- June 26, 2020
It’s an election year in the US, which means that the outrage dial is going to turn all the way up.
The world is going to be painted as a much worse place than it actually is, each political side is going to fan the flames and trigger their bases based on the narratives they implanted in their minds long ago.
And most everyone is going to fall for it. Everyone already is falling for it. People are having arguments with straw men, fictional ghosts created by the media. All of a sudden, every individual instance of injustice is being displayed right in front of your face. Funny how the frequency of these events on social media has multiplied by 50.
Instead of realizing that the world will never be perfect, people will create a mental self-fulfilling prophecies. They’ll look for tragedy, which the world is rife with, and they’ll always find something because there will always be something.
Oftentimes people paint me as indifferent to the problems of the world when the opposite is true. I’m acutely aware of the problems of the world. I just focus on what makes sense, what’s useful, and what will move the needle at certain times. Guess what won’t move the needle? Misdirected social media anger, apathy, overly upsetting yourself over the times, nihilism, I could go on here, but you get it.
I wouldn’t be mentioning these kinds of ideas in a self-improvement piece if they weren’t heavy on everyone’s minds one hundred per cent of the time. So allow me to use the fundamental tenets of self-improvement to show you how to navigate this time.
Understand the Upside
Always, always, always remember — two things can be true at the same time. On the one hand, the psyche of the country, and the world, is quite fragile right now for good reason. On the other hand, still, even right now, we’ve never lived in a more abundant, prosperous, free, and opportunistic society.
As a logical person, I can say pretty objectively that it’s much better to be a black person in America than it used to be. Doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist and it doesn’t mean racism isn’t a problem. But I simply have a much higher upside than a black person 50 plus years ago — irrefutable. For me, I don’t think the abolitionists and civil rights leaders worked so hard just for us to feel helpless and oppressed in perpetuity. I think they’d want us to move forward.
There’s a saying “stand on the shoulders of giants.” When people who’ve come before you have made things objectively better for you, keep pushing to make things better and don’t go backward. This goes for minorities, people of all genders, religions, etc. Yes, work on the problems we still have, but getting into this pit of desperation isn’t helpful.
The upside in society is enormous for almost everyone. Yes, it’s harder depending on your circumstances, but I’ve just seen too many people winning, people from all walks of life, to believe you’re helpless. If you open up an e-commerce shop, people can only see the products, not your skin colour or gender. Stocks don’t care what you look like.
You can win in life by being yourself out in the open. I know you read my work because you find it useful. And I know you care about my words more than my skin. These are the things that cut through the noise and transcend — commerce, competence at a skill, self-improvement, positivity, optimism.
It’s okay to be optimistic, even now. You know that, right?
In today’s society, you’re looked down upon for feeling good. If you’re not depressed, you don’t care. I’m calling BS. You can care about the injustices in the world and improve your life at the same time.
Increase Your Expectations
What I’m seeing right now in society is an extremely low level of confidence and self-esteem. It’s not just that people in the movements are trying to convince others they’re worthy, but it also seems like they’re trying to convince themselves.
It’s sad to see honestly, people getting sucked into this rhythm of negativity. I haven’t seen much in the messaging that talks about hope for a better future. I haven’t seen much in the discourse saying things along the lines of, “Yes, things are bad and we need to improve, but we can do it. We got this. Let’s work together.” Nope. There just seems to be this colourless odourless gas of nihilism wafting in the air.
As I’m diving more into history, I’ve noticed that many of the leaders spoke from a place of aspiration. They had goals they wanted to achieve, expectations, specific needs they wanted to be met. Now? There just seems to be a lot of handwringing and sadness. Also, what I saw in the past, were individuals who were victimized, but didn’t see themselves as victims.
That’s the key distinction I want to talk with you about. Nobody is saying you haven’t been a victim of societal ills, but you don’t have to feel helpless because of it. I credit the way I was raised — my father was an immigrant and my mom made her own way out even though she grew up in a segregated city.
My parents never once had a conversation about how my race was a detriment to my life. Never. They only talked about what was expected of me. I was expected to do well in school (I didn’t, but the sentiment helped my disposition). I was expected to have a good career. They always told me I was intelligent, had potential, and tried to speak greatness into me.
I had a little open forum on Twitter about why African immigrants tend to do better, on average, than African American citizens. I came to the conclusion that African Americans have it doubly worse. They suffer from regular racism and the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Africans come into this country and face racism, but they have to make money and send it back to their families. The disparity in opportunity between where they came from and where they are makes racism a moot point.
The way you see yourself and what you expect from yourself matters. I say this to everyone reading this, not just black people. If you want to treat people equally, expect more out of them.
Pandering to people because of what they look like and feeling sympathetic in an infantilizing way isn’t helpful. Look at others suffering as victimized instead of victims. I had some people ‘check in’ on me, which I appreciated, but I was fine.
Why? Because self-improvement isn’t just some fun hobby for me and I don’t write things I don’t mean. I set up my life to attempt to thrive regardless of the situation. I set it up to especially deal with unfortunate situations. Why would I change now?
Now is not the time to fold. Now is not the time to expect less of yourself and others around you. If we’re going to have these talks, then let’s have these talks in a constructive way where we’re building each other up and discussing a better future, not re-living the past without purpose, and pointing out every instance of victimization we can to create a victimhood narrative.
Let’s move forward. Let’s work on solutions.
The Solutions Framework
I didn’t spend a ton of time posting on social media about all the issues these past few weeks. Why? I just don’t see the causal chain between black squares and solutions.
I’d rather have real victories than symbolic victories. That doesn’t just go for injustice. It goes for everything and everyone including you. Your entire operating system should be focused on producing the type of outcomes you want to see for yourself and the outcomes you want to see in the world. This runs counter to the society we have right now where the appearance of doing something matters more than actually doing it.
This isn’t just a social justice problem, it’s a self-improvement problem, a life problem. Don’t mentally masturbate on the cliches of self-improvement. Embrace the cliches of self-improvement and use them as a means to an end. Wake up early, not to have a miracle morning, but to get important things done. Keep a journal, not to say you keep a journal, but to create clear goals, process your emotions, and strategize your future.
Do the self-improvement stuff so that you can help the world. Being all depressed, locked in your house, Tweeting hashtags, and bathing in negativity helps precisely no one. We’re all so concerned with feelings these days. What happened to creating outcomes in the real world?
Don’t empathize with others — make more money so you can give it to them. I saw a black artist on Instagram the other day. His pictures had thousands of likes and I’m sure many were standing with him in solidarity. Do you know what I did? I bought his damn painting and put money in his pocket. Not solely because he was black either, but because his art was dope. Help people earn money, confidence, and self-respect. That’s social justice.
Anything the elites or the masses encourage you to do is almost always wrong. Notice everyone is in lock-step with performative social justice. You should see that as a sign, a bad one. The minute we all woke up and decided to build economic freedom, sovereignty, and started pointing out the real problems, problems that would cost the overlords not just money, but their stranglehold on their minds, best believe they wouldn’t ‘stand in solidarity’ with that.