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Discomfort Creates Motivation, But Only If You Let It
Today is Christmas Eve, unless you happen to be reading this on a different day of course. Christmas Eve and Day were some of the most memorable and vivid memories I had as a child. I grew up in a very financially strapped family. Through most of my childhood, my dad was a hard working, low income guy who supported a family of seven: himself, my mom who was his stay at home wife, and his five children, of which I was the oldest.
-By Caleb Jones
This entire situation really bothered me. I was always a materialistic capitalist from the time I was very small. I started my first business at age nine selling Christmas cards door-to-door to all the neighborhood moms so I could have a little spending money in my pocket...money I didn't get from my parents who couldn't afford it. Soon this morphed into selling newspapers, mowing lawns, babysitting, and moving construction debris. I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I'd never get any real money out of my parents, so I had to go make it myself.
Often I would ask my dad why he didn't make more money, and why all of my friends always seemed to have more than we did. He would give me the usual false, left-wing Societal Programming about how money doesn't make people happy. Even as a child I knew this was demonstrably untrue, since the parents of my more wealthier friends always seemed to be happy, and my parents, while they were good people and good parents, always seemed stressed out.
Every Christmas morning, I would walk into the living room and see the piles of presents under the Christmas tree, and it was like a spiritual experience. Seeing all those gifts was one of the most exciting things, perhaps the most exciting thing I experienced as a kid.
Yet, after we opened all the presents, I would look down on my lap and see the three or four small gifts that were mine, and then see one of my brothers or sisters get really excited about their one "big present," usually a bicycle or something. It didn't seem right to me. One day I went over to one of my friend's houses. He was a hyper blonde kid named Barry. This was the first time I had actually visited his home. He showed me around his place. Eventually we came across an open door to a room he hadn't shown me yet.
"What's in there?" I asked.
"Oh," he said, "That's the toy room."
"The TOY ROOM?" I exclaimed, "You have an entire room just for your toys?!?"
"Well, yeah," he said in a confused tone, "Don't you?"
I turned and entered the room, and it was like entering heaven. It was an entire playroom with all kinds of toys all lined up on three of its four walls. And I'm not just talking toys, I'm taking big expensive toys, like the Star Wars Death Star Playset and the Imperial Walker AT-AT and gigantic space LEGO sets, all of which I knew were way more than $50. $50 was a lot of money for a toy back in the 1980s, especially for kids in families like mine.
I simply couldn't believe what I was seeing. I screamed in excitement and ran to the toys and started playing with all of them. Barry was confused. "Why are you so excited?" This kind of thing was normal to him. To me it was almost better than Christmas.
I was so angry. I cursed the world as a dark and unfair place.
And I was wrong.
My nine-year-old perception of the world was thus. Someone had something I didn't, therefore the world was unfair, people who had more than me were jerks, and life sucked.
I didn't realize back then the rational, cause and effect explanations for this disparity. The reasons Barry had so much more than me were very simple. Barry's dad chose to work in a high-income industry. My dad chose to work in a low-income industry. Barry's dad chose to have two kids and stop. My dad chose to have five kids and keep going. (My mom was unable to have more past five, but my parents still tried.)
Barry lived in high-income family with only two kids to support. I lived in a low-income family with five kids to support. So of course Barry had more than I had. And in both cases, it wasn't because the world was evil or unfair. It wasn't because Barry's dad, or my dad, was good or bad. It was because our fathers had made different conscious and purposeful life decisions.
Today I see a lot of hatred against people who make more money than others. Every time I see this, I can't help but think about how I felt when I was dumb nine year-old kid. That guy makes more money than me. He sucks. The world is unfair. Grrr. But no, that's not it at all. That guy made different decisions than you did. Yes, some guys inherit a lot of money without doing any work, but complaining about these guys is a red herring, since only 8% of today's millionaires inherited their wealth. I certainly wasn't in that category. As a young man I had to go out into the marketplace and earn my money.
On the news, in the last year or two, we've seen some ghastly and evil things perpetrated by angry men who aren't successful with women. These men are just like the money-haters. That guy gets hot girls. I don't. He sucks. The world is unfair. Grrr.
In with both money and women, this is the exact wrong way to channel dissatisfaction. You can either direct dissatisfaction outward into the world and be resentful the rest of your life, or you can channel it inward and transmute it into motivation to become a better, more successful, and more happy man.
As I explain in the Alpha Male 2.0 book, one of the only two times unhappiness is valid past the age of 25 is as a temporary motivator for you to improve your condition. You're unhappy with something in your life, so you take positive right action to change that condition into something that makes you long-term happy.
I have a higher than average income, and have since I was in my twenties. Today I can buy more or less whatever I want. The only real factor when I buy something, even something expensive, is not if I can afford it but how it will affect my investments. (With my INTJ personality I tend to be pretty anal about those.)
There are many reasons for this financial success. The number one reason is that money creates freedom, and freedom is my highest value. I knew that if I wanted to be a truly free man, I had to make a certain amount of money. So I bit the bullet and did it.
But the number two reason, of all the many reasons, is because of the extreme dissatisfaction I felt for many years as a child in a big family with very little money. I remember how painful it was to want something badly and be unable to afford it. I grew up knowing that I never wanted to feel that negative emotion ever again. I wanted to make sure my future kids and future wife (if any) never felt that emotion either.
As I entered the work world at age 18, I again saw this financial lack with people all around me. Guys at work, in their 30s and 40s, would complain they couldn't afford things. Women at work would complain they wanted to go on all these trips and other fun things "But my husband is a delivery truck driver and we can't afford it." This spurred me on even more. I didn't want to be one of those guys.
So I put my head down and worked very hard for several years, sacrificing a few things, including a decent sex life, in order to do so. But it worked, as cause and effect always does. By the time I was 27 I was making six figures, and that was back in 1999 when six figures really meant something (since it was before Bush and Obama started printing all that money and jacking up inflation).
So relax tomorrow during Christmas, open your presents, eat a good dinner, try to ignore the Societal Programming of your family, and have a good time. On New Years Eve, go get drunk and party and get laid. But on January 2nd when the new year really begins, you have a choice to make. You can cross your arms and frown at the world about how unfair everything is, or you can put in the work to better your condition and be happy. I know which one I've always chosen, and which one I will continue to choose next year. I hope you do the same. Merry Christmas.
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Obeyx 2014-12-24 09:16:35
Fantastic post, bout to start work in an hour at my job full of hot women and customers, my overarching goal is to have money in my wallet at all times and improve my social confidence, What a fantastic year bd, I'm thankful for your alpha male book and now finally having a personal mission and code under my belt. Have a merry Christmas and a great start to your new year.
Diggy 2014-12-24 10:57:26
Good stuff. If I had a dollar for every time I tried to explain that the only thing money can buy you is freedom, I would be the freest man alive. 🙂 I feel that being financially challenged as a child but still able see the wealth is a powerful motivator. I am the product of a single mother that had extremely hard working self made millionaire parents. My Christmas days were much like yours but my G-parents put me into the nicest private schools money could buy. In forth grade my best friends lived in a 10,000 sq ft mansion and his dad owned the local NBA team. Lol, he was showing me this new crazy gadget that showed who was calling before you picked it up. The first two names were Glen Campbell and Kevin Johnson. 🙂 Then my mother picked me up and took us back to our two bedroom apartment where she shared a room with my sister. Powerful powerful motivator for me...
le petit princess 2014-12-24 13:40:17
Its actually Christmas Day here in Australia, we like to get a head start partying. I was born into wealth and yet I still have an insatiable drive to succeed. Something else is motivating me from age 11. I agree with your last statement which is essentially complaining wont give u freedom, taking action will. Merry Christmas everyone. May 2015 be your year of sexy supermodels and more $$$$$ than you know what to do with.
Troubadour 2014-12-24 15:24:24
I can totally relate to the toy room kid. That's why I have the nicest house in my neighborhood, and why I work 60-70 hours a week. Money can't buy you happiness, no, but it sure helps finance happiness. Happiness is a good sharp chisel taking a slice out of a piece of fine-grained walnut. Happiness is a comfortable bed. Happiness is a 4WD truck that can take you out to where all you can see for miles is trees. Happiness is the experience of all these things, and it's damn hard to come by that experience if you can't finance it. It's also hard to come by that experience if you spend all your time working. That's the downside. Work/life balance is important, and tricky to manage.
George 2014-12-25 00:26:51
Should have read this post earlier haha. Usually I get depressed over the holidays because it reminds me I haven't reached my goals yet, and how I haven't found my drive. I was never the one to look down on people are above me because I knew they did something that I didn't or that they earned it, that and I rather learn from them. Also on a tangent, what you would tell your 18 year self? And Merry Christmas BB hope you get your deathstar for Christmas.
maldek 2014-12-25 09:56:04
Merry christmas BD and fellow readers. Something to think about: 1) Money does not make you happy, but without money it is damn hard to stay happy. 2) Money can buy you freedom. But freedom from what? You can not buy freedom from the laws of nature, like gravity or old age. You can however buy you freedom FROM THE NEED TO WORK. In order to realize this freedom you can not work 60-70 hours a week. If you do so you are a slave, not a free man. 3) It does matter very little how much you have compared to others. BDs youth was without a toy room but compared to the 6 000 000 000 people who are not white, first world kids he had it very good. What matters more is how you value things. Things like having brothers and sisters. Would you rather have this toy room as a single child or brother/sister to play with? Would you rather have a toy room and parents who are both working or less but a SAHM who takes care of you? Would you rahter have more money or more friends or more time for your hobbies? These are all choices. Pick what you like best and never look back. It does not matter what you choose as long as you stick with your choice and make the best out of it. We may have many lives to life and plenty of time to try out everything. No need to be sorry EVER.
Leopard 2014-12-25 14:22:35
Yeah sure. Work hard (and smart) and ==> hopefully <== you will be rewarded. Because the world is actually unfair. But you have more chance to be rewarded by working than by complaining. So be aware that the world is unfair and find a solution to take your share of the cake. But don't lie and tell people : "oh if you are in a bad situation that's always your fault ; life is always fair : life rewards people that work hard and punishes people that are lazy." Not at all. You cannot control what is not under your control. Even if you have the perfect product to sell but no customer, you will die. Even if plenty of people actually want your product. Maybe some asshole doesn't want you to sell your product and therefore sabotages your industry. What is fair about that ? And don't tell this doesn't happen in real life, lol.
AKA 2014-12-25 19:20:55
Oh yes, money doesn't buy happiness, but poverty sure doesn't either. I have always known that money just buys you freedom. My kids friends marvel that my house is so huge. It is not huge, but it is compared to what they have. Then they tell me I must be rich. I am not...yet. I will consider myself rich when I no longer have to work. Just a few more years away.
Le Petite Princess 2014-12-25 19:38:34
It's now boxing day and I've hit the gym for 3 hours today to work off all that food I ate and that you're all likely eating right now as I type this 🙂 Maldek, you're spot on. Finding a balance is the key. I see many of my girlfriends seek out the rich guy, many end up raising children while he is at work and she is bored at home. Shes is so bored she spends his money and plays dress up with the kids (labels of course), unfortunately like many of you she sought wealth over everything else and there is little else between them and finds herself a toy boy on the side. He thinks he's a wonderful man providing for his kids and wife but he is really the chump for mating with that woman who only liked him for his money. She is miserable, normally maintains her looks but many don't because of the emotional eating. She finds him boring and disgusting to screw so he ends up thinking women are crazy "I give her everything and she is still unhappy". Then you have the balanced friend, she works hard, she found a man who equally works hard, he is conscientious and ambitious but not so insecure that he spends more than 50 hours a week at work trying to prove something to everyone including himself. He spends time with her and their children most evenings and on the weekend, their children wear regular clothes, they all get out and about with their regular cars/trucks that don't scream penis extension or I've made it! They end up happiest because they spend time doing things together. She doesn't need two dicks, the one that has energy to give her foreplay is sufficient. Work hard but save harder rather than working harder and being the outsider in your own family because they never see you. Be a wonderful father and a wonderful husband because you're not exhausted mentally and physically just for more "stuff". Focusing on stuff instead of what you do is the reason many are depressed and anxious. Focus on working in a field you love, that's how my dad made it big. But then again, who am I, just a small blond girl.
lazy guy 2014-12-26 08:20:42
Many people make great points here. The comments by Le Petite Princess resonate with me because we can see so many people enslaved by their drive for expensive displays of prosperity and for other claims to status; driven by their insecurities and misguided priorities/values. Self-insight is needed but too rarely attained. We can see people trying to use external solutions to solve inner problems...so much investment, so futile... Excellent perception is priceless. Happy Holidays y'all.
Lovergirl 2014-12-26 10:28:43
The thing that struck me reading this is that it doesn't sound to me like you had it so bad. Growing up my mom went crazy over Christmas and put herself into debt buying presents. So even though there were years when we were so poor we didn't have car, we always had presents at Christmas. It was like her compensation for not being a mom in other ways. So we actually HAD a toyroom (after I was about 9 or so), FULL of toys that rarely got played with. It meant nothing to me and if anything, taught me that money and gifts are a poor substitute for love. Yeah, not having money sucks in a lot of ways. It sucks to not be able to pay the bills and it can be stressful. Still, I'm in the camp that values having siblings (and I have 8 total, plus a couple of stepsiblings) over the toys and gifts we received as kids. Anyway, I think having a lot of money is good goal, but not if it is at the expense of having a stressful life and working yourself to death. Because, while a lot of people are super stressed because they DON'T have money, there are people at the other end of the spectrum. They work so hard that they don't have time to ENJOY the money they make. I guess the lesson is that if it doesn't make you happy, then maybe its not the right path for you.
thewayitis 2014-12-26 14:17:43
Comment deleted for violation of Rule Number Five.
Blackdragon 2014-12-26 14:34:34
Balance! Yes! My book talks about making at least $75,000 per year, but doing it on only 30 hours a week of work or less. Making $400,000 a year if you have to work 70 hours a week doesn't make any sense. But neither does making $25,000 a year. Again, balance.
what you would tell your 18 year self?I'd tell him a lot of things, but a quick summary would be: 1. Don't go to college no matter how hard society pushes you to do it. 2. Don't get legally married no matter how hard society pushes you to do it. 3. Live abroad while you're young for at least 2 years. 4. Don't spend a lot of money when you start your own business.
So we actually HAD a toyroom (after I was about 9 or so), FULL of toys that rarely got played with.Yeah, that's the crazy part. Kids who have rooms like this think they're boring. Sometimes it almost seems like you have two choices with kids: have kids who are bored because they have everything, or have kids who are pissed because they don't have enough. (That's an oversimplification, but you get my point.)
Blackdragon 2014-12-26 14:56:15
But don't lie and tell people : "oh if you are in a bad situation that's always your fault ; life is always fair : life rewards people that work hard and punishes people that are lazy."I didn't say that. I said your income is your fault. Because it is. (And for you nihilists out there, no debates about free will, nihilism, or determinism please, since I already answered those here.)
You cannot control what is not under your control.Correct, you can't control the weather, or whether or not you get genetic cancer when you're a child. But you can control your income, your weight, your sex life, and other important key areas.
Maybe some asshole doesn't want you to sell your product and therefore sabotages your industry. What is fair about that ? And don't tell this doesn't happen in real life, lol.Then you go to a different industry and sell a different product. Again, your income is your fault (unless you live in a communist country or something). It's within your control.
Jon 2014-12-27 12:28:30
Work hard (and smart) and ==> hopefully <== you will be rewarded.You need to take "and smart" out of the parentheses. If you work hard and smart you will be rewarded, because part of working smart is recognizing whether or not your hard work is producing the results you're looking for. If not, change something. Great product but no customer? Then you need to focus your effort on marketing where it should have been focused already. Or, perhaps it's a "great" product that no one actually wants to buy - like the next generation buggy whip for example. Is it your fault that no one uses a horse and buggy for transportation anymore? No. But it is your fault for working hard on a product with no market. I had an online discussion with a woman in Greece who was talking about how hard things were there. Basically, she felt like there was no opportunity because of the insane regulations and government policies that caused the problems in the first place. She also studied English and felt like her degree was useless because so many people in Greece already spoke English. My response was to get the hell out of Greece. Move to China or wherever and teach English as a second language. She didn't want to do it because she'd get homesick, her boyfriend would have to give up is license for his street market vegetable booth *facepalm*, etc. Is it her fault the economy sucks? No, but that doesn't mean she's not responsible for her situation. She's more qualified to teach English abroad than a lot of other people I know who have done the same thing. Or we could take an example from my own life. I could never get ahead financially while I was married because my ex-wife spent too much money. Is that my fault or her fault? I used to blame her until I realized I chose to get and stay married and I chose to have joint finances. I wasn't responsible for her decisions, but I was responsible for the situation that allowed her to go on shopping sprees with money I worked for. The point is that whining about being a victim of forces outside your control doesn't do any good and probably isn't even true if you step back and really analyze what is going on.
Billie 2015-01-02 16:20:16
Hi Blackdragon --- Listen I like you and have bought several of your products --- but I can't agree with this particular ideology --- that a man is entirely responsible for what's in his bank account. That is a decidedly -- well let's say, politically partisan --- mindset. That a certain political party loves to perpetuate. Now, I'm not saying the other extreme either --- that you can't take responsibility. You must take responsibility for the course of your life, but realize that many things --- wealth and health among them --- are often fickle. I have a relative that got (seriously) a rare virus in his brain stem that hospitalized him for months. He's recovering slowly and generally okay now, but it wiped out 6 figures in terms of bills for him. It was a fluke occurrence. It happens. Hell, you could have been on Air-Asia and you wouldn't have any health care costs. Or health for that matter. Again, there's no reason people can't become educated and do their damnedest to hustle through this game we call life. But let's acknowledge the fickle and birthright aspects of it, which you alluded to. 8% of millionaires are self-made is a dubious claim. Certainly possible, but dubious to me without seeing a published methodology. Especially since Forbes has been known to spout partisan hackery BS. Check out this analysis of their self-made billionaires (not millionaire, couldn't find a critique of that one) -- which they claimed 67%-70% were self made: 35% came from a lower or middle class background. This is just 400 individuals --- I've seen other sources from wealth managers that say the vast majority of 1%'s have inherited wealth. Which is extremely plausible. This isn't to kill anyone's motivation. It's to dispel the idea of "ruling by birthright"--- that kind of BS has been shoveled for literally thousands of years. "Oh, I happen to be God-King, because my father was ... I have royal blood! I earned these fruits!" Life isn't fair, simple fact.
Blackdragon 2015-01-02 16:59:45
Hi Blackdragon — Listen I like you and have bought several of your products — but I can’t agree with this particular ideology — that a man is entirely responsible for what’s in his bank account.Then you're really going to hate the blog post going up on Sunday.
That is a decidedly — well let’s say, politically partisan — mindset. That a certain political party loves to perpetuate.As I've said many times, I am not a conservative, I hate Republicans, I never vote for Republicans, I disagree with right-wing Republicans on just about every political issue, and I regularly have right-wingers get very upset with me and my views. I just had to ban one from this blog less than a week ago. So you're the one making this political, not me.
I have a relative that got (seriously) a rare virus in his brain stem that hospitalized him for months. He’s recovering slowly and generally okay now, but it wiped out 6 figures in terms of bills for him. It was a fluke occurrence. It happens. Hell, you could have been on Air-Asia and you wouldn’t have any health care costs.Correct, but that's the rare exception to the rule. And you already know what I think about those.
Check out this analysis of their self-made billionaires (not millionaire, couldn’t find a critique of that one) — which they claimed 67%-70% were self made: 35% came from a lower or middle class background. This is just 400 individuals — I’ve seen other sources from wealth managers that say the vast majority of 1%’s have inherited wealth. Which is extremely plausible.Nothing you just said is at odds with me saying that 92% of millionaires are self made and that your income is largely your fault. - Yes, being born into the middle class makes it easier to make more money as an adult. Doesn't mean that if you're born into the lower class it means your income as an adult isn't your fault. It still is. - Yes, there is a historically massive and ridiculous disparity of income and net worth in the United States. This is mostly because of government interference in the free market economy. As just one example (and I could list many), when the government prints more money (QE), super-rich people benefit massively, and everyone else gets fucked. This still doesn't change the fact that your income is largely your fault. - Yes, the upper 1% probably has a higher percentage of people who inherited their wealth. Those are not what I'm talking about when I say "millionaires"; the 1% are the super rich, and most millionaires are not what people would consider "rich" at all. (Read the Millionaire Next Door.) Again, none of this changes the the fact that if you make $25,000 a year (for example) that it's not your fault you don't make $75,000. It is! I already wrote a blog post explaining all of this, including the some of the points you made, and I'm posting it in 2 days.
NQ 2017-02-04 19:24:03
Yes, some guys inherit a lot of money without doing any work, but complaining about these guys is a red herring, since only 8% of today’s millionaires inherited their wealth.You've actually created your own red herring, since 20% of billionaires straight up inherited their billionaire status. A further 18% inherited a substantial amount which they built upon to get to billionaire status. Which is to say that the further up in the elite you go, the less likely it is that you actually worked for it. http://www.wealthx.com/articles/2016/american-billionaires/ I don't actually disagree with your article itself, but this is incomplete and misleading information.
Blackdragon 2017-02-04 21:28:23
You’ve actually created your own red herring, since 20% of billionaires straight up inherited their billionaire status.I wasn't talking about billionaires. I clearly said millionaires. The VAST majority of millionaires are self made, as I said. Billionaires, what few there are, are a completely different story of course.
Marty McFly 2018-08-30 20:01:09
I find anger to be a pretty good motivator. Not the best, but it works for some. Does that violate the rule that says "no negative emotions after age 24 except as temporary motivators in order to improve oneself?"