Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said “People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time–even when hard at work.” A provocative statement no doubt that speaks to the importance of having a greater purpose, vision, or sense of mission that guides, and gives meaning to, the smaller daily actions we take. For example, the desire to have a family or take good care of it; the desire to build better relationships with people (or God); or the desire to solve important social issues.
Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” The ancients observed that people exercise less discipline with a shorter-term outlook than they do with a longer-term one. And it is an axiom in the self-help world today that people will make fewer sacrifices for themselves alone than they will for a cause that includes others.
Today, I’ve transcribed an insightful clip by Mark Queppet on the importance of mission, specifically as it relates to breaking bad habits, like a porn habit or addiction, and forming good ones.
Check out the complete video and transcript below!
In fact, I’ve seen guys. They will always trap themselves in a perpetual period of quitting porn. You know, they’ll get 90 days or beyond and then they’ll relapse. I think a lot of times they do it because they don’t want to climb a new mountain. They’re like “Oh, you know. It was so hard to quit porn. If let so alive doing it. I felt so good about myself. And now I did it, and I don’t know. These other mountains over here that I’m supposed to climb. They look scary, they look hard. So maybe I’ll climb this one again. I’ll just do porn again.”Mark Queppet
For more, check out The Number One Reason Guys Who Support Porn Use Are Full of Crap (Mark Queppet)
Transcript of Escaping The Trap of Masturbatory Self-Development
A little while ago, I read a great Tweet from Brute De Force who I had on my Man2Man podcast series that many of you really liked. And he said, “All your strife and pain can be traced back to thinking that you’re more important than your mission. Your born a weapon specifically formed and honed to carry out your natural destiny. Getting big and strong and tough with no mission to actualize leads to mental ruin every time.”
I really liked this point because I see this all the time in the self-development space. Guys essentially engaging in masturbatory self-development. And here’s what I responded with. I said, “It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a collector of potential and mistake that for realizing your potential.”
And I’d say it’s certainly better than collecting Pokémon cards, but it’s the same energy. And I really think it is. I think we live in this world where people are constantly displaying these rather arbitrary status metrics. It’s like “Aw, I took this many cold showers this month.” Or, you know, “I did this many workouts.” Or “I did x, y, and z.” “Look at me, I’m doing something special. I’m doing a new diet. I’m doing a new challenge. I’m doing a new boot camp.”
People want to share this stuff. They want to show it off. And if you can do something that looks or sounds cool, then you’ll get attention for it, and that sort of thing. But the problem is, even if you get attention for these things, if it doesn’t fit into a higher-level mission, then what are you doing? You’re just collecting random habits and random accomplishments that don’t serve any higher goal.
And that’s what Brute was talking about here. You have a mission in life. And to summarize what that mission is for everyone, it’s to pursue your highest conception of goodness. For most guys, a big focus of this is on the career-level. It’s figuring out where and what problem can you really give a shit about to the point where you can not only get paid for it, but you produce a general surplus in value for society at large, right?
Figuring out how to do that – that’s hard as shit. It is. It’s difficult, and most guys – they don’t want to do that. And so instead, what they do is they get really into Wim Hof breathing and just take ice baths and they think that they’re making their life better. And they might be completely right. That might be exactly what it is you’re supposed to be doing at any given point.
Because sometimes we just need to get tougher. Sometimes we need to have a period of working on ourselves where we’re showing ourselves that we have strength, showing ourselves that we can form new habits, we can do new things. But, at a certain point, it’s got to plug back into a bigger picture. It has to plug back into “What are you doing in the world? What are you doing in your family? What are you doing with that creative impulse that is inside of you?”
And we want to be careful that we’re not just trying to follow all the gurus, do all the hacks, build all the habits, with no higher purpose or vision in mind. Because you can’t even tell if a habit is good or bad unless you have some mission to orient it around. Every guy needs to have a mission. And these missions don’t necessarily need to be the lifelong calling, vocation-style mission, okay? It can be a short-term thing. It can be something as simple as “I’m going to quit porn right now.”
That can be awesome. That can be all you need to orient your life, to orient all your habits, and stuff like that. And if you do that, it’ll be dramatically good and wonderful, and all these kinds of things. But that’s not it. That’s not the end game.
For a lot of guys, quitting porn, that’s just getting started. That’s just beginning to play the game, and you can’t stop there. In fact, I’ve seen guys. They will always trap themselves in a perpetual period of quitting porn. You know, they’ll get 90 days or beyond and then they’ll relapse. I think a lot of times they do it because they don’t want to climb a new mountain. They’re like “Oh, you know. It was so hard to quit porn. If let so alive doing it. I felt so good about myself. And now I did it, and I don’t know. These other mountains over here that I’m supposed to climb. They look scary, they look hard. So maybe I’ll climb this one again. I’ll just do porn again.”
It’s not going to work man. It’s not going to work. Same thing with just shifting to some other, like random habit. Have a mission. Have an ideal. And even if your mission and ideal right now is just removing some of your worst escapes and replacing it with self-care, that’s awesome. Just know that at a certain point, you’re going to have to shift perspective again. You’re going to have to shift goals again. You’re going to have to figure out how to continually play a bigger game. Because if you’re not playing bigger, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
That’s the way life works here. Either you’re advancing and evolving or you’re stagnating and decaying and devolving. We don’t want that, obviously. And so, I’ just figured it’d be – it’s important to talk about this because of how faddish our culture is. And how easily people can get hooked in to, you know, “Oh, I tape my mouth when I sleep.” Or “ I exercise my jaw muscles.” Or whatever the next freaking fad is going to be. Or “I wear my little WHOOP tracker.”
Again, these things aren’t necessarily bad. And sometimes they’re exactly what you need to be doing. Just don’t ever confuse the idea of doing one good thing with having a mission. There’s always going to be a bigger picture. You got to be striving for something more, and you got to be willing to update it.