Some of you won’t like this article, but I can’t please everyone and remain authentic
Sidney Mazzi – 5 min read
Professionals of the mind (psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists) have made great discoveries, and their findings explain a lot about our minds. However, I believe that they failed miserably as an inspiring brand. What do I mean? Well, they fail to interest the average ‘Joe.’ In fact, many of our great leaders don’t read books by professionals of the mind because they don’t recognise the value of their findings. I mean, they know of one or two books, but they hardly apply them to their daily lives.
Think about it.
How much do everyday people really know about psychology? Then, consider all the advances of the past decades, how much our lives have changed — all the new technologies (the internet, electric cars, artificial intelligence, cell phones and the advances in medicine, etc.) that now permeate our everyday lives, even when we don’t notice them.
Now, think about human psychology. How much of what mankind has discovered do you apply to your daily life? Do you really think that there is nothing useful? Nothing that you could take advantage of? Is it just a bunch of emotional intelligence BS designed for weak people? Really?!
Because I believe that most people are oblivious to the workings of the human mind (even though there have been thousands of books written on the subject), I wrote The Art of Hunting Humans, a radical explanation of the human mind. I have never sought exposure. However, never the less, I exposed myself in my book, as well as my series of articles, because the world has gone crazy, and I decided to do my part and change things.
But why did I write an inspiring article like Chasing Greatness I, and also a guide to hunting humans?
First of all, my book is not a real guide. It is just a fun way to explain the mind, like it was written by an alien observing us. But if you want a list of reasons for my controversial book’s title and approach, I will give you five.
MY reasons (i.e. MY opinion)
- For me, the books out there are terrible.
- Distance! I didn’t want my book to be compared to the other books.
- Lack of an outsider’s perspective.
- Catchy title! Yes! controversy can be good! Let’s shake things up! Also, it needed to be fun!
- Give me the bloody truth! Designed to challenge, rather than comfort.
I didn’t want this article to be too long. So, if you want, you can read the reasons in more detail click here.
Not enough reasons for you? How about one more?
Bonus – Reason 6:
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Well, if you believe that the world is getting wiser, then maybe I am wrong. I don’t think so, though. Hence, I thought we should try a different and unconventional approach to talk about wisdom and self-knowledge.
Only time will tell if I am right or wrong. At least I am trying my best.
A guide to hunting humans is too much for you?
No problem at all!
So, you want to learn about the human mind, but you don’t like my approach?
ALL GOOD! You can always go for the works of famous psychoanalysts such as Freud or Lacan, or you can try all the textbooks about cognitive behavioural psychology and neuroscience. There are lots of them out there! They are not fun to read, but if you read lots of them and put all the information together, they will be, indeed, useful. Tip: Don’t stick to one field of science: psychology, psychoanalysis and neuroscience are all important.
No, I am not going to try to convince you to read my book at all. But I would suggest that you start with history, politics, marketing or even philosophy. I believe you can learn a lot about the human mind without having to read boring technical books. Watch a few YouTube summaries about psychology and neuroscience, for example.
Did you say history, politics and marketing?
Yep, history of humanity, countries, the old empires, how life was in the dark ages, etc. Read about different cultures, beliefs, religions, rituals. Go deep to understand how society started, or how different societies are and were organised. For example, you can really learn how the east and west think in profoundly different ways. It is very interesting and will give you a good general perspective. For history, you can start with Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It is maybe the best book ever written.
You can even find some interesting documentaries on YouTube… there are great ones about life during the middle ages.
Or read about politics. A book that teaches the basics about power and politics – including how politicians trick you – is The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli. No, it is not just for evil people. It has different uses. For example, Good people can use it to understand how those who lead us think and act. You will be able to start spotting their tricks and gain a good understand regarding how power works. After all, whether you like it or not, the history of humans is the history of the struggle for power.
Or go for marketing techniques. They are very interesting! Here you can read almost any book on the subject – yep, techniques to make people buy stuff. Even a simple book like Ca$hvertising will teach you a lot about how marketers trick you. And, obviously, if you are intelligent enough, you can use it as a source of knowledge (not just to make people buy stuff). You can learn, for example, how marketers play with your insecurities and desires.
If you want to start with philosophy, I would encourage you to start with books about Stoicism. They are very interesting, too. But if you like a mix of fiction and learning, then you can start with Sophie’s World, a 1991 novel by Jostein Gaarder. In this book you will get a nicer perspective on life, learn about philosophy and regain the ability of wonder like when you were a kid. By the way, this is the first real book I intend to read to my son when he is 12-14 years old. It is amazing!
You can learn a lot about humans from these books — much more about the human mind than from a self-help book that spends hundreds pages teaching you that you should have the right mindset in life (which basically means that you should learn from your mistakes and failures, so you can improve and grow. If that’s news to you. Go for it. Enjoy!).
Chasing Greatness IV (cont.) – Reasons – Extended
Sidney Mazzi – 4 min read
1. For me, the books out there are terrible.
First of all, maybe it is just me, but anything that mentions emotional intelligence puts me off. The term is so overused that it has kind of lost its meaning. So, when I hear it, I immediately lose interest. I immediately think, “Oh God, here we go again… another politically correct and boring talk with nothing inside.” On top of that, lots of people who talk about emotional intelligence are NOT emotionally intelligent at all. So…
With this disclaimer done, let’s go for the specifics:
The problem is that most books about psychology are either extremely boring, too damn technical, or in the best cases, just a bunch of curiosities that you will forget right after reading them.
- i. Self-help books that claim to explain the mind are almost always USELESS. I’ve read lots of them, and almost all were a waste of time. Even the most popular ones use hundreds of pages for a simple, obvious lesson. Often they comprise 300 pages that repeat the same thing over and over… anyway.
- ii. On the other side of the spectrum, more often than not, psychology books overcomplicate stuff and use extremely technical language. It’s like the authors just want to appear smart, rather than help others.
- iii. How about books on neuroscience? Some are interesting, but they are very limited. They show curiosities about your brain, but they’re hardly life changing. Their piece of the puzzle is too limited.
For me, apart from one or two examples, you can get 95% of the information contained in any self-help book by watching the 15-min summary on YouTube. So, why bother reading the book?
I wanted a book that would provide all the basic information in one place. A book that could serve as a guide and that I could turn to from time to time. Because many curiosities about the mind you kind of know, but it is only when you put them all together that things make sense. For that reason, I designed a book that should be read at least twice because it is packaged with information.
2. Distance! I didn’t want my book to be compared to all those others I’ve mentioned.
Because, in my opinion, these books are so terrible or limited, I don’t want to see mine on a shelf with them. I wanted an approach to psychology that would be highly original — a work that defied easy categorization (is it fiction? Satire? Self-help? A book about psychology? All of the above?), even at the potential detriment to marketability.
Sadly, I believe that the broader use of psychology is done by marketers. They are the ones who really know how to trick your mind into buying something. Meanwhile, psychologists reach a tiny percentage of the population (via treatment or their interest in the field of study). Just a fraction of the population. It’s disaster.
Don’t get me wrong. Psychologists do a great job treating the people they help, but overall, as a science, the findings in psychology don’t reach the vast majority of the population.
A fresh approach was required. So, I packaged The Art of Hunting Humans in a radically different way. While writing this book, my goal was to appeal to a new market: people generally disinterested in books related to psychology. Sceptical people like me (or like I was just a few years ago).
3. Lack of an outsider’s perspective.
As I explained in the Diamond of Wisdom article, people struggle to observe themselves from the sceptical perspective of an outsider.
My book was designed to allow you to distance yourself from a problem so that you can understand its magnitude and the challenges ahead.
4. Catchy title! Yes! controversy can be good! Let’s shake things up!
I am almost always in a good mood, and I often make jokes about myself. Among my friends, I am very funny, sarcastic, ironical — stuff like that. So, I like a catchy title, satire, weird metaphors. That’s just me. Also, my book needed to be controversial, so people would talk about it. It is not easy to get people’s attention these days.
Also, it needed to be fun:
I use satire and weird metaphors to explain lots of things in life (a ship, a prisoner, dungeons…). So, why not pretend to write a guide for hunting humans? For me, it sounded like an interesting approach.
5. Give me the bloody truth! Designed to challenge, rather than comfort.
Maybe it is just me, but I am always more interested in constructive criticism than praise. I have lots of motivation and self-confidence inside me, and I don’t really need anyone to lift me up. So, I wanted something less inspiring and motivational and more focused on exploring the problems we all face. I want the truth. Yes! Point out the finger! It’s fine! That’s how we solve problems and build urgency for change.
Here’s a sentence from The Art of Hunting Humans: My book is “An investigative tool for those brave enough to face their inner darkness.”
That is my style, but I am well aware that not everybody likes it…. sad it may be, but the quote below is true for most people, so I know that my book won’t be read by many:
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism” — Norman Vincent Peale.
If that quote is true for you, don’t even start reading my book. However, I can also say don’t give up just yet. Later in this article I will recommend a few other books for you to read.
Before you go.