We were in a ski lodge in the mountains in Kitzbuhel, Austria. I was one of the younger people in the group, brought along by a mentor of mine.
One of the guys there was a big, fat, incredibly decadent guy. He liked skiing, helicopters, fast cars, women, and lots of food and drink. LOTS of food and drink.
Over breakfast one day, it's just him and me. I'd been a little ill the day before, so I'd turned in early and slept around 16 hours, and I was looking forward to trying to get on the slopes around noon. He'd been out at a strip club drinking heavily, and so the two of us were the last up and the last at breakfast.
The Austrian host and cook had been nice enough to keep the dining room open a little longer so we didn't have to hurry through breakfast, and we were attacking black coffee, eggs, meat, cheese, and bread. He might have been having Irish whisky too, I don't recall exactly.
He frowns for a second, and then laughs, and asks me:
"Sebastian... live to work, or work to live?"
First time I'd been asked it. It took me a second to get what he was asking. I think: "Do I... live in order to work, or work in order to live?"
Easy answer: "Live to work," I say.
He bursts out laughing.
"Hahaha! No! Work to live! Work to live, Sebastian!"
And that was precisely what he did. He had a particularly rare skill that, with appropriate scouting and fixing on the right opportunity/project, made him six-figures in USD in a month or two span whenever he employed it. Yet, he only worked on about one project per year, and spent the rest of his time skiing, eating, and hanging out with his friends.
When I don't get to work for more than a day and a half, I start going crazy.
I say, "I'm not working. This is a problem."
I've been packing mass on at the gym lately, with a pretty intense regular program and a high calorie clean diet. My weight broke 90 kg (200 lbs) for the first time in years recently, and I was really pleased.
It comes with a cost -- putting on lean muscle quickly also puts on bodyfat. But I don't care, I'm just picking up strength and mass, and that other consequence doesn't bother me.
Yet, a person trying to break into fashion modeling, playing a sport that you needed to be incredibly lean and lightweight, or trying to stay in a certain weight class for boxing or martial arts would see this as a huge problem. A moment that makes me smile -- cracking 90 kg on the scale -- would be panic-inducing for someone who needed their weight lower.
None of this is encoded in the universe. There's no atomic symbol for "problem" or "boon" or "setback" or "triumph."
We set our own goals and priorities, and then decide we have problems when something gets in the way of those self-set goals and priorities.
And you really do set your own goals and priorities. You're wholly in control of raising, lowering, and modifying your standards. Who else would be in control of that, if not you?
You get to choose what your problems are, and then they walk alongside you as a constant companion. You converse with them, you travel with them, you watch them and they seem to watch over you. Sometimes they ride on your back and shoulders, sometimes they push you to move faster, and sometimes they slow you down.
For most people, problems become their most stalwart and constant companions.
But you alone choose what your problems are.
So, choose carefully.
Your title reminds me of John Lennon's Mind Games based on a book by the same name. Look at Life and all our problems this way: they're all Mind Games, meaning the Mind projecting itself for its own sustenance. I find that with this realization, it is easy not to allow any problem big or small to rock my world. I become more aware of what makes me upset, the current of anxiety that runs underneath the surface, etc. All problems are, in the end, small stuff.
Loving your gym inspiration lately. I'm curious, at 200lb, how tall are you (in ft and in please :) )? I have also been gaining weight the last 3 months or so. In the past I have had a mental aversion to putting on fat and it has kept me from efficiently adding muscle mass to my frame, so I'm stoked now. How many days per week do you lift?
Ha totally. Funny, also, how the difference of opinion can be internal - different parts of your personality can have entirely different standards, depending on which part of you is "active".
Random example from my life: English teaching. Part of me is really drawn to it - I love language, love teaching, would love the opportunity to live abroad and save a bit of cash - and another part is absolutely averse to it, because that part of me sees it as low-status, only for drop-outs and outcasts, and would be mortified having to explain what I'm doing to friends and family back home who (it feels like) have higher expectations of me.
How I feel about it depends which part is "running the show" when the thought comes up.
We dont like to admit it, because of the associations with "multiple personality disorder", but every human has "parts" that run the show at different times (and it's being verified by neurosci / psych findings). And they all have different standards! lol
Updated my daily tracking template since v5. The basic idea is, I fill this out every day - it doesn't take that much time, and I get a heck of a lot out of it.
If you're new to the site, you might want to check out "The Evolution of My Time/Habit/Life Tracking" which describes the basic idea of what's going on here, and "Two Videos on How to Do Time Tracking" if you're looking to try this out yourself.
This post will mostly look at the differences between this one and my last version, so start with Evolution or those videos if you're new to this.
Okay, here's v6 -
------------------------------------------- START OF DAY ROUTINE: Time awake: Total sleep (hours/minutes): Appointments today: Other time-sensitive things: Key habit today: What assets could I build/improve/acquire today: ------------------------------------------- TOP PRIORITIES: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Gym today?: Current Top Creative: Current Top Enterprising: Explore today?: Today's target procrastination: Current book(s): Anything crucial on my to-do list?: Email in box, start of day: Time complete: ------------------------------------------- DO BEFORE GOING ONLINE: Vitamins (C, Fish oil, Calcium/D): Piracetam: Drink Water: Stretching: Brush/floss: Breathe: Borderlands (+Solo): Gratitude: Review Life Goals: Time complete: ------------------------------------------- ACCOMPLISHMENTS
There are different ways to solve problems. I've noticed that there's a continuum that these solutions rest on. On the left side are solutions that attack the symptoms of the problem. They're the easiest to implement quickly. On the other side are the solutions that attack the root of the problem, but are the hardest to implement.
Take weight loss. Going from left to right along the continuum, you'll find liposuction, lap band, eating disorders, following fad diets, eating packaged "health" foods and shakes, eating somewhat healthy food, and eating really healthy food. Most people would be able to think of all of those solutions to their weight problems, and might pick one along the continuum somewhere.
But there's actually one more solution, so far to the right on the continuum that most people wouldn't even think of it. For weight loss, that solution is to PREFER healthy food. A change in preference. Think about it-- if you LIKE healthy food more than you like unhealthy food, you will never gain weight again. Impossible, even if you don't exercise. More importantly, if you prefer healthy food, there's no stress associated with weight loss. You're just eating foods that you like. What's easier than that?
Changing your preference for food isn't easy, though. It's not like getting a lap band. To change your preference for food you have to learn a lot. What makes food healthy? What are the exceptions? You have to understand the biological impact that bad food has on the various systems of your body. That's the leverage that holds the preference in place. When you learn about how sugar abuses your pancreas, it's a little less appealing in your mind. You learn about how factory farms raise their animals, and that sort of meat is less appealing. Changing preferences is hard work, and it takes time and effort and energy, but it produces lasting change.