1-3: Next, join the agency (not the CIA)

Now I’m going to throw you a curve ball. You have to take control of the one thing you can actually control: you. You’ll be doing a little rewiring in the old noggin. Yes, you feel CPPS in and around that second brain hanging between your legs. But it starts in your actual brain.

Treating CPPS is, essentially, like treating anxiety and depression. To win, a man must exert personal agency.

No, not the CIA, although you are going to behave like Jason Bourne after he went rogue. You have to believe you have power over every aspect of yourself.

Agency is taking full responsibility everything you think, say, and do.

Starting with agency, we’re going to build a sailing metaphor.

If sailing is too boring, think of yourself as a pirate. You want your booty to stop hurting.

“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”

― Seneca the Younger

Your purpose is a direction. Once you accept that you’re holding the rudder, you have to know where to point it. So our formula for mental health currently looks like this:

Full Personal Responsibility (Wind) + Purpose (Direction) = Movement

There is, however, one more way to get this wrong. Maybe you think your real purpose is to be a millionaire with a yacht and all the bikini-clad ladies who just seem to appear there overnight, like mice coming inside in winter. You were born to be a rich, obnoxious hedonist.

Or maybe you were born to head out into space and act as diplomat with the Xargons. Or perhaps you were meant to skyjack a dragon from your airship and crash it into a giant ship of ogres, saving the land of Heroiea from an invasion they couldn’t survive.

If any of those is true, I have bad news for you. Whether your imagined purpose is possible or fantasy, you cannot design your own purpose.

Purpose is an industry unto itself now.

While a million YouTube videos say otherwise, there’s a reason there are a million of them. They all provide flawed images of what gives humans joy, and many of us are still searching.

On a broad level, humans have a set nature. Yup. We’re not totally moldable. We’re complicated, but we have choice and we have parameters. Rules. An invisible structure.

How do you know what’s good for you and not? Simple: values. Those big words we seldom talk about. Like courage, honor, patience, wisdom, and love.

So our final formula looks like this:

Full Personal Responsibility (Wind) +
Purpose (Direction) +
Values (A Map)

Adventure and Fulfillment

If you’re thinking all I can offer are feel-good platitudes, don’t you worry. You’ll have plenty of hard work to get through. And I’m not fixing your whole life – I’m just a guide for beating CPPS. If you actually go do the program, though, you’ll notice that CPPS is sort of microcosm of a broader suffering in your life.

Much of our suffering comes from an incomplete picture of our purpose. For many of us, the goal is or has been sex, or money, or good times. Those things come and go. I want to make this clear: you shouldn’t give up those things. And no, money is not the root of all evil, although sometimes we nearly kill ourselves to get it.

With CPPS, it’s toilet all day.

I had a boss who started a direct mail company at age 24. Within a decade, he sold it for several million dollars. He retired.

Four months later he started working again because he was so bored. There’s only so much purpose you can glean from sitting on a beach.

Find your fire – and use it

I found my motivation when I couldn’t chase my three year-old a short distance across the yard. The pain was too bad. I was 33 years old and I felt like I was 83. There was no way I was going to sit out my son’s childhood. I loved him too much. And I needed to be seen as strong and capable. For me.

A preschool card from my son. Yes, we really are orange in real life.

So find your fire. Because CPPS has to die.

What if you don’t know your purpose yet?

First, ask yourself what jobs you can still do – even like to do – when you’re tired to the bone. This will tell you what it is you truly love, because it renews you even when you should be renewing your strength. You love it.

For me that was always writing.

If your fire is still blurry, remember that the world is held together by little acts of kindness. Check in on somebody. Volunteer. Call a family member or friend and listen to what’s going on in their life. Ask others what you’re good at.

One of these will give you a clue. The hard part is accepting your passion, even when turning it into a vocation would make you less money, or involve a lot of sacrifice, or involve wearing a clown suit at a congressional hearing (although you’d fit right in, right?)


  1. Write your purpose in your journal. Don’t be afraid to be wrong about it. All there is right now is what you think and hope you should be.

    If you need a cheat, use this:
    My purpose is to become a (role) who achieves (results) by using (qualities).

    Example: “My purpose is to become a writer who writes novels that entertain and inspire by using persistence, feedback, outlining, creativity, and passion.

  2. Now go bigger. Think of how far you could take all your best qualities and add a few that would make them go farther – like leadership, discipline, or more specific ones like coding, if that interests you.

    Example: “My purpose is to become a masterful author who creates the mythology for the next generation and inspires them to create even better work using creativity, passion, values, and the input of wonderful fellow creators.”

Don’t be shy, and don’t be afraid to “try on” a few different hats. It’s a notebook, not a contract. You could write out what it would look like if you became a firefighter, a business owner, and an engineer.

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