How To Avoid Being Misled By Media Narratives?

The year 2016 confirmed for me that media’s job is not to deliver news but to push narratives. The narrative-pushing modern media poses certain challenge for the public. The challenge of identifying the right narrative to believe in.

If you have followed this year’s presidential election in the US, you saw how for over a year, till the very last day, the media vigorously kept saying that Donald Trump had no chance of winning the presidency, and yet he won bigly. After a fiasco like this, how can you believe the media?

When opposing narratives are running through the media, how can one avoid being misled? This is the question I will address in this post – with example of the recent Trump election.

To begin with, I’ll talk about what makes us vulnerable to being misled. During this election cycle I learned a great many things about psychology. One of the things that I learned about is confirmation bias. I knew what confirmation bias was, but I was not fully aware about how powerful its role is in our perception of the world. Another major thing that I learned is that humans are irrational almost all the time. None of our big decisions are based in rationality. NONE. Most of our decisions – small and big – are based not on facts but on how we feel about things. And our perceptions are strengthened by confirmation bias once we have formed a perception – which we do based on how the stimulus has made us feel emotionally. All this makes us vulnerable.

While I was following the election coverage I saw two universes in the media. The MSM (mainstream media) was relentlessly thrashing Trump; calling him a clown, racist, sexist, misogynist, an immature person with mental age of a 4-year-old, Hitler, etc. Nearly everyone in the MSM said that he had virtually zero chance of winning the presidency. And they worked incredibly hard to cover up Hillary’s crookedness that involved crimes as serious as treason. This was one universe.

There was another universe with the opposite reality. In that universe – which comprised of “alternative media” websites and citizen journalism on social media – Trump was not a clown but rather a master persuader. His use of language which was labeled “immature” in the MSM universe was considered to be application of his weapons-grade persuasion techniques. Trump was considered not scary Hitler but the savior of Western Civilization. The folks in this universe worked incredibly hard to expose Hillary’s crookedness and disqualifications.

People who followed the MSM coverage viewed Trump as a clown, racist, sexist, misogynist and whatever else he was branded as in that universe; and those who were solely exposed to the pro-Trump universe saw him as master persuader and the savior of the West etc. and viewed Clinton as the most corrupt candidate ever to run for president.

One of the people influenced by the anti-Trump MSM universe was my boss. He had started following the election coverage after hearing me talk enthusiastically about Trump. His first impression of Trump was that of a joker. Later on, his impression of Trump changed to misogynist, sexist, racist,.. and everything that the MSM portrayed Trump to be. I, on the other hand, had known Trump through the pro-Trump universe, and as such my first impression of him was that of master persuader and a masculine nationalist figure such as the one America needed to save itself. And every step of the way my belief in him grew stronger.

Human irrationality and confirmation bias were at work at their best.

Neither I nor my boss (nor anyone else from the general public) was qualified to understand politics and policies talked about by the two candidates. Nor did we keep a track of every detail that was being mentioned by the candidates and in the news about them, much less factcheck every bit of it. And yet I was sure about Trump’s fitness to be president and about his victory, and my boss was equally sure about Trump’s unfitness and his abysmal prospects in the race.

Every evening my boss would send me links of articles written on the anti-Trump narrative as “proof” that he was right in his assessment of Trump. I could also find as many articles “proving” my assessment of Trump right as I received from my boss and send them to him as my counter points, but I refrained from doing so because I understood that it would not sway his opinions at all. That is because his notion of Trump was built on irrationality and confirmation bias. Mine too was, to an extent, based on the same. I say to an extent because Trump has now won, proving that he is a master persuader, which means my notion of him was not totally based on irrationality.

So, are my boss and everyone who mocked Trump stupid? Not really. They were misinformed. When there are multiple universes in the media pushing different narratives it is easy to get misled.

In order to avoid being misled by media narratives, one must understand the following three concepts:

We are irrational

When following media narratives, ask yourself if you are really qualified to accurately assess the individual or the situation you are forming an opinion about. In almost all cases, we are not. We are forming opinions all the time based on how we feel about the person or the situation. And how we feel about someone or something depends on how it is being presented to us.

In Trump’s case, people who followed the MSM saw Trump as racist, sexist, misogynist etc. because that’s how he was presented to them, not because he really is all that. Trump has been a public figure for years, but never has he been accused of any such thing until he ran for president. You ask why?

Confirmation bias

Once you form an opinion about someone or something based on how you feel (or how you are made to feel) about it, confirmation bias kicks in. Then you will start to notice and even actively seek information that will confirm your opinion, and everything that conflicts with your view will become virtually invisible to you.

In Trump’s case, once his initial image was formed in both the universes, every speech, statement and move made by his aides provided confirmation bias to the people on both sides. As more time went by, those who thought Trump was unfit to be president saw him even more unfit, and vice versa took place on the other side.

Cognitive dissonance

Once confirmation bias sets in, everything that conflicts with your view becomes virtually invisible to you. But what happens when something happens that is not only conflicting with your confirmation biased-fueled view but is also too in-your-face to be ignored? You guessed right: cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is mental discomfort you feel when what you see (reality) does not match with your beliefs. The stronger your beliefs, the more the dissonance. To counter cognitive dissonance, you make up irrational hypotheses to justify your views in the face of conflicting information.

Look at the numerous hypotheses that have come out about why Trump won, none of which credit his persuasion skills or his intrinsic fitness to be president – because that would conflict with their views of Trump! There could not be more glaring example of cognitive dissonance.

How to proceed?

Be cognizant of the ubiquitous human irrationality, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance, and learn about all point-of-views presented in the media.

In Trump’s case almost all of the MSM was against him, but people with Internet access and genuine interest in politics have no excuse for not scrutinizing both narratives. Once you start the practice of looking at all sides along with being aware of the aforementioned psychological traps that will keep you from objectivity, you will start to recognize patterns.

Pattern-recognition comes about with experience. Once you start recognizing patterns you will see a bigger picture about everything (patterns appear only in bigger view) and you will be better able to choose the right narrative.

During the Trump election I saw the following:

  • Hollywood celebrities were for Hillary, army Generals were for Trump.
  • Pro-immigration liberals were for Hillary, nationalist conservatives were for Trump.
  • Young people were for Hillary, experienced were for Trump.
  • MSM were for Hillary, citizen journalists and social media were for Trump.
  • Beta males were for Hillary, masculine men were for Trump.

These are just a few of the many observations, but they are enough to provide a clear pattern that made me choose Trump as my candidate. Supporters of Trump across categories, in my view, are superior class of people.

You may not see the same pattern as I see here. But this is just one pattern. There are always more patterns, complex and multi-layered, some too intricate to articulate. The point is, if you avoid the psychological traps and study all the narratives, the patterns will emerge that will make you better informed.

Will it always make you choose the right narrative? That’s too much to expect, I’d say. Does it seem like a lot of work then? Maybe, but it’s still worth it.

Dummy’s Guide To Persuading Hillary Supporters To Vote For Trump

In this post I’ll talk about how to talk to Hillary Clinton supporters to influence them to change their mind to vote for Donald Trump. I am calling it Dummy’s Guide for even though Trump supporters are on average smarter than Hillary supporters (in fact, the smartest people I know are on Trump’s side), when it comes to interacting with people on Hillary’s side many of them are taking what in my opinion is the fatal approach from persuasion standpoint. I will talk about it in a bit.

Note that by this time majority of both Trump and Clinton supporters have made up their mind about which candidate they support, and nothing coming out of either side is going to sway their support. So you are looking to influence the tiny minority of people who are not yet firmly decided and are tilting towards Hillary due to mass brainwashing by the mainstream media campaigning for Crooked Hillary. But do not get discouraged. Every single vote for Trump is important.

Hillary supporters may be brainwashed, ignorant, media zombies, but do not make a mistake of calling them that on their face. That is the fatal approach. When you are trying to persuade someone of something, insulting them is the last thing you want to do. Telling Hillary supporters that they are brainwashed implies that they have a weak mind, which feels like insult and they will never change their mind after that. Calling them stupid is downright insulting, you don’t want to do that.

Instead be Socratic. Here’s how you go about it: Do not disagree with their position, but act like you yourself are unsure of which side is better. If you declare at the onset that you are a Trump supporter it will trigger their defense mechanisms and they will close their mind to anything you say next. Do not tell them that you are on the side of Trump; pretend that you are having a neutral discussion and ask them questions and counter questions that bring out their illogic and ignorance, if only to themselves.

Your aim is not to win an argument with them. Or for them to admit to you that they were wrong and change their mind in front of you. Your aim is just to make them question themselves about their beliefs by subtly helping them with logic and facts. Subtlety is the key. If you come off as aggressive, you have failed before you have started. At all times you have to show that you are neutral and that you are looking at the situation from both sides. You might also have to agree (or pretend to agree) with them from time to time. Agree, and after some time question their stance. Remember, they don’t have to change their mind right now. You just plant the seeds in their mind and some people would change their mind before the election day.

Below are some of the points Hillary supporters use to disqualify Trump from presidency, followed by my tips on how one can address each of the points.

TRUMP IS RACIST!

Ask them why they think Trump is racist.

They will say Trump called for banning Muslims from entering America. Ask them if Islam (religion of Muslims) is a race or a religion. Obviously, it is a religion. So Trump is not racist. As for banning them from entering America, point out that Trump initially asked for temporary ban on Muslims coming from terrorism-infected countries until proper vetting mechanisms were devised.

They will say Trump called all Mexicans rapists and criminals. Ask them if Mexico is a race or a country. Obviously, it is a country. So Trump is not racist. As for calling Mexicans rapists, point out that Trump called illegal Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, not all of them.

Ask them again if they can point out any racist remark Trump has made. It either involves Islam (which is religion) or Mexico (which is country). They can’t cite a real racist remark made by Trump, because he has never made any.

TRUMP IS MISOGYNIST!

Ask them why they think Trump is misogynist.

They might say, because Trump has insulted women by calling them fat, slobs, pigs etc. Now this one is tricky, because he indeed has called women names. But there is a logical explanation for it, which is this: Those women were contestants of a beauty contest, which means they had signed up to be objectified. When a woman is in a contest where she is going to be judged solely by her beauty, commenting on her beauty is not misogynistic. As an entertainer, Trump was doing his job. But that is a logical explanation, and you don’t want to counter this point by logic. It won’t work.

Hit it in a way that works. Start by asking them what counts more, words or actions. Get them to admit that actions count more than words. Then ask them if they have heard the tape on which Hillary is laughing about helping a pedophile get away with raping a 12-year-old girl. Ask them if they know Bill Clinton’s rape victims and how Hillary has silenced them. Ask them if Trump’s words (which he spoke as entertainer) make him a bigger misogynist than Hillary whose terrible actions destroyed some women’s lives.

TRUMP CAN’T BE ROLE MODEL TO KIDS!

Ask them if they know who the role models of their kids are. If they don’t have kids of their own, ask them whom do most kids see as their role models. If they are honest to themselves, they will know that most kids have their role models from TV – mostly Hollywood celebrities and pop stars. Then ask them why they think that is the case.

By questioning them make them realize the fact that kids choose their role models from the personalities they are exposed to frequently – which is people they see on TV. Popular role models are the likes of Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Jay Z, etc. Then ask them if they find it troubling that kids are seeing these TV personalities who are destroying their culture as role models, and if they have taken any steps to avoid their kids’ exposure to these celebrities who impress all the wrong things on kids’ minds.

Close by saying that you don’t think it matters if Trump is role model material, because kids won’t be watching Trump on TV day in and day out. And even if they do see him as president on TV, Trump won’t be behaving in ways that put bad impressions on kids’ minds. On the other hand, the kids are already being exposed to the all the bad language and much worse images on TV every day (much worse than those they disqualify Trump as role model for). And what is worse, they are already picking their role models from the degenerate celebrities on TV.

Ask them if they have never used cuss words. And if they have, ask them if that disqualifies them from being role models to their own kids.

TRUMP IS HITLER!

Ask them why they think Trump is Hitler.

Ask them if they know that Hillary Clinton called half of Trump supporters – which is millions of Americans – deplorables. Tell them Hitler hated German citizens. Draw a parallel by showing that Hillary hates Americans. Isn’t that more like Hitler? Ask them if they can cite any instance where Trump has attacked ordinary American citizens.

TRUMP IS A DICTATOR!

Ask them why they think Trump is a dictator.

They might say, because Trump is not heeding their party leaders, and not taking advice from people who tell him to tone down his rhetoric. Ask them the meaning of dictator, then ask them how disagreeing with people on how to run his own campaign make him dictator. Isn’t it like if you refuse someone’s advice on how to live your life, they would call you a dictator!?

They might say, because Trump threatened to put Hillary in jail if he is elected (during the 2nd presidential debate). Ask them if they are saying it because they have read headlines calling Trump dictator for making that statement, then tell them how he was misquoted by the media. Trump said during the debate that if he is elected president he will ask his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary’s situation. Isn’t that a legal process to follow for criminal investigation? And that is certainly different from saying “I will put you in jail.”

TRUMP SEXUALLY ASSAULTED WOMEN!

This argument comes from Trump’s infamous “pussygrab” tape and the emergence of several women accusing Trump of sexual misbehavior 15-20-30 years ago! On the tape Trump is heard saying that if you are rich then women let you do anything. He says the words “they let you”.

First ask them what is the meaning of assault. Then ask them if a woman lets you do something how is that an assault. They might say, just because they let Trump do it doesn’t mean they were happy about it. Ask them if they are not making assumptions.

Avoid temptation to call them out on their ignorance of the nature of women. That would be deeply insulting to them, and thus will not help the cause.

When they point to the several women coming out accusing Trump of sexual misbehavior, ask them why they think all these women are coming out a few weeks before the election. Ask them if they know about WikiLeaks releasing hacked emails from DNC that are exposing Hillary’s corruption, and ask them what they make of the release of Trump tape on the exact same day that WikiLeaks released emails exposing Hillary. Point out to them that for nearly every WikiLeaks dump there is a woman accuser coming out against Trump and the media is hardly covering WikiLeaks. Ask them why would it be so?

TRUMP KISSED WOMEN WITHOUT PERMISSION!

Smile and ask them if they have managed to kiss any woman with permission. The idea is so ridiculous! If you are talking to a woman, ask her if you can kiss her and when she tells you to shut up, well, your point is made.

Avoid temptation to call them out on their inexperience with women.

TRUMP SAID “PUSSY”!

Ask them if they know what is going on in Germany (and Europe) after mass immigration from Syria. Get them to acknowledge that Europe has become a hellhole with terror attacks, rapes and sexual assaults by the Islamist migrants become almost daily occurrence.

Ask them who do they think would protect them and their families better from the two candidates. 1) Donald Trump, who is against mass immigration from terror-infected Islamist countries or 2) Hillary Clinton whose dream is open boarders. Ask them if it is wise to not elect Trump who is clearly the better bet for protection from terrorism, just because he says the word pussy?

Ask them if they have never said the word pussy themselves. And if they have, does it makes them bad human beings regardless of all of their good traits.

TRUMP IS UNHINGED, CAN’T BE TRUSTED WITH NUCLEAR CODES!

Ask them what makes them think Trump is unhinged. Is it Trump’s rhetoric? His insults of his opponents? If so, point to them that Trump is not a seasoned politician so he doesn’t talk like one. Moreover, he has been a reality TV star for years, so his mannerisms are different from those of politicians’. Does that make him unhinged? If so, how is he so successful in multiple fields and multiple businesses?

When you talk about his success as a businessman, they might point to his 5-6 bankruptcies to showcase his failures. Tell them that Trump has over 500 successful business entities to his name. If a businessman starts 500 ventures, and 5 of those fail, how is that a bad track-record?

Ask them if they have heard that as of this month (October 2016), Obama administration has declared cyber-attack on Russia based on Hillary’s unsubstantiated claim that Russia is providing DNC’s hacked emails to WikiLeaks in an attempt to influence the US election.  1) There is no proof that Russia is behind the hack. 2) This could aggravate Putin and could lead to WWIII involving nuclear. Ask them if that seems more like actions of the unhinged.

TRUMP PRAISES PUTIN!

Ask them this: Who do you think Putin would work better with. 1) Someone who says America and Russia has a common goal of defeating ISIS and that we can work together to achieve that, or 2) Someone who continually badmouths Russia and Putin and accuses Putin, without evidence, of influencing the US elections? The goal is to make them realize that Putin can actually be a good ally to America against terrorism.

There are countless other points they would bring out against Trump, but you get the drift.

Just remember to be polite, remain calm and don’t try to win over them.

Be as informed about both the sides as you can be. Follow people like Mike Cernovich, Paul Joseph Watson and Stefan Molyneux to keep up to date on the events and analysis.

Take America back, and make it great again!

Check out Scott Adams’ post about Unhypnotizing a Clinton Supporter, and the followup post.

Better Way To Keep Up With Twitter Updates

I always thought it would be great if Twitter provided a way to subscribe to RSS feed of the updates from people I follow on Twitter. That would make it very convenient for me to keep up with Twitter updates in the same feed reader where I read other blogs I have subscribe to, instead of going to a different application.

Twitter does not offer the feed subscription option. So it occurred to me to search for third-party tools that might provide the functionality. I Googled about it, and voila! Found several relevant results.

I have now started using https://twitrss.me to fetch RSS feed of tweets of my favorite Twitter users.

Benefits?

Following are the benefits I am experiencing by subscribing to feeds of Twitter users I follow:

  • As I said above, I don’t have to jump through multiple websites/apps to keep up with the blogs I am subscribed to and the updates from people I follow on Twitter. The tweets I care about come right through in my Feedly app.
  • I get to see the tweets I care about without any clutter or noise.
  • Without any distraction I am able to go through tweets in much less time than it would take me on Twitter website/app.
  • I am not exposed to “promoted tweets” and ads that Twitter inserts in user timelines. I have not signed up for those ads nor am I interested in seeing any.
  • On Twitter website/app, I have to scroll through my timeline and see all the tweets even when I am looking for tweets from a specific person, if they have posted anything. This is because Twitter doesn’t show all tweets from each person grouped together. In feed reader, however, I have subscribed to each person’s tweets as separate feed, hence all tweets from one person show grouped together. This way I can directly see if the specific person whose updates I’m interested in at the moment has tweeted anything. Huge time saver.
  • On Twitter website/app, when I follow someone I only see their tweets and retweets, not their replies to other people’s tweets. If I want to keep up with everything a particular person is tweeting, including their replies to others’ tweets, I have to go to their profile. With feed subscription, however, I have an option to subscribe to their replies also.
  • With feed subscription, I get to see ALL tweets of the people I follow. This is by far the most important benefit. Let me explain this. Twitter recently implemented an algorithm that will decide which tweets you would be more interested in and will prioritize tweets on your timeline accordingly. This means I might not see tweets which Twitter thinks I would be less interested in. Well, I am interested in seeing all the tweets from the few people I follow.

Given the benefits, you might want to give it a try. (If the words RSS feed and feed reader are alien to you, this post is not for you.)

How to use the tool?

You can visit https://twitrss.me and key in the Twitter handle to generate the feed URL of the user’s twitter updates. You have options to fetch feeds of their tweets (which includes retweets) and replies. The feed URL looks like this:

https://twitrss.me/twitter_user_to_rss/?user=TwitterUser&replies=on

The bolded portion is the Twitter handle of the person you want to subscribe to. If you don’t want to see in the feed their replies to other people, leave out “&replies=on” part at the end. Finally, add the feed URL to your feed reader to subscribe.

Enjoy!

Ten Ways To Live Frugally And Intelligently

Masculinity is not only about physical strength and aggressive behavior but also, among other things, about patience, composure and overall intelligent living.

The present day social environment is increasingly filled with toxic ideologies and information disseminated by the popular media and by anybody with an internet connection and a blog. Therefore, I think that masculinity in the present day has an added meaning of being able to wade through the misinformation-overload of the unprecedented scale and live in a way that is least harmful to oneself, and most beneficial to the society. After all, it is men who build and run the society (for the most part).

We are living in the consumer culture. It is a culture wherein individuals are constantly encouraged to buy stuff, even the stuff that they don’t need. Through systematic brainwashing the corporations are creating needs in people’s minds that would never have arisen otherwise. Where there is a corporation, there is a system in place that ensures that all the money that you earn (mostly from working for one of them) goes back right to the corporations. And they are present in almost every sphere of life today. Foods, clothing, entertainment, electronics, media, everywhere!

In a world like this, frugal living is intelligent living. As a man, one must know to live intelligently.

Below are some of the ways towards that end:

1) Do without accessories, except a wrist-watch

I am referring to accessories like chains, bracelets or wrist-bands, rings etc. made of metal or any other material that many men wear. Such accessories are for women and feminine men.

Women traditionally have been adorning their bodies with accessories to attract attention of men. Men need no such thing. For men, it is their masculine attitude which comprises of strength, confidence, composure, etc. that creates attraction in the opposite sex.

The only accessory that I find useful is a wrist-watch. Get a sturdy watch that has an eye-catching dial, and either metal or resin strap. Leather straps soon turn smelly with sweating, and otherwise are not as durable as metal or resin straps. I currently have a Casio Illuminator watch with resin strap which has a dial that is both digital and analogue. It sports a look that is suitable for both formal and casual settings.

Keep in mind the objectives: A single watch that is 1) durable, 2) has a dial that stands out 3) is suitable for formal as well as casual setting, and 4) is low to moderately priced.

2) Have single pair of jeans, and a few plain t-shirts

Have only one pair of jeans and a few (three to four) plain cotton t-shirts. Go for jeans of the fit that is currently in fashion and get them in dark color (indigo or dark grey). For t-shirts, keep them plain and of the colors that are in contrast with the jeans. Light grey, yellow and khaki are some of the best colors in my opinion as they don’t easily show the signs of aging unlike black, navy blue, brown etc. that take on a lighter shade after a number of washes. Light gray, for example, would not betray that it is being worn for months unless it is torn or has got holes in it. Plain white t-shirt is also good, except that it would catch stains easily.

A pair of branded jeans might cost you somewhat dearly but they last a long time. Jeans are rugged and durable clothing. A one-time investment should last you at least a couple of years. Plain t-shirts on the other hand are normally the cheapest of clothing articles in a mall, even the good quality ones. Go for low to mid-range ones and do not compromise much on quality because one of the primary goals is also durability.

On a well-toned body this combination looks classy any day. There is no need to go for colorful and flashy jeans and shirts like you are going for a party. Flashy clothing is for women and feminine men who lack natural traits in their personality to make them attractive.

This does not mean that you would have no other clothes. You might occasionally need some party wear and a few formal clothes if your workplace requires wearing formals. The above, however, should comprise your go-to wear for hanging out with friends, going out on casual occasions, picnics and even on dates.

3) Say no to junk food

I read this advice somewhere: Be skeptical of eating anything that did not exist when your grandfather was a kid. It is a great advice if you see through it.

Modern food industry through prolific use of advertising seems to have convinced people that they are supposed to eat virtually all the time. A zillion varieties of processed and junk foods are available in a zillion different types of packaging or are served in restaurants at nearly every street corner. Now people want to eat when they are travelling, taking a stroll, or even when they are just bored!

Most of the food that the urban population is eating is useless, and harmful. All processed foods, that is, foods that come in packets, tins, bottles, are junk. All foods made of white flour are junk. Out go the window all bread items (even the so-called whole grain bread) like pizzas, burgers and sandwiches. All food items that are deep-fried are junk. All food items made with excessive use of butter, cheese, mayonnaise, sauces and spices are junk. As far as I know, all Chinese food is junk too. A rule of thumb: Just about all the food that is “fast” and advertised is junk.

Eat home-made food. Food made with wheat flour, like roti. Curries made with pulses and fresh vegetables, brown rice, salad,.. If you need to munch on something for time-pass, eat nuts. I am vegetarian, so I don’t know much about non-veg food, but I would say avoid eating anything that is preserved and cooked in a way that kills nutrients and adds a lot of fat to it. And while we are at it, eat heavy meals only when hungry and never stuff your stomach.

I am not proposing ascetic life here. It is impossible to stay away from temptation to eat junk food 100% of the times. However, setting a rule around it helps. You can set a rule to have the aforementioned junk food only once a week, or twice at most. That is my rule at this time. Someone with more discipline may keep it once a month or so.

If you are not already practicing moderation, ask yourself how much money you spend on the junk food and you might be surprised. It is a great money saver as well as immensely benefits health. Makes it much easier to keep the body in good shape. When the body is healthy, so is the mind.

4) Don’t smoke, drink or dope

If you smoke, drink, or dope as a habit then there is no point reading this guide any further. You are wasting your money and damaging your body and mind in such major way that all other efforts at self-improvement are futile.

Smoking occasionally (one or two cigarettes a month), and that too only when it has some instrumental benefit or the company necessitates it, is fine. Likewise, moderate social drinking is fine. But if you can’t resist the urge to smoke or drink then consider yourself to be way past the limit. As for doping, you should strictly keep away from every form of it. It is not worth your money and precious health.

Only a stupid person would be slave to his addictions.

5) Walk instead of using transportation

Make it a compulsive habit to walk short to moderately long distances instead of taking a vehicle or using public transportation. If you are short of time for where you have to reach, well, then walk faster!

I walk around three kilometers every day, which is because I don’t have scope to walk more. I wouldn’t mind walking up to ten kilometers a day or some more. If your circumstances allow you to walk about ten kilometers in a day, consider yourself lucky and walk.

Going to the market, hanging out with friends, running errands, going between home and the train station to and from work,.. All this can be done walking instead of using transportation.

6) Use low-end smartphone, till it goes outdated

Smartphone is a necessity. Using a smartphone as against a basic mobile phone increases one’s productivity tremendously. However, a low-end Android phone today does almost everything that a phone which is ten-times costlier does. Besides, the technology advances so fast that the features of today’s high-end phone would become available in the low-end phone in a year’s time.

The phone that I currently use is Motorola E series Android phone. It is sturdily built and has battery life matching that of high-end phones. It may lack some fancy features, but if you ask yourself what gains in productivity do people using the high-end phones achieve vis-à-vis those not using those phones, you will hardly find any. Mostly it just boils down to snob appeal. Men need not fall for it.

Corporations don’t want to manufacture products to last long. They not only want you to buy stuff you don’t need, but also want you to keep buying. It is called planned obsolescence. It means that a phone or a computer you would buy today is purposely designed to become obsolete before its physical life ends. They upgrade OS’s and technical specs at short intervals, so the phone you own today would not run the software/apps a few years later even if your phone is in good condition. Most people are gullible enough to change their phones in much shorter duration by falling into the trap these companies lay for them. Do not be one of them.

I have a friend who used an Android phone for 4 years till it went bad. His OS version (Android Froyo) did not support many of the apps that the subsequent versions of the OS did, but it did support many of the essential apps and that did the job for him. Do not be the fool to go and buy the latest device every time they are launched. Get new phone only and only when your current phone stops working or becomes absolutely outdated. You are not losing much, if anything at all.

7) Don’t go to expensive gym

Unless you aim to become muscular body-builder, there is no need to go to a gym at all. Buy dumbbells, a rod and a few weights, a bench, and learn exercises that can be done at home. You don’t necessarily need everything that I mentioned. A couple of dumbbells would suffice for basic exercises. YouTube is a great place to learn about various exercises and diet for fitness.

A half hour of weightlifting at home and an hour of walking outdoors should be sufficient for you to be the healthiest person in the neighborhood. If you can’t exercise every day, do it at least three days in a week.

8) Buy second-hand things

Barring electronics and clothes, there are many things that can be bought second-hand. Furniture, exercise weights, bicycle, books, etc. are some of the things that don’t spoil easily and if you find them in good condition they may give you years of usage with minimum spending.

Nowadays there are many websites (Olx.com for one) where you can buy second-hand stuff directly from the people who want to sell them. Take advantage of fools who want to sell perfectly good stuff as they are running on the hedonic treadmill of relentless consumerism.

9) Don’t use shampoo and deodorant

As a man you don’t need to use shampoo, and certainly not deodorant. There are alternatives to these products that not only cost nothing but also give surprisingly great results. See my detailed post about it.

10) Don’t spend crazy money on women, take the Red Pill

Only men who don’t really understand women spend money on fancy gifts and expensive dinners for women. Without the right personality the money you spend on women would bring you no success with them. And with the right personality women would love you even if you don’t spend a dime on them.

Gifts and dinners are overrated. I have had a hot girl who would give me sex and cook for me every time I went to her place. I never took her out to dinner, holiday, or gave her any gift. Not even a birthday present. I saw her for a few months and the total amount of money I spent on her is literally zero. And yet on my birthday I got an expansive shirt from her!

Most men in the world have no clue what women find attractive in men, and consequently they are terrible with women. Fortunately, today we have internet and there are many great men writing blogs to enlighten men about the nature of women, and a lot more about being a man.

Take the Red Pill. Follow these blogs in the mesosphere:

They would cover every aspect of masculinity from seduction and game, to hygiene and style, to society and politics. Everything that is needed to make one an exemplary man.

How to Have Peaceful Sleep with Alarm Clock

This post is for those who have miserable time sleeping as they keep waking up intermittently from their sleep to check the time out of fear of oversleeping or for any other reason including plain curiosity. People with schedules, like students and working people, mainly suffer from this condition.

When I was a school-going kid I always woke up at the right time without any external aid. The biological clock worked fine almost every day. I can’t remember a single instance of oversleeping and getting late for school. That is, perhaps, because for many years I woke up at the same time, making the body used to my schedule.

It changed when I grew up and started working. The “trusted” biological clock no longer worked now. The erratic work schedules messed up my inner clock, and I started using an alarm clock.

Let me stress here that though an alarm clock is a useful instrument, there is certain feeling of being in control when your biological clock alone works for you. The feeling is great. I am not sure how many people would relate to this but to me it felt great bacause I believe it is also a sign of good health. The biological clock, perhaps, would not work if one does not have a fixed routine with the time slot for sufficient sleep. It would also not work if there is too much anxiety about the consequences of oversleeping in case. So the well-functioning biological clock, I believe, is in some way a sign of healthy living.

I started using an alarm clock, which is now inside my cell-phone, so that I don’t have to worry about oversleeping. That is the point of an alarm clock.

Now you must be thinking that this is the most pointless post I have written and you are wasting your time reading this ramble. Wait. There is a species who can’t sleep peacefully even with an alarm clock. You may be one of them. So you might want to stick around and read on.

Have you ever woken up from sleep to check the time to know how much more time you have until the alarm rings? If you have, you are one of those.

Picture this: You have to wake up at certain time. You want to sleep and not oversleep. You set the alarm and go to sleep. You wake up in between and check the time. When you do that, obviously, you are hoping you have good enough time left to sleep more. But when you check the time you see that only half-hour is left before the alarm rings. “Shit, no!” You try to go back to sleep, in vain. You want to sleep desperately now, but you constantly fear that the alarm might ring any time. At some point during this ordeal you realize that you won’t be able to sleep and there is no point struggling. But you don’t get up from the bed because, well, you still have time to sleep. What misery!

I have a suggestion. When you have set the alarm and you wake up from the sleep in between, don’t ever check the time to know how much more you have left. Assume that there is plenty of time left to sleep, and go back to sleep.

This strategy can’t hurt. The alarm will not let you oversleep, so you don’t have to worry about that. When you wake up before time and go back to sleep assuming you have plenty of time, even if there was only a quarter of an hour left, you will have good sleep for the quarter of an hour. That is because you thought there was plenty of time left and went back to sleep without worry.

When you sleep with an alarm clock, there is no benefit at all in checking the time to see how much more time is left. Avoid that and have a peaceful sleep with alarm clock!

Recipe for a Good Life

Originally written in May 2013

Below are some pointers, in no particular order of importance, on making a good life. I have implemented each one of them (and more) in my life and it is the reason I am happy most of the time.

Say no to TV and advertising

I don’t watch TV, saving myself of enormous harm through advertising.

Advertising in our world is so pervasive that it is impossible to completely escape its influence. Advertisements create unnecessary needs for us and make us buy things we don’t really need. So powerful is the effect of advertising that they even change the norms of the society in terms of how much people should own, and they make one feel miserable if one doesn’t own the stuff that is advertised. I constantly keep re-assessing my lifestyle and try to limit the stuff I own to what I need, not what is popular. I have learned that I can’t afford to own things I don’t need, because they would complicate my life. That’s a cost.

Sometimes due to peer pressure I have to own certain things and indulge in certain consumption which I otherwise wouldn’t have. When one is surrounded in the setting like workplace where everyone is following certain norm, one can’t be much different from the lot and risk being unpopular. Such unpopularity would hinder my pursuits at a broader level. However the point is, I try to learn the cost-benefit and trade-offs of consumption, the goal being that I own only what I can’t help. Not exactly minimalism, but I term this approach optimalism.

Have goals beyond yourself

My primary goals of life are located beyond my own well-being. I am a philosopher and a sociologist by nature. The question I consider to decide the course of my life is not what is good for me, but what is good for the society. It gives me greater sense of meaning.

When your primary focus is not your own well-being (it may well be included in your broader goals) you don’t get distressed every time your well-being is affected at a personal level. When you have broader concerns you always have worthwhile and fulfilling things to do. When the big picture is in focus the flaws in the small picture don’t count much.

Listen to your head

Most people will tell you to follow your heart. I’ll say follow your heart but not without the flashlight of your head.

The desire to have a chocolate is a heart’s desire, but the head knows it would harm your teeth, and much more if you had too much of it. Heart hankers after the short term pleasures. Following the heart blindly almost always causes troubles and suffering in the long run. Life is long. Take happiness as a long term project. I prefer to be moderately happy over the long run than to be extremely happy now and let the future get screwed up. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be extremely happy, but the point is to live intelligently. When one is following one’s heart it’s a pleasurable experience at some level, but often times one also knows at the back of one’s mind that it may do harm in the long run, and that knowledge would be gnawing. When that happens, pay attention to that inner voice, that’s your head. As far as possible, try to reconcile the heart and the head. It takes a lot of analysis, but analysis is a beautiful activity.

Don’t compete

I don’t generally compete with people in my social circle. Seeing yourself in competition with someone has two disadvantages. One, when you get ahead of the person you are competing with you get the satisfaction and you stop making further efforts to grow. This is especially the case when you get ahead of all in your circle with regards to a particular area of competition. You are making efforts to get ahead, not really to grow. That’s not a very good mindset to operate with. Two, there will always be people who are better than you at things. When your competitor is one of those, you will not get to get ahead and will constantly be in distress. In this state of distress and defeat you won’t even notice those you are already ahead of. Not a very healthy state to be in.

I compete, but with myself. Tomorrow I want to just get ahead of where I am today. I spot the areas of development and after bringing them under my focus I put the blinders on. This way I don’t have to feel distressed or defeated on seeing people who are ahead of me and I know that I will always keep growing. And the bonus is, if I always keep growing then chances are even if I don’t see it I will end up ahead of a lot of people in the long run automatically.

Love your family

I have realized that looking at a family as a cooperative unit and taking responsibility for the family’s well-being, as opposed to my own well-being, is more fulfilling. It gives me direction and more solid purpose. Just as I said above that having one’s primary goals of life beyond one’s well-being gives one greater sense of meaning, so does working towards one’s family’s happiness.

Since family contains more than one individual there would often be conflicts of interests. I don’t always take a decision which makes my family members happy. However, I am certainly more empathetic now than I was, and I try to make up for the hurt I may have caused by some decision which my family disapproved. And of course, I earnestly try to reconcile our interests even if that means I would have to let go of something I wanted.

I spend time with my brother on week end nights watching films. I am more attentive to my mom’s health related and other domestic problems. I listen to her more than I did earlier. Instead of getting frustrated by her whining nature, I try to understand why she behaves that way. Not surprisingly, I have found love and care to be the solution.

Most people are alienated. They may live in families, but they are absorbed in themselves. Modern urban lifestyle is such that it makes it difficult to connect with others. Generation gap, too, is a related issue. The faster the world “develops” the wider the generation gap becomes. Taking everything into account if one can make a happy family, that would be great. If not, it is still worth the effort.

Have good and limited friends

A friend to all is a friend to none. We live in the world of choices. We have virtually infinite choices in people as well as in things. Too many choices make one dissatisfied. It is the paradox of choice.

Friends are important for a good life. I have a few good friends and we are part of each others’ life for years. This is important. We are not Facebook friends or phone friends. We don’t meet with each other randomly when we get the time. Rather, we are a part of each others’ routine. Like having a bath is a part of your daily routine, meeting with my friends is a part of my weekly routine which is not skipped (unless it is really difficult to meet). It can be daily, weekly, or monthly, but when spending quality time with your friends gets a fixed place in your life’s routine, that gives some balance. To me, it gives something to look forward to at the end of every week, keeps me motivated throughout the week. And of course, it makes us feel more connected than we would if we went on making new friends and then broke our routine of meeting because we didn’t have time to spend with each other.

I am not against making new friends. But we live in the world where after a point having more of the things which are supposed to bring us well-being become ends in themselves and that defeats the purpose of having those things. That shouldn’t happen with friendships.

Have discipline in life

Few people realize how great a virtue is discipline. I believe even if one is penniless and without a goal, just leading a disciplined routine alone can make life feel meaningful. Order and discipline provide nourishment to the human nature. Living haphazardly is animalistic. This is not to mention the positive externalities of discipline – meaning, when you live a disciplined life you benefit the people around you by making their lives easier.

I salute people who believe in rules, time adherence, planned living. They keep the world a not-so-depressing place.