The Hidden Danger of Recurring Problems in Your Life
As I talk about in my book, one of the core foundations of long-term, consistent happiness is the number of problems you regularly have in your life. If you have lots of problems that happen over and over again, you will be less happy, even if you live a life that externally looks good to others. I know (and you know) many people who, from the outside in, look like their life is pretty good. Maybe they make more money than you, maybe they’re in a relationship or marriage that looks wonderful, maybe they look physically fit and healthy, etc.
However, under closer examination, many of these folks regularly deal with all kinds of problems in their lives, both major and minor. That “major and minor” part is important, because if you have a life full of recurring minor problems, you still won’t be very happy, even if you live in a mansion and your girlfriend looks like Margot Robbie.
As usual, everything that happens to you is your fault. I’m about to prove that objectively.
At least 80% the problems you have in any given 30 day period of your life are recurring problems. At least 80% of the problems you have are not problems that have never happened to you before and take you completely by surprise. Not even close. Rather, these are problems that have happened to you many times before, often hundreds or even thousands of times throughout your life.
Don’t believe me? Put it to the test. Make a mental or written list of all the problems you’ve had in the last seven days. I’m betting at least 80% of them are problems you’ve had many, many times before. Very few, of any, are completely new and unexpected.
The reason they happen to you is not because you’re an innocent victim doing nothing wrong. They also don’t happen to you because the world is an evil dark place that’s out to get you or people like you.
No, these problems happen to you because you have not taken the time to eliminate them. “Eliminate” in this context means you take action to ensure they NEVER happen again. Instead, whenever these problems come at you, you get irritated, deal with them and get past them as fast as you can, and get back to your stressful life. A week or month later, the same problem happens again, and you get irritated again, and move on again. Rinse and repeat forever.
Multiply this by 30 or 50 or 100 different problems in your life, serious ones and little ones, and that adds up to a life of mild mediocrity at best, chronic stress and/or unhappiness at worst.
Most of this blog is about fixing and preventing major problems in your life, particularly in your woman / dating / relationship life. But little problems make you extremely unhappy as well. Over the past ten years or so, I have become very adept at not only fixing problems, but preventing them so they never happen again. I’ve gotten so good at this that today it’s become a weird habit. As a result, it’s no wonder that today I am more consistently happy than any other adult I personally know. Not only have I structured a life conducive to long-term, consistent masculine happiness (which is what my books and blogs are all about), but also because I have virtually no problems anymore. In all seriousness, my weight is literally the only problem I have left in my life (and I’ll get that nailed at some point soon).
I’ll give you a perfect example of what this habit looks like, and apply it to a very minor problem just to make the illustration more clear.
A few days ago I had a certain special someone at my house, and I was helping her with her laptop. Her battery was dead, so I plugged it into the wall in my dining room. There was no power. I immediately remembered that, since moving into my new house a few weeks ago, some of the wall sockets weren’t working correctly. (Yes nitpickers, I checked the breakers.)
I unplugged it, grabbed an extension cord, and plugged it into a different socket further away. Normally, that would have been it, but I’m a problem elminator. Once the laptop had power, I got up and started walking out of the room.
“Where are you going?” she asked, confused.
“Hang on,” I said.
I walked into and through the garage, and into my newly remodeled and wonderful home office. I pulled a sticky note from my desk, wrote “DOES NOT WORK” on it in big letters, and walked all the way back into the dining room with it.
She watched, still confused, as I bent under the table and slapped the sticky note on the dead socket. Then, and only then, did I sit back down and continue to help her. She gave me a “what was all that about?” look. I said, “This way, that socket will never be a problem again.”
From now on, I’m never going to be irritated by plugging something into that socket and having no power, because I won’t even try it. More importantly, people won’t say to me, “Hey, Caleb! I’m not getting any power here! WTF?” They’ll never bug me about it because they won’t even try it, due to my stupid little note. Eventually, I’ll have an electrician come out and fix it. There’s no rush. Maybe when I get back from Europe.
What would most people do? Most people would just swear a few times and use a different socket. Then later, they’d forget, try the socket again, and get pissed off again. Or other people in their household or visiting would try the socket and create more minor problems or complaints.
You may be wondering why I’m making such a big deal about this silly little example of such a minor problem. This isn’t about a little plug in your house. The greater issue is that you need to multiply this by 30, 50, or 100 times, including all problems in your life, from tiny and trivial to huge and painful.
Instead of a single plug in your house that doesn’t work (tiny problem), you may have a problem where you stress about paying your bills every month (big problem), and/or you haven’t had sex in two years (big problem), and/or you’re always scrambling every year to get your taxes done on time (moderate problem), and/or your neighbors are loud (moderate problem), and/or that guy a few cubicles over at work is an asshole (minor problem), and/or your mom verbally abuses you frequently (major problem) and/or whatever. Add all this stuff up, and that equals an unhappy life (or at best, a mediocre life).
You might also think that kind of behavior is a little anal. Perhaps, but the overall attitude is what I’m talking about here. My attitude is that whenever I encounter a problem, big or little, I never want to encounter that problem ever again for the rest of my life, as much as is logistically possible of course. This belief not only applies to my day-to-day life, but my woman life, my business life, my financial life, my health and fitness, and everything else.
If I ever encounter a problem that I have already had before, I consider that a failure on my part (with one rare exception I’ll get to in a minute). As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” For problems, I just change that to, “Have a problem once, I’m learning and it’s okay. Have that same exact problem again, and I’m a dumbass, I’ve fucked up, and it’s all my fault.”
If I can’t pay my electric bill one time, and for the first time, then likely that’s me learning how the world works. I need to have enough money every month to pay my electric bill, or I’m screwed. Not a big deal. I learn and adjust. Hopefully.
If later in life I can’t pay my electric bill again, now we’re in stupid zone, and that’s on me. Now I’m being lazy or idiotic, at least most likely. Maybe I lost my job and took too long to find a new one because I was playing video games. Lazy. You could argue that maybe I lost my job though no fault of my own, but then I should have had an emergency fund of $1000 or so socked away somewhere to pay my bills just in case of these kinds of common emergencies. If I didn’t, I was stupid, at least to some degree.
It’s true there are some problems in life that are truly unsolvable. These problems cannot be eliminated, but they can be mitigated. Since happiness is so important to me, I always mitigate unsolvable problems as much as humanly possible.
For example, if you have a long-term relationship with a woman, you’re going to get at least some drama from time to time. Regardless of if its open or monogamous, regardless of how wonderful she is, regardless of your relationship skill or Alpha frame, you’re going to get drama from her at least sometimes. She’s a girl. It’s unavoidable.
So you can’t eliminate drama completely (unless you never date any women), but if you structure the relationship correctly, you can minimize drama, using many of the techniques and relationship models I’ve discussed. So girl drama doesn’t necessarily count towards the “never have a recurring problem” aspect I’m talking about today. (Of course there’s the issue of frequency. If you have girl drama all the god damn time from the woman or women in your life, you’re either a pussy beta or one of those Alpha 1.0s that kinda like it.)
Here’s a business example. I utterly hate bookkeeping, accounting, and legal work. It’s seriously chaps my ass. I’d rather be writing, consulting, or doing a seminar or workshop. Accounting and legal makes no money, costs me money, and is just me complying at gunpoint with big government bullshit. Can I eliminate this problem? No. As the owner of my companies there’s a certain percentage of this crap I have to do personally, regardless of how much I outsource. Can I mitigate this problem? Oh yes. I’ve got virtual assistants, accountants, and attorneys up the wazoo to take as much of this bullshit SW (Standard Work, one of the types of work I define in my book and my business blog) as humanly possible so I can spend more of my time on the work that I actually enjoy and makes money.
The last thing you might be thinking is that eliminating problems takes more time than just dealing with them quickly and moving on. It looks that way, but it’s not really the case. The extra time I took to label that socket like some kind of anal retentive nerd prevents all future time spent dealing with that problem due to my forgetfulness or other people’s confusion. Even if it didn’t, my long-term happiness would increase regardless. Taking the little extra time up front to eliminate problems forever (or at least hardcore mitigate them forever) is a fantastic return on time invested.
As a comparison I’ve used before, take a monogamous relationship vs. an open or poly one. How long does it take to start a monogamous relationship with a woman who already likes you and is dating you? About ten seconds. You say, “Let’s stop seeing other people and be boyfriend and girlfriend” and the woman smiles and says “Okay!” Boom, done. That’s all you need to do to start the relationship. Yes, there’s more work involved later, but to start it, that’s all you need to do. Getting a monogamous girlfriend is the easiest thing in the world. Clueless needy beta males do it all the time.
While a mono relationship takes about 10 seconds to start, starting an open or poly relationship is a process that takes about three months. During this time you have to carefully manage your EFA, maintain your frame, avoid discussing certain topics, not see or communicate with her too often, make sure she orgasms every time you have sex, and all kinds of other things the monogamous boyfriend-guy never needs to worry about. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?
But it isn’t when you factor the entire relationship! Once you’re done, if you do it correctly, you’ve got an FB or MLTR relationship that will produce zero or near zero drama, will last for years and years, while you can do whatever you want, including have sex with other women. You can even get several more women and do the same thing. The mono boyfriend-guy lives in a sort of prison, while you’re getting all the sex and possibly love that he’s getting while being a free man. When the girlfriend dumps that mono guy, which she will, while he’s crying in his beer, you’re still having a great time with your women. He’ll probably never fuck his ex-girlfriend again, while your FBs and MLTRs constantly come back to you over and over again for years, if not decades.
In terms of happiness, that extra time spent establishing such a wonderful thing is well worth it. It eliminates all kinds of problems that normal men encounter so often, they just assume that’s the way it is and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Do the exercise above if you haven’t already. Look back over the last seven days or so, list all the problems you’ve had no matter how small, and ask yourself if they’re recurring problems or brand new ones you’ve never seen before. Once you realize it’s 80% or more, go into the bathroom, look in the mirror, and ask that guy if he’s going to continue to put up with that crap for the rest of his life.
Hopefully he won’t.