Read: December 2014
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
Ostensibly a book about Libertarian principles, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World is in more a case for radical honesty with both ourselves and others and letting come what may as a result.
Browne takes very fundamental notions of liberty and sovereignty and reflects on years spent applying them on his his life.
If you’re relatively libertarian or sovereign minded, Browne will force you to examine what that philosophy looks like applied across domains from relationships to business and not just selectively as so many of us do.
Browne gets at a few things I’ve been thinking lately. The first is the notion that I suspect we often do things to make ourselves feel better and not because it actually makes a difference.
What do you really need? Chances are you only need one job and one lover (or maybe two or three). Do you need to overhaul all of society just to get one good job? Do you need to reeducate all men just to be able to enjoy one good one? Why not, instead, use some selectivity in trying to meet men who treat women the way you want to be treated? I’m sure such men exist — no matter what your tastes.
You change existing systems with disruption not protest. Existing power structures always resist change. If you think taxis are a bad gig, you don’t lobby for cheaper taxis you start Uber.
As power increasingly disperses to individuals, protesting is becoming more and more obsolete. Increasingly it’s individual practitioners that have the power. If you hate investment banks and think they are robbing society, why would you go camp out in Manhattan? Go work on Bitcoin. If you think the healthcare system is messed up, is it more effective to try and lobby against Obamacare or work on the Quantified Self movement?
As Browne saw years ago, the opportunity is not to try and convince existing power structures (governments, banks, corporations) to do what you want but leverage technology to build better structures that replace them and this is only getting easier.
The best method of advertising is simply to live the way you want to live…
since you could also run into potential friends almost anywhere, it’s important to display your standards openly and honestly wherever you are…
If you make your own actions consistent with the standards you really admire, you’ll know which people are compatible — just by their reactions to you. Those who disapprove will seek someone different to be with, and those who have standards similar to yours will react favorably toward you. In effect, you let others tell you about themselves through their reactions to what you are…
Many people hide their identity, tolerate restrictions, and remain in bad relationships because they’re afraid of being lonely. But I wonder what they mean by “lonely.” Aren’t they very lonely when they deal with people who don’t understand and appreciate them? I know I’d be lonely in such a situation. I’ve also been lonely sometimes while looking for compatible people. But that loneliness was usually short-lived and more than rewarded by the discovery of people who wanted me for what I am.
If you simply live your life the way you want to, you’ll increasingly attract the right people and situations and repel the wrong ones. I don’t mean this in a magic-law-of-attraction way but when you truly act from core beliefs, people that disagree tend to go away and people that agree tend to show up. The internet seems to magnify this even more than Browne could have imagine.
Perhaps the most interesting section to me was Browne’s take on relationships.
The urge to restrict stems from a feeling of vulnerability…
For close to two decades, most people are led to believe that they aren’t sovereign. Then, suddenly, they’re thrust out into the world and expected to make far- reaching decisions concerning their lives. It’s no wonder that they have difficulty foreseeing the consequences of their actions and fall back on any authority that appears to be competent to make decisions for them….
But the fact is that it’s a human being you’re bringing into the world, not a robot that needs only to be programmed correctly. The influences that come from school and neighborhood, as well as from yourself, are not totally within your control. You can’t realistically approach child-raising unless you’re willing to accept that the child will have his own nature, no matter how you might raise him. So, in effect, you’re inviting a stranger to live in your home for eighteen years or more. There are risks involved — plenty of them. You’re committing a large part of your future to satisfy a desire that may be only a part of the present. In other words, I’m suggesting that you be very careful in making a decision concerning the conception of a child…
Any relationship that isn’t based upon mutual self-interest is bound to have poor consequences.
The last line is his fundamental point about relationships and seems to be a fundamental truth that creates all sorts of problems. In an attempt to create security, we often instead generate an illusion of security through the form of social contracts, be they parent-child, sibling or romantic. Browne instead advocates making it as easy as possible for both parties to leave the relationship and, in doing so, create relationships in which only both parties are truly happy.
The final theme Browne touches on that I see more and more is the attainment of happiness and productivity being more one of subtraction than addition
Don’t consider something enjoyable just because you don’t know what you’d do instead. You won’t find anything better until you first establish that you’re not satisfied with what you’re doing now.
After you’ve applied labels to your entire week, you should have a pretty good idea how much of your life is yours to enjoy as you desire. If it isn’t much, start dismantling the boxes that tie up so much of your time.
Instead of looking for positive goals, what about removing all the negatives? I’ve termed this “via negativa” productivity for myself and have been pleased more by efforts of removing undesirable activities than trying to add more enjoyable ones. Asking myself at the end of each day and each week, “what was the least valuable thing I did today?” is a very easy way to put together a list of tasks to outsource.
Note: My notes are in italics or noted as such
It’s not likely that you’ll ever gain your freedom by joining, marching, picketing, or complaining — because all those methods rely upon changing the attitudes of others.
You will then have to decide for yourself how you’ll use these suggestions. If the final decisions aren’t made by you, you could never act with the conviction and purpose necessary to achieve your objectives. You have to decide what you’re going to do and, above all, you have to know why you’re doing it. Otherwise, plans and hopes are meaningless, temporary resolutions — to be shelved the first time anything happens to interfere. – only freely chosen goals are achieved
The purpose of knowing “truth” is to be able to make it work for you. You need the truth in order to deal with things as they are and get predictable results from them. The specific application for which you need the truth might be different from another person’s. You may want to know the truth of a particular mechanical cause- and-effect relationship so you can fix your car. Another person may want that knowledge in order to build a bomb. And someone else may want it just to maintain his image as a learned person. The uses may vary, but the principle is always the same: You want the truth so you can use it to produce a consequence you want.
it’s a good rule to never make an important decision when your emotions are in control. I try to program myself in advance to remember this rule when I need it. When I’m in an emotional state (either positive or negative), I try to keep just enough intellect working to tell me one thing: don’t decide now. I wait until I’ve relaxed and can think more clearly.
I’m not suggesting that there is no right and wrong. There most assuredly is. Right is what will bring you happiness. And wrong is what will cause you unhappiness. The same definitions apply to the words good and bad. very Nietzsche
Everything can be challenged, should be challenged, examined to determine its relevance to you and what you want.
For a more practical example, what is achieved by the parent who “sacrifices” himself for his children, who in turn are expected to sacrifice themselves for their children, etc.? The unselfishness concept is a merry-go-round that has no purpose. No one’s self-interest is enhanced by the continual relaying of gifts from one person to another to another. – unselfishness as a motive is robust at a global species level?. it propagates the species at the expense of the individual?
Often the “unselfishness” issue arises only because two people with nothing in common are trying to get along together — such as a man who likes bowling and hates opera married to a woman whose tastes are the opposite. If they’re to do things together, one must “sacrifice” his pleasure for the other. So each might try to encourage the other to be “unselfish.” If they were compatible, the issue wouldn’t arise because each would be pleasing the other by doing what was in his own self-interest. – symptom not cause
Suppose that the group consists of two people — a business partnership, for instance. If the two partners have agreed to work equally hard and share the rewards 50-50, the significance of each person’s efforts has been cut by 50%. Whatever value the individual provides to the group, he’ll receive only half of its reward. Of course, he expects to get half the value added by the other person, too; but he doesn’t control the other person’s effort. He controls only his own effort. So what he controls will produce only a half reward. – this assumes 1+1=2 when in some cases where vision and values are shared 1+1=3 or more
Desires are limitless; resources are limited. These two conditions are the reasons that individuals must make choices. Individuals decide how they’ll use their limited resources to satisfy their strongest desires. In doing so, they develop value scales, which we can see only by looking at the exchanges they’re willing to make. Perhaps an individual can’t tell you exactly what’s on his value scale, but he chooses in accordance with it when faced with a decision. And he chooses that which he believes will bring him the most happiness. – true of how we allocate time
If there were no government, there’d be no nation. And if there were no nation, there’d be nothing to defend. If that sounds too simple, think about it. No aggressor conquers a nation by overcoming every single inhabitant and occupying every part of the geographical area. It would be far too expensive to do so. Instead, the aggressor applies force against the country until the government of that nation surrenders. Then the aggressor takes over the existing governmental machinery to enforce the occupation. If no such machinery existed, how could it enforce the occupation? Hitler couldn’t have conquered Europe without the help provided by the governments of the occupied nations. Would he have sent every one of his Nazis into Norway to police all the Norwegians? If he had, who would have been left at home to police the Germans? – is this spurious? amerindians?
The fact that governments claim to protect these rights is insignificant. There are still murders, thefts, and unemployed people — as well as arsons, rapes, and uneducated people who had a “right to an education.” Whether or not there are fewer problems as a result of laws isn’t relevant. They still happen — and if they happen to you, it’s no comfort that they happen less often to others. – yes. most discussions rights ignore the fact that resources are scarce
We are much beholden to Machiavel and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do. — Francis Bacon
Might is a fine thing, and useful for many purposes; for “one goes further with a handful of might than with a bagful of right.” — Max Stirner
It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards.
When I remember how many of my private schemes have miscarried; how speculations have failed, agents proved dishonest, marriage been a disappointment; how I did but pauperize the relative I sought to help; how my carefully governed son has turned out worse than most children; how the thing I desperately strove against as a misfortune did me immense good; how while the objects I ardently pursued brought me little happiness when gained, most of my pleasures have come from unexpected sources; when I recall these and hosts of like facts, I am struck with the incompetence of my intellect to prescribe for society. — Herbert Spencer
Once an issue gets started, a lot of people in the press, politics, and perhaps in your neighborhood will jump on the bandwagon. Most of them simply repeat what they’ve heard. The quantity of repetition can be pretty impressive, but that doesn’t tell you how true or significant their statements are. – this is dangerous. like thunderclap marketing when it all happens at once
2. How do you know the solutions sought will end the problem? They might even cause greater problems. For example, there’s a great demand that the government outlaw pesticides that are supposedly hurting crops. The government is being asked to protect us. But it was the U.S. Department of Agriculture that pressured farmers into using the pesticides in the first place. The government’s original “solution” to a problem has brought about a new problem. – true. Govs lack of skin in game over long term
What do you really need? Chances are you only need one job and one man (or maybe two or three). Do you need to overhaul all of society just to get one good job? Do you need to reeducate all men just to be able to enjoy one good one? Why not, instead, use some selectivity in trying to meet men who treat women the way you want to be treated? I’m sure such men exist — no matter what your tastes. – perhaps does more good because its walking not just talking
That higher cost is an indication that the resources required to recycle paper are more precious to the General Market than the cost of new paper. If people truly valued timber in its uncut form, the cost of it would be higher than the cost of recycling paper. The price of anything is an indication of its attractiveness and scarcity, compared to other things. When attempts are made to overrule the natural expressions of the General Market, higher prices are inevitable. – boom. capitalism.
And the Box Trap is the assumption that the cost of getting out of a bad situation is too great to consider. It’s easy to slip into a box and just as easy to stay there. You can come to believe that a difficult situation is just part of living and must be accepted. Let’s look at some examples of boxes. A young doctor might decide, after ten years in medicine, that he really doesn’t like it. But he stays where he is, assuming there’s no way out. If you ask him why he doesn’t change, he may not have a clear, precise reason. It may be that he’s unwilling to acknowledge that he’s chosen the wrong profession, or that he doesn’t want to disappoint his proud mother. Or maybe he’s in the Previous-Investment Trap — thinking that he can’t “throw away” the more than ten years of his life he’s put into medicine. – if you can’t rationally explain, are you justifying emotionally?
Part of the problem is usually the vagueness of the situation. It’s easy to assume that the cost of getting out is too horrible to contemplate, and so you don’t even think about it directly. As a result, you can go on living daily in a box without ever knowing exactly what it would require to get out. If you could know specifically what you’re paying by staying where you are and what you would have to pay to get out, you could make a definite choice. You’d know which alternative was truly best for you. – always quantify opportunity cost
Clearly identify the three elements of your situation: (1) what you’re paying by remaining where you are; (2) what it would cost you to get out; and (3) what you could do once you’re out. As long as the situation is just a hazy problem with no solution, it can always seem easier to let things continue unchanged — as uncomfortable as it may be. But when you recognize what it’s costing you to stay in the box and what you could do if you were out of it, you gain new incentive to do something about it. The price of getting out might have seemed horrendous when viewed vaguely from a distance. But now that you’ve identified it clearly, it may lose its power to frighten you. That won’t necessarily happen in every case, but it is likely enough to be worth checking. In most cases, a half hour spent in this way will lead to the conclusion that it’s easier to pay the price and get out than to stay locked in the box. – great process
It’s a common example of the Intellectual Trap to think that your emotions will automatically adjust to a good idea. And many people have learned by sad experience that they aren’t emotionally ready to carry off the ideas they’ve intellectually accepted. – god, this is true.
Pay the Price, cultivate the art of looking for prices anytime you notice a discomfort. Find out what it would take to be rid of it; there’s always a way. If the first price you discover seems too big to be worth it, think about it some more; perhaps there’s an easier way. Once you get into the habit of looking for prices, you’ll realize that any irritant in your life can be handled. You’ll no longer tolerate that slow, chronic discomfort that eats away at you daily — destroying your incentive, making you think less of yourself, darkening your attitude toward the world.
I’ve never found an exception to the rule that the sooner you pay a price, the less it costs you. As long as a situation continues, you pay a price just knowing that the situation is unresolved. And the longer a situation continues, the firmer other people become in their attitude that you have no right to initiate a change. No matter how long a situation continues, there’s always a way to get out. But the sooner you handle it, the easier it is.
It’s a normal urge to want to believe that one has the final answers to things. Certainty is a more comfortable feeling than uncertainty. – a big part of success in any domain, especially biz is being able to live with uncertainty
The desire for certainty can cause you to try to have an explanation for everything that happens. –narrative fallacy
You don’t need an explanation for everything. Recognize that there are such things as miracles — events for which there are no ready explanations. Later knowledge may explain those events quite easily. But at this date in history, you can’t expect to know everything that might be known eventually.
There was a time, you know, when “everyone knew” the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it. Now, “everyone knows” better. But what we think we know today may be superseded by even more realistic findings tomorrow. There is no source you can look to for the final truth and final answers to everything, or even anything. You won’t find them in the nation’s capital, the churches, the courts, the universities, or among the “insiders.” What you hear from these sources are simply statements of opinion by human beings. If you accept them as such, you’ll be aware of the risks you take when you act on information, and you’ll be less likely to jump into trouble you can’t handle.
2. Be skeptical about new information. – Lindy Effect
5. Recognize the risks and liabilities. And that’s the most important point. There are always risks, and risks mean liabilities — prices to be paid if things don’t go as you want them to. When you recognize them, you can handle things in ways that make your losses less frequent and less critical. – always start by protecting your downside
You are the sovereign authority for your life. You are the ruler who makes the decisions regarding how you will act, what information you will accept. You do it anyway — but if you recognize that you do it, you can gain much greater control over your future.
If a man begins with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content with doubts he shall end in certainties. — Francis Bacon
As you view the identities of others, you make it far easier on yourself if you accept them as they are. Attempts to change others are rarely successful, and even then probably not completely satisfying. – once you understand someones identity then you understand their actions
You’ve probably heard all your life that there are things in this world more important than yourself. If so, it can take time to accept the fact of your own sovereignty. – it does though nietzsche seems to help
But what is most important, it is also you who will make the choices in the future. Whatever you did in the past, you did for the best reasons you knew at the time. But today, you have more alternatives to choose from. And tomorrow, you’ll have even more. There’s no reason why you have to repeat your choices of the past — unless they proved to be best for you. – power disperses and options increase
But if you choose to recognize your own sovereignty, you’ll probably think it ridiculous to grant others the responsibility for your success or failure. – the drama denominator
You could get into your car right now and drive to anywhere you choose. There’s nothing stopping you. The only reason not to do that is if there is something better for you where you are now. – yes. you can do anything. don’t say “need to” “have to” or “should”
was operating a small business in California — burdened with payroll taxes, bookkeeping requirements, and other regulations imposed by the government. There were Social Security taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, disability insurance taxes, and income taxes to be paid or withheld. They cost me money and time, and they reduced the take-home pay of my employees. I regularly received notices from an organization whose purpose was to end payroll taxes. They requested funds, of course, and they also wanted me to join a protest movement to quit withholding taxes once the membership was large enough to be intimidating. Naturally, I didn’t get involved. Instead, I fired all the employees (including myself) and made contracts with each person for his services. Since I no longer had any employees, I no longer paid or withheld payroll taxes. No bureaucrat called on me to find out why the – you change the system with disruption not protest. existing power structures always resist change. you don’t lobby for cheaper taxis you start uber
To determine whether or not to break a law, the only consideration should be the consequences to yourself. What is the risk involved? What would happen if you’re caught? How much are you gaining by breaking the law? As you evaluate those consequences, don’t overlook your own emotional nature. Don’t do something that will make it impossible for you to sleep nights. The money saved may not be worth the anxiety. But don’t be swayed by considerations of patriotism, “law and order,” or national solidarity. Those things are only slogans designed to further the government’s interests at the expense of yours. – identity issues
If you want to start a new business, don’t go looking for all the licenses and regulations you’re supposed to observe. Just operate. Try to arrange your business so that you can contact your prospects without public fanfare — and you may never come to the attention of the authorities. But if you do, the worst that could happen is that you’ll have to do what you would have done at the outset anyway. – truth
since you could also run into potential friends almost anywhere, it’s important to display your standards openly and honestly wherever you are.location 3236
Note: authenticty is the basis for meaningful reationships
If you make your own actions consistent with the standards you really admire, you’ll know which people are compatible — just by their reactions to you. Those who disapprove will seek someone different to be with, and those who have standards similar to yours will react favorably toward you. In effect, you let others tell you about themselves through their reactions to what you are. location 3239
Many people hide their identity, tolerate restrictions, and remain in bad relationships because they’re afraid of being lonely. But I wonder what they mean by “lonely.” Aren’t they very lonely when they deal with people who don’t understand and appreciate them? I know I’d be lonely in such a situation. I’ve also been lonely sometimes while looking for compatible people. But that loneliness was usually short-lived and more than rewarded by the discovery of people who wanted me for what I am. location 3252
The best method of advertising is simply to live the way you want to live.location 3301
In any area of life, you have a natural monopoly of the unique combination of traits that you possess. The only effective way to rule out competition is to find the market that wants your traits above all others. And you’ll find it and keep it by having the courage to stand up for what you are. When you find that market, you’ll wonder why you ever restricted yourself in order to get along with those who were incompatible with you.location 3359
Note: unique ability
where you want most to go; you’re most likely to meet the people you seek there.location 3377
The third principle says that you shouldn’t try to perpetuate a relationship by contract. In a burst of exuberance and good fellowship, the three buddies might agree to meet together every Saturday night for the next ten years. But that would probably be a big mistake.location 3479
Note: truth. better to flow in an out of people’s lives
If you need money and can’t borrow it at a bank or finance company, don’t jeopardize good friendships by appealing for money on the basis of loyalty. Offer terms that would make it worth more to a friend to lend the money than to use it himself. Make sure the terms are such that he’d be eager to be involved in the deal — even if his friend weren’t to be the borrower. If that isn’t possible, go without the money; it probably isn’t as important as a good friendship.location 3503
Don’t try to restrict your lover’s activities. Don’t try to make your spouse give up his interests for you. Don’t give your friends reason to feel that you expect anything from them but what is in their self-interest to give. If you let others be free, you’ll be a rare person — and a valuable one. You’ll be in demand because you won’t create the conflicts and arguments that so many people have had from others. Your freedom is just as important, of course. You have to learn to say “no” in a way that doesn’t create strain and conflict. When you learn that, others will usually respect your individuality. Your freedom and the freedom of those you deal with are equally important to you. If people come to you because they freely want to, you’ll receive more genuine love, friendship, understanding, and appreciation than you could possibly get by asking for it or demanding it.location 3524
And a “son” is someone who’s supposed to make his parents proud of him — by his parents’ standards, of course. The problem, as usual, is a type of trap — the acceptance of labels and cultural dogmas without recognizing that there are better alternatives available by which an individual can satisfy his desires. Love, closeness, affection, family opportunities — all these things can be enjoyed without having to build elaborate, restrictive structures that destroy the independence of everyone concerned.location 3547
1. Don’t think in terms of groups. 2. Limit the relationship to what you have in common. 3. Don’t attempt to perpetuate the relationship by contract. As the first principle indicates, you aren’t a couple, a twosome, or anything but two separate, individual human beings who have found a great deal to enjoy together. No real merger can take place — because it’s literally impossible to merge human beings — in thought, motivation, or emotion.location 3595
Note: beautiful in its simplicity. he just very logically takes individualism to its extreme.
Sacrifice is often regarded as one of the main factors in a successful relationship, but it leads to a loss of value for the participants. And if freedom is living your life as you want to live it, we should hope for a better kind of relationship than one in which the participants must give up that freedom.location 3608
You can’t guarantee the durability of an emotion. If you know yourself well, you’re in a better position to predict your future emotional responses, but it isn’t something you can guarantee.location 3617
Note: true that
decide first what it is you want. Do you want to live together? Have more time together? Sleep together? Enjoy sexual intercourse together? All those things can be accomplished without a legal marriage and without unrelated obligations that could inhibit the growth of the relationship and the individuals in it. If you want to live together, the answer is to live together.location 3647
Note: so ruthlessly simple and direct
In a non-marriage, you simply continue being the person you were before you started living together. You continue to work where you want to work, pursue the interests that concern you most, and at the same time enjoy the opportunity to be closer to the one you love.location 3691
Just imagine the kind of relationship you’ll have. You’ll be living with someone who’s there because he’d rather be there than anywhere else in the world.location 3766
honesty is very important. But that means the real truth, not the emotional whim you feel at the moment. If the truth is, “I’m jealous when you’re with that person,” you’re not speaking the truth when you say, “You have no right to be with him,” or “I hate you,” or “I haven’t done that; therefore you shouldn’t.” As always, it’s in your self-interest to let others be free. There are very few people strong enough to do that — so if you’re one of them, you automatically have a head- start on the competition. And the greatest benefits come from a lover who’s with you because he wants to be with you — because he’d rather be with you than with anyone else in the world at that moment. Jealousy and restrictions are two different things. One doesn’t necessarily follow the other. You can be jealous — openly and honestly — without imposing restrictions upon your lover. And if you’re free to voice your jealousy openly, without condemnation or demands, you may find that the mere act of saying what you feel will alleviate some of the pain of it. Too often, jealousy smolders and grows because it’s suppressed or denied and the discomfort is attributed to something else.location 3887
The urge to restrict stems from a feeling of vulnerability location 3941
Note: thats a fundamental truth
For close to two decades, most people are led to believe that they aren’t sovereign. Then, suddenly, they’re thrust out into the world and expected to make far- reaching decisions concerning their lives. It’s no wonder that they have difficulty foreseeing the consequences of their actions and fall back on any authority that appears to be competent to make decisions for them.location 4085
But the fact is that it’s a human being you’re bringing into the world, not a robot that needs only to be programmed correctly. The influences that come from school and neighborhood, as well as from yourself, are not totally within your control. You can’t realistically approach child-raising unless you’re willing to accept that the child will have his own nature, no matter how you might raise him. So, in effect, you’re inviting a stranger to live in your home for eighteen years or more. There are risks involved — plenty of them. You’re committing a large part of your future to satisfy a desire that may be only a part of the present. In other words, I’m suggesting that you be very careful in making a decision concerning the conception of a child.location 4137
Any relationship that isn’t based upon mutual self-interest is bound to have poor consequences.location 4204
Note: this is his fudamental point about relationships
Your parents decided for themselves how they would live their own lives. They may have chosen to do what their parents wanted, or they may have chosen to go their own ways. They may have accepted the authority of the church or the government or someone else. Whatever they did, they chose to do it. They may have chosen wisely or they may have chosen foolishly — but they chose. Now you have to choose, too. And you have to choose in a way that fits your nature. That’s the only way you have of achieving a satisfying life for yourself. If your parents prefer that you be an obedient but unhappy child, then they can hardly be considered necessary or valuable friends.location 4222
Because of common backgrounds, and often common interests, families can be a great source of pleasure. If you remove the boxes, debts, and obligations from the relationships, you may find that a new and valuable framework is available in which you can deal with your relatives on a mutually rewarding basis. If that happens, they may come to see the benefit to themselves in what you’ve done. They may appreciate the fact that you care for them because of what they are, instead of respecting them only because they happen to be relatives. That consequence isn’t guaranteed. But no matter what happens, it can’t be worse than giving up your life to try to pay an unending debt.location 4279
Suppose, for example, that you and a friend discover that you have certain complementary talents and see a market for those talents. You might decide to go into business by setting up a partnership or corporation in which you’ll share 50/50. You’d probably agree that you’ll both work hard and split whatever profits come from the business. You’ve already made your first mistakes. As we saw in Chapter 6, partnerships are a form of the Group Trap. They discourage incentive and create problems by ignoring the principles of good relationships we covered in Chapter 18.location 4293
Note: i feel like there is an element of “constraints drive creativity” that he misses in advocating complete autonomy in all areas
Why can’t you contract for any service you need? You may not even know how to produce the product you want to market. If that’s the case, find someone who can produce it — but don’t make him your partner. Find out how much he’ll charge you to manufacture the product for you.location 4337
Note: this is increasingly easy as more marketplaces arise
3. Don’t attempt to perpetuate a relationship by contract. If any contracts are necessary, make them for the shortest practical period of time, with ways of terminating with relatively short notice. Try to avoid any situation in which you or anyone else is obligated to perform services beyond the time in which it’s in his self-interest to do so. You won’t get good value when the individual no longer wants to be involved. location 4388
Note: true that
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. — C. Northcote Parkinson The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. — Henrik Ibsenlocation 4405
Governments are subject to the same laws of economics as anyone else. The only “security” they offer is the promise to take care of you with other people’s money. But what if those other people don’t produce enough to take care of everyone who is relying upon the government?location 4446
Income The same principles apply to your ability to acquire income in the future. No one can take the gamble out of life for you, no matter how much he may promise to do so. But when you recognize that you have the power to deal with anything that lies ahead, an uncertain future can be a source of adventure rather than a fearful liability. I haven’t the faintest idea what I’ll be doing five years from now. I may be writing books; I may be doing something else that I can’t even conceive of now. I don’t know where I’ll be living. I know only one thing — that life will continue to be as exciting and as full of happy surprises as it is now. My life is an adventure because I’m not vulnerable to someone else’s mistakes. I’m not depending upon someone to guarantee my income — someone who could fail.location 4464
Intellectual Security For the past 22 chapters I’ve been saying that you are sovereign. You’re the absolute final judge of the worth of information you receive; you’re the one who decides every one of your actions; you’re the person who determines what is right and wrong for you. That’s the simple reality of it. But many people don’t want that responsibility — even though they can’t possibly discard it. And so they hope to be handed a ready-made philosophy of life. Such a person wants someone else to guarantee that he’s right — no matter what happens. You are responsible, because you will experience the consequences of your own acts, and those consequences are the final judge of whether you’ve been right or wrong. They provide a verdict from which there is no appeal. The insecure individual hopes somehow to bypass that verdict. He looks for a way to believe he’s right, no matter what consequences he experiences. He looks for a source of “truth” that he can believe in. When he finds it, he accepts it totally. He feels that this gives him the security to know that he’s right, and he prefers that kind of security to the need to rely upon his own ability.location 4490
the individual who recognizes his own sovereignty considers the consequences of his actions to be the only standard of right and wrong. He knows that he’s capable of seeing those consequences and reacting to them as necessary. He can change any course of action that doesn’t work; he can handle change and surprises as they occur. He can deal with whatever comes. He would feel insecure only if he had to act in accordance with someone else’s judgment. He would be genuinely afraid if someone else’s decisions were determining his future. He knows that the future is uncertain. But he’s willing to be vigilant — to check the results of his actions. And he’s willing to be honest — to acknowledge any mistakes and correct them immediately. He’s found the only kind of intellectual security that makes sense — reliance upon his own sovereignty.location 4524
We hear of businessmen who exploit Negroes and others in the “ghetto” areas. It’s said that they charge higher prices than are charged in other areas of the cities. If that’s true, and there’s no real need for the higher prices, it should be a marvelous opportunity for someone to go into those areas and outsell the exploiters by charging lower prices. Why don’t those who are concerned about exploitation do that? They could offer a humanitarian service and make a good profit while doing it. There must be a reason that they don’t; and when you find that reason, you’ll know that no one is “exploiting” anyone.location 4667
Note: interesting. had similar thought about taxis and uber
You don’t have to buy from anyone. If you do buy, it’s because you value the product or service more than you value the money you’re spending.location 4684
Note: true but availability is affected by anti-market forces. ie high fructose corn syrup is cheaper because of corn subsidy
You don’t have to participate in any given relationship. You can choose. If you feel exploited, you have four alternatives available: 1. You can stay and complain that you’re being “used”; 2. You can try to change the other person; 3. You can change the relationship so that the other person’s drawbacks don’t affect you; or 4. You can withdraw from the relationship and look for better alternatives. Only the last two alternatives offer any hope for a better life.location 4703
I mentioned earlier the contracting arrangement I made with my employees. I contracted with each of them for a specific result and no longer considered them as employees. Each former employee was then free to use his time in any way he chose; the only requirement was that he deliver the work on time. Every one of them performed his work in less time than he had before.location 4784
Note: traders focus on incentives
The keys to a non-treadmill life are to find out what other people will pay for and to recognize what you’re capable of doing. Get in the habit of asking your employer and your customers what they need and they aren’t getting. Get in the habit of thinking of things you’d like to do but aren’t doing now. Get in the habit of making changes that give you time to enjoy life more.location 4816
When you decide what you want, it’s important to recognize that there are many things you want. You can envision many more desirable alternatives than you could satisfy in a lifetime. Desires always exceed resources. That’s why you choose — to satisfy the desires most important to you. It’s essential to realize that you can’t have everything, you can’t do everything. There’s always a price — and the price can be expressed in the alternatives that must be given up for something.location 4863
I’ve always wanted to be rich, but I’ve always been very lazy, too. One day I had it out with myself and decided that, given a choice, I would prefer a lower financial status to working long hours at something I didn’t enjoy. I still wanted money for the things it could buy. But I established limits beyond which I wouldn’t go to acquire wealth. I defined them clearly and they were compatible with what I knew about myself. So I never had to feel guilty when I wasn’t working. For the past few years I’ve worked only at things I’ve generally enjoyed. I knew that it was better to do that (no matter what the monetary return) than to commit myself to a lifetime of intense effort and joyless drudgery. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that I’ve made far more money during these past few years than I ever made before. For I’m much more valuable doing what I enjoy than I am doing what is distasteful to me. If it hadn’t turned out that way, I wouldn’t be sorry. I made a choice that was appropriate to my nature and I was quite willing to live by it — no matter what the monetary result. I knew I would never be happy living any other way.location 4877
Note: fuck you money vs fuck you lifestyle
No matter how you handle it, you pay for dishonesty. In fact, it’s a very easy way to jump into a box. When you’ve lied about something, your actions are restricted by the need to maintain the fiction you’ve created. You can no longer react freely and spontaneously to new developments; you always have to keep your guard up to avoid doing anything that might reveal your previous acts.location 4947
think dishonesty usually comes about as an attempt to avoid prices. A friend, Lynda Raff, once pointed out that lying is an attempt to get something for nothing. It’s the hope of being able to do something without the consequences that would naturally follow — the reactions of certain people.location 4951
2. You miss opportunities to be accepted for yourself, because you’re hiding that self. The people who would like you as you really are will never see you if you keep your real self-hidden.location 4961
Note: see Mark Manson’s Models
Dishonesty toward others can lead easily to dishonesty toward yourself. Lying can become automatic. If you’re very concerned with maintaining an image, you can remember past lies more clearly than what really happened. After a while, it may become impossible to remember what was true and what wasn’t.location 4963
This can lead to an anxious feeling that what you’ve obtained by lying can’t be preserved. You can feel that you don’t really deserve what you have — and so you can’t relax and fully enjoy it. 5. Sooner or later someone is going to become aware of your dishonesty — possibly because he has participated in it. Because he knows you’ve been dishonest in the past, he can’t be sure you’re being honest in the present. You’ll have fewer alternatives available when your word can’t be accepted without question.location 4966
1. When you prove that you’re willing to be honest — no matter what the short- term consequences — others will accept your word more easily. This can open up many opportunities that wouldn’t exist if your listeners had to wonder about each thing you say. For example, when I was promoting my last book through radio and television appearances, I was often asked, “Why did you write this book?” I always answered, “To make money.”location 4973
If you lie to a person about what he already knows, he’ll probably respect you less, not more. And you also hurt your credibility with anyone else who knows about it. Suppose, for example, that you and I are having lunch with Charley, who’s known for his large nose. When Charley asks me, “Do you think my nose is large?,” I could answer, “Of course not, Charley.” Later, you might ask me if I really meant my remark. Suppose I answer, “No, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.” That may seem noble, but the next time I say something “nice” to you, you’ll have no way of knowing whether I meant it or was just trying to make you feel good. My so-called kindness has hurt my relationship with you.location 5011
The first exception to your honesty destroys one of its most important benefits — the absolute trust of others.location 5051
I’ve found that my most useful assets are many of the things I used to try to hide — my selfishness, my laziness, the ease with which I cry when I hear good music or see good drama. Those things have helped me find like-minded people who appreciate the same things. And those are the people I’ve always wanted to be with — not the ones for whom I’d have to suppress myself. I’ve found that suppressing embarrassing things about myself costs me far too much freedom to be worth it. So, if I feared that a given person might discover something I had been trying to hide, I went to him and told it to him myself. The experience never failed to give me a wonderful sense of freedom. I no longer had to worry about it; the price had been paid once and for all, and I didn’t have to think about it again.location 5095
Dishonesty is a form of the Identity Trap. When you lie to someone, you’re falling for the temptation to think that you’ll be more attractive (and get more of what you want) if you appear to be something different from what you are. Learn to trust your own nature, your own identity. Accept it, live it, reveal it. Don’t suppress it; don’t attempt to shade it with little lies and half-truths. When you do, you miss so much of life and the happiness that can be yours.location 5131
The critical points in your self-exploration are the moments when you dislike what you find. If you ignore the discoveries, you’re rejecting the opportunity to find a way of life that will bring you happiness. You’re resigning yourself to a life in the Identity Trap.location 5220
Note: personal relationships
Make a note of anything covered in this book that you believe is significant to your life. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with my views; the important thing is to call attention to issues you feel you should think about in more detail. When you’ve finished the book, go back and review those issues; think about them until you have answers you’re satisfied with.location 5421
Note: great and sincere way to handle objections
Rules To stimulate your thinking further, here’s a list of some of my most important moral principles. As you look at them, ask yourself what you think about them — and why. Ask yourself what you’d expect to be the consequences of acting by these rules and of not acting by them. As you’ll see, most of these rules are framed as negatives — prohibitions upon actions that might get in the way of my long-term goals. The more positive rules will depend more upon your personal values and goals; they’ll be rules that attempt to keep you aimed in the direction most attractive to you. 1. Never expect anyone to act from your knowledge, perspective, or objectives. Assume that his viewpoints will differ in some ways from yours. 2. Never make an important decision when your emotions are dominating your mind. 3. Never lie or appear to be something other than what you are — unless you’re sure that your life or the life of someone very important to you is literally at stake. 4. Never invest any resource (time, money, emotional involve ment that you’re not prepared to lose. 5. Never take on a new responsibility, time commitment, or liability without recognizing what must be given up to accommodate it. 6. Always leave some free time in your schedule to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. If there are no new opportunities during the period, the free time can always be used for pure pleasure. 7. Never use someone’s property in any way that he doesn’t approve of— unless your life or the life of someone very important to you is literally at stake. 8. Never focus your attention on anyone’s weaknesses — his temper, sloppiness, poor logic, dishonesty, whatever. Recognize these shortcomings, take them into consideration, but don’t waste your time complaining about them. Instead, pay attention to what your actions should be in order to deal with him. 9. Never quibble over a price you didn’t expect to pay. Pay it and move on to better things. 10. Never form a partnership (an agreement in which responsibilities or rewards will be shared) for any purpose. 11. Never become directly involved in violence unless it appears to be the only alternative to prevent more serious injury to yourself or to someone very important to you. 12. Never forsake your rules because of someone’s actions or opinions.location 5433
Don’t consider something enjoyable just because you don’t know what you’d do instead. You won’t find anything better until you first establish that you’re not satisfied with what you’re doing now.location 5520
Note: remove what you don’t like and see what fills the space
After you’ve applied labels to your entire week, you should have a pretty good idea how much of your life is yours to enjoy as you desire. If it isn’t much, start dismantling the boxes that tie up so much of your time.location 5541
Note: instead of looking for positive goals what about removing all the negatives? positivism vs via negativa
Look for relationships that don’t require that you tolerate unpleasant things in order to maintain them. With the right people, you should be spending most (if not all) of your time doing things that please you, that make sense to you — the things you want to do. Compromises seem necessary only because of inappropriate situations. If you’re involved with the right people, the word “sacrifice” shouldn’t even be in your vocabulary.location 5557
Note: last sentence is a great heuristic
Make sure that every week has a specified time that’s totally unplanned. Reserve that time so that you can decide — when it arrives — how you’ll use it. Don’t use it to catch up on unfinished business; use it to enjoy yourself, to do what you want most to do at that moment.location 5638
Note: Value of the Sabbath
Every complication in your life today is the result of something you’ve allowed to happen. You initiated it, or you consented to it, or you’ve allowed it to continue. You are where you are today because you’ve chosen to be there. And you can choose not to be there. You’ll have to pay for past mistakes, but no mistake warrants a life sentence. You can telescope those payments into the short term and get rid of them quickly. You can get rid of bad relationships, meaningless obligations, negative commitments. You can do anything you want. You’re free — if only you’ll realize it. Only you can choose to make things better for yourself. You can decide to stop “going along” with things that are handed to you. You can decide to live your life as the free person you are. Don’t tell me that it can’t be done. There are too many people who’ve already done it. No matter where you are now, you can unravel all the knots that you’ve woven into your life. You can decide to be free. No one else has to be convinced — it requires only your decision and action.location 5649
Note: the drama denominator. you are the common denominator in all your problems
Estimate the requirements and costs of your imagined new life. How much time would be necessary to ready yourself for the profession you have in mind? How much money would you need to go where you want to be? How much time is required for the activities you crave? What other resources are necessary for the kind of existence you’re dreaming of? location 5726
Note: he invented dream lining but ferriss made it more accessible with an excel spreadsheet
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. — Shakespeare location 5838
People who seem to act “courageously” usually have specific consequences in mind; they know the consequences both of acting and not acting. They’ve decided that the consequences of not acting are worse than the consequences of what we consider to be their courageous acts. We don’t necessarily know what their motivations are (they might be expectations of good things to come, fear of being thought a coward, desire for attention, etc.), but the person acting believes he knows. location 6083
When you’re convinced you know the consequences of either course, you’ll take action. If you have to walk through a dangerous mob to get to safety on the other side of the street, you’ll do so only when you’re convinced that the consequences of standing still are more dangerous than moving. Until then, any talk of bravery is meaningless. location 6088
Note: Solve the legibility problem and then you’ll move.
There were withdrawal symptoms, of course. But I was prepared for them. As it turned out, they were few — probably because I was prepared and because I was too busy making the most of my new life. All I missed was my daughter. But I could accept that temporary sadness and even cry about it — without any temptation to escape the sadness by jumping back into the box.location 6185
The important thing is that you take yourself more seriously, that you respect your own view of the world and make sure that it really is your view, not something you’ve been told.location 6233
What I’ve said should never be considered to be the final answers to any of the questions raised — not even by me. For I’m growing daily. Today, I understand more about life and myself and my ways of living than I did when I began to write this book. There’s no way that anything I write could be guaranteed to be my last words on the subject.location 6234
Note: great model for a disclaimer and “buddha marketing”
A big philosophical breakthrough for me was the realization that my own freedom was not only possible, but far more important than the establishment of a free society. I came to see how foolish it was to waste my precious life trying to make the world into what I’d thought it should be. I had always been intuitively partial toward direct alternatives, but now I was determined to build my whole life upon them.location 6256
The problem for most people is that they wish things were better, but they’re not determined to make them so.location 6298
Note: indefinite optimism
It’s easy to accept intellectually that you make your own decisions and can choose to do what you want with your life. But emotionally you can find that hard to live by.location 6308
I’m quite willing to state my view to persons who are important to me. But I’m not trying to change anyone. I use my view as a suggestion — a way to find out more about him, where he stands, and whether he’s responsive to my thoughts. If he finds my alternative attractive, it may provide a new opportunity for me. But I’m not dependent upon his acceptance; I’m fully prepared to go elsewhere, if necessary. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose except the small amount of time necessary to present the suggestion.location 6363
When you achieve freedom from the urge to control others, your life is truly your own — to make of it almost anything you might want. For you’re no longer burdened by the need to make others understand; your time is no longer regulated by plans that depend upon your persuasive powers or your ability to dominate situations. You’re free — free to choose among thousands of direct alternatives — free to choose the ones that can make you happiest. I don’t think you can really be free until you’re willing to let others be free. Only then are you relieved of that terrible responsibility for the way others act.location 6385
There are many people to whom those ideas are important — and those people are the primary reason I’ve written this book. I’m letting those people know that they’re not alone, that they have every reason to follow their own minds — regardless of the views of those around them. Too, the book is a part of my personal advertising campaign — revealing what I am to those who would approve. I know that there are plenty of people who see life in a way similar to mine. I’ve met many of them — and I know there must be many more. My life has been enriched by such people; their presence has brought me thousands of days of stimulation, excitement, and happiness. With so many wonderful people alive, why should I focus on those with whom I have conflicts of interest? Why should I try to rally the kindred souls into a fruitless crusade to change the world? The world is already too beautiful, so full of wonderful opportunities that I couldn’t possibly take advantage of all those already available to me. Why must I make the world better? location 6398
Note: great mindset on writing
More than anything else, you achieve your freedom by letting others be free, by resisting the urge to control their actions, by releasing them to make their own decisions — and then by making your decisions based on what’s actually available to you, not on the circumstances you wish for.location 6543
Bad: That which brings you unhappiness.location 6594
Note: very Nietzsche
Last Updated on April 18, 2019 by RipplePop