This article is the first part of a 3-part series. Part 1 will discuss why a man’s purposes are the most important things in his life and why they also bring him the most pleasure. Part 1 also discusses how a man’s confidence pushes him towards his purposes and anxiety pushes him away from his purposes. Part 2 will discuss how a woman’s attraction to a man is centered on his purposes, which in turn create his emotional experience and his reality. Part 3 will discuss how a man can manage his ego to maximize the pleasure he receives from pursuing his purposes and minimize his anxiety.
Purpose and Emotion
The most important thing in a man’s life are the purposes he chooses to pursue, and the key to a successful and happy life is choosing your purposes with your rational mind rather than your emotions. If you do not consciously and rationally articulate your purposes to yourself, your subconscious emotions will determine your purposes, and emotion without rational guidance usually leads to ruin. Worse yet, if you do not consciously and rationally determine your purposes yourself, others will determine them for you, often by manipulating your emotions.
All human emotions and activity can be conceptualized in terms of purposes. Everything you do is directed to some purpose, whether you realize it or not. If you are watching TV, eating Cheetos, and scratching your balls, your purposes are watching TV, eating Cheetos, and scratching your balls. The question is not whether you have purposes, but what your purposes are.
Discussions of “purpose” often become abstract and meaningless, so I seek here to link purpose to fundamental biological emotions. Human evolved to feel “pleasure” and positive emotion to motivate us to seek things that help in our survival and reproduction and “pain” and negative emotions to avoid purposes that will lead to us harm. Positive emotions include the desire for food, sex, and affection, while negative emotions include grief, shame, guilt, depression and anxiety. Positive emotions usually fill us with energy and enthusiasm to motivate us to move, while negative emotions cripple us to prevent us from moving. But every emotion serves some purpose, and the key to a healthy and happy life is not to repress or kill your emotions, but to put each emotion in its proper place so that they work in harmony for your overall good.
Our rational mind is a much weaker than our emotions, and is often overwhelmed, hijacked, and tricked by emotion. The only thing that can defeat an emotion is a stronger emotion, so the primary responsibility of your rational mind is not to conquer your emotions, but to order your emotions properly so that your “higher” emotions predominate over your lower ones.
The biological systems underlying positive emotion can be summarized using a familiar quote: “life is a journey, not a destination.”
The primary brain chemical that regulates positive emotion is a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is released every time we do something pleasurable: when you eat a tasty meal, snort a line of cocaine, or have sex. You also feel dopamine when you experience “higher” pleasures like acceptance by the tribe, love, affection, and the joy of accomplishing a goal or helping somebody. But strangely, most dopamine is released “on the way” to achieving the pleasurable goal, rather than after we attain the goal itself.
Most people think of pleasure as a destination. You see (or conceptualize) a pleasurable goal, you take steps to achieve that goal, and you feel pleasure AFTER you achieve the goal. I call the pleasure you feel after you achieve some pleasurable goal “destination pleasure.”
But the journey to the pleasurable thing is stronger than arriving at the destination. When you see (or conceptualize) a pleasurable goal and take steps to achieve that pleasurable goal, you feel pleasure on the journey to the pleasurable goal. I call this feeling “journey pleasure.” As Artie Lange said, “the best part of doing cocaine is going to your dealer to get it.” The excitement and enthusiasm you feel on the way to something your subconscious thinks will be pleasurable is much stronger and longer-lasting than the destination pleasure you feel when you actually consumer that thing. This is why I consider journey pleasure to be a superior and “higher” pleasure.
The superiority of journey pleasure makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective. Humans need to go get food, find shelter, and have sex, but evolution doesn’t care if we feel pleasure after we achieve those things. Evolution is more concerned with getting us to those things in the first place, which is why we are wired to feel most of our pleasure as we move towards the goal rather than after we get it. We did not evolve to rest on our laurels and celebrate after getting something we want. Instead, we evolved to immediately want to go get the next thing.
We have all experienced this on some level. We have all won some championship, completed some final exam, scored with some hot girl, or achieved some other goal, only to find ourselves underwhelmed and feeling empty after we achieve the thing we thought we wanted. As George Bernard Shaw famously said, “there are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.” This is because journey pleasure is much stronger than destination pleasure, and once the journey is over the destination pleasure feels relatively weak and empty.
But make no mistake: journey pleasure only exists when the journey leads to destination pleasure. If there is no pot of gold at the end of the journey, our subconscious mind will not generate the dopamine necessary to motivate us. Our brain is a pleasure-seeking machine, and if there is no pleasure involved we simply will not pursue something, no matter how noble or important the goal. We are animals, not angels. It is just a happy coincidence that pursuing noble and important goals sometimes brings us pleasure. The brain’s motivation system is somewhat paradoxical: even though we are motivated by destination pleasure, we feel most of our pleasure on the way to that destination pleasure, so we often don’t even care about the destination pleasure once we get to it. Billionaires work 80-hour weeks to make a fortune, only to give the fortune away after they have receive it. They don’t care about the money (they have more than they could ever use) – they love the game. Nevertheless, if there is no fortune or other attractive prize at the end of the journey, billionaires would not be motivated to work 80-hour weeks in the first place.
Human beings will only do something if we feel like there will be some payoff in the end or if we are afraid of some worse outcome. A child will only do his homework if he fears punishment or if he genuinely believes he will receive some worthwhile reward for doing it, either in the short term or in the long term. Similarly, as you move through life, you will only be motivated to work hard if you believe your work will lead to something. That “something” can be money, developing your skills, creating something new and valuable, or helping people. Ideally, your work will pay off in all of those ways.
The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people see their life as leading towards some higher purpose, even when things are going badly. Even when they do something that sucks, they are building towards something higher: they are building their resume, developing skills, saving money, learning lessons, meeting people, etc… Unsuccessful people feel like no matter what they do, they will never get to the promised land, which is why they are not motivated to work hard today. Successful people run towards a goal; unsuccessful people run on a treadmill.
Journey Pleasure and Emotional Stability
Journey pleasure is superior to destination pleasure because it is stronger, lasts over a longer period of time, and does not require external “things” to be satisfied. Destination pleasure only lasts for the brief moment while you consume the pleasurable thing: you feel destination pleasure while you eat the cake, have sex, or hug your friend, but the pleasure disappears a short time after and you need some external thing to give you pleasure again. Journey pleasure, on the other hand, lasts for as long as you are working towards your goal, so you can feel it anytime and anywhere because it is primarily mental. If you are building your business, you can feel journey pleasure as you work, as you eat lunch, and even as you have a few beers with your friends to wind down, because all of those activities are taking you towards your goal.
Journey pleasure is required for emotional stability and rationality. Humans are pleasure-seeking creatures, and we cannot think rationality if we are chasing one brief pleasure after another. But journey pleasure satiates our desire for pleasure, and once we have a consistent source of journey pleasure we can make rational, long-term plans. Even people that enjoy journey pleasure need to feed their lower desires occasionally, but because their higher pleasures are satiated all of their thoughts and emotions are not directed towards satisfying their lower pleasures.
Your brain constantly creates maps of the world based on your purposes to determine where pleasure and threat exist, as they are defined by your purposes. Your brain creates a spatial map of your immediate surroundings, coloring what you believe to be indicators of pleasure and threat with emotion so you are drawn or repelled by those indicators. Your brain also creates a more abstract map of your life, marking pleasures and threats that may occur in the future as you pursue your purposes. To see this spatial map right now, just look around – what you see is not necessarily reality but a map of the world that your brain created, with sources of pleasure and threat (as you understand them) emphasized by your brain to draw your attention. Similarly, you can “feel” the abstract map by thinking about your future: if you think about the upcoming week you will feel good about the pleasurable things you think will happen and anxiety about the shitty things you think will happen. Interestingly, your spatial map and your more abstract map are both created by the same part of your brain – the hippocampus.
To navigate these maps, your brain creates what I call “purpose routines.” A purpose routine is a set of procedures and rules designed to lead you to a certain goal, like a computer program. You can learn purpose routines with your conscious mind, but after you do it a few times it becomes subconscious and executable with little to no conscious thought. A simple purpose routine is walking downstairs to get something from the fridge, tying your shoe, or brushing your teeth. Purpose routines can also be more complicated – drafting a routine letter to a client, repairing an HVAC unit, or driving to work. Experienced doctors can even perform delicate surgery almost on autopilot because they have done it so many times. Sometimes your conscious mind even forgets the instructions to a purpose routine, but your subconscious mind can still do it.
We need subconscious purpose routines to function because we cannot consciously think about every single little thing we are doing. Our conscious mind can only process around 5 to 7 pieces of information at one time, but our subconscious mind can process much more. Most of our actions at any time are purpose routines running on autopilot. If we learn to do something in the wrong way, our brain might lock that defective purpose routine away in our subconscious, making it difficult for our conscious mind to reprogram it. The subconscious nature of purpose routines helps explain why sometimes very talented people are terrible teachers – their skills are locked away as purpose routines, so they cannot explain to another person what exactly they are doing. Purpose routines also explain why quack pick-up artist instructors often fail to communicate their abilities to their students – much of what we consider to be charm, charisma, and “alpha” behavior is an automatic expression of our purpose routines, and it is very difficult to consciously articulate what exactly those behaviors are.
Your brain learns to associate purpose routines with pleasure so, for example, if you have enjoyed snorting cocaine a few times, your brain will learn to associate the steps of snorting a line of cocaine with pleasure. Even seeing a line of cocaine or going somewhere you snorted cocaine may cause your brain to release dopamine, because it is anticipating the destination pleasure at the end of the journey it thinks it is on. Purpose routines help explain why addiction is so difficult to overcome – your brain is a pleasure-seeking missile, so whenever it feels bad, bored, or eager to do something (essentially, a lack of pleasure), it will automatically start running purpose routines it knows will lead to its drug of choice without your conscious mind even realizing. This is why addicts often need to consciously and carefully monitor their behavior.
Because your brain relies on your purpose routines to obtain pleasure, it is all the more important to consciously determine your purposes. Most peoples’ subconscious minds’ are littered with garbage purpose routines they automatically run to whenever they want pleasure: video games, drugs, alcohol, wasting time on the internet, etc… Whether we realize it or not, our brain is constantly seeking pleasure, and if we are not directing what pleasure it seeks, it will probably seek the lowest, cheapest pleasures that will ultimately lead us to ruin.
The key to happiness, therefore, seems simple: pick a few good, positive, emotionally attractive purposes, pursue those purposes, collect journey pleasure along the way, and live happily ever after. Why then, are so many people miserable?
The main obstacle to journey pleasure is anxiety, which is a subconscious mechanism designed by evolution to help you pick which purpose to pursue. Animals and humans feel anxiety when 1) the subconscious brain believes there is a threat or anomaly on the way to the purpose it is seeking and/or 2) the subconscious brain is faced with multiple purposes that seem equally appealing. When faced with either of these situations, the anxiety circuit 1) floods you with negative emotion to make you freeze and stop progressing along the path you were on and 2) switches your mind into “information gathering” mode so that you can figure out which purpose to pursue. The more important the goal and the bigger the threat, anomaly, or conflict between goals, the stronger the anxiety. To our brains, a threat or an anomaly is anything that makes us feel like we are on the wrong path, either because it will cause us to not achieve the goal, or worse.
Anxiety is the opposite of journey pleasure. We feel journey pleasure only when we see a clear path to the goal, but we feel anxiety when we see obstacles and threats on the way to the goal. Our anxiety decreases when we feel journey pleasure, and our journey pleasure decreases when we feel anxiety. Both emotions are necessary: we need journey pleasure to motivate ourselves to pursue the things we need, but we also need anxiety so that we don’t run into dangerous situations. When our journey pleasure outweighs our anxiety, we go for the goal, but when our anxiety is stronger, we stay frozen. Journey pleasure is the cure to anxiety, but to feel journey pleasure we must feel like we can overcome the threats and obstacles on the way to our purposes.
Anxiety is generally stronger than journey pleasure, and with good reason. If a mouse sees a piece of cheese guarded by a cat, it should not pursue the cheese because the reward for getting the cheese is a little pleasure, but the consequence of getting caught by the cat is death. Therefore, when weighing the journey pleasure and anxiety of a particular course of action, our brain puts much more weight on anxiety. This means that humans are extremely risk-averse and our default answer to any new adventure is “no.”
Scientifically speaking, anxiety is different from fear. Fear is the “fight or flight” feeling we get when we are actually in the presence of the threat, whereas anxiety is the feeling of paralysis we get when we think there MIGHT be a threat. A mouse who will not walk into a cage because it smells cat odor feels anxiety, whereas a mouse that actually sees a cat and starts running from it feels fear. Anxiety becomes fear if we feel like the threat has actually arrived, and people with very bad anxiety often have panic attacks, which is a fear response. When most people say “fear” they really mean anxiety, but it is important to understand this distinction, because fear is often an important motivator, whereas anxiety is often a hinderance, as I will explain later.
Finally, many kinds of anxiety exist: social anxiety which views high status members of the tribe as a threat; separation anxiety, which views distance from the tribe as a threat; obsessive/compulsive disorder, which views a lack of order and hygiene as a threat, etc… To simplify this article, I simply use the word “anxiety” to refer to all of these emotions.
Anxiety and Purpose Routines
Just as our subconscious mind tags certain purpose routines as “pleasurable” so we pursue them, it also tags others as “threat” or “obstacle” so we avoid them. For example, if you put your hand on a hot stove and burn it, your brain will subconsciously associate “putting your hand on a hot stove” with “threat” and strike you with anxiety if you start to do it again. Even if you consciously decide to put your hand on a hot stove because somebody offered you a million dollars to do it, your subconscious mind will flood you with negative emotion and freeze your muscles so you do not do it. Moving your hand to the stove will feel like swimming through molasses because your underlying biological systems will be doing everything they can to stop you.
Our brain uses anxiety for memory and map building because we need to know where not to go, both spatially in our immediate surroundings and more abstractly in our life. This is partly why drugs that reduce anxiety, like marijuana, alcohol, and Xanax also impair your memory. Anxiety is literally responsible for building the world we experience, but as we will see, anxiety can create a distorted view of the world.
The brain’s process of painting certain purpose routines as threat is useful because it helps us automatically avoid dangerous situations without even consciously thinking about them. We do this every single day with thousands of potential threats. But anxiety tries to do a thorough job of documenting all of our threats so it often registers false positives. These false positives occur when 1) your brain subconsciously thinks something is a threat or obstacle when it is really not, 2) your brain subconsciously thinks something is a threat or obstacle when in reality you have the ability to overcome it, or 3) your brain associates a purpose routine with a threat or obstacle that will not be there in the future. Sometimes your brain does all of this at once.
For example, imagine you go bowling for the first time and get stabbed at the bowling alley. In that case, your brain may associate “bowling” or “going to the bowling alley” with “threat” and make you feel anxiety the next time you consider going bowling, no matter where the bowling alley is or who is there. But getting stabbed is not a regular or inherent part of bowling, so the brain’s association of “bowling alley” with “threat” is wrong and counterproductive.
Now imagine how many false positives your brain has created since your childhood and how many possible paths your brain has subconsciously marked as forbidden without your consent or realization. Most peoples’ subconscious minds are full of paths that have been wrongly labeled as negative, and these paths accumulate to form complex emotional and belief systems that cripple us. This mechanism often operates subconsciously without us even knowing what is happening: we just “feel bad” when we leave our comfort zone, and we don’t know why. Anxiety may manifest itself in many different ways: paralysis, endless rumination that goes nowhere, listlessness, a desire to procrastinate, hesitancy, timidity, laziness, a tendency to become distracted, a “weird” feeling you cannot explain, a feeling of pending doom, “rational” arguments as to why you should do something else, etc… Anxiety will use any trick it can find to make you stop pursuing the goal, including “rational” reasons that you cannot stop thinking about. Sometimes those reasons are laughably stupid, and sometimes they are solid and should be taken into account. It is your job to figure out which is which.
Anxiety does not just try to make us pick a different path than the one we are considering, it often causes us to not consider certain purposes at all. Most people never even consider following their dreams because their brain kills those thoughts before they even make it to their conscious mind. Most people live in a world of invisible walls they create for themselves. Most people never leave their narrow “comfort zone” because their brain subconsciously convinces them they will fail. I strongly suspect this is also partly why people get “stuck in their ways” and more closed minded as they get older: there has simply been more time for negativity to accumulate in their mind.
Modern society exacerbates this problem. The anxiety circuit is a primitive circuit designed to react to simple threats in the jungle, not abstract, complex “threats” like an emotionally unstable girlfriend, a shitty job market, or other complex changes and challenges that we face in the modern world. The media and entertainment industry are also constantly trying to scare us into thinking that everything is a threat. Most people know the media and entertainment industry lie and fearmonger, but if this programming only works 10% of the time on us, that is still a ton of irrational anxieties that are now part of our subconscious programming.
To make matters worse, anxiety often hijacks our “rational” mind and creates false beliefs to match our garbage emotions. The world is infinitely complicated, which means that you can confabulate “facts” to support almost any decision you make or belief you hold, and this is exactly what your mind does when it really wants to pursue a certain purpose (or not pursue a purpose).
For example, imagine somebody grows up in an environment where their friends, family, and society constantly tell them that it is very hard or impossible for the “little guy” to get ahead. That person’s brain will subconsciously associate the purpose routine of “working hard to make money” with “insurmountable obstacles and threats.” If you asked them if it was possible for the “little guy” to get ahead, they would “rationally” explain to why it was not. This person may even use true facts to make their argument, but they would only do so by ignoring all the other facts that contradicted their argument.
Of course, this person will never become rich because every time they do anything to make progress along that path, their subconscious mind will cause them to feel anxiety and do something else instead. Even his conscious mind will often sabotage him, because it has been subconsciously programmed by his emotions to form a series of false beliefs about the world. In this way, his emotions, actions, and beliefs will form a vicious cycle that will make it impossible for him to become rich.
The solution to anxiety and negative purpose routines is not always to ignore them and plow ahead. Anxiety serves an evolutionary purpose, and your subconscious mind can store and quickly access much more information about threats than your conscious mind can. Sometimes you get a “bad feeling” because something really is a threat, even though your conscious mind cannot articulate exactly why. Just because anxiety sometimes produces false positives does not mean that all anxiety is a false positive. Ignoring anxiety will deprive you of an extremely rich source of information and potentially expose you to danger.
Instead of just ignoring your anxiety, you should rationally analyze it and determine whether the “threat” you feel is real or not. If I get a bad feeling about something, I try to articulate to myself in words what is causing that bad feeling. For example, if I feel anxiety about a business deal I try to figure out if there is a real threat, or if I am just afraid of the unknown. Unfortunately, for people with lots of purpose routines that have been polluted negatively, it will take a long time to “clean” your purpose routines that have been wrongly polluted.
Anxiety is not the only negative emotion that colors our thoughts: guilt, shame, depression, jealousy, also hijack our purpose routines and beliefs. These other negative emotions mix with anxiety to create a terrible mixture of false beliefs, falsely tainted purpose routines, and constant negative thoughts and emotions. Cleaning this mess is extremely difficult because our false beliefs and purpose routines layer on top of each other over the course of years, so to “fix” ourselves we must unwind each layer with our conscious mind, reprogram our mind to see it as positive, and then move to the next layer. This process can be very difficult and time-consuming, which is part of the reason you should not bother with damaged women.
As our brain builds maps of the world and purpose routines to navigate those maps, it must deal with the fact that much of the world is simply unknown to us. The unknown contains the two main things which cause anxiety: 1) potentially infinite threats and 2) infinite potential paths. Our brain needs to know which path to take, so it runs the regular anxiety program when faced with the unknown: we freeze and slowly try to gather information so we can figure out which path to follow.
The Bible says that the human desire for knowledge of the universe is a result of anxiety. When Eve was faced with threat for the first time (the snake), she felt anxiety and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and bad (evil is a mistranslation) so she could “become like God.” Eve probably desired to become God because she faced threat for the first time, felt unsafe, and wanted to defeat that threat. She then brought her anxiety to Adam and convinced him to eat the forbidden fruit as well. This was history’s first shit test, which Adam failed. Gaining knowledge of good and bad did not make Adam and Eve gods: instead, they became even more fearful.
Aristotle said that the highest and most noble pleasure for man is the desire for knowledge. But the Bible says that knowledge of good and bad (pleasure and threats) is useless if you do not have the courage to actually confront and defeat those threats. Without that courage, gathering more information will cause you to only become more anxious because now you know about more threats. When Adam and Eve gained knowledge of good and bad, they became afraid of everything. And interestingly, the first “threat” that Adam and Eve recognized was their own sexuality.
I think the Bible is correct. It is true that one of our strongest emotions is the desire for knowledge, but that desire is caused by anxiety. We gather information so we can keep ourselves safe from threat and figure out what to do, but information gathering often just makes us more anxious. Anxiety-induced information gathering is a useful tool for animals exploring a physical environment, but it is less useful for humans trying to navigate the abstract map of their life. If we freeze and try to “gather information” to determine what to do next in our life, we may stay frozen forever because the information we need may never come, and even if it does come, we may not have the courage to actually face the threats on our path. Sometimes in life you need to just go for it and leap into the unknown, and sometimes you need to do so without having adequate information. Many people stricken with anxiety endlessly ruminate and never come to a conclusion because they do not have the information to decide what to do next or because they know the right path but ignore it because they see the threats on the way.
At the same time, the unknown can contain potentially infinite pleasure, so we have a deep and powerful fascination with the unknown and the transcendent. No animal can survive without venturing into the unknown, so we evolved to want to explore the unknown and figure out what is going on in there. We always want to go beyond what we know, make the unknown “known,” and then go further into the unknown. In fact, the journey pleasure we get from venturing into the unknown is the strongest type of journey pleasure possible, because all the pleasure in the “known” world is finite, but the pleasure in the unknown is potentially infinite.
The strongest pleasure a human being can feel is the thrill of venturing into the unknown to create a future transcendent reality. Humans evolved to create things to guarantee ourselves and others pleasure in the future. But once our creations give us an easy path to pleasure, instead of enjoying it, we wish to venture into the unknown again. Humans inherently desire transcendence – the burning desire to go “beyond” whatever we have. This emotion is impetus for the human race’s insatiable desire to explore, innovate, and conquer, but as we will see, this desire is also the death knell for many friendships and romantic relationships.
We must venture into the unknown consciously and voluntarily, so we can create a path through it that reaches the pleasure but keeps us safe. Too much unknown overwhelms and cripples us because we cannot carve paths through it quickly enough to get to our goals. Too much order, we get bored. Humans literally evolved to feel best when exactly on the border of “chaos and order” as Jordan Peterson describes it. Similarly, “flow” occurs when we do something that lies just outside of our ability.
This desire to make order out of chaos is one of the strongest feelings that human beings can have. Humans love to find patterns in randomness, which is why we love music. When we hear a pattern in a song two times, we get a quick jolt of dopamine if we hear it a third time. However, it is also this desire to find patterns that causes people to become addicted to gambling or make stupid investments in the stock market. When the blackjack table or the stock market changes in a way we feel is a pattern, we feel like that pattern will continue, which causes us to bet on it. But casinos and the stock market are not designed to follow a pattern, so betting on the pattern will cause you to lose money. In fact, I strongly suspect that casinos and the stock market are purposely designed to act randomly or in the opposite of the expected pattern, so that sophisticated investors and casino owners can bilk poor saps that feel like they have found a pattern.
Although humans’ strongest desire is to venture into the unknown, most people cannot do so because they are crippled by anxiety. As we will learn later, anxiety is alleviated by the alpha male.
The Dark Side of the Unknown
Although anxiety is always difficult to contend with, anxiety caused by the unknown is particularly crippling because your rational mind cannot help you. Your rational mind is an information processing machine, and can evaluate known threats or obstacles with information it previously gathered. But with no information our rational mind cannot help, which is why our emotions often take over when faced with the unknown. We also have no purpose routines that we can rely on for pleasure when faced with the unknown, so we are at the mercy of our negative emotions.
Most people that have chronic anxiety are generally anxious of the unknown, not specific, identifiable threats. People with anxiety disorders often have too much unknown coming at them from all sides and cannot create paths through it fast enough. Their boss is an unpredictable asshole, their girlfriend is unstable, their friends are shitty, their own behavior creates more problems for them that it solves, and worst of all, they are simply unprepared for all the problems the world throws at them. The more unknown they face, the more they are crippled with paralysis, so the less progress they make, so the more unknown they are faced with. It becomes a vicious cycle.
No situation is ever completely unknown. Most situations we contend with are a mix of known and unknown elements, so our anxiety of the unknown can latch onto real “facts” to justify our paralysis. Anxiety never says “don’t move forward because you fear the unknown and you’re a pussy.” Instead, it says “you should not move forward because of reasons X, Y, and Z,” and those reasons will sound perfectly rational and logical.
It is important to know the difference between fear and anxiety because fear, if harnessed correctly, can be an extremely powerful motivator.
Our subconscious mind will try to seek the clearest and easiest paths to pleasure, which often lead to things like drugs, pornography, and video games. Almost all higher purposes have at least some threat associated with them, and a purpose tinged with even a little threat may cause our subconscious mind to push us to take an easier path. Negative emotions like anxiety are generally stronger than positive emotions like journey pleasure, so we will give up on a positive reward like journey pleasure if there is even a little anxiety associated with it. This is why most people primarily chase lower pleasures rather than higher ones.
One way to force yourself to take the right path is to use fear. Fear is one of our strongest emotions, if not THE strongest emotion. Fear is even stronger than anxiety because fear indicates there is a currently present threat that will kill or destroy you if you do not immediately fight or run, whereas you feel anxiety when there is a potential, but yet unrealized threat. We will gladly run down a path littered with potential threats if there is an actual threat chasing us down that path. In ancient times the Roman army would punish disobedient, lazy, and timid soldiers so harshly that it was famously said that Roman troops were more afraid of their commanders than the opposing armies, which is why the Roman army was so courageous and successful on the battlefield.
Our motivation is lowest when we see a threat blocking our way to the goal. It is highest when we see a clear path to the goal, and our fear is behind us, pushing us towards the goal. Therefore, if you are feeling unmotivated, or feeling motivated to do the wrong thing, you should create fear for yourself, either by focusing your thoughts and emotions on the consequences of not doing the right thing or by creating an abstract fear for yourself, like the fear of God. Without fear, you are prone to chase lower, easier pleasures rather than higher, more difficult pleasures.
Humans place disproportionate weight on pleasures and pains that will occur in the short term, and we wrongly discount pleasures and pains that may occur in the long term. If I have strong pleasure available to me now, but the pain associated with consuming that easy pleasure will not occur until much later, my emotions will incline me towards the easy pleasure now. This is all the more prevalent when the later pain is abstract and difficult to conceptualize. For example, if ignore my training to chase easy pleasure now, I will not see the pain of that decision until I lose the championship game, which may not occur until many months from now. To motivate myself to train hard, I bring that future pain to the present.
I am not saying that one should constantly feel the emotion of fear. The flight or fight response that fear produces is incredibly damaging and stressful on your body, and evolved to only be invoked in emergencies and for a brief period of time. If you have ever been genuinely afraid, like in a fight or a car accident, you know you cannot sustain that emotion for a long period of time. The fear that motivates is a rational understanding the short and long-term consequences of not pursuing the correct purpose, not an emotional response. For example, my industry is very competitive, and I know that if I do not work hard some upstart will take the top spot from me, just as I took the top spot in the past from the previous winners that became complacent. This is the same “fear” that causes me to not text and drive at the same time.
Arrogance and laziness are the result of too much unhealthy anxiety and not enough healthy fear. Arrogance comes from enjoying the pleasure that high status brings, and laziness comes from fear of the unknown. Arrogant lazy people enjoy feeling high status but fear the unknown, so they lie to themselves and others that their current purpose routines are good enough. But the world is constantly changing and the unknown is constantly encroaching, so you will eventually be defeated if you do not venture into it. A humble person doesn’t enjoy the pleasure of high status – he reaches for a higher pleasure – the pleasure of venturing forth into the unknown, knowing he will have to change his purpose routines to defeat whatever may lay therein.
Fear should not be your greatest motivator. Your strongest motivator should be the journey pleasure that comes from pursuing a grand purpose. But everybody is prone to becoming lazy and arrogant at some point, especially after we have accomplished something, so it is beneficial to have the ability to scare yourself to get back on track when necessary. Threat constantly surrounds us, and anxiety makes us reluctant to face that threat, so we sometimes need a stronger fear to force us to fight that threat.
Most people in the modern world are motivated by fear, not by any grand purpose. They may enjoy some aspects of their jobs, but the main thing pushing them to wake up and go to work in the morning is the fear of losing their job, becoming homeless, and being rejected by their tribe, whatever that is. Journey pleasure is a rare and delicate flower that is hard to cultivate, whereas fear is a more solid and consistent motivator, which is why “self-motivated” people are so rare. In earlier times, people feared their father, their priest, their teachers, their society, their king, and their God, and this fear propelled them to pursue higher purposes. Nowadays, people fear dying and being homeless, and whatever their tribe tells them to fear (in LA, people fear being ugly, in SJW circles, people fear being called racist, etc…), so they are content with living a mediocre existence. The modern world makes a devil’s bargain with us: if we become a conformist slave, we will have nothing to fear. But by giving us nothing to fear, the modern world ensures we stay a conformist slave. This comfortable slave, who had no higher purpose, is Nietzsche’s “last man.”
The Alpha Male
The story I have told thus far sounds very grim. From this picture of human psychology, humans are timid little animals that only want pleasure, but are paralyzed by anxiety whenever we see a threat, so we stay in our safe little purpose routines that are absolutely guaranteed will bring us pleasure. The only time we can be motivated to stray out of our comfort zone is by fear. If I have been correct so far, it is not clear why all humans are not curled up in the fetal position crying right now.
The answer is the alpha male.
The alpha male supplies the tribe the courage to venture into the unknown and create new purpose routines. Throughout history, societies have worshipped their ancestors and mythological “heroes of old,” because those men “ventured into the unknown,” either physically or psychologically, and brought back new purpose routines that the tribe could use to get what they want. People are naturally scared of the unknown, but once the alpha male carves a path for us, we can follow that path with confidence that we can succeed, because we have seen others successfully follow it. Very few people, however, have the courage to initially jump into the unknown, which is why humans have traditionally held alphas, innovators, and explorers in very high esteem.
The Dynamics of the Tribe
Why must the alpha male venture into the unknown? Why can’t “regular” people do so?
Evolution, in its infinite wisdom, determined that a tribe was more likely to survive if it confronted challenges together as a unit, with the strongest member of the tribe at the head of the expedition. If every member of the tribe pursued their purposes individually with no regard to what the others were doing, there would be endless conflict and everybody would end up losing. A united tribe is much stronger than individual apes, and a united tribe can also better distribute resources to the most valuable and productive members of the tribe.
To ensure that the betas obey and follow the alpha male, evolution uses a carrot and a stick: the carrot is the fact that the betas can feel journey pleasure vicariously through the alpha male as he explores the unknown. The stick is that the betas feel intense anxiety whenever they consider doing anything that might offend the alpha male. The betas also feel depression after the alpha male kicks their ass and rejects them from the tribe.
The downside to this arrangement is that betas are constrained by anxiety from three sources: 1) known threats, 2) the unknown, and 3) the alpha male. I say “constrained” because the beta will not actually feel any anxiety if he obeys the alpha male, but he becomes awash in anxiety if he disobeys. If the beta obeys, a good alpha male will shield the beta from threats and the unknown. The beta will also never have to choose between equally appealing purposes because the alpha male will always determine his purposes for him. In exchange for this protection and guidance, the beta must become timid, conformist, and operate within a narrow set of purpose routines that have been created and approved by the alpha male. That alpha male need not be a human man: it can be anything that “feels” like an alpha to the beta’s subconscious mind: their father, their boyfriend, the media, God, or society itself.
If the “alpha male” acts arbitrarily and abusively, the betas underneath him will feel all three of these anxieties and become especially anxious, weak, and depressed. An abused beta cannot build positive purpose routines for himself because the alpha is always a threat, thwarting whatever he does and never rewarding him for good behavior. The beta will constantly try to figure out what he needs to do to please the alpha male and contribute to the tribe, but he will never figure it out because the alpha acts arbitrarily. Depression is a form of learned helplessness: just as you can create a purpose routine in a rat that pressing a button will lead to food, you can induce depression in a rat by shocking it at random intervals regardless of whether it presses the button. Once you cannot see the causal link between your actions and the accomplishment of your goals, depression is sure to follow. And worst of all, because the abused beta never feels journey pleasure, he becomes addicted to destination pleasure, and he fears beginning any long-term project because he does not believe there will be any payoff.
Because nothing he does seems to work at pulling him up from the bottom of the dominance hierarchy, the abused beta feels depressed and worthless because he does not feel like he is contributing to the tribe. He also becomes hyper-sensitive because he feels unable to defeat any challenges, so every challenge, real or imagined, appears to him like it could be the end. He may also spiral into “I’m a victim” thinking or conspiracy theories because he feels constantly oppressed and unable to do anything about it. Depression is a pain response, so if you feel no journey pleasure or the pleasure of having high status, you will be in constant agony. Freud also believed that humans a “death instinct” – if our desire to conquer and create the world could not be expressed outwardly (either through ourselves or vicariously through the alpha male), it would be redirected inwardly, and cause us to want to kill or destroy ourselves.
On the other hand, people who grow up around good alphas become confident. The good alpha creates purpose routines betas can use to successfully accomplish goals, and the alpha awards them a higher status in the tribe for their successes. They are also more emotionally stable because they feel journey pleasure, whereas damaged betas are like anxious squirrels that jump at pleasure at every chance they get, because they do not know when it could come next. But even well-adjusted betas have an inherent fear of the alpha and the unknown, which limits their possibilities.
I contrast damaged betas and well-adjusted betas because there are so many damaged betas in modern society. Many families are abusive, but even people who come from good families are abused and made to feel inferior by other “alphas” in society: teachers, bullies, the media, society, God, etc… In fact, every major source of authority in the world has completely failed its followers in at least one huge way in the past 50 years. The media happily encourages the “evil alpha” narrative because a depressed, helpless population is easier to control than a confident one. Similarly, many women are completely damaged because they have been abused in some way, either sexually or mentally, by the men in her life. These women are often incapable of having a healthy relationship or following an alpha male on a long journey, because every man she has ever met has proven himself unreliable or not worth following. The “follow a man” purpose routine in her mind has been tainted with “not worth it” or “too much pain for the expected benefit.”
Social anxiety is often caused by growing up around arbitrary and abusive alphas. People with social anxiety are trained to subconsciously see themselves as beta in every social situation, and see higher status individuals as a potential threat and source of “unknown.” Their subconscious mind associates social situations with “threat” and just being in a situation with strangers (who they automatically subconsciously view as being higher status than them) will flood them with negative emotion. People with social anxiety subconsciously think they need to “please” the other people in the interaction or else they will be punished, but they have no idea how to do so (especially if the others are strangers), so they feel anxiety.
Masculinity and Testosterone
What enables the alpha male to venture into the unknown and defeat threats when others cannot? Clearly, the alpha male is physically stronger and has more resources than betas, but the alpha male must have an emotional advantage as well so that he can overcome the anxiety that cripples others. This emotional advantage is caused by what I call “masculine energy” or testosterone.
Testosterone is a hormone that is linked to aggression and competitiveness. Womens’ bodies make testosterone, but mens’ bodies make about 10 times as much. Most physical features in men associated with masculinity, such as beards, big muscles, and male sexual organs are caused by testosterone. Just as journey pleasure is the opposite of anxiety, testosterone is the opposite of cortisol. The more testosterone in your body, the less cortisol, and vice-versa.
Testosterone is what causes men to confront, challenge, and try to conquer other men and nature itself. It is a wild, reckless hormone that is linked to taking unsafe risks and criminal behavior. Most prisoners are men because men have higher testosterone. Testosterone is also why boys are falling behind in school and society in general: because boys are more likely to confront authority figures they view as a “threat” and follow their own path, they will be punished by a society and a system that does not take into account their proclivities. If testosterone is not tutored and channeled into productive uses, it can be very dangerous, both for the individual and society. A man’s testosterone decreases as he ages, which is why younger men are more reckless and violent.
Evolution understood the danger of testosterone to the unity of the tribe, which is why betas have lower testosterone. Studies on human males have shown that before a competitive contest, both men show higher cortisol levels, presumably because they foresee a threat. Immediately after the contest, however, the loser shows lower testosterone, but the winner’s testosterone does not change. Lower testosterone has been correlated with depression and even suicide. Therefore, by decreasing testosterone, increasing anxiety, and increasing depression, evolution ensures that betas stay in their place and do not continue to cause problems for the alpha.
Despite the dangers of testosterone, somebody needs the courage to defend the tribe from enemies leap into the unknown and find new enemies to slay. Testosterone is what propels men into the unknown when there is no clearly visible path to pleasure and only potential threat. Testosterone is necessary because our rational mind and our anxiety circuits fail in the face of the unknown, so we need to dive into the unknown with wild abandon.
Of course, when taking any risk or jumping into any situation you must use your rational mind as much as possible, but your rational mind can only work with information. When you cannot get the required information, you sometimes just need to fucking go for it. Throughout history, men have done incredibly brave and daring things, often ending in death, but these men built the world we have now. If Christopher Columbus didn’t have the balls to try to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the United States of America would not exist. Men who built and tested the early airplanes knew they might die, but it is because of those men that you can fly anywhere in the world within hours today.
It is amusing to say “pussy runs the world” but the truth is that testosterone runs the world. Without testosterone, everybody would be afraid to leave their house. Pussy is cheap and essentially valueless because it is destination pleasure and every woman has one, but a man that can properly direct his testosterone is an extremely rare and valuable commodity. Alpha males provide the most valuable thing in the world: the courage to venture into the unknown and pursue a grand purpose without anxiety.
Confidence and Certainty
The word confidence derives from the Latin con + fidens, which means “with faith.” Confidence essentially means the faith that you will succeed at whatever you are trying to do. We are all confident with respect to purpose routines we know will work because we know there are no insurmountable threats on the way. For example, we are all confident when we brush our teeth, tie our shoes, or play a video game we have beat a hundred times. But our confidence fails when we face the unknown or with a threat that we are not sure we can defeat. We can try to “believe” with our rational mind that we can defeat any threat that we face, but as we have discussed, our anxiety is stronger than our rational mind and often overwhelms it. Confidence therefore, must be an emotion as well as a rational belief.
What is this emotion? Testosterone. Confidence is testosterone. Confidence is the blind faith and irrational emotion that we can jump into the unknown and defeat whatever threats may lay therein. Confidence is what sets the alpha male apart from the betas, and it is the thing that woman seek in men.
Just as anxiety can be extremely harmful if not guided by our rational mind, confidence untutored by rationality can also be dangerous. Having testosterone is like having a gun in your back pocket. Some men lose their gun, some men forget they have a gun, some men are afraid to ever use their gun, and some men fire their gun at the wrong people and things and get fucked up because of it. But the man who can control his gun and fire it at the right things is deadly.
Your rational mind can use your confidence/testosterone when you are faced with anxiety and need a boost, but it must be strictly controlled. Of course, I just said that there will be situations where your rational mind will simply not have the information to make the right decision, but you must use your rational mind to process every single last bit of information you can gather, so the scope of your risk is as narrow as possible. A lot of “alpha” guys take insanely stupid risks that even a little bit of rational thought would have prevented. And just having testosterone will not make you attractive to women – lots of men have testosterone – it is the ability to control and use your testosterone skillfully that women are attracted to. Later in this article I will discuss how to use your rational mind to control your testosterone and anxiety.
Just as betas rely on the alpha male for their purpose routines, they also rely on betas for their confidence. Betas are crippled by the unknown and the possibility of threats, so the alpha must reassure them that the purpose routines that the alpha has created will be safe for the betas to traverse. If the “alpha” is weak, then the betas will be weak because they will have no confidence. Many betas are “confident” so long as they are on a purpose routine the alpha created for them, but they melt when faced with a completely new and unknown situation that their training has not prepared them for. There are many beta males and women that are very successful lawyers, intellectuals, and even CEOs. But the they lack the faith to leap into the unknown. There are many competent managers and executives that could easily quit their jobs and start their own companies and make tons more money, but they don’t solely because of anxiety. Many people are also great at their job but break down and become a sniveling mess when they are faced with anything genuinely unexpected or outside of their instructions.
I explained earlier that anxiety helps us decide between conflicting goals that both look appealing. Confidence, therefore, requires certainty of purpose: we need to know that we are doing the “right” thing and that there is no alternative path that is better for us to pursue. A non-confident man looks and acts timid, hesitant, noncommittal, and awkward because subconsciously he feels like he may be pursuing the wrong purpose, and there may be a better purpose he should be pursuing.
A confident man is completely congruent and focused, with no inner contradictions or disputes between his emotions. Because he knows he is on the path to the right purpose, his thoughts, emotions, and actions are all focused on that purpose, and is not worried, consciously or subconsciously, that he might be doing the wrong thing. Imagine I told you that there was a suitcase in the next room with a million dollars in it, there are no obstacles between you and the suitcase, and all you needed to do was grab it and it would be yours. Imagine also for the sake of this hypothetical that I was telling the truth and you genuinely believed me. With this knowledge, you would immediately leap to your feet and go grab the suitcase. You would not feel any anxiety, worry, or timidity. You would not think about it, ask anybody, care what anybody thought, or hesitate. You would leap to the other room with boundless enthusiasm and focus, with all of your thoughts and emotions focused on getting the money. You would be confident and certain because you know you are doing the right thing, there are no obstacles on the way, and there is no better thing you can be doing.
That feeling is confidence, and the goal is to translate that confidence to other parts of your life.
How to Determine Your Purposes
You must conceptualize your desires, purposes, and emotions as a pyramid, with “lower” purposes supporting higher ones. At the bottom of the pyramid are your lowest purposes: eating, shitting, having sex, staying warm, etc… Those purposes must be satiated so you can pursue your higher purposes: lifting, having a successful career, maintaining good relationships, etc… At the top of the pyramid your highest purpose, the purpose which all lower purposes support, is your desire to venture into the unknown, defeat the threats that lay therein, and create a transcendent future reality that is infinitely better than your current reality. I called this highest purpose the “Ultimate Transcendent Purpose.”
The Ultimate Transcendent Purpose is a transcendent ideal and by definition never achievable because no matter what you achieve, there is more to do. The Ultimate Transcendent Purpose contains within it anything else a human being could ever want or need. It is simultaneously the ultimate adventure and the ultimate destination. Because it is transcendent, it cannot be imagined by any current human mind.
Why should our top purpose be a transcendent, impossible, abstract ideal? Why should we not place as our highest purpose a concrete thing, like our career, our family, self-improvement, etc…?
First, there is nothing wrong with pursuing mundane purposes. In fact, it is necessary. But your ultimate, highest purpose which your mundane purposes support must be transcendent and lay beyond the unknown. Humans simply did not evolve to get excited by mundane purposes. For many of you, pursuing the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose may not even change your day to day activity – the only difference will be that your psychological outlook on your life will change. You will still need to go to work, pay your bills, eat well, go to the gym, and have relationships – but none of these goals become a tool to ascend to something higher, not a false idol to worship. The Ultimate Transcendent Purpose is superior to a mundane purpose for the following reasons:
First, because the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose is the most valuable and pleasurable destination and because it requires venturing into the unkonwn, you will feel the strongest possible journey pleasure during its pursuit. And because the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose is not achievable, this journey pleasure will never end.
Second, if you pursue the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose you will always feel confident and certain of your purpose because you know you are pursuing the best possible purpose. You will never feel that nagging anxiety that you should perhaps be doing something else. You may run into obstacles or make mistakes in choosing your lower purposes, but because your highest purpose is the correct one, you will be able to quickly change your lower purposes without feeling like you have failed in your life’s mission and falling into a pit of depression and anxiety.
If your highest pursue is mundane and concrete two things may happen that will end your journey pleasure: 1) you will achieve your goal, or 2) your goal may become impossible to achieve. Both of these events will leave you anxious, depressed, lost, and at the mercy of your lower emotions, because your journey pleasure is no longer there to stabilize you and provide you a path to pleasure. You need constant journey pleasure in your life, and you cannot make your journey pleasure contingent on achieving this or that specific goal.
If you make your highest purpose anything lower than the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose, you will miss out on the delicate balance of purposes that makes human life worth living. If you make your career your ultimate purpose, you may ignore your children, if you make making your children happy your highest purpose, you may end up enabling their bad behavior, if you make your relationship your highest purpose, you may end up ignoring yourself, etc… Furthermore, you are making yourself a slave to a particular thing that can disappear at any time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with pursuing a career, a relationship, or children, but if you make that thing your highest purpose you make it impossible to switch gears if you are in the wrong career, the wrong relationship, or your children are bad.
I know a guy who dreamt of winning the World Series since he was 8 years old. He eventually become a Major League Baseball player and won the World Series in the 90s. It’s obviously an amazing achievement, but his life fell apart after he won the World Series because he had nothing else to motivate him. After he retired from baseball, he became an alcoholic and spent his time hanging out at nightclubs trying to fuck women based on his semi-celebrity status. He jumped from shitty job to shitty job, all the while being miserable because he had no purpose in his life anymore.
By fixating on the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose, you can easily switch lower purposes without falling into existential despair. The biggest failures in life are people that get overly emotionally invested in an unhealthy relationship, the wrong career, the wrong ideas, the wrong hobbies, the wrong friends, or the wrong mental states. Because they rely on those purposes for their pleasure, they cannot let them go when it would be rationally wise to do so. In my life, I have observed that the most successful people are the ones who can quickly and flexibly change course when situations change.
You will be able to ignore distractions from your lower purposes because your higher purpose will be so much more pleasurable. Furthermore, because everything we do is somehow contributing to the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose, we can at least hypothetically feel this journey pleasure at every moment of the day. All of our actions will take a more meaningful significance because not only will they contribute to a higher purpose, they will contribute to the highest purpose.
Pursuing the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose also lowers your anxiety because there are infinite paths to the top. If one path is closed off to you (for example, you get injured and cannot play professional sports), you can switch paths. But if the ultimate purpose in your life was to play professional sports, and you get injured, you have no choice but to fall into a pit of depression and anxiety until you find a new purpose to motivate you.
Controlling your emotions
A person who feels journey pleasure will find it easier to control their emotions and think rationally because they will have less anxiety and because they will not be tempted by destination pleasure as much. Journey pleasure is stronger than destination pleasure, lasts over a longer period of time, and does not require external “things” so feeling journey pleasure will free you from the tyranny of destination pleasure. Destination pleasure only lasts for the brief moment while you consume the pleasurable thing and then disappears when the pleasurable thing disappears. You feel destination pleasure while you eat the cake, have sex, or hug you friend, but that pleasure is temporary and requires the pleasurable object. Journey pleasure, on the other hand, is primarily mental lasts for as long as you are working towards your goal, so you can feel it anytime and anywhere. If you are building your business, you can feel journey pleasure as you work, as you eat lunch, and even as you have a few beers with your friends to wind down, because all of those activities are taking you towards your goal.
Journey pleasure is required for emotional stability and rationality. Humans are pleasure-seeking creatures, and we cannot think rationality if we are chasing one brief pleasure after another. But feeling journey pleasure satiates our desire for pleasure, and once we have a consistent source of journey pleasure we can make rational, long-term plans. Even people that enjoy journey pleasure need to feed their lower desires occasionally, but because their higher pleasures are satiated all of their thoughts and emotions are not directed towards satisfying their lower pleasure.
To control your emotions, your lower desires must be satiated, and to feel satiated you must put each desire in its correct place in your hierarchy of emotions. Your desires never “turn off” so you cannot satiate them by feeding them. In fact, feeding them often makes them hungrier. Our desires evolved to be constant and insatiable to make up for anticipated scarcity. If a caveman came upon an opportunity to eat or have sex, he would eat and fuck as much he could because it did not know when the next opportunity would come. We can, however, reduce this feeling of scarcity by putting our desires into a schedule and routine. If you offer me food or pussy right now, but I know for a fact that I am getting some food or pussy later, it will be easy for me to resist. Otherwise, it will be hard.
Pursuing the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose will cause you to feel satiated because it includes within it all of your desires. If you make a lesser purpose your primary purpose, your other desires will revolt and demand attention. Imagine a businessman who has made his career his highest purpose and the night before an important meeting, a beautiful woman who is normally out of league begs him to go out and drink with her. The businessman’s conscious mind will say “I cannot go out, I must go to the meeting,” but his subconscious mind will say “I strongly desire this woman, and I may not be able to get her by pursuing my primary purpose, so I should probably take this opportunity because I may not get another one.” A man pursuing the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose, however, would turn the woman down because he would faith that by pursuing his highest purpose, he would satiate his lower purposes as well. In other words, by incorporating his lower purposes into his higher purpose, he can control his lower purposes. He can also feel certain of his higher purposes.
Hypothetically, the alpha male is the most “rational” member of the tribe because he feels the most journey pleasure and the least negative emotion. The oversimplified saying that “men are rational and women are emotional” is wrong because there are plenty of beta males that are extremely emotional. A woman who has been taught a series of reliable purpose routines by a powerful alpha male can oftentimes act more rationally than a beta male that has few useful purpose routines and is riddled with anxiety and depression. Generally speaking, it is “easier” for men to be “rational” because they can generate journey pleasure easier, but many men, especially in the modern world, waste this natural advantage. You need more than an XY chromosome to act think and act rationally – you need purpose routines that will bring you journey pleasure to stabilize your lower emotions.
Venturing into the unknown
The most important aspect of pursuing any purpose is venturing into the unknown. Human beings simply did not evolve to pursue mundane purposes or stay within a predefined comfort zone. The middle class dream of “a house, a wife, and 2.5 kids” as the pinnacle of happiness is a lie that has left many people with regret, longing, existential anxiety, and mid-life crises.
Earlier, I said that you should conceptualize your purposes as a pyramid, with your lower purposes supporting your higher purposes, and the highest purpose of all being the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose. But you should also conceptualize each purpose as a combination of feeding some desire and venturing into the unknown. For example, if you lift weights, you should not just do the same workouts for the rest of your life. You should constantly learning new techniques, new workouts, and completely new approaches. You should also experiment with untested techniques and perhaps discover something nobody had ever known before. Similarly, if you cook, even if it is just a hobby, you should be constantly learning new recipes and new cooking techniques. Therefore, it is more accurate to conceptualize your pyramid of purposes as a pyramid of pyramids, with each smaller pyramid pointing towards the unknown in some way.
Of course, you cannot spend hours “venturing into the unknown” with respect to every single thing you do. You have limited time and energy, and there are certain fields and tasks that you are more well-suited to innovate in than others. But you must constantly remain open-minded and seek novelty wherever possible. Furthermore, before you can “venture into the unknown” you must master the known territory. If you showed up to jiu-jitsu class the first day and started making up moves you would get your ass kicked. There is a reason the alpha ventures into the unknown and not the beta. But it is this very possibility of venturing into the unknown that should motivate you to master whatever field you are in. If the reward for mastering a field is that you just know stuff a bunch of other people already knew, you will not want to do it.
An Epidemic of Purposelessness
Men and women in modern, industrialized countries are currently suffering from an epidemic of purposelessness, which in turn leads to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, mental illness, bizarre behaviors and interests, political extremism, and addictions to cheap pleasures. I believe this epidemic of purposelessness is caused by several factors.
First, people in the modern world are paralyzed by existential anxiety because we have so many different opportunities open to us and no clear guidance as to which to pick. As I explained earlier anxiety occurs when our brain is trying to choose between equally appealing goals. Because the modern world offers so much opportunity, but no guidance as to what a person should actually do, many people are stuck in “freeze and gather information” mode and spend all day on the internet mentally masturbating. In earlier times, people’s purposes were narrowly defined by society or thrust upon them by their caste/family/situation. Most people’s primary purpose was simply surviving. But in the modern world, we have complete freedom and infinite information, and no way of sifting through that information to determine what we should actually do. I think one reason mental illness most often manifests itself in a person’s mid-20s is because it is the first time in most people’s lives that they have no clear path to follow and nobody forcing them to do anything.
Even when people do select a purpose, they do so with hesitation and timidity because they are afraid that there might be a better purpose they could be pursuing. The pernicious lie of “do what makes you happy” causes people to flit from job to job, hobby to hobby, relationship to relationship, and even identity to identity, often abandoning any pursuit once they run into even the slightest amount of adversity. The media and entertainment industry worsen this problem by presenting to people an infinite array of lifestyles, ideologies, and alternative ways of thinking, causing people to constantly feel unsure of their purposes, beliefs, and even their own thoughts and feelings. As de Tocqueville observed, as freedom increases in liberal societies, people actually become more conformist because they have no idea what they should do or be, so they are easily manipulated into following the crowd.
Second, the great purposes that motivated people in the past are disappearing. Whatever faults religion and ideology have, they have the salutary effect of giving people purpose and certainty by closing off all avenues of doubt. But today most people have become disillusioned with religious, political, and nationalist movements, presumably because they have learned that those movements were, or have become, corrupt. People nevertheless have an innate desire for a grand purpose and a grand challenge, which is why they sometimes join extremist movements that claim society is about to imminently collapse (either because of immigrants, climate change, technology, conspiracies, etc…). This is why otherwise comfortable, well-educated, and middle-class people to join ISIS or become members of the alt right or the far left. Nevertheless, however, intelligent people don’t generally fall into that trap.
Arbitrary Alphas and Modern Society
Earlier I discussed how an alpha male that acts arbitrarily and unfairly can destroy the betas underneath him by riddling them with anxiety and depression. Part of the reason more and more people are becoming beta and awash with depression, anxiety, and hopelessness is because the “alphas” in our society have acted, and continue to act, arbitrarily or cruelly.
The modern entertainment-media-academic (EMA) complex has caused people to lose faith in all of the older “alphas” that they historically obeyed and relied on - the father, the mother, the church, and traditional culture. The EMA complex accomplished this feat by conducting a brilliant and relentless propaganda campaign that argued that these traditional alphas were corrupt and evil. Of course, it is true that traditional culture and religion were sometimes corrupt and evil, but the EMA complex replaced these alphas with something much worse - itself. In today’s modern society, the EMA complex performs all the functions of the “alpha male” in that it determines the purposes for the betas, rewards them for pursuing those purposes, and punishes them for deviating for those purposes. The state, corporations, and the financial system are simply instrumentalities the EMA complex uses to accomplish its purposes.
But the EMA complex is not a good alpha – it acts arbitrarily and cruelly so that the betas stay depressed, anxious, confused, and helpless. Instead of teaching betas good purpose routines, the EMA complex instead teaches that destination pleasure is the pinnacle of a happy life. Many men in modern society think the point of life is to have a nice house, a nice car, and a hot wife (or fucking tons of bitches, bro). On the flipside, others completely opt out of a meaningful career to “follow their happiness,” which often means drugs, silly political activism, and shitty jobs. These hippies spend all day preaching “love,” “peace,” and “becoming one with nature,” but because they are not actually accomplishing anything with their lives, they are often just as addicted to destination pleasure as the professional guy whose only joy is buying expensive shit and eating at fancy restaurants.
Furthermore, both the right and left wings of the EMA complex subtly and implicitly sell a victim narrative and strongly imply that people will never be able to achieve any impressive purpose. The implicit message is “There is an evil cabal of nationalists/Jews/white supremacists/left wingers/right wingers/globalists/communists/capitalists that run the world, and you can do nothing about it because you are weak/oppressed/hated/unfairly treated, so just buy this stuff, get drunk, and vote for this candidate.” Mind you, they do not come out and openly say anything this obviously bleak – the EMA complex often sounds very hopeful in its explicit statements – but their goal is to subconsciously instill a feeling of hopelessness, and it often works.
As more and more individuals in society have learned to see themselves as beta, and act accordingly, a smaller and smaller group of alpha males has taken most of the power and money in society, oftentimes working in conjunction with the EMA complex to maintain and expand their power. Small businesses are being replaced with giant corporations that are controlled by these mega-alphas. Most men are simply not prepared to compete with these mega-alphas because our education system sucks, the EMA complex feeds men lies, and men simply never learn the discipline they need to compete at the highest levels. Because betas feel unable to pursue worthwhile goals, they focus on cheap pleasures and stupid goals.
Most people feel no journey pleasure at their jobs because their jobs are designed to be routine, simplistic, and provide no outlet for creativity or decision-making (those things are reserved for the alpha males). Furthermore, most people work for middle managers who act as arbitrary alphas (and are often just as afraid, unprepared, and miserable as they are), so people are in a constant state of anxiety that they will get fired, making it impossible for them for them feel journey pleasure. Because most peoples’ primary concern is keeping their head above water, their primary motivation is fear of the alpha male rather than the joy of actually accomplishing anything. Most people have no great ambition for their career or life, they just want to have a job and “get by,” without going broke and becoming homeless. The “alphas” in every industry enjoy all the journey pleasure, while everybody else is simply trying to not get destroyed by the alphas. It just takes one intelligent, hard working, disciplined, badass motherfucker in an industry to make everybody else’s life in that industry a living hell. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos, were each individually responsible for making thousands of their employees’ lives miserable (those guys were famous for being assholes), and those employees are the lucky ones who can say they worked at Apple or Amazon!
So what should one do? While your ultimate goal, the Ultimate Transcendent Purpose, should constantly lurk in the background, you need a practical plan of action for today, tomorrow, and next year.
The first thing you need to do is start creating sources of journey pleasure for yourself. You can start with small, short-term tasks that you can easily achieve to obtain “wins.” When I was at my lowest, I started with a small goal: to brush my teeth every day. That small “win” gave me the small dopamine boost that motivated me to tackle bigger and bigger challenges. To get these consistent “wins” you need a predictable, structured routine with opportunities for these repeated wins.
Instead of seeing your job as a miserable chore, you should begin to view your job, and everything else you do, as just a stepping stone in your journey to something greater. Your work today may suck, but you are learning skills, saving some money, making connections, and figuring out your next move. If you have a shitty boss, figure out what makes them tick (it is usually narcissism and a desire to pass off their work to somebody else), and then suck up to them so that they like you.
If you absolutely cannot feel journey pleasure or “venture into the unknown” at your job, you should engage in activities outside of work that bring you those things. Teach yourself a valuable skill that can help you with your career, begin a long-term fitness program, and/or begin some creative endeavor where you can work at your own pace without some alpha looking over your shoulder and striking you with anxiety. If you can do all three of these things, all the better. My job often requires me to undertake long-term projects that do not pay off for months or even years, so writing the Woujo blog gives me small “wins” that keep me gassed up with journey pleasure.
The key to eliminating anxiety is planning.
To reduce your anxiety, you must reduce the threats in your life, eliminate conflicts between your goals, reduce the amount of uncertainty and “unknown” in your life, and attack the remaining unknown voluntarily, rationally, consciously, and with a plan. To deal with the unknown, you must gather information, calculate a series of paths based on that information, and then “test” those paths to see if they are “correct.” Although this process of venturing into the unknown is the highest thing a man can do, you will become overwhelmed with anxiety if you are bombarded with too much unknown in your life. Your conscious mind has limited bandwidth, so it can only transform a certain amount of “chaos” into “order” at one particular time.
For example, if things are going well in your life but you get fired from your job, you will feel a little anxiety but you will probably be able to formulate a plan to get a new job and successfully carry out that plan relatively quickly. But if you simultaneously get dumped by your girlfriend, get fired from your job, and feel a bunch of other uncertainty in your life, you may become paralyzed by anxiety and unable to do anything.
Planning helps eliminate anxiety because your brain only feels anxiety when you actually start moving towards your goal. But if you take some time to calculate a plan to get to your goal before you start moving, your mind can think clearly and unclouded by anxiety. In this clear, rational state of mind you can rationally analyze potential threats in advance instead of suddenly finding yourself faced with those threats in the middle of your journey. By planning you can also calculate routes that will avoid known threats, and plan your journey with the anticipated threats in mind, so you will feel less anxiety when you actually start to traverse this path. Of course, there is always a possibility that random threats will pop up out of nowhere and surprise you, but the more certain you can feel about your paths, the less anxiety you will feel, and individual threats will not be as crippling.
This planning cycle sounds so simple and obvious as to not be worth discussing, but it is actually very difficult to implement. You must reduce uncertainty in your life as much as possible, so that you can use the precious, limited power of your conscious mind to tackle challenges that actually matter. You should create long-term plans for your life and short-term plans to support those long-term plans. On a micro level, you need to create a predictable routine for your daily life. You also need to eliminate unnecessary sources of uncertainty and negativity in your life, like shitty friends, bad habits, a dirty house, addictions, and internet worm-holes, because your brain views these sources of negativity and uncertainty as threats, and if you are not voluntarily and consciously confronting these threats, they will induce anxiety in you.
Because most people are playing whack-a-mole with problems and threats in their life, they rarely get the opportunity to sit and rationally think about what they are doing. Ideally, you will set some time aside to rationally analyze every single thing you do. What are you eating every day? What small changes could you make that would make you healthier? How are you wasting your time on the internet? Why are you working at your job? What better opportunities may exist for you?
We also feel anxiety when we are unsure that we are on the right path. This is one situation where anxiety can help you – if something is giving you a nagging feeling of anxiety, you should reflect on it because your anxiety may be correct. Anxiety can cripple you, but it is also can be very helpful, because your subconscious mind can process tons of information that your conscious mind may have forgotten. Sometimes you will feel a powerful compulsion pulling you to do something, but anxiety will be that small voice in the back of your head telling you to do something else. Sometimes you need to listen to your anxiety, but as I have made clear, you must analyze your anxiety rationally. When people ask me what they should do with their life, I tell them to listen to their anxiety because it may be telling them something. They may be at a job that is not adequately utilizing their talents, or a place with a threat that may one day destroy them, or they may be trying to pursue two incompatible goals at the same time.
The best thing most people can do to reduce anxiety is to eliminate conflicts between their goals. Because of the infinite possibilities and desirable things in the modern world, many people are pulled in a thousand different directions and find themselves pursuing purposes that conflict with each other, creating anxiety. Your purposes should support and help each other, not fight each other. Again, harmonizing your goals is much easier said than done, because you will may to sacrifice things you really enjoy doing or value. You may also need to stop following your “dream,” at least for now, for the greater good of your life.
The biggest conflicts are caused by our addictions and other desires that we cannot control. Most people “know” the right path for them, but they cannot resist partying on weekends, eating shitty food, getting into bad relationships, etc… Controlling your vices is a difficult task that deserves its own article, but I will focus here on your hierarchy of purposes. The only thing that can defeat an emotion is a stronger emotion, so the only way you can control your vices is you have a stronger pleasure available to you. This stronger pleasure is journey pleasure.
To feel journey pleasure and to eliminate anxiety you must feel like you can defeat the threats that lie in your path. Acting and feeling like an alpha male helps to a degree, but all humans are subject to the viscitudes of the universe and powers that are stronger than us, so to genuinely feel like you can overcome any challenge, defeat any threat, and succeed when venturing into the unknown you must have the correct beliefs about the universe. These beliefs must also be instantiated in your emotions somehow. You can do this with faith, prayer, psychedelic drugs, or philosophical investigation. You can also look up to great people who came before you for inspiration, but beware: if you are going somewhere that nobody has gone before, there may be nobody to look up to.
Maintaining the correct beliefs about your ability to conquer the universe is much easier said than done because your subconscious mind is designed to think negatively to protect you from threats. You can read all the inspirational and motivational books in the world, but meanwhile your mind will subconsciously be tagging various purpose routines as negative. The negative aspect of our subconscious mind also secretly influences our conscious mind, planting negative beliefs in our minds that appear “rational” to us. Many of you have years of negative beliefs that have accumulated in your mind, and to feel motivated again you must bring each of these beliefs to light and “clean” them in the light of positive emotions and beliefs.
I do not have the space here to describe every belief you need to replace, but here are two important ones: First, you must believe that the world is governed by rational rules, that you can understand these rational rules, and you can use these rational rules to get what you want. Your subconscious mind will constantly try to make you feel like some things are just impossible, and that feeling will often appear to be supported by the facts. But success in every field basically requires consciously taking certain steps, and to learn what those steps are, you must rationally analyze the universe and learn what the relevant rules regarding those steps are. Second, you must not feel oppressed by any alpha male. Most peoples’ depression and anxiety stems from a fear of the tribe’s alpha male, and those feelings persist even when there is no actual alpha male. Even if you are being oppressed by your boss, your father, or the President of the United States, you cannot let yourself FEEL like a beta. You should remain humble, and you should sometimes act like a beta when it is necessary (for example, at work), but you should realize that the primary thing that cripples most people is the fear of the alpha male, even if they do not realize it.
By putting journey pleasure at the top of our hierarchy of purposes, I do not mean to say that life is merely an animalistic search for pleasure. Life will offer suffering and long stretches where a person will not feel any journey pleasure, and those periods have advantages as well: they build character, they provide good things for other people, and they prevent worse harms from happening. But in the final analysis, a person must have some motivation to keep them going, and that motivation must ultimately point to something desirable. Some people would call journey pleasure “hope” or “meaning” rather than “pleasure” because people normally associate the word “pleasure” with lower pleasures like eating or sex. I prefer to use the word pleasure to emphasize the fact this feeling is tired with our biological motivational systems.
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|Title||The Purpose Series (Part 1 of 3) - Purpose, Anxiety, Fear, the Unknown, and the Purposeless Epidemic in Modern Society|
|Date||December 6, 2019 12:02 AM UTC (1 year ago)|
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