Freedom through commitment (less is more)

The following is from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson.


Consumer culture is very good at making us want more, more, more. Underneath all the hype and marketing is the implication that more is always better. I bought into this idea for years. Make more money, visit more countries, have more experiences, be with more women.

But more is not always better. In fact, the opposite is true. We are actually often happier with less. When we’re overloaded with opportunities and options, we suffer from what psychologists refer to as the paradox of choice. Basically, the more options we’re given, the less satisfied we become with whatever we choose, because we’re aware of all the other options we’re potentially forfeiting.

So if you have a choice between two places to live and pick one, you’ll likely feel confident and comfortable that you made the right choice. You’ll be satisfied with your decision.

But if you have a choice among twenty-eight places to live and pick one, the paradox of choice says that you’ll likely spend years agonizing, doubting, and second-guessing yourself, wondering if you really made the “right” choice, and if you’re truly maximizing your own happiness. And this anxiety, this desire for certainty and perfection and success, will make you unhappy.

So what do we do? Well, if you’re like I used to be, you avoid choosing anything at all. You aim to keep your options open as long as possible. You avoid commitment.

But while investing deeply in one person, one place, one job, one activity might deny us the breadth of experience we’d like, pursuing a breadth of experience denies us the opportunity to experience the rewards of depth of experience. There are some experiences that you can have only when you’ve lived in the same place for five years, when you’ve been with the same person for over a decade, when you’ve been working on the same skill or craft for half your lifetime. Now that I’m in my thirties, I can finally recognize that commitment, in its own way, offers a wealth of opportunity and experiences that would otherwise never be available to me, no matter where I went or what I did.

When you’re pursuing a wide breadth of experience, there are diminishing returns to each new adventure, each new person or thing. When you’ve never left your home country, the first country you visit inspires a massive perspective shift, because you have such a narrow experience base to draw on. But when you’ve been to twenty countries, the twenty-first adds little. And when you’ve been to fifty, the fifty-first adds even less.

The same goes for material possessions, money, hobbies, jobs, friends, and romantic/sexual partners—all the lame superficial values people choose for themselves. The older you get, the more experienced you get, the less significantly each new experience affects you. The first time I drank at a party was exciting. The hundredth time was fun. The five hundredth time felt like a normal weekend. And the thousandth time felt boring and unimportant.

The big story for me personally over the past few years has been my ability to open myself up to commitment. I’ve chosen to reject all but the very best people and experiences and values in my life. I shut down all my business projects and decided to focus on writing full-time. Since then, my website has become more popular than I’d ever imagined possible. I’ve committed to one woman for the long haul and, to my surprise, have found this more rewarding than any of the flings, trysts, and one-night stands I had in the past. I’ve committed to a single geographic location and doubled down on the handful of my significant, genuine, healthy friendships.

And what I’ve discovered is something entirely counterintuitive: that there is a freedom and liberation in commitment. I’ve found increased opportunity and upside in rejecting alternatives and distractions in favor of what I’ve chosen to let truly matter to me.

Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you healthy and happy. Commitment makes decision-making easier and removes any fear of missing out; knowing that what you already have is good enough, why would you ever stress about chasing more, more, more again? Commitment allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goals and achieve a greater degree of success than you otherwise would. In this way, the rejection of alternatives liberates us—rejection of what does not align with our most important values, with our chosen metrics, rejection of the constant pursuit of breadth without depth.

Yes, breadth of experience is likely necessary and desirable when you’re young—after all, you have to go out there and discover what seems worth investing yourself in. But depth is where the gold is buried. And you have to stay committed to something and go deep to dig it up. That’s true in relationships, in a career, in building a great lifestyle—in everything.

Coachella and the introvert

I have adopted the introvert moniker, but I don’t know if that is the correct label. I guess it sounds much better than “guy that is content in his own world and doesn’t give a fuck about what other people think”. 😛

Now that is not meant to be hostile. I actually do love people. I just have a low bullshit tolerance.

Having said that, I also love music, so Coachella would seem to be a great festival to explore new music. And… it did not disappoint.

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360° View: Camping Near Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park

 April 12, 2017

 Joshua Tree National Park, California (33.9861944, -116.0181887)

View Location on Google Maps

 I did not camp here, but I discovered it during my visit to Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is called White Tank. There are 15 dry camping sites, all of which are available on a first come, first serve basis for $15 per night. There are pit toilets on site, too.

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360° View: Lake Havasu Campsite

 April 5-11, 2017

 Lake Havasu City, Arizona (34.423, -114.19799)

View Location on Google Maps

 As I drove along Highway 95, I found several spot where people had set up camp. I chose this spot because it was relatively close to the city (~10 miles), yet far enough out to feel like and camper and not a tourist. This location is close to the road, so you will encounter a bit of noise. Still, it is not offensive. There were a couple of bumps along the way, but nothing too severe.

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This land is NOT your land or my land?

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for…

OK… it looks like this land may not be YOUR land or MY land.

When I started my journey three months ago, this is what the U.S. Department of the Interior’s website looked like…

The site was informative and contained specific information about the location of BLM lands.

Fast forward to the BLM site today…

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