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keep it simple stupid

I have come across some people recently that were so brainwashed and so dependent on the opinions and acceptance of others, that they had completely forgotten what it's like to think for themselves.

After Interacting with such people, I feel that it is important that I clarify for you now the distinctions between what is popularly true in our culture, and what is actually true.

To start off, I get that a lot of people think it's weird that I believe in such "radical" ideas as self health care and living healthy; and I am perfectly fine with that. The last thing I want to be in this messed up culture of ours is "normal". Normal is broke, overweight, apathetic and blind to the truth.

I do not want to be normal, I want to be weird.

Truth be told though, five years ago even I would have thought that the me of today was absolutely nuts.

I mean, who in their right mind: runs forty miles a week, doesn't eat meat, doesn't have or want traditional health care coverage, thinks most doctors are misinformed, doesn't believe in credit cards and other forms of debt, and lives significantly below their means?

The difference between the me from back then and the me of today is simple: I learned how to open my mind to the possibility that everyone and everything that I once believed to be right, could be, and most likely was, wrong.

This concept did not come easily to me. You see, as human beings we have all been conditioned to believe that we must: fall in line, follow the rules, blend in, not make mistakes, stay out of trouble, respect our elders, and do what we are told.

Throughout my years in High School, I was never fond of the idea that I had to follow the rules and respect authority without just cause. For the longest time I felt like the odd man out because I refused to follow the pack. My fellow classmates thought I was a troublemaker and my teachers thought I deserved to be punished. Regardless of what everybody else thought, I followed my heart.

Following your heart isn't always easy, but in my experience it is truly the only way to live and still have any respect for yourself at the end of the day.

My freshman year I held strong to my beliefs, convictions and objections to the way things were getting done. By the time I graduated, I had grown so apathetic toward life that I just did not care anymore.

And like the old saying goes, "You reap what you sow."

Boy oh boy did I sow a sorry excuse of a life for myself. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, then you know how much I have changed over the past three years. A lot of people ask me, "What's your secret?" Up until this point I have given a variety of different responses and theories. Then in the midst of writing my book yesterday it finally came to me...

I kept it simple!

If you think about any problem you might be having, regardless of size or severity, the reason it became a problem in the first place is because of your inherent need to over-complicate everything in your life.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you are living your life based on the beliefs, recommendations, and research done by people other than yourself? Why not start taking care of yourself and figure things out on your own before you buy into what everybody else tells you is right? You can have all the research in the world to help you back up a theory or a concept, but until you can say that you made the effort to try it out yourself, it's all worthless.

We blindly listen to people and companies that we trust, and accept that what they tell us is fact without ever considering the possibility that they might actually be wrong. More importantly, we fail to experiment and decide for ourselves if what they say is actually congruent with who we are and what we care about.

Have you ever actually stopped for a second and thought about how inaccurate a popular set of beliefs can be?

  • Does the milk from another mammal really do a human body good?
  • Who can you trust more, yourself or your doctor? Why?
  • Are pills really the cure to our ills?
  • Are new cars and houses really a great investment?
  • Should I really trust that the government will take care of me when I retire?

I know how earth-shattering it can be when someone with more life experience than you comes along and rocks your world by questioning your particular belief system.

Once I finally awoke from my apathetic slumber, I was suddenly faced with having to process what was going on in my world. Instead of escaping it or hiding behind the opinions of others, I taught myself how to question my own beliefs again. If it didn't make sense to me, I accepted the fact that my belief system was inaccurate and I changed it.

The reason I bring this up to you is because this is the kind of thing that I encounter on a daily basis, and somebody needs to point to the elephant in the room before real change can occur.

Just the other day while I was at the gym, I overheard some guys complaining about how much milk they were told they had to consume in order to "beef up". Then they complained how they weren't achieving the results that someone had told them they should expect from their rigorous daily workouts. Then they went on to complain about how much of a chore it was to eat all the calories a certain person had told them they had to consume each day in order to build muscle.

I could not help but shake my head and laugh.

These otherwise rational and intelligent men had completely missed the point. They were doing what other people were telling them they ought to do; and when they didn't achieve the desired result, did they think to change anything? No. They kept doing what they were told they should do and then complained how it wasn't working.

What answers might they have come up with if they actually started questioning this persons methods and began thinking and trying things out for themselves?

  • Does it really make sense to drink the milk of other mammals? - No, it does not. We are human beings, they are cows.
  • If I am doing everything I was told to do correctly and I am not getting the results I am looking for, should I just keep doing what I've been doing and expect change? - No, that is the definition of insanity. You are either doing the exercise incorrectly, or the person who told you how to do it that way was misinformed to begin with and/or did not tell you the whole truth.
  • If I do not enjoy eating this many calories, should I just keep doing it anyway? - No, if it does not make you happy or bring you joy, stop doing it and find a better way of achieving the desired outcome.

Human psychology astonishes me. Perhaps it is because I have been on both sides of the fence and can actually say with a great deal of certainty that the grass is truly greener here.

Thinking outside of the box has become a preferred way of life for me. Now I look at every problem in my life as an opportunity to grow. Because of that, I now have the ability to help myself (and others) solve a variety of life problems that others would say are impossible to solve.

Some of the best advice I can give to any of you is to learn how to take a step back from every situation and have the courage to question popular belief. Don't just buy into what everybody else tells you; including me!

If you are hooked on smoking for instance, ask yourself questions that will help you see the problem from a different point of view. Questions like, "Is this helping me become the person I want to be?" "Is it worth jeopardizing my finances and my health to continue a habit that provides absolutely no benefit to me in my life?"

With enough self-conditioning, your way of thinking will change and you will feel empowered to keep asking yourself even more questions!

Here are a few questions that I ask myself on a fairly regular basis:

  • "Is this really the fastest way to get to where I need to go?" - I take pleasure in finding new and more efficient ways to get from place to place.
  • "What kind of nourishment will this food provide to my body?" - If I can't prove to myself that what I am about to eat will provide my body with enough nourishment per calorie consumed, I (usually) don't eat it.
  • "Is consuming dead rotting flesh and drinking the milk from other animals outside of the human race going to be beneficial, or harmful to our overall health?" - Asking ourselves this question ultimately lead to my wife and I becoming vegetarians.
  • "Is what I'm doing with my life really making me happy?" - If the answer to this question is no for too many weeks in a row, I will stop what I was doing and do something that make me happy instead.
  • "Does this person make me feel good, or bad about myself?" - If the answer is bad, I typically will not hold on to that person in my life much longer.
  • "Is this a want, or a need?" - The answer is usually a want.

The more questions I ask, the more answers I get. The more specific the questions, the more specific the answers, until eventually I have come up with a whole new set of beliefs that I set in place to help me live a better life.

Instead of believing the nay-sayers who tell you that you can't do something, talk to someone who has already done what you are trying to do and learn how they did it! Then apply what you have learned to your own life until you too achieve what others said could not be done.

This reminds me of a scene from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith.

In the film, Will Smith (Chris Gardner) has a moment where he tells his son (Christopher) that he shouldn't waste his time dreaming about becoming a professional basketball player. When his son throws the ball down in anger and walks away, Chris has a profound realization...

Chris Gardner: Hey. Don't ever let somebody tell you... You can't do something. Not even me. All right?
Christopher: All right.
Chris Gardner: You got a dream... You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period

By changing my way of thinking, and learning from people who challenged popular belief systems and actually succeeded, it has truly changed my life for the better. If everybody could learn to be more open minded and accepting of new ideas and new ways of thinking, I truly believe the world would be a much happier, healthier place to live.

Be brave enough to question popular beliefs, and have the courage to experiment with new ways of living. Trust your heart kid... and you'll never go wrong.

~ Corey Barton

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