One of the things I realized in my life review when I turned 30 was that I am now a much more balanced and emotionally stable man than I was 5-10 years ago.
Partly this has to do with hormones, I know, but it also has to do with life experience and the fact that I now have a much more accurate worldview than I did when I was young, naive and full of hopes and dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have massive ambition and I believe 100% in my ability to achieve it, but there are some things I’ve learned along the way that have given me a mindset and outlook that lead to a much more balanced, tranquil, happy frame of mind.
I want to share the secrets of that with you now so that you can become a more balanced man, too.
Getting Your Thinking Straight
People generally fall into two broad categories – positive thinkers and negative thinkers.
The positive thinker sees endless opportunity, beauty and good things in life.
The negative thinker sees the dirt, the grime, the obstacles and the shit in every situation.
The positive thinker is generally upbeat, hopeful and will probably lead a fuller life. Positive thinking affirmations, positive thinking quotes and a bookshelf full of positive thinking books are all part of his toolkit, but not necessarily accurate, balanced thinking.
The negative thinker is generally much more sober, less enthusiastic and as a result of his worldview, might not live as full a life as he could otherwise.
We’re taught trough countless books, websites and media that being a positive thinker is the best way to be. If I had to choose between the two, I would agree.
However, there is a third way and this is the way that I believe leads to the best outcome, the happiest life and the most realistic chance of success. It’s called balanced thinking.
When you learn to think in a balanced way you embrace both the positive and negative sides of a situation and you incorporate them into you worldview.
As a result you begin to see things much more accurately, and the massive highs and lows that come from both overly positive and overly negative thinking begin to level out, and you begin to become a more emotionally stable man and a much more accurate thinker.
Let’s look at some examples to illustrate this point.
As many long-term readers know I work on offshore oil and gas rigs in Asia and Australia. As a young, naive and ambitious guy I jumped at this opportunity both feet first and worked like a maniac for three solid years until I reached a level where I began to level out and stabilize.
When I began I could only see the benefits. Extra cash. Outdoors work. No office cubicle. A lot of time off to travel. Fun and games 6 months a year to offset the hard work the other 6.
As I began to work harder and harder I began to see the downsides.
People regularly get maimed or killed on oil rigs. If an accident happens you are pretty much toast sitting in the middle of a shark infested ocean while the structure which supports you burns in flames. The industry can take a huge toll on your friendships, relationships and family. After the tax man gets his filthy hands on your paycheck you are left with a less than you might think.
A negative thinker who focused on these sides alone without considering the positives would never enter the industry to begin with. They would only focus on the downside, feel pretty negative about the situation and never embrace the experience and so would never experience the benefits of it.
If they did, they’d probably be a grumpy bastard and hate their jobs.
Gradually, as time went on, I began to develop a much more balanced view of the situation. There are pros and cons to working in this industry. It isn’t a perfect job full of only positives, but likewise the benefits are massive and the crap you have to deal with and the risk you take are well worth it when payday and fly out day roll around.
As a result of having this balanced view I am emotionally very stable in regards to my job. The bad days don’t bring me down so much, and the good days don’t send me to cloud nine. I maintain my equilibrium, I do my job in a focused and successful way, and I reap the rewards.
This is a good example of what I’m talking about. Learning to think in a balanced way rather than an overly positive or negative way will lead you to enjoy life a lot more because you will maintain your equilibrium in any and all situations.
You will no longer be a slave to your pendulum like emotional state. You will level out, reach and equilibrium, and as a result make better decisions.
Better decisions, of course, lead to better outcomes. Better outcomes are otherwise known as success.
The Many Situations In Which You Will Benefit From Balanced Thinking
Balanced, accurate thinking will lead to benefits in nearly every area of your life. Here are some:
Work – You’ll begin to see that your job isn’t as bad as you think.
It might not be ideal and what you want to do with your life, but it pays your bills, keeps a roof over your head, feeds your family and sure as hell beats having no job at all. Just ask anyone who’s been unemployed for a long time!
You’ll be able to see it in a more balanced way and thus will be happier at work, or at least more accepting of your work.
Believe it or not there are people out there scrubbing toilets for a living who are happier than CEOs ad high-flying bankers. A lot of how you feel at work has to do with your mindset and how you approach it. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
That being said you can still work for a promotion, work on your side company, study at nights and work on bettering your situation in life if that’s what you want to do. You’ll just feel calmer and happier doing what you have to do until you reach that point where you can do what you want to do.
Likewise, thinking in an overly positive way about work can be just as harmful. You may be disappointed when you reach the place you’ve always dreamed and it turns out to be boring as hell or not all you expected. I did a little TV modelling once, a job which many dream of, and honestly it was crappy. It was one of the most boring things I have ever done.
It’s best to have a mindset that considers the pros and cons of every situation, that way your expectations will be in alignment with reality.
That’s the real benefit of having a balanced mindset with regards to work.
Relationships – You’ll begin to see that your partner has both strengths and weaknesses, good and bad qualities, just like anyone else.
Experience will teach you that there is no such thing as “finding the one” or “the perfect match”. People spend endless amounts of money reading books and material online about how to find the one or how to meet their soul mate, when really no such perfect person exists on the face of this earth.
People always have good and bad qualities and seeing this will allow you to have richer relationships which don’t lead to inevitable disappointment like when you go into dating someone expecting it to be a Hollywood movie plot.
This will lead to less drama in your life and healthier, richer relationships based on realistic expectations of what the other person can actually bring to the table.
That being said, this is no excuse for accepting bullsh*t behaviour. There are still times when her ways of behaving are unacceptable and it’s time to cut her loose, no matter what.
When you do have to leave her you’ll see that being single has it’s good and bad times, just like being in a relationship. This will lead to you not crying in a ball in the corner when it ends, but enjoying the good times that are ahead and the extra freedom single life brings.
Dealing With Life Changes – When I was younger I used to be addicted to travelling and backpacking. I would literally be in a state of euphoria when I was going on a road trip, and crushed when it was all over and I had to go back to the drudgery of work to save up for the next one.
Of course, all of this was due to my inaccurate thinking about the situation. Over time I learned that backpacking and travelling has it’s downsides (sharing crowded youth hostels with snoring backpackers), living out of a backpack for months at a time, catching trains and flights at ungodly hours of the morning, etc.
I also learned that being home has good sides. I could reconnect with my family and friends, I could get into a stable routine with regards exercise and eating right and make great health and fitness gains, I could relax and not have to stress about making my next move, among other benefits like home cooked meals and time to process everything I had experienced on a trip to wherever.
As a result of getting a more realistic worldview with regards travel I still do it when I really feel like it, but I no longer require it to be happy. I enjoy it, but I don’t expect it to be the answer to all my problems and I don’t mind being at home for a while either.
Money – Money is great, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s one of the only situations I can think of where having a lot of it doesn’t really have any measurable downside. Money is all good.
However, there is a tendency for those who have never made and lost much money to cling to it like it’s some life-giving nectar and they can’t spill a drop of it or they’ll die.
This is not healthy and can almost be an addiction and mental illness. The truth is that while having money is great, losing it and going broke isn’t the end of the world either.
You’ll always be better off having money than not having it and it is the key to many things in this world, but I’ve experienced both sides of the equation where I have been so flush with cash that I could do basically anything I wanted and also where I’ve been so broke I didn’t have $3 to get the bus to work and missed the last day of the month because of that. Having experienced both extremes I can tell you having money is way better than not having it, but being broke isn’t as terrible as you might think.
A quote from one of my favourite movies, Blow, sums it all up. This exchange takes place between George Jung and his dad when his dad declares bankruptcy and George worries what they’ll do to survive. His old man has this to say:
“ This just how it goes Georgie. Sometimes you’re flush and sometimes you’re bust, and when you’re up, it’s never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, you never think you’ll be up again, but life goes on. Money isn’t real George, it doesn’t matter…it only seems like it does.”
It doesn’t matter. Things will get better. Just because you’re dead broke now doesn’t mean you can’t change the situation. The world is literally awash with money and for a hard-working, determined and focused guy money will come. Anyone who is afraid to lose his money isn’t yet confident in his ability to make more. Once you’ve been up and down a couple of times it just loses its life-and-death seriousness.
Being down financially actually does have some benefits to it too, although it sure as hell doesn’t seem like it at the time! Being close to the edge financially can be deeply motivating, it can fuel you to new heights of success, creativity and work. This can be an exciting time, if a little stressful. Some of the best work you will ever do can come as a result of needing to pay make rent at the end of the week.
Likewise, having too much cash in the bank can make you lazy, complacent and kill your creativity. At times when I’ve been flush I’ve lost all motivation to do anything outside maintaining and defending the practices which have brought me the cash to begin with. I’ve gotten locked in a comfortable box and won’t stray too far outside it because money is rolling.
When you come to view money in this balanced way you will lose that needy attachment to it. You’ll lose the fear surrounding it. It will become a source of great joy when you have it, but you’ll no longer need it to have high self-esteem or to feel like a somebody in life. You’ll develop a healthy relationship to money, a balanced one. Ironically when you reach this stage money will come to you with greater ease and frequency.
I much prefer to be flush as would any sane thinking person, but being bust for a little while isn’t the end of the world either. As long as you have your two feet, your two hands and your brain, you’ll be alright, fella!
Balanced thinking has almost limitless benefits.
It sets you on a realistic path where you won’t be too disappointed when things don’t turn out exactly like you imagined, but also it will let you see the light of day in the dark times.
Learn to see the positives and negatives in every situation and habitually try to acknowledge them in everything.
That’s the key to developing a balanced worldview and thus the key to becoming a calmer, more balanced, clearer thinking man.
Until next time,
Desire. Decide. Persist.