Happiness is only in the present moment

Common problems with visualization and future projections

This is the first of the two posts I need to share with you before starting to write my advice on how to maximize the three pillars supporting High Value (Looks, Vibe, Social Calibration). Let’s consider this scenario: it has been long time since you last did any kind of sport, and you have now decided to join a gym. This time around you are taking things seriously, and after two weeks of regular workouts you start noticing little changes in your body already. It feels amazing, the results are showing already! And it can only get better! You get carried away, and start projecting a future image of you looking just like the jacked dude you saw on some advertisement.

When you look like him, it will be just great: girls will be giggling at you, girls will be smiling flirtatiously at you, girls will be literarily falling all over you, everywhere you go. It feels so good, you just can’t wait. It’s not exactly clear when all this will materialise, hence you just proceed to take a reference point: when you bench press 1.5x your body weight, you will finally consider yourself jacked. Then girls will start falling all over you, and you will be finally happy. You are not happy right now, but all you need to do is work hard, reach your objective, and then all that female attention will make you happy. That’s for sure.

Time goes by, by now you manage to bench press 1x your body weight, and even if you still can’t make girls swoon, not just yet, you are getting closer to it since you keep working out hard every week. And then you get even closer, as you keep working out month after month. And then even closer still.

After one year of working out very hard, ignoring girls around you almost completely while focusing on your objective only, the day finally arrives when you bench press 1.5x your body weight. Now you have reached the objective you’ve been working so hard for… now you are ready to make girls swoon just with your imposing physique… now you are finally ready to get the reward you worked so hard for… And you start looking at the people around you at the gym.

The girl in the corner is smiling at you, like she was smiling at you the week before; the two girls in the corner are talking to each other without even noticing you, as usual; as you leave the gym and say goodbye to the receptionist, she is busy with something and she distractedly say responds to you, as she always does; as you walk back home, you realise that nothing has really changed compared to yesterday: sure, a smile here as usual, a smile there as usual… but girls are not making comments on how sexy you are as you walk by them; girls are not blatantly checking you out when you walk towards each other; girls are not proactively hitting on you. That magic moment you have been waiting for doesn’t materialise, that happiness you are now ready to experience and you are actually somehow expecting is not there, and that’s when you go:

Oh shit…

Let’s look at a couple of definitions before elaborating more on the topic.

Visualization: when you consider a single and plausible future scenario, and you think about how the interaction will unfold (what you will say, how the other person will react, etc).

Future projection: when you consider a broader and not-so-plausible future scenario, and you think on a recurring basis about you living the future events pictured in that scenario.

Going back to the example at the beginning of the post, that one may be somewhat exaggerated, but I’m sure each of us has experienced a similar situation at least once. Maybe the future projection wasn’t about success with girls, rather it was about the feeling of fulfilment coming from that job promotion you’ve been working so hard for, and which would finally make you happy. Then the day arrives when you are finally promoted, only for you to realise that after the initial enthusiasm has faded, you are as unhappy as usual. Or maybe it was about the future feeling of belonging you so much strived for, yet couldn’t get in your current neighbourhood. Then you manage to move to a different and “more welcoming” part of the city, only to realise that your new neighbours are behaving towards you pretty much like the previous ones were.

The fact is that the mind is ingenious, and has a series of mechanisms to protect your ego.

When a girl gives an Approach Invitation to a guy she likes, and the guy doesn’t approach her either because he’s not attracted to her or maybe just didn’t get the hint, the girl goes into “auto-rejection”: her mind starts rationalising that actually she wasn’t that much attracted to the guy to start with, that most likely they weren’t going to be a good match, that she can do better than that, that she doesn’t need him, etc. All this is a defence mechanism that the girl’s mind puts in place to protect her ego [1].

Taking things from a slightly different angle: when we are unhappy about our present condition, our mind starts constructing a future situation, oftentimes completely out of touch with reality, in which we will be happy. We start feeling happy now for something that we think we will experience later, and the longer we spend in our heads thinking about that future and unrealistic scenario, the more it will start feeling real to us. The problem is that our current feeling of happiness is based purely on an illusion, and sooner or later reality will catch up with our imagination: at that point we realise that we have been chasing an illusion, and the feeling of happiness will be replaced by disappointment and sadness. And while the initial feeling of happiness provided by our illusion was artificial, the disappointment and sadness we feel when said illusion falls apart is very much real. This is why we need to be careful in keeping future projections at bay. Let’s see how things can go wrong, starting with visualization.

Visualization is when you picture yourself stopping a beautiful girl during the day, and she smiles back at you; then you deliver your opener, and she giggles at it; then you ask her a bunch of questions, and she answers all happy and smiley; then she asks you a few questions back, and you give her some funny answers which drive her crazy; etc. Visualization is also when you think of a joke that could work wonders in a couple of plausible situations likely to happen, and you then picture yourself meeting your friends at the bar / your colleagues at work, delivering your joke, and making everyone burst laughing. Visualization is certainly a good thing, certainly a good rehearsal tool. But still, you can have too much of a good thing!

If all you do is jumping from visualization to visualization, without ever attempting to practice in real life the scenarios you have visualised, then visualization will stop being a useful rehearsal tool and will become a proxy for reality instead. You will start living in your own mind a reality which doesn’t exist, a reality in which you are infallible. And after living in that proxy reality long enough, the day you finally decide to put one of the scenarios you have visualised in your mind into practice, that day you will have a big fear holding you back: the fear that in real life you won’t live up to that idealised image of you. This is how things can and will go wrong if you do too much visualization not followed by enough relevant real-life practice.

Future projections can go wrong in a different way. At the beginning of an improvement journey (e.g. when you join a gym), or as you train hard day in and day out towards an objective (e.g. the New York marathon scheduled in six months from now), it’s only human to start projecting a future image of yourself in a plausible future scenario having to do with the task you are putting your effort in. For instance, when you join the gym and after two weeks you start noticing those little changes in your body already, you start projecting a future image of you with your residual belly fat completely replaced by some defined abs, with your future broader shoulders and more defined chest moulding the shape of your fitted jumper, with your future stronger legs looking good in your favourite jeans, etc. This is good, this is what keeps you motivated and keeps you working hard towards the objective. Things go wrong when you start projecting for instance that, one year from now, you will look like that dude on steroids you saw yesterday on the Internet, who allegedly is killing it on Tinder. Or when you start projecting that, after looking like that dude and casually entering the bar on Friday night, you will be acclaimed like a rock start and girls will fall all over you. This is what went wrong with the guy in the example at the beginning of the post, and this is what you need to beware of.

There are cases in which visualization and future projections meet halfway, like for instance a coming holiday abroad:

The girls in my home country are just so bitchy and aloof, not at all sweet and feminine like the ones in the country where I’m going on holiday next month.

That is exactly when things start to go wrong, since this is when you start visualising yourself approaching a few girls during that holiday, and those girls reacting just as well as the imaginary girls in the example previously discussed. Actually, now those girls are reacting even better than the previous girls, because, “girls over there are so sweet and so feminine…”. And also, contrary to the previous example, in this case the visualization will be almost completely made-up, since you’ve never been to that country before, and you don’t really know what the places look like in detail: your mind proceeds to visualise somewhat plausible but exaggerated scenarios in somewhat imaginary settings. By doing that, the mind overwrites your current frustration caused by the girls in your home country with the feeling of happiness you think you will experience during that holiday. Then the day arrives when you finally reach your destination, and that fear of not living up that idealised image of yourselves resurfaces once again. This is when you realise that, “actually I’m tired” and that, “I’ll just focus on tourism and sightseeing this time around”. Because, “all in all the girls where I live are not that bad”, and you then start picturing yourself going back home, approaching a few girls, getting some nice smiles on the opener, etc. If you are not careful, this can become a self-perpetuating mechanism, a continuous procrastination of happiness.

Let’s wrap things up. Maybe after I publish my tips on how to maximise your Looks, maybe you decide to take a few things into account and start working on that. Or maybe you have already read my post on the importance of understanding body language, and you already started acting upon some of the recommendations I provided there. Or maybe you are already working on your own improvement project. In all cases, the key thing to understand is the following: happiness can only be experienced in the present moment, not in the future. Sure, as a result of all the effort you are putting in right now, the future is likely to be somewhat better. Or maybe not. Keep working hard on your objectives, but at the same time keep your expectations low. Enjoy the journey itself, rather than the expectation of future happiness that you think this journey will bring into your life. And always remember to live your life right now, rather than waiting for some future time which never comes.

And let’s close with an example we should all be familiar with.

Your excuse-generating mind:
Tonight, I don’t feel like approaching girls, but tomorrow I will surely do 10 daygame approaches.

Your objective mind:
Suuuure.

Most people would stop here, and either keep drinking their drink at the bar or maybe leave to go back home. But not you, since you remember about this post and you decide to start living life in the present moment.

Your action-resorting mind:
Fuck it!

You, approaching that group of three girls just next to you:
Hey girls! Are you here tonight to celebrate a birthday??

It wasn’t that difficult in the end ;)

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Notes:
[1] The girl literarily writes you off when you send her into “auto-rejection”, and you will meet a lot of resistance if you approach her afterwards: she will unconsciously feel the internal need to remain consistent with her new line of thinking that, “actually I don’t find him that much attractive” and, “I can surely do better than that”. The situation is not lost completely, but it’s like starting to play a match for real only after scoring a couple of own goals: there is absolutely no need for that. This is why you need to be careful not to send girls into “auto-rejection”.

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