5 Steps To Take When You Are In A Crisis — Advice From a Millionaire

So tomorrow I will be on the road again. After my last clumsy adventure of breaking into a festival was more or less successful I was rewarded with one of the worst hangovers of my recent memory.
Especially as a person who has a vulnerability for depression, going balls to the wall at a festival is not the wisest thing to do.
So this week has been marked by some ups and downs that were deeper than usual.
My brain is really an a*shole. As soon as I have a wild weekend, my brain decides to spend the following days thinking about everything I ever did wrong in my life. This week was particularly tough. As much as I would have liked to stay lethargic and defeated in bed and watch endless hours of animal fights on YouTube, I needed to get my sh*t together, fast.
Tomorrow my next adventure is due, this time its Portugal. I’m going to travel with my closest friends and a guy named Lenny to visit my buddy in Porto.
So my last promises to my brain of never drinking again will be interrupted by 9 days of drinking port wine and ravaging like incompetent pirates through little villages in Portugal.
My brain is not pleased about this fact.
After 7 long weeks, I finally got my MacBook back today. After pouring coffee over it in my clumsiness I was delighted that repairing it cost me only 280 euros and losing all my data. Shoutout to Steve Jobs for creating such indestructible devices. I hope Satan is kicking you in the balls for all of eternity.
So today I want to talk about with you about what to do when you are in a hole. When the crisis hits you.
My brain is really an over-reactive son of a bit*h. So I thought I write today’s article for fellow weirdos who also from time to time deal with anxiety.
Because very often, things are not as bad as we think they are.
For me, I got this realization when I was having a conversation yesterday with a mentor of mine.
She just arrived back from China, where she has multiple offices and over 200 employees that all follow her lead. I am going to introduce her to you guys on my podcast in two weeks.
As she arrived at our loft she was surprised to see me in such a defeated state.
So we talked. I asked here about some stories of herself, where she was in dire situations and how she got out of. I was surprised. She had lots of stories to share. The fact that even self-made millionaires like herself feel like dog sh*t from time to time helped me to feel more human, and not to take my self so seriously.
So she gave me 4 steps to take when I am in a crisis…

Step 1 Dark Humor

The first step to take when You are in a crisis is to have humor.
For me, humor has always been a protective mechanism. One thing that has in many moments made the difference in losing my sh*t to overcoming a crisis. Laughing is medicine. And often it allows us to see that things are really not as bad as we think they are. Laughing triggers a cascade of effects in our brain, that are of utmost importance for coping with the brutality of life. From changing heart rate, to boosting serotonin, to breaking depressive thinking patterns.
In my opinion, nothing is off topic. Here is a joke that I heard while working in a psychiatric facility that a patient told me who was suffering from sever depression.
A pretty lady is standing on the side of a bridge, looking over it and thinking about jumping off. A homeless alcoholic man comes up to her as he was walking nearby. The lady notices the man coming and says: “Go away! There’s nothing you can say to me to change my mind, you cannot help me.” “Well, if you’re going to kill yourself anyway, why don’t we have sex? At least I’ll enjoy it” replies the man. “No way, you’re disgusting, go away.” The homeless man turns and starts walking away. The lady thinks: “Is that all you were going to say to me? Nothing more? Won’t you try to convince me that life is worth living that I should not jump off? Where are you going?” The homeless man thinks: “I have to make it down to the bottom. If I hurry, you’ll still be warm.”
As tasteless as this joke is, I think you get where I am coming from. The patient who told me this joke, taught me a great awful lot of how to deal with the absurdity of life.

Step 2 Analyze the Situation

The second step to take when You are in a crisis is to use your brain.
So, things are sh*t. After coming to the humbling realization, and taking your fair amount of whining about it(which is necessary sometimes) you realize that crying will not change your stakes.
You must first understand why things suck. What is it that caused this problem.
There is a saying, that only you can help yourself. I don’t agree with that. Because it was also you who got yourself in that situation in the first place. So maybe you need some help to get out of it.
One thing that my podcast taught me, is that our problems are not unique. There are people who solved the problems, that to us seem insolvable already.
So find out who mastered the situation that you are in right now, and plainly ask them how they did it.
Also talking with mentors, friends or family will give you a different perspective. Often our own analyzation is not to be trusted.
By asking others to evaluate ourselves, we can often see the root of our problems.
In my case, my financial habits are horrible. I am constantly spending more than I make. Nobody feels good when they are 1-2 rents behind. So in the nearest future, I am going to hack this problem.
Furthermore, I was doing too many things at once. From Blogging to playing basketball to being a student, to podcasting, writing a book, influencer stuff… was just too much for me. So I felt overwhelmed.
My mentor, told me in her beautiful Chinese accent
“Daniel, focus on the one thing that you need to do right now. Ignore the rest. Your kung fu is not strong enough to handle multiple projects”.
So I altered my course there also, putting my academical first, and everything else second.

Step 3 Take Action

The third step to take when You are in a crisis is to take massive action.
So, you talked to others and evaluated your situation, now you want massive action.
One thing I learned from behavior psychology was that in order to design for desired outcomes you need to radically adjust your environment.
If you want to lose some weight, and your bad habit is to eat ice cream in the middle of the night, make a rule that forbids it to have any ice cream in the fridge at all. You can not eat 100% of the ice cream that is not in your fridge.
Make the undesired behavior as hard as possible.
Since I had a problem with my finances, I went looking for money management systems. I reached out to financial experts and best sellers to come on my podcast so that I leave my brokenness behind and become an expert myself.
The more radical your behavior, the surer you can be to get control of the situation that is causing you pain.
So asking yourself daily, what can I do today/this week/this month/this year to solve this situation is key.
A state that causes major psychological damage is lack of control. The less we feel we are in charge of things, the more we fall into despair and hopelessness.

In my investigation of the clinically depressed, this was an obvious pattern. If you ask someone who suffers from depression very often they will tell you ” I tried everything”, “Nothing works”, “I feel powerless” “There is nothing I can do”.
The psychological term for this sensation is low self efficacy.
Self efficacy is a term that descibres our believe in our ability to solve things.
Funny enough, in my pursuit of deconstructing case studies who are kicking as* in life you spot the opposite pattern.
Succesful people have a deep founded trust in their own abilities and in themselves to face problems and to do what ever they set out to do.
Nothing liberates yourself more than knowing that you can count on yourself, and your ability to find the answer.
This can make the difference between thriving in life, and killing yourself.
You need to protect your own believe in yourself at all cost. If you want to develop new habits, or achieve new goals, always aim low.
In my opinion, it is more important that you feel like you are winning than if you are actually winning.
Lets say you want to develop the habit of working out.
A bad goal would be to say that you are going to work out daily.
Because this goal does not allow room for failure. A bitter goal would be, for the month,”I will hit the gym 3 times”. Everything else is extra credit.
There are to many people who rock in life, but who think they are total losers because they set bad goals for themselves.
If you feel like a winner, you will usually end up winning in my opinion.

Step 4 Endurance

The fourth step to take when You are in a crisis is to be patient.
The last point of my mentor was that I need to remember two words : Patience and endurance.
Understanding that your crisis did not happen over night, but that you took some time to dig your own grave is key.
Because then you understand that you will not magically solve your problem in one moment.
Psychological wise, it is of of tremendous importance that you make peace with feeling like crap for a while. Being ok with not being ok is a decison that will ultimatly keep your edge.
Often situations that cause us pain and discomfort, are momentarly unchangeable.
What you can change however is your attitude towards your problems. You can decide how you deal with unsolvable problems.
Give your fear and anxiety some room. Write down what you hate about your situation, what you fear, what you blame yourself for.
Liberate your true self by writing everything down that bothers you.
The second word that my mentor told me to remember was endurance.
Succesful people are crazy. Their radical way of conquouring the world in their niche comes with a tremendous price. I have not yet met a person who was succesful on a global level who had any resemblance to work life balance.
There is a price. And if you are setting out to be this guy, you better get used to suffering from time to time.
It seems that ultra succesful people dont chase happiness as much as normal people. So fall in love with the process. Come to terms with pain. Accept that training hard, studing, working a lot sucks. But if your goal at the end of the tunnel outweights your struggle, you can endure the road that leads you there.
Whatever the root of your crisis is, it is gonna pass. And if you are worried that other people are going to judge you because of you sucking right now, great, welcome it.
No more expectations. It can only go uphill from here, you playing with house money, and it will only make you winning so much more meaningful.
So hold on tight buddy! Great stuff is heading your way.
As always, thank you for reading, and go kick as*

Charles Duhigg`s The Power of Habit {Book Review}

When I learned about habits under Professor BJ Fogg from Stanford University I realized that in order to become better at behavior psychology and in particular in habit formation I need to read every piece of relevant literature that I can get my hands on.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhig was the one I started with. When you want to learn about habits, this book is a good starting point.
The books simplicity and its case studies are really perfect to learn about behavior. No psychology background needed.

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle

We are what we repeatedly do. This quote really hits the nail on the head. When you want to achieve any dream in your life or want to change yourself or design for a life according to your true values you start with you. With your habits.
A couple of years ago I made a decision to change my life for the better. But where do you start? When you are getting the same undesired result over and over what do you change?
I believe you start with your habits.

What is Charles Duhiggs The Power of Habit about?

In The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg examines why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. This book depicts Charles Duhiggs exploratory journey of discovering habit formation in individuals, companies, and societies.
He visits laboratories where neuroscientist how to explore how habits work and where in our brain they reside. He writes about the right habits that were crucial for Michael Phelps to become the best swimmer in history.
The book has three chapters.
In the first Chapter, he explains with numerous awesome case studies how habits work in individuals, and how we can form new habits and break undesired behaviors.
In the second part, he dissects the habits of successful organizations. This part is highly interesting if you are into big business. He deconstructs what habits big managers implant in companies such as Us Steel or Ford that separated them from their competitors.
In the third part of the book, he talks about how habits can change entire societies and cultures and discusses if free will exists at all if we all are controlled by the automated habits that we do each day.

What Are Habits?

What was the first thing you did this morning after you got up? Did you check your phone? Did you hop in the shower, checked your mail, did you grab a banana or a doughnut from your kitchen table? Before you left your house to go to your work or University did you brush your teeth before you took a shower or after? What was the route you took to your destination? When you arrived at your desk, did you first chat with your coworker? Did you check your phone again? Are you eating a kebab for lunch or a salad? When you get home where did you put your jacket? What did you do with your shoes? Did you hit the light switch with your left or your right hand? Did you walk straight to your fridge or to your couch? Where did you put your keys? Back into your pockets or on a shelf?

When you took a dump did you have to think a lot about what to do next? No right? You automatically reach to the toilet paper. And after you go to the sink you do not have to think about washing your hands, it is automatic. Ingrained in you, or as I prefer to say; you act out of habit.

All behavior above is done without a lot of thought. They are habits. According to a study in 2006 researchers of Duke University have found out that more than 40 Percent of the behavior we perform each day is not actually a result of us deciding consciously but of habit. (1)

This means that almost half of our life is lived on autopilot. Crazy right! 

It seems that habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Think of your brain as a lazy bastard. It wants to save as much effort as possible so we have more energy for the important tasks. 

„Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they often consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily express our character.“ Stephan Covey

Habits are the routines and behaviors that we do automatically. We actually need habits in order to carry out basic activities such as brushing your teeth, washing your hands after peeing, getting dressed for university or follow the same route to work every day without having to think about it. 

This amazing feature allows us to focus on more complex and important tasks; such as deciding consciously where your next vacation is going to be! 

Your brain has only limited ram. So it has to save memory as much as it can. Pretty much like your phone.

I believe that we humans are basically habit machines.

Think of your brain as a smartphone.  Habits are the apps on your phone. Think of the possibilities of a smartphone for a second.

Person A uses his smartphone to play candy crush, flappy bird and Facebook or binge on Netflix or youtube.

Person B uses downloaded Evernote, Duolingo, Trello, and Telegram and uses his smartphone to thrive. 

Both phones are capable of the same feats, but the first person installed bad software on their brains and Person B has chosen its brain programmes a bit wiser. Their results, however, are like day and night.

I believe that mastering the essential mechanisms of behavioral psychology and habit formation allows you to download brain software and delete bad habit apps from your brain.

I believe that is only 2 kinds of habits. Positive Habits,  and negative habits. A negative habit for me is a reoccurring behavior that is not aligning with your true values and is keeping you from living according to your desired life design. A typical example would be smoking. 

Therefore it is essential to learn how to form positive habits and to learn how to break bad habits and replace them with positive habits.

Mastering habit formation is really a superpower in my opinion. And it gives you the freedom to decide who you really want to be.

 

Who is Charles Duhigg?

Charles Duhigg is a reporter for the New York Times and for the magazine. Charles Duhigg is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Yale University. Before becoming a journalist, Charles Duhigg worked in private equity.
Charles Duhigg is the author of the Power of Habit which is about habit formation in individuals, companies and societies, and Smarter Faster Better, about the science of Productivity.
He won a Pulitzer prize and, contributed to other award-winning series, Golden Opportunities, The Reckoning and Toxic Waters.

Who recommended it?

Among many other Jim Collins and various big magazines.

“Few [books] become essential manuals for business and living. The Power of Habit is an exception. Charles Duhigg not only explains how habits are formed but how to kick bad ones and hang on to the good.”Financial Times

4 Important Concepts in The Power of Habit

1) The Habit Loop

Charles Duhigs created a formula for how behavior works that is actually pretty simple and easy to understand. 

Any behavior, habit or routine can be analyzed in three parts according to Duhigg: Reminder, the Routine, and Reward.

The Reminder is also often known as the cue or trigger. The Cue acts as the signal, it triggers the automated Routine which leads to a Reward. So the process of forming new habits is a three-step loop :

  1. Reminder – a trigger that signals your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit has to use.
  2. Routine – this is the actual behavior, it can be physical or mental. If you do something, there was a trigger beforehand.
  3. Reward – that’s the thing that you get from doing the habit. Your brain needs rewards in order to figure out what behavior and what loops are worth remembering for the future. 

Example: You check your social media feed while you are studying.

Story from me: I used to procrastinate a lot while studying.

Let’s say I had a seminar about statistics something which to this day bores the heck out of me. As soon as I saw my professor I yawned. The Statistic Professor was my Cue. As soon as he would turn around I would get out my phone and start checking my Facebook or Instagram. This was the Routine/ Behavior. The Reward was that I got distracted and that I had some little spikes of dopamine in my brain from hearing a funny stupid joke from my friends. Also for me, statistics was pain. Getting a temporary stop from pain is the same as getting a reward. 

I was satisfying my short-term gratification. This, of course, did not help me in the long term at all. Because Statistic gets infinitive more boring and more painful if you suck at it. So this small habit of procrastinating contributed to me falling more and more behind. 

So although a habit has a reward that protects you temporarily, it often hurt you in the long term. This is how you can detect bad habits often. A recurring behavior that is good for you in the short term but has tremendous negative consequences for you in the long term.
Again for me, a bad habit is a habit that temporary gives you something, but is hurting you in a crazy way long term. Smoking gives you stress reduction, but also cancer. So that’s a bad habit cost equation.
 
 

2. The Golden Rule of Habit Change

Now that you know how habits are formed, how can you change them?!
We all have failed at changing or forming new habits. Maybe you made some new years resolutions about changing your weight, or that you want to stop smoking, or learn a new language finally.
But where do you start?
The good news is that habit formation is a skill. And Charles Duhigg and many others have found great ways to break this down for us normal people.

 
 
In the Power of Habit Charles Duhigg presents a very simple model that aims at habit substitution.
The core of the idea of habit substitution or habit swapping is that you look for different ways to get the same emotional reward. For example, you are triggered to have a smoke because you crave the reward of stress reduction. Now instead of putting a cancer stick in your mouth you do a breathing exercise or meditate in order to reduce your stress.
The idea is that you become creative, and find better ways to satisfy your needs.

 
 

3) Habits are Formed Through Emotions

Our behavior is motivated by emotional rewards. When you look at the habit loop, it is powered by the reward. All we do in life is to either avoid pain and to seek pleasure.
In order to change your habits, it is key that you understand the return of a behavior. Each behavior is motivated by the return, reward, positive emotion at the end of the habit loop.
We can use this knowledge to form new habits and get rid of old ones. If you want to make a new habit stick, lets a say a workout routine in the morning you must pair it with a positive emotion. Loving what you do enables you to trick your brain into craving that behavior.

Habits are really formed through positive reinforcement. Where humans excel in my opinion is that we all are constantly learning whether we like this or not. Everything that is rewarded is repeated. We are hard-wired to repeat everything that gives us pleasure and avoid anything that gives us discomfort and pain. Everything we do is really to get a certain emotion.

I believe that everything we desire, actions, things, other humans, trips, acknowledgments, goals have in common that we really don’t seek the subject itself but the emotion behind it. We don’t want to get rich, we believe that we feel amazing when we will be rich, we don’t crave money, but the promised emotion behind money.

Taking control of this process will put you in charge. if you want to form a new behavior you link massive pleasure to that behavior or subject. People who are successful in forming the right kind of habits are very aware of this process.

If you immediately reinforce a behavior you are more likely to repeat it because your brain will want to re-experience that pleasureful emotion.

The same goes for the opposite emotion: pain.
If we link strong discomfort, and pain to a behavior we are hard-wired to not repeat that behavior.

If you love sushi for years but you eat bad sushi once and you get severe food poisoning you can may very well never have fun with sushi again.

Ever had such a bad hangover from an alcoholic beverage that just the smell of it gives you the shivers? For me it is tequila, it gives me the shivers to just write about. I accidentally conditioned myself that when I drink tequila, bad stuff happens.

What I’m saying is that we humans can learn extremely fast.

What I Learned from The Power of Habit

I love the simplicity of Charles Duhiggs The Power of Habit. The thing that I internalized the most was that there is a rewarding emotion behind every habit.
And bad habits, in particular, are a treasure trove of information about our true needs. I looked at some of my bad habits and evaluated very honestly why this behavior was important for me, and why I  had trouble just stopping that habit.
For years, I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I eventually just thought
that I am not a morning person. But then I started to deconstruct this habit.
What was this habit giving me? It turned out that I was not happy during that time, and I linked pain to the job that I had during that time. So having a delay of 20 minutes was my emotional reward.
In order to hack this, I substituted the habit of snoozing with meditation. It also gave me a buffer of 20 minutes but it made me more happy at the same time. It shifted the focus to me and made me realize that the shitty job that I had at that time was giving me the money to go after my dream and travel to South America.
This helped me to link less pain to get up, and snoozing was less attractive to me.
So if you have bad habits in your life, like smoking, drinking, distracting yourself, procrastinating ask yourself if there is a less harmful way to give you the reward.
Understanding why we do things gives us the means to alter the course of our behavior.
And I believe that changing our behavior will put us in a place of power. The power to decide what person we want to be and with it the power to decide what life we want to have.
This to me is the Power of Habit.
 

What did I not Like?

In the Power of Habit Charles Duhigg does a poor job of emphasizing that it is emotion that powers the habit loop, not rewards. Rewards make it sound like the bonus at the end of a working year is motivating behavior. Again, it is immediate reinforcement that makes us learn new behavior.
I had the privilege to study habits under Professor BJ Fogg from Stanford University, who is the world leading expert in habit formation, and this was one of the biggest differences between their two psychological philosophies.

But I think The Power of Habit does a great job at explaining behavior psychology for people who are not familiar with the topic.
And the best model, in my opinion, is the model that people understand.
 

Call to action

  1. Deconstruct one of your habits and draw a habit loop for it.
  2. Do the same for a bad habit of yours.
  3. Now think of a different behavior that will get the same reward, but more healthy.
  4. Ask yourself, what habits do you need to develop of the course of the next 3 months in order to achieve your dream goal

 

Want to read more? Sources

1) https://charlesduhigg.com/
2) www.tinyhabitsacademy.com

Podcast Launch — So I am Starting a Psychology Podcast

Hey Friendo
For quite some time I have been racking my brain how I can add value to you guys.
One of the main motivators to start my blog was so that I can sprinkle something real in the vain and narcissistic play garden that is the world of Instagram.  But How?
I don’t in any kind of way feel qualified enough, however, to become suddenly the ” This is how you should do it, guy”.
I am more the “WTF I have no idea what I am doing type of guy”.
But what I can do, is find people who are kicking a*s in life, and straight ask them how they are doing it!
I started my journey of pursuing my dream of becoming a vagabond and nomad psychologist because I wanted to show people that transformation is actually possible. So all of this is sorta an expert, to document my journey of getting my sh*t. Maybe even inspire you even a little bit to all out yourself.
If I can do it, so can you.
This is why some time ago I made myself on the hunt for extraordinary people in order to pick their brains and learn about their psychology.
You already know about my 1000 book challenge and my book club. Reading 1000 books is gonna take me some while though. So being the lazy ba*tard that I am I was looking for a shortcut. So I thought why not reach out directly to world experts and outstanding people, and ask them how they got there!
This way I must grow much faster as if I would try to figure out everything for myself.
This is why I named my Psychology Podcast Grow.
Who do you interview? 
Each episode will feature a guest who will inspire your mind and give you a different perspective on the many paths that can lead to a fulfilled and rich life.
My definition of success varies from the conventional way.
I believe a dirtbag free climber who lives stoically in his van, in order to do what he loves, has as much to teach us as a millionaire silicon valley entrepreneur. But just to make sure, however, I will ask both of them!
My guest varies from self-made millionaires, digital nomads, founders to monks, professional athletes, artist, poets authors to singers. I go all Liam Nelson on you guys: IF YOU ARE KICKING AS* IN LIFE; I WILL FIND YOU!
I try to dissect and extract the habits, rituals, routines, tools, patterns of extraordinary people in order to understand their psychology.
This includes their favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, nutritional philosophies, and their ideas of happiness and success.
 
Why did I start a Podcast?
I spent years and years of studying clinical psychology. Meaning the science of unhappiness. For quite some time I was my own case study. I was unhappy, and sometimes to this day I still have my fair share of trouble with myself.
However, over the last 10 years of studying psychology,  I can proudly say that I know a thing or 2 about mood disorders and depression. I am so to say an expert in unhappiness. An expert at how to not do things.
For quite some time the focal point of my interest shifted to the other side of the spectrum. How are happy and successful people doing things?
At the moment I am interested in gathering habits, success secrets, behavioral patterns, tricks and tools that you and I can use in our daily life to grow.
At the same time, I discuss with my guest, habits, mindsets, tools and life philosophies one should stay away from.
Therefore in my podcast, I try to look for gold nuggets in the treasure trove that is the human mind.
Shoutout to: Tim Ferris and BJ Fogg. The two of you inspired me to start my own journey of understanding how this whole human thing works. Hope that soon I will be able to give something back to you guys. 
Thank you,
Thanks for listening and enjoy the podcast. Write in the comments: If you could have dinner with any person in the world, dead or alive, who would you choose to chill with?!

How To Overcome Writer's Block

Hey Buddy!
I was asked lately by a ton of people what I do when I have writer’s block. I am writing a book right currently. An endeavor that one must never undertake unless he is ready for excruciating pain. If I could choose between the agony of writing a book, and being fisted by a giant cactus one time only, I would choose the latter.
Writing can be an experience full of anxiety and distraction. There are five things that helped me to overcome writer’s block. Here they are.

1)Journaling

The antidote to being not able to write is to write. My current job is it to coach other people in behavioral psychology. The first thing I tell my coachees is that the routine is more important than the result. When you want to develop a work out routine, a bad workout is better than no workout at all.
Writing is no different. For me, my baseline is to write one page a day. No matter how crappy. Giving yourself a permission to suck frees you from 90% of the pressure.
Taking one line at a time is some of the best advice I ever got. The Chinese wall has not been build day. What you do is that you take one brick, and place it as perfectly as you can. This way you don’t get overwhelmed.
Also guys, sometimes the words we write for ourselves are so much better than what we write for others. Journaling has been one of the most profound therapeutic decisions of my life. It gives you the opportunity to be100% real. We live in a world where we are encouraged to lie to ourselves. To portray us as flawless on Instagram. True muse is found in the little imperfections that we all have. Journaling is a pursuit of investigating our very soul. In these imperfections, stories can be found. Mistakes that people can resonate with.
For me, journaling is very personal and honest. But it still is writing. And if you want to get better at writing, you need to write guys.
I created this article today because I did not find the words I was looking for in my book today. So I journaled instead. Journaling is a great way to deal with writer’s block, and a great tool to investigate your yourself.
Here is what I wrote yesterday night in my journal when I had writer’s block. I thought writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all.  Caution those words are a bit gloomy. But I think they capture the struggle of not finding the right words in a brutally honest way.

Journal 12.8( Writers Block)

It is 22.37 on a Saturday.  All day no words came out. I listen to poems by Charles Bukowski. Maybe a bit too much lately.
Today I have not spoken to anybody.
Infront of me, I see my naked typewriter. An empty page is staring at me. I drink coffee out of the pot and wine out of the bottle. I listen to classical music on repeat. I have not showered yet. I masturbated in the morning. I slept during the day. I need more wine. More coffee. There is too much of me.
I wrote my ex-girlfriend today. She did not respond. I understand.
Words don’t come out today. They are hiding. My fingers punch the keys anyway. I am tired of today. A day from now a new week starts. I wonder for the how manieth time.
What would happen if we would be given a countdown? If everybody knew how many weeks we have left. Would it make a difference? Maybe I would care more. Masturbate less. My fingers are black because of print. I like it.
More wine. My fingers warm up. My heart is not.
Today I feel caged. I want to break out. I am unsure how. Maybe I am my own prison.
More wine.
I breathe. My thoughts are uninteresting.
Less thinking. More writing. I miss having a fight. Or do I? Maybe I miss life. Maybe this is waiting. I hate waiting. I want to go. To the end of the world.
If I have to wait anyway. Why not wait somewhere important.
Beyond waiting lies death. I don’t fear it. I never have. My heart beats. I hear air leaving my nostrils. I wonder how many times I will hear this sound again. How many breaths I have left.
Maybe that matters. Probably not. Maybe nothing ever matters.
I am ok with that.
Today I see no light. I welcome the darkness.
My next adventure is overdue. Life is getting mad at me. It calls me a wimp. I don’t listen. My heart is pounding. My lungs fill themselves with smoke. I don’t have to do anything. I am here.
One day I won`t. I am worried. Not for my own sake. I don’t care about that. What happens to the love in my heart when I die one day. I don’t want my love to seize to exist.
I wonder how many people are crying right now. What insane amount of grief the world has seen. I am not worried anymore about nothingness. Maybe everything has to end. Maybe nothingness can be mercy.
Not for me. I will see it all till the bittersweet end. I will love. I will cry. Then love some more. And then I will punch the keys. Drink wine out of the bottle.
Years and years of wonder and confusion await me.
I light another cigar. My father loved cigars. So much they killed him.
No words again.
My phone rings I do not pick it up. I am busy watching my candle. This is important.
More Wine.
I am reminiscent. About past adventures. How I saw burning suns and starry nights.
I wish to grasp the mystery more of what awaits me.
A year from now, these thoughts will no longer exist. Maybe you won’t either.
I will remember all the kisses I had. All the promises I made. I wonder who will lie in my arms then.
I hope I will lie under a blue heaven, and watch someone deep in their eyes and say nothing.
I will think back of today. Where I was alone. Drinking wine out of the bottle. Inhaling cigar smoke.
I will think back of today. Where I was young. Where I was waiting to live, waiting to die.
 

2)Write With Your Life, Not With Your Words

I believe that any writer should aspire to live a life that is worth telling about. Personally, I get inspired by vagabonding. Wayfaring around the world and letting yourself be inspired by people and life.
I believe that many writers struggle not because they are bad at writing, but because they have nothing to write about. If you are having writer’s block, put your pen down and go out into the world. Experience something real. Don’t be boring. Do something out of the norm. Go to Tibet. Ride a camel. Tramp across Europe with no money. Read a book you never have before. Make a bad decision. Sleep with a stranger. Do nothing for a day.
I believe that in order to be a good writer you need to experience all facets of life. Go deep and truly soak yourself into the craziness that surrounds us. Storys will follow.
When I was in school all I got was F City baby. What I was good at however was to live a life on the edge. Although painful sometimes, my life was everything but boring.
Try everything, fail often and love deeply. If you want to be a writer, become the hero of your own story. If you cannot be inspired by life don’t write then. If after long journeys across the world, words are not flowing out of you don’t do it then.
 

3)Passion Is The Fuel For Writing

I believe that writing should not be boring. It’s about communicating emotions. Something real and authentic. In order to make people laugh, make people cry. make people break out you to a degree have understood your own passion. Capitalise on it.
But what if you have not found your passion yet?
When people asked me to find out what their passion is I normally point to four questions.

  1. What is the job you would be doing if you would not need a job?
  2. What is the one topic you can not shut up about?
  3. When you were a child, what did you do when nobody was watching?
  4. If you can switch places with every human on earth, who would you choose?

Writing is a great tool to watch a movie of your life. When you see what is going on inside your brain on paper you can take action. It puts you in the driving seat and you can decide whether or not you like the protagonist of your own movie and make adjustments. Guide yourself away from the emptiness of life and create a custom-designed life that fits your most honest desires.
 

4)Use Classical Conditioning Against Writer’s Block

A basic principle from Psychology is classical conditioning. Remember the crazy Russian Pavlov? He training his dog to produce saliva everytime he rang a bell because the dog thought he would get food then.
The bell is called a trigger. A sign for your brain to do something. The other thing is to use positive reinforcement. Reward your brain with positive emotion, to become addicted to writing. Your brain will repeat what you reward. So have fun while you write, love it even.
I believe that our brain has a conditioned memory. Flow is something that can be provoked.
Flow can become a habit guys, if you do the same thing over and over, you can eventually trick your brain and harvest flow as a resource and kick writer’s block in the nuts.
 
For me, it works to listen to the same song for hours and hours. And the next time I plug in my headphones and hear the same tune, my brain knows its writing time. Find out maximizes your flow, and what is distracting you.
The same works with your place, the food you ate, the place you choose to write it. Find out what you like best. Some like quiet places. Others thrive in environments where it is really loud.
 

5)Reading Helps Against Writer’s block.

Humans have a unique ability to reexperience adventures from others. Maybe you are short on money and time right now and you feel like you are not in full control over your life. But what you can control is what your brain consumes. Dream yourself away by the greatest pieces of literature ever written. It is your decision whether you watch the Kardashians, or if you let yourself be fascinated by the journeys of other greats like Victor Frankl.
This was one of the reasons why I founded my book club. 
Why not learn from humanities greatest teachers and guide yourself towards the person you truly want to be. In order to become a better writer, you can steal. Study the writing styles of great writers. If you want to watch novels, study Bukowski, if you want to write personal development book study Tony Robbins, if you want to write science books study Carol Dweck.
Do not be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to suck at the start. It is unavoidable.
 
As always thank you for reading.
 

Losing My Virginity — Richard Branson {Book Review}

When do you think of the word successful what Person comes first to mind?
For me, success means that you live an extraordinarily adventurous life. A life on your terms. That you have successfully monetized your passion and that you add massive value to others while doing so. You work with fun and amazing people and solve together big problems for the world.
To me, nobody else personifies these ideas more than Sir Richard Branson.
The last book I reviewed was vagabonding, by rolf potts. A guide that shows you that traveling is affordable for everybody if you are willing to make some lifestyle sacrifices and rely on minimalism. The book motivated me to write the article “my broke a*s Road Trip” an experiment where I traveled through Germany with almost no money.
After returning from my adventure, it turned out however that although minimalism is liberating, the world I live in currently is pretty expensive. So I thought I need to start to hack my finances and attack my financial issues head-on. As I write this article I currently make zero $ with my blog. So I thought I need to start to learn how people think who actually make money with what they love.
I learn best through case studies. Real life examples. So Why not learn from somebody who conquered the problems I am having right now. This is why I decided to investigate the brain of Sir Richard Branson and steal some mental habits from him. Since to this point he has not agreed to talk to me in person, I decided to investigate the very best next thing: his first autobiography.
Who is Richard Branson?

Richard Branson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today. He is the founder of the Virgin Group and with he has a net worth of over 5 billion dollars! Damn, that is a lot of money right?! Normally I am reluctant when It comes to equating networth with success. I Think of bankers who are only in their office their entire life. Words like boring or clockwork come to mind.

Boring is a word you would never associate with Richard Branson. And he is not your typical billionaire(if there is anything as such).

Richard Branson was born in 1950 and he had a very happy childhood. In his book, he describes how his parents always challenged him. Giving him tasks out of his comfort zone, teaching him early that failing is a sign of strength. His mother pushed him out in a field at a very early age, telling him to find the way home by himself. Richard Branson jokingly said that the things her mother did to prepare him for the world would be illegal today.

Richard Branson Parents were in the upper middle class, so he was not born super rich.
In school, Richard Branson was everything else than outstanding. He was dyslexic and failed hopelessly in math and other sciences. However even there seemed to be an aura around him. People naturally gathered around him. And from a very early age, he had his own mind.
When Richard Branson graduated the school’s headmaster said to him: “You will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” Little did he know that he was right with both.
Branson’s first entrepreneurial endeavor was to create a student magazine that included interviewing Mick Jagger and John Lemmon among many others. One of the things that fascinated me with this magazine was that the goal was not primarily to make money but to have fun. A mantra that Richard Branson took with him into his next business endeavors.
Branson gang of friends was obsessed with music and they decided to sell records via mail. This project later became Virgin music business.
The first singer Virgin signed was a young musician called Mike Oldfield. This was an odd choice because the Virgin music was a rock music label, and Mike Oldfield had no vocals in his album Tubular Bells.
This song was one of the biggest- selling albums of the 1970s. Later they collaborated with big bands like the Sex Pistols, Phil Collins, Human League and many other stars.  They became big and were floating in cash.
What surprised me was that he went form the music business into founding an airline. He was always a big-time investor and eventually through some weird circumstances, he received a proposal to establish a new airline that would compete with British Airways. He was upset with the way British airways were exploiting their monopoly. They were raising prices, and passenger comfort was going down. And he frankly believed that he could do better.
So Richard Branson negotiated to rent a boing 747 for a year. This to me was crazy that he would try something this big on a whim without being afraid just to see if it works. This stuck with me. To just rent a freaking airplane and see where it goes. This motivated me to 10x all my dreams and start to think big.

So Why Did I Choose To Make a Book Review About Losing My Virginity?

Being a millionaire with 22? Flying over the Atlantic in a balloon? Being knighted by the Queen?  Buying your own Island? Trying to make free wifi a thing for the entire world? Writing a bestseller when you are dyslexic? Founding “Virgin Interplanetary” in order to make space travel possible for everyone? Those are all crosses on his Richard Branson’s bucket list. There are many big things in life. Nothing as big as the cajones of this mfer.

For me doing a book review about losing my virginity was a must. He personifies the perfect case study for success in my opinion. The sheer amount of impact that he had on the world, the brave business endeavors that he started, the adventurous expeditions that he undertook are just mindboggling.
It is crazy what is possible inside of one life on this planet. I hope that one day I get a personal interview with this guy.
As humans we have a beautiful ability that is unique to our species: We can read a story and relive the adventures and experiences in our head like we are the protagonist.
I think to soak in Richard Branson life journey is a must for every hungry men or woman. It was super fascinating to see how different he thinks towards business, traveling and trying new things.
One of the cornerstones of my philosophy is that when you start to think like people with extreme results it will eventually rub of on you and you yourself will get better. Or in my case, I was hoping to suck a little less.
Emulating the thinking patterns, habits, tools, and life hacks from highly successful people is one of the focal points of my work right now. So what did I learn from studying Sir Richard Branson?

4 Takeaways from Richards Branson’s Autobiography

  • You Make Money by Solving Problems

In his autobiography, you can see that Richard Branson thinks in a unique way. For him, problems are gold nuggets. He searches for markets that need a shakeup. Is there a way to do it better or cooler or more customer orientated?
This was the Idea behind virgin Airways. He did not like the way British Airways were exploiting their monopoly position. The prizes were going up for the customers and the quality and comfort was going down. Richard Branson saw this problem as a business opportunity. I believe we all should think this way. Instead of just scratching our own niche we should ask ourselves :
What does the world need? Where does a shakeup need to happen? In which market do people deserve better? Where is my expertise needed the most? What is a problem that I can attack better than everybody else?
Ask yourself bevor starting a business if this endeavor is only serving yourself,  or if you are actually are adding value and creating something new for other people. I am blessed to be surrounded in my inner circle by great people, and a lot of founders. Some more successful than others. The startups that survived were the ones that were actually solving problems. They were making people lives better, even a little bit. All the marketing in the world is not enough if your product just plain su*ks. How you make your money is just as important as that you make money.
Fusing a problem with your own talents will bring out the best in you because you are driven by more than your personal needs. You think that the thing that you are building has to exist. And that people deserve better and that if you don’t do it nobody else will, so you almost have no choice but to create this startup, company or product or write your book.

  • Follow Your Dreams.

As cheesy as this sounds, one of my major takeaways was that you need an exciting vision for your future. A dream. Do you have that one topic that you never get tired of talking about? Go all balls to the wall on that.
In order to become successful, you need to excel in your field of expertise. Be so good that they ignore you. I really internalized this principle of the last years. I talk very openly about my latest financial struggles recently. But I am all in of becoming world class in my niche. I believe that there is no other way around it. Make yourself so valuable that you are starting to become an asset for others.
And prepare yourself for a rough sailing. A sentence that I never heard from a successful founder was ” this was easy”.
If your dream is as big you gotta eat it, sleep it, breathe it become obsessed with it. Be that guy who can never shut up about your dream. If you are not at least annoying your friends a little bit with your vision, you are doing it wrong.
I believe having a dream is a necessity. A dream motivates us to hold ourselves to a higher standard. To hold ourselves accountable. Something that most people don’t realize is that there is always competing behavior. Meaning there is a duality of things. When you decide on something, you at the same time decide against something else. Getting Shi*t faced on Friday at the same time is a decision against a productive and happy Saturday. Your dream is your happy place. And you want to get there as fast as possible. And procrastination, lethargy, alcoholism, and distraction will become less and less attractive for you.
One of the goals of my blog is to start to deconstruct unhappiness as well. Depression in particular. And in my investigation of people in a psychiatric facility, it was a pattern that people did not have a great vision for their future. People who have depression, in particular, don’t see a future for themselves at all. I believe that humans need a dream as much as we need food or water or sex. To have an internal confidence and trust, that eventually the puzzle pieces will fall into place for you. That although you are going through a rough stretch, things will not stay bad always.
All the people I worked with who later were severely suicidal had a pattern in common that they internalized that things are never going to get better. That life is never going to turn around. In that case, it is almost logical to put an end to it, because you are protecting yourself from a lot of incoming pain.
Case studies like Richard Branson were fascinating to me because their mental patterns are really like day and night. And I learned that there are thought patterns to stay away from, and mental habits to emulate.
So find I urge you to find you why, a task or a dream that you will only be able to conquer at your absolute best. In my case, this very much saved my life.

  • Have fun

Some advice from a behavior psychology geek: Loving what you do is a necessity. Without going all nerd nation on you guys, psychologist knows for quite some time now that we repeat what we reward.
We learn things by pairing neutral stuff with positive emotions. Emotions create habits guys. If you link joy and fun to a behavior, your brain will start to crave the very thing you are doing. If you link pain to something, your brain will do everything in its power to avoid this behavior.
If you associate sacrifice and stress and discomfort to your work you won’t be able to put in the extra hours. Richard Branson is a working machine. I wondered for some time how successful entrepreneurs were able to sacrifice their 20s and thirties. How they mentally made peace with working so much. The only plausible answer that I can come up with is that they love it. It does not work for them.
This is important guys. Pain and pleasure are the two parts of your driving wheel that put you in a place to decide what person you want to become.
If you love what you do then why should you stop after 8 hours? This enables you to work longer and harder than someone who does it because he has to do it. Falling in love with your hussle will enable you to crush it in the long game. Otherwise, no chance guys.

  • Don’t give up

Everything that sounds cliche has some truth to it. One of my personal takeaways from Richards Branson’s Book and from other high achievers I interviewed personally was that they share one habit in particular: The habit of Perseverance.
They all seem fcking batshiit crazy when it comes to giving up. In order to go through hardships in business or Life, you need to be a little bit insane and delusional even.
To me, it seems that high achievers seem to live in their own world sometimes. And that they have the ability to march forward even if they are laughed at or ridiculed. They don’t give up, and they don’t give an f and this enables them to inspire others to march with them. I believe that the combination of kindness and sheer strength is resonating with people.
Branson personifies both traits. I don’t think it is a coincidence that amazing people gather around guys like him.

  • Crush your Comfort Zone

Richard Branson seems to have the ability to stress out less than others even in the face of extreme pressure or uncertainty. This seems to be a pattern with successful leaders. To stay chill, even in the face of crisis. In my podcast with Tian Yao, she told me that the antidote for stress is more stress. I think I know understand where she is coming from.
To keep your cool even in the face of extreme situations is really a skill for itself. Richard Branson, however, is a different kind of animal. On his many adventures, his life was at jeopardy multiple times. One example is that while trying to fly his balloon around the world he was threatened by multiple nations because he accidentally flew over war zones.
It must take a lot of guts, to leave something as successful as the record business and tackle other ridiculous projects like creating free wifi for the world or trying to make space travel affordable just shows a huge willingness to operate outside of this comfort zone.
Sometimes in life, you just need to throw things against the wall and see what sticks. I think one of the best ways to live a boring unhappy life is to stay always in your comfort zone. If you are reading this right ask yourself, what is the most outrageous thing that you could do today that could end up changing your life?
What is a job that you in your wildest dreams would never apply to? Is there a girl or a boy who you wanted to ask out for a long time but didn’t have the guts to do so? Maybe you write a mail to your role model and ask for a mentorship?. 
This book encouraged me to fail more, and fail harder. Otherwise, we never will know what we are truly capable of. So get yourself into uncomfortable situations, in situations where you have to figure it out, where you have to adapt, where you have to learn.
Some time ago, I took this challenge. I thought that if I wanted to become a world-class psychologist someday myself, I first needed to find the world expert in my niche, and learn from him. I applied for an unpaid apprenticeship for Standford psychologist named Bj Fogg. To this day the most ballsy academical move I ever made. For me, this is pretty much the equivalent of asking tiger woods for golf lessons. What happens everytime you make such actions is that you crush your old standard and create a new one for yourself.
So I urge you to fail. To fail daily. After all, if we are not growing, we are slowly dying inside.

On every adventure I have been on — whether setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across the ocean in a boat — there have been moments when the easy thing to do would be to give up,” Richard Branson

 

What I will Change in my life

My biggest Take away from the book was that I needed to think bigger. Like a lot bigger. Most of my dreams were centered around me. Things I wanted to have. Milestones I wanted to achieve.
Richard Branson thinks of Problems in the world as potential business opportunities. That we should choose a market that is fun and brings you joy and that is compatible with your skills. He believes that you get rich by solving peoples problems. And the more problems you solve the richer you get.
So I asked myself :
What major Problems do we have in society?
Are there some big problems that I could help solve?
My expertise lies in clinical psychology and behavioral psychology.  I help people to form new habits and get rid of undesired behaviors. The classical business model of a psychologist is to work with one person at a time. So being inspired by Richard Branson habit of thinking big I thought of ways how to help more persons. How to solve more problems.

So did two things after reading this book:

1. Multiply the numbers of people I want to help. 

I multiplied the number of people that I wanted to help by 100. I asked myself how can I help 100 persons at a time instead of only 1? So thought about scaleable ways to create behavior-changing products. How can I add value to guys on scale level? For me, I decided to create products that aim at changing peoples behavior for the better, ebooks, masterclasses. Something that I need to double down on. I urge you that you do the same.
What is your moonshot? How can you multiply the number of problems that you are solving? What is the one thing that you might become better at than everybody else on this planet?
I believe that there is no happiness to be found in life by playing it small. So although I am at the start of my journey, I promise my self to go all out. Even if this means to freak fail at the lot and get mocked by others.

2.Think of problems as gold nuggets

I asked my self after reading this book :
What is a problem that I can solve better than others?
For me, it was my personal experience with depression and mental health.
So my moonshot problem is that I want to contribute on attacking big problems such as depression and raise awareness for mental health and personal transformation. Furthermore, I realized that I needed to become an expert in those fields first. A world expert.
Otherwise, I would not be adding value. Since I still see myself in the role of the learner, I, for now, will put my efforts on 2 things

  1. Finding successful people and pick their brains on my podcast. It is my dream to gather there a collection of particularly extraordinary case studies that you and I can learn from.
  2. Becoming a nomad psychologist

The Idea of traveling the world and interviewing outstanding scientists, spiritual leaders, biohackers, successful entrepreneurs in order to find habits, patterns, behaviors, tools, and hacks that make other people better became a necessity for me. I need to learn, and I need to learn fast. I do not want to be the guy who is success blogger who is living in his mom’s basement. Since now thousands of people read my stuff I don’t short sell you guys by creating shitty art. So will continue to do reviews, until I finish the 1000 book challenge. After all, the more we learn, the more value we are able to give. 

If people arent calling you crazy, you arent thinking big enough — Richard Branson

Call to action

Grab a sheet of paper and write downc

  1. If failure were not an option where would you be in 3 years?
  2. What is your dream income?
  3. Now Multiply your dream and your dreamed income by 10 x!
  4. What would you have to do if you want to achieve that 10xed dream and income in 6 months? Write down 10 answers
  5. What can you do today to make your 6-month plan a reality?
  6. If you die tomorrow what would be things that you would regret the most? What Ideas would die with you?

 

Alone With Everybody — Mecklenburgische Seenplatte{Travel Journal Day 5/5}

The car is moving at 50 miles per hour. The window is open. My hand glides through the air. There rings on my fingers. My friend has an old iPod that accompanied him all over the world. It is his gem. We listen to Noah and the whale.
It is 36 degrees outside. The car is overheating. We don’t want to blow the engine, so we drive slow. Much to the disgust of everybody else on the high way. We don’t care.
We are driving towards home. There is no rush, it is not going anywhere. My friend is reluctant to go back. He just became an engineer, and he needs to start working soon. He is not happy about that.
We talk about what traveling means for us. He tells me tales about tramping through South America. We come to a mutual consensus that planning is overrated. Adventure is found in the unknown.
He tells me a story. He started traveling in Chile after finishing his university there. He decided that he wanted to go to a city in southern Chile. He was picked up by a stunning woman headed in the same direction. Instead of going to his original targeted city, he went with Valentina. That was her name. To this day the most intense romantic and painful experience of his life.
Journeys where we are guided by randomness, really make the best stories. We are in a weird emotional state of nostalgia. Longing for something that is both behind and in front of us.
The topic shifts to regret. How stupid decisions sometimes show us most what we really want. What we don’t want.
Mistakes for me often equal deep personal discoveries. I learn through failure. And oh boy, do fail a lot.
I think I had a crisis on every continent so far. Bribing the police in Africa. Being chased by yakuza in Thailand. Driving straight into Australia’s biggest hurricane ever. Overdosing in Columbia. Losing all my credit cards in Cambodia. I could go on for hours.
Every time I thought I messed up to a point of no return. Life continued anyway. I believe that real understanding comes through failure. Something that I never shied away from. And to this point, it has been everything but boring.
Yesterday night, was our last night. Because of the thunderstorm, there were no clouds all day. The chances of experiencing another starry night were high. What I did not expect was a profound spiritual experience.
After another day of canoeing, we exhaustingly arrived at our final camping spot. A hill in a forest where we could oversee the calm lake. The floor is covered with acorns. Since I have no sleeping pad, I know I am in for a rough night.
I need to write. So I get away. I walk away from my friends. I get the canoe and drive to the middle of the lake. Alone. I can let my guard down.
Nobody is here. I stop paddling. The lake becomes a mirror. I start writing.
I think about my journey. I feel Emotions of strange wistfulness about upcoming events. The people I travel with were a couple of strangers just a few days ago. In this short time, we created a temporary place of warmth, friendship, and contentment.
It is too quiet. I hear only my heartbeat. It is too loud. I don’t like it. It sounds like a clock. I am weirded out by own urge to get away. I wonder why I feel most alone when I am with everybody. I seem to have an inexplicable urge to push people away. Close friends, people I love even. My anxieties bore me.
I wonder how many people right now are having the same thoughts. Seeing the same thing. Living the same life.

Wishes

The sun turns golden. I want to head back. I am hungry. I paddle back to the shore. We eat on top of the small hill. We are entertained by the sunset, passing over the calm lake. Slowly vanishing behind the acorn forest. We eat pasta. For the 4th day in a row. It is starting to get dark. We light a candle and my friends drink beer. We laugh and make memories.
We decide to sleep at the lake today, counting stars and talking life. We move our sleeping bags to the footbridge next to our canoes. We cuddle and wait till it gets pitch black.
As the sun goes down the moon comes up. I am a city kid. I always loved watching the stars. In the city, however, you barely see any.
As we lay there together on the wood of the footbridge, stars appear everywhere. Our head is just at the edge of the wood of the lake. We can see the entire Milkyway. The thunderstorm of the last night took all the clouds with him it seems. We see satellites passing over our heads. Mars is blazing in a red flash above our heads.
Showers of shooting stars journey through the sky. We make countless wishes. They will all come true. One of the girls says that this trip changed her. I agree. They asked me what I wish for I told them, more muscles. They think I am joking. I am not. We talk where would want to be in a year from now. I say maybe, Harvard. Instantly regret using the word maybe.
My friend says that in one year he wants to be happy. I think that happiness is overrated. He gets up and pees in the lake. We laugh. The moonlight shines on his chalky behind.
Mosquitos are having a feast. We fall asleep anyway.
I am in doubt whether or not my journey of becoming a wandering psychologist will be successful. I know however that I will do it anyway. I have no plan B. Plan B’s are for wimps. I am not a wimp. Only sometimes.
As my eyes close, I think about a question. If I could make my dream come true right now, would I do it? Would you do it?
I want to finish today’s post by borrowing the words of Allan Watts. As always thank you for reading following me on my weird journey.

let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream you wanted to dream, and that you could for example have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time, or any length of time you wanted to have.
And you would, naturally, as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each you would say “Well that was pretty great”. But now let’s have a surprise, let’s have a dream which isn’t under control, where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be.
And you would dig that and would come out of that and you would say “Wow that was a close shave, wasn’t it?”. Then you would get more and more adventurous and you would make further- and further-out gambles what you would dream. And finally, you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today. Alan Watts

Go All The Way — Mecklenburgische Seenplatte{Travel Journal Day 4}

I sit on the ground. My bare feet touch the grass. Shoes are overrated. I hear goats in the background. Two of them are having sex. A couple of butterflies and blue dragonflies circle around me. There are no clouds in the sky and no protection from the blasting sun. I don’t talk. I write.
Only hours before writing these words I witnessed the most powerful thunderstorm of my life. I am still permeated by feelings both of fear and fascination. I am overwhelmed by the character of what I experienced last night. The scent of the storm still lingers in the air.
After an exhausting day, we decided that we wanted to sleep under the stars. We pulled out our sleeping bags, blew out the candle and moved as close together as possible. I don’t have a pillow, so I take my backpack. I feel sardine cases on my head. It is not comfortable. I don’t care though.
We cuddle. Shooting stars appear. We talk about our dreams. There are more shooting stars then we have desires. I think this a good thing.
At this moment ego, status, money is of no importance. My newfound friends fall asleep. There is nobody to impress here. No need to pretend. I let my guard down.
It is a whimsical night. My thoughts drift. I watch the trees, in the background. They gloom weirdly in the moonlight. They don’t care. They don’t judge me.
I can’t help but think about why I wanted to start to vagabond in the first place. Maybe I wanted to escape. Maybe I wanted to become more special. I unsure at this point. I know however that I am no longer waiting live. My journey has started.
I know that years from now, I will still remember this moment of my life.
I will say that once I was young. That once I was impossibly young. That I slept under the free sky. That I loved. That I lost. That I lived.

Go All The Way

A conversation a had some time ago pops up. I talked to a young poet, we talked about humans constant crave for external validation. A drive to be special. A drive to be more.
Nobody leaves this earth unscarred I feel.
Sometimes we are hurt so gravely that we internalize that we must take extreme measures to make sure that we are never left or hurt again. This does not work. It is unavoidable that life is going kick you in the nuts. Investigating our why is of utmost importance.  Are you taking that new job because it does align with your mission in life, or do you take that job because it is a safe choice and it aligns with what other people think you should do with your time on earth? Fck those other people.
Often we do things because we worried about the opinion of others.  I believe the psychological process behind it is that we subconsciously think that if we do what everybody wants us to do we will be loved. We won’t be left or hurt again. We are all unsatisfied children. We want daddy or mommy to come to say” you are a good kid”.
Realizing that stuff is going to happen anyway frees you to a degree from pleasing others at your cost. Nothing is worse than a life unlived. Regret is the enemy.

My thoughts are interrupted by a weird flash of light in the sky. A storm is coming. In the roaring night, I make a promise to myself. I will live this life to the extreme.
My friend wakes up by the scent of the distant rain. We get up. We don’t wake the girls yet. We sit down and face the other side of the clear horizon. We discover the full magnitude of the storm. We don’t take precautions just yet. The gloomy darkness is interrupted by the rumble of the distant thunder. Thunderbolts appear. Our eyes are not yet adapted to the light and each thunderbolt blinds us.
We don’t talk. We move our tent away, so we are not waked the next by a pine tree hitting our tent.
I am stunned and dazzled by the eventfulness of this trip. It started as an experiment to prove to myself that even without money, that traveling is possible. That the condition I feared, can actually be pretty awesome. What has started as an experiment It has become an adventure and an inner journey.
While sitting in the face of the violent spectacle, I think about my dream. What my decision of becoming a wandering psychologist and digital nomad will cost. What it already has cost me. From losing people I loved. To being mocked. To feel hunger. To freeze at train stations. And I declare to myself that I am willing to pay whatever. I have no choice at this point anymore. I have to do this.
If you reading this, and you are having a dream, don’t just contemplate chasing it. Do it. Go all the way. What you are experiencing right now, is only glimpse of what is waiting for you.
Since my journey just started, I end today’s article by borrowing the words of someone who finished his journey: Charles Bukowski. As always, thanks for reading, and go kick a*s in life.
 

Charles Bukowski

Roll the dice

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.

– Charles Bukowski

 

Reconnecting With Nature — Mecklenburgische Seenplatte{Travel Journal Day 3}

Solitude

As I write these words, I am alone on my canoe, watching the burning sun vanish slowly behind the pine trees. In my hand, I have my pen and my blog, I am writing. On the surface of the, I see the reflection of the gloaming sunset, it looks like there are two horizons, and I feel like I am flying.
Although I had an extraordinary day with my friends canoeing through the nature parks, I needed some time for myself. I wanted recharge and manifest the profound experiences that I made today. Although I seem very extroverted, at heart I am a loner, and being around people too much to a degree is also exhausts me.
Today I learned many things, one of them is that apparently, mosquitos are really into me, good thing malaria is not a thing in Europe. Sleeping on the floor is really a different experience from sleeping in a made bed. My core intention of this trip was to liberate myself from materialism for a few days and to practice poverty.
My thinking was to internalize that the worst condition, which is for many is to have no money and no house is actually not that bad. I am a person who is very driven sometimes, but also very anxious. For me, understanding that the very condition that I feared so much is actually not that bad liberated me to a degree from a process of inner turmoil and fear that was buzzing inside my head for far too long.
The reason that I started to write was that I wanted to portray my weird journey around the world of trying to get my stuff together. I was just tired of messing up and I wanted to start my own pursuit of investigating unhappiness. I wanted to share my findings with the world in order to add some value this way. Hence on this Blog, I will write about habits, tools, books and real-world case studies and adventures that helped me to battle depression.
So while other travel bloggers might focus on the best spots to party, I want to gather natural antidepressants. I want to engineer myself away from lethargy and depression and towards happiness, contribution, and adventure. I feel that If a weirdo with my background manages to overcome his demons and make his dream come true of becoming a digital nomad that this will show others that transformation is possible, necessary even.
Sleeping hungover in a tent however as stoically romantic as it sounds has also its price. Waking up I feel a bit like the guy from full metal jacked who was beaten by the other soldiers with socks full of soap.
My inner demons particularly love mornings, and voices of self-doubt and fear are the loudest when my body is the weakest. For some time I was looking for morning habits in particular that help me to keep those voices in check, or at least turn the volume down a bit.
So I was walking around the camp, looking like a zombie from the walking dead, lethargic and moody.

Freedom

My friend spots this and insists, that instead of showering I need to swim in the cold lake first thing in the morning, naked, free willy style.
I have no choice he tells me.
As my friend pulls down his shorts he walks/dangles into the lake majestically. I told u guys in the last article that my buddy looks like Patrick Swayze from point break, and I don’t know why but everything he does looks kinda cool. I am the opposite. If there would be a goof scale I would be the end of it.
So I pull down my pants also and run giggly like a little girl(a 2m and 105 kilos little girl) into the cold water.
What follows is a profound experience of freedom. My body and mind are refreshed, renewed even. I am unable to think, I am just there.
I decide to backstroke slowly, and as I dip my head into the water, I unplug. As I dip my ears in the water and glide slowly backwards, the only thing that I hear is the lake, my own breath, and my heartbeat. It feels like I am floating in space.
I am fascinated by this simple but deep experience. Diving into a world far away from my normal daily trance of paying bills, worrying, and stressing out about if other people like me or not.
As I float in this lake my eyes wander around the all surrounding pine forest. I feel at home. I can’t help but think about the many people who are plagued by pain and depression that could be healed here. What if the epidemic of global unhappiness is founded by our lost connection to nature.
What if the missing puzzle piece for treating depression and suffering lies in nature. Modern psychological medicine is always looking for new ways to treat people. But what if the direction is wrong, what if we need to look backwards.
As I swim in the cold lake, I dive into the green water, I stop breathing. My Emotions stop. I am just surviving. There is no conditioned mindset in my brain anymore today, I am free.
 
 

The Price Of Being a Vagabond— Mecklenburgische Seenplatte{Travel Journal Day 2}

Travelers Luck

The first day of my trip comes to an end. While writing these words I am under the free sky, writing in my travel journal. I hear crickets and light laughter in the background. The only source of light comes from a candle that we put in an empty beer bottle Charles Bukowski style.
I am in the middle of nowhere with people who a day ago were almost strangers to me, we talk in the night about our feelings, our dreams but also about our insecurities and what we are afraid of.
When my friend who looks like a real-life version of Broly from the surfer’s movie point break asked me to join him and his friends on the canoe trip I first had some doubts if we would get along.
But lately, I try to be more spontaneous and decide stuff more by my “Hell yeah”  or “F*ck No” philosophy.
Only a day has passed and this group already came together and speaks openly about topics that are important to us.
My friend and I exchanged crazy travel stories, stories where we had to bribe the police or had psychological breakthroughs while vagabonding.
2 stories stood out for me, one was my buddy telling a tale where he traveled through chile in his hippie bus with a big ass hallucinogenic cactus in the trunk and almost got caught by the police.
Another one was where I was so sh*tfaced that an angry mob of machete-wielding jakuzas wanted to get my a*s on an island in Thailand.
Travelers luck I guess. Funny how crisis and total disasters become funny later.
Today was our first-day canoeing, and I am blown away by the nature of the mecklenburgerische Seenplatte.
The combination of doing the same paddle movement for hours and letting your eyes discover an entire new world feels like meditation. It is unreal how fast you forget here about your own life, about your daily hassle, your must-dos, your obligations.
You unplug instantly out of your everyday trance. It fascinating to me that I was only a couple of hours of road tripping away from diving into a totally different world.
Being in the presence of such nature really makes you question your aspirations, your drives, your addiction to external validation because here everything works just fine without you. You feel small, but in a good way. Like, its ok, life will go on without you, and your problems are not the end of the world, so why stress so much.
After some hours of canoeing through the fairytale landscape, I feel like my arms will fall off soon, so we aim for an island where we can snack and take a swim in the lake. Swimming in a cold lake is really like somebody infuses you with a big portion of happiness and life.
As I swim there freely my friend yells”look a whale” and dives into the water in such a manner that his butt stands in the air still for a second and we get an incredibly deep insight into his rectal anatomy. There goes the romance I guess.
After some swimming, we sit down at the shoreline and snack something in the forest.
Being a psychology nerd, I tend to ask weird questions all the time. And we end up talking about talking about what relationship constructs we like and dislike.
Some of the group were all about monogamy, while others preferred something more poly. This really was fascinating to me, love is a big part of life, and having a custom made relationship model is somewhat of a necessity in my opinion.

The Price Of Being a Vagabond

I realize how many things I still have not figured out in my life right now, how unsure I am whether or not my path is the right one, and what the life of a vagabond will really cost me.
Some time ago I decided that for the current phase of my life it is not possible to have a traditional mono relationship. I felt that somehow life is going to take me on an adventure, and this adventure is for me, and for me only. In consequence, I broke up with someone who was very special to me. Being in nature really opens you up, and I realize that I am still grieving about that loss and that I have no clue how to deal with this.
I come to the conclusion that everything has its cost.
A decision for something is at the same time a decision against something else.
And some time ago when I realized that I am not the typical 9-5 person I didn’t think that that realization would come also with a price. It seems that my decision to become a vagabond is not only shaping my external life but also my inner one as well.
Being a nomad means to a certain point that your curiosity outweighs your settledness. You move on on from good things, from great things even, because you want to experience life as a whole.
And I realized that this philosophy will also bring me restlessness, pain, discomfort and even loneliness. As we talk in the forest with my new found friends about what we miss in love, I am eased by the fact that I am not alone in this human thing, and that to a degree we are all sometimes have no f*cking clue what we are doing. And that it is ok to feel lost sometimes. Crazy how everybody is living a life that is as complex as your own.
I know one thing however, that I have an entire planet and countless adventures ahead of me, and that maybe if search long enough I will eventually run out of things to mess up, and that at the end of my journey I will come up with a custom-made life, in which I find peace, maybe even partner in crime who has the values as me.
So fellow weirdos my message for you today is that you stop pretending like everything in your life is cool. Come to peace with the realization that life is not all great, and there things that just plain suck.
It is impossible to avoid pain and discomfort all the time, go deep and ask yourself what is bothering you right now.
Feeling pain and grieve sometimes is not abnormal, it is an indicator that you are a beautiful person who capable loving people and caring about stuff, and feeling sh*tty when it doesn’t work out for a bit is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of you being human.

Stop Bullsh*ting Yourself

On the contrary, on my podcast with Tash from Port Joana, we talked shortly about grief, and how it is more abnormal if you feel super happy when something happens to you that hurt you.
Incongruent emotional reactions like pretending you are not hurt when a relationship wasn’t working out, or you didn’t get that dream job is not a sign of strength, it is a sign that you are too hurt feel those emotions. Not giving in shortly to those emotions will only in you playing whack a mole with yourself. If you don’t deal with those emotions they will pop up somewhere else.
Those emotions if not lived out, will not go anywhere. Maybe you will overcompensate in work, you dive yourself into a new relationship with a person you really shouldn’t be with, for some it is drugs, for others it is depression.
Be 100% real with you guys, otherwise, you are bull shi*ting yourself.
It is time to sleep for me now, the candle is about to die, and tomorrow I got a new adventure ahead of me.
As always guys, thx for reading and go live a kick-a*s life.

How To Take A Broke-ass Road Trip — Mecklenburgische Lake Archipelago {Travel Journal Day 1}

Derive

There is a French that describes spontaneous and unplanned journeys.
As I write it is 00.36 on a Monday night, all my roomies are asleep, in the background, I listen to a song from Xavier Rudd. Tomorrow I am heading of to another adventure, and I only had a few trips in my life who were as unprepared as this one today.
At the weekend we threw a house party at our dorm and I reconnected with a friend of mine and he asked me casually if I want to join him for a 4 day Road trip to Canoe around the Seenplatte in Mecklenburg Vorpommern(German is really the most beautiful language in the world haha). It is basically a unique lake archipelago in north Germany, and some of europes finest natural reserve parks are to be found there.
In my last blog post, I reviewed the book vagabonding, by Rolf Potts. And one of his core missions i to eliminate the mental fallacy that traveling is only reserved for the rich.
At the moment my university is eating up all my money and the only thing that stops me from regarding myself as broke is that I stopped checking my bank account. x)
However, I thought that this might be a perfect opportunity for another experiment.
Is it possible to travel so cheap that you actually save a bit of money?
Right now I spend about 15 dollars a day for food(jab those gains cost me a lot actually) and I need to buy tickets public transportation which is about 5 bucks also.
So on the next 4 days I plan to do a badass road trip, and actually save some money while doing so! Renting a canoe costs 5 euros a day, we sleep in a tent in the woods, so that’s no money, and we have to pay for gas for the car. All in all for 4 days It will be roughly around 20 for canoe and 25 for the car so 45 total. For food I am going all minimalist on you guys in the next 4 days; Kidney beans, sardines, and rice is on the menu. Jab this is going to suck a bit, but hey do you want to eat a pizza or do you want to travel.
The point I am trying to make guys is that working more is not always the answer, spending less can be just as efficient.
So my plea for you today is: reevaluate your excuses.
What is it really that is stopping you from getting or doing the things you want. People think they don’t work out because they have no time, but they watch 2 hours of Netflix in the evening, others think they can’t afford travel because they don’t have enough money, while in reality, it is that they are bad at finding where they can spend less money on bullshit they don’t really need.
Traveling does not start when you book a flight, it starts with a conscious decision in your everyday life. Evaluate your financial habits, where can you save some money? Do you have some stuff that you don’t need anymore? Fcking Sell it. You got an extra room that you don’t use? Air bnb it. Do you spend too much money on restaurants? Go vegan for a month and only eat healthy greens. U love going out with your friends? Make a party at your house so you don’t have to play club entry. I think you catch my drift guys.
Being a vagabond is not only about traveling, it is about mindset and habits. The psychology of a traveler is different than from somebody who does not know what he wants in life. And from personal experience I never regretted a shitty job that I had that enabled me to fly around the world, and I never thought back on a unspectacular meal that I had and regretted it. We are in the business of collecting moments, not things guys.
So fellow crazy people, thx for reading and write in the comments what sacrifices you make in order to travel.

1000 Book Challenge

Hi Fckface, jab it’s me again.
Thanks for tuning in for another dose of what goes on in my weird mind.
Some Time ago I realized that I successfully mastered the art of messing up and that It is maybe time to copy some habits of people who are on the opposite side of the spectrum; people who are kicking ass in life.
My Idea was that maybe if I started to do what high achievers and happy people do I will eventually get similar results or at least I will stop fcking things up in the most spectacular way possible.
This is why I decided to start my own pursuit of deconstructing happiness and success, in order find out those patterns, habits, rituals, and tools I started some time ago to interview successful people myself, and I even recently started to podcast so I can share my findings with you.
And in my investigation of the successful one habit popped up over and over: They read a lot!
You might think now ” Well no shiit sherlock, everybody, knows that”. Well, I did not know that they educate themselves to such an extreme level almost.
I recently heard in a podcast from Tim Ferris and Tony Robbins that he read close to 1000 books in his life.
People either hate or love Tony Robbins, one thing is undeniable, he is pretty much the self-improvement Jesus and was the first mega influencer.
This somehow got me really interested. I got curious: How would my life change if my brain would contain the knowledge of those 1000 Books?
So I thought why not do a little self-experiment: What happens if I start to read 1 book per week for a year that was recommended by a world expert. This way it would roughly take me three years to crack the 1000 book challenge.
What if for any problem I have, I would read a book by somebody who solved this problem already. I don’t see myself as particularly talented in any area, and I don’t plan on becoming super successful myself, but my thinking is, that if straight up copy habits and resources of high achievers that I eventually must at least get my shiit together. right?!

So what books do I want to read in the 1000 books challenge?

I do not want to read just “any” books, but books that were recommended by out of the box thinkers, the worlds most successful entrepreneurs, visionaries and pioneers and spiritual leaders. I wanted to read the books that produced humanities greatest leaders, dead or alive.
 
From Nicolas Tesla`s favorite Books to Warren Buffets annual letters to the books that influenced Tony Robbins the most, all the way to Marcus Aurelius Journals. I plan on going all Liam Nelson on you guys, If you rock in life, I will find you, and find out where your results come from!

So you have a Book Club?

Being the lazy bastard that I am ( I break New Year’s resolutions like they are nachos) I needed a system that would hold me accountable.
I wanted to create a system around myself where I am constantly in learning mode,  where I have to grow and where at the same I could give something back to you guys. Because I know one thing for sure; everybody has problems. And although I might not be the one with all the answers, maybe I can be the guy who finds the guy who has all the answers. This is why dedicated an entire section of my website to writing book reviews and promoting books that may very well end up 10xing your life.
This is why I will post about one book review once every 1 or 2 weeks in here so you guys can give me hell when I slack off and also to give some value back to you guys by presenting you weekly a piece of literature that has the potential to change your life forever.
So, guys, the 1000 books challenge is on, I am super curious to see where this long-term experiment is taking me. What progress will I make on the way, what new people will I connect with, who of my friends will grow with me.
And you maybe think “1000 books is a lot right?!” isn`t that a bit extreme? Well yeah, I guess, but if you know me I always was an extreme guy in pretty much everything I did. I always had the habit of going all the way into the rabbit hole. So If I am extreme anyway why not go all in on something positive.
In my book, this will be all worth it I inspire even only one of you to make an active investment in making your mind fertile ground. Because this is what Life is about right, it’s about growing.
Feel free dm me or write in the comment section about the books that have had the biggest impact on your life! I am not interested in just casual good reads, what I am interested in is, what is the one book, that if you were president, would be mandatory for everybody in the world to read?
Let’s see where this goes guys and let’s grow together.
Thx for reading!

Tash From Port Joana — The Psychology Of Choosing What To Give A Fck About

I have a very special guest today in the Grow Podcast: Tash from Port Joana. Natasha Nomathamsanqawenkosi Manzungu is as awesome as her name is long.
I am very happy that she found some time in her busy schedule to do the podcast with me. One of the goals of my psychology podcast is to portray extraordinary people who are successful in their own way. Tash definitely fits these criteria. She has a playful and hilarious way of describing her journey from Zimbabwe to the stages of Germany where she entertains thousands of people.

To me, success is when people actively design their life after their true desires and add value to the world. Even when it means to go against the grain. Tash very early decided against taking over her family empire because she wanted to follow her own calling in life. I think in this conversation there is a gold nugget for everybody.
Tash’s journey is nothing short of a spectacular success story and I am excited to see whats next in her adventure.
Listen on: Soundcloud, ItunesStitcher

Who is Natasha Nomathamsanqawenkosi Manzungu?

Natasha Nomathamsanqawenkosi Manzungu is an actress, musician, and lyricist born and raised in the city of kings, Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. She is a determined lover of all arts who exerts herself into learning from the arts as well as expressing herself through arts.
She aims to inspire and motivate through her music and also to talk about forbidden topics and politics to keep people aware of the poison in the world. Her concerts have been said to be comic but also pregnant with food for thought. Her personality shines through her eclectic music and her soul through her ability to house a role.

What is this episode about?

in our wide-ranging conversation, Natasha Nomathamsanqawenkosi Manzungu and I discuss  and I cover many topics, including:

  • How she became a singer
  • What her childhood looked like
  • The dangers of humility
  • What it takes to become a professional singer
  • investing in yourself
  • Dealing with loss and grief
  • What a perfect day would look like to her
  • The importance of tears
  • Who she thinks of when she thinks of the world successful
  • Why she hates the word moist
  • Why she decided for art and against taking over the design empire of her mother
  • 100 Books Challenge

 

Reach out to Tash and Port Joana

Follow Port Joanna:
Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/portjoanna/
Follow  on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/portjoanna/
Tash on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/portjoanna/?hl=de
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/port_joanna
Website: http://port-joanna.com

Show notes

Recommended Books 

  • The Subtle Art Of Not giving A Fuck — Mark Manson
  • Bad Feminist — Roxanne Gay

Recommended Artist

  • Anderson Park
  • Her

 
 
Tell me in the Comments what your favorite learning was from this episode!
Thx for listening!
 

Take The First Step — Krakow Day 4 {Travel Journal}

Krakow Day 4

As I write this article, I am flying towards Hamburg, my home.
My seat on the plane is located between two old lovely polish ladies who are incredibly obese.
Being a two-meter tall giant has many advantages, flying comfortably is not one of them. Good thing that I don’t have a problem with dirtbag traveling.
As I fly to the air I can’t help but to let my mind wander around the next trips that I am going to have, You know you are addicted to traveling when you get Fernweh while being in the air.
This weekend was the first time that I got a glimpse of what life as a digital nomad would look like, and I freakin love it.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is really a blessing, and I am reinforced in my decision to leave normal job life behind and do my own thing.
While being squeezed to a diamond by the two old ladies I contemplate my trip. I think about the beautiful architecture of the old town, the feeling of being on top of a mountain, the things I learned while working, and most important, the people I met. Krakow has left a staying impression in my heart, and I will definitively come back.

Trust

I can’t believe how much has changed for me in the last 3 years. I think it’s roughly 3 years that I hit my personal rock bottom where I was so depressed that I was one step away from backflipping of Hamburg’s biggest bridge.
If you would have told me back then that life has this much to offer for me I would never believe it. As I go through my messages, I am humbled. Messages of people opening up about their own struggles and their aspirations of crushing it in the world. If I only manage to motivate one person to get into gear then this entire hustle is worth it.
Guys, you gotta trust the process that with enough work, things eventually will start to click for you and you will kick ass in life.
As I check my schedule  I see that I have my monthly skype meeting with Stanford Profesor Bj Fogg and Linda Fogg, 2 of the world leading experts in Habit Formation and Behavior psychology.
Wayfaring around the globe and learn from outstanding teachers and investigating the different expressions of human psychology is really the perfect combination for me to satisfy my wanderlust with my passion for human behavior.
If you would have told me 3 years ago that my future self would start to create his own business, work with the world leading experts of his field, and vagabond around the world while doing so I would have never believed it. Back then I did not even know that you can quit the hassle of 9-5, and I hope that I inspire others to leave this dinosaur lifestyle model behind and start their own, true journey. A journey of their choosing.

Take The First Step

And Although I have a long way to go, I managed to overcome the most difficult part of my journey: the first step. So my plea for you today is to think about what this first step would look like for you. What is the one thing, that if set in motion will change your life forever?
Whatever you need to do or leave behind, do it sooner than later. Life is to short to settle for mediocrity.
As my plane is getting ready to land I think about my upcoming adventures. Here In Krakow, I learned from my buddy how life as a digital nomad could look like, and I can’t help but smile about what life is going to teach me next.
My next trips include Stockholm, Porto, South Africa, Mumbai, and in January New Zealand.
I am smiling right now, because this may very well be the best year of my life. And I am curious about the next part of my journey. And although lots of work is heading my way, I know one thing, it’s not going to be boring.
As always Thanks for reading
 
 

Tiny Steps — Krakow Day 3 {Travel Journal}

Krakow Day 3 {Travel Journal}

Its Sunday Morning in Krakow. My brain feels like it was deep fried in a microwave. I really get the worst hangovers. I get my behind up and go to the bathroom to have some Wim Hof Cold Showers to get human again.
As much as my brain hurts, I can’t help but smile, the night before, my buddy and I decided after intense screen starring that its time to dive into Krakow’s Night live.
Since we both had to do tons of work on Sunday we decided to go with „Tranquilo“ and take it slow.
Food and Booze are ridiculously cheap in Poland. As my buddy explained to me the concept of “pijalnia wodki“, which are basically bars, where you get everything from beer to hard booze for 1 Euro I realize, that I am doomed.
Apparently, Tranquilo in polish means to go from bar to bar and have vodka shots.
But that story is for another time.
So we have coffee and get dressed for work, we discuss girls and last nights adventure.
As soon as we arrive at the restaurant we order omelets and start to work. Quitting 9-5 also means that you quit not working on the weekends also.
Opening up Instagram and Facebook today was quite the experience. As I open google analytics I realize that thousands of people have read the stuff that I wrote on my blog.
As much as this was inspiring to see, I also feel frightened. On my Blog, I write very openly about my struggle with mental health and about all kinds of fck up stories of mine. It’s weird that people from all over the world can see my vulnerabilities now.
However, as anxious as this got me, I got deeply meaningful messages where people told that they have been struggling with depression also and that they also want to get they ass up and get into gear and start whatever is important to them.
This really motivated me, to show that even big boys can fail spectacularly, but that its possible to turn yourself around.
After arriving at the restaurant, order some omelets and start working. Its World Cup day, we didn’t account for that. So as we punch in words and code into our keyboards we are surrounded by carefree football fans. A funny scenery.
As we get close to finishing our work session, I feel a bit caged and that I need a break from tech and from the city. So we decide to do some hiking and conquer Krakow’s biggest mountain.
At the Foot of the mountain, my buddy asks in polish some locals about which route we should take. What we got was not only directions but also a settle warning; apparently, they are having a problem with wild boars in the forest.
Hiking in the forest was really meditative, no cars or people in sight. Finally, we make it to the top, the view is breathtaking.
It feels like you can oversee the entire country of Poland. On the one side, you have powerful mountains while on the other side you have a perfect view of Krakow.
After watching clouds together with my buddy yesterday and today hiking together I can’t help myself but to throw out some puns that we finally made it to our own brokeback mountain. Bromances are really something.

Tiny Steps

We talk future and I ask where he sees himself in three years. If you are reading this I urge you to take a second and yourself the same question.
If failure would not be on the table, where would you be in 3 years?

Having a vision or a dream that is compelling is of upmost importance. Starting with the end in mind, and holding on to your personal meaning is the best hack to make it through whatever life throws your way.
If future you would travel back in time, what kind of advice would that version of you give you? What do you need to double down on, what do you need to stop immediately, who in your life do you need to spend more time with, who do you have to cut out?
So my plea to you is, that you right now take a tiny step towards this thing, and do it now.
Tiny Course Changes that you do today, more often than not result in much bigger results than expected.
 

Words Become Things — Krakow Day 2

Krakow Day 2

I successfully found my friend in Krakow. On the way from the train station to his apartment, we walk along the Wisla, the beautiful river that flows through Krakow.
The next morning I wake up by the sound of my buddy punching in some code into his MacBook keyboard.
After our daily dose of coffee, we get out of his apartment and rent 2 bikes and drive off to a nice restaurant where we want to cowork.
Driving through the old town of Krakow is magic. It really feels like traveling back in time and visiting a medieval city. You hear the noises of galloping horses who pull white carriages through the city. In the background, you see beautiful churches and castle walls everywhere. I can see why my buddy decided to live here for a while. 
As soon as we arrived at the restaurant we order our omelets and get our MacBooks out; time to hustle.
We get some bewildered looks because of pulling out our laptops in the middle of a restaurant, but as fellow members of nerd nation, we are used to this.
Pawel shows me some new designs for my website and my podcast, and I realize that this guy, is a wizard with his computer. Seeing those new designs really made my jaw drop.
As my buddy shares his screen I realize that this thing is really happening. And I realize that words become things.
I think about the moment where I first dared to tell other people about my vision of being a traveling psychologist and all the people who helped me along the way.
And although I still have a long way to go, I am here in Krakow, working on the thing I love, being where I want to be, doing me.

Do Nothing

After a couple of hours of intense screen staring and me slowly becoming neurotic about getting eye cancer we decide to unplug from the digital world and do something real.
We drive with our rented bikes to Jordan park, in order to work out in nature. There is something about working out in the open that is really therapeutic. On our way back we have to cross a field that has a beautiful view of the Krakow’s biggest mountain. On that mountain is a castle. A beautiful scenery. And my buddy casually says “this field looks nice, I want to lay down for a while”.
So we get off our bikes, and do just that, lay down in the grass. No, I am not going all brokeback mountain on you, but I honestly don’t remember the last time that I casually laid on the floor, and did nothing.
I have been all tunnel version for quite some time now, and taking a break of my urge of becoming was really recovering.
As we lay there and watch the clouds we contemplate life and realize that it’s not all about going somewhere, but also about being in the present, and enjoying this very moment. I can’t stress enough how important it is to occasionally disconnect from the daily trance of life.
So fuckface, how about you put your phone away close your laptop and just lay on the floor for a couple of minutes and do nothing.

Words Matter

If you are reading this I want to give you one thing on your way: words matter.
Be very aware of the words you use, because they ultimately end up becoming your reality. The one tool that everybody has control over is language.
Nothing shapes our behavior as much as words. So I urge you to be brave enough to speak out about what you really want because after all, words eventually become things. For better, or for worse.

Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right — Henry Ford

Identifying who in your environment is holding you back is one of the most important lifestyle design steps there are. Figuring out who holds you back from articulating what you really want is a difficult but necessary step. I think most people don’t get into gear because they are worried about the opinions of other people. Those people are often our closest connections, our mother, our father our friends and colleagues. Liberating ourselves from being dependent on the opinion of others I key if you want to start doing you. Don’t expect other people to believe in your vision, it’s yours, not theirs.
´
So fuckface, enough worrying about what other people might think of you, once you start to believe in yourself and have guts to say it out, others will follow.
In psychological terms, we call this “self-fulfilling prophecy”. It means that our beliefs and expectations and the things we say have an effect on our behavior and on our impact on others. Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions ultimately become our new reality.

The Best Time To Start Is Yesterday — Krakow Day One

Krakow Day One

I am in Kattowitz now, Poland in a small bus with my MacBook on lap, writing.
This trip, however, is a bit different from the hedonistic adventures that I normally undertake.
In this trip, I visit a dear friend of mine who helps me with coming to a step closer to living my dream life.
This dream of mine is to combine my passion for psychology with living as a vagabond.
The Idea of traveling as a wayfarer around the world and investigating the different paths that can lead to happiness was always compelling to me.

 
This is why I decided some time ago that I wanted to create a blog that allows me to write and work from everywhere in the world. Raising awareness for mental health and teach people about behavior psychology. 
My friend Pawel lives this lifestyle for years now, and he inspired me to also leave the 9-5 Bullshit behind and become a digital nomad myself.
My buddy, the best Webdesigner I know, helps me to turn those words into actual things.
So right now, while being on this old bus, driving towards the beautiful city of Krakow, I feel like I am also driving towards a new chapter of my life. 
If you are reading this, and you have something that you wanted to start a long time ago, something that puts you on fire, just start.
Let me tell you this from my own experience; things will never be perfect, you will always have excuses to not start, there is always more to prepare. There is a point, however, where we have to run out of fucks, and just do.
The best time to start to do you, was yesterday.
 

Peter F. Drucker`s The Effective Executive {Book Review}

I first heard about The Effective Executive when I listened to an interview with Tim Ferris and Kevin Rose.
And Tim Ferris recommends Peter Drucker’s book as the best management and efficiency book that is out there. One of my major missions is to emulate the behaviors of high achievers in order to check if I will eventually get better results also. So I gather as much intel about them as I can, and reading the books that they are reading is a good start in my opinion.
You might ask yourself why I decided to promote a classical business book here instead of my usual psychology books.
One of the reasons why I created this blog was to investigate the differences between successful people and people who are unhappy.
And one pattern is obvious when you deconstruct high achievers: They get stuff done!
I believe that the tools and patterns of successful people should not only be reserved for elite entrepreneurs who have a business.
Being more efficient means also to be happier in my opinion.
When we get stuff done, we are growing, we are moving forward, we become more self-efficient. Meaning that we believe more and more in our abilities and ultimately in ourself.
People who are depressed lack very often exactly this skill.
They lose trust in themselves that they can make things happen, that they can change. They feel powerless and give in at a certain point because their hardships and obstacles seem too big to tackle.
Operating efficiently and getting the right stuff done will put you back in charge, and even if you have a shitty day, due to your skills of conquering problems efficiently you are, I think, less likely to fall into despair because you can solve and manage anything.
Speaking from my own experience, every time I was in a downward spiral, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of problems that I had to deal with.
Learning some management skills has a high application, in my opinion, to fight depression and becoming more happy overall.
The skills I learned from the Effective Executive helped me to break down the avalanches of problems that had accumulated in my life over time, into small chunks.
I learned how to manage my time better, how to use my strengths and become better at decision making.
This directly has helped me to be less anxious about life in general.
This book should be mandatory in school in my opinion, instead, we start with teaching kids about dinosaurs and Napoleon. Soo I am drifting…What is the book about….
 
What Is The Effective Executive About?
In the Effective Executive Peter Drucker writes about how to “get the right things done.”(1)
This not only includes what you have to do but also what you have to ignore. Doing only the most important tasks is key. In order to manage your day efficiently, it is just key to look for things that you can ignore and things that you can delegate.
What makes an effective executive?
The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to “get the right things done.” This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.
Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned:

  • Managing time
  • Choosing what to contribute to the organization
  • Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
  • Setting the right priorities
  • Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making

Ranging widely through the annals of business and government, Peter F. Drucker demonstrates the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations.(1)

Who Is Peter F. Drucker?

Peter Drucker was an author of more than thirty-five books, and his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation. Peter Drucker is one of the leading business thinkers of all time, the father of modern management.
in 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was a writer, teacher philosopher, reporter, consultant, and a professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. He died in 2005. (1)

3 Lessons I Learned From The Effective Executive?

Know Thy Time

The Effective Executive knows where their time goes, and most of all where they can “save” time. Time management is the skill to create more time, by setting priorities and identifying where one is wasting it.
Time is the most underrated resource there is. Knowing where your time goes, raises awareness and shows you why you are not where you want to be in life. The difference between a millionaire and a person who is not successful in my opinion is how they use their 24 hours.
A couple of years ago when I was at an all-time low, one of the prime driving forces of my depression was the feeling of me moving forward.
I was working really hard, but I didnt have the results I was looking for. And a big part of depression is, in my opinion, the internalization that whatever you try, it won’t work. So why bother. Right? This is when people don’t get out of bed anymore.
Years later, I realized that hard work and hustle is key, but in order to be an effective executive, you need to do the right things, so you can do things right.
When I interviewed Tian Yao, a self-made millionaire she explained to me the importance of focusing effectively on the most important things first, ignore unimportant tasks, and always think what you can delegate. So how do you do that?
 
 
 
 
3 Steps of managing time 
Track your time
Grab a piece paper, and write down for a day how much time you spent on your activities.
Manage your time

  • Ask yourself in the morning: What can I ignore today? What is the most important thing that I can do today? What can I delegate?

Consolidate

  • If you want to be effective, you need to put in the time. Use big chunks from half a day to up to two weeks on working on a project and really focus until you successfully achieved your milestone.

Effectiveness Can be Learned

This was a relieve for me to hear; being an effective executive does not require special gifts, attitude or god given talents. So you if you are like me, a chaotic mess, it simply means that you have not learned the skill of being effective yet.
Practise makes perfect. And practicing effectiveness will show results fast. Peter F Drucker dedicated his life to investigating managers, CEOs, and executives, and according to him, effective executives differ widely in their personalities, strengths, values, and beliefs. The only thing they have in common is that they get the right stuff done.
 

First Things First, Second Things Never!

This one rocked my world. You know the book form Stephen Convey, first things first? Well, he got that sentence from Peter F. Drucker. Click here to check it out!
Our brain is like a computer, if we have too many tabs open, it will get less effective. If you have too many things open, it won’t work at all.
This radical approach of only focusing on the most important, urgent thing is a mental habit that will change you.
Ask yourself what is most important right now? 
This does not mean that you have to do business and work all the time, it means taking ownership for your behavior.
If it is most important right now to take a break, then chill. If you need to be present with your family right now, turn off your phone. If you need to focus on creative work, go to a place where nobody is bothering you.
You want your focus to be like a laser. Concentrated on one thing. The more concentrated the hotter it gets.
Being effective means to say no.
Again in my wide-ranging conversation with self-made millionaire Tian Yao, I asked her about commonalities she spotted among other Ceos and high achievers. And she said that they are particularly good at saying no. This could mean that they go to a party have a blast, but know exactly when to stop.
Or that say to their colleagues who want to chat, that they are busy.
If you are saying yes, to getting smashed every Friday with your buddies, you are simultaneously deciding against a productive and happy Saturday. Knowing that our behavior has consequence is key.
 

What Do I Not Like About The Effective Executive?

The book is difficult to read. You can see that Peter F Drucker is a bit older, he has a clinical way of analyzing patterns. And although his book is one of my favorites, I would not recommend this to everyone.
And I think this is a bit of a waste because the skills of an effective executive are not only important for business people, but for people in general.
This book is marketed as a business book for managers, but really it is a book on how to manage yourself. And therefore it is a must read in my opinion for everybody, not just for people who want to create a business.
Sources
(1) Back cover, the effective executive

Call to Action

Record your time for a day,

  • What can you ignore?
  • What can you delegate?
  • Where are you wasting time?

Answer Peter Drucker 5 Magic Questions
1. What is your mission?
2. Who is your customer?
3. What does your customer value?
4. What results do you seek?
5. What is your plan?
 
 

Being Ok With Not Being Ok

In my second Podcast episode, I interviewed the Painter Tonja, in our wide-ranging conversation I came across a concept that she called ” being ok with not being ok“. If you want to listen to the full episode click here to check it out.
The initiator was that we discussed a question about our future self.
The Question was “ If your 60-year-old self would travel back in time, what kind of advice would he/she give yourself?
And one of the things that we would tell us would be, that our future self would give it to ourselves straight, no bullshit or lies attached.
Most people have this idealistic perception of their future life, where they will arrive at a place where all of their problems will be taken care of, where there is no pain, no hardship, and no suffering. The idea that you will get everything you ever dreamed of and that you will burst with happiness each and every day is in our opinion bullshit. 
Of course, you need to have a dream that is so compelling that it gets you motivated enough to do hard things, but expecting that in your future, pain will be an unfamiliar condition is unrealistic.
Nobody gets out of this human thing unscarred, physically or emotionally. Being ok with not being ok is a skill that describes you coming to terms that being human means to go through some shit from time to time, and be cool with it.
Acknowledging that no matter what we do, life is gonna suck from time to time is, in my opinion, a keystone habit for happiness.
To not have the idea that we have to be happy 24/7, that it is ok to feel pain, to feel sad, to be unmotivated sometimes, to fail and to have shitty days is essential in my opinion.
Finding beauty, muse, and meaning in hardship and suffering is one of the skills that are most essential when it comes to overcoming difficult situations.  If you have not already, please click here to check out my book review from Victor Frankl’s Mans Search for Meaning. Because this book will teach you how to find meaning in suffering and hardship.

Give Your Emotions Space

When I interviewed people in psychiatric facilities I spotted a pattern in dealing with pain and discomfort: Avoidance.
People who seem to fall into despair when confronted with hardships either want their painful emotions to stop, or are doing actively everything they can to hide from their feelings.
When I worked with them, they often asked: ” Please take these emotions away, I can’t take it anymore”.
And every time they asked me if things are gonna get better I said yes they will. In retrospect, I think this was a lie on my part.
 

Things are not going to get less painful, it is that we get stronger.
No matter what you do, how much money you have, where you come from, life is gonna hit your in your fucking face from time to time.
You will feel tired, and things are gonna be hard, people you love will stop loving you, family members you cherish will die, you will lose jobs that you care about, you will eventually lose your health and your life. Sorry to break this to you, but there no need for you having a pity party because everybody deals with stuff.
A big part of accepting that things are going to suck is to internalize, that it will not stop us from moving forward. From growing, from overcoming things. Resilience is like a muscle in my opinion, the more we use it, the tougher we get.
But aiming to be a mechanical man that is free from pain is so not gonna work folks. All emotions have their place. When you lose a person who was dear to you, it is normal to grief, even necessary.
It does not mean that you are weak. It shows that you have an enormous capacity to love and to feel connections. Neglecting and avoiding undesired emotions will only lead to undesired behaviors. Being ok with not being ok means that you make peace with suffering from time to time.
Being ok with not being ok means that you are moving forward no matter what, even if you have to take a small time out, you will get your ass back in the game and grow through everything that life is throwing in your direction.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Being Ok With Not Being Ok

So what happens if you are not ok with being not ok? If you don’t want to have certain emotions?
I believe that the ability to stay in aversive states, to deal with pain and not run from it is a very good predictor to see if someone is going to live a happy life eventually.
Everybody can have a happy day if the sun is shining, money is coming in and life is just floating in the right direction. But acting in spite of circumstances is what really helps you to overcome stuff. To say yes, this is hard, and I don’t want to do it, but I do it anyway is what enables us to change the narrative and puts us in our powerplace.
And this changes everything.

I really believe that if you are reading this, whoever you are, you are going through something right now, because we all are. We all have an internal fight that nobody knows about.
For me, I have a hard time right now, dealing with the idea that I am going to lose my father soon. For you, it might be that you have to deal with a breakup, or that you have a job that you hate.
Being ok with not being ok enables you to act even when the conditions are not right.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

It means that you if you want to work out and it is raining outside and you are tired, that you don’t get back in bed, but that you grab your rain jacket and go anyway.
In our society, we are conditioned to stop at the first sign of discomfort.  I recently investigated the habits of Josh Waitzskin, and I wrote a book review about his bestseller the art of learning, click here to check it out, and he made a beautiful point in an interview with Tim Ferris about parenting.
We are conditioned to teach our kids, that when it is raining it is bad weather, and we should not get out. Josh made it a habit with his son to celebrate every storm. Every time there is a snow or rain storm he goes out with his son and dances. In order to teach his son, that success is not dependent on perfect outside conditions.
This to me has a deep application for life. Everybody can be happy when our needs are being met when everybody is healthy when we have enough money, and peace around us. Being happy in spite of things happening around us is a completely different challenge.
Being ok with not being ok means to thrive even in chaos or discomfort.

Final Words

If you are reading this, and you are going through a rough stretch, it is key to understand that you are going to feel like this for a time. If something sucks, it is ok to go to your room and cry. But being ok with not being ok means, that you give even your undesired emotions, like grief a space to be.
If you don’t do that, you will not only have undesired emotions, but also undesired behaviors. If you read this, I challenge you to look for patterns in your behavior that are born out of avoidance and not out of inspiration.
For me this is often overwork, distracting myself, or numbing my soul with addictive habits. If you find those patterns, ask yourself ” What am I avoiding? What am I running away from? And most important, is it working?
I believe we all have things we want to run away from. Facing the very things that you fear often reveals that the end of your emotions, there is nothing. That the thing that you were avoiding is actually not that bad.
And even if you need a break from the pain, you are in charge of choosing what coping mechanism you choose. You can get a break from your problems by getting completely smashed on a Friday, and sacrifice health for a break from your problems. But you also have the choice to get a break from your problems by doing sports, meditation, writing, talking about what burdens you with other people. The choice is up to you.
Being ok with not being ok means, that if you are faced with unchangeable difficulties, that you focus on what you can control. And you can always control your perspective.
Thank you for reading.
You are not alone.
Never

Call to Action

  1. Write down for 5 minutes everything that burdens you.
  2. Write 3 behaviors that you have that are bad coping mechanisms
  3. Write 3 behaviors that you have that are healthy coping mechanisms
  4. Write down 3 of your past failures, that later turned out to be a resource.

 
 

Josh Waitzkin " The Art Of Learning" {Book Review}

 

What is The Art Of Learning about?

Josh Waitzkin chronicles in the Art Of Learning about how he became an internationally known chess master and martial arts world champion. Furthermore is Josh Waitzkin is the subject for the Hollywood movie Searching for Bobby Fischer.
In his book, The Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin walks us through his approach to learning and how he managed to become world-class in multiple disciplines.
The books start in 2004 in Tapei, Taiwan where the Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands World Championships was fought. In the video below you can see the entire fight between Josh Waitzkin and the Taiwanese champion called”buffalo”.

Before I butcher this moment completely, here are Josh Waitzkins own thoughts to describe this key moment in his life.

Forty seconds before round two, and I’m lying on my back trying to breathe.
Pain all through me. Deep breath. Let it go. I won’t be able to lift my shoulder tomorrow, it won’t heal for over a year, but now it pulses, alive, and I feel the air vibrating around me, the stadium shaking with chants, in Mandarin, not for me.
My teammates are kneeling above me, looking worried. They rub my arms, my shoulders, my legs. The bell rings. I hear my dad’s voice in the stands, ‘C’mon Josh!’ Gotta get up. I watch my opponent run to the center of the ring. He screams, pounds his chest. The fans explode. They call him Buffalo. Bigger than me, stronger, quick as a cat. But I can take him — if I make it to the middle of the ring without falling over. I have to dig deep, bring it up from somewhere right now. Our wrists touch, the bell rings, and he hits me like a Mack truck.
Who could have guessed it would come to this? Just a few years earlier I had been competing around the world in elite chess tournaments. Since I was eight years old, I had consistently been the highest rated player for my age in the United States, and my life was dominated by competitions and training regimens designed to bring me into peak form for the next national or world championship. I had spent the years between ages fifteen and eighteen in the maelstrom of American media following the release of the film Searching for Bobby Fischer, which was based on my dad’s book about my early chess life. I was known as America’s great young chess player and was told that it was my destiny to follow in the footsteps of immortals like Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, to be world champion.
Josh Waitzkin The Art Of Learning

The Art of learning is not your typical how I did it books, but a deep and philosophical guide to inner optimal performance. So lets start! Who is this Josh Waitzkin…

Who is Josh Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin definitely knows the road to success. When Josh was 6 years old he started to play “blitz Chess” against street hustlers in the infamous Washington Square Park. He watched and absorbed, and in no time he became the king of the hustlers himself.
Josh proceeded to make his name in the chess world. He became the only person to win the National primary, Elementary, Junio High School, Senior High School, U.S Cadet, and U.S Junior Closed chess championship before he even turned 16. (2)
There are famous scenes of Josh Waitzkin playing 20-50 Chessboards at the same time against other people where he walked from table to table and beat them all.
Josh Waitzkin was, in consequence, called a “chess prodigy”. But where he excels, in my opinion, is his systematic approach to learning. Because he was successful in many fields that have almost nothing in common but Josh.
Once he left the Chess world behind, he won multiple national Championships in Tai Chi Chuan and two World Championships. After that, he became a black belt under Marcelo Garcia who is the Michael Jordan of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

4 Lessons I Learned from Art Of Learning?

Stretch to Grow

I was particularly interested in Josh Waitzkin because he is not shying away from failures and loses and even crisis. When Josh was 6 years old he started to play against adult hustlers who were just crushing him. Through those first loses he learned where his weaknesses were and this made him better. Other young talents in various disciplines often only compete against players of their same age in order to not demotivate them. Josh had to come to terms with losing very early.
Growing up as an aspiring basketball player I can relate to this principle. From a very early age, I competed against my big brother, who was a not only a professional basketball player but also a giant( 2.06cm). So my entire upbringing I played against him and his buddies and constantly got my ass kicked. Coming to terms with losing.

There is a saying in Germany, that when you are the smartest/strongest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
And I believe that this is very true. We grow through adaption to obstacles, and stress of competing against people who push us to grow.
Even as an adult I try to live according to this principle. Most of my friends are far more successful than me and they motivate me to grow and to keep up with them.
Also constantly getting your ass kicked is a good teacher to stay humble, because while being confident you realize that you have much to learn and that you do not have to take yourself to serious.
I believe that humans have an extraordinary potential for adaptation. And furthermore that creating a social environment of people who force you to stretch is the only way to thrive.
So I encourage you to evaluate your social context. Are you the big fish in a small pott? Or do you have friends who inspire you to become better and to grow?
After all, learning and growing is fun and a necessity for happiness.
 

Thrive in Chaos

Josh Waitzkin emphasizes multiple times that a big part of his philosophy of learning is to thrive in Chaos.
In chess, Josh favored chaos on the board. Normal Chess players favored, clean, memorized patterns. Josh uses confusion and playing in the unorganized game to his advantage because he loved to play when the conditions are not perfect. This allowed him to dictate the tone of the battle and thrive in an atmosphere where other players where uncomfortable.
I think this is true for life also. We don’t just want to thrive when all of our favored conditions are met. When we feel good, when we have all of our preferred resources around us, when we are in the right flow it is really easy to function.
Josh teaches to thrive also when conditions are not ideal, but the contrary; chaotic.
A perfect example is meditation. People who learn meditation in perfect conditions, nobody is around, its quiet and it is the perfect time of the day.
Ultimately, however, we don’t want to be relaxed and calm when everything is right, but we want to be in our zen when the shit hits the fan when we are in a storm. This is when we need it the most.
We do not want to be able to only meditate in a flower garden, but also in situations that are not ideal, that are even stressful.

“One thing I have learned as a competitor is that there is a clear distinction between what it takes to be decent, what it takes to be good, what it takes to be great and what it takes to be among the best…” Josh Waitzkin

A beautiful example that Josh Waitzkin uses is parenting and bad weather.
We are conditioned to teach our kids, that when it is raining it is bad weather, and we don’t get out. Josh made it a habit with his sun to celebrate every storm. Every time there is a snow or rain storm he goes out with his son and dances. In order to teach his son, that success is not dependent on perfect outside conditions.
This to me has a deep application for life also. Everybody can be happy when our needs are being met when everybody is healthy when we have enough money, and peace around us. Being happy in spite of things happening around us is a completely different challenge. And you can see that Josh Waitzkin is not only a master of learning but a master of living a life of harmony and mindfulness.

Cultivate the Soft Zone

In the Art of Learning Josh speaks a lot about Flow, which he calls the “Soft Zone”.

“Flow with whatever happens, integrating every ripple of life into a creative moment” (Waitzkin 54)

In the book, Josh describes the most intense chess game he ever played. During a national title match of his, an earthquake shook the event halls.(3) Each competitor was lost and broke down by this external stress of fear and uncertainty.
Josh, who loved chaos thrived in this situation, and it helped him to reach a higher level of consciousness. A mental state in which he is capable of seeing things differently, and integrating the subconscious into the conscious. A phenomenon that basketball player describes as the zone.

The zone or the flow is almost a mystical concept of when your brain operates on a different level, you see things different, things slow down for you. Josh Waitzkin who coached many world-class performers says that we can create a gateway to this states of mind by conditioning.
This starts with any habit, by finding a trigger. This trigger should be a key activity in your life that gives you inner focus and tranquility.
What are you doing when nothing else seems to exist?
Although flow is not something that you can provoke 10 out of 10 times, you can manipulate the odds, and condition yourself to be more likely to slide into the zone.
Creating flow generating rituals is a necessity. For me, for example, writing to while listening to a song on repeat raises my chances of coming into the flow.
The key is to recognize your own patterns. What did you eat before? What music did you listen to? Who was around? What location? Did you perform a particular routine that day?
If you can identify your the before going behavior, and you can simulate that, in my opinion, you raise the probability to slip into flow.
Easier, however, in my opinion, is that you start by isolating variables that are in way of you getting into flow.
Things that distract you, behaviors and people, circumstances that are the enemy to your mindfulness and inner harmony.
For me, for example, this would be being hungover, having toxic people around, social media notifications, or eating heavy junk food, for example, are all enemies to my mindfulness.
Mitigating toxic influences is a topic for itself. But I think that life by itself can be distracting enough, so isolating the common enemies to our flow state is key in order to live a harmonious life.
 

Become an Incremental Learner

In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin explains the difference between entity and incremental learners.
A concept that Carol Dweck explains perfectly in the book Mindset. Click here to view it on Amazon.

Learners who have an entity approach, or as Carol Dweck call it, have a fixed mindset. They think their skills, intelligence is fixed like an entity.
Incremental learners on the other learners believe that with hard work, the right strategy and optimal resource management one can learn almost anything.
Incremental learners praise themselves not only for their outcome but for their effort and strategy. While an entity learner lives and dies with his result. If he fails a text, it is because he is too stupid, not because he learned not enough, or because he used the wrong strategy. This, of course, has terrible consequences of the self-esteem. If they fail to often, they say things like ” math is just not for me” for example, or “I am just not good at languages”. While in reality, their brain is perfectly capable of learning those disciplines. With this belief in mind, step by step, incrementally, a total beginner can eventually become the master. This principle is not only important for learning but also for happiness. Failure is unavoidable in my opinion. And if you determine your entire self-worth over your production, then you are going to have a hard time. If you are like me, and you fail often, this mental pattern can cause unhappiness, and sometimes even depression. If you praise yourself however on being a hard worker, a person who never gives up, somebody who does not know everything but knows that there are people who know the answer are much better off in my opinion.
The problem is, what happens if you praise a child for example on beeing particular smart at math, and that kid fails the exam? The only logical consequence for that kid is that it is stupid.
They may fail, but they don’t completely fail as a person.
 

What do I not like about the Art Of Learning?

For much of the book, the Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin described his vision of the road to mastery. The idea is that you start with the fundamentals, get a solid foundation in the understanding of the principles and that you then expand and refine the repertoire. U fuse then these principles with your own style, or how he calls it your own funk. This by itself is a pathway that takes very long in my opinion and is contrary to my idea that there are shortcuts to mastery.
His approach to learning seems to take a lot of time and is not aimed to be mediocre, but to really excel. In my opinion however often it is enough to become good at a skill and then move on to the next one. I think you don’t have to become a poet in order to master the English language for example. There is so much to learn on this incredible planet, and if you focus too much on mastery you may lose out on a platter of skills that you can achieve within short, or mediocre time.
I believe the speed of how much information our brain can take in, is highly underrated. Although I like his almost philosophical approach to learning something towards mastery this is the only point I don’t like.
Besides that, there is nothing to cut away from this gem. A special book, by a very special man. And Josh Waitzkin does a great job at portraying his journey of mastering both the chess world and the martial arts scene.
If you want to check out other great books, click here to see my book club.

Call to Action

  1. Watch the video below

Sources

1 http://www.joshwaitzkin.com/
2.https://tim.blog/2014/03/20/the-art-of-learning-joshua-waitzkin/
3. https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-takeaways-from-Josh-Waitzkins-The-Art-of-Learning
 

Tim Ferris “The 4-Hour Chef” {Book Review}

What is the 4-Hour Chef about?

The 4-Hour Chef is not your typical cookbook. In this book, you learn how to pimp up your measly cooking skills in record time, and at the same time, you learn how to learn anything!
As you might have checked by now, this is not a cooking blog but a psychology blog about my journey of getting better.
After studying years behavior and clinical psychology I became more and more interested in the memory and learning disciplines of psychology. For me learning is a power, so looking for hacks to learn faster means to develop a superpower.
The 4-Hour Chef is a book about accelerated learning / meta-learning a disguised as a cooking book.
So it is a meta-learning book first and foremost, that uses cooking as an example to show you how you get world class in record time in any subject you desire.
The 4-Hour Chef is a 5-step journey through the art and science of learning how to cook like a pro.
So what are the 5- steps? 

  1. Meta-Learning 

In this part of the 4-Hour Chef explains his accelerated learning models that promise to become world-class in about six months or less. He uses amazing examples from memory champions, athletes who succeeded despite their poor talent, to chess prodigies like Josh Waitzskin who became world class in different disciplines.
 
2.The Domestic
Here you will learn by the 80/20 rule the principles needed to cook thousands of dishes. Here he explains how to use basic gear( pots, pans, etc.) Here you learn the building blocks of cooking. these are the ABCs of cooking.
3. The Wild
Wild is where you step out of the kitchen and learn new techniques and connect firsthand with the ingredients.
Ranging from how to cook over fire, to how to cook a squirrel. In here you learn to reconnect with the ingredient and teaches you to hunt, forage and survive. (1)
4.The Scientist
In the Scientist, Tim Ferris explains 14 chemical reactions he thinks to provide a better understanding of food and taste.
Examples include dehydration to how to make crunchy bloody marys.
5. The Professional 
Based on the first 4 chapters you learn how the best in the world came to be how you can get your cooking game to the next level and make complex dishes.

Who is Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed”human guinea pig”. He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book “The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters of any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey and other incredible high achievers.

„ The older I get the more time I spend – as a percentage of each day on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1 x to 10 x, from 10 x to 100x and from 100x to 1000x returns in various areas has been a product of better questions.“Tim Ferris

It is Tim Ferris mission to decode human greatness. He interviews high achievers of any kind in order to find emulatable commonalities among the top 1%ers of the world. Coming from a psychological background listening to his podcast was a true game changer for me. For me, interesting people are case studies. And up to this point, I only knew about case studies that were in the unsuccessful/unhappy part of the spectrum. Tim Ferris gave me 280 amazing human brains to dissect. He was called “Oprah of Audio”, which to me is by far the weirdest praise I ever heard. If you haven’t checked him out, stop reading this article right now and check out his blog. Click here to see his blog. I also wrote an article about him where I deconstructed how he asks questions. Click here to read it.
 

Two must know concepts of the 4-Hour Chef

DISSS Model

This is my favorite piece of work form the 4-Hour Chef and from Tim Ferris in general.
This model is an acronym for learning any skill in record time.
 

Deconstruction

What are the minimal learnable units, the LEGO blocks that I should start with?
In here Tim Ferris explains four primary tools that allow you to throw a lot on the wall and see what sticks. This part of Tim Ferris meta-learning approaches deal with the question ;
How do I break this into manageable pieces?
Each letter of the DISSS acronym stands for a technique.
Deconstruction in the 4-hour chef stands for.

Reducing
Like Tim Ferris, I had the great Idea of learning Japanese. For people who never tried to learn Japanese, that is 1,945 characters. Fuck me. Where do I start?
Reducing means that you start with learning the absolute essentials. So with Japanese instead of starting with all 1,945 characters, you start with the building blocks: Hiragana. You can learn the basic alphabet in a week in my opinion. A great way to learn it is dr mookus hiragana. Click here to check it out.  I also wrote a technique on how to learn anything fast using the memory palace technique, click here to check it out. The most complex letters in Japanese have about 15 strokes. For comparison, the most complicated letters in English are E and W, every four strokes. So reducing is a necessity if you don’t want to lose your mind and your motivation.
Interviewing
A great way of getting started is to look for the world leading experts and ask them how they did it. Tim Ferris suggests that one should start by interviewing people who are currently not in the limelight. This was a great aha moment that leads me to the decision that I should start a podcast and start to interview amazing people.

 
Whatever problem you have today, there is a human out there who faced the same problem, and who is totally crushing it right now. Click here to check out my podcast. Also had to spam you, but I wrote an article about how to get a mentor, and in there is an example of how you can approach high achievers and ask them for advice, click here to read that.
Reversal
One of Tim Ferris best questions is: What if I did the opposite?

In his book, he gives an example that fires that are built opposite to the common believe burn much better.
I think this is true in life also. When I tried to deconstruct mental illness, and depression, in particular, I asked myself often what the opposite side of behavior would like, and if the cure is hidden there.
And this has to lead me ultimately to a very intensive phase of studying happy and successful people.
Translating
In here Tim Ferris uses a technique that allows you to understand the grammar of any language in 1 or 2 hours. WTF!
He studied Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, born 1774. The charming Italian could speak as much as 72 languages! He is the most hyperpolyglot.
Instead of learning languages with normal grammar books he had native speakers recite the Lord’s prayers. this passage gave him an overview of nearly all important grammatical structures( direct object, indirect object, noun, cases, possessives)(1)
Tim Ferris has a 12 sentence exercise that he calls the “Deconstruction Dozen”,
Here are the lines. Translate this and you are good to go!

The apple is red.
It is John’s apple.
I give John the apple.
We give him the apple.
 
He gives it to John.
She gives it to him.
Is the apple red?
The apples are red.
 
I must give it to him.
I want to give it to her.
I`m going to know tomorrow.
(I have eaten the apple.)
I can`t eat the apple.

 

Selection

  • Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% of the outcome I want?

The common approach to learning a language is to learn for example every vocabulary of food.
Tim Ferris suggest in the 4-Hour Chef that you start with the words that are most frequently used.
The Oxford English Dictionary contains roughly around 171,476 words. Good luck learning all of them. However, learning the 100 most used words

give you 50% of the practical use of 171,476 words!
If you start by going through all words, it will take you 25 years plus to remember all of them. And you will quit 10 times before you mastered this language. Learning the most frequently used words will make you conversational in up to 2 months. Click here to read to 100 most common words of the English language.
 
 
Sequencing

  • In what order should I learn the blocks?

Here in the 4-Hour Chef, Tim Ferris emphasizes the importance of sequencing. An easy example is that you first need to learn the alphabet before you are able to read a book.
Here it is important to look for teachers who can show you what you can ignore. Not learning something is as important as learning something.
Stakes

  • How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?

A classic example here would be that you want to create the habit of working out. You tried it over and over at home, but you always stop. What you want to have is a system that raises your personal accountability. If you train with a partner, not going to the gym is much harder because you ditch your training partner and he will be mad.
Let’s say you want to lose some weight. You can in order to raise the stakes give them 100$ and you only get it back if you lose 5 pounds in 1 month.
A funny way to raise stakes that Tim Ferris suggest is the site stickK or economics Lab. There you are forced to donate money to an anti-charity if you don’t meet your goal.
 

CaFE Model

“I am sorry for the lenght of my letter, but I had not the time to write a short one.”

The second meta-learning is the CaFE Model.
We live in the information age, meaning that we are bombarded with huge amounts of information. Simplifying skills is a necessity.

Compression: Cheat Sheets for Anything

In learning, everything is allowed. Tim Ferris suggests creating a compressed Cheat Sheet.
Here you try to fit the entire skill into one page. The idea is to make a big skill, that is intimidating small. In the one-pager, you should focus on the basic rules, and principles and some real-world examples.

Frequency

Here he emphasizes the importance of frequency. One of the biggest reasons why people fail at learning languages, for example, is in my opinion because they do a bad job at deciding what daily dose of learning they need in order to become fluent in the targeted skill.
Here ask yourself; how much minutes do I need to invest every day in order to become fluent in my desired time?
A number of polygons say that 22 minutes is enough to get fluent in a language in 6 months.
What people often do is that they learn extremely hard for a couple of days, then burn out and lose their motivation.
Also, people do a horrible job at defining their goals. Learning Spanish, for example, is a horrible goal. It has no timeline, no achievable milestone and it does practicing on your personal biological limits.
If you want to get in shape, for example, the habit of working out daily is much more important than the workout.

Encoding

Here you learn how to make information stick. Our brain is actually really bad when it comes to remembering abstract symbols like numbers and letters. Where our brain excels at though is remembering pictures and locations. I explain this principle in my memory palace article. Click here to read it. Watch the video below to get an idea of how your brain learns best. In the video, you learn the Japanese alphabet hiragana in 60 seconds!
The 4-Hour Chef is full of examples of how to remember a deck of cards in 60 seconds, how to learn incredible long numbers fast and much more examples.
 
 

What I don’t like

I loved this book from start to end. What repelled me at the beginning: it is really long! 670 pages is quite the book. And if you are not a weirdo like me who loves to spend days putting your nose into geeky learning books than this might be too big to tackle. Otherwise, I have nothing to complain. Great book. And for 30 bucks, as always with books a bargain in my opinion.

Call to action

  1. Make a list of skills that you want to learn in 2018
  2. Now use the DISSS model!
  3. Use the Cafe Model to create a cheat sheet!
  4.  Check out https://tim.blog/2014/03/21/how-to-learn-a-foreign-language-2/
  5. Check out https://drmoku.com/
  6. fourhourchef.com/fold-shirt

Sources

  1. https://fourhourchef.com/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_4-Hour_Chef

 

FREE Habit Builder

Get my guide to tap into the power of habit formation for free.

Download FREE!

Download Habit Builder for free

By submitting and downloading the free product you will be assigned to our newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get the Habit Builder now

Behaviour Shop

I will help you to tap into the power of habit formation in just few days.

Coaching

I will help you tap into the power of habit formation in just few days.
Get Private Coaching

Writing

Learn about ways and mechanisms to hack yourself to a higher mental performance
Read my articles

Podcast

Learn about environmental psychology and master the things that are around us
Listen to my podcasts

Book Club

Learn about ways to hack your way to higher physical performance
See my books