“Confidence” is related to your job more than you think…

If you aren’t excellent at your job, you will not be very confident in most areas of life.

This is easily explained by the psychological concept of a dominance hierarchy.

Being at the top of a dominance hierarchy is a fancy way of saying “having a respected status or ranking” in a competitive social & work environment.

If you are low in a dominance hierarchy, your serotonin and dopamine levels will be low. You will almost always not be sufficiently happy. 

Why? Because you and everybody your work with knows you aren’t that valuable. Your services and skills simply don’t hold their weight to harder working, more intelligent workers. It’s not easy to say that, but it’s usually true.

If this happens, you will be neurotic. You will have that nasty voice in the back of your head that feels out of place and undervalued. This can plague you for years. Especially if you’re in sales or highly competitive environments and you’re not cut for that cloth…

The truth is…

People who contribute value to an organization receive value in return. 

The solution is to pick a job, career, or vocation where you’d be a big fish in a small pond. Even if that means downsizing, or working in a less competitive environment if you’d be better at your job.

What skills and natural aptitudes do you have that would put you at a competitive advantage?

Note: I’m suggesting to be self-aware before making any kind of career decision. If you aren’t smart enough for a job, you will have a miserable time pursing it as a career. This means social intelligence, too. Also, I’m not arguing “status = confidence” in a superficial manner. Rather, the purpose of this article is to show how confidence is related to being good at what you do…and “status” or “respect” results as a byproduct.

What you think? Leave your comments below!

“Take Your Pills” Commentary. What’s Adderall REALLY like?

I just finished watching the new Netflix documentary “Take Your Pills” which discusses the rise of Adderall and amphetamines and ADHD. What’s so great about these little blue monsters?

Adderall is a powerful drug. Only one methyl group from Methamphetamine, it can cause a myriad of health problems and psychological issues. As someone who has struggled with attention problems, I will discuss my experience with Adderall in hopes that it takes away any glorification of Adderall this documentary claimed.

Adderall floods your brain with dopamine and norepinephrine. Basically, it lights up the “feel good” neurotransmitters that allow someone to focus on tasks for longer periods of time.

People with ADD and ADHD have fragmented attention spans. They are easily swayed by environmental distractions, absorbing too much stimuli. Their brain is overloaded with too much at once, resulting in the inability to get anything significant done–because their attention centers are “burned out”.

Basically, it’s a symptom of dysfunctional or low dopamine levels. The more a person switches from one source of novelty to another, the weaker attention span they have. If you have a weak attention span and can’t get much done because of it, you almost certainly have low dopamine levels.

This is a significant and rising problem: With low dopamine, you feel unfulfilled. You aren’t confident to stick with things. You give in to distraction, and give up too easily. You become susceptible to making poor decisions, seeking drugs, and becoming depressed. 

The real solution to raising dopamine is to focus on tasks for longer periods of time and eliminate distractions. A good example would be reading a book, running, or walking in a forest. These activities restore healthy neurotransmitter levels.

But why bother when you have pills, right!? That’s the mentality society has come to now. We want instant access to everything, and Adderall is no exception. Spending time diligently, and disciplining yourself is too much work. Eating wholesome foods is a hassle. Good parenting is too much work. Pills are more efficient apparently.

Negative Effects

I don’t take Adderall much anymore because I couldn’t relax on it. Here are some of the side effects I experienced:

  • Emotional blunting (when taken every day): I felt robotic, and unable to feel naturally happy.
  • Anger: People would irritate me for no reason. People were like obstacles I wanted to get out of my way. (When I’d go grocery shopping on Adderall, every person in the aisle seemed like roadblocks).
  • Stress: Inability to relax until 2am. Nonstop “let’s solve problems” thoughts. Racing mind and heart rate.
  • Lower dopamine levels when not on it

Positive Effects

  • Significantly increased conscientiousness: I followed through on every commitment I had. I cleaned my house. I connected with coworkers and friends more openly. I finished projects I kept delaying.
  • I felt more motivated to do mundane things, like dishes and cleaning.
  • Around 50-80% decrease in social anxiety.
  • Increased peripheral awareness.

Anyhow, I’ll be honest: Adderall really helped me in the short term rut of my life. As an adult with attention problems, I finally felt like I could accomplish more. However, the side effects are just too intense for me to bother taking it often. It might seem alluring, but trust me, it’s not.

I recommend having 2 or 3 strong cups of coffee before ever considering Adderall. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Seeing that 11% of kids are being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD (and most likely taking amphetamines) is really, really scary.

Stay sober guys.

What do you think about ADHD and amphetamine use? Leave your comments below!

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Being “Spiritual” is No Substitute for Psychiatric Evaluation…

I feel that I have to write this article to clear the air. Since most of my audience seems to be spiritually-inclined people, I feel obligated to present a counter argument to what I normally write about. 

A lot of people resort to spirituality in the midst of a life crisis. It helps them appreciate life in more subtle, holistic ways. Fantastic.

Many people learn to cope with alternative lifestyles, meditation, and healthy eating. Awesome.

Others have latent mental illnesses and resist psychiatric evaluation, thinking being spiritual is enough. Not good.

Let’s be real here: Mental illnesses are legitimate problems. Telling someone with mental health issues to “go meditate for a bit, smoke a blunt, and eat some kale” is dangerous. Instead of seeking professional help, they believe they can do it on their own. This is delusion, and it’s often difficult to fix once habituated.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health issues, do not resist seeking professional help. I’m not saying to go around searching for a diagnosis, but just be aware of the professional support that is out there and can drastically improve the quality of your life.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Peace -Seth

Do We Have Free Will? The Answer is Complicated…

Yes and no.

We have free will in the day-to-day activities we engage in. I can pick the color of shirt I want to wear, which restaurant I want to dine at, and whether I want to date Susie, Sally, Sarah, or Sylvia. All at my own autonomous discretion.

However, do we always know what we want? And can we really change whatever we want about our lives?

The problem people run into is when we can’t make decisions for ourselves due to some kind of limiting obstacle. The obstacle could be in the external world, but more likely it’s within our own psyche. These are often called success barriers

Human beings are addicted to emotions. We essentially become slaves to our identities, constantly reinforcing beliefs about ourselves unconsciously. This “echo-chamber” of the mind can be extremely helpful, or extremely damaging, depending on what’s being reinforced.

For instance, if you have low self-esteem, it feels almost impossible to accomplish goals a person with high-self esteem would. Why? It’s because this person’s ego is addicted to believing a story about themselves that says “I’m not good enough to earn this because I’m [insert rationalization]…”

This neurotic, obsessive habit, when left unchecked, can plague someone’s life for years. Do the still have the free will to change it? Yes. However, it’s like digging yourself deeper in a hole. You don’t need more shovels, you need a fucking rope. But the person who has this problem (unconsciously) wants to keep digging deeper. So, in a sense, they really don’t have complete free will. They’d ignore the rope if they saw one.

There is a way to reclaim more of your free will, but it requires a combination of acceptance and applied knowledge. There is a quote that says…

“Without awareness, there is no choice.”

I don’t know where I heard this quote, but it’s ridiculously true when it comes to free will. We have to detach from what we know, and listen to what we don’t know. This is why meditation is becoming increasingly popular in Western culture. Being less reactive is a valuable skill in today’s distracted, reactive society.

Why? Because we’re stupider than we think. If we were super intelligent, we’d accomplish our goals in an extremely straightforward manner. But most people spend a lifetime trying to figure out how to play “life”. They’re too caught up dabbling around in the sidelines, reading a tutorial book on how to play hockey when they’re actually at a football game. It just doesn’t work.

Granted, there ARE people who seem to float effortlessly through life, with seemingly infinite free will, actualizing whatever goals they conjure. These people, however, are small minority, because most humans have very real problems.

“You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.”

This basically explains the Law of Attraction. Like attracts like. You can only hold what your cup can handle.

This may seem a little harsh, but it’s true. If you really want to change things, but just can’t seem to do so, have an honest assessment with yourself about what might be blocking your success. Is it your own thoughts?

You always have the free will to make changes in a positive direction. Just start now, ground yourself with as many positive influences as you can. The more pillars you have at the base of your building, the less likely the structure will collapse.

Stack the odds in your own favor.

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“Mental Masturbation” is Stopping You from Achieving Greatness

Inspirational content is becoming a drug for many people. It’s over-saturating the digital market and there is absolutely no scarcity of “good” advice out there. It’s at our fingertips and we can dabble in it 24/7 — living a fantasy of how marvelous our lives could be.

Frankly, I would argue self-help has become superficial entertainment for many. It’s no longer “motivating” people to actually do anything progressive. Rather — it’s become yet another form of escapism just like drugs, alcohol, social media, and television are.

It’s a cheap high. A quick way to masturbate your mind for a dopamine spike and artificial epiphany release. “Wow, what a magnificent concept! I feel like a successful, actualized genius” is the feeling people are addicted to.

Even worse, self-help dabbling is deceivingly “healthy”  because it’s pseudo-intellectual. 

I’m here to shatter that paradigm and declare self-help is a total waste of time and mental energy if we don’t practically integrate such advice into our lives.

We can learn all concepts and theories we want, but if we don’t do anything with the information, it’s totally useless. Desensitizing our brains to content intended for pragmatic use is digging deeper into fantasy and further from reality.

What happens by over-fantasizing, is we tend to place too much emphasis on external happiness and need, and can’t find happiness within ourselves. 

Self-help works when an individual is at the cause of their actions, not the effect of their environment. Next article I will explain Cause vs. Effect and how to tell which side you may be operating in.

How to Lower Anxiety, Stress, and Depression Without Drugs

Being anxious, stressed, and depressed takes us away from the present moment. Our minds become lost in a hasty whirlwind of troubles, doubts, and insecurities. The lizard brain (as Seth Godin calls it) takes over, and we feel helpless.

Anxiety manifests itself in many ways. Many times it’s in our heads. Often though, it’s physically built up in our bodies (requiring manual extraction).

After years of research, I have discovered excellent strategies that lower anxiety, stress, and depression without drugs. Drugs only mask the problem, and never asses the root cause. In no particular order, here they are:

  1. Change Your Environment.

    Before we treat the symptoms of stress, let’s look at the causes: If your job stresses you out, or your relationships with people are toxic on a consistent basis, you soul is telling you to pay attention because something isn’t working out. Neurosis, as Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung has described, occurs due to a failure to adapt to the current demands of life. Some people may say that it’s “impossible” to change what they’re doing, of which I empathize with your difficult situation. It is tough. However, cynical thinking isn’t going to get you anywhere. Unless you have a severe physical disability that hospitalizes you, you are capable of making positive change in your life–if you care enough. 

  2. Examine Your Locus of Control. 

    Are you constantly attributing your emotional state to external factors or blaming others? Do you take credibility for your faults or brush them off? In Charles Duhigg’s book “Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity “ a study suggests people who have internal locuses of control, i.e. those that believe events in their life are caused by factors they can control–are significantly less depressed, happier, and more productive.

  3. Meditation and Mindful Awareness.

    With practice and effort, you can change your neural networks and become more buoyant in life and less reactive. Bringing attention to the physical sensations and thought processes in your body is absolutely imperative for understanding yourself and how you are feeling. Our minds store dense tension and are distracted by excessive technology use.  Taking just 10 minutes to meditate a day can help drastically. (Headspace is a free app you can download which teaches you how to mediate. Highly recommend it). Alan Watt’s has an excellent perspective on the dangers of excessive thinking:

  4. Exercise: 

    Excerpt from a Psychology Today article states: “Exercise not only increases blood flow to the brain, it releases endorphins, the body’s very own natural antidepressant. It also releases other neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which lift mood.” Running just 10 minutes a day, and throwing in a few push ups, sit ups, and weights can significantly boost your mood. Walking in nature is also extremely good for lowering stress.

  5. Stretching & Yoga:

    I’ve found stress tends builds up in my body, especially the chest and neck regions. If you consider the weight the body carries around , this accumulates years worth of tension in the muscles and joints. At first you may resist stretching all the way because it may feel overwhelming. Do it anyway. That feeling is your body releasing immense tension. Afterwards you will feel incredibly relaxed and lighter. YouTube fitness trainer Eliot Hulse has demonstrated a –hands down– excellent exercise called the “Bow” that opens up your entire respiratory airways: 

  6. Soak Up Some Sun.

    The sun has magical effects on the soul. Nobody says they’re stressed out laying on the beach, do they?! The sun’s warmth and energy nurtures the soul, produces vitamin D, and lowers cortisol, the stress hormone. In all seriousness, I can’t emphasize how important it is to get outside and bask in the sun whenever possible. To learn more about lowering cortisol (stress), Dr. Eric Berg explains in this video:

  7. Herbal solutions: 

    Herbal teas have been shown to act as effective nootropics and aid with mood regulation. Kava root is excellent for anxiety. A Cochrane systematic review concluded it was likely to be more effective than placebo at treating short-term anxietySt John’s Wort has been shown to raise serotonin and act as an antidepressant for many users. L-Theanine helps promote alpha brainwaves (a more trance like state) associated with calmness, creativity, and lucidity. From the subreddit “Nootropics” here is a list of many other natural cognitive enhancers.

  8. Hydrotherapy and Heat Therapy:

    From Psychology Today: “Applying water of different temperatures to our skin can change our physiology and mood.  When humans take a cold swim…it is usually very invigorating…it also reflexively bathes the brain and vital organs in fresh blood. This movement will bring nutrition, oxygen and also help gently detoxify the area.”  Hydrotherapy is incredibly helpful. I’ve found by swimming in a cold river or taking a cold shower I felt immediately relaxed and no longer stressed.  As for heat therapy, if you can find a sauna nearby your home, I recommend giving it a try.

  9. Massage. 

    Massages release tension in the muscles and are ultra relaxing. If you can afford them, I would regularly get them once a month.

  10. Eat for Nutrition, and Only When You Are Hungry: 

    Minimize unnecessary sugars and carbohydrates. Drink more water. You will build your willpower the more you resist unhealthy foods and feel more in control of yourself.  Intermittent fasting (eating only when you are hungry) lowers cortisol and increases growth hormone (which is anti-aging). Eating dark green leaves and vegetables like kale are excellent for the mind. I feel absolutely amazing when I eat solely for nutrition. Here is a list of some foods that are wonderful for your mental health.

  11. Get enough rest. 

    7-9 hours. Rest has a significant effect on our chemical balances, mood, and energy. It helps us think clearly and rationally. Prioritize this as #1 before anything else on this list.

  12. Talk to Someone Positive. 

    At the end of the day, the quality of our relationships with people matter. Talk to someone you can open up to and exchange perspectives. Set aside time and do this regularly.

  13. Listen to Music: 

    Certain songs can connect with the emotional state we are in and be quite a cathartic outlet. Music can elevate mood, boost dopamine and oxytocin (a hormone associated with trust, intimacy and comfort). It can even elevate neuroplasticity by aiding the listener’s brain in finding alternate pathways to memories, emotions, and even physical systems such as speech. I recommend reading this excellent article to learn more about the effects of sound on the brain’s health.

  14. Actively Improve & Invest in Yourself: 

    Only you can change you. I discuss the importance of belief in my previous article, The Beauty of Neuroplasticity.  So go forth, and be the change you want to see.

The Beauty of Neuroplasticity

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” “The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” – Nikola Tesla

The amazing thing about the human body and mind is, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Turns out, we’re far more resilient than any machine can ever be.

The experiences we have, the thoughts we think (or don’t think), the emotions we feel, the senses we perceive, the foods we eat, and the physical tasks we engage in — all have dramatic effect on how we perceive reality.

You can literally rewire your brain over time. We are shaping it every day, and writing the script in real time.

If you want to create change in your life, the first step is believing you can do so. A belief isn’t a whim. Beliefs are strong, driving forces full of vitality and energy.

Next, you’re going to have to be very self-aware and aware of the environment around you. Mindfulness meditation is highly recommended. Meditation will help ground your thoughts and feelings, bringing more clarity to them. And in turn, you will be more in control of yourself.  Feeling that you are in control of yourself and your actions is the most imperative precursor for motivation and productivity. 

The third step is actualization. Channel your energy and passion into motion. Love what you do, and do it. Embrace the ride and journey.

Just remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself.