Dealing with Social Anxiety: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Ever find yourself unable to speak in class, despite the fact that you’re the smartest person in the room?

Are you seemingly unable to say hi to a cute girl even when she makes it painfully obvious that she’s into you?

Is it impossible for you to engage in small talk with others?

I’ve written about my own social anxiety before. Even though I have made huge personal progress in the last couple of years by practicing NoFap, meditating, and visualizing, social anxiety is still a problem for me. My chest tightens whenever I’m forced to talk to a stranger. If I’m called on in class, it takes every bit of willpower I have to keep from tripping over my tongue, despite the fact that I’m better prepared than my fellow classmates.

I’ve written before about the necessity of positive self talk for overcoming personal shortcomings, but that is a more advanced topic. If social situations make you nervous, there’s a simple, actionable step that you can implement today.

Don’t forget to breathe.

Yes, it really is that simple.

When I’m feeling the most anxious, when I’m unable to speak and my brain is sabotaging me with messages of inferiority, I’ve noticed I’m also not breathing. A calm, deep breath can make all the difference in the world. While it’s certainly not a magic bullet to get you laid with the cute blonde girl that works in the library (I’m still working on that one), it’s amazing how big of a difference simply taking a breath will make.

In my bigger classes, my default is to forget to breathe and close off my body language, like a little beta monkey. If I fall into that trap, I feel increasingly anxious to the point where I’m trapped inside my own head, not even present in the real world. That’s no way to live life.

Instead, I have to consciously catch myself (that’s where meditation comes in). I lift my chin up and take a nice, long inhale. I imagine the air as a powerful antioxidant, rushing in and cleansing my body of all anxiety. Then I take my seat with my legs spread wide, my shoulders back, and my arms open.

Ahh, that’s better.

Conclusion

Do you suffer from social anxiety? Do you ever forget to breathe? What tips work best to help you minimize your anxiety? Share your experiences in the comments below.

What I Learned Living Like a King for Six Weeks

I recently returned from a six week tour of Central America. My experiences there, coupled with a bit of reflection, taught me a few things. I have listed these points in no particular order of importance, and I may expound upon individual realizations at a later date. P.S. – If this post reads like brain spew, well, that’s because it is.

You need a mission.

I’m now working on my third year of law school. I’ve wanted to be retired since I was 18. For every hour I’ve spent reading casebooks in the law library, I’ve probably spent two hours visualizing a life of luxury. With that said, doing nothing is boring. While I was in Central America, I had the opportunity to get up when I wanted, eat where and what I wanted ($10 lobster dinners are tough to beat), do what I wanted, and go to sleep whenever I wanted. It was the coolest thing ever . . . for about four weeks. I quickly realized that I wasn’t producing anything, that I wasn’t progressing toward any goal. While relaxation is important, a life of only relaxation would drive me crazy. You must have a mission.

It’s a big world.

It’s so easy to see only what’s right in front of us. When I’m sitting through a boring lecture, I tend to forget that a world exists outside that classroom. If you think you’re stuck working at Walmart in some Midwest shithole for the rest of your life, think again. There are opportunities everywhere. Pot-smoking Belizeans are making thousands of dollars a day taking tourists on snorkeling tours. Some American ex-pat is soaking up the sun at his beachfront surf resort while his beautiful local wife treats him like a god. Keep your eyes open, and think big.

You’re smarter than you think.

I was a “gifted” growing up, which instilled a habit of laziness in me. If something doesn’t automatically click for me, my immediate temptation is to give up. Fortunately, the human brain is such a marvelous tool that oftentimes we don’t even have to “try” to learn something.

For example, I used to think I would never learn Spanish. Despite studying the language in school for nearly four years, my skills had stagnated at an embarrassingly low level. Then I went to Central America, where I learned more Spanish in six weeks than I learned in those entire four years, and did so with almost no conscious effort.

There’s nothing romantic about being poor.

Despite the fact that I’m in law school, I consider myself an artist. I have notions of becoming a novelist someday, and I’ve often daydreamed around with the “starving artist” stereotype. My trip taught me that there is nothing romantic about being poor. Watching people slave away for an entire day just so they could afford some gruel was an eye-opener for me. Being rich is certainly not a cure-all, but if I had to choose between having money and not having money, I’d choose having money every time.

It’s always about the fuckin’ dollars.

“Es peligroso,” the taxi driver said with a concerned look on his face. I had just told him I was going to ride the public bus into the city (total cost, $3) rather than pay him $80 to drive me. Maybe it truly was dangerous. Maybe I just got lucky. I kind of doubt it, though.

My theory? Everyone wants to fuck. Of course, it’s easier to fuck when you have cash. Some people are less scrupulous than others in how they obtain that cash. If the cabdriver had convinced me that taking the bus really was dangerous, he would have been able to take the rest of the week off and drink and fuck to his heart’s content.

You see it in the States, too. I recently signed up for a gimmicky, New Age webinar series that promised to make me a millionaire in a few weeks. Of course, as soon as I paid them the $50, they wanted another $50 for their “accelerated” program, and another $50 for their one-on-one consulting, guaranteed to deliver results FAST, and on and on.

Chicks dig jerks

My girlfriend joined me on the trip, and that experience reaffirmed what I already knew: women love selfish men. I’m sure there’s an evpsych reason why this is true, but for our purposes it doesn’t matter why it’s true. Women hate making decisions (and are perhaps incapable of making them), so you might as well do whatever the hell you want.

“Where do you want to eat for dinner?” I’d ask.
“I don’t know,” she’d respond. If I pressed the issue much further, a fight would ensue.

Contrast with:

“We’re going to dinner at x tonight.”
“Okay,” she said with a beaming smile.

And, speaking of women . . .

You can’t fuck ’em all.

I once read a story about a father and son on some blog. I can no longer find it, but the basic premise of the story was that the duo were hanging out and the son kept gawking at each passing girl and, finally, the father said, “You can’t fuck ’em all.”

I was the son on my trip. There were beautiful tourists from all over the world. Fat people were virtually nonexistent. I fell in love ten or twenty times a day, thinking, “If I could just . . .”

Even if I could have just . . . , there would have been the next one, and the next one. You can’t fuck ’em all, and sometimes it’s important to appreciate what you have (in my case, a beautiful, feminine, adoring girlfriend) rather than lust after every hot piece of ass that walks by.

My Perfect Day

Introduction

This post was inspired by “Visualizing the Perfect Day” over at Danger and Play.

I’ve known about the power of visualizing for some time, but until this point I’ve neglected to take the practice seriously. No more. It’s time to move forward.

My Perfect Day

I wake up with the sun next to my girlfriend. The ocean air is pouring into my bedroom through open windows.

As soon as I’m awake, I head downstairs to my home gym and begin working out. I lift heavy, focusing primarily on squats, bench, and deadlifts.

After my workout, I take a cold shower and emerge feeling like a lion.

I spend a half-hour or so meditating.

Next, I check out how many books I sold while I slept.

I spend three or four hours writing in a state of flow. Words appear on the screen like magic.

I have an extended lunch with a friend at a nice restaurant. We kick around ideas for a new business. We’re looking for passive streams of income.

When I return home from lunch, I spend a couple hours reading in the sun. When time permits, I dabble in other creative hobbies, like painting.

In the evening, I sip wine and watch my girlfriend make dinner. We dine together and watch the sunset, recounting our day and philosophizing.

After dinner is a bit of downtime before bed: I laze around on the couch and might watch a Netflix documentary if I feel up to it (see Rule 6 here).

I fall asleep feeling accomplished, looking forward to an abundant tomorrow.

Conclusion

What does your perfect day look like? Post a comment and let me know.

 

Game for Introverts: An Introduction

First things first, I want to give credit to Mike from Danger and Play for the inspiration for this post. He has already produced a podcast on this topic over at his blog, which you should check out if you’re interested in learning more. He is running one of the best blogs on the net today. If you’ve never heard of him, you should check out his site.

Introduction

As Mike pointed out in the podcast, introverts live in their heads while extraverts are externally-focused. If you spend all day overanalyzing social situations, having hypothetical conversations in your head, etc., you’re probably an introvert. You should also know, as Mike pointed out, that introverts make up something like 25%-30% of the population (depending on who you ask). In either case, we’re vastly outnumbered, and extraverts just don’t “get” us. Finally, note that introversion isn’t the same as shyness (although I personally believe there is a correlation between the two). Simply put, introverts “recharge” by being alone, whereas extraverts feed off the energy of group situations.

Before continuing, I’d like to give a disclaimer: I’m not some uber-alpha who’s fucked 10,000 women. I don’t really buy these statistics, but if we assume they are true, I’ve been around the block more than your average guy. I’m certainly an introvert, and today I want to share with you a few tips that have worked for me.

This post assumes you have at least a basic understanding of game. If not, you should read this before proceeding. After writing it, I determined this post is actually targeted more toward shy guys than mere introverts, but as mentioned above, I believe the two are often correlative.

1. Know What You Want

“The point of life is to get what you want.” –My uncle

Of course, getting what you want requires knowing what you want. Do you want to date three different girls a week? Are you looking for a girlfriend? Do you want a wife? Be honest with yourself. I played the game of racking up meaningless notches for quite a few years before finally realizing that wasn’t what I wanted. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Do some soul-searching and decide what it is you’re truly after.

2. Pick Your Target Accordingly

Once you know what you’re after, your can tailor your approach. If you’re looking for a wife, you don’t want to meet her at a club. If you’re wanting to raw dog three bleach blonde bimbos a week, you probably won’t find them in the public library.

My theory is, at least when you’re starting out, you want to play to your strengths. As the writer formerly known as Roissy said in the Sixteen Commandments of Poon:

XII.  Maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses

In the betterment of ourselves as men we attract women into our orbit. To accomplish this gravitational pull as painlessly and efficiently as possible, you must identify your natural talents and shortcomings and parcel your efforts accordingly. If you are a gifted jokester, don’t waste time and energy trying to raise your status in philosophical debate. If you write well but dance poorly, don’t kill yourself trying to expand your manly influence on the dancefloor. Your goal should be to attract women effortlessly, so play to your strengths no matter what they are; there is a groupie for every male endeavor. Except World of Warcraft.

I can’t tell you how much time (and money) I’ve wasted in dark, deafening clubs, approaching groups of sorority girls. Though I had some successes, I would have been a lot better off starting up one-on-one conversations with bookish girls in coffee shops.

3. Booze

This isn’t a long term fix. As an introvert, being around groups of people stresses me out. Even if it’s a BBQ with family and friends, I can’t help but feel a gnawing anxiety after a few short minutes. I’ve got to get out of here! I think to myself. Booze short-circuits this. Even chugging a couple of beers before a social interaction will get you out of your own head and help you be externally focused.

As mentioned above, this is just a band-aid treatment. If you want to work on a more permanent fix, then you’ll want to look into . . .

4. NoFap

Even though I’ve never made it a full 90 days on the NoFap program, I’ve had some decent streaks. I can tell you firsthand that it makes being around people a lot easier. I can hear you say, “Everyone masturbates; it doesn’t seem to hurt extraverts!”

I don’t have any scientific proof for this, but my personal theory is that excessive masturbation puts introverts even more into their own heads. I went to being the coolest kid in 7th grade, who dated all the hot 8th grade girls, to a socially awkward outcast by the next year. This was at least primarily, if not totally, because of excessive porn use. Think about it: you’re spending hours a day fantasizing (i.e., being in your own head) about sexual trysts.

When I’m on a 30- or 40-day NoFap streak, it’s as if I become magnetic. People are coming out of nowhere to talk to me. Conversations flow with ease. While I’d still rather read a book than have a four-hour conversation, it’s certainly a lot easier to be around people. When you’re gaming girls, you don’t want to be anxious and nervous, thinking oh my God, I’ve go to get out of here! You want to be cool, calm, and collected. NoFap will help you get there.

5. Meditate

As I mentioned in “The Benefits of Meditation,” meditating allows you to take control of your thoughts. You’re in a less-than-comfortable social situation and you just want to get out. Your mind is trying to come up with an excuse to leave. That kind of behavior is the antithesis of charisma. Instead, you can catch yourself and replace your thoughts with, “There’s no place else I’d rather be. There’s no one else I want to see.” Furthermore, meditation is like NoFap in the sense that it chills you out in a big picture kind of way. It will also help you tolerate the stress of social situations.

Conclusion

These are just some general tips to help you get out of your head and on your way to getting the girl(s) you want. In the future, I will write another post with more specific steps you can take to amp up your game as an introvert. Until then, happy hunting.

5 Reasons You Should Consider Law School

law school

If you’ve ever considered law school, you know that the job market for lawyers is currently less than ideal. At least up until the past couple of years, everyone with a Bachelor of Arts in English, history, political science, etc. viewed law school as the golden ticket to riches. To show how bad the market for law grads is, Captain Capitalism recently posted this link, describing how some employers are posting want ads for volunteer lawyers. Coupled with the fact that law school grads face an average debt of more than $100,000, you’d be crazy to consider law school, right?

Not necessarily.

Below are five reasons you should still consider law school, even in face of the information above. In the interests of transparency, I want readers to know that I am saying all of this as a law student, not a lawyer. Law Dogger, an actual lawyer, discusses some of the downsides of being a lawyer in his article “5 Reasons Being a Lawyer Sucks.”

1. Law school will teach you how to read

I graduated from a fairly large state university near the top of my class. I got blackout drunk three nights a week and rarely read for class. Even if I did read, I never understood what I was reading. Fortunately, my memory was good enough that I could spew my professors’ own words back to them on the essay exams. That was all I needed to do in order to secure As, which tells you something about the state of the college education system, but that’s a story for another day.

Law school changed all that. I quickly realized that if I were going to succeed, I’d have to cut back on the drinking and actually open my books. Especially when you’re just starting out as a law student, the labyrinthine cases and unfamiliar terms are enough to make even the most gifted students’ heads spin. However, in the countless hours you spend reading for class and then being interrogated by self-righteous professors, something clicks. You realize that each case has a key takeaway, which can usually be summed up in a paragraph or even a sentence. The rest is mostly filler.

This skill carries over into other types of reading, even leisure reading. In the past two months, I’ve read more books for leisure than I did during my entire time in undergrad. And I actually understood them. Even if you don’t end up becoming a lawyer, the ability to read efficiently is a huge help in navigating the sea of information in which we’re currently swimming.

2. Law school will teach you how to write

This plays in with #1. Reading a lot improves your writing skills, even if you aren’t consciously practicing your writing skills. Of course, if you go to law school, you will be consciously practicing your writing, too. When your entire grade for a class rests on a single essay, you must write well. I was lucky enough to have a great writing professor for my first year. He was an absolute minimalist. He encouraged us to get rid of all unnecessary words and phrases. Basically, we learned how to cut through the bullshit and get to the point. Law professors (and judges, and other attorneys, and readers in general) don’t want to wade through page after page of nonsense. Law school will, if you pay attention, teach you how to write clearly and concisely.

3. Law school will teach you how to think

Let me give you an example. Your typical law school exam will have a convoluted “fact pattern,” which is basically a story about something that happened. The cops arrested Joe without giving him his Miranda warning, etc. As a law student, you have to wade through this material (often pages’ worth for a single fact pattern, with plenty of minute details and red herrings to boot). You have to remember the rules for different situations, which you learn from reading the cases. You then have to write an essay, as quickly and clearly possible, explaining how the rules apply to this particular situation.

The entire process requires you to think. You have to keep the facts and the rules straight. You must spot the issues. The process is an intensely logical one. “In this case, we have fact B. Fact B requires the application of Rule D, which states X. Therefore, Z.” You must organize your plan of attack and write an essay that’s better than your classmates’, as most law schools require forced curves.

All of this works together to turn you into a lean, mean, logic machine. Your brain becomes much more efficient and you’re able to connect dots that you didn’t even realize existed previously. On the downside, being around normal people becomes maddening. It is especially difficult to talk to girls when you are in such a fiercely logical frame of mind, so it is important to have some sort of creative outlet. That’s a subject for another post, however.

4. Earning Potential

While there certainly are horror stories like the one mentioned above, where employers are seeking volunteer lawyers, those cases are the exception rather than the rule. U.S. News says that the median salary for lawyers in 2013 was $113,000, more than double the median household income for the same period.

Median_US_household_income

I know a girl who made $6,000 a month as an intern for an oil company during the summer after her second year of law school.* While this example, like Captain Capitalism’s, is the exception rather than the rule, it’s nice to know that everything isn’t doom and gloom. In my personal experience, I interned with a solo practitioner last summer and spent a day working on a quiet title action (a very simple document that would have taken only a few hours if I had actually known what I was doing). He billed his clients $3,000 for the work. How’s that for a four hour workweek?

5. It’s nearly free

Everyone and his brother went to law school in the late-90s and early 2000s, which is partially why cases like the one Captain Capitalism mentioned exist. However, the pendulum is swinging back, to the point where law school enrollment is the lowest it’s been in nearly forty years. As a result, law schools are clamoring for students, and what better way to entice them than by offering huge scholarships? I can speak from experience: I am currently attending law school on a full-ride scholarship, and I explain how you can do the same in my ebook, How to Go to Law School for Free.

Conclusion

By no means am I suggesting that everyone should go to law school. Indeed, if you aren’t bright and motivated, you’ll never hack it. With this article, I simply hope to rein in some of the ideas floating around that suggest law school is always a bad move. Attending law school offers a number of benefits. If you’re interested in the legal profession and can attend law school for free, why wouldn’t you?

*She was also a knockout, for what that’s worth.

How to Meditate: An Introduction

meditate

I’ve spent some time extolling the benefits of meditation, but I failed to explain how to do it. When I first became interested in meditation, I was overwhelmed with all the different types. “Vipassana Meditation” just sounds intimidating. If you’re I was, you’ve always wanted begin meditating, but don’t know where to start.

That all changes today.

The easiest way to begin meditating is to go into a quiet room where you can have a few minutes to yourself. Find a comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Ideally, set a timer on your phone to alert you when a certain amount of time has passed. If you’re just beginning, five minutes is a good goal.

With your eyes closed, simply focus on your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Congratulations, you’re meditating!

It sounds easy, but you’ll soon learn that it is anything but that.

Your mind will bombard you with anything it can come up with: work responsibilities, bills to pay, relationships, and even memories from decades ago. As crazy as it sounds, I often recall dreams from ten and fifteen years ago whenever I meditate. You will become frustrated and want to give up when you try, often in vain, to calm your racing mind. Don’t.

In fact, there is no end goal in meditation. The process is the goal. Little by little, you will get better at controlling your thoughts. You will find yourself thinking clearer. Your focus will skyrocket. I’ve listed many of the benefits I’ve personally experienced here.

There are apps that can also help with meditation. If you use Apple products, the ones I suggest are called “Meditation” and “calm” in the app store. Both are free, and either will do.

The Meditation app will simply ding a bell at an interval you set. This will help you refocus your concentration when your thoughts begin to wander.

If you prefer, the calm app offers a guided mindfulness meditation, where you focus not only on your breathing, but on other areas of your body as well.

Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!

10 Ways to Increase Your Intelligence

intelligence

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Always consult with your physician before beginning any supplement program. Unless you’re like me and think know that all most physicians are hacks.

Despite making effortless As in high school and undergrad, I never felt like I actually understood anything. The stress of cramming the night before an important test was always sufficient to help me get good grades, but I would forget the information the next day.

Reading was impossible. My eyes would pass over the words but nothing would sink in. I recall reading a book on Charlemagne during my senior year of undergrad. I made it about 20 pages in before asking myself, “What am I even reading?” This was not an uncommon experience. High school and undergrad were a daze, to the point where I barely remember anything from ages 12-23.

I’ve been interested in self-improvement since I was 18. I’ve read every article on Google for “How to Increase Intelligence,” “How to Get Smarter,” and every variation thereof. Most of them are bunk. When I got to law school, I quickly realized that I needed to step up my game if I was ever going to make it. Here are the ten things that have helped me most.

1. Believe it’s possible

If you’ve performed even a cursory Google search for “How to Get Smarter” or something of the like, you will quickly find many recent studies that suggest getting smarter is within your reach. In short, scientists used to believe that intelligence was fixed, but they have recently discovered the existence of neurogenesis, which refers to our brains’ ability to grow new brain cells, even if we’re already adults. If you believe something is possible, then it’s a lot easier to take steps toward achieving it.

2. Meditate

I’ve written about the benefits of meditation before. While I don’t think getting smarter is the primary benefit, it is certainly benefit. When you train your mind to focus on your breathing, or your body, or a mantra, or whatever, for twenty or thirty minutes at a whack, there is a spillover effect. It’s easier to pay attention in class, and you can suddenly make sense of what you’re reading—even if you’re reading boring casebooks.

3. NoFap

NoFap is an incredibly difficult challenge. I’ve detailed some of my experiences on the program. Though I’ve never made it a full 90 days, I have certainly experienced some of the benefits. While the program doesn’t work exactly the same way for any two people, I’ve personally experienced benefits at the 20-30 day mark. It’s as if a fog lifts from your mind. Shit just makes sense. Whenever I make it past 30-or-so days, I begin developing a photographic memory. Not only do I remember key points from cases I’ve read, but I can actually see the text on the page (in my mind). Oftentimes, I can even remember the page number.

4. Nootropics

Nootropics are, simply put, smart drugs. While a lot of bloggers I read have been touting the benefits of Modafinil, I prefer to use legal nootropics (and Modafinil requires a prescription). Pillscout has written the definitive guide on my personal favorite nootropic. It’s called Noopept, and it’s dirt cheap. I mix it with ALCAR, as Pillscout suggests, and the benefits are remarkable.

Note: this stuff isn’t a Limitless drug. You won’t be mastering Mandarin in two days. However, you will notice a much subtler sharpness in the quality of your thinking. Best of all, you get a lot of mileage out of them. I spent less than $30 on Noopept and ALCAR and have been using them five days a week for the entire semester. I haven’t even finished half of my stash.

5. Other Supplements

Two of my favorite brain boosting supplements are fish oil and ThinkFast. While there is a lot of debate about which fish oil is best, I’ve noticed benefits from all of it, even the cheapest stuff at Walmart. With that being said, my current favorite (for the money) is MegaRed Krill Oil. Again, these supplements won’t turn you into a genius overnight, but they will certainly give you an extra edge. Plus, fish oil has the added benefit of staving off depression.

6. Lumosity

Brain training has its fair share of supporters (and critics). A year subscription to Lumosity costs somewhere around $80, so it certainly isn’t the cheapest or most effective way to boost your brainpower. However, I have noticed a heightened quality in my thinking since beginning my brain training. Of course, the brain training has coincided with the rest of my overall plan to achieve greater cognition, so it is difficult to pin down exactly how much is attributable to Lumosity. For what it’s worth, the site makes you take a “brain test,” (Lumosity’s equivalent of an IQ score) before you begin training, and again after you’ve been at it a while. When I began in November, I scored a 117 on the brain test. After twenty or so weeks of training, I took it again, and received a score of 135.

7. Read Challenging Books

All of your extra brainpower will go to waste if you aren’t constantly feeding your mind. On the other hand, reading challenging books seems to boost brainpower, so there’s something of a snowball effect. Fortunately for me, there’s no shortage of challenging books in law school, and I regularly read four or more hours per day.

8. Exercise

Thinking clearly is a lot easier when you feel good, and nothing makes me feel better than lifting some heavy ass weights. Get to the gym, lift hard, and reap the cognitive (and various other) benefits for the rest of the day.

9. Diet

There’s the old adage, “Gold in, gold out.” While I think it refers mostly to our thoughts and information consumption, it is also applicable to diet. How many times have you eaten Papa John’s pizza and immediately felt like a lobotomized sloth? Eating clean gives your brain optimal nutrition. And “eating clean” probably isn’t what you think. I loosely adhere to the paleo diet, and eat ribeyes fried in bacon grease four or five nights a week. My bodyfat is at 10%, and I never have trouble soaking up information after eating a steak and spinach salad.

10. Sleep

Everyone knows sleep is important, but hardly anyone gets enough. Supposedly, fewer than 3% of the population can function optimally on less than 8 hours a night. I’m not entirely sure I buy that (I seem do best on 7.5 hours a night), but I definitely feel like a retard whenever I don’t get enough. Interestingly, I also feel like a retard when I get too much. As with most things in life, the key is moderation. Listen to your body, and make sure you’re getting ample sleep.

There you have it—my 10-point solution to increasing your intelligence. Unfortunately, the results won’t happen overnight. If you keep up with the protocol, however, you will notice a definite change. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Benefits of Meditation

meditation

I’ve been interested in self-improvement for a decade. I remember trying to meditate back in high school. It never worked. Inhale, exhale, I would think to myself. Suddenly, I’d start thinking about naked chicks and my meditation adventure would come to a quick halt.

If you’ve interested in self-improvement at all, you’ve probably heard about the many benefits of meditation. It’s good for your health. It makes you smarter. It kills stress. It destroys the ego. It allows you to detach. . . .

All of that is bullshit.

I’ve been meditating for 20 minutes a day, almost every day, for the past year. While there is a nice “zen” feeling that happens during the exercise, it quickly dissipates as you rush back into the real world of exams and deadlines.

“If meditation is so pointless, why do you do it?” you ask. Good question. Meditation isn’t pointless. Despite the fact that most touted benefits are complete bullshit, meditation is one of the most important skills I’ve ever learned. Why?

Meditation allows you to take control of your thoughts.

If you don’t meditate, it’s likely that you don’t control your mind. You’re just on autopilot all day long. Your self-limiting beliefs are constantly tumbling around in your subconscious. When you see the hot girl you want to fuck and think–whether consciously or not–“Man, I’ll never be worthy of a chick like that,” you’re only reinforcing those limiting beliefs.

That’s all fear and anxiety are. Habitual thought patterns. Or, as psychologists call them, “automatic thoughts.” Somewhere along the line, you learned such thoughts and they were reinforced over time. Maybe you didn’t make the basketball team in 7th grade, and then your girlfriend dumped you for a jock, and you’ve been living your life thinking, “I’m just not cool.”

Meditation lets you fix that.

Meditation isn’t easy. Even though I have a year of practice under my belt, I’m no expert. I still find my mind wandering. The real benefit of meditation, though, is that you can catch yourself. Let me illustrate:

You’re sitting on the floor. You set a timer for 20 minutes. You close your eyes. Inhale, exhale, you think, as you do just that. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Wait, what is today? Tuesday? Oh, shit. I forgot to read for class. And I have that meeting with the dean this afternoon. And good lord, finals are coming up in a week. I really need to study. I’ve gotta get those outlines hammered out. Mmm, that girl in the gym looked good this morning. I’d really like to bend her over and . . . hey, wait a minute! I’m meditating. Inhale, exhale.

And so the cycle continues. Once you’re able to start catching yourself, though, that’s when the magic begins to happen.

You can shift your reality by shifting your attention.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done. And meditation is the key that will get you through the door. Quit thinking that you’re poor. Quit thinking that you aren’t smart enough. Quit thinking that you aren’t cool. Quit thinking that you aren’t wealthy.

When I first started, my self-talk was always a defensive measure. An automatic thought would arise: You’re going to fail your finals! I would catch it and consciously replace it with a better thought: I am a straight-A student. I am going to make a 4.0 this semester. With enough practice, the good thoughts begin to overpower the bad ones. My subconscious is currently at a tipping point. The war is nearly won. I now cycle about 20-30 positive affirmations through my head all day long, every day. I am wealthy. I am brilliant. I am happy. I am healthy. I am energetic. I am powerful. I am present. I am friendly. I am well-liked. I am blessed. I am abundant. When they fully take root, I will be unstoppable.

Are you ready to take control of your thought life? Start meditating today.

NoFap is Impossible; or, Porn is Satan

nofap

I got wasted Thursday night. One single Left Hand Milk Stout turned into two, which turned into a run to the liquor store, which turned into chugging artisan beer that’s 13.5% alcohol, which turned into a midnight run to Denny’s where I somehow managed to get my waitress’s number and have a brief text exchange before scaring her off permanently.

I woke up Friday and of course I was hungover. You know what sounds like a good idea when you’re hungover? Porn. You know what’s diminished when you’re hungover? Willpower. You see where this is going. An innocent, “I’ll just look at a couple tumblr pages of girls with big asses” suddenly turned into a marathon session of skimming through HD video after HD video. I was a rat in a cage, eagerly pressing the lever to get another shot of dopamine.

NoFap requires constant vigilance. Booze reduces your willpower. If you strike out at the bar, it’s a lot easier to justify jerking one out before bed. At the same time, even if you do make it through the night, nothing alleviates a hangover like a good old fashioned marathon fap session.

This is why I now try to avoid booze as often as possible. NoFap is hard enough when you’re sober. If you’ve been drinking, it’s nearly impossible.

My NoFap journey began on August 27, 2012. Supposedly, if you make it 90 whole days without PMO (porn, masturbation, and orgasm), you become superhuman and your pheromones smell like Armani cologne and cute girls will practically be ripping your pants off for a shot at riding your glorious cock. You gain 20 pounds of muscle without going to the gym, and your IQ skyrockets up to 165. For a full list of benefits, see here.

Naturally, I was intrigued. I have suffered from social anxiety for well over a decade, and the notion that the debilitating disorder could be cured from a few months’ worth of abstinence from pornography was alluring. “No more porn,” I told myself.

Yeah, right.

I still haven’t made it to 90 days on my NoFap journey. My personal best was 42 days. When 2014 rolled around, I promised I would make it the full 90 days. I planned to have more than 100 days under my belt when spring finals arrived. By that point, the superpowers would kick in and I’d have a photographic memory for exams. That lasted 27 days. I got an earache and decided the only thing that would alleviate the pain would be to watch Jada Stevens getting her ass stretched out. I lasted about 30 seconds. Then, regret.

I have this app on my phone called Your Chain!, which counts the number of consecutive days you’ve done whatever your goal is. The theory is that it gets you psychologically invested. It’s hard to “break the chain” when you know you’ll have to look at that ugly blank square in a sea of Xs. Today would be 49. Except it’s zero, because once you fuck up a streak, you might as well go all in. You can always start . . . tomorrow.

Fight the good fight. Avoid booze if you can, or at least cut back on drinking. Do not rationalize fapping, no matter how enticing it sounds. Finally, if you are keeping track of your NoFap streak (and you should be), don’t get discouraged by a temporary setback. You will be inclined to use your “blank square” as justification to take a few days off and jerk your brains out. Don’t do that, as it will only hamper your progress.

Good luck.

Update: click here to read my post, “The Problem With Porn.”