“My father would turn over in his grave if he saw me kissing you,” she said. Her father had died of AIDS caused by too many dirty needles and drug use when she was a young girl, growing up in Harlem.
We had gone out on a nice date. Specifically, I had made a website for the all-girl rap group, Salt ‘n Pepa and they were throwing a party and we went and I introduced her to Salt, who was her hero.
For that I was entitled to one kiss but then her dead father held his hand up and put an end to it. “He was Black Muslim,” she said, “and didn’t like Jews at all.”
Ok, fair enough. She’s married now, to a nice blonde boy from the former East Germany. And I’m married also. It worked out for the best.
People say this like it’s a fact: “It will all work out for the best.” We’re taught that as a technique to handle disappointment in the moment.
But, I am here to say, it is not a FACT.
It’s not a fact like the statement, “I am 5’9″.” In fact, that is not even a fact. I’m more like 5’8″ but I tend to average up when people ask me my height.
Most things do not work out for the best. In fact, most things get worse and worse. Eventually, the human species will be dead and a few hundred million years after that, the planet will be absorbed back into the tiny little star that gave birth to it.
Eventually, you and I will get older and sick and die. Every day more cancer cells probably accumulate in our body, until the one day they decide to announce themselves.
There’s a very short period and set of circumstances where “don’t worry, this will turn out for the best” could even be a true statement.
So I devote my life to making sure I maximize those set of circumstances. I want the odds in my favor. I want a bad situation to turn out for the best for me as much as possible.
It’s ok if it doesn’t. That’s the reality. But there’s nothing wrong with increasing my odds.
Some of this I’ve written before but there’s nothing wrong with repetition.
A) THE VIOLINIST RULE
It turns out that in a study of 1000 professional violinists, the average superstar violin player sleeps 8.6 hours a day.
Donald Trump claims he only needs 4 hours of sleep. Maybe this is true but I’d rather be a professional violinist.
B) THE THANKSGIVING RULE
If you ask someone, “would you rather be around someone who loves you or someone who hates you?” the answer is very obvious.
But when they get down to specifics, people give excuses. “Well, I have to be around my family at Thanksgiving because…you know(!) it’s Thanksgiving!” or “I have to be be around my boss because he pays my salary!”
Ok, fine. But then you should answer fairly, “sometimes I’d rather be around people who hate me.” Because that’s the actual truth.
Maybe you WANT to be always around people who love you. That would be ideal. But depending on circumstances, maybe just work towards that a little bit each day.
Reminds me of a Planet of the Apes comic I read when I was a kid where a human with no legs was carried around everywhere by an ape who was blind as they tried to survive the ravages of ape-human war.
You know, where eventually things turned out for the best and they learned to be friends. But only after a lot of fighting and working through their deep emotional issues.
I call this “The Thanksgiving Rule” because every day I try to bring myself closer and closer to only being around people who I wouldn’t mind spending Thanksgiving with.
C) IDEAS ARE A BILLION DOLLARS A DOZEN
People say, “Ideas are a dime a dozen.” No they aren’t.
I know this now. I have been writing for years that I spend a good part of every morning writing down 10 ideas a day. They can be ideas about anything.
It’s really hard and I get a lot emails from people asking for advice on where to start.
Bad ideas, ideas for businesses, ideas for books, ideas for other people, other businesses, and on and on. At least 3,650 ideas a year. Maybe double that.
The whole point is not to have a great idea but to just get used to coming up with all sorts of ideas.
When we are about three-years-old,w the brain is pretty fixed. Two neurons that are important to each other (like neurons for language) are connected by something called myelin which helps speed up the messages between those two neurons.
Most likely we stop creating new myelin at the age of three. This is why learning a new language after that age is more difficult.
Only through hard work and repetition can we speed up the synapses between neurons after that period of initial myelination.
By writing ten ideas every day, you turn the process of coming up with an idea into a quick and easy habit, but only after about 2-6 months of doing it every day.
People often want to know an immediate prescription for how to make more money. The problem with this is that if there were an immediate prescription then everyone would do it, competition would result, and all profit margins would revert to zero.
The best immediate prescription is to be an idea machine. Then you will constantly find the new ways to make money, to do new things that will get you out of your comfort zone, to do new things that will help you explore the universe around you.
We see so little of the universe around us.
You know that puzzle where you see two similar faces and you have to point out ten differences and most people can’t? It’s a hard puzzle because we are really not that good, even at a totally primal level, of seeing what is right in front of us. The brain looks for similar patterns, NOT differences.
Building the idea muscle, becoming an idea machine, helps us see a new and different and exciting world every single day.
Being an idea machine helps us see the differences between the world we see and the world everyone else sees.
D) THE ONE SECRET ABOUT ABUNDANCE
I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if it will rain tomorrow. Or if Claudia will suddenly get sick of me tomorrow. Or if someone will rob me or whatever. Nobody does. Everything can change in an instant and we’ve seen this happen.
So I don’t really know if “things will work out for the best”. That’s a prediction on the future. And a fairly bold prediction at that, given the natural universal tendency towards chaos and extinction.
But I do know that every single thought I’ve ever had has brought me right to this moment. Else I wouldn’t be here.
My thoughts would’ve brought me somewhere else. Like maybe I would be a super smart janitor at MIT. Anything could’ve been possible.
But after all those possibilities and the billions of choices that sewed them together, this is the cloth that was finally created.
So if this is not the “best” then at least it’s all I have.
You can only be grateful for what is already abundant in your life.
I’m grateful for the computer I’m writing on because I’m abundant in computational power. I’m grateful for Claudia having a driver’s license because it’s how I can buy more food, making me have all the abundance in food I need.
Practicing gratitude means I’m practicing abundance. When I practice tennis, I get better at it. When I practice chess, I get better at it. If I practice, abundance, there will be more abundance in my life.
And since gratitude equals abundance, I just have to practice gratitude.
Some people say to me, “I don’t have time to do your Daily Practice.” That’s fine. I’m not advising anyone to do it. I just do it for myself. I never give advice. I just say what I do.
But it is always a mystery to me. How hard is it when you have a spare moment to just be grateful for things in your life?
Or to come up with a couple of ideas while you’re in the subway. Or if you are watching TV to do ten pushups during commercials. Whatever it takes. Just do a little bit of it.
Her name was Sari, her dad died of AIDS, and she didn’t kiss me ever again.
And 19 years later, it turned out for the best.