A few months ago I contacted Steve Pavlina about doing an interview. At the time he was too busy but recently he agreed to participate and today I have the first part for you.
Steve is a self development expert who largely has risen to fame through blogging (his blog is at StevePavlina.com/blog/). Personally I am big believer and executor of self development and Steve is definitely a leader in this field. I have found many of his articles and podcasts to be helpful with my own self development. I’m also impressed by what he has achieved by blogging good content day-in and and day-out. His traffic numbers in the millions of pageviews per month. Of course there is a good reason for this, his materials are powerful resources to help people become, well, better people.
When Steve agreed to be interviewed I wanted to ask some interesting questions. I didn’t want Steve to simply rehash what he has already covered in his blog or ask questions that would result in one-line answers. I decided to ask you, my readers, for input and the results can be found here – Your Questions For An Upcoming Interview With Steve Pavlina. I used what I thought were the most interesting questions, came up with some of my own and then sent them through to Steve.
I came up with some pretty deep questions (as Steve commented) and in typical Steve Pavlina style he’s gone to work and answered with solid insights. Also in typical Steve style they are not short answers, but when it comes to topics such as these you can’t brush over them with a single sentence.
I have taken Steve’s interview and broken it down into three sections which will go live on my blog this week.
Without further ado I give you an interview with Steve Pavlina, self development teacher and blogger.
by Yaro Starak
Thanks for inviting me to do this interview, Yaro. You and your readers asked some very deep questions.
1. Who Is Steve Pavlina?
For people who have never heard of you Steve, can you please provide a short rundown on who Steve Pavlina is and what we can learn from you?
Funny, that’s a question I often ask myself. Each time the answer is a bit different.
Among other labels that apply, I’m a 34-year-old internet entrepreneur, and I currently run one of the most popular personal development web sites on the Internet, StevePavlina.com. All of the site’s content is free for visitors. I have no products, no customers, no inventory, no employees, and no sales. Yet I make a pretty decent living from the site, in addition to other streams of (mostly passive) income.
Despite having read about 700 books in the field of personal development, I’m a very experiential, hands-on person. I like to dive in and try new things to see what produces results and what’s really just a waste of time. Through my web site I promote an action-oriented, experiential approach to personal development. I also warn people up front not to expect any quick fixes.
Your visitors might like to know that I make a nice living without having a job. I’m not really self-employed either because I don’t trade my time for money. I have no hourly rate. I put technology to work for me, setting up systems like my web site that generate income 24/7. This is actually more secure than any job I know of, since I can’t be fired or laid off, and if a computer breaks down, it’s easily replaceable.
Like many of your visitors, I don’t want to spend so much of my life working just to pay the bills. I feel that we live in an age where intelligent, computer-savvy people should be able to use technology to generate all the income they need in a mostly passive manner. Most of my income is a result of taking advantage of cheap computing power. My preferred method is to create intellectual property. It might take me a few hours to write a new article, but I only have to write it once. If I post that article on my web site, it can be read by thousands of people around the world without costing me anything. That’s where the long-term value delivery occurs. My up-front time investment is fixed, but the long-term value delivery is ongoing because people are still reading articles I’ve written years ago. I earn income by receiving just a small payment for that ongoing value, much less than the value itself. This includes advertising revenue, donations, and affiliate income.
This is a very sustainable business model because I consistently deliver more value to people than I receive in return (most people don’t pay me anything at all), but it’s still more than enough income to live off. Right now I’m grossly undermonetizing my web site. But for me this is a good thing because it means there’s plenty of room for optimization. If I want to increase my income, I can keep providing more of the same, or I can find ways to receive just a little more of that value in return. For example, I can turn some of my content into a book and sell it. There are lots of ways to repackage the existing value and get paid a fair price for it. This business model leaves me with a feeling of abundance instead of a feeling of scarcity. I could enjoy a nice income for years just from the content I’ve already produced.
By unplugging from the tyranny of regular employment, I enjoy a ridiculous amount of freedom. This allows me to spend the bulk of my time working on what I choose to do, not what I have to do. I choose to work on personal growth, to help others grow, and to Ã¢â‚¬Å“have a life.Ã¢â‚¬Â Sometimes I’ll spend an entire week just reading, meditating, philosophizing, and then writing about any insights I’ve had. And best of all, I get paid for it.
Perhaps the best way to know me is to understand that I strive to live as consciously as possible. I am completely fascinated with life. Why are we here? What is the nature of the universe? How shall we live? I want to spend my life finding answers to these questions instead of making widgets.
2. How To Deal With Apathy
One of the main reasons I believe people fail to achieve what they want in life is because of apathy. Often a path to success is presented, yet the individual fails to take (enough) action to reach desired outcomes. What can people who consistently fail to take action do to beat apathy?
This is a complex question that will take a bit of time to answer, so please excuse the monstrous verbiage.
Long-term apathy is a result of confusing perception and creation. People who are consistently apathetic think they are passively perceiving reality when in fact they are actually creating it.
Let me Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsplain.
If you’re feeling apathetic, you may be looking at your reality and noticing that nothing inspires you. Everything appears flat and lifeless. What’s the point of this existence? Perhaps it’s just about survival, and mere survival isn’t going to leave you overflowing with passion. You’re more likely to feel bored or depressed. You might have occasional bursts of positive emotion, but that won’t be your default state of being.
What you must understand is that there is no such thing as passive perception. All perception is a form of creation. You may think that you’re merely perceiving and interpreting external reality, but in fact you are simultaneously creating it. Your apathetic thoughts are creating your experience of reality, such that all you perceive is an apathetic universe.
Imagine a person wearing glasses with red lenses. The world may be full of blue, but those glasses will create the perception of red everywhere. The person will be unable to perceive the color blue accurately. Similarly, if you perceive a world that leaves you feeling empty or depressed, it’s because you’re wearing the glasses of apathy or depression. You may have been wearing those glasses for so long that you forgot they’re on your face right now. You’ve been assuming that your perceptions of reality are accurate when of course they’re permanently tainted by your glasses. Your apathetic glasses ensure that you continue to receive apathy-producing inputs from your environment.
Apathetic thoughts create the experience of an apathy-producing universe. As within, so without.
So what’s the solution? The solution is to take off the glasses of apathy, and them stomp on them until they’re broken.
Recognize that apathetic thoughts are in fact creative and not merely perceptive. Most people never make this realization in their entire lives, but those that understand it gain the ability to solve problems they never could before. Once you understand that your seemingly perceptive thoughts are actually creative, you gain the ability to choose what you wish to create. If you decide to remove the glasses of apathy, you will soon begin perceiving colors you’ve never seen before. You’ll begin to see purpose and meaning everywhere. You could be all alone staring off into space, and it will be an experience rich in purpose and meaning. You’ll live in a state of utter fascination with life.
Perhaps the simplest way to remove the glasses of apathy is via the power of intention. Simply say to the universe, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Show me what lies beyond the glasses of apathy.Ã¢â‚¬Â Put some thought energy into that intention, and expect that it will manifest. Then let it go, and wait. Usually without about 24-48 hours, you’ll begin to have experiences that are incongruent with your glasses of apathy, and the lenses will start to crack. The downside is that in terms of levels of consciousness, the next step up from apathy is sadness, and beyond thatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ fear and anger. So the path out of apathy is likely to progress through negative emotions before you’re able to feel positive and inspired. If you start feeling bad, that’s actually a step in the right direction. You will pull out of it soon enough.
I believe the greatest challenge we face as human beings is to learn how to use our consciousness. All conscious thought is creative. Whenever you think you’re perceiving the world, stop and consider for a moment that you may in fact be creating it. Perception and creation are intricately intertwined. If you think you aren’t creating, then recognize that you just had a thought to create the experience of not creating, which itself is a creative thought. So there’s no escaping it.
Most human beings abuse the power of consciousness by denying their creative participation in life. It’s like being a god who uses his powers to make himself powerless. If you say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let me be powerless,Ã¢â‚¬Â you lose your powers. Once you do that, you can’t simply restore your powers by saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let me be powerful again.Ã¢â‚¬Â You’ve already nuked your powers, so you no longer have access to the switch to turn them back on again. The rebuilding process takes time. A significant part of being human is to find our way back to that power switch.
There was a time in my early 20s when I felt completely apathetic about life. It was hard for me just to get out of bed in the morning, and I often didn’t get up until 2-3pm. It took me many years to gradually understand how my own thoughts were creating my life, when all along I assumed I was just perceiving reality and then reacting to the cards I was dealt. I never suspected that I was the one stacking the deck.
If you’re feeling apathetic, you’re not broken. Based on what you’re perceiving, a feeling of apathy is actually the correct response. The mistake is failing to recognize that you’re the one creating the apathetic reality in the first place. Your outer experience is a projection of your internal state.
If you have an accurate model of reality, then what emotional state will you experience? Should you expect to feel emotionally neutral? No, if you’re feeling neutral, then your model of reality is still inaccurate. You’re just wearing the glasses of neutrality instead of apathy. If your perception of reality is accurate, then the default emotional state you’ll experience would be best described as the state of joy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a feeling of intense, pervasive happiness. Why? Because when you recognize that your thoughts are creative, you’ll consciously choose to create joy.
It was sometime in 2005 that I finally Ã¢â‚¬Å“got itÃ¢â‚¬Â at a deep enough level and recognized that consciousness gives me the freedom to create my own inner experience at all times, and my inner reality projects outward into the world and then feeds back into my perceptions. From that point onward, I began experiencing an intense feeling of happiness. At first it came in brief bursts lasting up to a few hours. I just began feeling absolutely incredible, without there being any external stimulus to trigger it. But after several months, a feedback loop was eventually created, such that the state of joy locked in permanently and never switched off. That feeling is still with me 24/7.
Joy runs deeper than any normal emotion. It’s like a persistent background hum in my consciousness. It’s like listening to music in the background while I do other tasks. The music is always playing, but I can choose to focus on it directly and experience it fully, or I can tune it out and do other things. When I first started experiencing this state of joy, I frequently found it overwhelming. I’d be going for my morning run, making dinner, or doing some other everyday task, and out of nowhere I’d feel an intense surge of happiness such that tears would literally stream down my face. It was like someone came up and injected me with something, but of course no drugs were involved.
Eventually I found the volume knob and was able to regain control. Now if I want to experience joy, all I need to do is to ask myself, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where is the joy?Ã¢â‚¬Â I tap into the feeling that’s already there and focus my intention on it, and that intensifies the feeling. I can feel it right now as I type this. But if I want to turn down the volume, I just focus my attention on something else, such as my breathing.
I still experience negative emotions from time to time, especially frustration, but when I recognize that I’m creating those feelings, I turn my attention back to the joy by asking, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where is the joy?Ã¢â‚¬Â And soon the feeling of joy burns off the negative feelings and comes to the forefront. It’s like turning up the music volume until it drowns out all other sounds.
Living in this state has had a profound effect on me. I don’t need any material possessions or any externally measurable success to be happy. I work from a state of happiness, not for it. I don’t feel like I’m extracting joy from experiences. Rather it feels like I’m injecting joy into them. The joy is this outward-flowing, ever-present awareness.
I very much want to help others achieve this state because it’s so empowering. But it’s not remotely easy to get to this point. There are vast expanses of conscious development that have to be crossed first. It took many years of working on my growth, which included a great deal of struggle and frustration. I don’t expect anyone reading this who feels apathetic to say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh duh. I’ll just think the way Steve does.Ã¢â‚¬Â But perhaps reading this will plant a seed in your consciousness that will get you moving in the direction of joy.
3. Making A Difference
I know you receive a lot of positive feedback from your audience. Can you share the single most powerful piece of feedback you have received?
Perhaps the most impactful piece of feedback I received was a letter from a man telling me that my blog had saved his life. He said he was suicidal and had actually made the decision to kill himself. While searching online for the best way to do it, he stumbled upon my web site and started reading. He said he read for 6-7 hours straight. And by the time he was done, he no longer had any desire to take his own life.
After reading this letter, I felt an intense surge of gratitude. I feel very lucky that I’m in a position where I can have this kind of impact on people. I also feel a deep sense of responsibility to do my very best, knowing that for some people, it actually is a matter of life and death.
This is a fairly dramatic example, but it goes to show that writing from your heart can do more than just help people manage their inbox.
Continue reading part two of the Steve Pavlina interview…