Virtue Fuelled by Sin

According to my phone, it is 34 degrees celcius right now. Now that it’s summer, I’ve been wearing t-shirts a lot, and one of the benefits of wearing the t-shirt is that it accentuates your muscles. I can see it in the mirror when I look at myself, but I am much bigger than I used to be pre-gym. Many other people are also commenting on my better looks. Especially with the girls, if they are not directly verbalising it, I can tell by their behaviour around me that they definitely notice my skyrocketing attractiveness.

For the last few months I have been going to the gym religiously. Whenever I go to the gym, I spend about forty minutes there. I do about five minutes of cardio on the exercise bike, but the rest of the workout involves weight training. I now try to do a bit of stretching afterwards.

Of course, it feels good to be admired by girls, but all this makes me wonder about vanity, sin, and virtue. You see, one of my friends thinks that going to the gym is an act of vanity, and that the only purpose of going to the gym is to look good. According to him, rather than going to the gym, I should play competitive sports like tennis or soccer because it is more social and it is easier to motivate yourself to do something when other people are involved.

I told my friend that I respectfully disagreed. What may work for one person may not work for another. The benefit of the gym is that you have everything you need in one place. When you play tennis or soccer, you are really only getting a cardio workout, which is equivalent to riding on the exercise bike or running on the treadmill at the gym. Tennis might provide some resistance or strength training, but it is mild, probably equivalent to working out with light dumbbells. Sports normally only provide one specific type of workout and that is it. The gym provides everything. You can mix your workout with cardio and strength training, and then with strength training you can increase the intensity easily. You can start with light weights and then as you improve you move to heavier and heavier weights.

Another benefit of the gym is that it is indoors. This means you can go there when it is sunny and not get skin cancer from getting sunburnt. On cold days, you are warm. On wet days, you are dry. Going to the gym, in my opinion, is better than having a home gym, and the reason why is price and convenience. I pay $6 per week to go to the gym, but if I tried to buy all of the machines and weights available at my gym and put them in a room in my house, I’m sure I’d spend more than $1000 (or more), and although in the very long run it may be cheaper to buy your own stuff, do you have the motivation to maintain the machines and fix them when they don’t work? Where I live, it’s not easy to find a spare room, and some of these machines are massive, so how in the world would I move them in there? I’d rather just pay the $6 per week and be done with it.

Another big plus with the gym is that you get a personal trainer (at least mine comes with one). If you do it yourself, you’re on your own, and you don’t know if you are doing it right, which could result in injury. If you have a personal trainer, he or she will watch you and will correct you. The personal trainer will also prescribe for you an exercise program that matches your needs. You don’t have to think too hard. You just do what you’re told.

Now, let’s get back to the vanity argument. Yes, indeed many people go to the gym to look good, but is that really a bad thing? For many people, it seems, vanity is looked down upon but is practised obsessively. Who knows where the roots of vanity phobia come from. Perhaps it is religious. Regardless, society seems to look down upon vanity as sinful but everyone acknowledges good health as virtuous. While working out at the gym satiates the desires of the vain, it also makes you healthy in the long-term. If you burn fat and increase muscle mass, you are not just looking good but you are also improving your health. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that obesity causes heart disease and all sort of other problems.

Furthermore, having muscle increases your metabolism and allows you to burn more fat. Having muscle also slows down sarcopenia and keeps you functioning even when you get old. Old people whose muscles have totally deteriorated need to be kept in a nursing home where other people need to assist them with moving because they do not have the muscles necessary to move themselves. Muscle naturally increases up until the age of thirty after which muscle mass naturally declines, which results in lower metabolism, massive weight gain (especially around the waist), and decreasing strength.

Working out at the gym then is one of those activities that provide you with a virtuous outcome (good health) that is fuelled by sin (vanity). A defining feature of sinful behaviour is that it provides you with much pleasure. Like all animals, we tend to seek out those activities that provide us with pleasure, but many things in life have a tradeoff between reward and pleasure. The more pleasure something gives, the less rewarding it is. For example, eating junk food is gluttonous and pleasurable but bad for your health. However, this tradeoff does not apply to everything, and different people react to different things differently. Many people may hate going to the gym, and they skip it all the time. I know a colleague who has been a member of the same gym I go to for almost half a decade and he has only been there about three times. For me, going to the gym is something that I do because I love it. I know it provides long-term health benefits, and if it also makes me look better, then that is only going to motivate me to be healthier, and there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes virtue can be fuelled by sin, and this, I think is an ideal situation to be in because virtue fuelled by internal willpower and sacrifice is not as sustainable as virtue fuelled by sin.

After the Breakup

They say that when you break up with a girlfriend, you should not spend time pondering about what might have been. The best treatment is keeping yourself occupied. After my breakup, I am now burying myself into my work, into the gym, and into investing. I’m spending a bit more time with my family and I am focusing on reading books in my spare time so I can learn more. I have shunned social events and holidays and now seek a regimented life filled with ritual and routine. In a way, I feel like all this is a way for me to inflict work upon myself to atone for my sins.

I had a performance discussion with my manager today, and I am really positive about my career. The key, I think, is to never let on to anyone at work that you are lazy. Always give your manager (and all your colleagues) the impression that you are eager and willing to learn, that you are ambitious. I learned this the hard way because I was a little too relaxed in my early years, which obviously does not help you build a good reputation in the workplace. If you present yourself as ambitious and earnest, your employer cannot fault you on anything, and when people think about you when assessing performance, they will remember your energy and hard work. I laid out to my manager my plan, which was to build skill and knowledge both within the team but also outside the team. He seemed impressed with me and had positive things to say.

I was thinking last night that I have more respect, deference, and trust towards my current manager than I do my father. The impression I get from my father is that every piece of advice he gives me is advice to further his own selfish goals. I never get the sense from him that he genuinely cares about me, which is sad, I think because he is my father, and I expected more from him, and it is a huge disappointment to me that he is what he is. When you lose faith in your father, it’s as if you are sceptical of all people and you start to place your trust only in yourself or a very select few.

After going to the gym after work today, I bumped into a female colleague I used to work with. We sat together on the train. It was nice talking to her. Truth is, after my breakup, I do feel lonely now, and working like a horse can wear you down. I’ve been immersing myself in my work and in the gym in order to forget about the breakup, but I’m not sure if I’m doing enough. Today I had lunch by myself. Just before heading off to lunch, I actually did an instant messenger search to see who I could have lunch with, but I couldn’t really find anyone and I suddenly wished I could pay some girl say $20 an hour just to have lunch with me. I have this fantasy, I suppose that I had girls on call and I could just ring them up and be at lunch with them in minutes. I just wish that female intimacy were more commoditized and access to female intimacy could be as simple as a mobile app. The forces of the internet, which have revolutionized news, music, film, and books, have yet to disrupt the old rituals and inefficiencies of traditional dating and marriage.

 

Treating Friends Like Investments

My life is fine at the moment. Trying to build more alpha male behaviour has been successful, I think. It takes practice transforming yourself from a nice guy, but I think I am progressing well.

Yesterday, at work, I attended a team meeting where I was really able to make an important contribution. It feels good to be recognised in a positive way at work, and I find that this is starting to happen a lot. I think the key is to simply be earnest and to keep trying to be as helpful as possible rather than just sit back and expect the manager to hand everything to you. You are in charge of your own life.

I am handling my family and friends well. If I don’t want to do something, I have not been afraid to say no. I can think of three instances where I have just said no when invited to do something. This might not be a big deal to some, but for me it is a big deal.

I have a new approach to friends that is similar to investment portfolio management. Your friends are like an investment portfolio. You invest your money in businesses, bonds, stocks, property, or some other asset. You chop and change based on which asset you think will give you the greatest return. This, I think, should apply to friends. If there is a friend who, after meeting with them, doesn’t make you feel good, then the return from this friend is probably not going to be great, so it is necessary to divest and distance yourself from him and put your time into friends who make you feel good. I suppose the problem with me is that, in the past, I’ve been lazy, and I’ve just spent time with friends who keep seeking me out. Usually those people who seek you out are doing so because they want to use you in some way. Rather than passively accept an invitation to an event, I should really be picky. I should reject those offers that are not appealing for me. I should be able to say no and to tell people that I don’t want to do this or that. Then I need to proactively seek out those events or those people I want to be with.

Fund managers buy good assets and sell bad assets. The same applies with your friends. You put your time into good friends and spend less time with bad friends.

I Hate Weddings

I think weddings are boring, especially wedding receptions. Wedding ceremonies are not as bad because they are short and tolerable. I can just show up, sit down, take a few photos, and leave. But the wedding reception is horrible. It goes on forever. There is too much music and too much dancing.

Some people may argue that I should develop my social skills (and I am doing that at work). But my belief now is that I should not try to do something I don’t want to do. If I don’t want to do something, I won’t do it, and if I want to do something, I will do it. I will defend my way of life, even if I die defending it.

I’ve read a few articles on the internet about how to decline wedding invitations, and they all suggest that I do so in a polite way. I think that given I am an aspiring alpha male, I should just be frank and honest and state that I hate wedding receptions and therefore I will not go. There will be no more avoidance from me. I will just put it out there. Rather than seek to avoid offending people, I will just not care if I offend others. I will seek confrontation.

I think it is important that I follow these two principles: (1) defend to the death your way of life and (2) seek confrontation.

In the past, in my beta male days, I was following other people’s way of life. Other people naturally were trying to lead me along the high-debt high-commitment lifestyle, also known as the Triple Ms: marriage, mortgage, and midgets. I have decided early on in the my life that I want freedom. I want to stay out of debt and build passive income so that I can live off passive income and not have to work if I don’t want to. In order to achieve this, I’ve had to sacrifice the marriage, mortgage, and midgets. Some would say it’s not worth it to sacrifice things so sacred and beautiful, but it is not too much of a sacrifice for me given that I have no appetite for marriage or children. There is something about marriage and children that I intrinsically hate. Maybe it’s the obligations and the enslavement. I think of myself as a commitment phobe by choice. I do not see much of a difference between commitment phobia and debt phobia.

I should be upfront about my way of life, and I should advocate it as better for me. Maybe it is not better for others. Maybe other people love children so much that they are willing to go into massive debt. That’s fine. What others do is their choice. I don’t care. But don’t drag me into it. I need to be upfront about this way of life. I need to tell people that indeed I do focus on work, going to the gym, improving my health, saving money, and building passive income. This is what I do in my spare time. It is important. If you want me to waste my time going to your wedding, I will reject it because I am doing more important things. Instead of being afraid that my way of life will offend others, I need to practice advocating my way of life, and to give me practice in not caring about offending others, I need to seek out confrontation.

Career Planning is Like Walking Through a Foggy Maze

I’d like to talk about career planning. Many times I think back at my career development and think about lessons learned. What I have discovered is that career planning just doesn’t seem to work.

Many people pressure you into defining what you want to do before you go out and do it. The problem with this idea is that it assumes that it is easy to determine what it is that will fulfil you. It is not. Suppose you think you like accounting. There are so many branches of accounting that you can’t possibly know if the branch you eventually fall into will satisfy you. Furthermore, there is so much more that makes up career satisfaction than a broad academic category like “accounting.” You may love cost accounting but when you end up in a job where you hate the people you work with or you hate your manager, you will not be happy.

To complicate matters, although you may think you like accounting, there is no guarantee you will even end up in an accounting role. You may study accounting and specialize in, say, accounting standards, but once you enter the job market you may find that there are no jobs available that suit your stated passion, and you have to settle for something else.

Career planning is like walking through a maze. You know you need to reach your destination and you may know the general direction of your destination, but there are multiple walls or obstacles around you, so much so that long-term planning seems pointless.

So what are we to do when we walk through the foggy maze that is our career? When you walk through a maze, you focus on what is ahead. You focus on the walls around you. You focus on what paths that are available for you right then and there. If you make a wrong turn and reach a dead end, you walk back and learn your lesson.

The same applies with your career. You follow the paths available to you. If the only jobs available are general finance graduate jobs rather than the accounting standards job you were hoping for, it may be better to settle with what is available. Even if you get something you think you want, for whatever reason, you may end up not like it. Even if you end up liking something, circumstances change. Your manager can change. There might be a restructure. The world is not fixed, and planning too much leaves you inflexible and vulnerable to a rapidly changing world.

We need to be flexible and adaptable. We need to be prepared to be the best we can be regardless of the situation presented to us.

What is the Best Diet for a Recovering Beta Male?

What is the best diet for a recovering beta male? Dieting is a controversial topic. I can only tell you what my diet is. I am a male, about six feet tall, and reasonably skinny, weighing in at around 75kg (165lb). I joined the gym about a month ago and have been going every second day. Each time I go to the gym, I spend about 20 to 30 minutes there mainly lifting weights. I aim to lift heavier and heavier weights. I started off lifting 25kg but now I find I can do double that, around 50kg. This may be little for some but I am just a beginner, and I have noticed a difference not only in my appearance but also my mood and levels of energy. I recommend the gym for anyone. Just google around, find the cheapest place, and sign up. Read the contract to make sure there is nothing dodgy, like an exit fee.

Dieting for someone who is lifting weights is very simple. Just eat a lot. I don’t bother with counting calories. I figure that if the goal is to develop muscle then it is important to eat as much as possible because food is necessary to build muscle. I aim to get protein, so I tend towards eating meat, cheese, and milk, which is helpful since I already love eating these things. For the sake of the animals (as well as my health), I tend towards grass-fed animals like grass-fed meat (and milk and cheese) rather than conventional meat that is fed with soy, corn, and hormones. In terms of what I avoid, I avoid refined sugars and salt. Refined sugars (e.g. in sweets, chocolate, cakes, and so forth) causes obesity and likely causes diabetes as well. Too much salt causes high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases. I don’t mind eating carbs, but I feel low GI food is better than high GI food, i.e. complex sugars is better than simple sugars because fluctuations in blood sugar levels can overwork the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes. Bottom line is to eat everything, aim for protein-dense food from animals that are fed grass, and avoid sugar and salt.

I don’t eat six meals a day, not because it is not healthy but because it is too hard because I work nine till five (or more). I have three meals: a quick breakfast, a medium lunch, and a fairly massive dinner. There are many moments in between when I am hungry. When it comes to snacking, I prefer to drink red tea with milk. Red tea (called rooibos tea or African tea) is caffeine free, which means I can drink it at night and afternoon without fear. Furthermore, red tea is free of oxalic acid, which means you don’t need to worry about kidney stones. The milk in the tea provides protein.

Some people have suggested I try protein supplements. I have been recommended isowhey. I haven’t followed through with the recommendation. The idea is that, after a workout, you drink protein shakes to provide your body with the necessary ingredients to build muscle. The reason why I don’t take protein supplements is the same reason why I don’t eat six meals a day: because I work. I gym where I work, so if I wanted to take protein supplements after a workout, I’d need to bring in a giant tub of protein supplement to work and then prepare it in the office kitchen after a workout. It is too much hassle and frankly it’s a little embarrassing and weird. Studies show that drinking milk after a workout is great for building muscle, and given most workplaces provide milk to their employees for free, it’s an easy decision.

Be More Assertive by Talking About Your Feelings

One of they key aspects of becoming an alpha male is to be more assertive, which means I need to express my interests. When I was a beta male, people used to ask me to come along to something I wasn’t interested in going to, e.g. they asked me to come to their house for dinner or go to a party. Rather than just say no and tell them that I didn’t want to, I usually just went along. Becoming an alpha male, in my opinion, means I need to do what I want to do and not do what I don’t want to do, and that normally starts with expressing my desires.

The first step in expressing myself, in my opinion, is to be clear about your position from the outset, which means saying “yes” or “no.” That should be sufficient. Usually when you say no to someone, they ask why. They ask you for a rationale. A response I should give is that I don’t need to give a rationale. I think it is best to hold out and not give a reason for why you want to do something. If pressured, just say, “I don’t feel like going” or something similar.

Expressing your “feelings” may sound feminine, but I have learned that this is the clearest and best way to express yourself. Humans do what they feel like doing and don’t do what they don’t feel like doing. It is simple and basic. If you are accused on being selfish, you can accuse back and tell them that they are selfish. Everyone is selfish to some degree. Everyone acts based on what they predict will give pleasure and don’t act on what they predict will not give pleasure. Predictions are made based on past experiences.

I find a good technique is to simply give a concrete story of something that has happened in the past and then describe how you felt based on those experiences.

If someone asks you to come to a party, you say, “No! I’m not going. I hate parties.” This very clearly gives your position very quickly. If you are asked why you hate parties, then you start the story based on concrete examples with a description of how you felt. You can say, “I’ve been to some parties before and they were boring. All I did was walk around and talk about useless things to people. The music was too loud, so it was difficult to understand what people were saying. It was so boring and I felt like it was pointless.”

I’ve used this technique when I have expressed to people that I do not want to have children. I’ve told ex-girlfriends this as well. I tell all my friends, even the couples who plan to have children. I tell them I hate children. They ask me why and I simply tell them my experiences with children. I tell them my experiences with relatives who are children, how these children are chaotic and annoying. They always demand things. I am someone who likes peace and harmony. I like order, not chaos. Often when I am in a mall, I see children throwing tantrums and going crazy, and the parents are almost in tears.

The great thing about true stories and your feeling in response to the events in the stories is that you cannot be wrong. No one can say, “Your views on children are wrong!” because you haven’t really given a view. You have just given a true story and your feelings in response to that story. No one can deny that your story is false. More importantly, no one can deny that you didn’t feel what you claim you felt. No one can say, “That negative feeling you got when you were around misbehaving children! That is wrong!” They cannot say this because that is what happened. That is fact. Your feeling are your feelings. Your feelings are biochemistry. Other people cannot understand your biochemistry. Even you cannot understand your own biochemistry. But only you know how you feel in response to something, and it is either a good feeling or a bad feeling based on whatever chemical is secreted: cortisol, adrenalin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, seratonin, and others. Your body, your physical makeup, and the chemical in your body are out of your hands. It’s what you’re born with.

When you talk about your feelings, you don’t have to give negative feelings. You can give positive feelings (or the absence of positive feelings). For example, when I gave my views on children, my friends told me that they find children very rewarding, to which I told them that although they may feel that, I certainly did not have any positive feelings from being around children. Other people also told me that these misbehaving children have simply not been raised correctly. Their message was basically: this happens to other people’s children but it won’t happen to my children. I was told that if the children are raised correctly, with proper discipline, I won’t need to worry about misbehaving children. Rather than talking about my negative feelings to misbehaving children, I simply switch to my absence of any positive feeling around children. My argument was pretty much that even if I can get the children to behave well so that they annoy me less, the fact that I get no happiness or positive feeling from them means that there is no point in me having children. If you were asked to buy a pink elephant, would you buy it? Probably not because (unless you’re a circus owner) a pink elephant is pointless. Furthermore, you have to buy it off someone and then you have to feed it. Suppose the seller tells you that there is a huge discount of 90 percent off this pink elephant and that the costs of maintaining the elephant has also been discounted. So what? You don’t need a pink elephant, so why buy it, even if it is on discount. Same with children. If I don’t need them and don’t get any happiness from them, why should I bother if the pain is reduced somewhat with excellent discipline thereby resulting in a reduction in the pain of having children? This is simply a cost-benefit argument but used to describe positive versus negative feelings.

To summarise, when asserting yourself, make sure you say “yes” or “no” straight away and then say something quickly to make it completely clear what your views are on the matter. It should be left at that but if you feel you need to rationalise yourself, it is best to give a true concrete story and to describe your feelings in response to what happened in the story. You can talk about your positive feelings and negative feelings. To borrow from business school, you can talk about costs and benefits and even how you feel about risk.

It is incredibly important to get your feelings and views out there so that everyone knows where you stand. This is important because then, as you go on in your life interacting with the people you interact with, how people will guide you and the people you meet with will change according to your desires. For example, if I express my desire to be childless to everyone, mothers and father will likely hate me or just not be interested in me, and they will stop inviting me to their children’s parties, and they will stay away from me completely, choosing instead to be around those who share their views. If I express my feeling about parties, people will stop inviting me to them, and party animals will think I am boring and will stop associating themselves with me. Over time, I start to becoming surrounded by people I am interested in and I am drawn to events that I find interesting, and this leads to greater happiness in the future. This is why it is important to send out signals and vibes to the world that is consistent with your feelings and desires. If you do not, you will find you go along with other people’s values and desires and you will be miserable. This is a lesson I learned the hard way during my beta male years, and I am desperate to fix this problem.