My Wife and I Debuted Our New T-Shirts in Lake Tahoe: “Hi, I Don’t Care. Thanks!” and “I Hate People”- A Blog Post about Identity Protective Cognition and Emotional Intelligence

I turned 38 a couple of months ago. I have entered Life: Part 2. In other words, I have come to terms with the fact my life is now half complete; assuming I live the typical lifespan of an American man.

When you’re pushing 40, there are certain things that tend fall into place in your life:

Your strengths, your weaknesses, your family, your career, your finances, your retirement plan…

To steal a quote from a book I will never read called Anna and the French Kiss, it really comes down to this:

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” 

In other words, my identity is well established. While I remain open-minded to a certain point, I am at the place in life where I am no longer seeking confirmation of my identity from other people; the way Michael Scott and Andy Bernard did on The Office.

I no longer subscribe to the delusion that I am a good person, because then I would fall victim to the mentality, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Not to mention, the concept of being a good person is simply relevant to others I would perceive as bad people.

There will always be people who perceive me as morally or intellectually inferior to themselves in some way. I am okay with that. I embrace it. I even celebrate it.

To quote Matchbox Twenty in a song called “Busted” from their debut album from over 20 years ago, this is how I feel:

“I’m the flame, I can’t get burnt. I’m wholly understated.”

In my 38 years, I have learned that most people predictably fear being perceived as wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.

But I don’t. I am immune because I already know those things are true:

To some people, I will always be wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.

I have taught myself that anything a person believes is true in their own mind; even for crazy people.

This is only magnified because of Identity Protective Cognition, which explains that when another person tries to convince someone against their strongly held beliefs, anything they hear in an attempt to convert them will only reinforce what they already believe.

Therefore, I don’t care what other people believe. I have no desire to prove anyone wrong, as I have learned that often the subconscious goal people have in trying to prove another person wrong is that they are ultimately trying to earn that person’s respect.

I don’t crave for people’s respect by proving them wrong, as I believe it’s nearly impossible; and ultimately, a poor choice in the game of time management.

People tend to think their opinions, beliefs, and ideologies actually matter to other people.

They don’t.

No one cares what anyone believes. It’s an illusion. Instead, people are simply seeking to identify members of their own camp; while demonizing the other side; believing those with opposing views are wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.

(The bipartisan structure of American politics has made this clear by now.)

I have peace knowing that I can privately disagree with other people’s moral codes and lifestyles; as they surely disagree with mine. I am more interested in learning what I have in common with others; not what we disagree on.

So surely you can understand why a guy like me has proudly adopted this as my current life motto:

“Hi, I don’t care. Thanks.”

Further exploring my mindset, it is important to note that I have also climbed the ladder of emotional intelligence high enough now to know this:

It is always a choice to be offended, insulted, and/or disrespected by another person.

Similarly, forgiveness is always a choice, as well.

I turned off the breaker switch to allowing others to affect my emotions. I now control my own emotions, thanks to some gentle reminders from the surprisingly emotionally intelligent band Metallica, in legendary songs like “Master of Puppets”:

“I’m pulling your strings/Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams/Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing.”

This is a great illustration of how most people, by default, allow other people’s control of their own emotions to rule their lives.

Imagine the unnecessary burden that has been removed from my own mind. Imagine the freedom I must feel:

To not allow other people to control my emotions because I ultimately don’t fear being perceived as wrong, ignorant, or immoral. To know it’s vanity to believe I can gain a person’s respect by proving them wrong.

So it’s only natural that what I really wanted for this Father’s Day was a basic t-shirt that shares my motto with the world:

“Hi, I don’t care. Thanks.”

(To buy this shirt for the best price on Amazon, click here.)

I was able to debut it during our recent family vacation to Lake Tahoe, where my shirt was a hit among random passersby… my age and older. They are clearly riding they same vibes I am.

And my wife was able to debut a t-shirt that shared her equivalence of my motto:

“I hate people.”

(To buy that shirt on Amazon, click here.)

It’s subtle deadpan humor, as the backdrop is a camp scene in the mountains.

No, my wife doesn’t really hate people.

But like me (she is just a couple of months younger than I am), she has come to similar conclusions about life.

She regularly responds with, “People are crazy.”

So this is where I’m at in life. This is who I have become. This is who I am now.

I have lived enough life to understand and appreciate what little actually matters.

It is now even easier for me to enjoy my life and to love my neighbor as myself.

I am no longer distracted by the things that held me back in Life: Part 1.

Dear Holly: You Should See Me in a Crown

3 years.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend for your brother’s soccer game, as we watched from the field, you discovered a toy crown that apparently someone had left behind.

Your response was pretty much immediate. You started trying on the crown, inspired from our nightly bed time stories about Anna and Elsa.

You never access to such a realistic looking crown before. So as simple as it was, you had a lot of fun putting it own, as I happen to take several pictures of you having fun with it.

Sometimes it’s those completely unplanned pictures than actually turn out to be the best!

 

Love,

Daddy

2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 4WD 6 Speed: Family Ride in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee

It’s been two weeks now that I finally obtained my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler. As part of the fun for Mother’s Day for my wife, I announced we would be going for our very first family leisurely drive through the not-so-faraway Jeep-friendly spot: Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

This weekend’s drive confirmed what I always believed about owning a Jeep Wrangler; that you don’t simply own a vehicle, you own a mobile amusement park.

Automatically, anywhere you drive is suddenly more exciting. The view is undeniably better. Whenever you see a road you want to go down, or go up, that you wouldn’t normally be able to… well, now you can.

And we did. Many times.

There is no fear of getting stuck in the mud, because now we have 4 wheel drive.

There is no fear of not being able to turn around if we get to the end of a narrow dead-end road, because the Jeep is so short.

There is no fear of boredom, because we are ultimately riding in a mini monster truck.

Something really crazy about my 7 and a half year journey to finally getting my Jeep Wrangler is that I never ever drove one until I had already bought mine!

That’s how much I knew I was destined to own one.

I can’t remember the last time I bought anything for myself that made me so happy.

When you’re the husband and the father, you just sort of go along with whatever is going on with your family. There was honestly nothing I needed or even wanted anyway.

Except for the Jeep, which I couldn’t afford until now; and was able to pay cash for. (My wife and I are very serious about Dave Ramsey!)

But this Jeep isn’t just for me: My whole family enjoys it.

It’s simply more fun to drive now; even in bumper to bumper commuter Nashville traffic.

That’s how good a Jeep Wrangler is.

Dear Holly: Your Gymnastics Lesson of a Birthday Party

3 years.

Dear Holly,

For your official 3rd birthday party, we booked you a gymnastics lesson at the rec center right around the corner from our house.

You loved being able to get an idea of what gymnastics is like; alongside your party friends.

The lesson actually took place while the parents socialized in the room down the hall. Then, when it was time, we all came in to see you and your party friends individually trek through the obstacle course.

I’m glad we chose this for your birthday party. It was so appropriate for a 3 year-old little girl!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Were the Court Jester at Your Sister’s Birthday Party

8 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

This past weekend we celebrated your sister’s birthday at the rec center near our house. You weren’t too excited by the idea of a gymnastics lesson with a bunch of 3 year-old girls.

Instead, you appointed yourself as the court jester of the party.

You discovered that you could successfully wear 5 pink birthday party hats all at once.

Looking back on every photo I took of you during her party, I realize there wasn’t one normal picture of you.

Every single photo is of you showing off your ability to wear all those party hats.

But if that means I was able to capture some shots of you actually being you at this age, I’d rather have that anyway!

Love,

Daddy

5 Reasons Why Men Born in 1981 are Unapologetically Obsessed with Making Money, Saving Money, and Investing Money: The Firstborns of the Millennial Generation are Financially Woke!

Exactly 20 years ago, just a couple weeks away from my high school graduation, my plan for a career was quite humble:

To become a school teacher, to marry a school teacher, and to live in a small house in my small hometown.

That’s all I wanted. I specifically didn’t care about money. For those of us born in 1981, the firstborns of the Millennial Generation, we were led to believe that “money isn’t everything” and that “all you need is love”.

But by the time I began my career, I saw the world in a different light. And I imagine many other men who were born in 1981 also experienced the same culture shock, and therefore, a rewiring of how we perceive money.

What makes us this way? I have compiled 5 reasons why men born in 1981 are so much more woke when it comes to personal finances. Consider this to be my comic book villain origin story:

1.      The average American man gets married at age 27; which for those of us born in 1981, coincided with the Financial Crisis of 2008. Needless to say, I got married just a few months before the recession hit.

2.      Most of us attended college compared to previous generations, which meant more competition in the work force in addition to starting out our careers with heavy student loans.

3.      We were told we would be the first generation to actually make less money than our own parents; who themselves didn’t necessarily need to graduate college like we did in order to be successful in our careers.

4.      It is common knowledge that there should be no expectations for my generation to actually get social security when we retire.

5.      Thanks to the Internet, we have so many opportunities to have multiple online side hustles; to add passive income in addition to our salaries from our full time jobs.

Both at my office as well as my online persona as a YouTuber, I am referred to as Slick Nick.

If you know me at all, you know I am a person who is unapologetically fixated on making money, saving money, and investing money:

In addition to my full time job at a Fortune 500 Company, I also handle my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.

As opposed to the excess culture of the 1980s and 1990s as people went in debt to impress people they didn’t care about by buying McMansions and brand-new luxury cars, I am from a generation where the goal is to impress people by how much money we save and invest; not how much we spend.

I feel like men from my generation will be like those who survived the Great Depression. We will spend our lives finding ways to independently fund our own retirements; assuming there will be no social security left for us.

If we’re lucky, we’re wrong. But if we’re wrong, we just might be rich.

After 13 Years of Driving of My 2004 Honda Element, I Paid Cash for a 2010 Jeep Wrangler for My 38th Birthday: This is the Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid for Me

Exactly one year ago today, I began my job as a recruiter at a Fortune 500 company; after a 6 month stint of being thrown into the role of stay at home dad, when the company I had recruited for and managed retention for 12 years closed down their branch at my location.

For half a year, I applied for over 100 jobs; while also focusing on my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.

When I started my new job a year ago, it undeniably pushed me to my limits and challenged me in ways I had not been before. There were moments I had serious doubts I could survive it. But the position did come with a more than 62% pay increase compared to my former employer; so I did what it took to not only survive at my new job, but to excel.

By March 2019, I was the #2 recruiter out of 31 nationwide for my company for that month.

My wife and I had become debt free (other than our mortgage) 6 years ago, thanks to following the strategy and teachings of Dave Ramsey. (That includes tithing 10% to our church.) By the end of 2018, we had the recommended amount in our savings, according to Ramsey Solutions.

That’s when we were able to start investing money at Charles Schwab, in a serious effort to have at least $2 million by the time we retire; assuming there will be no social security left for us Millennials.

After 13 Years of Driving of My 2004 Honda Element, I Paid Cash for a 2010 Jeep Wrangler for My 38th Birthday: This is the Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid for Me

So in January of this year, my wife and I were finally able to start planning the replacement of my 2004 Honda Element; which I bought the same month I started my recruiting career, in January 2006; before I even met my wife!

I was considering a Hyundai Veloster, as some sort of a consolation to my dream vehicle:

A Jeep Wrangler.

The first time I announced my goal on this blog of eventually owning a Jeep Wrangler was back in December 2012, in a letter I wrote to my son:

“If we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.

Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.

Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.

It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.”

Then, after 7 and a half years, the dream began to come true when my mom showed me where on her Facebook feed, her dentist’s sister was selling a 2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 6 Speed for much less than market value.

I was the first person to call. It was mine as long as I could be the first person to show up with money to pay the asking price.

The problem was that I live 5 hours away from where the seller was in Georgia.

Good thing I have amazing parents. On April 1st, they drove over 3 hours to go pick up the Jeep, on a Monday night; in order to beat another would-be buyer who would be there to buy the Jeep the following morning.

My parents didn’t get back to their house in Alabama until after 1 AM; my dad was able to sleep about 3 hours before he had to go back to work the next morning.

Not to mention, they decided to buy my Honda Element as a spare vehicle, or as my mom calls it, their “farm truck”.

On April 29th, thanks to several divine interventions (as buying a vehicle outside of a dealership means a much more complicated process!), I was able to get the title signed over to me and get my very own license plate for the Jeep.

My entire month of April was consumed with me finally obtaining my dream vehicle, while coincidentally, my 38th birthday was on April 20th.

I am extremely grateful for all I have been given and all I have worked hard for in my life. Now that I finally own the vehicle I have been aspiring toward for 7 and a half years, and my goal is met, I am able to realize this:

At age 38, I have now officially made it to the top of my own Maslow’s Hierarcy of Needs Pyramid.

That means not only does a person obtain a comfortable state of financial means, but they also reach a great understanding of emotional intelligence.

For example, I no longer live under the delusion that I am a “good person”. As long as a person perceives they are “good” (comparing themselves to others who they believe are “bad”), they are in danger of believing they deserve goods thing to happen to them, but that they also don’t deserve bad things to happen (like the “bad people” do).

In reality, it is often the “bad things” that happen to us which are actually crucial life lessons we need to learn in order to mature in life. Believe me, I personally have experienced many of these. (See the 1st paragraph of this article, for an example.)

By age 35, I had learned the importance of not allowing other people to control my emotions: to hurt my feelings, to disrespect me, or to offend me. Because just like with forgiveness, it’s always a choice.

It’s a personal decision that we all get to make on a daily basis; to control our own emotions in relation to other people.

Similarly, making it to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid also means a person independently and internally understands who they are; no longer depending on society to confirm their identity, purpose, or value.

In an age where people are constantly posting on social media, subconsciously seeking confirmation and/or secretly judging others in a sense of “at least my life is better than theirs” voyeurism, the concept of not basing one’s self-esteem on the perceptions of others is somewhat revolutionary.

If I am fortunate to live as long as the average lifespan of an American man, then my journey of life is halfway complete.

No, it doesn’t make me feel old knowing that my 20th high school reunion is coming up in a few months. Because I’ve never had more focus and life experience than I have now, for Life: Part 2.

If the American Dream is a real thing, I am aware that I am currently living it. This is what the American Dream looks like. I am able to process that these are the good ole days.

But unlike the man who slaves away his life for his career and loses his family in the process, or the lottery winner who still isn’t happy when he instantly becomes millionaire (only to be broke a few years later due to poor money management), I am able to recognize, in real time a very important truth:

I have been blessed by God, and I know that every good thing I have comes from God. I believe it is no coincidence that as I strive to lead my family in God’s teachings (including the Biblical model of wisely managing money and talents), God has honored my efforts; though I fall short on a daily basis.

At age 38, I have come to the same conclusion as King Solomon:

“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God; for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Photo above by Mohamad Alaw.