Focusing illusion killed Dennis.

Focusing illusion is a psychological phenomenon we all struggle from.

It’s when we fantasize over a future moment, goal or dream and paint an unrealistic fairytale-like image in our mind. Then, once we’re actually in the moment, achieve the goal or live the dream… we feel disappointed.

It’s the reason online dating doesn’t work all that great. It’s the reason folks hop from job to job to job. It’s the reason we save thousands of dollars to eventually retire and then once we are retired, we realize retirement kind of fucking sucks.

Focusing illusion is the “i’ll be happy when…” fallacy. It’s the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” epidemic.

The reason movies and books and songs don’t feel like real life (or feel better than real life) is because they are. Our minds are powerful and they can fabricate stories and paint vibrant images and colors the real world can never live up to.

Dennis bought the $50,000 cherry red Corvette not because he truly wanted the $50,000 cherry red Corvette but because focusing illusion made him it’s bitch.

Dennis painted this picture that with the $50,000 cherry red corvette he’d look cooler, he’d get some ass and maybe just maybe he’d finally be happy.

But, with each passing monthly payment, the reality starts to set in. The picture he painted in his head starts looks faded and not to mention, it’s pricey.

The solution? It’s not not to dream but rather to dream about the things you truly want.

By Cole Schafer.


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When is it okay to lie?

Lying is bad and the world would be a better place if less people lied. I think most people agree with that. However, unless you’re Immanuel Kant, a thoughtful but certainly opinionated German philosopher that believed lying was unacceptable and impermissible in any circumstance, most would say that in certain cases lying is acceptable and perhaps even good.

So, with this, the question becomes, when is it okay to lie? And, when isn’t it? Below I have typed out a few scenarios where I think it’s acceptable to tell a lie (some of these were inspired by this piece written in the New York Times a few years back):

  • A child under the age of 10 years old asks you if Santa is real.

  • A child’s brand new puppy gets hit by a semi, you as his parent choose to tell him it ran away.

  • Your wife asks you who you’re texting, you lie and say it’s Bob from work, as you secretly make plans for her surprise Birthday party with her sister.

  • An ultra-greasy car salesman asks you how much you’re willing to pay for a used car, you have $15,000 but you lie and say you can only do $10,000, the car salesman had it coming.

Now, the above scenarios are pretty obvious. Nobody would argue they’re malicious or outright wrong. After all, I think most of us would rather be liars than assholes who tell kids that Santa isn’t real. But, very few instances are as black and white as the above scenarios, making it extremely difficult to determine when it’s okay to lie.

Ironically, I’m going to refer back to Kant (the guy who hated all forms of lying) to hopefully come up with some sort of answer here.

Besides avoiding lying at all costs, Immanuel Kant firmly believed that we should use people as an end in themselves versus a means to something else (or a means to our own end).

Kant’s words are the reason we get a really icky feeling when we hear the word “networking” because networking is essentially using other people to better one’s own position in the world.

It’s the whole, you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours saying. Everyone’s jerking each other off not because they want to jerk each other off but because by jerking off others it means they in turn will get jerked off too.

What Kant argues is that we should treat everyone we come into contact with genuinely and without ulterior motives lingering beneath the surface. I think the answer to When is it okay to lie? is hidden somewhere in Kant’s philosophy.

I think it’s acceptable to lie when we are lying to truly and genuinely better the person we are lying to. I think it’s unacceptable to lie when we are lying to better our own positions.

So, lying to the six year old kid that his dog ran away and didn’t get hit by a semi is lying to better them and ultimately remove massive amounts of pain. Lying to your husband that you’re fucking your secretary is lying to better your own position.

Got it?

By Cole Schafer.


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Sometimes, simple is better.

Making things more difficult than they need to be is a consistent battle of being human.

Simplicity is perceived as shallow.

It’s more exciting to apply crazy philosophical principles to our lives thought up by men and women who were just as confused as we are today.

Perhaps, adding fire to this complex puzzle we’re all trying to solve makes us feel more valuable than the person next to us. Perhaps, it gives us the notion that we are smarter, deeper, better, etc.

But, the truth is that 90% of life’s problems have very simple solutions (or could be avoided by following very simple rules).

Here are just a few solutions and rules we learned as kids that we struggle with applying as adults:

  1. Don’t lie.

  2. Don’t cheat.

  3. Protect your friends.

  4. Be kind.

  5. Have fun.

  6. Work hard.

  7. Say please and thank you.

Don’t make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Most of success simply stems from not being a jackass.

By Cole Schafer.


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Living with strained bones.

For a long time I feared death. I feared waking up in another world, or on the contrary, not waking up at all. But I no longer fear death. I do, however, fear life. I fear a life unlived. To put it in another’s words far more poetic than my own, Jonathan Safran Foer once wrote, “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” I don’t fear my bones being buried but I do fear living with strained bones.

By Cole Schafer


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John Wayne.

Before my grandmother dropped dead from a massive aneurysm she used to tell me about John Wayne. It was an ironic obsession of hers considering she was one-hundred-percent Japanese, and old J.W. was whiter than white could be. But, I think she saw herself in the pistol-whipping lead-slinging venom-blooded mustang-wrangler that’d ride like a banshee through the wild wild west. The ship she rode to America was her horse and she was John Wayne. Five years have passed since she’s been gone and her conversations play from time to time near the back of my skull like old vinyls. When I find myself intimidated by one of life’s horses, she’ll pipe in with her Japanese accent. She’ll remind me not to be scared. She’ll remind me I’m John Wayne.

By Cole Schafer.


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Divine intervention has better things to do.

I’m a young man that doesn’t know a lot. But, what I do know is that if you want something you must go get it. For a long time I’ve hoped that gravity, the wind or divine intervention would deliver me the things I longed to have –– perhaps in some neatly wrapped package or some obvious forming of the clouds. However, time and time again, the deliveryman took the day off. When it comes to dreams and aspiration there is no such thing as free shipping.

By Cole Schafer


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You're chasing you.

You're chasing the person you see behind closed eyes when your head hits the pillow.

You're chasing you –– just an ideal version of you –– the you that's far off in the distance floating somewhere on the horizon.

You can see him or her when you close your eyes. Less so when you look into the mirror. 

The you that has your life figured out.

The you that can love and be loved back.

The you that feels comfortable in your own skin.

The you that hurts less.

The you that looks lighter, appears sexier, feels stronger, thinks more confidently and worries less. 

The destruction of all men and women is the thought, "I'll be happy when..."

This idea that you'll be happy when you catch the version of you-you're chasing is a fallacy. It's a puppy chasing its tail. 

The puppy becomes a wolf when it realizes it's tail... is it. 

You need to realize that version of yourself you're chasing is you and it's you right now, not tomorrow nor the day after that. It's you right now.

You're chasing you. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Stop making time for the things you don't enjoy doing.

One sure-fire way to greater happiness is limiting the time you spend doing the things you don't enjoy doing.

If you hate making the two-hour commute to work, stop making it. If you hate the job that doesn't pay well, find another one that does. If you want to slap your forehead with a tire iron every time you have dinner with your one friend, stop having dinner with her. 

None of us are forced to do the things we don't enjoy doing but we talk ourselves into continuously making time to do those miserable things because we tell ourselves they're obligations. 

And, obligations are dangerous. Obligations lead to resentment, they lead to unhappiness and they lead to regret. 

Drop the obligations and the bullshit with them –– stop making time for the things you don't enjoy doing.

By Cole Schafer.


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Dead rabbits and deader spirits.

The creative that survives strictly off her creativity has one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Every morning she laces up her boots and ties them taut, she bundles up to break the cold and she grabs her spear like a lifeline as she sets out to find her next kill.

But, for her, success isn't measured by the kill. Yes, it feeds her but it does not nourish her. 

No, for the creative, success is measured by the work. 

The days she leaves everything out in the wilderness and trudges back empty-handed are the days she feels full. Her stomach might hiss and growl as she goes to bed hungry. But her spirit rests easy knowing she he did the work.

However, the days she grab-asses and gets lucky and spears a rabbit are the days she feels hungrier and emptier than ever before. Sure, her stomach keeps mum. But she tosses and turns long into the night as she is plagued and nightmared by the truth –– the truth that she did not do the work. 

The creative does not live off wins. The creative lives off the work. That's what keeps her nourished. 

By Cole Schafer.  


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Crimson T.

To live fully is to have the courage to make the uncomfortable decision of not playing it small –– even when not playing it small means you'll be limping home with a jacked jaw, busted eye and a crimsoned t-shirt to show for your moment of lion-heartedness. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Title.

We place titles on just about everything –– movies, emotions, ideas, business ventures, projects, works of art, culinary dishes, beverages and articles like the one you’re reading this very moment.

Even you have a title –– Bobby, Sarah, Lauren, Daniel, etc. 

Titles, in many ways, make communication both easier and more effective.

Instead of asking folks if they like “the type of food that combines two buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese, ketchup, mayo, onion and a pan seared ground beef patty” we can ask them if they like "cheeseburgers."

Titles are fantastic in just about every way, except when we give people, places and things titles they don’t want nor deserve. 

Racial slurs are titles. Stereotyping is discriminative titling at scale. 

While titles are essential to better, stronger more effective communication… titling comes with a great deal of responsibility. As humans, we have the power to create new titles every day. 

We need to make sure we are creating titles that make the world a better place and not the other way around. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Everyone gets a hand-job.

The everyone gets a hand-job approach to life might make you agreeable but it doesn’t make you impactful –– bush-beating, circle-talking, sugar-coating and elephant-ignoring are all great ways to create a false reality where everyone smiles and nods and pats each other on the back –– but eventually the facade must come down to unveil the nasty painful dust-ridden truth.

By Cole Schafer. 


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Do I really need this?

Part of the reason I am a marketer is because I hate marketing (or how I've seen it been done in the past). I think marketing should be funny, tasteful, creative, interesting and ultimately valuable to the customer whether or not they buy whatever us marketers are selling. 

One dilemma I battle with regularly is selling people things they don't need (or worse they can't afford to buy). This is challenging because while every man and woman has freewill to act on their own behalf, we've seen countless times in history that folks can easily be manipulated. 

So, as a marketer who recognizes we throw a lot at you on a daily basis, I'll give consumers some advice...

Anytime you find yourself turning over a product in your hand, staring wide-eyed at a pretty image on a computer screen or hovering your mouse over a big buy button that is out of your budget... ask yourself... do I really need this? 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Retiring 'fuck the haters'.

The fuck the haters mentality is an arrogant approach to existence and it shows a complete lack of awareness of oneself. 

But, perhaps, there is a happy medium –– a nice balance between fucking one’s haters and dying inside every time one’s haters hate. 

For me, this happy medium comes in the form of both a humbling and uplifting saying I’ll repeat to myself from time to time –– You’re never as good as they say you are and you’re never as bad.

Some of my beautiful readers think I’m the best thing since sliced bread which is mighty kind of them. But, when I hear such compliments and feel my ego start to swell up and lift me off my feet, I remind myself –– you’re never as good as they say you are. After all, I still catch myself mixing up there, they’re and their. 

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, I have folks who read my work and think I’m a complete moron. But, when I hear such trolling and feel my dilapidated ego start to fall like tattered hot air balloon, I remind myself –– you’re never as bad as they say you are. 

No, it’s not flashy. Life coaches certainly wouldn’t want to package it up and sell it to the masses. But, it serves as a good simple reminder to stay grounded without getting buried. 

And to me, that’s how all of us find success (and happiness) in the world of lovers and haters –– staying grounded without getting buried. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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The ultra-fine line between competitiveness and jealousy is one that could lead to total destruction.

You can easily confuse the two –– feelings of competitiveness and jealously that is. 

In many ways they are the same. But, it’s how they differ that makes all the difference in the world. 

Competitiveness is a benevolent feeling that sharpens your teeth and ignites a dragon fire in your belly that’ll blaze a trail for your success. 

Jealously, on the other hand, is a malevolent feeling that takes big bloody chomps out of your soul each moment you allow it to fester. 

They’re different because they stem from different places. 

Competitiveness comes from a place of creation –– that creator just made something brilliant, I respect it but I want to create something even better. 

Jealously comes from a place of destruction –– that creator just made something brilliant, I want it for myself. 

Competitiveness forcefully pushes the human race forward because it is through competition that we are inspired to create something greater than what was created before us. 

Jealously, though, is a race to the bottom. It’s war. It’s cheating. It’s stealing. It’s sin. 

Competition creates life. Jealously takes life away. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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The bullshit detector.

Calling yourself out on your bullshit hurts the ego at first. But, it gets easier and easier the more times you do it. Eventually, I would argue, it even get's a bit funny. 

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when you start smelling some nasty whiffs of your own bullshit in the air (they're written in first person in hopes to be more easily digestible):

1. Am I doing, saying or acting this way to impress others? 

2. Is this genuine to me? In other words, would I do, say or act this way in a room by myself?

3. Am I trying to make a change or... am I just trying to put on a show?

4. If this moment marked the jumping off point of my success, would I be proud of it? 

5. Is this a quick win, a shortcut or an easy way out? 

Now, you're never going to blatantly say "YES!" to any of these questions. Your ego won't allow it. But, if you feel yourself hesitating, feeling defensive or not wanting to face the list of questions... there is a good chance you're bullshitting. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Ass cheeks and Maseratis

The moment we find ourselves feeling bored, sad, anxious or complacent we reach for our phones, a prescription or a self-help book. We’ve become terrified of feeling anything negative. 

I’m not going to point a finger (but if someone had a gun to my head and told me to point a finger) I’d point to Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. 

I’d say we were due. I’d say that when you have an entire society overly focused on sharing the upper 1% of their days in a virtual world 24/7, we were bound to create some deep-rooted fears and insecurities around negative emotions. 

Now, we are forced to reap what we have sown.

Today, young men and women are so obsessed with not feeling boredom, sadness, anxiousness and complacency (or essentially the normal emotions of life) that they look to create a virtual world where they're living in that 1% all the time. 

One where you're eating avocado toast while drinking a mojito on a beach with a MacBook and a wad of cash in their lap and a sandy pair of ass cheeks next to a Maserati in the background (even though a Maserati doesn’t belong on a beach) all picture perfectly highlighted by a beautiful sunset.

The cost? They're not really living. It's a facade. It looks pretty. It keeps out the bad. But, it hides a plastic unpleasant reality. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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artificial constraints for optimal growth.

The human isn’t unlike the jaguar –– when she has plenty to eat it’s difficult to stay hungry. 

Reaching a modest level of success is her first fight. But, it’s after holding success in her hands that she is faced with a larger much scarier foe. 

Her fight becomes one against complacency –– it’s an inner battle where she must determine how she can stay hungry when she is already full.

One way to maintain this hunger is through artificial constraints. 

If she makes $100,000 a year, she can start stuffing 50%-75% of it in the mattress –– forcing herself to live on less. 

If she has made all the money she will ever want to make and knows she can feed herself for a lifetime, she can ask herself how she can feed others? That’s a new (nearly impossible) challenge that will leave her forever hungry… for there is never enough food to go around. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Passing judgment (without passing judgment).

People suffer from two nasty ailments –– both of which are very different from one another. 

The first of the two is being overly judgmental towards others –– not in a constructive way but in a toxic vindictive way that leaves everyone feeling less. 

The second of the two is not being judgmental enough –– or being in agreement with every idea and thought and belief that is thrown one’s way. 

Perhaps, there is benefit in finding balance in both –– passing judgement (without passing judgement). It requires a level humility. It is something along the lines of… 

I know I don’t know everything (but I know everyone else doesn’t know everything either). Maybe, we can figure it out together. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Psychological warfare in the bedroom.

It’s easier than ever before to feel and think less –– especially when it comes to feelings we don’t want to feel and thoughts we don’t want to think. 

When feelings and thoughts begin to make our hearts pound, our throats ache and our stomachs churn we can quickly and easily distract ourselves by simply switching on Netflix, scrolling through Instagram or losing ourselves in our phones. 

This game of cat and mouse. This game of when the nasty mouse shows up (being it feelings or thoughts) we call the cat (some quick distraction) is dangerous –– it’s lethal. 

To feel and think less hurts less but it also makes us less human. 

When you start to notice life is becoming a never-ending blur of videos, pictures and screens just stop. Drop your phone. Walk into you room. Close the door behind you. Sit –– sit for an hour if you have to. Sit with those thoughts and feelings for the first time in a long time. 

There will be a war in that room.

But, a war that you've been avoiding for far too long.

By Cole Schafer. 


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