Ancient philosophy, new-age spirituality, psychology, modern lifestyle design, social anthropology, and more are intimately tied to personal development. Even though each of these areas impart life-changing wisdom, I’ve always felt unsure as to which set of ideas to adopt as my core beliefs.
For example, is the “Law of Attraction” a tried and true phenomenon steeped in quantum physics? Does everything happen for a reason? Is fate a myth? Are all events, good and bad, meant to tell you something? Is the world truly a meaningless place filled with randomness? How does God fit into this equation? And so on. After four years of sorting these ideas in my head, I’ve finally built a set of core beliefs about life and the world that we live in.
This post will be a bit controversial because, for the first time since creating this blog, I bring my personal views on life into my writing. If you disagree, I’d love to hear constructive criticism in the comments section below (though flaming and disrespect won’t be tolerated). But I’m confident that you’ll find some interesting points in this post, and my hope is that—whether or not you fully believe in my thoughts on life—these ideas will challenge you to think deeply about life and what it means to be human.
“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or purpose that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
I was reading some of Pressfield’s writing earlier today, and I stumbled upon the above quote about resistance. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this idea on resistance. In fact, after three years of floundering in one particular area of my life, I’ve found it to be perfectly accurate. As it turns out, the most valuable activity I could’ve been doing to achieve my goals was something I’d ignored and put off for years, simply because I felt so much resistance towards doing it. In my particular case, I was resisting all of the activities that would undo mental blocks I’ve had since I was a kid (see here for more on the activities I’m referring to).
What confuses me is that, although I’ve witnessed that resistance does appear strongest when an activity is most beneficial to our personal development, I still can’t understand why we feel such an intrinsic resistance. This is a question that delves into our very nature as human beings and I certainly won’t pretend to know the answer. Below are a few of my theories on why we feel so much resistance towards goals worth pursuing. After reading them over, leave a comment on this page as to which theory (or which combination of theories) you feel to be most true for you personally. Here we go:
During periods in which I have very little free time, I become partially obsessed with being as effective and productive as possible. In my last post, I reminded my readers (and myself) about the dangers of trying to soak up too much information when there is too much to read (blogs, magazines, websites, newspapers, work documents, etc.) and not enough time for disciplined reflection and review. That post functioned as a short reminder. This post will function as a detailed primer on how to generate powerful focus in a world of distractions.
If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to master a skill, but repeatedly meet with distractions and an inability to stay consistent, this post is for you. In this post, I will discuss the method I use to focus myself when learning a new skill that I consider too important to learn half-heartedly. I use this method when I can’t afford to be anything but incredibly effective. If you’ve ever found yourself floundering when it came to learning a skill or reaching a milestone in your goals, you may find this method immensely beneficial.
I often find that the powerful lessons and inspiration I derive from great books often fade within a month. I find it incredibly upsetting, and even frustrating, that I can experience such a powerful shift in how I view my life and the world around me, yet lose that perspective so quickly after.
In The Happiness Hypothesis, which is by far my favorite book on the subject of happiness, Jonathan Haidt expresses this frustration beautifully:
“Wisdom is now so cheap and abundant that it floods over us from calendar pages, tea bags, bottle caps, and mass e-mail messages forwarded by well-meaning friends…Quantity undermines the quality of our engagement. With such a vast and wonderful library spread out before us, we often skim books or read just the reviews. We might already have encountered the Greatest Idea, the insight that would have transformed us had we savored it, taken it to heart, and worked it into our lives.”
Prior to the Internet and the mass production of books, it was easy for someone to re-read the same book multiple times to really absorb the lessons and teachings it imparted (The Bible being a primary example). Nowadays, you could spend hours using StumbleUpon, catching up with dozens of well-written blogs, and then reading a few books on the subject of your choice. Your retention plummets when new information is consumed in this fashion day after day.