The 50th Law

I am reading a fantastic book that tells an unlikely story. "The 50th Law" by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. I'm not sure 50 cent does any writing, it looks like Greene does all the wordsmithing and uses a year of following 50 cent around as the raw material. Green previous wrote a motivational book (that I have not read) call the 48 laws of power. I find the 50th Law to be packed with gritty, specific tales of motivation, long-term thinking, and higher-order satisfactions. Its been fantastic to read and one of a very small number of books I'd like to own.

On boredom

"The principal means of distraction are all forms of public entertainment, drugs and alcohol, and social activities. But such distractions have a drug-like effect - they wear off. We crave new ones, faster ones, to lift us out of ourselves and divert us from the harsh realities of life and creeping boredom. An entire civilization - ancient Rome- practically collapsed under the weight of this new need and emotion. Their economy became tied to the creation of novel luxuries and entertainments that sapped its citizens' spirit; few were willing anymore to sacrifice their pleasures for hard work or the public good.

This is the pattern that boredom has created for the human animal ever since: we look outside ourselves for diversions and grow dependent on them. These entertainments have a faster pace than the time we spend at work. Work then is experienced as something boring - slow and repetitive. Anything challenging, requiring effort, is viewed the same way - it's not fun, it's not fast. If we go far enough in this direction, find it increasingly difficult to muster the patience to endure the hard work that is required for mastering any kind of craft. It becomes harder to spend time alone. Life becomes divided between what is necessary (time at work) and what is pleasurable (distractions and entertainment). In the fpast, these extremes of boredom assailed mostly those in hte upper classes. Now it is something that plagues almost all of us.

There is, however, another possible relationship to boredom and empty time, a fearless one htat yields much different results than frustration and escapism. It goes as follows: you have some large goal that you wish to achieve in your life, something you feel that you are destined to create. If you reach that goal, it will bring you far greater satisfaction than the evanescent thrills that come from outside diversions. To get there you will have to learn a craft - educate yourself and develop the proper skills. All human activities involve a process of mastery. You must learn the various steps and procedures involved, proceeding to higher and higher levels of proficiency. This requires discipline and tenacity - the ability to withstand repetitive activity, slowness, and the anxiety that comes with such a challenge.

Once you start down this path, two things will happen: First, having the larger goal will life your mind out of the moment and help you endure the hard work and drudgery. Second, as you become better at this task or craft, it becomes increasingly pleasurable. You see improvement; you see connections and possibilities you hadn't noticed before. Your mind becomes absorbed in mastering it further, and in this absorption you forget all your problems - fears for the future or people's nasty games. But unlike the diversion that comes from outside sources, this one comes from within. You are developing a lifelong skill, the kind of mental discipline that will serve as the foundation of your power.

To make this work you must choose a career or a craft that excites you in some deep way. You are creating no dividing line between work and pleasure. Your pleasure come in mastering the process itself, and the mental immersion it requires." p211-213