I’ve written before about the joylessness and insanity of making an enemy of yourself:
“I’ve got to get these approaches done.”
“I’ve got to get this victory over myself.”
“I’ve got to get these 10 approaches down or I’m worthless.”
It’s being over goal-oriented. And the problem with fighting yourself is that’s where all the energy goes – on knocking yourself down. This is why the whole thing can be so tiring sometimes. If you focus on getting that girl, getting 5 numbers today, and you acquire your sense of self-worth from it, guess what? Some day you’re not going to make that goal (and that day will be soon if you use all your energy fighting yourself), and you will be worthless in your own eyes.
The internet is full of this advice – master yourself, conquer yourself, control your mind.
Even “gurus” out there who I have a huge amount of respect for say that this will be hard work, that you’ll need grit and determination. I say piffle.
I invite you to do something else. You don’t need to master your mind, you only need to lose it. Lose your mind and come to your senses.
The thing about getting good at this, and getting good at anything, is enjoying it. At a basic level, we go towards what gives us pleasure, and avoid what gives us pain. Even in the case of those who claim that they seek out pain (I was one).
You’ve got to enjoy it!
But watch out for this as a slogan. Have you ever tried to force yourself to enjoy something? It doesn’t happen. Whenever I didn’t want to do something as a kid my mum would always say “try to enjoy it”. Just like “be yourself”, this was excellent advice wrapped up in bad advice. Forcing yourself to change your mind with your mind is like trying to make a gun shoot itself. You’ll achieve nothing and mess up your surroundings. The only way to change your mind set and belief systems is by doing, not thinking, not analysing, but just doing.
There’s an analogy I use with my students. Imagine you have a big pot of boiling water and lots of guests to cook for. You have a large bag of rice but you can only put one grain of rice in the pot at any one time. So how do you do it? You put a grain of rice in. Not enough. You put in another. Still not enough. You put in another. Still not enough. And another. No good. And another. Not enough. At this point there are two routes to take.
Route 1. You look in the pot and visualize just how long it’s going to take to get that pot full of rice. A huge pot, tiny grains. All that work, all that time, so much to do – how will you ever do it? So, you give up, call up your guests and cancel the dinner.
Route 2. You throw in another grain of rice, but this time, you see if you can throw it in from a bit further away. And a little bit further. Eventually, you go for the three-pointer. Amazingly, like some kind of ricey Karate Kid, your basketball skills improve. You keep throwing in the rice grain by grain. You practice throwing in the rice left-handed, then you kick it in. Pretty quickly your football skills are improving, too. You throw grain by grain, now you’re so used to throwing grains you can do it while reading an interesting book. You write a poem while throwing in the grains and recite it, improving your creative skillets and unleashing your inner child. You take the occasional rice grain shot through the legs. You sing a song, you write a song. You have a go at seeing how many grains you can throw in in 10 seconds, and try to beat it. When you’re bored of that you keep throwing grains while you have a phone call with your friend. You throw it in, grain by grain. You develop spin shots on the rice. And after a time something amazing happens – you go into detail about each throw – you feel at a microscopic level the feel of the grain between your fingers – you roll it around and enjoy the back swing of your arm as your relaxed shot plops the grain easily in the pot. You get into flow – your mind is blank as your attention is blissfully engaged in the action of your body, the subtle shift in weight onto the back foot as you throw the next grain in, the sound of your wrist rubbing your sleeves, things you’ve never noticed – again, again, again, grain, grain, grain. The very act of throwing the rice turns out to be all you need, because in it their is infinite variety and infinite possibility
And then, only when your shots are pinging back out, you realize that the pan is chock full of rice, enough for all your guests, and then some. But you don’t even care all that much. You’re pleased that the pan is now full of rice, but it’s just a by-product of the joy of chucking rice in. So what now? You take another big pan and crack out the couscous. Smaller pieces, even more to explore, to play with.
This is what it’s like with daygame. From one, two, three, ten, fifty sets you might have your eyes too focused on the elusive prize – the daygame Ninja. Why am I not there yet? It’s going to take too long to get there. You imagine the work you’ve done so far and suppose it’s going to be that times a million. So you give up.
Don’t do that! Just keep throwing the rice in, grain by grain, set by set. Pretty soon you’ll notice things – your adventure is leading you down other paths – you’ll end up in improv classes, you’ll be down the gym, you’ll be more dynamic and talkative at work, at the coffee shop, in the supermarket, with people you meet. You’ll take up public speaking and you’ll read excellent books and find inspiring videos. You’ll notice more opportunities as you spend more time noticing your surroundings. You’ll consume less and create more. You become more active and less passive. You might take up Yoga, Tai-Chi or meditation and begin to get in touch with your being. Then something amazing happens. Each set becomes the destination. Each moment is the goal. You enjoy and are present with every tiny aspect of it. Running in front of the girl, swinging your body round. Enjoying the feeling of watching her come out of her world and into yours. Relishing the eye contact, even enjoying the confused or negative look on her face. Taking your time, breathing it in, and watching that look turn into a smiling, pupil-dilated, lip-parted energy. You enjoy the silences, the slow fold of your arms as you lock in. You enjoy noticing each moment – her touching her hair, crossing her legs, that connection when you both see the sexual connection in each others’ eyes. Yes, you get the girl, but it’s not about that any more. Whether you come away with a fist-full of numbers, an insta-date, straight back to yours, or nothing (although, in this state you never come away with nothing!) it doesn’t matter. Each set, each moment, is the goal in and of itself.
Every set, the only thought (if you have a thought), is:
I wonder what’s going to happen in this one…?
Curiosity, a childlike playfulness. Building your own adventure and story moment by moment. Where it goes, no one knows, you’re just there for the ride.
This is daygame for the love of it. Just keep on throwing in the rice, grain by grain.
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