The Myth of Motivation

One of the things that motivational speakers, self-help gurus, and ordinary well-meaning individuals always seem to espouse is this notion that motivation springs from a place of positivity.

But the simple truth is, motivation can come from anywhere. Good, bad, dark, light, a well-spring of happiness or a font of misery. Motivation can be all unicorns and rainbows or it can be the deepest, darkest part of your soul filled with rage and bitterness.

And problems arise when people hear only about it coming from the positive and thereby think that if they aren’t always happy or upbeat, there must be something wrong with them. That is not necessarily true. Although extended periods of darkness and depression can definitely be a sign that you may want to look into talking to someone, darkness – like light – can also be useful.

Imagine bumping into an old high school friend and they happen to look fit, trim, and happy. Maybe you’ve been slacking on the workout front so seeing them fills you with jealousy or resentment. Instead of tamping that down and chastising yourself for being “bad,” use it to motivate you to get back to your fitness regimen. Take the so-called “bad” and use it to create something “good.”

Frankly, as we’ve discussed before, negative energy is always easier to generate than positive. All biological systems left to their own devices without some form of discipline will naturally devolve into chaos. It’s always easier to go negative than positive, so if generating positive energy is too hard, i.e., “Brenda looks great! Good for her. I want to look like that, too, so I’ll get back to working out.” then simply use negative energy to drive you forward, i.e., “Ugh, That bitch looks good. I hate her for looking so good so I’m gonna show her. I’ll look even better once I start getting back to the gym.”

Using the negative to generate something positive is an intriguing idea that you can use in any area of your life.

The key to motivation is knowing how to handle it and direct it once you have it in-hand. Being truthful about where your motivation is coming from is also key. If you lie to yourself about its source, then that simply sets you up for failure. There will be plenty of times throughout the course of your life when anger motivates you to do something; resentment, jealousy, bitterness – all of these are inherent and natural aspects of our mood and spirit. True power comes from being honest with yourself and recognizing these aspects just as readily as you recognize all the positive: happiness, pride, joy, ecstasy, satisfaction, etc.

Too many self-help gurus like to only focus on the positive and for good reason: a lot of them have never been honest about admitting that humans are made up of every emotion on the entire spectrum, just not the happy go-lucky side. Denying one side in favor of the other is a recipe for disaster, because when those darker emotions hit, the person who has spent too much time denying them will be ill-prepared to deal with their presence and influence. Whereas someone who acknowledges the complexities of their entire psyche in an honest, forthright fashion will always have a better idea of how to deal with any and all aspects of their being.

Even when it seems like there is nothing within you to help motivate, there is always something. The key is simply acknowledging that some of the parts of yourself that society tells you not to employ, are, in fact, things you can use to help.

The Danger of Hyperbole & Trump’s Criminality

So yesterday, Donald Trump used the word “lynching” to describe the completely legal procedure of impeachment that is now taking place in the House of Representatives. As is the norm with Trump, the use of hyperbole has been a constant since he announced his run for the White House. Everything is at the extreme when it comes to his word choices (that is, those words that aren’t some bizarre aberration of English like “hamberder” and “covefe”) Hyperbole, in Trump’s case, has largely been attributed to his personality. As a real estate “developer,” he was known for using extreme verbiage to describe his projects and ventures and ratings and pretty much every aspect of his life, usually without having anything near factual to back it up.

But is the use of hyperbole simply the mechanics of a narcissist? Or is there something more to the habit than is recognizable through a superficial examination only?

Hyperbole as defined is a statement that uses extreme exaggeration to make a point or show emphasis. Claims like “I only hire the best and the brightest,” “I’m a very stable genius,” and negative statements about his foes along the lines of “everything is a disaster,” or “shithole countries,” or “crime-infested cities,” are just a few of the many times that Trump uses this tactic. The frequent use of hyperbole is an interesting way to phrase things because it projects certain assumptions on the part of the target audience. “I’m a very stable genius,” for example, presupposes that anyone else – or in this case a political opponent – is not that smart at all. A “crime-infested city” represented by a Democrat presupposes that a city represented by a Republican is the opposite. In other words, even when the fact do not support the hyperbole, the presupposition of the comment sneaks into the subconscious minds of those who are susceptible to it in the first place, and acts as a reinforcement for exactly what Trump wants to instill there.

Worse, there is yet another aspect to hyperbole that makes it even more nefarious: when everything is hyperbole, nothing is. In other words, when Trump chooses to use the word “lynching” to describe the impeachment process – that is, taking an extremely horrific act and placing it on the same level as a legal proceeding – he is effectively reducing the criminality of his actions in the minds of his supporters. How? By equating impeachment with lynching, Trump pairs an extreme with a non-extreme, to the point that everything becomes an extreme, which then nullifies that extremity itself. When everything is awful or terrible or horrific then everything becomes that. So obstruction of justice becomes collusion become quid-pro-quo becomes witch hunt becomes treason becomes whistle blower becomes porn star payoffs becomes…

When everything is on the same level, there is no longer anything egregious; there is no longer any sort of extreme. In the minds of those this tactic works on, there’s no breaking point, no red line that shouldn’t be crossed. If all of his crimes aren’t even seen as crimes but as simply acts of a president, then where is the criminality? Where is the outrage? There is none because Trump has effectively leveled all of his criminal acts such that no ONE act stands out as particularly awful. No ONE act stands out as the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. He has effectively reduced his crimes to the point that everything looks like “just another part of this witch hunt.” And his supporters will insist he did nothing wrong, that this is all a scheme cooked up by the Deep State or the Democrats or the Clintons.

Trump uses hyperbole often in grandiose terms, but his overall strategy may be far more insidious than simple narcissistic projection. He is effectively reducing the impact of each and every new revelation that comes out about his criminality to the point that, in the minds of his supporters, those acts simply no longer register. And if they do, they aren’t worth prosecuting because no ONE act is worse than the other. The appearance is that they are all the acts of a president engaged in the business of the Oval Office while being pursued by Democrats who haven’t gotten over the fact that Hillary lost in 2016.

So as egregious and nauseating as Trump’s use of “lynching” was yesterday, the act wasn’t merely that of a deranged narcissist playing the victim card; there is more to what he does than meets the eye. Watch when he uses hyperbole in the future as a way of framing things, because there’s usually a point to it. Even if it’s not immediately identifiable.

 

Cartoon by Jerry Holbert all rights reserved

Pro-2nd Amendment & Pr-Gun Control Are NOT Contradictory

Two mass shootings in less than 24 hours. ..

According to Trump since 2016, the source of danger has been illegal immigrants. According to Trump, this danger necessitates a wall to protect us.

Yet, since 2016 (and before that) the single greatest threat, factually, has come from white men – actual domestic terrorists.

Not illegal immigrants; not Muslim extremists; not radicalized Hare Krishnas, not any minority group at all.

White men are the number one perpetrator of mass shooting terrorist incidents in this nation.

That’s it. That is fact. It’s undeniable and it is irrefutable.

So what needs to happen?

Well, using Trumpian “logic” (Jesus, there’s an oxymoron if ever there was one) we should be building walls around white enclaves to protect ourselves. After all, these white men are coming out with guns and they’re killing our people. So it makes sense, right? We’ve got that stats to back this up.

Except that is utterly stupid.

Which is why the argument for a border wall is bullshit.

“But Jon, that’s not the same thing!”

Really? Because, frankly, at this point, I’d rather have walls around states that have a large percentage of Trump supporters than I would at the border where we’ve been treating asylum seekers like Jews in concentration camps because statistically, those states are more of a threat than a woman and her kids fleeing gang violence in Guatemala.

Don’t like the logic? Tough shit. The facts bear it out. Unlike this bullshit argument about an MS-13 caravan concocted (once again) to scare dumbass white people who can’t be bothered to use their fucking brains to see if they’re being willfully manipulated.

Moving on: the two mass shootings yesterday happened in states where gun ownership is a pretty simple process. The first terrorist opened up at a Wal-Mart in Texas.

AT A FUCKING WAL-MART IN TEXAS.

I’m gonna stereotype the fuck out of this, but are you kidding me? No one had a gun out of that entire store? There wasn’t a single “good guy with a gun” anywhere by a Wal-Mart in Texas?

I highly fucking doubt it. In fact, I’d bet there were a good number of good ol’ boys with American flags festooning their pick-up trucks parked there. And I’ll bet at least one of them had a firearm.

But there’s a big difference between talking high and mighty about the “good guy with a gun” and actually being willing and able to take action when the situation demands it. And the fact is, when most people hear gunfire, they want to curl up into the smallest ball imaginable and hide. That’s not necessarily cowardice; it’s human nature. Still others will only focus on saving themselves and family rather than confront the threat.

Which is why the “good guy with a gun” argument is bullshit, too.

Now, I have plenty of friends – plenty of folks who I know *would* engage a terrorist; and they have both the tools and experience to do so. They also have the willingness. But people like that are few and far between and the simple fact is the chances of someone like that being around at a terrorist incident are slim.

Which is why the “we need more people armed” argument is bullshit.

Moving on…

“But if we enact more gun control, the criminals will still have guns.”

Yup. They will. But you know what? Those criminals aren’t committing terrorist acts. They’re not out shooting up schools, or temples, or churches, or malls, or bars, or health clinics. They’re also, by and large, not committing waves of home invasions, or taking hostages, or committing any of the atrocities that terrorists who “legally” possess a gun commit.

And let’s look at it this way: you might be a gun owner. You might fervently believe (as I do) in the right to own firearms. But take a step back and compare gun ownership to, let’s say…car ownership.

In order to be a licensed driver, you have to go through training. Then you take a test. You need insurance.

And yet, if I asked you to honestly respond, I’d be willing to bet you’d probably agree that most people these days drive like shit. Basic procedures they should have learned in driving school are not followed. They can’t figure out a rotary; they don’t use turn signals; they’re distracted; they can’t even figure out a 4-way stop intersection.

You might be a great driver; you might obey all the rules. But 99% of everyone else on the road doesn’t. And a vast majority of that 99% suck donkey nards at driving.

And let’s be honest: a car is two tons of lethality operating at speed. As I tell my boys: it’s the other people on the road they have to be careful of.

See the parallels here? You might be the most responsible gun owner in the world. But most gun owners aren’t. And most gun owners are like most drivers: they’re lazy and become distracted and forget to lock things up or take steps to ensure the wrong people (like, say, a young mentally challenged kid) don’t get access to their guns.

So if most drivers suck at driving – yet we mandate MORE requirements for owning and operating a car, why don’t we do the same for gun ownership?

I can’t tell you how many times I say, “That person should not be behind the wheel,” on a daily basis. And again, if I asked people to honestly respond, most of the gun owners I know would probably say, “that person should not own a firearm.”

So the argument that more gun control is going to hurt law-abiding gun owners is bullshit.

And frankly, if – after all of the mass shootings – you DON’T think we need changes to gun ownership laws, then bro – you are 100% part of the problem.

Don’t like what I just said? Tough titties. It’s the truth. No SANE, rational, objective person is going to look at the current situation and think that things are fine as they are.

Because they fucking are not.

I don’t want most of the people I see driving to be behind the wheel; I also don’t want most of the people with guns in this country having them.

For the same fucking reasons!

Humans are inherently lazy, undisciplined creatures. So are most living things. We take the paths of least resistance; we aspire to retire and do nothing; we can’t stick to diets; we can’t be bothered to vote; etc. ad infinitum.

NONE OF THAT CHANGES JUST BECAUSE YOU OWN A GUN.

Say that last part again.

If you are not one of the few self-motivated, self-disciplined individuals that allows those traits to carry over to all other areas of your life, me giving you a gun is NOT going to suddenly change that. You will not magically become self-disciplined and self-motivated. You will simply be yet another lazy person who happens to own a gun. And a car.

Neither of which you should have access to.

I’m all for responsible gun ownership; I’m also all for responsible car ownership.

But responsible is a long fucking way away from just being able to own the damned things.

I don’t see gun control as a threat. I’m not some silly insecure freak who thinks the big bad guv’mint is coming for my guns. I appreciate the need – the DESPERATE need – for more controls on who exactly we give permission to own a firearm to.

That’s not me being a libtard or a leftist or whatever dumbass label you apply to anyone pro-gun control.

That’s being rational. And objective. And humane.

Don’t like any of this? That’s cool. But at least have the guts to admit that your dislike of these points does, in fact, make you part of the problems currently affecting and infecting this nation.

I’m a pro-2A, pro-gun control human being. And I don’t see that as contradictory at all.

I see it as intelligent.

We need changes; we need to stop the proliferation of firearms being used by white nationalist terrorists.

Full. Fucking. Stop

Recognizing Your Greatness

For anyone who needs it:

Every time you face a challenge instead of running from it; every time you dance in the crucible instead of sticking to the wall; every time you stare down life and say, “is that all you’ve got?” instead of bemoaning another perceived injustice…is reason to celebrate your warrior spirit. Don’t forget to look in the mirror and smile and give yourself props for not faltering in the face of adversity. There’s no shame in recognizing your own awesomeness.

The Company You Keep: How The Wrong Community Can Hinder Your Success

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

We’ve all seen this one before, right? It’s a popular meme that makes the rounds on the Internet from time to time, usually in the company of another popular term “community.” Community is a constantly touted ideal that promises to help you reach success or feel a sense of companionship or simply feel some level of support for whatever it is you’re going through. Whether it’s fitness: “I do Maxfit and I just love the community of other people who do the workouts with me,” or hobbies, “Did you know that the People Who Write Sumerian Love Sonnets Community now boasts a global membership of 7?” or even our health, “I’m a member of the Ruptured Toe Nail Survivors,” saying we’re a part of a community not only makes us feel better, but also validates us in some powerful ways. When we do things that others do, it reinforces this notion that we’re on the right track. If others are doing it, then there’s approval built in – we find strength in numbers, camaraderie in shared experience, and positive feedback from those within the community we’re a part of.  Community – if the hype is to be believed – is the surest path to all the success and happiness we could ever hope to achieve.

Except it’s not.

I’ve been part of a number of communities over the years. And I’ve seen the difference between “real” communities and the ones that claim to be, but in fact are not. Let’s look at the reason why and then examine why community is often just another marketing ploy.

The biggest difference has to do with how you become a member of a particular community.

In the military, for example, elite special operations units are not open to everyone. There is an intense selection process that candidates must go through where they endure harsh training, serious adversity, and more as they attempt to prove their competency and ability to be part of the special operations community. Selection is a lengthy process where lesser candidates, for one reason or another, are weeded out until only the most suitable are left and selected to join whichever unit they aspire to be part of. Along the way, they have shed gallons of sweat, tears, and often blood to prove their worth. And when they join their particular unit, they are in the company of others who have gone through an almost identical baptismal process. In other words, the company they keep has undergone exactly what they went through. There’s an inherent understanding and bond created in Selection that all members of that particular community share.

I saw this same process when I was aspiring to earn my place in the advanced class at the Ninjutsu dojo I attend. The Friday night advanced training was only open to practitioners of a certain rank and in order to gain entrance, you had to undergo a severe test of endurance, mental fortitude, and physical techniques. In many ways, it was a virtual gauntlet. When you earned your place in the advanced class, you were in the company of others who had been tested in the same crucible. And there is nothing like shared misery to create a true bond.

Contrast this with how most people gain acceptance into a community these days. Let’s take the fitness world as a model. A current popular high intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness craze touts its “community” as one of the most appealing features. The marketing behind it espouses working out with likeminded individuals who help cheer you on to reach your goals and success. Well, I was part of that craze and saw firsthand why their notion of community is mostly a fallacy. The primary reason is that anyone can join it if you have the money to do so.

Buying your way into a community immediately discounts its efficacy at generating success. Primarily because if anyone can join the community, then you are not going to be surrounded by people who operate at the same level you do – they may not “want it” as badly as you do. Worse, your aspirations may cause some other members to resent you.

When I joined the new gym in town, it was wonderful…for a certain period of time. Then, when the novelty wore off and a certain caliber of people started attending, the standards fell into the realm of mediocrity. Workouts became less grueling because people complained that they were too hard (despite the fact that anyone could scale the workouts to suit their individual fitness levels). Exercise standards were revised to accommodate whiny members who couldn’t do basic movements. And a whole new group of toxic personalities started infecting the place. Gradually, anyone who aspired to be better was generally seen as a threat by the growing majority of people who were content with “good enough,” and cheating their way through a workout.

If you are intent on being successful (as opposed to just seeking support, fun, and/or some companionship), joining a community where anyone can be a member is not where you want to be. In fact, being part of such a place can work directly against your stated goals. There will undoubtedly be people there who are intimidated by your drive, or who subtly try to sabotage your success with side-eye comments like, “why would you do that? You’re crazy.” These are usually the people who complain about silly stuff and say dumb things like, “well this is as good as it’s going to get.”

Success is hard enough to achieve without being hated for your aspirations and individuality, envied for your successes to-date, or sabotaged by those who revel in watching your downfall. The notion of community is a dangerous one if you aren’t on your guard for the mediocre masses who inhabit communities that do not have gate keepers built into their model. While it’s a wonderful thing to be all-inclusive, that same model runs counter to being able to achieve all the success you aspire to.

The term “community” has also become a marketing tool (at least in certain fields) used to drive new recruits into the fold. And communities reinforce this notion of people needing a support system because it’s in their own best interests to do so; it furthers that community’s very existence. In effect, they need you more than you need them. As an established member or someone advanced within their ranks, the community can point to you as proof of its own efficacy at producing success.

Another inherent danger of community is rampant group-think. Any community will have a set of standards – vocalized, implied, written down, or not – that members are expected to follow. You may not have given it much thought, you may not even have noticed it much, but they are there. You’ll start to notice if you do anything that runs counter to the majority group-think. In this way, communities have the potential to become excessively cult-like, complete with idol worship, gossip, and a whole series of toxic aspects that can seriously damage your quest for greatness. Of course, members of the community will deny such things until they’re red in the face, but that’s only because they’re too close to see the truth.

And the truth is that a community without gate keepers can produce some measure of success. But it will eventually hinder your progress – especially if it’s populated by people who actually do not want the best for you but are instead wishing for your failure because that is a reinforcement of their own self-imposed limitations. “See? I told you it was crazy to do that.”  In that case, a community that seemed so wonderful, ends up being a virtual prison. Worse, the toxicity will harm your body, mind, and spirit resulting in a failure to achieve your goals and a tendency to question yourself and your motivation – exactly the antithesis of success.

Unless your community has exacting standards and all members are of a similar mindset, your quest for success and excellence will falter. You’ll be better off on your own than you would be in the company of lesser individuals not as focused as yourself. Beware of “communities” that boast they’re the backbone of a movement or location. Outside of the military (and some others with exacting standards imposed prior to admission), the chances of you finding a true success-oriented community of like-minded alphas all on the same trajectory toward greatness are slim. More likely, you may find a few members of that caliber, but they will be greatly outnumbered by those members who have adopted mediocrity, rather than excellence, as the acceptable outcome of their endeavors.

And you are, most definitely, better off without them in your life.