The Gift of Friendship

Just as you are cresting some xxxxxxxxx hill on a pleasant evening in May, the magic of shuffle delivers Rufio’s “Above Me.”  You speed up, notice the warm wind rush through your open windows, and begin screaming along. In this moment, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

The stale yellow light ahead rips you back to petty existence. Your foot is now off the accelerator as your right hand reaches for the volume knob. In impressive synchronicity, the counter-clockwise spins on the dial reduce both the music and the decibels of your singing. By the time your car settles at the light, the music is barely audible; your singing is altogether nonexistent. You steal a glance at the driver to your right to confirm that, yes, you have properly saved yourself the embarrassment that would have accompanied a witnessing of your previous state.

A week passes. The weather remains nice enough that windows, not AC, are the appropriate choice. You find yourself at the same place on the same road when, again, “Above Me” starts playing. The only obvious difference between the situations is that you aren’t alone: each seat is occupied by a friend. Together your voices rise. “If I were to walk till time saw no end!!!!” Buoyed by this collective energy, the upcoming yellow light changes nothing. Your car slows, but the volume stays constant. Stopped at the light you look to your right. That other driver wishes he had what we have. No shame. No embarrassment. No behavior adjustment to be a little less yourself and a little more what would seem societally palatable.


Do you really need advice?

You already know. You may not want to know, but you know. Of course this isn’t true with everything. There are plenty of times when advice is genuinely needed regarding both concrete asks – how to change a tire, what’s the best restaurant in Toronto, etc. – and interpersonal relations in the face of truly confounding behaviors. Still, most of life’s challenges are action, not information problems: you understand vegetables’ health benefits yet the pull of a Dairy Queen Blizzard is too hard to resist.

So no, advice from others won’t really help contend with these emotional desires.[1] Part of the reason is that the outsider is unattached and experiencing zero cravings. This doesn’t make the outsider any smarter, just better able to access wisdom. Hence the phenomenon of I can’t even follow my own advice! Obviously. Standing between advice and execution is emotion. If you can ignore the emotion and altogether avoid action, the pipeline to “answers” is clean. This reality tends to leave the advice-receiver (AR) in a doubly uncomfortable position.

First comes the shame. This thing that seems so easy to everyone else is hard for the AR. What is wrong with me!??!?!?! How did I not see this when this person who pondered it for 10 seconds can?!?!??! FML. Plus, there’s the unfortunate fact that advice often feels like judgement.


re: honesty redux

When you are tempted to lie about a personal fact, you are likely carrying shame about that fact.

Said differently: if you are lying about your net worth, your sexual conquests, your bench press max, your etc., true self-confidence is lacking.

re: honesty

The less likely honesty is to be expressed in a situation, the more valuable it becomes.

Said differently: the more nervous you are about speaking honestly, the more you should.

If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you.

When you’re on to something great, it won’t feel like a revolution. It’ll feel like uncommon sense.

Success come from persistently improving and inventing not from persistently doing what’s not working.

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects. When you present one to the world, and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing as-is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

No plan survives first contact with the customer.

By not having money to waste, you never waste money.

People often ask me if I have any suggestions for what kind of business they should get into. I tell them the only thing I know how to recommend: Start by sharing whatever you’ve got.

“Huh? I don’t have any of that legalese stuff. I’ve never hired a lawyer.”

“That’s crazy! What if some kid buys a cd from you and then kills himself? What if you get sued over that?”

“Then no stupid footnote legalese would protect me anyway, so I’ll worry about it if it happens.”


Our research has documented that the negative thoughts which cause your emotional turmoil nearly always contain gross distortions. Although these thoughts appear valid, you will learn that they are irrational or just plain wrong, and that twisted thinking is a major cause of your suffering.

There’s a difference between feeling better – which can occur spontaneously- and getting better – which results from systematically applying and reapplying the methods that will lift your mood whenever the need arises.

For this reason I call negative thoughts “automatic thoughts.” They run through your mind automatically without the slightest effort on your part to put them there. They are as obvious and natural to you as the way you hold a fork.

Nearly every depressed person seems convinced beyond all rhyme or reason that he or she is the special one who really is beyond hope.


I just generated a wholly original interview question.[1] You know how it’s so hard for non-narcissists to talk about themselves? You know how in interviews one is supposed to subtly brag and hit specific beats in specific ways that show both competence and self-awareness and how this delicate dance probably reveals more about one’s ability to successfully play games than deliver useful labor? I have a solution.

You can’t fake friends. In one’s mind, sure, but never in reality since reality offers the most objective of tests: how much time do you spend engaged with said “friends”? And if you aren’t actually spending time, you won’t actually know these “friends,” and thus you’ll be unable to really talk about what makes them tick. Yea, but people present a fraudulent depiction of themselves all the time, so surely they can pretend to have friends they don’t have. Not so much, I think. People are well-versed at lying about themselves – I’m a great team player; my weakness is that I work just a little too hard – but they don’t have nearly the same reps lying on behalf of other people. So when pushed to describe a fake friend in more than superficial terms, words won’t come so easily. This reality marks the first foundation of this new interview question.


She assumed the problem was that she is too needy. Research findings support the exact opposite. Getting attached means that our brain becomes wired to seek the support of our partner by ensuring the partner’s psychological and physical proximity. If our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until the partner does.

It turns out that the ability to step into the world on our own often stems from the knowledge that there is someone beside us whom we can count on – this is the “dependency paradox.” If you want to take the road to independence and happiness, find the right person to depend on and travel down it with that person.


This is an important lesson for someone with an anxious attachment style: If you wait a little longer before reacting and jumping to conclusions, you will have an uncanny ability to decipher the world around you and use it to your advantage. But shoot from the hip, and you’re all over the place making misjudgments and hurting yourself.

Activating strategies: to reestablish closeness with partner. When they fail, you may resort to

Protest behavior:

-excessive attempts to reestablish contact


-keeping score

-acting hostile

-threats to leave


-making him/her feel jealous


Look at some of your friends’ friends and you can’t help but wonder why the friendship exists. Then look closer. Past the bad decisions, shared histories one feels guilty about severing, and sheer loneliness, you’ll see that some people simply need different things from friendship – we are all unique. But we are also similar. Like, days pass and pass and pass and boy it sure would be nice if I had a friend to help transform this bound-to-be-forgettable Saturday into something memorable. No amount of uniqueness makes this type of friend undesirable. Of course, you are just such a friend: you’ve made my life better than anyone else I’ve met in xxxxxxxxx.

I first really considered this during one of those xxxxxxxxx holiday extravaganzas. What most struck me was your generosity. Here you were providing food, a house, a boat, jet skis, gasoline, etc. and asking for nothing in return. Importantly, there appeared no arrogance or give-me-social-credibility-for-all-that-I’ve-given attitude that is common in such situations. Even as we were all fortunate to have you as a friend, you gave off the impression that you were simply happy that people would trek out for a hang. When both parties feel “lucky” sharing time, you have a cornerstone trait of a great relationship.


Two Thoughts

You have already been what you want to be.

It’s easier to be angry than sad.