The Secret to a Great Life – the Second Law of Thermodynamics

2899cc8654288b892dac93e4e3ccf8b58727e71fI have the ability to connect one thing to another and explore that connection. Most things that I connect, seem to be of little to no importance to others, which is why I decide to keep them to myself. But, sometimes I connect things that I believe are transformative, extremely obvious, and equally camouflaged.

The universe we live in has a very straightforward law that I am very fascinated by, called the second law of thermodynamics (also called the law of entropy). It states that the entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time, it can only increase or stay constant.

The first question is, what is entropy? There are a lot of definitions that no one would understand, so put simply, entropy is a measure of the degree of randomness. With time the randomness or disorder in a system can either stay constant or increase. Living organisms have the ability to organize matter and hence manage entropy. That’s what separates rocks from a virus, bug, or human. We can organize matter inside our body and outside our body. (Irrelevant to the primary focus of this blog, it makes me think about whether some celestial objects like the Milky Way Galaxy, Sun, and Earth are living – since they definitely do a fantastic job at managing entropy – and we could be likened to really smart – or maybe stupid (relative to the grand cosmic intelligence) – bacteria living on the Earth’s epidermis.)

I have noticed that every second of our lives we make decisions.

Most decisions are subconscious – governed by system 1, which is a hypothetical mechanism of our brain that responds near instantly and is automated – while the others that require deeper thinking are made by system 2 – which is the hypothetical mechanism of our brain that involves more conscious thinking. (More information in Daniel Kahneman’s book: Thinking fast and slow)

We might be tricked by system 1 into thinking that our miniscule – seemingly unimportant –  decisions have no impact on our lives over the long term. However, every second you decide to either do the easy thing or the hard thing. That’s the most fundamental categorization of decision making I can think of.  (Detailed information in the book “predictably irrational.”)

You might think, well professionals like doctors would never make decisions based on ease. I am here to tell you, that there have been countless studies on professionals ranging from top engineers to top surgeons to common people that prove that we tend to do the easiest thing. Surely you don’t do that right? But, the studies prove that we do. We tend to pick the easy way out much more often than not, simply because it is easier for our brain to do that. The simple act of picking up a pen or getting up requires your brain to send millions of commands in an organized manner and requires it to do an unbelievable amount of mathematical operations in a very short period of time. At least 20% of all food that converts to energy is used to power those computations. Hence, the brain would always try to do the easiest thing, or else you would not function well. It is simply not our fault that we are wired this way. This very fact camouflages the most fundamental truth in our life.

I believe every one of us has a cost to pay, simply because of the law of entropy. Your body and environment are systems. I agree that they aren’t isolated systems, others can affect them, however, you control a significant part of them. Systems tend to get disorganized over time and it is the living being’s responsibility to organize it. By doing so, the being pays the cost of being a living being. If you really think about it, that is a tremendous cost. What are you getting in exchange for this cost? You get to be alive, you get to experience life, you get to make your own decisions, you get to be conscious, and henceforth, you get to shape your destiny (to some extent, not 100%, which I believe is due to a number of factors that I’ll talk about in another blog. I do believe it is definitely possible to control 100% of your destiny if you can learn to control 100% of your mind, 100% of your body, and 100% of your life energies, but, eventually, everyone dies, because eventually even nature will die with the heat death of the universe), something a rock cannot do.

Some people are extremely happy most of the time and others are extremely sad most of the time. I think it all comes down to paying the cost of entropy. You might think, I don’t have to manage any entropy, I am the master of my world, I don’t have to pay any costs.

I will explain using an example. Every day we have an option of cleaning our dishes, organizing our room, doing our due work, investing and organizing our money instead of spending it … but a rich man or women can pay someone to do all this. However, the internal entropy of the body still needs to be organized by the being, itself. What food you eat, how much do you exercise, how hard you push your mind and body, how many hours of sleep you get, how much food you ate, all these are just attempts at managing entropy, or in other words paying the cost of being alive.

We all make the decision of paying the cost or not paying the cost every moment of our life. Those that decide to pay the cost get rewarded with “gifts.” If you invest the money, you’ll most probably get more one day sooner or later and that day would be awesome. If you are stupid with your credit card, you’ll get a notice to pay the overdue bill sooner or later and that day would be anything but awesome. If you invest in your body and what food you eat, sooner or later you’ll have a body that makes you feel amazing, superhuman, you’ll see a mountain and want to run up it, endorphins will flood your system. If you eat trash and don’t work out, you’ll feel like trash. If you clean your house and dishes you’ll always come home to a beautiful, clean house. If you don’t, you’ll get sick more often, and will hate your home sooner or later. The list is endless.

We get to choose if we want to suffer now and create a gift for tomorrow, or suffer later and create a curse for tomorrow.

Living is suffering. Living is paying the cost. Living is attempting to manage entropy of the systems you are a part of.

Pay the cost, accept the truth, and instead of curses every day, you’ll get gifts every day. Who wouldn’t call Christmas every day for the rest of their life “happily ever after?”

 

 

 

 

How do you not quit? How to keep going?

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This is going to be the single most important blog I will ever write in my life. Even if I win a Nobel prize in literature because of something one day, I will not consider it more important than this one. This blog is about a person’s life story that changed everything in my life forever. 

Imagine that if you lose all your motivation, don’t do any work, don’t learn anything new, don’t push yourself, don’t get uncomfortable. What’s the dark place you’ll end up in within five or ten years. Everyone can see that. Everyone knows where they’ll end up if they keep doing the things they know they shouldn’t be doing. It will be hell on Earth, whether hell is eternal or not is a whole different question but if you haven’t met someone in hell, you haven’t had your eyes open, or been alive long enough.

I will give you an example. If you are overweight and you go down the wrong path, you’ll probably end up with serious health consequences, most your money and time will go into medical treatments, you won’t be able to live a normal life probably ever again, you will hate looking at yourself in the mirror, you might become a toxic person no one wants to be around, you will die a horrible slow death in a hospital, the list of suffering will be endless. 

Next, imagine what will happen if the opposite happens. Where will you end up if every single day you learn something new, work on yourself, eat healthily and exercise, put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, chase your goals and block everything else that doesn’t align with them? You’ll end up in heaven. This is harder to visualize than the hell version, so imagine the perfect version of yourself in ten years who has everything you want. That is heaven on Earth for you.

Now that you have hell sketched out for you and heaven sketched out for you, you have something to run away from and something to run towards. Hell is there in almost all religions and there is a reason for that, it is a place where you do not want to end up in. 

Yeah, yeah, you get it. You should eat healthily and do all the other stuff because it is good for you, but you and I both know that it doesn’t work like that. You can’t find that determination to keep going. You can’t stay on the path you know to be right long enough for any visible changes. You can’t do it every day. Your mind takes over, your emotions take over, and the very moment you get uncomfortable, you quit.

How do you not quit? How do you find more within you? How do you keep going down the path to the heaven you planned for yourself when you are nowhere close to it and all that happens when you try to go towards it is plain and simple suffering with little to no joy?

Here is where David Goggins comes in. Is he a motivational speaker? Is he superhuman? Does he have the secret? No. He is a fat 300 pound, lying to be friends with people guy, who sprays for cockroaches and rodents at night in restaurants, whose dad beat him and his mom when he was a kid. He has always been a failure in everything and cheated his way through school to graduate. He was called nigger all his life and bullied. He is everything everyone said he would be. 
How is this guy the solution to your quitting mind? Your “I will do it from tomorrow mind.” Your “I can’t do it right now because” mind. 

Today, David Goggins is considered by many to be among the world’s best ultra-endurance athletes. He has competed in more than 60 endurance races (running 100 miles or more without rest in almost all of them), has placed 3rd at the Badwater 135 Death Valley- considered the world’s toughest foot race, and regularly placing in the top five in other ultramarathons. He also held the Guinness World Record for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours completing 4,030 in 17 hours. David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL and is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training (including two Hell Weeks), the U.S. Army Ranger School (where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man) and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. 

How did David Goggins go from being that guy to this man he calls Goggins. How did he lose 130 pounds in 3 months? How did Goggins study for one of the hardest tests and pass it while having a learning disability and while simultaneously losing 130 pounds? Did something click in his mind and he never quit again? How did that guy become this guy? I was fascinated by this question, so I read his autobiography.

It all began on the last day of his job. Goggins was doing his job of handling cockroaches, and even today he says “I didn’t really cockroaches.” He hit the mother load of cockroaches that day and he ran out of the restaurant. He thought that is his life. When he would be 50 he would look back at his life and be filled with regret because he always stayed in his comfort zone. He would see the life of a man who never tried to lose weight, or learn something, or become a better man. 

He went home and on the TV, they showed the graduation of Navy Seals. The man giving the speech said, “too often in this world mediocrity is rewarded. These men detest mediocrity.” David wanted that in his life. He wanted to become a man that hated mediocrity. He wanted to become a Navy Seal. He didn’t know that there were a weight and height restriction. He called people all over and they all hung up on him. One man said lose 130 pounds in 3 months and pass the test and he would take him in for training.

He put his running shoes on and went for a run. At quarter of a mile, he broke down. He couldn’t run more. He went to his mother’s house and cried all night. He said this is my life.

At that point, he had a choice to make. A choice all of us get to make when things get hard, when our mind says you’re not good enough, you can’t do this, take a day off. He could go back to his old life (hell) or he could embrace the suffering and have a shot at becoming better and get closer to his version of heaven. He chose the path of suffering. We might think that was obviously the right choice, because even he says that he is very grateful that he made that choice, but at the same time, till this day, he says that it was a very mean, hard, and horrible choice. It doesn’t get easier with time, his mind didn’t want to stop quitting after a few days, it was just suffering. He says till this day he wants to quit, but doesn’t because the only way a person can grow is by embracing suffering. 

We all want to work on our strengths, but it is working on our weaknesses that will bring friction in our lives and without friction, a man can’t grow.

We all want to get somewhere quickly. That’s why the 6-minute workout, the 3-week weight loss diets are so popular. The results will come, but they will go away. Ask anyone who has done it, they go away. You have to suffer. There is no way around it. If you don’t suffer voluntarily, the world will make you suffer. It is your choice but avoiding suffering means delaying it. It will come sooner or later and it scares me that people take it so lightly. Go to a hospital, see people suffer, understand how cruel the world can get and how you can end up in a situation worse than their’s if you don’t embrace suffering.

Goggins realized he could not run that far because of his weight, so he started riding the bike. He rode the stationary bike all day, every second of the day when he wasn’t busy doing something that required him to stand, he would ride the bike. Do you think that would’ve been easy? Imagine riding a bike all day, every day while you’re that fat, reading books while riding the bike with a learning disability, then going to the gym and doing hundreds of repetitions non stop for pull-ups, pushups, squats, and the list goes on and on and on. 

There was one day when he could not do one more pull-up. It was the last thing he had to do for his whole workout. He went home.

When you look at yourself in the mirror you need to be 100% honest. If you are skinny, say you’re skinny. If you’re lazy say you’re lazy. Do not sugar coat it. Call the mirror the accountability mirror.

He couldn’t sleep all night. It ate him from within that if he wouldn’t make it into Navy Seals training, he would know for the rest of his life, that he did not go 100% all in.

He went back to the gym and did his whole workout again. 

In Seals training, they push you hard. He couldn’t swim, he was black. There were only 32 Black Navy Seals in America’s history because black men have high bone densities. He went into the pool and sank to the bottom. The lifeguard realized Goggins was negative buoyant and said: “you’re done, you can’t swim.” His bone density was more than the upward force of the water, hence drowning was inevitable. He was terrified of the water and was negatively buoyant. He had every excuse to quit at that point. Instead, he taught himself how to swim being negative buoyant, a near impossible task. During Hell’s week ( 7 days of nonstop physical torture), he had multiple stress fractures in both his legs, got double pneumonia, but it wasn’t he who quit, the medics had to pull him out. He went through hell’s week again 3 months later, his legs weren’t healed so he put duck tape on his broken legs to keep going. After completing hell’s week (less than 20% of Navy Seals complete hell week, it is considered the hardest part of the hardest training in the world) he got kicked out again because his legs were completely broken, he couldn’t complete the rest of the training. He had every reason in the world to quit at this point. Instead, he went through hell’s week again becoming the only man in history to go through three hell’s week. Nobody wants to go back in but he said that he enjoyed it. It was about finding his mind’s limit. 

You see our mind tells us, “hey man, it is okay. You have done enough, come back to the safe comfortable spot.” It is designed to keep us safe and comfortable. Goggins made it his life’s mission to callous his mind. He wanted to be in control of his mind. The human soul has unlimited potential, and humans just limit themselves. They listen to the mind when it says you’re not good enough, or you’ve done enough. The moment things get uncomfortable, we quit. 

After becoming a seal, Goggins wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to become uncommon amongst uncommon men. He wanted to be the best seal in history. He went through two more types of training like Navy Seal training. He still wasn’t done. 

Later in his life, he wanted to raise money for the American veteran warrior foundation. He decided to run the hardest race in the world to do so. To qualify for the race, he was asked to run a hundred miles in 24 hours in a race called the San Diego one day. Imagine not running for years and suddenly being asked to run a 100 miles. People like to call him superhuman to make themselves feel better. This part of the blog is for those people. The people that make excuses, that take days off, that say “just this once.” 

Goggins started the race well and was doing good till mile 20. He realized that he had 80 miles to go. He thought why was he doing this. In his life, he had realized that if you didn’t have an answer to the “why” you will quit.

Before you start any journey pursuing any goal, you need to have the answer to the “why” because the “why” will pop up in your head, it is just a matter of time before it does. If you don’t have the answer, you’ll quit. There is no exception.

He had an answer and he kept going but his mind couldn’t come to terms with the fact that he had 80 more miles to go. After each lap, he would have a carbohydrate drink and a trash snack. By mile 40 it got to him. Cramps kicked in and his body started quitting on him. At mile 70 he was done. He was in the worst shape he had been in, in his whole life. He couldn’t take on more step. There was blood coming out instead of pee. All bones in both his feet were broken. This is a man who has been through 3 hell’s week, completed Nav Seal’s training, ranger’s school, Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He had lost 130 pounds in 3 months. He has done the impossible several times in his career but this was the worst pain in his life. If he kept going his kidneys would fail. He could die on that track. He and his wife agreed he was going too slow and wouldn’t make it in time. But his “why” got him going. He drank water, ate a snack. Took a step, started walking, and in some time started jogging. Remember all his bones were broken, he had nothing to gain personally from this race, since he wouldn’t make it in time. But, Goggins does not stop when he can’t go anymore, he stops when he’s done. That’s the mindset you need to have if you don’t want to end up in your version of hell if you don’t want to be mediocre. He completed the race and at that point, he realized that the mind just wants to keep you safe. It will make things up to keep you from doing what you should do.

Let’s say you’re fat or have joint problems, that mind would kick in and say, “Hey man, it hurts a lot, you should stop. You did enough, no need to hit your goal of running a mile nonstop, you shouldn’t damage your joints further. This doctor said this, this friend said that you should stop.”

If the mind wanted the best for you, it would stop you from eating sweets too, from eating that pizza slice too. No doctor says that’s good for you, where does your “I care for you” mind go then? Your mind is nothing but the sum total of what you do repeatedly. It is called neuroplasticity. If you hit the snooze button every day, it will get harder and harder to wake up on time as days pass. After a point, you wouldn’t even hear the alarm go off. You have to stop listening to your mind. Your mind is weak and that’s why you quit every single time you get in an uncomfortable situation. As soon as you get uncomfortable, it kicks in and sweet talks you out of it. If you don’t callous your mind, you will end up in your version of hell and you will never reach your full potential. There is no bigger crime than not reaching your full potential.

The conversation you have with yourself when you want to stop is the most important conversations of your life. Most of us make all the promises when we are the most comfortable. We say diet starts from tomorrow while being well fed. We say we will work non stop tomorrow when we are in that comfortable bed. It is the conversation you have with yourself when you are uncomfortable that matters. 

Goggins had every reason to quit many times in his career. He did not listen to his weak mind and he is nearly fifty years old today and is winning almost every endurance run he competes in. He can run a hundred miles at this age, and he recently ran 205 miles at once. If he listened to his mind, he would be a fat, diabetic, lazy, poor, near dead 400-pound man. You have to list your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals out and acts on them. You are not allowed to stop, rest, sleep, till you achieve them. You are going to have to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Almost every human works at less than 40% of their potential on the day of their life they think they worked the hardest. If the body didn’t have more, Goggins should have been done at mile 70. 

You can’t be motivated. It will go away. Motivation is nonsense. You have to be obsessed. You have to be driven. When you are driven you drive through any obstacle. When you’re motivated, you stop being motivated when there is an obstacle. You have to suffer. You have to have your “why”. You have to be careful about the conversation you have with yourself. You need to get uncomfortable every day. You need to do it every day. If you do something you weren’t supposed to do, know that you were motivated, not driven. You will cheat over and over again and won’t get anywhere till you don’t have the answer to “why am I doing this to myself?” 

Get over the mental barriers you have placed on yourself. You can never lose weight if you get happy about losing ten pounds when you have to lose a hundred because you are relating to the guy who was fat, not to the guy that was once thin. You will gain back the ten pounds if you don’t do this. The journey is pure suffering, everyone wants to quit. But it is the ones that do it every day and the ones that do not quit, that make it. 

Goggins looks at his shoes for thirty minutes sometimes thinking he doesn’t want to do it. No one wants to do it. But doing it makes the difference. Stay hard.