The Secure Way Is Really the Insecure Way

Neil StraussNeil

What do you do?

This is the first time I’ve started getting emails in my inbox not just asking for advice about women and writing, but about problems with work and anxieties about money. Maybe this is because of the pending release of Emergency in two weeks. Or maybe this is because every single person I know has been affected in some way by the lay-offs, downsizing, and economic panic. Probably it’s both.

But one thing is certain: We are living at an unprecedented time in American, and world, history. For those of us born in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, it seemed like anything was possible for most of our lives. The sky was the limit when it came to seeking fame, fortune, romance, travel, experience, knowledge, and fun.

In the last few years, however, we’ve learned that the sky was actually a ceiling, and it has been slowly lowering over our heads. It’s not the same world we grew up in. Now, many people I know are just happy to be standing.

And this is why I’m writing a very different message than my usual post.

It’s important, more than ever, not to make decisions out of fear.

You only get one shot at this life.

So don’t hold yourself back from reaching for your dreams out of fear. Don’t stay in a job that makes you unhappy just because you’re afraid you won’t find another one. Don’t live with someone who makes you miserable just because you’re scared you won’t be able to make it on your own. Don’t wait until you have a certain amount of money saved to start that project or lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

I’m not saying to be reckless and impractical and just hope you’ll get lucky, but to stop waiting and to start doing. Begin working on
your dream now – let it enter the foreground of your life, and allow the things you don’t enjoy to slowly recede to the background until you don’t need them anymore.

I was recently listening to an interview with the late mythology writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell, and he said something very wise:

“I feel if one follows what I call his bliss – the thing that really gets you deep in the gut and that you feel is your life – doors will open up. They do. They have in my life, and they have in many lives I know. And…if you follow your bliss, you will have your bliss, whether you have money or not. If you follow money, you may lose the money and then you don’t even have that. The secure way is really the insecure way.”

You may recall a routine from The Game called eliciting values. It was a way to find out what someone’s core value or goal in life is. And after doing it a few times, I quickly discovered that, though a lot of people think they want fame or fortune or love or sex, the truth is that deep down they want something else, like to feel safe or complete or happy or fulfilled or free. And they just happen to think (usually mistakenly) that fame or fortune or the attention of the opposite sex will whisk them there.

So now is the time to ask yourself: Why are you here? What do you enjoy doing and, more importantly, what do enjoy feeling inside? What is taking away from that enjoyment or feeling? And how can you get to a place where you can experience or feel that more often?

And just as you shouldn’t make decisions out of fear, you shouldn’t make decisions out of hope either. Hope can be just as big a trap as fear.

You should make decisions out of respect, for yourself.

Because if you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody else is going to.

Hope this helps. Thanks for the letters and emails.