I’m 30! Like today is my birthday! Happy birthday to me! Let’s gooooo (Tom Brady style)! So today I’m going to take a little different approach to the post and detail five of the most important perspectives I’ve acquired over three decades on this earth. That’s 30 years! Because I’m 30! And hopefully shed some light on what I’ve learned and what’s allowed me to be so happy. Besides the fact that it’s my birthday and I’m 30! Let’s get into it!
Money is Opportunity
One of the things that’s changed for me is my perspective on money. Throughout high school and college, I was always interested in becoming wealthy and buying a Tesla, a jet ski, and a mansion on the water. I really thought money and status symbols would lead towards happiness. But that just isn’t the case. There’s many rich people driving Lamborghinis to their third house wishing for an accident to end it all. And I’m not saying money doesn’t play any role in happiness, because it does, but it certainly isn’t the primary driving factor and status symbols certainly are not.
After college I understood this more and saw money as a way to become financially free. Where I’d have enough money to live off forever, allowing me to leave the workforce and corporate rat race. Free from bosses, work schedules, and dress codes. Early retirement. Money as freedom. Where I could do whatever I want without reporting to anyone. And while I still hold most of these beliefs, I now see money as a way to provide security and opportunity. Security, as in not having to worry about getting fired or the economy turning because I have a large emergency fund. It’s become a tool that eliminates a lot of stress. And opportunity, because money can be a tool to save time, or capitalize on investments, or take chances that weren’t there before. If I decide I want to open a gym or plant-based eatery, I can do it. If I want to help my sister grow her real estate business, I can do it. Money not only provides freedom, but it creates security and opportunities that I hadn’t considered many years ago.
On the topic of status symbols, I think the search for external validation can be a dangerous one too. As Gary Vee has said, so many people are spending money they don’t have to buy stuff they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like. And even now, I still have this strong desire to impress people. Maybe not so much with buying things but just by being a good person, doing the “right” things, or willingly taking on difficult tasks. But I think my perspective has shifted more over the years from seeking external validation to doing things I’m proud of. For example, I use to write blog posts hoping to inspire and help others. And get super happy when other people praised my posts, but I’d also feel it when others had negative comments. And that can be difficult to separate. I think when you allow yourself to feel good from others praising you, it naturally opens yourself up to feel bad from others criticizing you. So now, I try to publish posts that I’m proud of and are true to who I am. And if people enjoy them, great! And if not, I try to understand what went wrong but it’s cool. I’m just doing my best to create work I’m proud of. And that internal validation makes me happy.
Keep it Moving
Another perspective that’s changed for me is the Pat McAfee, how you doin’ keep it movin’. When things don’t go as I planned, or how I expect them to, it would bother me. I used to drive the roads following all the laws while simultaneously pretending to be a police officer in my head, taking mental notes of everyone who didn’t use their blinker, or sped, or cut someone off in traffic. It’d bother me so much I’d be that guy not allowing someone else to merge in front of me if they were skipping the line. Like I knew everything about the road, and it was my job to make sure everyone followed the rules. But it’s not. Quite frankly, I’ve spent a lot of time in my early 20’s ruminating on things that I can’t change instead of looking for a solution or simply relinquishing the worry. I mean my perspective on how people should drive, or eat healthy, or live their life has no influence on what other people choose to do. Everyone has their own perspective, priorities, and what they think is “right.” And it’s pointless for me to spend any time worrying about it. So, I might joke about someone eating brownies every day for breakfast or someone who believes sleeping is for the dead… But it’s cool, I’m going to keep it movin’.
And I think this plays into another perspective change for me and that’s trying to relinquish judging other people. You guys know that I do my best to optimize all aspects of my life that hopefully results in optimal health and happiness. And when I’ve found things that not only worked for me, but were backed up by the scientific evidence, I would question and judge other people who didn’t make those same decisions. Why aren’t they choosing the healthy plant-based meal option? Why are they binging seven episodes of Netflix? Why don’t they work out every day? And all this time judging other people created isolation for me. Where it became hard to connect with others because I was constantly judging other people’s actions. And that can be a lonely headspace. And this clip from Naval Ravikant on the Joe Rogan Podcast really resonated with me a couple years ago:
The Halo Effect
The last perspective change for me is becoming aware of the halo effect. This is where you take one trait or characteristic and use that to make your overall judgement. If I see someone with a Tom Brady jersey on then I automatically assume they’re intelligent, understand football, are a nice human, and I could really connect with them. But the reality is, they’re just wearing a Tom Brady jersey. And this may be an indication of certain characteristics, but it could also just be a cheap shirt they picked up at the thrift shop because it was only a dollar. Nothing wrong with thrift shopping but initially, these first traits or characteristics we notice can play a supersized role in how we perceive everything else. And I don’t want that halo effect to significantly distort reality or the lens from which I view life.
By no means do I embrace all these perspectives all the time. But they’re perspectives that’ve frequented my mental space much more now than they did years ago. Understanding that money doesn’t buy happiness but can be a tool to create security and opportunity. Prioritizing internal validation over external validation. Not worrying about things I can’t control and just keep it movin’. Attempting to relinquish my judgement on others. And understanding the halo effect can significantly distort our perception of reality. And these perspectives have allowed me to live healthier and happier. At 30! Because it’s my birthday! Let’s gooooooooo.