Defining Success: I Think You’ll Agree


First off, I’d like to thank those of you who have been following by book reading and have been consuming knowledge alongside me. I’m thankful for every single one of you! For those of you who aren’t, check out previous favorites here, or email me at to find out what I’m reading, what I suggest, or to shoot ideas around about one of the books (also open to suggestions!).

That being said, I’m currently reading “Civilization & Its Discontents,” by Sigmund Freud, and I kept coming back to this quote: “Success is never certain; it depends on the co-operation of many factors, perhaps on none more than the capacity of the mental constitution to adapt itself to the outer world and then utilize this last for obtaining pleasure.”

Freud prefaces this by mentioning that there are a few different types of people: those who will choose emotional relationships over anything else, those who are more “self-sufficient, [who] will seek his essential satisfactions in the inner workings of his own soul,” and the type who “will never abandon the external world in which he can assay his power.” Maybe you need to read this in order to fully understand, as it is deeply philosophical, but I’m going to do my best.

I wanted to talk about the second and third types, because doing so will settle an argument I’ve been having with myself. The second type, which searches for inward happiness, is no better or worse at perceiving reality. They simply have their individual perceptions, which may be delusions, but it doesn’t matter because that is their reality. So, being content with what you have and searching for happiness inside of yourself is great…but all it really means is that you are coping with the outside world.

This second person who never “abandons  the external world” does the same thing…he or she perceives reality, but chooses to believe that their power lies in staying focused in that external world and not retreating. For this person, it is just as inward as searching for inward peace and happiness, but the manifestation of that searching is external rather than internal.

And so, after all of this philosophical rambling, success is the ability to perceive and respond to the world outside of yourself. Doesn’t seem like much of a realization, but it is! I’ve been saying all along that the #1 key to success is the ability to change things based on your perception; anything negative can be spun around and made beneficial, and the people who learn to do that are the most successful. And Freud’s work has served as a means of explaining that in terms of the difference between inward and outward happiness and success.

After reading this passage…probably about a hundred times, I’ve realized that maybe there are simply differences between people that we don’t realize normally. I’ve been having debates with people over whether happiness and success can only be found in complacency (being happy with what you have and not needing more) or progression (still could be happy with what you have, but constantly push yourself to get better and to become a better person).

For those of you who read through this post, thank you, haha. I know it must have been rough. If this doesn’t make sense, please let me know! I feel like this is an important realization for me, so I’m sure it would be for you as well.

the american dream fallacy

This is a great story that pulls apart the idea of the American Dream and really makes you think about what success and happiness might mean to you. Definitely makes you wonder about what you’re working toward and why.

Sensible Building

“An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard…

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Money, Time, and Energy

Time and Money

I read an article by Chuck Blakeman about the time, money, and energy conundrum. Essentially he says (I’m not entirely sure this was his original idea, but I haven’t seen a source elsewhere) that when you’re young, you have time and energy, but no money. So you use that time and energy to accumulate money. Then when you’re older, you have time and money, but you lack the energy to enjoy the money you’ve accumulated.

Jacob from The Bulb Culture mentioned in a post yesterday that people are like lions in a cage, the cage being society, or at least society’s rules and preconceptions. They stay in that cage because it’s comfortable and safe. That’s fine for some people. Probably the majority of people. But for those who don’t want that…you can have all three: time, money, and energy.

What this takes is the willingness to break out of that cage, to think about the things around you in a way that is orthogonal to the normal way of thinking, to consume knowledge and learn about other people’s experience, and then to apply those new ways of thinking and the knowledge you’ve acquired.

So who are you? Are you one of those people who accepts the idea that you need to use up all of your energy earning money that you won’t be able to enjoy fully? Or do you understand that there’s a status quo acting in your life, and that you are the only one who can decide to go against that and make a change?

The way I see it, there are three kinds of people in the world:

1) People who don’t realize they want improvement (ignorance)

2) People who want a change and say they’ll make one but never do (complacency)

3) People who understand they are the only ones responsible for their lives, and DO make that change (success)

It does raise an interesting question though…that first category, can you consider them successful? Maybe they’re just happy with what they have…I guess it depends on how you define success. What do you think?

Versatile Blogger Award

I have to thank partandparcel2014 for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Here is her site: and it’s awesome. I always enjoy reading her posts!

Here are the rules:

1. Acknowledge the blog that has nominated you. (Check)

2. Disclose 7 facts about you. (To-do)

3. Nominate 15 blogs for the same. (15?! That’s a lot…I’ve got some ideas)

Seven facts about me

1) I think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste better when they’re cut diagonally.

2) I’ve only been outside of the country once, on a cruise to Bermuda.

3) I work in a cluttered environment, but I always know where everything is.

4) I’m a poet! Most of my fellow bloggers don’t know that…secret identity!

5) I’m one semester away from getting my master’s degree in English Literature.

6) One time I accidentally ate a cricket…it’s a long story…it was in a lollipop (weird, right?) and my aunt and uncle bought it for me and told me it was real. They’re always joking around about things, so I assumed they were kidding. I ate it, and I was a vegetarian for about a month after that haha.

7) I slackline, play hackysack, and love kayaking and camping (just made camping reservations today!)

As for blogs to nominate…hmm…

I’m going to stick with 10 😛 Always the rule breaker.

This award is a good way to share the blogs we enjoy reading, so keep it going and enjoy reading!


Eat What You Kill


One of my mentors was talking to me about a time when he worked in direct sales for an insurance company, and he said it was an eat-what-you kill way to live…in other words, he earned every sale, whether he paid in the time it took to sell, or the time it took to learn how to sell effectively. In a corporate position, if you don’t give your best, you still get paid. In a direct sales position in which you only earn commission, if you don’t sell, you don’t eat. But he said that when he got paid, he felt as though he had honestly earned it.

I was thinking about this and how it applies to all of our lives, and I think a lot of us feel we are entitled to certain things. This includes breaks during work, vacations, days off, raises, love, etc. The truth is, none of us are entitled to anything. It’s easy to get into a mindset where we take things like this for granted, but if you’re complaining that you deserve a raise or a better relationship or a fitter body, then maybe the reason you aren’t getting it is because you aren’t earning it.

I think it’s better to get into the eat-what-you-kill mindset, where you know if you want something, you have to earn it. I’ve always said that everything in life costs exactly what it’s worth to have. If you want something more than you have, you’re going to have to do more than you’re currently doing. Work smarter or harder for a raise or increased sales. Be more loving and understanding in a relationship if you want more out of it. If you’re in school and you want better grades, that change is going to come from your work, not the professor.

When you get into this mindset, you realize that your life is up to you. Any change you make in the way you do things will make a difference in what you get. It may not be immediate, but it will happen. So figure out what in your life you want to change, and then earn it. Eat what you kill.

This post will also be featured on Be sure to head over there to see more great stuff, and contact Jacob to submit articles! He’s building a community of positive people to motivate each other and others.



Imagine what would happen if you just didn’t give up, if you promised yourself that you would keep going, regardless of what happened. What would that feel like? You would have a determination that rarely faltered, and if it did, you’d just get it back. Think…how long could people resist you if you simply refused to give up? How long could customers or readers or supporters stay away? It’s your will against theirs; someone will have to give in. Either you’ll give in and fail, or they’ll give in and support you.

Imagine if you just refused to fail, if you swore to yourself that you would “act as though it were impossible to fail.” Imagine that. How would you suddenly be perceived? How confident would you seem, and how would that confidence change the course of your goal? Imagine if you knew in the back of your head, without a doubt, that you would succeed in your endeavor.

Imagine if everything in your life was something that could help you reach your goal, if everything that seemed to plaguing other people was inconsequential or even beneficial to you. Imagine if every negative thing that came your way just turned itself around and became a positive thing to help you keep going.

You don’t have to imagine these things. Resolve yourself to keep pushing, deny the illusion of failure, and learn to benefit from the things that would normally harm you or set you back.

It isn’t easy, but I’m sure you can imagine…it’s worth it.

This post will also be featured on Be sure to head over there to see more great stuff, and contact Jacob to submit articles! He’s building a community of positive people to motivate each other and others.

Reading For Success

I’ve had a few people ask me for book recommendations, and I have a short list here of books I highly recommend. These are the best of the best in my opinion, and I would say each one of these is a must-read. You should watch this video to hear why I think devoting all this time to reading is worth the time and effort, and why it’s one of the best investments you can make. Reading only one book, as long as it’s the right one for you, can make a drastic change in your life, and the more you read the more likely you are to find an idea that will make that change. So here goes…my top five book recommendations:

5) Civilization and its Discontents – Sigmund Freud

Civilization and its Discontents

If you see Freud’s name and think, “no way, that guy’s crazy,” take a second to reconsider. His theories might be a little against the normative when it comes to psychoanalysis, but this book largely discusses man’s connection to the world and a possible purpose, especially in relation to the way we go about finding happiness. This is philosophy, not psychology, and a lot of the ideas here will be pivotal to your search for happiness and success.

Buy this book on Amazon  (Here is a different copy that is half the price, but independently published)

You can get this for FREE with this free trial of Audible from Amazon

I’m currently working on notes for this book

4) Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy

This is really a book that is geared more towards the entrepreneur, but I think the ideas in here could be applied to several different areas of life. If you are starting or running your own business, working toward growing a following online, or doing anything that involves competition in business, it is imperative that you read this book. The idea are so simple and will seem obvious to you after reading them, but they’re ideas and practices that most people never put into action. It’s not about eliminating competition, it’s about rendering them unimportant.

Buy this book on Amazon          You can get this for FREE with this free trial of Audible from Amazon

3) Managing Oneself – Peter Drucker

Managing Oneself

This was actually an article that appeared in Harvard Business Review, so it’s a very quick read…but it’s worth every penny you spend on getting it into your hands. I wish I had been handed this book when I graduated high school, or even undergrad. Drucker talks in depth about learning how you learn as an individual, and applying that to your life. He also discusses how you need to learn how you work most efficiently and happily, and using those methods throughout your life as well.

Buy this book on Amazon          Buy my notes on this book

You can get this for FREE with this free trial of Audible from Amazon

2) Grinding It Out – Ray Kroc

Grinding It Out

This one is changer. Ray Kroc, the man who built McDonalds into the empire it is today, the man who pioneered the fast-food industry, tells all about how he did it. Aside from being a really interesting narrative, this book is full of a wealth of knowledge and ideas that you can and should apply to your life, success, and happiness. You’ll see that perseverance and determination trump all else…you’ll be inspired, definitely, but more importantly, you’ll have a better idea of how you can get where you want to go.

Buy this book on Amazon          Buy my notes on this book

Hear me talk about one idea in this book          Read a post of mine about another idea in this book

1) The Lessons of History – Will & Ariel Durant

Lessons of History

This is the #1 book I recommend to most people with whom I speak. It’s an incredible look into what it means to be human, into what makes us think and act the way we do, and a commentary on mankind as a whole as opposed to an individualistic approach. The lessons we learn throughout the book are directly applicable to success, happiness, instinct, and, in a lot of ways, learning to connect to who you are as a human being and how you function under that title. This is somewhat similar to “Managing Oneself,” but it offers a more holistic view of human nature, and is deeply philosophical.

Buy this book on Amazon          Buy my notes on this book

You can get this for FREE with this free trial of Audible from Amazon

I have a few videos on this book. You can find them on my YouTube channel.

So that’s it, my top five book recommendations. I really would suggest these to everyone, because they all make you think about life, success, happiness, and human nature. Fascinating books. And four of the five you can get for free with a free trial of Amazon Audible…definitely worth it! I hope you enjoy them.