On Pursuing Mastery, Part 3: Authenticity

I caught myself this morning noticing myself in bliss. I’ve been feeling this way for the last six hours: this almost complete euphoria. And it is the sort of euphoria that I did not chase or will myself into being. True euphoria is actually quite the opposite. True euphoria is almost like the absence of thought: a total fusion of “will” and “being” that doesn’t do, it just is. Unconsciously.

And then I noticed it, a few moments ago, like, “Woah, I guess this morning I’ve been in a state of euphoria.” And now I am writing about it.

Let me tell you about my morning.

This morning I woke up excited. I knew I was going to eat surimi crab legs for breakfast: a good balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. I worked on responding to and reaching out to people online (I’ve been backlogged). Then for lunch I ate a lean beef burger and a pound of broccoli. At this point I noticed myself in euphoria. After writing this post I’ll head to the gym, work on my chest, and then get to try out this new protein powder I just got and been really looking forward to trying (Dymatize ISO 100, birthday cake flavor). After that I’m going to spend some time editing a video project, I’ll create the materials to apply for a promotion, and maybe I’ll work on some music. Then for dinner I’ll have two eggs and some mixed vegetables. I might read for 30 minutes. I definitely will journal. Then I will go to bed.

I planned all of this — today — in my journal yesterday. I am doing my life — intentionally, and I’m doing a lot of stuff, maximizing my engagement with being alive. I am at the cause, not the effect. Except that’s a mis-truth: I’m not “doing” my life at all. Especially not this morning. This morning has been the absence of “doing.” Like I said, it’s the absence of thought: a total fusion of “will” and “being” that doesn’t do, but is, and is unconsciously.

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how I was starting my health and fitness journey. I talked about feeling embarrassed at the gym, but based on my pursuit of mastery in organizing I was confident that it is about who you are, which is a being and the becoming slowly fusing — not the egoic flash of being able to lift heavy — that is what matters, and so maybe by making the commitment to myself to going to the gym and eating healthy over years is what mattered and I could get over my embarrassment right then in the moment.

In Part 2 of this series, I gave an update in my health and fitness journey. My mental health was declining, and I could tell that I was basing my self-worth on my body since I was being judgmental about other people’s bodies and I knew that my judgement of others was rooted in insecurity. I talked about how really the pursuit of mastery reveals deeper truths about being human and how engaging with life itself is the payoff of life itself — that the pursuit of mastery in organizing is not necessarily the pursuit of mastery in organizing, the pursuit of mastery in fitness is not necessarily the pursuit of mastery in fitness, but that the pursuit of mastery, period, is learning to be human.

I am happy to update that six months into my fitness journey, I have lost 50 pounds, and I’m at 17% body fat. I’m nowhere near where I eventually will be, and I acknowledge that it took a lot of effort to lose all that weight and get healthier. But I also am not “proud,” per se. The fulfillment is much deeper, and it’s not even necessarily the cliche of “the path makes the journey.”

What’s fulfillment is a fierce and totally ruthless engagement with life — every present moment of it. The path does not matter, although it does exist. The “path” is not conscious as a totality. Like I keep repeating, it is the unconscious creation of absent thought — the total fusion of “will” and “being” — that I got a glimpse of this morning that is fulfillment.

I know that’s complicated. I wish this were easier to explain through language.

Like, people say: achieve things.

The deeper thing people also say is: have gratitude, period, and be inspired on your journey.

And I’m saying: why should you have to will yourself to have gratitude or be inspired? Why can’t you just be grateful by default — and unconsciously so?

Maybe then the journey is not to “become” anything or anyone. The journey is to actualize who you already are, and get rid of all the blockages that are inauthentic to you, so that you are revealed to you who you actually are, and in doing so ego and thought disappear.

You are not improving yourself. In getting rid of that which blocks you, you are becoming authentically yourself — who is who you already are.


Nine more thoughts about the pursuit of mastery.

1. I have some perspective now about my mental health decline that I wrote about in Part 2 of this series. I think in getting rid of that which is inauthentic to you, you have to necessarily engage with the parts of you that are crazy. It *is* crazy to constantly be who you are not.

2. In any pursuit of mastery, you’ll encounter lots of fake experts. Try their advice, but because the pursuit of mastery is uncovering who *you* are authentically, it is only in taking action — not getting wrapped up in theory — and figuring out who you are individually that is what matters.

3. That said, how do you tell who is a good expert? I look for a strong delta between “carefree” and “passion.” I touch on this a little on “The Subtle Way Your Soul Makes a Profound Impact.” Someone who is already closer to their authentic self freely expresses themselves to you, and so is clearly passionate, but in a lack of ego they don’t *need* you to listen to them, so there is an energetic carefree-ness. And thus the more truly passionate one is and authentically so, the stronger their delta between “carefree” and “passion,” which can point to a true pursuit of mastery and authenticity.

4. Shedding away who you are not can hurt. Especially if your ego is wrapped up in it. But it should not hurt in the most profound ways, per se. Is the pain of shedding away parts of what you think is yourself a pain of inspiration or desperation? If it is a pain of desperation, maybe it is not an authentic path. You can sense “pains of growth” as inspiration. “Pains of growth as inspiration” feels like a deep fulfillment in the nerve endings, you can tell. Follow those paths and see what becomes revealed.

5. Self-care matters. But not too much. Same analysis: is your self-care that of inspiration or desperation? For me, I know that an hour or maybe two of watching silly YouTube video feels good . But not after that. After two hours of watching YouTube videos it starts to feel bad. And at that point I need to be productive again. Sometimes people indulge in self-care that actually hurts them.

6. If it is authentic to you, pursue more than one path of mastery. For me pursuing the pursuit of mastery in fitness and the pursuit of mastery in organizing simultaneously is synergistic and has led me to reflect on things, as one example, like this post series.

7. You will only stick with a pursuit of mastery if you actually enjoy it. Find the authentic “win-win” relationship with it, and if it is authentic to you you should feel a “collaborative” energy with it, instead of a “competitive” one.

8. If you have a basic level of self-love and still can’t find a way to enjoy a certain pursuit of mastery — can’t find a way to make it a “collaborative,” “win-win” situation — consider that it may not be authentic to you. Maybe you’re doing it out of ego? It is why every time I have tried to do something entrepreneurial in a capitalist sense I have failed. Why do things that are not authentic with you?

9. Notice in your pursuit of mastery if you’re at the cause or the effect of the world. Sit with that.

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