they will choose reproduction. Males in some species often die after passing on their genetics.
In the past, few human males mated with most of the females. This competitive process allowed for bad genetics to be rooted out of a species quickly.
Humans evolved large brains to outwit each other in sexual competition and to succeed in passing on their genes.
Honesty wins out in the long term for courtship because women eventually see through the lies.
A comparison of humans to their closest relatives, including chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas, while controlling for cultural, religious, and societal bias, was done to see biologically if they are naturally monogamists or polygamists.
They found that humans are biologically an intermediate species. We do not mate as excessively or have as intense sperm wars as some primate species but more so than others.
After doing cross-examinations of cultures that were polygamists and looking at history, results are inconclusive. It does seem that humans are a flexible species, with many possible mating patterns available to best suit their environment and survival.
Historically, many human civilizations had a caste system where the rulers had access to harems of thousands of children and other high-status officials had access to dozens to hundreds (depending on their status). The vast majority of males did not have access to any females and were killed or severely punished if caught messing with any females.
This system allowed only those at the top to be successful with women.
The impregnation process was very structured and factory-like, with princes required to save up sperm and meet a quota of women every day.
In every one of these systems (across different cultures and locations), the rulers always had a single female mate that he considered better than all the rest. This queen was the only one who could birth children who would be considered heirs.
An examination of human history reveals that power, wealth, and status were traded for sex.
This began when humans moved from a hunter-gatherer society to a farming society. In a hunter-gatherer society, it was beneficial to be helpful to each other. If one person had hunted extra meat, he could share it. The next day, if he did not hunt meat, another tribesman would return the favor.
When farming began, you could finally store food and develop systems to make much more money than other men. This evolved into less altruistic behavior and the leveraging of the resources for power, politics, and sex.
History also reveals that up to a third of men were killed in every generation in the distant past out of competition for sex.
One case study of a stranded group of a dozen men and women was shocking. When rescued, they found that only one man had survived. One died from suicide and the others died from murder due to mate competition.
In certain eras, mating was dominated and controlled by religion. The average man was prevented from gaining power or having sex by strict religious rules.
Most of the year, you could not have sex because of days of the weeks, holidays, seasons, and tradition.
You could not marry anyone who was less distant than a seventh cousin, which ruled out any potential higher status female within 300 miles.
Biologically, women seem to prefer men with a better physique and health when ovulating, but prefer a loyal partner outside of this period. But why not both all the time? Perhaps, it is because women must compromise so they trade off in order to get the best of both worlds. Most physically fit men are usually not as loyal. They cheat to get the healthier offspring but stick with the man who is more likely to stay and raise the child. This could explain why women cheat.
Many others species do just this. They have females who will choose the best father for their child but secretly mate with another male with healthier genetic quality to get the offspring. Essentially, she wants to get her cake and eat it too.
There is a constant “arms race” of deception going on between genders.
Every generation, both genders try to trick the other into thinking that they are more attractive (when they are not) and try to see through the lies of others playing the same game. It’s a classic “Red Queen” never-ending chase because they keep developing new tricks when new ways of telling the truth come out.
Modern examples include dying your hair blonde, fake breasts, steroids, and pretending to orgasm.
Studies show that men unconsciously produce more sperm when they spend a lot less time with their mate (possibly to prevent her from getting impregnated by another) and have sex more often (as part of sperm wars).
When men think women are ovulating, they unconsciously try to mate with them more, get them to orgasm more, and protect them from competitors more.
Women sometimes cheat to mate with a man with higher health and fertility and can counter with their own deception: a fake orgasm.
Men like blonde women more possibly because it signifies greater youth and fertility as blonde hair started as something that only children had and moved upwards.
Humans probably are affected by “runaway selection”, which is when a trait does not actually help with survival or reproduction but everyone selects for it anyways, which creates a “self-fulfilling prophecy” since those who do not have it are less likely to have offspring that are successful in the mating game.
Here is an example: Let’s say everyone in society prefers orange hair. Orange hair may not actually improve survival and reproduction but since everyone else prefers it, those who have offspring with people who are not orange-haired are more likely to have sons who are not orange-haired. These children will be less likely to do well with the ladies because all the ladies believe this false myth. Therefore, it actually creates an actual advantage for orange hair.
Species select not just for what will help in their survival and reproduction, but what will help their children succeed more in survival and reproduction.
Humans can generally identify their own mate value by gauging feedback from other people. This was shown in two ways:
First, a study had a group of people each have a card on their head and a number on the card (numbered from 1 to 10). No one knew what number they had themselves but they could see everyone else’s numbers. By asking them all to pair with the highest number they could, they naturally figured out their own number from the number of rejections and market demand they got.
Second, people tend to naturally identify mate value differences when they see a male or female with someone who seems to be on a higher level. They will ask questions like, “What does he see in her?” or they may assume the person is rich, high-status, or has great personality.
Note: I had to chime in here. I believe your mate value and demand can fluctuate depending on which country or region you travel to. Also, some people can still have a bad gauge and therefore be overconfident or unconfident of their mate value despite actual value (think Ugly Duckling Syndrome).
Someone also could get their mate value wrong if they base their value entirely off feedback from others and run into a bunch of people who express a lot more or a lot less demand than they should for a variety of possible random reasons or if a conclusive is formed based on very few data points.
Human mate value could be more subjective than a definitive number on your head that everyone else can agree with. Someone with lots of tattoos, for instance, could be a 9 for one person and a 4 for another. Maybe your mate value could be a lot higher than it is because of a failure to display your traits properly (for example, you could be wealthy and handsome, but you dress homeless and get negative feedback because of that).
Despite all these skeptical remarks, I still think that most people have a generally good natural measure of their value.
As the average beauty of a girl increases due to sexual selection, our subjective standard for what is beautiful increases as well. Beauty is relative and our opinion, therefore, keeps changing. The Red Queen’s endless cycle strikes again.
Nature and nurture are both incredibly important and influential factors for humans. One is most likely not overly dominant over the other.
Have confidence in your future potential. Young men tend to underestimate how much they can accomplish over time.
Try and improve your ability to be linguistically fluent and never at a loss for words. Women are attracted to someone who is never at a loss for words. He points to the actor George Clooney as an example because he is always linguistically fluent and well-spoken in all his films. He always has something to say.
Women seem to care less about physique than men (that’s not to say that it does not matter).
Men tend to believe that women are rarely interested in or biologically designed for short-term relationships, but studies show that is not always true. At certain points of their life, women can be just as interested as men in short-term mating.
The Only Important Takeaways
Since the author admits that most of these points are still theory, you should probably not factor most of them into improving attractiveness too confidently unless they are the most obvious, clear points. Here are a list of the takeaways that passed my standards. Most of these have studies that back them up, which I went into detail in above and you can learn even more about in the book.
Develop proofs of high status.
Have relaxed, confident body language (leaning back, gesturing confidently, etc.).
Be more competitive, strong, dominant, determined, unintimidated by others, and ambitious (but not excessively). And show it.
Improve your ability to never be at a loss for words and verbal fluency.
Focus less on the visual and more on improving her feelings, emotions, and responses to you and your touch (think erotica rather than porn).
Improve your physique (exercise and lift weights). But do not overestimate how much muscle you need to be attractive.
If you are looking for a mid to long-term partner, develop and demonstrate your character, trust, and skills as a father and husband (here are some ideas: babysit, volunteer, read parenting or relationship books).
Improve your confidence.
Improve your fashion and grooming.
Improve symmetry and height if possible (minor priority).
Conclusion and Book Review
The book brought up a lot of great ideas and taught me a lot about how natural selection works for humans and other species. The only thing that could have made it better is if it had a more practical angle and focused more on takeaways we could use to improve or mating lives.
Having said that, I can understand and respect why the author did not do it this way. He was humble enough to admit that most, if not all, of the theories and points in this book may be proved false one day, as have many once-well-accepted scientific concepts. It is important to realize that many of the points in this book are just theory so make sure you do not take them as fact.