Gardening Our Thoughts

@midjourneybot: /imagine: cutting and sorting thoughts
I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.

—Daniel Kahneman

This quote is true for all of us because our System 2 struggles to remain synchronized in time and space with our own System 1. For example, let’s say we are strolling through New York’s Central Park on a gorgeous autumn day. While our body is enjoying the cool breeze and autumn leaves, our minds might be busy worrying about what’s going on at home or work. Those distractions happened in a former time or in another place.

We get lost daydreaming every day because it is so difficult to stay present.

So, how do we manage the “monkey mind” that bubbles up from all the “quantum computing” below the limit of our consciousness? We have to learn to “garden our thoughts”.

I liken this process to gardening because like any good gardener, I know that I only have the “perception of control” over my garden. For example, in my yard I have several massive oak trees that are illegal to cut down in my city. Their canopies define the light and shade in my little world, and their root zones define where I can put any buildings. Our family basically lives on our trees’ property. We have a tall hedge of cherry laurels to block the view from the condos next door, but they need constant trimming or they will grow into our driveway. We have rose bushes along the street that need constant fertilizing and deadheading and the flower beds by our house have weeds that constantly pop up from all the trees. Keeping my garden healthy throughout the year by doing nothing is just as impossible as doing that with the thoughts in my mind.

Gardening our thoughts is effortful. It's what makes learning effortful.

There are some major features of our personalities that we just can’t change, just like the trees that define the light and shade in our yards. We have to learn to live with them and use them to our advantage. We also need healthy boundaries with our friends and neighbors to keep them from encroaching too far into our lives. “Deadheading the roses out front” is a lot of work, just like being polite to strangers. Most importantly for the health of our “thought gardens”, we need to learn how to “pull some weeds” before they infest our minds.

Get the analogy?

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Pausing Our Thoughts

To get control over our thought garden, the first thing we need to do is slow down how quickly the weeds keep popping up.

Weeds spread non-linearly, which means the more weeds we have, the faster we get more. The best way to silence our “monkey mind” is Meditation. Meditation means a lot of things to a lot of people, but it is usually much simpler than that. Meditation simply means “not thinking”.

If you recall from the story on addictions and fasting, the best way to master anything is to first master “not doing it at all”. If you want to master talking, first master not talking. If you want to master eating, first master not eating. If you want to master drinking, first master not drinking. If you want to master breathing, first master not breathing. If you want to master thinking, you must first master not thinking.

Not thinking is surprisingly difficult to do. Try it.

Most meditation practices focus our attention (System 2) on our breathing (System 1), which forces us to stay present. Breathing is an activity that our System 1 can’t avoid. Try paying attention to your breath right now. I bet you the price of this book that you aren’t finishing your inhales or your exhales. I automatically win the bet because nobody does.

Here’s what it feels like to invest your attention into one single breath. On the next breath in, keep going. Keep inhaling until you can’t inhale anymore and then keep inhaling. Then close your mouth, and keep inhaling through your nose until you can’t go anymore. Keep holding it. Then suck in through your nose so hard you snort like a pig. And when you can’t inhale any more, fight to pack as much air as you can on top of all that air. Keep packing.

Now just wait. That’s called oxygen.


@cybernerds: The reason it feels so good to have that much oxygen in our bodies is because all the little “mitochondria batteries” that energize our cells eat oxygen. In the chapter on Biology, we will explore how human DNA “source code” is advanced enough to operate in a variety of planetary atmospheres simply by swapping out our mitochondrial DNA.


Now let’s breathe out fully. When you start to exhale, open your mouth, stick out your tongue, and push from your stomach. That’s called a “dragon’s breath” in yoga. Keep exhaling until your air is all the way out and then keep exhaling. Use your hands to push into your belly and force up all that air that’s trapped at the bottom of your lungs. Keep exhaling until you can’t go any longer and then wait 15 more seconds. Don’t breathe in.

You are fine.

Just when you start to panic, tell yourself that you’re going to be fine and wait for 10 more seconds. Teaching your body that it’s okay to be without air for this long is a good thing. Your body will stay calmer, longer, in the future.

Congratulations, you breathed fully one time.

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The easiest way to get started with meditation (not thinking) is with an audio guide. Here’s the trailer for a channel on YouTube called “@MindfulPeace”. They will help you get started. At first, you may only be able to meditate for 10 seconds, but keep practicing. It’s kinda like riding a bicycle. If you keep practicing you will be able to do it for 10 minutes.

I also recommend using the Calm app. Calm will teach you how to pause your thoughts.

Schedule 10 minutes on your calendar a few times each week to invest in you. If you think that meditation is just for weirdos and sissies then you probably need meditation even more than the rest of us.

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The View From Above

When we can pause any thought, at any time, new thoughts are that much easier to “garden”. Some of our new thoughts need fertilization, some of our new thoughts need trimming, but some of our new thoughts to be pulled up by the roots and tossed out for good. 

We need to start “thinking about thinking” if that makes sense, which is known as Metacognition. The ancient Stoics had a technique for this they called the “View from Above”. The “View from Above” basically means we dissociate ourselves from our first-person emotions and make decisions for us as if we are somebody else, sort of like seeing ourselves as a character in a video game. For example: instead of worrying about what you should do next, think about what advice you would give to a friend in your same situation.

The lead evangelist for modern Stoicism is Ryan Holiday. Holiday is super smart and easy to read. I own most of his books and they are all great. Here’s a link to a whole bundle of Ryan Holiday books.


@bookworms: Ryan Holiday’s books are so quick and easy to read, that I eat them like Skittles (candy). The opening of “Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” is delectable, and the book does a masterful job explaining how the directional flow of news has reversed since the internet was invented. Before the internet, news flowed from the worldwide Associated Press to national newspapers to regional newspapers and then to local newspapers. After the internet, news flows in the other direction. News flows from Twitter to blogs to regional news to national news to your news recommendation engines.


I think of the “View from Above” almost like a System 3. If System 2 is the manager of System 1, then System 3 is the manager of System 2.

System 1 is like an orchestra before a performance. There are all kinds of instruments making all kinds of noise that need to be coordinated. System 2 is like the conductor of that orchestra. But sometimes the conductor gets lost in the music, so he needs help managing the show. System 3 is like the stage manager who watches the show from the wings, so he can pull the curtains at any time.

To belabor this metaphor:

  1. System 1 = orchestra that’s doing all the work

  2. System 2 = conductor who thinks he’s in charge

  3. System 3 = stage manager who starts and stops the show

Awareness

The more time we can spend in the “View from Above”, the better our decision making will become. The view from above builds our Self-Awareness over time.

My favorite book for building self-awareness is simply called “Awareness” by Anthony de Mello. This book will change your life. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist in India. He is a fantastic storyteller, so I highly recommend you listen to this book, instead of reading it.

Here are a few of my favorites quotes from “Awareness”:

  • Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one's awareness of one's ignorance.

  • Don't ask the world to change...you change first.

  • When you come to see you are not as wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you are wiser today.

  • Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description. 

  • Enlightenment is: absolute cooperation with the inevitable.

  • The tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained, it does not cause happiness – it merely causes a flash of pleasure followed by weariness, and it is always accompanied, of course, by the anxiety that you may lose the object of your attachment.

  • People who want a cure, provided they can have it without pain, are like those who favour progress, provided they can have it without change.

  • There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.

My favorite quote from the book concerns happiness. de Mello writes,

Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs, until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don't have to do anything because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don't you experience it? Because you've got to drop something. You've got to drop illusions. You don't have to add anything in order to be happy; you've got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It's only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!

Drop your labels and read “Awareness”.

Another great resource to grow your self-awareness is called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Here’s a quote from its Wikipedia,

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a pseudoscientific approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy, that first appeared in Richard Bandler and John Grinder's 1975 book, “The Structure of Magic I”. NLP claims that there is a connection between neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and acquired behavioral patterns (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. According to Bandler and Grinder, NLP can treat problems such as phobias, depression, tic disorders, psychosomatic illnesses, near-sightedness, allergy, the common cold, and learning disorders, often in a single session. They also claim that NLP can ‘model’ the skills of exceptional people, allowing anyone to acquire them.

There are three central concepts at the heart of NLP.

Subjectivity: We experience the world subjectively thus we create subjective representations of our experience. These subjective representations of experience are constituted in terms of five senses and language. That is to say our subjective conscious experience is in terms of the traditional senses of vision, audition, tactition, olfaction and gustation such that when we—for example—rehearse an activity "in our heads", recall an event or anticipate the future we will "see" images, "hear" sounds, "taste" flavours, "feel" tactile sensations, "smell" odours and think in some (natural) language. Furthermore it is claimed that these subjective representations of experience have a discernible structure, a pattern. It is in this sense that NLP is sometimes defined as the study of the structure of subjective experience.

Behavior can be described and understood in terms of these sense-based subjective representations. Behavior is broadly conceived to include verbal and non-verbal communication, incompetent, maladaptive or "pathological" behavior as well as effective or skillful behavior. Behavior (in self and others) can be modified by manipulating these sense-based subjective representations.

Consciousness: NLP is predicated on the notion that consciousness is bifurcated into a conscious component and an unconscious component. Those subjective representations that occur outside of an individual's awareness comprise what is referred to as the unconscious mind.

Learning: NLP utilizes an imitative method of learning—termed modeling—that is claimed to be able to codify and reproduce an exemplar's expertise in any domain of activity. An important part of the codification process is a description of the sequence of the sensory/linguistic representations of the subjective experience of the exemplar during execution of the expertise.

Okay, that’s all a bit confusing. NLP simply means that anyone and everyone can change their life, simply by changing the way they talk to themselves. NLP means the highest performers in the world are that way because they think about their craft differently than everyone else.

It’s true.

I have interviewed some of the highest performing people in many different domains: artists, scientists, CEOs, professional athletes, chefs, trainers, lawyers, real estate developers, doctors, and everything in between. In fact, if you are the best in the world at anything, I want to buy you dinner to hear how you think about your craft. For real, even if you are the best in the world at graffiti, cup stacking, adventure racing, movie editing, or whatever, I don’t care. If all of your peers agree that you are one of the best, then email me below:

iamnumberoneintheworld@funfreq.com

One thing I’ve learned from interviewing so many high achievers, is that they aren’t that way in every area of their lives. What’s noticeable in the interviews is how their vocabulary becomes much more precise when discussing their areas of expertise. For example, the next time you see Tiger Woods on television, listen to the way he describes the curve of a golf ball flying through the air. Tiger sounds more like a mathematician describing curves on a graph. Tiger is SO NERDY about the flight of a golf ball.

Here’s another golfer example. One day I was on the driving range at Austin Country Club with Hall of Fame golfer, Tom Kite. The golf balls there come in little leather buckets that you dump out on the ground to practice. Tom is the only person I’ve ever seen who chips the balls back into the little leather buckets. He’s that precise. So I was on the driving range sitting on the ground about 12 inches from where Tom was smashing golf balls with a 6-iron. I looked up and asked, “Is that where you always put the ball in your stance?”

He said, “It is for a 6-iron”.

So I wondered out loud, “Where would the ball be if you were hitting a 5-iron?”

Kite said, “When I’m hitting a 5, I like the center of the ball to be equal with the center of my left eye. But when I’m hitting a 6, I want the center of the ball to be even with the right side of my left eye.”

In NLP language, that’s how Tom Kite “models” his subjective experience. 

That’s what NLP is trying to say: to change your ability in life, you must first change the way you model those abilities with the language in your mind.

Recall these examples from the first chapter:

  • When you think, “I’m not good at math.”—you’re right and that excuse is why you never will be.

  • When you think, “I get nervous talking in front of people.”—for sure you will next time.

  • When an athlete thinks during a game, “They can’t stop me tonight”—they won’t.

The stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, define what we can do and who we can be. That’s what NLP is all about.

There’s a lot of skepticism around NLP and its lead evangelist, Tony Robbins, which is somewhat ironic since most of NLP is about overcoming skepticism. Here’s how Tony Robbins describes the NLP process in his book, “Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement”. He writes,

John Stuart Mill once wrote, ‘One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.’ That’s precisely why beliefs open the door to excellence. Belief delivers a direct command to your nervous system. When you believe something is true, you literally go into the state of its being true. Handled effectively, beliefs can be the most powerful forces for creating good in your life. On the other hand, beliefs that limit your actions and thoughts can be as devastating as resourceful beliefs can be empowering. Religions throughout history have empowered millions of people and given them strength to do things they thought they couldn’t. Beliefs help us tap the richest resources deep within us, creating and directing these resources in the support of our desired outcomes. Beliefs are the compass and maps that guide us toward our goals and give us the surety to know we’ll get there. Without beliefs or the ability to tap into them, people can be totally disempowered. They’re like a motorboat without a motor or rudder. With powerful guiding beliefs, you have the power to take action and create the world you want to live in. Beliefs help you see what you want and energize you to get it. In fact, there’s no more powerful directing force in human behavior than belief. In essence, human history is the history of human belief. The people who have changed history—whether Christ, Mohammed, Copernicus, Columbus, Edison, or Einstein—have been the people who have changed our beliefs. To change our own behaviors, we have to start with our own beliefs. If we want to model excellence, we need to learn to model the beliefs of those who achieve excellence.

It’s so true.

Human history is the history of human belief.

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To change our own behaviors, we have to start with our own beliefs.

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If we want to model excellence, we need to learn to model the beliefs of those who achieve excellence.

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And in the next paragraph Tony Robbins went on to explain how a woman used NLP to cure her diabetes. Maybe. The point is that we will never achieve anything that we first don’t believe. If you look closely at the quote above, Tony Robbins never uses the word “doubts”. He called them “beliefs that limit our actions and thoughts”. Doubts are so corrosive to us because they preempt our dreams before they can begin.


@biblenerds: If you believe in Jesus, but think Tony Robbins is a quack, then you’re a hypocrite.

Jesus not only thought our beliefs could instantly cure diabetes…Jesus literally said our beliefs could levitate mountains. That’s just as powerful as any magical spell in the Harry Potter movies (which you probably banned your kids from watching). Jesus was magic: he walked on water, teleported boats, flew through the air like superman, reattached severed body parts, and intersected another dimension of reality during his transfiguration. So according to NLP and Jesus, our BELIEFS are the only thing we need to make all that possible.

Sorry if you’re offended, but I’m not wrong. When Jesus told his disciples to feed the 5000, he was bascially asking them to step up and become wizards-in-training. Don’t you think Jesus believed Peter could walk on water without him?

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The ANT Eater

NLP is how we shape and trim the thoughts in our garden, but some thoughts don’t need shaping and trimming, some thoughts need permanent eradication. These are the “beliefs that limit our actions and thoughts” that Tony Robbins mentioned.

The best technique I’ve found for permanently eradicating some of my limiting beliefs is called “The ANT Eater”. It was invented by a scientist we’ve already met in a previous chapter, Dr. Daniel Amen. He’s the neuroscientist who imaged 83,000 brains and runs a renown rehab clinic for addictions. If you read his book, “Unchain Your Brain” you already know all about the ANTs.

Here’s a quote about Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) from the Amen Clinic blog:

Dr. Daniel Amen coined this term in the early 1990’s after a hard day at the office, during which he had several very difficult sessions with suicidal patients, teenagers in turmoil, and a married couple who hated each other. When he got home that evening he found thousands of ants in his kitchen. As he started to clean them up, an acronym developed in his mind. He thought of his patients from that day – just like the infested kitchen, his patients’ brains were also infested by Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) that were robbing them of their joy and stealing their happiness.

Every single time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals. Every time you have a sad, hopeless, mad, cranky, unkind, judgmental, or helpless thought, your brain immediately releases chemicals that make your body feel awful. Your hands get cold and wet, your muscles get tense, your heart beats faster, and your breathing becomes shallower. Additionally, the activity in your frontal and temporal lobes decreases which negatively affects your judgment, learning, memory.

The opposite is also true – whenever you have a happy, hopeful, loving, kind, or positive thought, your brain releases a completely different set of chemicals. Your hands get warmer and dryer, your breathing becomes deeper and more regular, your muscles relax, your blood pressure decreases, and your brain works better.

Here are a few types of ANTs that infest our minds:

Fortune Telling: This is the ANT of almost anyone who has a panic disorder. They are masterful at predicting the worst, even though they don’t have any evidence.

Mind Reading: Where you arbitrarily believe that you know what someone else is thinking, even though they didn’t tell you. It’s a major reason why people have trouble in relationships.

Guilt Beatings: we use words against ourselves and others like “should”, “must”, “ought” and “have to”. Guilt is not a very good motivator for change. Telling yourself “I should go see my grandmother” rather than “I want to spend time with my grandmother” only serves to make you feel negative.

Blame: Whenever you blame someone else for the problems in your life, you are a victim and you can’t do anything to change it.

Labeling: Calling yourself or someone else a derogatory name. This diminishes your ability to see situations clearly.

Fortunately, there is a remedy to kill the ANTs called “The ANT Eater”. The ANT Eater is a series of questions that we need to ask ourselves once we become aware of the ANTs. When you pause and capture an automatic negative thought, ask yourself this series of questions:

  1. Is this statement true?

  2. Would everyone else in the world agree this statement is true?

  3. What is the opposite of this thought?

  4. Is that thought even more true?

This process sounds tedious but it works. Recurrent negative thoughts addressed this way reduce in frequency and sometimes never return.

The ANT Eater is how I “pull weeds” from my own thought garden. Here is an example ANT that I have “endured” in the past: “My son is the most stubborn, uncoachable kid in the world.” I have thought this thought at least a 100 times. Per year.

  1. Is this statement true? Yes, absolutely, I’m going to lose my marbles. 🤬

  2. Would everyone else agree this statement is true? Not really. His grandparents, his teachers, and his friends all think he’s one of the fastest learners they’ve ever met. 🤔

  3. What is the opposite of this thought? My son is one of the best learners I’ve ever met. 💡

  4. Is that even more true than my first thought? Yes. Unfortunately. 🙄

When faced with my own irreconcilable differences, I have to find a new story that allows my feelings and this new thought to both be true. My son feels uncoachable, but he’s also a gifted learner. If no one else on Earth agrees with my belief, then I’m the problem. How I coach him must be wrong, for him.

So a few years ago, after I read “Unchain Your Brain”, I switched parenting tactics with my son. I noticed that he learns easiest from books. So now when I want to “steer his strategies” in life, I give him a book. That way a stranger can tell him the exact same thing I want to say, but in 1000 times as many words. I love my son. Using the ANT Eater totally changed our relationship and now it feels like we’re on the same team. 🙌

Capture those ANTs. Guard yourself from every word that streams across your inner chatbot.

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Best Practices

Once we can prune the automatic negative thoughts and bad habits from our lives, we will have “space in our garden” to plant new ideas, new dreams, and new goals.

Like we mentioned with NLP, you will need to find experts who can teach you those Best Practices. Books are the best place to start because those experts will teach you a new vocabulary to model their ideas. For example, how many times have you heard someone call the voice in your head an “inner chatbot”? Does that change the way you think about yourself?

MasterClass, Great Courses Plus, YouTube, and Khan Academy are also great places to Self-Upskill. Masterclass allowed me to hear exactly how Malcom Gladwell describes his writing process, how Steve Martin describes his comedy, and how Jimmy Chin describes his photography. Spend some time in Masterclass, it’s cheaper than Netflix.

Khan Academy is free. Some of my kids used this to learn the core curriculum of American high schools.

Great Courses will teach you about almost everything.

There’s a reason best practices are called Best Practices. You have to practice them. The best way to manufacture a new habit is with a “reverse fast”. Instead of stopping something for 40 days in a row, to build a habit you must start something for 40 days in a row. For little kids that might mean brushing their teeth every day, but for an adult that might mean playing the guitar every day.

To be a “disciple” of any new way of living, you need “discipline” to create it.

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My favorite app for managing new habits and replacing old ones is called “Way of Life”. I have used it for years. If you’ve never used a habit tracker, start small. Only track 1-2 new habits at a time. When you see too many red X’s on your dashboard, it’s easy to get discouraged. Be sure to set annoying reminders each evening so that your “future self” inputs the data for each day.

My favorite book for managing new habits and replacing old ones is called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times that writes about habits and best practices. In his book, he describes The Habit Loop as a neurological pattern that always begins with a Cue, which is a trigger that signals the brain. The cue is followed by the main component of the habit: a mental, physical, or emotional Routine. Depending on how well we execute the routine, we receive a variable Reward. Duhigg writes,

Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.

The most interesting takeaway from the book is that cues and rewards are very difficult to change, much more than the routine. Some cues we have to remove from our lives all together. For example, if you are trying to get sober but still play softball with your drug dealer, then you won’t be sober for very long.

Each time we fight and resist a habit in our life we burn some of our Willpower, which is a finite resource. The best resource to learn about this process is the book, “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by Roy Baumeister.

Baumeister is a professor of Psychology at Florida State who researches Ego Depletion. Baumeister believes that Willpower is a mental muscle that can be strengthened with practice and fatigued with overuse. Evidently our System 2, the Rider, only has so much energy to fight the Horse before our “what the hell” attitude lets the Horse out of the barn. 🐎

Here’s a few notable quotes from Baumeister:

  • Willpower is what separates us from the animals. It's the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation - do what's right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now. It's central, in fact, to civilization.

  • Most of the problems that plague our society - addiction, overeating, crime, domestic violence, prejudice, debt, unwanted pregnancy, educational failure, underperformance at school and work, lack of savings, failure to exercise - are in some degree a failure of self-control.

  • Researchers were surprised to find that people with strong self-control spent less time resisting desires than other people did….people with good self-control mainly use it not for rescue in emergencies, but rather to develop effective habits and routines in school and at work.

  • Trophies should go to the winners. Self-esteem does not lead to success in life. Self-discipline and self-control do, and sports can help teach those.

  • For most of us... the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them.

Once we clean up the weeds in our garden and start building healthy habits, we will need Grit. Naturally by favorite book to learn about grit is called, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth.

If you are going to survive in this universe, you will need grit every single day. You need grit even if you're rich and especially if you’re poor. Every animal in this world has to fight every day to stay alive. Angela Duckworth’s book inspired my wife and I to force each of our kids to join the rowing team in Austin and not let them quit for 24 months. Two years is an important threshold for building grit.

We started this essay by stating that gardening our thoughts was effortful. It is effortful because life is effortful. My favorite book that navigates this issue is called, “The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth” by M. Scott Peck.

Here’s how he starts the book,

Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. * It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.

Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily, or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others. I know about this moaning because I have done my share.

Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life's problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing.

* The first of the "Four Noble Truths" which Buddha taught was “Life is suffering.”

You can buy the rest of Peck’s book here:

Scott Peck also has two other books that I highly recommend. Peck is scientist and psychotherapist that became increasingly interested in the concept of evil over the course of his career. Some of the “evil” he witnessed was self-inflicted by his patients and the way they talked to themselves. He documents that research in the book, “The People of the Lie: The Encounter with Evil in Everyday Life”.

“The People of the Lie” was instrumental in helping me identify dangerous people in my own life. The scariest things about the people who lie to you is that they lie to themselves. The reason they are so good at lying to you is because they actually believe their own lies too. 😳

In Peck’s research, not all of the “evil” was self-inflicted. The last book that I recommend is called “Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession”. In the words of the publisher, this book “offers the first complete account of exorcism and possession by a modern psychiatrist in this extraordinary personal narrative of his efforts to heal patients suffering from demonic and satanic possession.”

If you want to dive even deeper into the voices in our heads, try “An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels” by Father Gabriele Amorth.

Since this list of book recommendations is already spiraling out of control (just like our lives without self-discipline), here’s another great research book about psychopaths and sociopaths called, “The Sociopath Next Door”.

It was written by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout. She reveals how 4% of everyone we will ever meet, 1 in 25 people, has an undetected mental disorder. These people possess no conscience, meaning they have no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. This is shockingly true: 1 in 25 people is secretly a sociopath.

So, if you really want to know how people work, then you need to actually read all the books I pitched in this chapter. Will that be difficult?

Life is difficult.

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