Postmasculine http://postmasculine.com A Rational Self Help Site for Men Wed, 03 Jul 2013 15:00:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 The Final Models Revision http://postmasculine.com/the-final-models-revision?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-final-models-revision http://postmasculine.com/the-final-models-revision#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 16:20:34 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12699

Models-cover-bold-500px

It’s been almost two years to the day that I released Models. At the time, I ran a marginal, but growing, pick up blog. When I wrote the book, the thought of introducing the concepts of neediness, vulnerability, and polarization to the industry scared the crap out of me. It was like no other men’s advice written before. I knew it had the power to change everything, but also the power to submarine my career and reputation.

But the content was, ironically, honest. It was what had transformed my life and so I trusted in [...]

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Models-cover-bold-500px

It’s been almost two years to the day that I released Models. At the time, I ran a marginal, but growing, pick up blog. When I wrote the book, the thought of introducing the concepts of neediness, vulnerability, and polarization to the industry scared the crap out of me. It was like no other men’s advice written before. I knew it had the power to change everything, but also the power to submarine my career and reputation.

But the content was, ironically, honest. It was what had transformed my life and so I trusted in its ability to transform others.

As promised, here is the latest and final revision to Models. More was cut from this edition than added, mainly because I felt some of the advice was either out-dated, long-winded, or just flat out wrong. The final revision of Models comes in at a cool 296 pages.

The goals with this final revision were to streamline the entire book, update some of the concepts early on in the book, and use terminology that is a bit easier to understand and more easily translatable into other languages. I also removed a lot of specific references to PUA. When I released the book in 2011, most people who bought it were PUA-types, but now the majority of people who buy it have no PUA experience so it doesn’t make sense to focus on them so much in Chapters 1 and 2.

If you’ve bought the ebook version of Models, you will automatically be emailed an updated version today. If for whatever reason, you don’t get an email (i.e., you bought the book a long time ago and aren’t in our records anymore) then please send a copy of your receipt to support@postmasculine.com and we will send a new copy of the book to you. ANY type of receipt is acceptable (Paypal, Clickbank, even Amazon) for an updated PDF copy of the book.

Kindle users will be able to update to the new version. But since Amazon drags their feet, look for it some time early next week. You should get an email from Amazon about it when it’s ready to be updated.

The hard copy version of the book on Amazon will also be updated some time next week. But obviously I can’t send everyone a new copy of the book. So if you bought the hard copy and want a version of the new PDF, just send your Amazon receipt to the email address above.

List of changes in the Final Revision:

  • New cover art.
  • Added a couple paragraphs to the Introduction to clarify the book’s purpose.
  • Deleted the entire PUA section from Chapter 1
  • Changed “non-neediness” to “True Confidence” and “Fake Alpha Males” to “False Confidence.” Neediness, in general, is now referred to as a lack of confidence or false confidence. The definition of the concept is exactly the same. Re-wrote and revised almost all of Chapter 2.
  • PUA tactics are now referred to as “Performance” behaviors towards women. Added explanation of why performance is not confident nor attractive.
  • Eliminated the idea that men must always be less invested than women for a relationship to be healthy.
  • Added the examples from Vulnerability and Manipulative Women to Chapter 3.
  • Revised many examples to minimize the focus on cold approaching in bars/clubs.
  • Revised parts of Chapters 6 and 8 to emphasize that rejection represents incompatibility not inadequacy.
  • Added more good places to meet women in Chapter 8.
  • Drastically shortened the sections on fitness and nutrition in Chapter 9. I’m no expert and god knows you can find more information than you’d ever need online.
  • Cut out the section about being well-read in Chapter 9.
  • Deleted the Stereotypes and Responsibility section from Chapter 10 because it was redundant and repetitive.
  • Cut out a lot of PUA’ish stuff from Chapter 11.
  • Rewrote my explanations of flirting in Chapter 11. Instead of describing breaking rapport, I explained sexual tension and how it’s generated. Ultimately I think it’s a much less theoretical and practical concept than breaking rapport was.
  • Expanded a bit on approaching and first impressions in Chapter 12.

All in all, I deleted about 20 pages and added about 10 pages. And, of course, dozens more of the infamous typos and grammatical flubs were fixed. I really think this is Models in its final form. It’s now written in such a way that any man, anywhere in the world, could pick it up and understand its concepts and see how they apply to his life and situation without it being too theoretical. As mentioned previously, I plan on translating it into a few languages later this year and pushing it to an international audience.

So look for a PDF in your inbox later today. If it doesn’t show up, simply email your receipt to support@postmasculine.com and we’ll get you set up. Look for Amazon updates early next week.

And obviously, if you’d like to buy the book for the first time, now is an excellent time to do it. You can do so here.

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An Unexpected Turn of Events http://postmasculine.com/an-unexpected-turn-of-events?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-unexpected-turn-of-events http://postmasculine.com/an-unexpected-turn-of-events#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2013 17:15:58 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12667

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A few weeks ago I took an extended hiatus, partly to recharge my batteries and partly to make a lot of headway on the new book. The idea was I’d take some much-needed time off, come back, pound out a couple hundred pages, then return next month and resume business as usual.

Well, basically none of that has happened.

The first thing that didn’t go as planned was the new book. Writing was slow and painful all through the Spring, but I assumed that was because I [...]

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Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 2.04.02 PM

A few weeks ago I took an extended hiatus, partly to recharge my batteries and partly to make a lot of headway on the new book. The idea was I’d take some much-needed time off, come back, pound out a couple hundred pages, then return next month and resume business as usual.

Well, basically none of that has happened.

The first thing that didn’t go as planned was the new book. Writing was slow and painful all through the Spring, but I assumed that was because I was stressed and distracted by other obligations. But even with those obligations removed and my time freed up the writing continued at a snail’s pace.

The chief problem with the book every step of the way has been organization, which is weird, since I’m usually strong at structuring what I want to write in a coherent way. It soon occurred to me that I actually probably have enough material for two separate books here and trying to cram them into one is what is making the organization and focus of the book such a nightmare.

So the first unexpected announcement is that there will be another book, which I will start immediately after finishing the Postmasculine book. The Postmasculine book’s focus will still be primarily on gender and how the pressures of masculinity lead to poor emotional health in men. The psychological sections of the book will be limited to only what is necessary to make that argument.

The second book will dive deeper into psychology and I will attempt to formulate my own psychological model from all of the research I’ve done over the past year. It will be gender neutral. All of the psychological stuff has implications that go way beyond gender or masculinity, so it will allow me more freedom to explore a wide variety of subjects.

The estimated launch date for the Postmasculine book has not changed, it’s still early September. The second book, I have no idea. We’ll worry about that when I get to it.

Gender as a Business Decision

But there is still a bigger and even more unexpected change that happened this month as well.

A couple weeks ago, I grabbed the girlfriend and we absconded to a nice and quiet beach in the middle of Nowhere, Brazil for a week. While there, internet connectivity was all but non-existent and I hardly opened my computer. It was glorious.

After getting over the shakes the first day and wiping the foam from my mouth, I realized that this is something I need to do far more often. And while I’ve taken plenty of days off from working over the years, it had probably been at least two years since I had gone more than a couple days without checking email, social media, etc. The relief was massive. Why had I not done this more often? I quickly discovered that that deluge of email, Facebook messages, Tweets, comments, forum posts, and Skype calls I get every day have been bogging my mind down a lot. For the first time in a long time I could stand back and look at my business and my life from a bird’s eye view.

When I started Postmasculine.com, I created it because I realized that the issues hindering men in dating ran deeper than simply being confused about women. These were deep-seated confidence and self esteem issues that ran across multiple areas of men’s lives. I also recognized that there was a broader gender aspect to these problems that I wanted to be able to address.

As the past two years have gone on and I’ve dug much deeper, I’ve realized that almost all of these issues have analogs and similar experiences in women. I’ve realized that healthy and successful dating practices for men are almost identical for women as well. I’ve also noticed that it’s almost impossible to talk about one gender’s identity problems without raising the problems of the other gender identity at the same time (this article is just one of many recent examples.)

Sitting on an empty beach all day, thinking to myself, I asked myself the question which should have been obvious for a long while now: “Does it make sense for my business to be gender specific to men anymore?”

I couldn’t really come up with good answer for why it does. And when I began to think about maybe why it shouldn’t, the evidence quickly piled up.

Women started reading Postmasculine.com in large numbers the second half of last year. At first I thought maybe it was some kind of fluke. But their numbers have continued to grow. Small amounts of gay men and even lesbians have started reading the site as well, something I never even considered before, much less expected. For the past year, I have received a steady stream of emails from women asking a) is there a site like mine for women? (Not that I know of.) and b) is my advice applicable to women? (In fact, it almost always is.)

Truth be told, digging through my archives, there’s almost nothing written in the past year which isn’t equally applicable to both genders.

Then you take into account the fact that women are more active on social media, they’re more interested in self help topics, and that a lot men still seem to have an odd preoccupation with being publicly associated to a self help site so that they won’t even like a fan page or share an article with their friends, I began to think that my brand, while helping me two years ago, may actually be holding me back today. I’ve now had my material syndicated on some major websites (CNN, Huffington Post, etc.) and the appeal of my writing clearly stretches much further than the tiny niche of men it started with years ago. So it would make sense that a brand that effectively turns women away and makes a sizeable portion of men feel awkward may not be serving me anymore.

And then you look at the numbers themselves. In it’s first 18 months of existence, Postmasculine.com saw incredible growth. Readership grew 500% and revenue grew over 300%. But in the past six months, despite me pouring thousands and thousands of dollars into promotional efforts and marketing, readership has grown a paltry 20% and revenue hasn’t grown at all. We’ve hit a ceiling.

With all of this in mind, and without the hundreds of emails and messages from guys asking about first dates and complaining about anxiety, the conclusion was blindingly obvious: My brand should be gender neutral.

That is why next month, we will be moving the site to MarkManson.net.

Don’t worry, the content will largely be the same. The only difference with new articles will be fewer “he” pronouns and probably less frequency of the usage “Dude,” and “bro,” which may not be a bad thing… bro.

This brand change will also allow me to expand the breadth of what I’m comfortable writing about here. Ironically, over the past year, few of this site’s most popular articles were actually directly related to dating or self help (in order: America, Work Overseas, India, Terrorism, New Masculinity, Minimalism, Quit Your Day Job, then come the Crazy Bitch article and Dismal State of Flirting.)

The new brand will also allow me a lot more promotional opportunities. For one, I’ll be able to market the new books to wider audiences, write for a wider variety of mainstream sites, people will be able to share my articles on social media more liberally, and when people recommend my site in person, they won’t have to accompany it with a tedious five-minute explanation of what “Postmasculine” means.

The current men’s products will remain, I will continue to offer consultations and coach, but after the Postmasculine book, all products will be gender neutral.

An Avalanche of New Ideas

Before the beach trip, for the first time in my career, I was feeling stifled and uninspired. I generally never run out of ideas for new content, but for the first time in forever, not only was I at a loss of new content, but I had lost my enthusiasm for writing as well. Looking back, I was putting a lot of pressure and expectation on myself for the new book. To me, the Postmasculine brand and idea largely signified my career aspirations. Therefore, the stakes for the new book were unmanageably high. Unless it is wildly successful then my career will not be wildly successful.

Anyone who has read this site knows that greater expectations lead to greater anxiety and greater anxiety leads to less action and less motivation.

I was anxious about meeting the lofty expectations in my mind and therefore suffered from writer’s block for the first time in my life.

But, since the beach trip and making the decision to move to Markmanson.net, my enthusiasm has returned. I’ve decided to turn the original mammoth Postmasculine book into two separate books. And in the process, I’ve come up with ideas for two more products: one will be an online course and collaboration with a friend of mine and the other one is a fiction book. And on top of that, who’s to say I can’t write a dating advice book for women based on the same ideas and principles as Models?

All of the above are in the discussion and likely to materialize in the future. And within a period of perhaps two weeks, I’ve gone from feeling burnt out, uninspired and cornered, to once again having enough ideas to keep me busy for the next year or two. It’s time to get writing.

What You Can Do Now

You may have already noticed that MarkManson.net itself is currently passworded. We’re still in the process of building it. It will hopefully be ready in another week or two.

The new site will have a broader focus. I will also be deleting the majority of pick up related content from 2009-2011 in the move. Focus will be on maintaining an archive with an incredibly high standard of writing, while keeping everything relevant and sleaze-free. A number of previous dating posts are also being edited to be gender neutral.

All social media will remain the same EXCEPT for Facebook. While Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus allow you to change your account name easily, Facebook fan pages do not. Therefore, I have created a new Facebook fan page and invite you to “like it” and support the new site change.

Support the site change and “Like” the new Facebook Fan Page here

I realize there will be some people who will hate this, just as there were some people who hated it when I changed to Postmasculine.com. My answer back then was that a) I couldn’t write about pick up forever and b) pick up was part of much broader and more important issues that I wanted to address.

Well, my answer would be the same now. I can’t write about men and masculinity issues forever, nor do I want to. And ultimately, masculinity issues are part of the broader and deeper issues permeating our culture.

See you soon,
Mark

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VIDEO: Dating as an Economy http://postmasculine.com/dating-as-an-economy?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dating-as-an-economy http://postmasculine.com/dating-as-an-economy#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 17:15:59 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12646

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 2.20.35 PM

As promised, here are some videos from the speaking tour this past spring. The main video embedded here is a group discussion I had in Philadelphia with about 20 men. The first 30 minutes are me talking my head off, and then the rest is open Q&A discussion among the group.

And below are some specific video clips from a talk I gave in Cologne, Germany about two weeks later.

Dating is Not Like a Market But an Economy Why Rejection is Good [...]

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Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 2.20.35 PM

As promised, here are some videos from the speaking tour this past spring. The main video embedded here is a group discussion I had in Philadelphia with about 20 men. The first 30 minutes are me talking my head off, and then the rest is open Q&A discussion among the group.

And below are some specific video clips from a talk I gave in Cologne, Germany about two weeks later.

I’ll be posting more videos before the end of the month. If you like them, be sure to subscribe on YouTube to see all new videos as they’re uploaded.

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Hiatus http://postmasculine.com/hiatus?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hiatus http://postmasculine.com/hiatus#comments Fri, 31 May 2013 17:15:16 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12614

IMG_5851

I read an article the other day on time management and it emphasized the importance of saying no and turning down projects which aren’t sufficiently urgent or beneficial in order to focus on the tasks that are.

This has been the big lesson for me the first half of 2013. Up until this year, I rarely turned down any project or opportunity because either I couldn’t afford to or it didn’t make sense to. But the past six months that’s changed and I’ve paid for it. I’ve felt stretched far too thin. And for the [...]

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IMG_5851

I read an article the other day on time management and it emphasized the importance of saying no and turning down projects which aren’t sufficiently urgent or beneficial in order to focus on the tasks that are.

This has been the big lesson for me the first half of 2013. Up until this year, I rarely turned down any project or opportunity because either I couldn’t afford to or it didn’t make sense to. But the past six months that’s changed and I’ve paid for it. I’ve felt stretched far too thin. And for the first time ever, I find myself emailing people back and saying, “Thank you, but no.”

It’s a good problem to have, a good lesson to have to learn. It signifies a certain level of success. And while there are quite a few stressed-out hours from this spring that in hindsight were unnecessary, the business will be better for it.

So with that, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from blog posting for the month of June. As of next Monday, I will be free of all of my previous commitments and I plan on using the coming month to focus on the new book that I’m horribly behind schedule on writing.

The book has proven to be a beast of a project. In my opinion, the quality of it, both in terms of depth of content and writing, is on a whole different level of anything I’ve done before. But unfortunately, that means it’s coming out slowly… and painfully. My goal is to get most of a solid draft done this coming month and hopefully have it released by the end of summer.

Also, during the next month Models will be updated for what is hopefully the final time. I want to clean up some of the language and science in the beginning of it, add some more chunks on vulnerability and excise a lot of the unnecessary style, health and lifestyle advice that makes the book a little bit long.

The language will also be revised in Models to make the advice in it as cross-cultural as possible, as I’ll be having it translated into some foreign languages the second half of this year.

(Yes, everyone who has bought the book before will receive the new version for free.)

In the meantime, there will still be some updates on the site this coming month. I’ll be posting videos from my recent speaking tour here and you may see a couple guest posts go up while I’m away.

I’ll continue to be active on Facebook and Twitter. And all of the new video will also be uploaded to my YouTube channel. So stay in touch.

See you in July.

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Change Your Mind About Dating http://postmasculine.com/change-your-mind?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=change-your-mind http://postmasculine.com/change-your-mind#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 17:49:13 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12577

dating-mindset

For those of the men who are single, sexless and stressing about it. Take a moment to consider…

…That before meeting someone, instead of worrying whether they’ll like you, you could wonder if you’ll like them?

…That instead of feeling the need to impress her, you could wonder if she impresses you?

…That instead of sitting there silent, wondering what to say next to get her to like you, you could sit there silent wondering what she will say to make you like her?

…That instead of waiting around for her to return your call, you [...]

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dating-mindset

For those of the men who are single, sexless and stressing about it. Take a moment to consider…

…That before meeting someone, instead of worrying whether they’ll like you, you could wonder if you’ll like them?

…That instead of feeling the need to impress her, you could wonder if she impresses you?

…That instead of sitting there silent, wondering what to say next to get her to like you, you could sit there silent wondering what she will say to make you like her?

…That instead of waiting around for her to return your call, you could find something to do while she waits for your call?

…That instead of worrying if you’re tall enough or good-looking enough for her, you could decide whether she’s too superficial to recognize your great qualities?

…That instead of trying to come up with the perfect date, you could decide that a woman who really likes you doesn’t need a perfect date?

…That instead of looking for a conversation she’ll enjoy, you could talk about something you enjoy?

…That instead wondering when she wants to be kissed, you could decide when you want to kiss her?

…That instead of feeling insecure about how good in bed you are, you could wonder on how good in bed she is?

…That instead of looking for her approval, you could decide whether to give your approval to her?

…That instead of getting upset about why she doesn’t want to be with you, you could decide that it means you probably wouldn’t want to be with her?

This may all sound a bit selfish. But, in fact, it’s having strong boundaries and high self-esteem. Only making time for people who make time for you. Only being interested in dating people who are interested in dating you. Worrying about what will make you happy instead of what will make her happy. Looking for a woman who meets your needs instead of trying to always meet hers. Changing yourself to become the man you want to be, not the man you think she wants you to be.

You may be saying, “But I don’t have enough experience to think like this,” or “I’m not cool enough to decide if she’s good enough for me or not.”

It’s that sort of thinking that got you here. It’s time to change your mind about dating.

You’re the only one who gets to live your life. Take it seriously. Have standards.

Women are attracted to someone they can look up to and respect, someone who they can trust. If their man is constantly looking to her for approval, for what to say and how to feel, how could she respect or trust him?

The questions above are designed to change your mind, to change your mind about how you are going about dating and going about meeting women.

Chances are in the past you have searched for a tactic or strategy that will make her like you, that will make her want to be with you, that will make her want to have sex with you.

This mindset leads to unattractive behavior. This mindset creates your anxiety, your insecurity, your need to impress her, to try too hard, to say or do things that don’t feel like the real you.

local-celebrity-the-power-is-yours-mens-t-shirt-3You are what makes a woman feel these things — not the words, not the strategies. If you aren’t happy with the results you get, then it’s time to improve you.

Change your mind about dating. Change your mind about yourself and change your results with women.

The new mindset leads to attractive behavior. It helps you freely express yourself. It removes fear of rejection and being insufficient.

I don’t care how hot she is. Is she good enough for you? Yeah, she’s got a great body and a pretty face, but do you enjoy being around her? Are you ready to leave on a dime if she offends you or breaks your trust?

If not, that’s probably why you’re not with her.

There’s no such thing as “dating advice.” It’s all about self improvement. Work on yourself. Conquer your anxieties. Resolve your shame. Take care of yourself and those who are important to you. Love yourself. Because otherwise no one else will.

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How to Read Faster and Retain More http://postmasculine.com/read-faster?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=read-faster http://postmasculine.com/read-faster#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 17:50:53 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12542

readfaster

Some practical advice today. I read a shit-ton. And I occasionally get asked about it, particularly from college students. “How can I read more? How can I read faster? How can I remember and use more?”

Although I’m technically a blogger, writer and internet marketer, I actually see my occupation as synthesizing and sharing information in unique and efficient ways. A big part of that is therefore reading a lot of cool stuff and then being able to share that cool stuff easily.

Most people don’t realize that the way we’re taught to read when [...]

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readfaster

Some practical advice today. I read a shit-ton. And I occasionally get asked about it, particularly from college students. “How can I read more? How can I read faster? How can I remember and use more?”

Although I’m technically a blogger, writer and internet marketer, I actually see my occupation as synthesizing and sharing information in unique and efficient ways. A big part of that is therefore reading a lot of cool stuff and then being able to share that cool stuff easily.

Most people don’t realize that the way we’re taught to read when we’re young makes us poor readers when we’re adults. There are practical and logical tactics one can utilize to read non-fiction material more efficiently.

In my book Models, a passage that surprisingly drew a lot of attention from readers was the section where I described how I challenged myself to read 50 non-fiction books in 50 days when I was 19-years-old. In the book, I described this experience as one of the most useful of my life. University courses became a breeze. My writing got better. My ability to consume information increased drastically. And I gained tons of new insights and perspectives on my life and the world around me.

What seems to catch people’s attention is that they assume it was some massive feat of will power. It was at first, but within a week or so, I adopted a few strategies to make the whole process more efficient and more enjoyable. Once you get the hang of it, consuming a typical popular science book should take no more than a few hours (exceptions if the book is either really good or really bad).

These are strategies anyone can use and require little practice. You can be up to speed and doing this stuff within a week or two. It will just take some conscious effort at first and a little bit of practice. For the most part, these tips are practical and logical, not some uber-speed-reading techniques.

But before we get into it, let’s start with a question:

“What is the purpose of reading?”

That sounds like a pretty stupid question. It’s so obvious that few people bother to think about it. But why do we even read in the first place?

The answer is the transmission of information. Written language has the magical power of taking an idea from my brain and inserting it into yours, regardless of space or time or whether we like each other or not.

But when we’re young, the purpose of reading is to learn vocabulary and proper grammar. Therefore the way we’re taught to read when we’re young is designed to do that efficiently, not necessarily transmit information efficiently. What we have to do, as educated adults, is re-orient the way we read to consume information and ideas efficiently. Grammar and vocabulary are pre-requisites for this, but not the ultimate purpose.

(Note: In the cases of good fiction or poetry, it’s often not desirable to read the book as quickly as possible, since the purpose of reading it is the artistic merit of the writing itself. For this reason, in the case of extremely well-written non-fiction, or when reading fiction or poetry for pleasure, I forgo most of these strategies.)

Step 1: Shut Off Your Inner Monologue

When we’re kids, we’re taught to read by sounding out every letter and then every word. As we grow older, we continue to read through an internal monologue in our head.

The problem is our eyes are capable of identifying words and sentences much faster than our inner monologue can make sounds. The first step to reading faster and more efficiently is to stop sounding out the words in your head. This requires some degree of mindfulness and I actually think meditation can help with this.

Mastering this, by itself, can double or triple your reading speed within a few days. And when you do encounter a piece of great writing (*cough* like mine *cough*) you can always turn the monologue back on to really enjoy it. I have a handful of favorite writers and bloggers that I always keep the monologue on for, because beyond the information I simply enjoy their style of writing. But most of the time the monologue goes off.

Step 2: Scan for Important words only

FYI: Kids suck at reading.

FYI: Kids suck at reading.

The other habit that is taught in grade school that slows you down later is to pay attention to every word in a sentence in order. But the mind has an amazing ability to fill gaps with appropriate information. So we may as well take advantage of it.

Once you get the hang of reading without sounding out every word in your head, you’ll find yourself beginning to chunk groups of words together into larger chunks of meaning. Instead of seeing “the” “cat” “was” “mad” separately, your mind will register “the cat was mad” as one single piece of information. Once that happens, certain chunks of words will stand out in paragraphs and your eyes will just glide over the filler words without wasting time or energy on their content.

For example, this sentence, “In effect, the cat’s biggest concern had not been the lack of food, but rather the demonstrated lack of care by his owners.”

Will soon register as this, “Cat’s biggest concern — not lack of food — but — lack of care — owners.”

You get 90% of the meaning with about 50% of the words.

I’ll use another example from an article I read last night. It’s from the Harvard Business Review and is about defeating procrastination. This is the first paragraph:

“A recent early morning hike in Malibu, California, led me to a beach, where I sat on a rock and watched surfers. I marveled at these courageous men and women who woke before dawn, endured freezing water, paddled through barreling waves, and even risked shark attacks, all for the sake of, maybe, catching an epic ride.”

But as I read that paragraph, this is what stands out as my eyes scan it:

“A recent early morning hike in Malibu, California, led me to a beach, where I sat on a rock and watched surfers. I marveled at these courageous men and women who woke before dawn, endured freezing water, paddled through barreling waves, and even risked shark attacks, all for the sake of, maybe, catching an epic ride.”

That’s 50% of what’s actually written. But you’ll notice that the relationships between those chunks are all already implied. In many cases the adjectives hint at the action taking place and so reading the verbs is unnecessary as well.

Scanning paragraphs like this takes practice. But this can double your reading speed yet again. And the beauty is that if you scan through a paragraph and don’t completely grasp the meaning, you just go back, slow down, and add the words back in until makes sense. Then take off again.

Step 3: Read only first and last sentences of paragraphs

If we accept that the purpose of writing is to convey information, and if we’re not reading something for the pleasure of the writing itself, then it makes no sense to read any more words or sentences than are necessary to convey the information. That means that there’s no reason to continue reading sentences that describe a concept you already understand.

The fact of the matter is that most non-fiction is not written well. It’s usually repetitive and long-winded. They’ll give example after example of a simple concept you already understood. There’s no reason for you to suffer through this. Especially if you’re a smart and selective reader.

Whenever I read an article, a section of a book, or a chapter where I feel like I already have a decent understanding of the subject matter and am merely looking for something new or something that stands out, I will read only the first sentence of each paragraph. By design, paragraphs introduce new ideas and new topics. And when you limit yourself to the first sentence of each one, you’re limiting yourself to sentences that introduce each idea in the piece of work. If I come across a sentence that piques my interest, THEN I will go back and read the entire paragraph or section. If I reach a point where I’ve lost track of what the author is talking about, then, and only then, I will go back and read the last few paragraphs until I’m caught up to speed, then I’ll move on.

Another option is to read only the first and last sentences of each paragraph. It’s actually startling how much information you can pick up just by doing this. Try it. Dig up a magazine article you’ve never read and go through it reading only the first and last sentences of each paragraph. Only read entire paragraphs if the you don’t understand the first and last sentences.

Then go back and read the whole thing beginning to end. Compare how much information you gained by doing the latter. It’s likely not that much.

Step 4: Skip entire sections, chapters or Even the book itself

I’m amazed by how many people persist in reading crappy books that they’re not learning anything from.

If you are consistently running into shitty ideas, things you already know, or the book is just extremely repetitive (like most self help books), then just skip entire sections. Right now I’m reading Phil Jackson’s new autobiography about being an NBA coach. He had an entire section of the book about his interest in Native American rituals. I’m not interested in Native American rituals, I’m interested in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. So I skipped about four pages. I’m now halfway through the book and feel like I missed out on absolutely nothing.

As for ditching a book entirely, I usually give any book 10% before I decide whether to finish it or not. If it’s a 500 page book, I’ll give it until 50 pages. If it’s 100 pages, it needs to grab me within 10 or so. If it doesn’t grab me or I find I don’t respect the author, then before giving up on it I’ll check the table of contents and skip to the chapter that appeals to me the most. If that chapter still doesn’t do it for me, then I put the book down and don’t look back. I’d estimate that I end up putting down anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the books that I start and never read any more than 10-20% of them.

That may surprise some people. But I’ve found that one really good book gives me the value and information of 3-4 crappy books. So there’s no sense on wasting my time on books that are not transmitting the information I’m interested in.

Step 5: Relate any Important information to things you already know

How are you going to remember all of this stuff?

How are you going to remember all of this stuff?

When you start to go through a lot of books, you become concerned that you’re not retaining all of the information that you’re coming across. It feels weird because you can’t consciously recall everything immediately. So sometimes it feels like you read hundreds of pages for nothing. Sometimes you may feel the urge to quiz yourself on what you just read. But then you’re basically just replicating school all over again. And honestly, who remembers anything they learned in school?

The way the brain is set up, the majority of our memories will exist in our sub-conscious and only become accessible in relevant contexts. Ever been in a conversation with somebody and something they say suddenly sparks a memory you hadn’t thought about in years? Yep. They’re down there. They just need to be associated with something useful for them to come up.

This is why whenever you come across a new or useful idea, take a moment to relate it to something you already know, understand or use. For instance, I recently read a book on Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration. Positive Disintegration is a theoretical framework and reading about it was quite dense. It was fascinating, but I ended up having to take some time to relate each of his ideas to personal experiences or other psychological frameworks that I’ve studied in the past. As a result, his ideas are far easier to recall. Instead of trying to recall the theoretical specifics of positive disintegration cold, I can remember the social anxieties I struggled with for years and how that represents one of the processes in his framework. That then allows my brain to access the information from the book quickly.

Later when I studied Robert Kegan’s work — another developmental psychological framework that was dense — I then related it to Positive Disintegration. The frameworks are similar, involve five stages, and have basically the same endpoint. My memory of each reinforces the other now because I see how they interrelate. I don’t have to recall both in a vacuum, but I can recall parts of either and soon have the whole of both.

Step 6: Highlight, bookmark, keep a database

But even then you won’t be able to remember everything, or at least not accurately. So it’s important to be able to reference your knowledge.

(Note: This is where it gets nerdy.)

I believe as a study tool itself, highlighting or underlining is overrated if not useless. What it’s useful for is reference. I highlight/underline all important facts or ideas that I want to be able to reference in the future. If there’s a whole section that is important, I’ll dog-ear the page down (with Kindle, you can just add a bookmark).

This won’t actually help you retain anything by itself. The retention and usefulness comes from building a reference database of references.

When I finish a book, I go back and make notes on the parts I highlighted and bookmarked. I then write a short 100-200 word summary of the book and the points I took from it. This takes anywhere from five to 30 minutes. But it’s worth it. I also keep my database on Google Drive, so it’s accessible anywhere (even on my phone).

Some people are really into mind mapping. I never really got into them, but it’s the same concept.

I only do this with the best books that have important information, not everything I read. I’d say only 1/3 of the books I read make it into the database. But it’s been incredibly useful for me, especially in regards to my business. And the best part is, it’s there forever. There are books I read 10 years ago that I’m foggy now on a lot of the specifics. In 10 years, if I ever get foggy on Dabrowski’s theories, I can pull them up at any time, at home, on a bus or train, waiting in line at the airport, and refresh myself.

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How Disney Ruined Sex For Everyone http://postmasculine.com/disney?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=disney http://postmasculine.com/disney#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 16:43:19 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12497

snowwhite2

So stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this guy. He’s like a prince, or an orphan, or kind of a loser — like an orphan-prince-loser-type guy.

And then there’s this girl. And she’s hot.

And then usually there’s a bad guy too. And he’s bad.

So, logically, our orphan-prince-loser-type guy has to save the hot girl, and usually does it by beating up the bad guy. He solves the super secret conspiracy to overthrow the government, or destroys the evil space ship, or has a sword fight to the death [...]

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snowwhite2

So stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this guy. He’s like a prince, or an orphan, or kind of a loser — like an orphan-prince-loser-type guy.

And then there’s this girl. And she’s hot.

And then usually there’s a bad guy too. And he’s bad.

So, logically, our orphan-prince-loser-type guy has to save the hot girl, and usually does it by beating up the bad guy. He solves the super secret conspiracy to overthrow the government, or destroys the evil space ship, or has a sword fight to the death where his ear gets hacked off and he barely lives. Shit blows up. People die. The bad guy ultimately loses.

The crowd goes wild. And our former orphan-prince-loser guy is now a capital-H Hero. And what do heroes get as their reward for saving the universe? Duh. The hot girl.

What I just described to you is loosely the plot of practically every story you’ve ever been told — from Star Wars to Iron Man to Good Will Hunting to Super Mario Bros.

And, of course, every Disney movie ever made.

Sometimes there will be a wrinkle in the story too, making it “tragic.” Like the hero will even die for the hot girl (Terminator, Titanic) or the hot girl dies and the hero decides to go on a murderous rampage to for love and righteousness (Braveheart, Gladiator), or the girl turns out to be batshit insane and the hero realizes he threw away his entire life for nothing (Gone with the Wind, Vertigo). And in rare instances, the hero cannot be with the hot girl for legitimate capital-H Heroic reasons and must live a life of solemn “what if?” misery (Casablanca, Shawshank Redemption, etc.)

Yes, this practically is every movie you’ve ever watched, every comic book you’ve ever read, every video game you’ve ever beaten, every story book that your parents read to your drooling face.

And it’s fucking up your sex life.

Yes, Disney is wholly responsible for your lack of sexual confidence. And here’s why:

These stories send messages to us as we’re growing up. Some of the messages are nice, like “Trees are good!” and “Greed is bad!” Other messages are bad. They’re messages that are hammered into our drooling faces our whole lives and they give us really screwed up expectations. One of those bad messages is: You must earn the vagina.

If you want to be with a beautiful girl, you have to do something capital-H heroic, you have to stand out, be someone unique and amazing and awe-inspiring. Otherwise pretty girls will never like you. You have to save the fucking world. Then you are rewarded with vagina. That’s all you are and all you’re worth, a proud vagina-recipient. So start blowing shit up.

Obviously, the vast majority of us haven’t saved the world or blown anything up recently. In fact, the reality is that even if all of us are unique and special, none of us actually feel particularly unique or special at any given moment. None of us feel like we’ve done anything capital-H Heroic. We all feel like, well, just us. And apparently that’s not good enough.

It’s the storybook narrative. And in the 21st century, it really screws up our dating lives:

  1. Men spend their entire lives believing they’re not good enough to be with a woman. Men are taught to feel an immense pressure to impress women, to perform for them, to show off their money or their cars or how many digits of Pi they can memorize, so chicks might like them. This is needy and unattractive behavior and reinforces low self esteem as well as sexual anxiety. There’s a reason most guys need to be hammered to even tell a girl they like her. They all feel like they’re not good enough to like her.
     
  2. Women spend their entire lives waiting for a man to do something amazing to impress her. Or, in other words, she spends her entire life waiting for her prince charming, her knight in shining armor to come “sweep her off her feet.” Women are conditioned to believe that they’re a prize that men are supposed to win through some great achievement. And when no man is saving the world or cutting off people’s heads off with a badass broad sword in the name of her love, then she inevitably ends up disappointed. It sends the message that she’s not good enough. No man is killing himself for her vagina. Therefore her vagina must be faulty in some way.

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The storybook narrative instills sexual insecurity and promotes lofty standards, which, when unmet, causes both men and women to become ornery and unaccommodating to the realities of attraction and the courtship process.

When men feel like they can never be good enough to win the vagina, they decide to come up with ways to take it. Sometimes they do it through manipulation. Sometimes they do it through over-compensation. In extreme cases, they may do it by force.

When women feel like they can never be good enough to have their vagina won from them, they try to trick men into earning it. They play hard-to-get, create a bunch of unnecessary drama, or always keep the man guessing as to their intentions.

Sex as Transaction, Sex as Performance

But I’ll be real for a second, Disney isn’t actually responsible for this stuff. The storybook narrative has been going on for most of western civilization. It’s littered throughout Shakespeare and medieval texts. Even the Trojan War in The Iliad is started because of a beef over a hottie named Helen.

Hey, girl. You want me to build a giant wooden horse and ransack an entire ancient city for you?

Hey, girl. You want me to build a giant wooden horse and ransack the ancient city of Troy for you?

The reason this narrative has existed so long is because marriage was the economic and political building block for most of the existence of civilization. In feudal societies, the way you guaranteed security to your estate was through marrying women of wealthy (and often competing) families. If you were a man of one of the underclasses, the only way to “marry up” into wealth or greater power was through accomplishing some amazing feat, usually in war. Hence, the epic tale of valiant knights saving the princess that is so often repeated.

But we live in the 21st century. Our politics and economics are no longer arranged through marriages. No one marries for political power. Women have jobs and earn their own money. We live in free-market democracies. 99.9% of us will never see a battlefield in our lives.

Years ago, sex writer Clarisse Thorn introduced me to the idea of sex as performance versus sex as transaction. The idea was originally put forth by Thomas MacAulay Millar in Yes Means Yes (a book that, I won’t lie, made me cringe a little the first time I read it). The idea is also backed up and expanded upon in books such as Sex at Dawn and Marriage: A History.

The idea goes something like this:

Anthropological evidence suggests that in pre-history, hunter/gatherer societies were, umm, rather “loose” with their sexual morals. The idea of marriage or sexual possession was (and still is) largely anathema to most of these groups. But with the rise of agriculture, humans, for the first time in our species’ existence, had surpluses of resources. And not only did we have surpluses of resources, but men, due to their size and strength, gained a large competitive advantage at acquiring them over women. Men began to compete against one another economically, hoarding surplus resources and then using those resources to dominate the others around them. Economic hierarchies were born. City/states followed. Monarchs and lords and the feudal system followed from that, as did organized warfare and the first empires.

(Famous scientist and author Jared Diamond went as far as to call agriculture “The biggest mistake in human history.” I’m not sure I would go that far.)

The problem with this new social structure was that men, for the first time ever, had two major concerns: 1) they needed to guarantee paternity of their own children and 2) they needed to manage their political competition through marriages, alliances and familial bonds.

Thus female chastity began to matter. Fidelity began to matter. Fertility began to matter. Sex became an economic and political transaction, and women — who were now useless for war and physical labor — became pro-creating assets for men. Women provided sex and procreation. In return, their families were given resources, dowries, political alliances, land, etc.

Men now had to win the vagina.

And so they did, for about 7,000 years plus or minus.

But as I mentioned earlier, times have changed. We don’t arrange our society through marriages anymore. We can will our resources to anyone of our choosing when we die. We have legal systems in place to guarantee our assets. Women have jobs and their own incomes. STD’s are no longer lethal. Women (and soon men) have birth control and can dictate their own procreation. We live in the most non-violent period of human history. People are living to almost 90.

Treating sex as a transaction no longer makes sense. In fact, now that the economic deck has been shuffled and largely equalized, treating sex as a transaction harms the self-esteem and emotional health of both men and women.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we no longer need to use sex to fulfill our physiological and security needs. Now we can move on to using it to meet our needs for intimacy and esteem.

What Millar proposes — somewhat radically — is that we should treat sex as a performance, as an activity that is done for the sake of doing it, for the sake of self-expression and pleasure and intimacy.

When sex is treated as a transaction, it’s often in both men and women’s interests to hide or misdirect their intentions, creating the perception of higher value so they can earn as much as possible from the interaction. As I’ve detailed before, this leads to all sorts of unpleasant processes that makes dating a pain in the ass and interferes with intimacy and self esteem.

When sex is treated as performance, then it’s in the best interest of both men and women to approach it with clear intentions, without shame, and without judgment — strategies which are proven to attract more members of the opposite sex, to create more satisfying sexual relationships, and to remove any ambiguity as to each person’s intentions.

Is it possible to ever 100% reach a model of sex as performance? Probably not. Despite contraception and medicine, women will always bear more risk for sexual behavior than men. Men will always have higher sex drives than women. It’s an ideal. And as an ideal it should be strived toward even if it’s never met. For all of our sakes. And so maybe the next generation won’t have to be brainwashed by the same Disney movies we were.

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The Biology Bias http://postmasculine.com/the-biology-bias?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-biology-bias http://postmasculine.com/the-biology-bias#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 15:08:22 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12155

In psychology, there’s a well-observed phenomenon known as the actor/observer bias and it states that we’re basically all a bunch of assholes.

The actor/observer bias states that all of us unconsciously assume others to be more responsible for their negative actions than their environment, and for ourselves to be less responsible for our negative actions than our environment.

For example, if you are at an intersection and someone runs through the red light and almost hits you, you think, “Wow, what a shitty driver. That guy is an idiot.” But when it’s YOU who runs the red [...]

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In psychology, there’s a well-observed phenomenon known as the actor/observer bias and it states that we’re basically all a bunch of assholes.

The actor/observer bias states that all of us unconsciously assume others to be more responsible for their negative actions than their environment, and for ourselves to be less responsible for our negative actions than our environment.

For example, if you are at an intersection and someone runs through the red light and almost hits you, you think, “Wow, what a shitty driver. That guy is an idiot.” But when it’s YOU who runs the red light and almost hits somebody, you think, “It’s not my fault. The guy in front of me was driving slow and the light changed too quickly for me to stop.”

When it’s us, it’s not our fault. When it’s someone else, they’re a shitty person.

But it gets worse. The opposite happens with positive actions, too. In our own case, we over-estimate our own responsibility for the great things we do and under-estimate the responsibility of others. For example, if someone else wins a prestigious award, we make assumptions that they got it because of their connections or some sort of conspiracy and not of their own work. But if we win an award, we assume it was all because of the great work we did.

The actor/observer is a natural bias that afflicts us all. We can be mindful and try to be better about it, but we’re never completely rid of it.

Nature Vs Nurture

But what’s interesting is when you take the Actor/Observer bias and add the nature versus nurture argument to it. The nature versus nurture argument is a philosophical debate that has been going on for centuries. It’s the debate over whether behavior is primarily determined by biology or by one’s environment and prior experiences.

The answer, of course, is it’s both. Both our biology and our environments are always determining our behavior at all times. And on top of that, our biology and our environment influence one another. For instance, having elevated testosterone will cause us to behave differently, but also being subjected to certain environmental factors can raise our testosterone.

But recently, with the discoveries of neuroplasticity and epigenetics in recent decades, most biologists these days concede that environment is overall a stronger determinant of specific behaviors than biology.

Biology defines the parameters of our behavior and creates our proclivities for certain behaviors (i.e., risk-taking, neuroticism, etc.), but ultimately our external influences and past experiences determine exactly how we behave at any given moment.

But regardless, the nature/nurture debate is still foggy. Is that person violent because they have a genetic predisposition to violence? Or did they grow up in a horribly violent environment? Why do some people come from horrible environments and become healthy, admirable people and others come from good environments and become despicable people?

These questions are not easily answered. And may never easily be answered.

The answer is always that it’s somewhere between the two but we’re never certain exactly where it is. And in these foggy nature/nurture situations, our actor/observer bias will often kick in and make us more likely to attribute the poor behavior of others to biology — the idea that they were simply born a bad person rather than influenced to do something — and attribute the bad behavior of ourselves to our environment our culture.

So if a co-worker is perpetually underpaid at work, we will attribute it to him/her being inherently stupid or incapable. Whereas if WE are perpetually underpaid at work, we attribute it to being screwed over by incompetent management.

I told you it makes us all assholes.

When the actor/observer bias comes joins up with the nature/nurture debate, I call this the biology bias — the assumption that other people or groups are biological predisposed to undesirable behavior, while our behavior is simply caused by a faulty culture.

You see the biology bias pop up in all sorts of places. Instead of dealing with the actual policy arguments of many conservatives, liberals simply whitewash them as being unintelligent and inherently selfish people. Conservatives do the same with liberals by making assumptions about how they’re inherently lazy and feel entitled. Both sides rarely stop to consider the environmental factors that caused the other side to have liberal/conservative views in the first place.

The biology bias becomes particularly dangerous in the context of racism. For centuries, Europeans enslaved Africans, Native Americans and Asians based on the assumption that they were of a different (and inferior) species, that they were somehow biologically less capable than their European colonizers. But it turns out, European societies enjoyed major geographical advantages that eventually allowed them to colonize the planet (Read Jared Diamond’s fascinating Guns, Germs and Steel for more on this subject.)

Much of this still goes on today. As T and I discussed on a podcast a few months ago, he’s been arguing with a group of so-called “Human Bio-Diversity” bloggers who believe that since the average African-American has an IQ 10 points lower than the average Anglo-American, they are therefore inherently stupider or less capable.

The Biology Bias and Sexism

“When racist and sexist ideologies sanction certain hierarchical social arrangements based on biology, that biology is usually false.”

- Theodore Kemper, Social Structure and Testosterone

In my book on dating, Models: Attract Women Through Honesty, I have a whole section in the middle of the book about defense mechanisms.

We all use defense mechanisms to avoid our anxieties and protect us from dealing with our shame. For instance, if we have a lot of sexual shame we may develop defense mechanisms such as rationalizing reasons to avoid sexual encounters, over-analyzing sexual situations, or over-compensating by trying to have sex with absolutely everything and everyone.

Another common defense mechanism is to stereotype a population, especially if we feel victimized by that particular population.

Women make an easy target for the biological bias because a) many men are perpetually frustrated by women and b) there are obvious biological differences between the two sexes (of the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” variety.)

Over the years, I’ve seen the following biological arguments made about women as a population: they will use a man for his resources and then move on (like locusts or something), they will lie and manipulate you to get you to like them more, they are overly emotional, they are less intelligent and incapable of rational thought, they seek sexual attention to make themselves feel better, they will cheat on you or leave you the minute a better option comes around, and so on.

None of these statements have any biological evidence backing them up. All of these statements only apply to certain individual women, some of whom cluster in certain locales (like say, I don’t know, sleazy clubs). All of the men who make these statements have a history of rejection or emotional trauma involving women.

Coincidence? I think not.

For me, this is the contradiction that underlies most of the manosphere literature out there and ruins it for me. Undesirable behavior from women (they’re manipulative, overly-emotional, hypergamous) is attributed to their inherent biology, while undesirable behavior from men (weak, feminized, too sensitive) is attributed to a culture forced upon them. You can’t have it both ways. Either you face up to the overly emotional, manipulative behavior in yourself as well as women, or you focus on the cultural effects on both genders. You can’t have it one way for one gender and the other way for the other.

But wait! There’s more!

Feminists are not immune to these types of actor/observer biases. These are just a few of the examples of reverse-sexism I’ve seen from the other side of the fence over the years:

If a woman fights her way to the top of the corporate ladder, it’s her ingenuity and hard work. If a man does, it’s only because he’s benefiting from patriarchy. If a man complains that a woman is being flirtatious, then she is sexually empowered. If a woman complains that a man is being flirtatious, it’s harassment. If a woman says she likes a strong man who takes care of his body, she is asserting her desires. If a man says he appreciates a woman who dresses up nice and wears high heels, he’s a pig.

Granted, many feminists side-step much of the biology bias by subscribing to the belief that culture defines everything. But they still fall victim to the actor/observer bias constantly, like the rest of us.

One could even go so far as to say that the so-called “battle of the sexes” is mostly just the biology bias in action. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Regardless of our gender, race, sexuality, nationality, religious beliefs or political beliefs, as humans our minds are bad at dealing with large populations. It’s too much data. Our minds take shortcuts in order to manage all of the information they consume. These shortcuts, if unchecked and unregulated, can easily turn us into bigoted assholes.

That goes for racists and reverse-racists. That goes for sexists and reverse-sexists. That goes for religious nuts and atheists. That goes from liberals and conservatives.

We are all equal in that we’re all biased against populations and groups who we don’t identify with. It’s unconscious and inevitable. But it’s only particularly evil if these biases are forged into long-term beliefs and later transmuted into actual prejudiced actions.

That is why practices such as mindfulness, therapy and meditation are so crucial. They help us not only become more objective about others, but also help us unravel the the biased beliefs and limitations we place on ourselves.

Or as Anaïs Nin once said: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

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Why Young Americans Should Work Overseas http://postmasculine.com/work-overseas?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=work-overseas http://postmasculine.com/work-overseas#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 15:15:01 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12103

work overseas

I should start off by saying the reasons laid out in this article on why young Americans should work overseas are practical and not ideological. This is not a liberal argument or a conservative argument; it’s a life argument. For two centuries, if you were young, ambitious, and college-educated, North America offered you the best opportunities. But the tides are changing and that’s no longer the case.

The odd thing is that no one in the United States seems to realize this yet. People haven’t caught on. And what does that mean? Opportunity. Tons [...]

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work overseas

I should start off by saying the reasons laid out in this article on why young Americans should work overseas are practical and not ideological. This is not a liberal argument or a conservative argument; it’s a life argument. For two centuries, if you were young, ambitious, and college-educated, North America offered you the best opportunities. But the tides are changing and that’s no longer the case.

The odd thing is that no one in the United States seems to realize this yet. People haven’t caught on. And what does that mean? Opportunity. Tons of it.

One of my best friends recently told me that the prestigious multinational corporation he worked for was itching to permanently send him to India. They wanted him to manage their expansion into that market. And, obviously, India is a huge emerging market. They gave him the Godfather offer to go — enough money to live in a mansion, with personal chefs, private drivers, everything. The irony, of course, was that my friend is a first generation Indian-American. His parents gave up everything decades ago and fought their way to the US to give their kids opportunities they would never have had back in India. They succeeded. What they didn’t expect was that that opportunity for their son they gave up everything for? It was back in India.

And such is the irony for this generation of Americans. Our grandparents immigrated to the US for opportunity. And now, in many cases, with our US education, the greater opportunity is elsewhere.

If you are college educated and under 30, there’s a significant chance that you would be better off working in a country outside of the United States and I will explain why.

Reason #1 – Your market value is higher elsewhere

So the primary argument of this whole piece boils down to this: We’ve all heard the horror stories about how college grads can’t find work or are stuck working a job they’re insanely over-qualified for. In the US, there are simply no longer enough quality jobs for everyone with a university education. We have an education surplus. It’s reached the point where many are openly questioning whether going to university is even worth it, while others call it an outright scam.

Meanwhile, you have massive emerging economies in Asia and South America that are desperate for college grads and especially for western-educated college grads.

It’s simple supply and demand. There aren’t enough jobs in the US and Europe anymore for young people. There aren’t enough highly educated people in emerging countries. Put two and two together, and your market value is much higher elsewhere.

In fact, western-educated employees are valued so highly in many parts of the world, that companies will deck you out, covering everything from your expenses, housing, transportation, as well as benefits, just to get you to come over.

Reason #2 – The quality-of-life/cost-of-living ratio is now much higher elsewhere

A friend of mine recently told me that he spoke to a luxury hotel owner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The hotel owner was desperate to hire managers with western education. He claimed that Malaysia’s education system, while good, taught obedience and that Malays did not problem solve or think for themselves. Therefore they made poor managers. He was willing to hire anyone — yes, anyone — with a western university degree and immediately put them in a management position, a position that would take at least five to 10 years in the industry to reach back in the US. Perks included paid housing (penthouse suite within the hotel in downtown KL), paid transportation, and all the benefits.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Hah, yeah, but who would want to live in a shithole like Koala Oompa Loompa?” I know. I thought the same thing… until I went there. I expected dusty markets with loud motorbikes, no electricity and spiders the size of my face.

But, as with most Asian cities, I got something totally unexpected: Kuala Lumpur is amazing. In fact, it’s probably a nicer city than the one you live in right now. Don’t believe me? Let’s just put it this way. I went to a mall in Kuala Lumpur and there was a ferris wheel and a roller coaster inside the mall. Yeah…

Kuala Lumpur's indoor roller coaster is better than you.

Kuala Lumpur’s indoor roller coaster is better than you.

The fact of the matter is that the developing world (minus much of Africa) has in many ways caught up to the developed world and caught up fast. It’s happened under our noses and we haven’t even realized it. When I started traveling the world in 2009, almost every place I went to blew my expectations away. I expected to show up to a dirt heap and get my kidneys carved out, and what I got was an amazing quality of life for my money.

Similarly, when my girlfriend, who is Brazilian, began traveling around the world a few years ago, she had the exact opposite reaction: every place she went was not nearly as nice as she expected. Why? She grew up in Brazil and assumed that the US and Europe were technological and social paradises, light years ahead of her native country. She was wrong. Over and over again, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Economists measure quality of life with different metrics. They also measure cost of living. By these metrics, usually the same countries come out on top. What nobody has measured (to my knowledge) is a quality of life PER cost of living metric. Why nobody asked me about this, I have no idea.

But it’s an easy concept to grasp. Here’s an example: $3000 per month in New York City gets you a shitty roach-infested studio apartment in a bad part of Brooklyn or Queens and a lot of fatty take-out meals. Chances are you are working 50- or 60-hour weeks and the weather sucks six months out of the year. In Bangkok, $3000 per month gets you the nicest penthouse apartment in the city, your own driver, access to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Asia, and you’re probably working 30- or 35-hour weeks. The high-life there is probably 90% of the high-life in NYC, but you’re now living it on the same income that got you a shitty studio apartment back in Queens.

Reason #3 – The Jobs Aren’t Coming Back

I hate to be the one that breaks this to you, but the jobs aren’t coming back. Sure, unemployment rates have dropped to below 8%, but as Republicans correctly point out, this is because people are giving up on working altogether and the real number of jobs is falling. The US government keeps reporting job growth every month, but what they fail to mention is that the job growth is slower than the overall population growth.

There is a structural change in the economy. Technological improvements mean our economy can produce more value while employing fewer workers. Economists refer to this as the de-coupling of labor and growth. Technological automation and globalization has created an economy that can grow while employing fewer people. This technology and outsourcing has also developed an economy that disproportionally rewards entrepreneurs, investors and corporations. Hence the whole “We are the 99%” hubbub a year or two ago.

And with the accelerating rate of technological advancement, the problem is only going to get worse, not better. Democrats and Republicans will continue to blame the sluggish economy and shitty job numbers on each other. But know this: that if it’s anybody’s fault, it’s Silicon Valley’s. And the same technology that has enriched our lives and allows me to write this and you to read it, is ultimately the culprit.

Shit’s changing, folks. And it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. We’re seeing a perfect storm of sorts: the decoupling of economic growth to household income and labor productivity with a simultaneous aging population. I don’t care who is president; things are going to be a mess for a while to come.

(If you’d like to learn more about this, I highly recommend reading this book: Race Against the Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee)

Reason #4 – It’s time for everyone to grow up and become global citizens

Christopher Hitchens, about traveling the world, once wrote:

What I have discovered is something very ordinary and unexciting, which is that humans are the same everywhere and that the degree of variation between members of our species is very slight.

This is of course an encouraging finding; it helps arm you against news programs back home that show seething or abject masses of either fanatical or torpid people.

In another way it is a depressing finding; the sorts of things that make people quarrel and make them stupid are the same everywhere.

There’s a lot of alarmism in the media these days. Iran is going to start World War III. War between China and the US is inevitable. A bunch of rag-tag tribesmen in Pakistan are going to wrought nuclear annihilation on all of us. Drug runners in Mexico are going to chop your limbs off. Bizarrely named African rebels are going to drink your blood.

It’s time to get over the hype, move beyond the overblown cultural differences within the human species, and to get over, as Hitchens quotes Freud as saying, “the narcissism of the small difference.”

Living abroad has been one of the biggest personal growth experiences of my life. It’s given me the most unique and memorable experiences of my life. It’s made me smarter, wiser, more tolerant, and more empathetic. And I’m by no means unique in this regard. Just about any world traveler will tell you the same thing.

But the biggest asset has been eliminating my narcissism of that small difference. A lot of people throw around the cliché “broadening your horizons.” But I see it simply as engaging humanity. Recognizing that our perceptions of the dreaded “other” are dominated by the extremes. And that despite cultural differences, people are all trying to get the same needs met.

As a young adult, your biggest assets are time and ambition. If you fail today, you have the advantage of being able to start fresh tomorrow. The difference between a broke, jobless 22-year-old and a broke, jobless, 26-year-old is basically nothing. So use those four years to do something crazy, to shoot for the moon.

Leverage these years. Because one day you won’t be able to. The world is changing in ways people haven’t caught on to yet. And you can position yourself to be there to capitalize on this new borderless, instant-information economy.

Or you can position yourself as part of a by-gone era, serving up lattes at Starbucks, paying off that English Lit degree you never used, wondering where you went wrong, and why Obama (or whoever is in the White House) hasn’t fixed everything yet.

It’s your job to fix your life. So get moving.

Resources to help you work overseas:

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How to Stop Lying to Yourself http://postmasculine.com/how-to-stop-lying-to-yourself?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-stop-lying-to-yourself http://postmasculine.com/how-to-stop-lying-to-yourself#comments Fri, 26 Apr 2013 15:38:49 +0000 http://postmasculine.com/?p=12105

dont-always-believe

I used try to convince myself that I didn’t want to have sex. Yeah, it sounds weird, but it’s true.

At least in very specific contexts it was true. Like girl-in-my-bed-with-her-shirt-off-at-3AM type of contexts.

This was back in like 2005 or 2006. My ex-girlfriend had recently ripped my heart out of my chest and carved it up with a steak knife, and suddenly semi-naked girls in front of me had the magical effect of making me not-so-interested in sex anymore.

I’d find excuses, like I was too tired, too drunk, had to get [...]

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dont-always-believe

I used try to convince myself that I didn’t want to have sex. Yeah, it sounds weird, but it’s true.

At least in very specific contexts it was true. Like girl-in-my-bed-with-her-shirt-off-at-3AM type of contexts.

This was back in like 2005 or 2006. My ex-girlfriend had recently ripped my heart out of my chest and carved it up with a steak knife, and suddenly semi-naked girls in front of me had the magical effect of making me not-so-interested in sex anymore.

I’d find excuses, like I was too tired, too drunk, had to get up early, and so on. I would distract us from the situation by pulling up some song on my computer or playing guitar for her. Yes, I’m cringing just writing this. But it’s true. I did it. And I believed it too, at the time. It felt real. That was the problem.

I developed some bizarre beliefs around this period. One of them was that any girl you had sex with would immediately demand a serious relationship from you. Like there was some sort of binding agreement that came with a naked vagina. I rationalized that maybe I just didn’t have a big sex drive. I rationalized that it was the girls who weren’t very interested in sex, since after all, they only had their shirts off and weren’t practically raping me like the girls in the porn videos always did.

So her shirt would pop back on. I would busy myself with some song on iTunes and/or drink myself until I passed out. By morning the problem would solve itself (i.e., she would go home).

Then the next day, after she would leave, I would jerk off thinking about how hot that girl was and what an idiot I was for not going for it when I had the chance. The low sex drive excuse became inexcusable. The willingness of the girls became inexcusable. Even the expectations of relationship nonsense became inexcusable. This happened enough times and I had to come to the painful conclusion: it’s me.

The “it’s me” conclusion is one of the hardest conclusions for any of us to come to. Yet, we all probably need to come to it more often. Hell, one could even argue that one should err on the side of assuming it’s always you. At least that way you always feel empowered to do something about your situation.

We’re All Unreliable

I wasn’t alone. And neither are you. We all do this to some extent. We all buy into our own beliefs and conclusions at face value. And why not? After all, our conclusions always seem the most reasonable to us at the time.

Psychology has made some amazing strides in the past couple decades in showing just how unreliable we all are. Ancient Buddhism put a heavy emphasis on embracing “not knowing” or embracing not attaching to specific thoughts or feelings. Eastern spirituality has emphasized that we should watch our own thoughts and treat them just as that, thoughts. And western psychology has caught up and come to many of the same conclusions. There are three researchers in particular I want to cover. And ironically, they’re all named Dan.

First up, Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow shows that we are all actually emotional (and selfish) decision-makers, and that our logical mind spends most of its time finding reasons and justifications for what our emotions have already concluded about a situation.

For instance, after the horrible experience with my first girlfriend, I was afraid of sex. Point blank, that was the issue: fear. And that fear dictated my decision-making: acting like a weirdo with a hot shirtless girl in front of me. I would get weird. She would feel unwanted and insecure. I would get nervous. No one would have sex. And I’d be afraid to ever call her again. Yet, somehow my rational mind found a couple neat and tidy beliefs to justify all of this erratic behavior.

Next up, we have Dan Ariely, who in his book Predictably Irrational points out that we’re terribly ineffective at measuring the cost/benefit of most situations, ESPECIALLY when emotions get involved. We suck at making apples-to-oranges comparisons. We suck at evaluating potential downsides to situations we like. We over-estimate the value of things that come with high costs.

For instance, I meet men and women all the time that make the following mistake. First, they assume since someone was difficult for them to attract — i.e., they put a lot of thought and effort into it — that therefore person must be universally highly desirable. But this is simply not the case. Someone who is highly incompatible with you will feel difficult to attract, but that doesn’t mean that they’re worth the effort.

Conversely, many people make the mistake that since they perceive someone as very attractive, then they must invest extra thought and effort into attracting them. Men make this assumption all the fucking time and I want to punch them in the balls whenever they do. “Well, she’s hot, so I HAVE to act different around her.” No. Wrong. Incorrect.

And finally, we have Daniel Gilbert, our last Dan. In Dan’s excellent book Stumbling on Happiness, he shows us how we’re terrible at both a) predicting what will make us happy/unhappy in the future and b) judging how we actually felt in the past.

Back when I was scared of sex, I had bizarre expectations of what these women would want of me and what I was obligated to do in return. I was protecting myself in that moment. I knew nothing about what they actually wanted or even about what I actually wanted.

We think we’re constructing expectations to lead ourselves into a better future. But usually our expectations are designed to protect us from the present.

Some people dream of having the perfect car. Some dream of the perfect job. Some people start naming their first-born child an hour into the first date. Our expectations and desires about the future are diversions and protections from dealing the moment staring us right in the face.

Believing Your Own Bullshit

There’s that old self help saying that goes, “If you keep doing the same things you’ve always done, then you’ll keep getting the same results you’ve always gotten.”

The problem is that our mind has always constructed really good reasons for doing what we’ve always done. That’s why we do them! But the Three Dan’s show us that just because our mind believes something or gives us a reason, doesn’t mean it’s right or useful. In fact, sometimes it’s harmful.

Any time you want to change yourself, you are going to have to dismantle the reasoning your mind constructed to justify your past behaviors.

As the Three Dan’s have taught us, most of our reasons for unhelpful behavior are bullshit. Most of our reasoning for our behavior is to justify our prior emotional decisions. And many of our emotional decisions are based on fear or anxiety or avoiding dealing with some sort of past trauma.

I talked to a woman recently who complained about her work/life balance. She was pulling 70+ hour weeks on the regular running her own business, and even her free time was spent networking with possible clients or associates. It was driving her nuts. But her reasoning was that she needed — not wanted, not preferred, but needed — to earn over one million dollars per year before she would allow herself to start a family.

Yes, one MILLION dollars.

Yes, one million dollars.

Well, after some prodding — and by “prodding” I mean me and a few other people telling her that that’s absolutely ridiculous — it came out that she grew up poor with unreliable parents and spent part of her childhood living out of a car.

Bingo.

Our bullshit always sounds reasonable to us… until we realize we’re unhappy or unsatisfied and can’t put our finger on why. This is why it’s great to have friends or a therapist or a community of people around you who can challenge you on your beliefs and assumptions.

The “Why?” Game

You know how little kids incessantly ask “Why?” to everything? There’s a genuine curiosity and openness to children that drives them to question everything. And it usually drives the rest of us crazy.

I’m not sure when I started doing this. It was probably when I was high as a teenager or something. But a long time ago I started asking “Why?” about a lot of my internal thoughts and rationalizations. And then I’d take those answers and ask “Why?” again, and continue looking for the most emotionally relevant answers.

At some point, I christened it the “Why?” Game and used it with much success with a lot of my clients when teaching them how to open up with their emotions and have deeper conversations.

The “Why?” Game is great because it immediately gets at what actually matters: emotional motivations. And from there, prior beliefs, prior traumas, poor decisions, etc.

Here’s an example of the “Why?” Game with my awkward sex avoidance above:

Why do I keep passing up on these sexual situations and keep regretting it? Because when in that situation I become more focused on something else and less motivated by sex. Why? Because I don’t want to deal with all of the expectations and drama that comes from sex. Why? Because I’m not emotionally prepared for that kind of thing. I don’t want it. Why? Because I feel like my only girlfriend had expectations I couldn’t live up to (whoa). Why? Because I guess I never felt good enough for her, especially after she dumped me. Why? Because I don’t feel like I’m good enough to receive sex and affection from women (double whoa). Why? Because I grew up in a family where emotional connections were seen as part of transactions and obligations and not freely given. Why? Because my parents had trouble with many of these same intimacy issues in their own lives.

Now, granted, the above paragraph took me months of self-questioning and therapy to work out. But within a few of those months, it unfastened my weird hang-ups about my sexuality. Soon I was able to face those same sexual situations with a much clearer and more objective head, and as a result, the anxiety dropped of precipitously.

Whenever I feel stuck I’ve developed a simple habit of asking “Why?” It’s something I can just feel now. I’ll run into a situation or action where I consistently feel stuck or unhappy or obsessive. And I bust out the “Why?” question.

Usually, the answer does not come immediately. Sometimes you have to give yourself a few weeks or even months to play with the question. Just keep asking it. Eventually the answer will come up. And you’ll know it’s the true answer because you’ll feel it. It will carry a far greater emotional weight than any other explanation. Often times, it will be the one answer you want to avoid or deny, but can’t. And when it comes, coming to accept that uncomfortable answer will go a long way in remedying the beliefs and behaviors causing you to suffer.

Viktor Frankl called this process logotherapy. It has since grown to become an entire branch of clinical psychology. I think it’s just how to stop lying to yourself. How to harbor a healthy skepticism about yourself, calling yourself out on your own bullshit, undoing the mental traps we all set for ourselves yet few of us ever notice, much less disarm.

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