How To Game The System To Get What You Want

How To Game The System To Get What You WantWe’re not supposed to do stuff that we don’t love doing. It’s a law of nature. When we do stuff that we don’t love, we get miserable. We get alienated from ourselves.

That’s a good thing.

It’s the Universe’s helpful way of giving us pain so that we’ll do something else.

I watched a TV show once. It was a fly on the wall documentary about a hotel. Everyone in it wished they were doing something else. Everyone spoke of the life they wanted to be living instead. Everyone was in pain. I switched to a different channel. I couldn’t bear it.

I hope that, one day, it gets unbearable for them too. I hope that, one day, they decide to switch to a different channel. One where they live the life they want to.

When I touch something hot, it hurts. That doesn’t feel good at the time. But it makes my hand pull away, which is a good thing. Pain is a message. If I wasn’t programmed to feel pain when my hand is in the wrong place, imagine how messed up my hand would get.

In the same way, we feel pain when our life is in the wrong place. It’s pretty smart when you think about it. We’ve just become less good at hearing it. We’ve become less good at pulling away. But the Universe is sending us the message because it wants us to be happy.

The same law of nature doesn’t give us what we want if we focus too hard on the outcome. When we stop enjoying the now to get to the later, the Universe walks away from us. It’s giving us pain again. It ensures that we fail.

We’re not supposed to be hating the now to get to the later. When that happens the Universe screws us over. It makes sure that we don’t get the good stuff, that we just get the pain.

Or it gives us something we thought we wanted, but in a form that makes us miserable. The world is littered with “successful” people living miserable lives. They feel trapped within careers and businesses they don’t want.

It’s fair enough. Life is like Google. If we cheat the system, it doesn’t reward us. It punishes us.

Google exists to give people useful, relevant search results. Game the system with some black hat technique, and your website might be the top search result for a while. But Google doesn’t want their users getting the wrong websites just because you figured out how to trick it. So they change their search algorithm to get rid of everyone who used the sneaky technique. Now it’s impossible to find you on the Internet.

You can’t game a system. A system will always flush you out. A system has its own goals. Systems work, or they get tweaked until they do.

Life is a system. We’re meant to enjoy it. Maybe that’s why we only get the one, so we cherish it more.

Game the system and, like on Google, we get flushed out. This system is less complex than Google. It’s just saying: “Here, I’ve given you this moment. Enjoy it.”

Sometimes I get sneaky. I’ll think no, I won’t enjoy this moment. I’ll hate this moment. But by hating this moment, I’ll use it so that another moment might be awesome.

I’ll be trying to book shows instead of making music. I’ll set a day aside to write some godawful sales page instead of writing something that helps someone.

I’m saying “fuck you” to the Universe. No wonder it says “fuck you” back. Our tricks will get us in the end.

Here’s what I’m noticing lately. Maybe it’s just that my radar is on, like when you buy a car and then notice how many other people drive the same model. Maybe the Universe knows I’m close and is pounding the message into my head.

I keep hearing examples of people who only got to succeed when they stopped attaching to the outcome.

I watched a presentation by Tim Ferriss on blogging. He said that whenever he tries to please his readers rather than himself, his views plummet. Even when he asks them what they want, then gives it to them, they don’t read it. But when he has a passion in his heart and writes it, they read it like crazy.

I watched Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston explain his success. He stopped caring if he got the job. He just did the audition as an actor. He saw the point of the audition as a chance to act. He wasn’t there to get a job. He was there to be in the moment, to do what an actor does.

I listened to my friend Chris talk about his relationship with his son. When he strived to be the perfect father, his son pulled away. When he let go of the attachment and allowed them to both just be, the relationship flourished.

The comic Bill Burr talks about how he stopped chasing stuff he didn’t even want, and got happy in the process. He’d notice colleagues getting a game show or a chat show. He’d think, why aren’t I getting these offers?

Then he remembered. All he’d wanted to be was a good stand up comic. When he watched his own comedy heroes, he didn’t think “yeah, I’d love to host a game show!” He wanted to travel round making people laugh, being the best stand up comic he could be. He was doing that already. So he got back in the moment and enjoyed it.

The author James Altucher only got successful once he stopped caring about the outcome. Derek Sivers got successful with CD Baby by doing something he loved. It unexpectedly turned into something worth millions. Stephen Dubner’s first book was initially just an oral history with his mother. It was a passion project as a Christmas gift for his siblings.

People find love the moment they stop looking for it. Wealthy folk have money flow to them when they don’t even need it and so don’t care about it.

Genevieve Davies says that we get stuck in “ask mode” so hard that we don’t ever move into a state of receiving. The blogger asking for more readers. The father asking for a closer relationship with his son. The comic asking for approval that would have taken him away from his own dream life. Only by letting go of the striving do we allow what we want to come in.

I can’t control tomorrow. I can’t even influence it that much. I’m just one speck of a human in a world shaped by all sorts of variables.

But right now, in this moment, I am at the height of my power, however powerless it might sometimes feel.

In this moment, I write this post because it lights my own fire. I don’t know if anyone will read it. I’d like it, but I don’t care. I’m not writing it for that. Or I’ll do a podcast interview. Or I’ll record another song for my album. Or I’ll develop a course. Or I’ll coach someone who needs some help. Or I’ll write some music.

These light my fire. In these moments, I’m not gaming the system any more. I’m being me. So I’m giving the Universe what it wants from me. These are my non negotiables in life. What are yours? Tomorrow will be what it is.

Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice

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