The law of optimum balance states that the peak of effectiveness for many traits is to be found within the extremes, and that many traits that are beneficial at certain levels turn bad, ineffective, or harmful at extreme levels of total lack or oversupply.
Many positive traits that people aspire to and work towards follow the law of balance.
And so do also many traits generally associated with “bad morals” or negative outcomes.
The pervasiveness and ubiquitousness of optimum balances make the optimum balance a fundamental concept of self-development and life optimization.
In this article we will learn about the law of optimum balance.
- Optimum Balance Traits & Examples
- 1. Dark Triad
- 2. Open-Mindedness
- 3. Drive
- 4. Power (Hierarchical)
- 5. Manliness & Strength: Dating Optimum Balance
- Enlightened Optimum Balance
- Big Goals Require Clusters of Optimum Balances
- Optimum Balances Outside Self-Development
- Why So Many People Fall For Imbalance
Let’s start with a definition:
The law of balance states that a given trait is only good, effective, or beneficial at certain levels but turns bad, ineffective, or harmful at extreme levels of either total lack, or oversupply.
Of course that optimum balance is not a set and immutable constant that remains the same no matter whom, what, and when.
As we often repeat on this website, what’s optimal changes depending on the individual, the goal, and the situation -or the “context”-.
For brevity and simplicity, we will focus on the general concept and we won’t always repeat the importance of context on every single item and example on this list.
In any event, despite the variables of context-related optimization, what changes is the level where we find the optimum balance, not the general principle: the law of balance indeed still applies within each specific context.
Finally, the optimum balance is so common and widespread in nature that we may say that the law of balance is a true natural law, not that much different from the Pareto law, and probably even more widespread.
Similar to the Pareto law and in combination with the “law of diminishing returns”, it also suggests that the main benefits of any trait increase only marginally after a certain level and before dropping off. And that once you’re within or even just close to the optimum balance, you may be better off working on a different trait, rather than seeking the extreme -often counterproductive- or perfection -often sub-optimumal because of opportunity losses- on a single trait.
Components of Optimum Balance
- Optimum interval: the range within which the returns are maximized.
The optimum balance, more than a single point, is most often best thought of and conceptualized as a range. That range of maximum benefit is the optimum interval
- Useful interval: you can think of it as the range outside of the optimum balance, but still “good enough” for satisfactory outcomes or even to achieve challenging goals -especially if you make up for with optimum balances in other traits-
- Threshold level: the level at which a trait reaches its maximum returns, and then starts decreasing
- Self-defeating imbalances: the levels at both extremes of the continuum
- Self-defeating extreme
- Self-defeating lacks
- Diminishing returns point: later on we shall see that many traits or possession reach a point where any additional unit of improvement takes lots of work, but yield little added benefit
And some properties:
- Low / high threshold: when the maximum returns happen at low / high level or intensity of a certain property or trait
- Fat tail: when the property or trait maintains good returns at the extremes
- Lean tail: when the property or trait becomes useless or nearly useless at the extremes
- Negative tail: when the trait becomes harmful and negative above or beneath certain levels
Why It’s Important
The main contributions to understanding the law of balance are to:
- Remain within the optimal balance, rather than under or overshooting it
- Stop once you reach it, an issue for many driven guys who tend to think “more is always better
- Plan your self-development it’s often best to have an idea of what you need to reach, and how much work it will take
- Stay motivated when you’re starting out, people who aren’t aware of the optimum balance may get discouraged or sidetracked when they look at the extremes, while instead the optimum balance may be far closer and possible than they think
- Strategize for your goals, based on what you actually need, rather than what would “look cool” to have or be
- Resist marketing manipulation, often based around extremes that are not nearly as effective at achieving goals as they are at grabbing your attention (and wallet)
Optimum Balance Traits & Examples
There are countless traits that obey the law of optimum balance.
We couldn’t possibly list them all, so we are just going to pick some as examples.
These examples help us better understand how the law applies in general.
We chose traits that are either important for self-development, for our goals here at TPM, or because they have strong explanatory power.
1. Dark Triad
On this website, we claim -and we may even say we show, with plenty of evidence and rel life examples- that (even if you want) “to be good, you need to be bad“.
Hence, one should possess certain traits, skills, and know-how that many negatively associate with “being bad”, “being selfish” or even “being antisocial”.
Some of these traits are part of the cluster of personalities sometimes referred to as “dark triad“:
Machiavellianism may be the most relevant dark triad personality for life success.
Some of the benefits include superior strategizing, maximizing returns, as well as effective self-defense against life’s many fraudsters, cheats and charlatans-.
Machiavellianism is important but, as per law of balance, there is such a thing “not Machiavellian enough”, as well as “too Machiavellian”.
It seems pretty logical that too little Machiavellianism and cynicism lead to naivete and that naivete is not conducive to self-flourishing.
It may be less obvious that there can be such a thing as “too Machiavellian”, but research literature confirms that much.
High Machs tend to be more dissatisfied at work, in their relationships, and generally alienated.
They can gain a poor reputation when their scheming ways become obvious, and people tend to reject high-Machs for their closest relationships.
Hence, we get to the “optimum balance” of Machiavellianism:
Some people associate narcissism with a pathetic mix of bragging and touchiness.
And, sometimes, that is the case.
However, narcissism is also more complex, and some narcissistic elements are crucial, maybe even necessary, to achieve success in some fields -for example, fields where personal branding is crucial-.
Narcissism is probably also helpful to attain personal success in most fields.
On the other hand, extreme lack of any narcissistic trait may be bad, no matter what you want to achieve in life.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Craig Malkin wrote “Rethinking Narcissism” and is one of the authors of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump“.
Albeit the latter is controversial for political reasons, Malkin makes good points.
He says narcissism, in moderate doses, is good and healthy, and he would place that “healthy interval” between 4 and 6 on a 1 to 10 scale.
Malkin says that people within that range are more optimistic, happier and more consistently confident than people on the lower end of the scale.
Even if their perception is slightly unrealistically positive, says Malkin, it’s enough to bring benefits, but not so crazy unrealistic that it heavily distorts reality.
Even when it comes to life effectiveness, executives in the optimum balance are rated as far more effective than those who are either not narcissistic enough, or too narcissistic.
As you’d expect from any trait that follows the law of balance, Malkin also says that Narcissism is counterproductive and unhealthy at either end of the scale.
The idea that some amount of psychopathy may be beneficial is not new.
As a matter of fact, sociologist John Ray described exactly that “optimum interval” we talk about here.
Ray suggested in 1981 that low and high levels of psychopathy are bad for, but that modest, controlled amounts make for better under stress performance and more rational decision making.
Finally, Brian Klaas in Corruptible says that “some of the most destructive elements of psychopathy can not only be blunted, but turned into advantages”.
And, just like psychopathy researchers Robert Hare in “Snakes in Suit“, claims that many successful psychopaths climb corporate ladders by avoiding the most violent expressions of their anger and channeling their ruthless and amoral nature to support their thirst for power and control.
Generally, people think of “open-mindedness” as a positive thing.
More rarely do people stop and think at what it means at the extreme oversupply.
At the extreme lack, narrow-minded is not good because it inhibits learning and growing. Almost everyone agrees with that -including narrow-minded folks-.
But too open-minded isn’t good either though because it inhibits critical thinking, discernment, and even personal power. And that would be naive:
There is a steeper decline on the right side because naive over-open-mindedness is a risk hazard in life, while instead too close-minded is “only” a risk for personal growth.
Example: Mark Manson Is Wrong About Everything
Ali Scarlett had a great example for extreme open-mindedness.
Let me show it to you with a twist now.
What do you think of this chapter’s title, “Mark Manson is wrong about everything”?
It seems pretty harsh, right?
I agree: yes it is.
And we don’t think Manson is wrong about everything, he’s actually a great author and a smart guy.
And in his popular and otherwise good “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck“, Mark Manson has a chapter called “you’re wrong about everything”.
Well, are you, though?
Because as much we want to give some credit to Manson and the products of his mind, so you should give some credit to yourself and your beliefs.
Manson’s chapter title is an example of too much open-mindedness, stated in the most negative and self-harming format possible.
That statement may have some benefits as “shock value” to induce some good self-reflection, but it’s certainly not a good mindset to internalize.
Of course there is a time and place to self-assess our deeply held belief, but you probably don’t really want to think of yourself as “wrong about everything”.
Take that form of open-mindedness to an extreme, or adopt it a bit too often, and you destroy your self-esteem, and turn into a self-doubting, low-power, low-confidence individual.
No thank you, you’re not wrong about everything.
You’re wrong about a few things, and right about others. And you’re always ready to correct yourself and change your mind, which actually increases the odds that you’ll be more and more right about more and more things.
Now that’s a better mindset, and that’s a better example of empowering, optimum-balance open-mindedness.
Another great example of naive open-mindedness is the Charlie and Ben Podcast.
Drive, ambition, and motivation are very popular traits that people want more of.
And much self-help literature and teachers seem to encourage to load on as much drive, ambition and motivation as possible.
Of course, since many of these traits follow the law of balance, it’s not always a good idea to aim for “as much as possible”.
Take drive, as an example:
And as an example of “extreme drive” self-help:
Example: “Can’t Hurt Me”… Cause I’m Hurting Myself Plenty
David Goggins has become a popular poster child of extreme drive and ambition.
And, in many ways, he’s a unique, impressive, and awesome man.
Even his book is awesome.
With plenty of entertaining and “extreme” stories, it’s a real page-turner.
Goggins is a great example of how far the human body can go, which is farther than most think. That’s empowering to know, because it means that you probably have a lot of extra in the tank when you first start feeling like you’re done.
Yet, it’s not healthy to make that extreme, the norm.
To make a comparison, engines have rev limiters to avoid staying too long at the extremes. And it’s for a good reason: extreme over-revving is bad for the engine. An engine going into over-revving is far more likely to break, and the more time you spend there, the more you shorten its life span.
Similarly, over-revving is also not that good for the human body.
Over-revving is for emergencies. It’s rare exceptions, not the norm.
When you read Goggin’s examples of what’s supposed to be “maximum achievement”, you have to wonder whether the guy is “driven” or… Haunted by some unresolved issues into self-harming, over-revving territory.
An important question to assess whether you’re positively driven or negatively crazed is whether there is a goal to reach, or not.
For example, when Goggins over-revs to get into the SEAL team, that makes sense because there’s an objective.
But when he “pushes himself to keep on running” until he pees blood, runs on broken bones, defecates on himself, has to be hauled to the hospital but doesn’t want because he “earned the pain”, all with no real life-relevant goal to be achieved… Then you really gotta wonder. Is this type of self-help glorifying drive, or trying to pass self-loathing and stupidity for a good thing (also, you gotta wonder where is the virtue in pushing the costs of your extremes on others. Does “Can’t Hurt Me” also applies to those who had to carry him to the hospital, bloodied and pooped?) ?
- Growth mindset power dynamics: yes, you can be too extreme with a growth mindset as well
Example of Extreme Drive Covering Deep-Seated Issues: Liver King
A great example of “extreme drive” to mask deep-seated issues:
Liver King: When I talk about the 85% of the population that suffers from self-esteem issues, that’s me. This is why I work myself to death in the gym, this is why I do 12 to 15 blood-burning workouts a week. Just to feel like I’m OK
There you are: extreme training and thrashing his own body “just to feel like he’s OK”.
Maybe the optimum balance instead is more like: “healthy self-esteem and a healthy, hard workout, 5 times a week”.
4. Power (Hierarchical)
Surprised to see this one here, eh?
Well, generally speaking, it’s much better to have power than not.
And, as a general rule, it’s rarely too bad being #1 and, more times than not, it’s better to be #1 than anything else.
However, in some contexts and environments, the #1 spot can come with very high costs.
High-cost environments are demanding and stressful, risky, unstable, controversial, or under heavy scrutiny. The costs include premature aging, health concerns and shorter lifespan, loss of free time and, in more violent or primitive societies, personal harm or death.
In those high-stress and unstable environments the optimum balance for rank may not be the #1 spot of the leader, the despot, the alpha male, or the CEO, but at one or two levels below.
The lower levels enjoy fewer spoils and power than the top dog, but the possible decrease in responsibility, stress, personal risks and demands can sometimes more than makeup for the power loss:
5. Manliness & Strength: Dating Optimum Balance
The law of balance also applies to many traits relevant to dating, attraction, and seduction.
However, even here, many miss it.
Generally speaking, many female dating coaches encourage strength and independence in women (including the popular subreddit female dating strategies and the best-selling authors of Why Men Love Bithces and The Power of The Pussy).
And while that is a good idea for women who are extremely passive, submissive, and “dependent”, it doesn’t mean that swinging at the opposite end is a good idea for most women.
Most women instead maximize their sexual market value at rather low levels of strength and independence (low threshold point):
Also read “strong VS feminine women“.
Many male dating coaches -and all red pill-inspired ones- instead encourage men to be “as masculine as possible”.
And while men maximize their dating returns far higher than women and much closer to the extreme right end of the continuum, there is also “too mannish” for a man.
Studies show indeed that many traits associated with “manliness” such as beard, voice depth, facial masculinity and muscles all have a threshold point.
Taking muscles as an example:
Read more here:
Enlightened Optimum Balance
As simple as the optimum balance is, it took TPM some time to generalize it at a higher conceptual level.
And before this high-level, multi-traits article, we had many practical, single-traits articles on optimum balance that we sometimes referred to as “enlightened” stages.
Some of these articles:
- Enlightened cynicism, a balance between naivete and over-cynicism
- Enlightened cooperator, a balance between giving and taking, including giving to the right people
- Enlightened individualism, which albeit the article stresses the individual empowerment part, it’s also about striking a balance between the individual empowerment and drive, and the social animals we are
- Good asshole, which we didn’t call “enlightened” since the term “asshole” doesn’t land itself to it, but it’s the same principle of striking an effective balance between personal boundaries and selfish goals, and helping and cooperating
- Enlightened Machiavellianism, which is to learn Machiavellian thinking, strategies, and techniques, but not to have them “always on” and with anyone, but more as a per-need basis (please note though that “per-need basis” doesn’t necessarily mean “infrequent”. For many people, it might be best to keep it on most of the times actually)
- Straight line seduction, where we introduced the concept of “golden balance” for power and warmth
We also wrote about optimum balances in dating, including:
- Feminine VS Strong women, with the optimum balance in dating being more on the feminine and submissive side
And in the article on naive self-help we also introduced the “discriminating learner” concept.
The discriminating learner adopts the “learn from anyone mindset” with an optimum balance of open-mindedness to learn new wisdom, but with his critical judgment fully on to spot and add the proverbial pinch of salt to charlatans, manipulators, and clueless folks who aren’t (yet) in a position to teach others.
Big Goals Require Clusters of Optimum Balances
Generally speaking, one-trick ponies don’t go far outside of their one-trick shows.
And, generally speaking, larger goals in complex environments -like life is- generally require many traits or skills.
So, often, goal achievement is a question of a cluster of optimum balances.
And the important property of complex goals is that the harmonic summation of each individual skill or trait is great than the sum of its parts.
Often, far great.
That means that not only you don’t need to go at the extreme of any skills, which would turn negative, but often, you don’t even need to be around the upper end of the optimum balance.
Instead, you need to be “good”, or “good enough” at a host of relevant skills, and then only be “great” at the most important ones.
Law of Runaway Effort For Diminishing Returns
Reaching the top 1% is often ineffective for the law of diminishing returns, and the opportunity loss.
For example, reaching the top 10% may require you to invest 1.000 hours.
But to reach the top 1% would require 100.000 hours, and the additional benefits of going from 90 to 99 aren’t nearly as big as going from, say, your starting point of 35 to 90.
That’s a lot of time and effort that brings little extra benefit.
And it’s an opportunity loss because you could invest that time to become 2-3x better at something else that’s equally important for your goals.
Example: Optimal Clusters For Dating
Take dating, for example.
Imagine a man who has the goal of finding a great woman to start a family.
That guy may spend 2.000 hours trying to pull women in night venues and approaching in the streets.
Those are relevant and helpful activities for his goal.
But instead of seeking to be top 1% at night clubs, he’s better served also working on his personal success, on his status to get into the best places with the most attractive women, and on his personality and conversational skills to also do great on dates.
Generally speaking, the person who works in parallel and gets to 80% on a host of different traits and skills will most likely destroy the guy who seeks to become 1% at just one thing.
Optimum Balances Outside Self-Development
While we focus mostly here on socialization, self-development, and general success and goal achievement, the law of optimum balance applies in any realm of life.
Take, for example, inflation and the Gini coefficient in economics.
Both names sound negative.
But while many people have negative associations for “inflation” and “inequality index”, most economists agree that some inflation and some inequality are good.
Zero or negative inflation is not good for economic growth.
And zero or negative inequality means little incentive to work and do anything productive.
The theory of marginal utility is also textbook optimum balance.
It says that any additional unity of most goods adds less value than the unit before. Until it reaches a threshold level where having too many becomes a cost with taking too much space and wasting your time with their disposal.
Same for larger economic systems.
Most economists today recognize that the extremes of communism and “anarcho-capitalism” are both less effective in promoting economic prosperity than the optimum balance that is to be found within that continuum (ie.: some inequality & some redistribution, some individual freedom & some government intervention, etc.).
Training, Health & Fitness
Training for health and well-being stays away from taxing extremes.
And those are extreme are rather easy to reach when it comes to health, explains cardiologist James O’Keefee in a paper aptly called “Run for your life … at a comfortable speed and not too far” (Ted Talk here for you).
Look at this chart:
More than 20 miles a week and you’re already overdoing it and harming yourself. That’s very easy to reach for a runner.
Pretty crazy, eh?
Of course, there has been some criticism and debate around what constitutes the “upper limit”.
But that an upper limit exists is well established, and several studies and experts propose an “optimum level” that is quite easy to reach.
So stop listening to those gurus yelling to your face to run longer and faster until you drop, lest you’re a pansy.
For those who train not for health but for extreme results, the optimum balance gets pushed closer to the extreme end, but the law of balance still often applies.
Take bodybuilding, for example.
“Beating your muscles to a pulp” day in and day out is not only not healthy, but also not optimal for maximum muscular growth.
More recent studies to maximize bodybuilding physiques have dismantled the old concept of “pushing harder than the last time”.
And the more science-driven bodybuilders have introduced more effective training routines that stop at 1-2 reps from total failure.
That “optimum balance” for those seeking extreme muscular gains is close to the extreme, challenging, and very taxing. But it still stops short of total extreme.
A good diet is balanced.
And albeit it’s certainly good to heavily reduce processed or deep-fried food, nutrition is quite simple.
A diet balanced in the classes and types of food you enjoy and balanced in the quantity of food gives you 90% of all the benefits.
But that doesn’t help to sell much.
Extremes sell better.
So nutrition is full of charlatans who promote OCD-type excesses.
It includes toxic approaches to food based on fearmongering and demonization of some foods, or whole classes of foods.
These extremes aren’t just ineffective and a poor use of your time, but can turn toxic and pathological.
Bulimia has long been there, and it’s the excessive concern for being excessively thin.
Orthorexia Nervosa instead is the new pathology on the block and it’s the obsession with eating “healthy food”.
Eating healthy is great, and we highly recommend it. But, once again, when you take it to the extreme, it turns toxic.
Why So Many People Fall For Imbalance
Many people will read this article nodding through it.
After all, it makes plain sense, no?
On the surface, the law of balance seems to state the obvious.
And yet, if you go through the self-help literature, the examples of “self-defeating imbalances” are everywhere.
In inspirational self-help, imbalances are the majority.
So why do so many people fall for imbalanced self-help?
Why do so many people struggle to see that things are contextual, that too much of a good thing is bad, and that just enough of a bad thing can be good?
I don’t have all the answers as for the “why”, but part of the answer includes:
1. Extremes Are “Cool & Sexy”
Extremes are fascinating.
It’s why people watch crime channels, love self-destructing rockstars, and enjoy movie scenes that defy common sense and laws of physics alike.
Many world languages also display and foster the “appeal of the extreme”.
In English, adjectives such as “extreme”, “exaggerated” or “super-sized” are often used as positives and often associated with good things.
Even the locution “too much” is often associated with positive or semi-positive imageries of over-delivering.
On the other hand, many associate “average” with “boring and dull”.
As an ex-girlfriend of mine said: “you don’t want to be average”. And while “optimum balance” has nothing to do with “average”, to some, it is a lot closer to average, than the extreme is.
BTW, my reply to her was: yeah, you’re right. Average is still better than below average, though, no?
The extremes also help sell and self-promote.
When it comes to this age of guru entrepreneurs, being helpful while also fairly pursuing self-interest isn’t good (or real) enough.
“Impacting one billion people” is.
And when it comes to personal success, collaborating while assessing how trustworthy others and covering your ass just in case isn’t catchy (or real) enough.
“Never trust anyone” is.
Risk: Confusing “Appealing” For “Effective”
I get the “appeal of the extreme”.
While most of my life I take good care of myself, I had some bursts and stages of extremes -and of idealizing extremes-.
And they were great fun.
I still love the poetry of blazes of glory, living fast and dying young, and the supposed superiority of burning out against fading away.
But it doesn’t mean I let my life descend into self-destructive fire.
Solution: Turn Optimum Balance Into A Sexy Extreme
Similarly, if you have a thing for extremes, you’re not going to easily ditch it in favor of the optimum balance.
Instead, the solution is to turn the optimum balance into a sexy extreme.
Such as, you want ditch the appeal of wasteful extreme, and embrace the appeal of extreme effectiveness.
2. Beginners Confuse “Most” for “Best”
Most people learning how to increase anything are often, logically, below the optimum balance.
And when you’re too far below, it’s hard to assess what’s best, and what’s too much.
Imagine then an ant looking at a lizard and a T-Rex.
They’re both huge to the ant, but the more extreme T-Rex seems like a worthier recipient of admiration -no matter that the T-Rex is long dead and the lizard is still around-.
Risk: Chasing “Most” Rather Than “Best”
When beginners first start learning, the risk is to confuse “most” for “best”.
If you seek effectiveness, it’s not ideal to set your sights to “most” rather than “best” because that has high opportunity costs.
As you waste time chasing “most”, your time and effort will not be spent improving whatever else would give you a bigger bang for the buck -or, simply, time that you’ll never get to back to just enjoying life-.
3. Gurus’ Manipulation
Knowing that many people crave the extreme more than the effective, gurus and marketers:
- Sell the extreme
- Disguise themselves as extreme
- Sell with a self-frame of having reached the ultimate level of skill and evolution
We already discussed the first.
And when it comes to self-disguide, you get a bunch of gurus who make you feel bad for selling you a lie. The lies extreme drive, dedication, adherence, or extreme results.
And whatever they sell, they sell it from a place of having reached the ultimate stage and fully mastered their craft to God-level.
Of course, the only truthful and most respectful stance towards the audience would be this:
I may be farther ahead than most, but I’m still only trying my best, carving my way forward, and stumbling as I go.
I haven’t reached any ultimate stage, and I’m only moving towards that ideal state.
But since I’ve been at it for a while now, I may be able to teach you something.
But that wouldn’t sell much because that honesty doesn’t come across as high confidence, and as psychologist Maria Konnikova said, the conman man game is a game of extreme confidence.
So, they sell you what works best: extremes.
Gurus also frame as extremely important whatever it is they’re selling.
For example, following the latest fad diet?
You’ll soon find out it’s extremely important that you eat this food, and avoid that other poisonous one -again, thinking in extremes-.
Normal power dynamics then ensure that the extreme becomes the norm, rather than the exception.
This is because even more honest coaches are forced to lie in order to even have a chance at being heard.
And this may be one of the main reasons why I don’t do coaching.
I don’t want to present myself as if I were at any ultimate stage of development while being fully aware that I’m not.
Risk: Believing The Conmen (& Their Lies)
When you fall for the extreme con, you tend to pick as teachers and role models the biggest, flashiest, and loudest of the teacher because, you may think, that’s the guy who’s “best” at it.
And you tend to over-estimate the importance of whatever it is they’re selling -at the expense of other equally or more important endeavors you may be pursuing-.
4. Gaining Approval & Self-Validation
Sometimes the “quest for the extreme” has a deeper emotional cause.
It’s the will to gain someone’s approval.
Someone who has judge powers over us, and it can be an external person, group, or even ourselves.
At least with validation though, there may be is a silver lining.
After all, men hungry for more, even when just seeking validation, advance civilization… As long as they can channel that extra-drive into something productive and value-adding.
That’s a big IF though, because it’s common to seek extreme results in fields or endeavors that add little real value to the world, or to the self.
Building a cathedral in the desert perfectly encapsulates the hollowness of over-achievement without a good strategy:
Risk: Cathedrals In The Desert
I remember years ago walking with a university colleague.
She wanted to purchase some supplements to help her keep up.
She needed them because of over-stress, she said.
I remember thinking that I wasn’t stressed at all. University as exchange students was a joke.
So I prodded deeper.
Turned out, she was pursuing far more credits and doing far more work than she needed for her home university.
Prodding deeper yet, she admitted she was doing it to prove to herself that she could.
Such as, she was engaging in a sort of “dig the hole, fill the hole” type of work just to prove to herself she was “good enough”.
I thought that was the dumbest thing possible.
There was zero added value in extra credits, zero. And it was costing her health, and time. Time that she could have used to enjoy life, or to actually learn something she chose, cared about, and added actual value to her life.
If you want to prove anything, you may as well decide to itch that scratch.
But don’t do useless work to build cathedrals in the desert. Build something that adds value to you, and/or to the world.
4.2. (Male) Ego
Men are more likely to fall for the “extreme pursuit” out of ego validation.
It’s because “extreme” tends to be associated with strength, with pushing limits, and with the competition-busting dominance of “doing more than anyone else”.
It’s quite telling that in the fitness space Jeff Nippard, a guy who promotes a science-based approach of “not training to the absolute limits” had to battle with accusations of being a “pussy”.
In this (super hilarious) video from Greg Doucette, Greg pokes fun at Nippard by adding voice-over to a video of him and his girlfriend. Nippard’s girlfriend tells him “I love you bro Jeff, you don’t train like a p…. (cuts out to Nippard awakening to the nightmare with a “meow”).
And probably, we have an even better example.
Can you think of a biggest cliche for male ego as his penis?
Well, turns out, we may have just the perfect example to fit that cliche.
The man with the most extreme penis size in the world is proud of it.
So far, seems OK.
The only issue is that, at that size, he’s far outside the “optimum balance” for penis size -yes, there is such a thin gas optimum balance for penis sizes as well :)-.
At that extreme end, he can’t have children, he’s never had an orgasm, never had sex, and never even has any chances of having any. Hung at that extreme, he can barely walk well.
BUT… He’s proud of his extreme extremity.
Oh well, at least he sees the bright side of it :).
The law of optimum balance is a natural law that applies to most human traits as well as to strategies and techniques for goal achievement.
Readers should not confuse the law of optimum balance as a defense for mediocrity or a “chill” approach to life because it’s everything but.
First of all, the law of optimum balance is a description of reality, rather than a philosophy of what’s good.
Second, to use the law of optimum balance for goal achievement means prioritizing for maximum efficiency.
And, lastly, the optimum balance is, more often than not, a lot higher, harder, and more challenging than what most people are currently at, and what most people settle for.
In truth, for many people and for all purposes and intents, the “optimum interval” ends up looking like a rather extreme level to reach.