Episode-610- Staying Positive in a World Full of Disaster — 27 Comments

  1. Great show! This is the kind of message that is missing today. Thanks Jack! Shows like this remind me that if we ever meet, to shake your hand and buy you a drink as we talk about “Having a better life”.

  2. I enjoyed the show. All the preps in the world won’t help if we neglect mentally preparing too.

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  4. this episode and message reminds me of this i heard in one of my classes in school.

    by Charles Swindoll

    The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

    Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home.

    The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

    The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.

  5. Thomas Edison’s factory burned to the ground right before his eyes in 1914.

    Edison responded to the fire by proclaiming he would resume manufacturing within ten days and began mapping out his rebuilding campaign immediately. While others saw the fire as a huge devastation, Edison saw it as an opportunity and saw the possibility of new direction and improvements in his factory design. He even used it to take advantage of the new factory design developed by Henry Ford.

  6. Eeyore, can be funny in the way in hard times the music of the ‘blues’ lightens the emotional load. That being said, yeah I can see where getting depressed with all that is going on can happen. depressed being non debilitating. That said, On with the SHOW and thanks.

  7. Let’s address the root of this pessimism (as I see it at least). As children, we were lied to by everyone. Ignorant people spouting “feel-good” bullshit, under the naive assumption that they can imbue our lives with success and fortune with nothing more than positive reinforcement. The negative outlook so many have is the natural backlash that comes with the realization that the media, pop culture, guidance counselors and teachers, even our own parents were just blowing smoke up our asses so they could feel better about themselves.

    “You can be anything you want when you grow up”.

    No, you can’t. Realistically, it’s a matter of immediate opportunity, innate ability, education, location, financial requirement, lifestyle, and the sacrifices you’re willing to make. Often times, you have little to no say in your profession. How many kids say “I’m going to be president when I grow up”. Out of the 300,000,000 US citizens currently alive, between eight and twelve of them will become president, any only if permitted by the majority of others. All the positive belief in the world isn’t going to turn the kid with the deformed hand into a concert violinist. When your 6-year-old colors outside the lines, it’s not creativity. At best it’s poor hand-eye coordination, or they just don’t understand the relatively simple task associated with coloring books.

    “Life is filled with infinite opportunities”.

    Wrong again. There are many opportunities, but most of them are mutually exclusive. Most don’t ever present themselves. Most of the time, the opportunity has to be created by your own initiative, and there are limits to what you can force. Then all opportunities must be taken to be of any value, and that’s seldom as easy as being in the right place at the right time. In many cases, taking advantage of one opportunity is a process that takes decades of hard work and sacrifice.

    “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”.

    Bullshit again. Of course it’s important to exhibit good sportsmanship, but winning and losing is the entire point of the game. The real lesson is found in competition. Wins and loses are the gauge of your own improvement and progress. It’s the incentive to better yourself. During college, I worked part time at an engraving shop. It was my sad duty to engrave trophies for 1st through 14th place. Many times, there were 20 different categories for awards, so practically everyone left with a first place trophy. This isn’t a bunch of 4-year-olds playing Tee-Ball, it’s high school students in state competitions. My high school had 4 valedictorians in my graduating year, because it would have discouraged the top contenders to not be picked. They had the honorable distinction of being on-par with their peers, wow.

    We continue these delusions in our adult lives. Bull-shit job titles are common. “Refuse Reclamation Engineer”, forget how pompous that sounds, why does my garbage man need business cards to print it on in the first place?

    I know I’m being a downer here, exactly the kind of guy Jack mentioned. But I do think that qualifies me to explain how and why so many of us are the way we are. Optimism needs limits. It should be tempered with a bit of reality, which is often a stark contrast to cliche platitudes beaten into us by the obsessive optimists out there. At this point, I should mention that Jack’s attitude in this show is not an example of the type of optimism I’m criticizing, his is quite healthy and productive. But other optimists are just insane, and people like me have a natural repulsion to it, sometimes causing us to turn a deaf ear to the more reasoned approaches like Jack mentioned. It’s something I’ve struggled with, and I know I’m not alone.

    I’m one of many who was conditioned from birth to think I would be a rock star, a famous actor, great hero or leader. I’m supposed to have a mansion, a billion dollar bank roll and several super-model girlfriends. I’m fortunate to have never really believed that, but that doesn’t mean that people didn’t force upon me the idea that I was somehow entitled to that life. I just naturally rejected the notion. Many people honestly do believe they deserve that (don’t ask them what they’ve done to deserve it). Then you find yourself in the real world, with a shitty apartment, bills to pay, a fair paying job, but not one that pays you what you thought you were worth… Even the real, meaningful accomplishments you make still fall short of the future you had in mind. It’s hard to get excited about your successes, and resentment builds.

    I didn’t start enjoying life until my ego was shattered by the brutal honesty of people who hated me. We’ve spent so long under the guidance of those who placate us, indulging our every narcissistic fantasy, we’ve lost touch with reality. I motivate myself by remembering that I will die. In the end, I’ll be a rancid piece of meat, buried in a lot on the outskirts of town, with nothing but a small, grass-covered placard with my name as a testament to my existence. I can’t change the world and my actions in life are inconsequential in the greater picture. Fighting against that inevitability in a futile attempt to feel significant will only waste the few short years I have to exist. Crying about all the things I want and don’t have, but think I deserve is pointless. If I deserve something I take it honestly through my labors. I don’t give up when things get hard, because doing so only denies me what is mine and sacrifices what is probably my only opportunity to obtain it.

    Yes, I’m a pessimist. I also totally agree with what Jack said. My point is, there is good and bad optimism, just as there is good and bad pessimism. Whether it’s a glorious sun-filled day, or it’s raining shit, your outlook isn’t a significant as the actions that outlook leads you to take.

    To quote George Carlin;
    Some say the Glass is half full.
    Others say the Glass is half empty.
    I say the glass is too f*cking big.

    • @Insane_Libertarian_Wacko

      I think some of what you say is really valid and some is just anger because life isn’t the way you want it to be. Personally I do feel “Life is filled with infinite opportunities”. While that doesn’t mean that every opportunity is available to every person it does mean every person have infinite opportunities available to them.

      The key is what you want, what most want isn’t to be a rock star, it isn’t to be president. When people quit bitching long enough to come to terms with the fact that they don’t know for a minute what they really want it often is very painful. Those with courage though do the hard work of finding out what it really is. Once people do that work what I have learned is that most real wants, most human wants are seldom out of reach.

      Most people are not disadvantaged, incapable, to dumb, or any other excuse society makes for us, they are simply lost.

      We all come hear to walk a path, when we loose our way it makes us miserable, so we try to fill the void with money, stuff, accomplishments, etc.

      Look for your path, not the next big paycheck. Money is energy, find your path and it will find you in sufficient quantity for what you actually want. I can promise you it ain’t being a rock star with bunch of gold diggers on your arm.

    • “I motivate myself by remembering that I will die. In the end, I’ll be a rancid piece of meat, buried in a lot on the outskirts of town, with nothing but a small, grass-covered placard with my name as a testament to my existence. I can’t change the world and my actions in life are inconsequential in the greater picture. Fighting against that inevitability in a futile attempt to feel significant will only waste the few short years I have to exist. Crying about all the things I want and don’t have, but think I deserve is pointless. If I deserve something I take it honestly through my labors. I don’t give up when things get hard, because doing so only denies me what is mine and sacrifices what is probably my only opportunity to obtain it.”

      Interesting. Your statement above tends to support the notion that, indeed, it IS how we play the game, and NOT whether we win or lose. I tell my son, “You are not getting off the planet, and we are going to die someday. All you have to do is figure out how you want to play your turn. You have one man, and no saves. Begin.”

      That video game analogy puts the rest of his ‘problems’ in perspective and allows him to focus on the important issues. Like any video game, if you are happy, then you are winning. If you aren’t happy, then why the hell are you playing? Always find a way to be happy no matter your situation, and you can consider it a game well-played, a life well-lived.

  8. Loved the show today. A thought especially after reading the prior comment – I hate the whole BS “don’t give up” message. If you want something, you go for it, and you realize the obstacles in your way are no longer worth giving up other wants you have, you learn that maybe you didn’t want that first thing as badly as you thought (or that in fact physical reality says you just cannot achieve it no matter how hard you work) it is insane to not give up. Doesn’t mean you turn into an Eyore, but you cut your losses and live to fight another day. Nothing wrong with that. So please – think before echoing the “never give up” meme.

    • @metaforge I think in all depends on the what, as in never give up what? I have never taken never give up to mean don’t quit doing something you no longer want or have grown to hate or have found that you are doing wrong.

      A fly does that on a window, he never gives up flying against that clear glass that he doesn’t understand and dies in that window by never giving up. I expect a human to be smarter than a fly and understand never give up means never quit chasing your dreams, if the dream changes though so must the chase.

      ILW says people dream of being the president but only a few can be. My question is how many really dream of that? I think mostly adults use it to reinforce the idea of limitless opportunities.

      I NEVER dreamed of being president, none of my friends did, I have never talked to a child that wanted to be president, ever. I have a son that dreamed of playing Basketball for the Bulls, it was never going to happen but I sure as hell didn’t tell him that, he grew up and understood his limitations as a 5’10” white kid with a limited talent for sports.

      Yet that dream as a kid made him strive on the court and he played his ass off, made friends and learned the joy of victory and the sting of defeat. Today he is working himself through college with no debt, saving his ass off, already has an IRA, owns some silver and has a work ethic that makes me proud. He hasn’t found a new dream to replace the old one yet but he is consciously seeking it.

      I drilled into him NEVER QUIT from the time I adopted him at 6 years of age, today he is 21 and that attitude is part of who he is. Never quit for him was never about being the next Michael Jordan it was never quit living in a way that takes your forward.

      Anyone trying to make an excuse as to why never quit doesn’t work to me is just looking for an excuse to quit.

      • I see your point, and I agree never quit *moving forward*. I’m talking more about a specific thing, such as your fly against the window example. I guess it all depends on context. Sometimes you start down a road that you really want, say a business, you work hard, and there’s just no way it’s going to pan out no matter how much you bust your hump. Say you started a business trying to sell ice to eskimos. Rather than working 24/7, taking out debt to keep the business going, etc, you need to learn that you f’ed up and fold the tent rather than throw good money (and time) after bad. You learn from it, take your lumps, and move forward – we agree there.

      • Further thoughts…. IMHO we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. One of the skills to develop is to recognize a mistake as soon as possible, maximize the learning from it, and pull the plug – cut your losses. If your dream is to have a business and you try implementing that dream by selling ice to eskimos, you need to give up on that _implementation_, learn from it, and move forward with your dream. No matter how much you “never give up” and “put your mind to it” and “bust your hump”, you will never succeed selling ice to guys whose properties are covered in it. That’s all I’m saying. Keep fighting for the high level dream, not the particular implementation to get you there. Pull the plug, learn from implementation mistakes, and fight for the dream another way.

  9. As a survivor of domestic abuse I found a great deal of information in today’s podcast useful in more ways than one. At one point in my life I was a slave to another who had beaten my inner-self down so badly I was nothing more than a shell of a human being. Abusers, like pedophiles, groom their “host”. They are a parasite that needs to feed off of another. Slowly they take hold until you no longer have a mind or feelings of your own. You question every single thing you do because you KNOW it’s going to be wrong. I wound up at a womans shelter simply to save my own life and there, I got good counseling and am now know my self worth, my own personal value, the gold mine within myself. And I can share those gifts with others. I discovered my own inner strength.

    Jack’s talk today should also be heard by all the people stomping around demanding their “union rights”. I would bet the bank (if there was any secure money in that not ONE of those people has ever started, sweat over, scarified and starved to start their own business, watch it grow, become successful and then have someone come in and tell them how to run it. If I start my own business I DESERVE the rewards…it is my pursuit of happiness. No one should be allowed to take that from me. Granted, corporations such as Wal Mart, do abuse their employees (I know..I did 8 years in a WMT). But there are ways to stop that. Don’t work there. Don’t shop there. Pull the money plug.

    I am now a spokes person on domestic abuse plus a Certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Faith. I’m hoping to find a way to save Jack’s talk today to CD so I can take this along to a several day Lay Speaker training session which is devoted to domestic abuse. The director of the training is a judge/Lay Minister. I would like to get a hard copy to him. Plus I get to spread the word on TSP! woohoo!!



    • @Ronnie just download the episode to your computer and if you have a CD burner it should be easy to burn a disk with either the MP3 or for use in a conventional CD player. You are welcome to do that of course as I allow full distribution of TSP for any and all non commercial purposes.

  10. Jack, just a quick comment that the last half-hour of this show blew me away. I was listening to it while on the treadmill, and I interrupted my run so I could grab my journal and take notes. Your commentary was both incredibly insightful and hugely inspiring. I would love it if you could do a follow-up show about ways in which one can determine their Big Want/their Path. I suspect I am like many others in that I have so many interests, so many “wants,” that it’s difficult to figure out the main one to pursue.

    Again, thank you for an EXCELLENT show!

    • Glad it found you when you needed it. Rock on and never quit, despite what some seem to feel about that advice.

  11. I have felt comfortable with “the statement” in the show for some time. Even though I felt it was valid, saying it out loud was VERY empowering and I encourage others to do the same.

    FYI, when I get down and the dream feels out of reach, I think of the Tim McGraw song “How Bad do you Want It”, especially this part:
    People always ask me

    “Son what does it take
    To reach out and touch your dreams?”
    To them I always say

    Are you hungry?
    Are you thirsty?
    Is it a fire that burns you up inside?
    How bad do you want it?
    How bad do you need it?
    Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
    With that one thing on your mind?
    How bad do you want it?
    How bad do you need it?
    Cause if you want it all
    You’ve got to lay it all out on the line

  12. @Ted,

    I love Tim but never head that song, off to look it up right now. Sounds like something I would like. Glad you could say “I deserve what I want”, I wish more people would comment on it both to the positive and negative. I know it takes some courage to discuss but it is really something I think others will find valuable.

  13. I’m confused buy the points you were trying to make regarding money, they seem to be contrary to the message you usually give. Isn’t the fact that people don’t hold onto money tightly and don’t care if it slips thru their fingers part of what got us into this mess in the first place? The politicians don’t care if a few billion dollars of sand trickles out thru their fingers, they can just print more. The common person doesn’t care about letting money fall out of their hands, they can just put it on credit cards. The banks and financial institutions don’t care about that money slipping away because the government will just bail them out. It seems like we need to care more about money, not less.

    • @Serenity,

      You are mistaking being frugal and generous with being greedy and over spending.

      The reality is that most Americans that are broke don’t hold money with a loose hand but a tight fist. By this I am speaking of an belief that money is scarce and that their needs outweigh the needs of others.

      If you go to my About Page and read item 4 you will see Always be frugal, never be “cheap”. which is another way of saying the same thing.

      The politicians you speak of spend our money as their own for their own gain, that is greed. The people blowing money on credit cards are spending tomorrows gain for today’s momentary pleasure, again greed. These people hold money with a tight fist. And yet they end up in debt and or broke.

      The principle I speak of is one of charity and not just organized charity. Handing a check to a friend or family member with a refusal to call it a loan in hard times for instance. Knowing clothes you no longer wear should go to a shelter not hang in your closet, etc.

      When you see money as abundant and give freely you always have enough money. When you see it as scarce you hold onto it tightly but you end up spending in on things you think will fill a vast hole in your soul. A soul however can’t be filled with stuff.

      In short you believe, because you have been taught that it is so, that you need to care about money to have money. My counter message to that claim is that you don’t need to care about money, you just need to understand it for what it is. Money is energy and it follows the exact rules of energy, I don’t need to care about energy to harness it and shape it and make it do positive work, I just need to know, understand and follow the rules of energy.

  14. I’ll try to keep this brief, however, I wanted to say that this episode, in my opinion, is the most profound one I have listened to. Thank you Jack. I’ve heard this message, worded slightly differently, before and have already reached the conclusion that I must live for my own happiness and not for the happiness/needs of others ahead of my own (among other points you made). You did an excellent job of conveying this to the audience and I hope that it has as profound of an impact on others as it has on me. Again, thank you.

    P.S. I think there are many parallels between this message and the philosophy of objectivism. Not trying to start a philosophical debate, however, I think selfishness generally gets a bad rep and that the majority of human beings act in a selfish manner, even when they don’t think they are, and that this isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps a more thorough understanding of the nature of selfishness/sacrifice would be useful in this context.

  15. I woke up this morning full of regret and anger. Most of it was directed towards my cousin who has just fallen ass-backwards into a moderately successful music career. This guy lives at his parents house with a model for a wife and spends most of his time sitting around growing a beard and smoking weed. He has taken his parents for a ride with all of his artistic endeavors that have served no purpose other than to drain his father’s bank account. My uncle is urologist and can afford it, unfortunately. Anyway, the next thing I know, this self-indulgent, judgmental, egotistical blob of a human being is playing gigs with folks I have been trying to play with for years. He is getting sponsored by clothing lines and opening up for Cory Morow. Shit, man… I’m sitting in a damned cube.

    I just don’t get it. I was moping around telling myself it wasn’t fair. I was the one who was supposed to be the successful musician. This ass-clown has done nothing but risk getting his parents thrown into the pen for growing weed on their property (in the trees, no less). I didn’t know what to do so I got down on my damned knees and prayed to God to take away the resentments that I held for him to help me to change my attitude because I knew it was not only self-destructive, but out of my sphere of influence.

    So on the way to work, I hear an incredibly funny monologue by Don Pryor who just slams the “bearded, mediocre musicians that storm Austin during SXSW and then take off on Sunday in an exodus of Ford Econoline vans smelling of BO and old whiskey”. OK, so I started to feel a little better about the fact that I can at least feed my family and they are thriving…even if I lost my job.

    Then I came home at lunch, put on my headphones and go out to try and run away my self pity. I put on this episode of TSP because I am having to play catch up. I have been missing my run/TSP time lately. Anyway…all I can say is that by the end of my run and the podcast, my life had been altered in a big way. I was renewed in my determination to succeed at this business and not stop until I had at least one grammy. I got back to work and gave 40 bucks to the Red Cross. I updated my Websites, FB pages and came up with a new idea to engage folks in my next album project. The fire was back.

    Thanks, Jack. I don’t know how you do it man. Thanks for not denying your gift like I have been doing for too damned long.

  16. @Greg,

    People ask me, “how can you do this EVERY day and keep doing it now for over 600 episodes”?

    Thank you for answering that question for me! Stories like yours are what this show is really all about. We do not just prep for disaster at TSP, we do but that isn’t all we prep for, we prep for life, that’s what it is really all about.