Happiness is only in the present moment

Common problems with visualization and future projections

This is the first of two posts I need to share with you before starting to write my advice on how to maximize the three pillars which support 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 workout 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, so you just take a reference point: when you bench press 1.5x your body weight, you will finally consider yourself jacked. Girls will start falling all over you, and you will finally be happy. You are not happy 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. Right now, you cannot make girls swoon yet, but you are getting closer to that since you work out hard every week. And then 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 and she distractedly respond to you, as she always tends to do; as you walk back home, you realise that nothing has 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 does not materialise, that happiness you are now ready to experience and 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 this scenario

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

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

When a girl gives a guy she likes an invitation to approach her, and the guy doesn’t approach either because he’s not attracted to her, or because he 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, and that most likely they were not a good fit, and that she can do better than that, and that she doesn’t need him, etc. All of 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. If 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 her smiling back at you, then you delivering your opener and her giggling at it, then you asking her a bunch of questions and her answering all happy and smiley, then her asking you questions back and you giving funny answers that 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 then you picture yourself meeting your friends at the bar or 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 visualised, 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, when you finally decide to put in practice one of the scenarios you visualised, you will  have one fear holding you back: the fear that in real life you will not 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 we join a gym), or as we 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 ourselves in plausible future scenarios having to do with the task we are putting our effort into. For instance, when we join the gym and after two weeks we start noticing those little changes in our body already, we start projecting a future image of us with our residual belly fat replaced by somewhat defined abs, with our slightly broader shoulders and more defined chest moulding the shape of our fitted jumper, with our stronger legs looking good in our favourite jeans. This is good, this is what keeps us motivated and keeps us working hard towards our objective. Things go wrong when we start projecting that, one year from now, we will look like that dude on steroids we saw yesterday on the internet, who allegedly is killing it on Tinder. Or that, when one year from now we enter the bar on Friday night, we will be acclaimed like rock starts and girls will fall all over us. This is what went wrong with the guy in the example at the beginning of this post. This is what you need to beware of.

There are cases in which visualization and future projections meet halfway, like for instance holidays 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 in two weeks.”

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

Let’s wrap up things. Maybe after I publish my tips on how to maximise Looks, 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 body language, and started acting upon some of the recommendations I provided. Or maybe you are already working on your own improvement project. In all these cases, the key thing to understand is the following: happiness can only be experienced in the present moment, not in the future. As a result of all the effort you are putting in right now, it’s likely that the future will be somewhat better. Or maybe not. Keep working hard on your objective, and 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 in your life. Always remember to live 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 leaving 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:
Ehy girls! Are you here tonight to celebrate a birthday??

It wasn’t that difficult in the end ;)

08-1.jpg

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 she doesn’t find you that much attractive” and “she can 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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