Be careful of “the secret.”
Everyone’s trying to find the secret. The ONE SECRET to becoming a millionaire, the ONE SECRET to being happy, the ONE SECRET to making your Facebook ad pure golden click-bait.
Forget the secret. The “secret” has been right in front of you forever. Since you were a little kid, filled with curiosity and a thirst for learning, without a care in the world.
The problem with calling it a secret is that it makes it far more mysterious and magical than it should be, as if only the wisest of wizards could ever find the answer.
It actually isn’t a secret at all. Instead, it’s the thing you knew all along that you simply refused to acknowledge.
The irony in this post is that I might end up explaining the “secret” in an equally vague way that it is already explained or toted about like it is in modern day literature.
One of my favorite story archetypes of all time is a chivalrous and pious knight on an epic quest.
In life, everyone is looking for a dragon to slay, or a holy grail to find. The thing is, if everyone was doing it the same way, it would cause a problem. But it would also be wrong to say that we shouldn’t be in search of these things. Here’s the secret that everyone already knows. Everyone has a dragon and a grail to find, but both of those things only have value because we give them value.
To some people, the grail is making $10,000 a month in residual income. To others, it’s being able to enjoy the youth of their grandchildren and watch them grow. Slaying the mighty Dragon to some might be climbing the corporate ladder, or getting the next accolade or trophy, or it might be traveling around the world and learning 15 new languages fluently, or committing to the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk and reaching the fourth level of enlightenment.
In these quests for glory, they never mention the seekers of the grail who wanted to destroy it because they said it caused corruption and greed, or others who wanted it to sell for a mass of riches. They only mention the noble and righteous knights.
They don’t tell you that many sought after the dragon to learn her powers. That many joined the ranks of her army and worshiped her. They don’t tell you that there may have never been a dragon in the first place. Maybe the true knights in life are the ones who slay dragons by ridding them from their minds.
When it comes to negativity, we all label it as inherently bad. Negativity is one of the traits we had as hunter gatherers that kept us alive. The trick is to be realistic. Now some might disagree with this like Grant Cardone or a self help guru who is really good at making people feel good but not making them realize the actual SECRET.
The secret is to realize all the incorrect narratives in your life and remove them, and work every damn day at making yourself a better person by using reason, and self reflection. Books help a lot in this department but some books can lead you down a path of overly positive motivation. Readers beware.
I have a saying;
If it’s negative and realistic, it’s good. If it’s negative and unrealistic, remove it. This goes equally for positivity. Remove the clutter. Sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it.
It’s also realizing that great things take time, and hard work. Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.
This may be hard for you at first. It was for me. I had a stressful job and would rely heavily on motivation-porn. Whether it was a video on YouTube, or a really awesome book, I realized that even though positivity had some legitimately beneficial effects, (read The Happiness Advantage) when it came to the important moments of self refection, it was easy to sit there and waft your own bull shit. Just as it’s easy to procrastinate for hours or days just because you’re scared to make a phone call and looking back in hind-sight you made up the most ridiculous excuses to not do something so simple. Trying to stay positive never solved my problems, it only dolled them up and made me feel better.
There was a meme I saw recently (I love memes) that said “If there is one thing Video Games have taught us, it’s that if you are running into a lot of enemies, then you’re going the right way.” I love that, it reminds me of the quote by Marcus Aurelius – “The impediment of action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” The obstacle is the way.
The secret is that life is filled with pain and pleasure. The secret isn’t a secret at all, it’s just acceptance of nature, it’s understanding what your dragon and holy grail really are.
I wrote this after seeing an ad somewhere that said “The ONE secret to becoming a millionaire.” I laughed, but felt annoyed. The only secret there is how they tricked you into clicking on the ad. People want the quick fix methods and this leads them to despair because that is not how it works.
This goes equally for the click-bait I see everywhere like “4 good habits of successful CEO’s” or “10 things successful entrepreneurs never do.” I could go on with these obvious titles but I think you get the idea, if not just scroll down your LinkedIn home page. You’d get an even better idea if you read Trust me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. But I digress, as a wise man once said, there’s 5 million ways to do it, you just need to find one.
“Wealth” is a flexible term and can be used to describe many aspects of life, and as Seneca once said “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
When it comes to wealth in life, the determining factor is the metric by which you measure yourself. I don’t need to get very specific, but we all know someone who has a bunch of money and is still sad, or clearly broken, and we all know someone who is fairly impoverished financially, or maybe comfortable at best, but finds the simplest things in life joyful and is always kind to others. Which is something I always saw in my Grandmother. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, the point is to look at your life and determine what it is that truly matters to you while also making sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure and misery. And in time, your values will change, so it’s always good to routinely ask yourself.
Do not worry. There are many ways in life to find happiness and fulfillment in healthy ways. From having good friends and relationships, to immersing yourself in the flow of your work/hobbies, experiencing life in all it’s wonder and glory. And to think that our time in this plane of existence is merely a drop in an endless sea.
Be wary when you fathom dragons and hear of tales about Holy Grails, because one day you will lie down and you will never get back up and regret all the things you only dreamt up.
…forever a student.