The Pete Michaud™ Message

The Pete Michaud™ Message

I think what I’m trying to build here is a self-help website. Personal Development for People who aren’t Gullible Fuckheads. Something like that. But a lot of the self-help industry really turns me off because they’re selling something to starry-eyed dupes that is untested and often self-evidently bullshit.

I actually identify more closely with the rationalist movement from places like OvercomingBias/LessWrong than I do with the self help movement. Rationalists are in many ways the real self-helpers, because they actively seek to improve their perception and understanding of the world.

On the other hand, I am also an outlier from rationalists because my focus is on meaningful improvement in life, not about the nuances of logic. They have an important exploratory role to play, but I’m not writing about the frontiers of rationality.

What I’m trying to do is bridge the gap: I want to offer people a chance to improve their lives that’s based on evidence and probable outcomes, instead of anecdotes and magical thinking.

The Main Problem: We’re All Idiots

It’s difficult to think clearly. We aren’t evolved to think correctly, we’re evolved for tribal grandstanding, identifying prey moving across a grassy plain, and avoiding predators.

You will have to abandon the beliefs that comforted you as a child. If you fail to abandon those beliefs, then you’re done.

In addition to your evolutionary inheritance, you were given a set of beliefs as a child about the order of the world, your place in it, and how you are expected to behave and live. Those beliefs are likely to be wrong.

Part of thinking clearly is dumping the accumulated slush out of our brains. That’s painful. Your ego will get bruised. You will have to abandon the beliefs that comforted you as a child. If you fail to abandon those beliefs, then you’re done. You lose. You’re left behind, because you if can’t move on from your schoolyard mythology mentality, then you just won’t ever get what it means to live fearlessly and authentically.

The problem is that our minds are awash in bullshit—a precarious tower of superstitions and self-serving rationalizations left over from the gurgling of a Blind, Idiot God. That’s why a theme in my writing is slashing, burning, tearing, clawing at yourself: it’s about clearing away the cruft in your mind, and exposing the clean slate underneath it all. My goal is to help the ones who already realize their situation and who are looking for the next step.

It hurts to really look in the mirror though. I say “Writing is Thinking” and thousands of people agree. Thousands more think I’m a douche bag desperate to defend my myopic worldview. Aside from a razor thin margin of fence sitters, the people who agreed with me did so because they write, and agreeing with me boosts their ego, while the people who think I’m a bloviating asshat think that because they don’t write and agreeing with me would require they either begin reflective creation, or get comfortable with being shallow.

My goal is to teach people to cut through all that grandstanding. Whether a particular belief makes us feel special isn’t relevant to whether the belief is true. What we need is to look at the world with clear eyes.

Rolling in the Mud

We have to stand up from this shit romp, and look down at all the other pigs rolling around and say: “wait a second, why are we all rolling around in our own shit here?” Then we need to figure out what we should be doing instead of shitrolling. After we figure out a plan for what we do now, we need to attack it like a wild animal until we can drag it home and gorge on its liver. Yummy.

The Process

The process goes like this:

  1. Learn to Think Clearly
  2. Use your ability to think clearly to make a plan
  3. Execute the plan

And that process informs itself, so if you learn to think a little more clearly than you thought yesterday, you change the plan a bit based on your new understanding. And so it goes.

My work here is to share insight about how to think clearly, how to plan effectively, and how to execute your plans.

Magic of the Mundane

But that doesn’t capture it all, otherwise this would be easy. Pete Michaud™ would be the “think clearly and achieve your goals” guy. There’s more. There’s the part where you actually exist—you are not the plans you execute, as Tyler Durden might say. You have to look at snowflakes, you have to be in love, you have to get your face pounded at least once in your life or you’re missing it.

You’re here on planet Earth, maybe just this once, so you should try really hard to be here. You should play with toys, and act like an idiot. You should chat up a hotty that’s out of your league. You should roll around on the grass with your dog, even if you’re in public.

Clear your mind. Consciously choose your life. Give roses to someone you love. That’s the Pete Michaud™ Message.

Responses

  1. Rich Sedmak ()

    Some interesting points. Specifically about clearing the slush out of your mind – I’ve found that often the most influential factor in holding a person back is that their goals don’t belong to them – they are societally imposed goals, not from within.

    Regarding your last paragraph – have you read Zorba The Greek? (Reply)

  2. Pete ()

    Rich, that’s a really eloquent way of putting it:

    People’s goals don’t belong to them.

    I might steal that.

    Re: Zorba, I’ve skimmed it, I know it’s about an intellectual who goes out and tries to find “reality” among working class people, and eventually comes back to his books, but this time with passion and perspective. Is that what you mean? (Reply)

  3. Karilee ()

    Exquisite writing, Pete.

    Perhaps step 2.1 is ensuring that the Process is in alignment with the individual’s values. Or maybe step 2 works better as “your plan” instead of “a plan”.

    I have really mixed feelings about the Personal Development industry after having a ringside seat in it, but mostly I regret the wasted opportunities I’ve seen. Lots ARE helped, and more would be if the greed were slightly under control.

    Surprisingly, even the Gullible Fuckheads often benefit, because the industry as a whole encourages asking questions and opening possibilities. This is totally new territory to many people.

    I guess my point is that looking at the world with clear eyes might be optimal, but beginning to take a glance around is a start.
    .-= KarileeĀ“s last blog ..A Love Story For Your Life =-. (Reply)

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  6. Joey Giraud ()

    I like that you use the phrase “clear thinking.”

    IMO, an essential step to clear thinking is to disassociate useful words from judgements. The more encumbered a word is with judgement, the less useful it is for thought.

    another point, vis a vis ‘self-help’. Have you read about Rational Cognitive Therapy?

    Not endorsing it as some expert’s miracle cure. But recently I ran across the wiki and realised it was what I’ve been doing my whole adult life, if somewhat slowly. So of course I think it’s great.

    ( oh ego! ) (Reply)

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