Think Like a Stoic: 4 Ways to Get Off the Hedonistic Treadmill and Be Happier Now

Learn the Art of Happiness through Stoic Joy
I’ve been reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine this past week, and while I don’t agree with 100% of Stoic teachings, there are many lessons and philosophies contained within Stoicism that align with Buddhist ideologies and scientifically backed happiness studies that I think most people will be able to get behind.

In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine gives us a modern introduction to Stoicism, weaving themes of acceptance, contentment, and fatalism into easily digestible psychological practices we can adopt to start living life happier now. Here are four that stood out to me:

1. Understand “Hedonic Adaptation” and Start Appreciating What You Have Through “Negative Visualization.”

Hedonic adaptation is the phenomenon that occurs when humans return to previous levels of happiness after getting a slight boost in happiness that comes from getting something they want. I’m sure you’ve noticed this before – humans spend their whole lives wanting. We start by wanting a certain job – but once we get that job, we want a better job, more pay. We start wanting a house – but once we get that house, we want a larger house, a bigger garage, maybe more windows.

Studies have shown that once people get something they want, they typically return to a baseline level of happiness not too long afterwards. In fact, one famous study shows that lottery winners return to similar baseline levels of happiness 18 months after winning. If this is true, it doesn’t make sense to fall into the trap of constantly chasing “more.” We run the risk of chasing more until our lives are over – thus never experiencing true happiness and contentment in our lifetimes.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t ever be ambitious and reach for more in our lives. Not falling into the trap of the “hedonistic treadmill” means that we should enjoy every step of our journey. We should never reach for “more” just to reach “more,” and we should spend way more of our time enjoying where we are and what we have. Study after study has shown that the secret to happiness is found in contentment: wanting what we have and enjoying the little things in life. It isn’t the huge, hallmark moments that truly fill our lives with joy – it’s the small, unnamed moments – a cup of coffee and a book; the feel of your dog warm, asleep against your leg; and the sound of your favorite record playing as you get ready to cook dinner with your partner.

Irvine also introduces the Stoic concept of “negative visualization” as a way to intensify the feelings of enjoyment that come from experiencing what you have in life. To practice negative visualization, imagine if you didn’t have everything you have. Imagine your favorite car being totaled in a car crash. Imagine today as the last day you’ll ever see your best friend. Imagine the cup of tea you just had as the last one you’ll ever be able to drink. (Okay, hold on, you’re thinking. This is starting to sound negative.) This was also my exact thought upon learning about this concept – but, what is really being suggested is that you savor your experiences.

Stop thinking about what you don’t have, and start thinking about how lucky you are to have whatever you’ve got. Start being grateful that nothing has taken those things away from you (yet). And enjoy what you have (all the wonderful, small things) with everything inside of you.

2. Improve Your Enjoyment of Things through Self Denial and Minor Acts of Self Deprivation. 

Masochistic as this sounds, another way we can improve our enjoyment of life is by occasionally denying ourselves a constant stream of pleasure. I don’t think this is a first-world suggestion for self-flagellation – rather, I think the message behind this sentiment is, when your baseline for satisfaction is lower, you increase the number of chances you have for experiencing joy.

Instead of constantly appealing to our hedonistic desires for increasing pleasure and comfort, we can practice discipline and train ourselves to appreciate the smaller, less luxurious things in life. If we become slaves to our desire for more, we become slaves to an ever-increasing threshold for happiness that becomes more and more impossible to satisfy. Think of a dog and its happiness upon being taken out for a walk. Think of the joy on its face when you come home from a long day at work. Ponder how your cat continues to play with cheap cardboard boxes with the utmost glee no matter how many expensive cat toys you continue to buy. The fact remains – your quality of life does not go up with the size of your income. In fact, many studies have shown that once your income reaches a certain point (the point where you’re no longer stressing over lack of money), incremental increases in income do not equal equivalent increases in happiness or life satisfaction. In fact, our happiness levels plateau as our incomes go up from there and (surprise) even start to dip.

There’s a reason why Costa Rica, despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, remains one of the happiest countries in the world. It’s been said time and time again, and as trite as it sounds, happiness has a lot more to do with how we perceive our world and how easily we find contentment – and a lot less to do with what we actually have. It also (not surprisingly) has a ton to do with the relationships we have in our lives. The United States, a highly individualistic country that prizes material gain and power over anything else, produces a society that perpetuates dissatisfaction, isolation and disconnection from what really matters. We are constantly chasing a dream we’ll never reach, and it’s unattainable by design. We are taught to be perpetually dissatisfied. We are told that this is the key to growth. These outside societal voices mix and merge with our inner voice until we don’t know who we’re actually listening to. Is this what we want?

A Stoic philosophy of life isn’t, however, an unambitious lifestyle reeking of mediocrity and smug ambivalence. Instead, it encourages a mindset of growth – with the right perspective. Which brings us to the next point.

3. Internalize Your Goals, and You Can’t Fail. (Plus, You’ll be Happier.) 

Going after a goal without being attached to the outcome creates an environment where we can be happy no matter what. It also produces an atmosphere ripe for a sense of self worth that comes from within. Practicing Stoicism doesn’t mean you should be a chronic underachiever without any dreams – it means you can create a goal of growth without attaching your worth to an outcome. In other words, fall in love with the process and the journey, and do not become too attached to arrival. There isn’t a place to arrive to. Because we will never “arrive,” we might as well experience joy from all the little moments in between. Our goals should reflect that fact that there is never an arrival point, because in this moment, we’re perfectly imperfect just the way we are. Believing anything otherwise sets us up for a lifetime of feeling inadequate. And who wants to do that to themselves?

Instead of creating goals like “become the Director of Marketing at a major, well-known company,” or “be the most hilarious husband ever,” we can create goals like “do my best to work towards becoming a Director of Marketing,” “strive to continue to challenge myself,” “make an effort to make my wife smile every day,” and so on. When we internalize our goals, we can’t fail, and we can still put all of our effort into improving our lives and our circumstances. The key here is detachment from outcomes. As my dad used to say repeatedly, “all we can do is the best we can do.” If you’ve done that, no matter what happens, be happy with yourself. That’s all you can really ask for.

As for the outcomes? Those are just pleasant side effects. And you weren’t really trying to “arrive” anyway, were you? If you consider life to be a race where you’re trying to reach a destination…well…good luck and have fun racing to death. Yup, I said it. Sorry.

4. Finally, Amor Fati.

Amor fati means simply, to love your fate. As German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche puts it, Amor fati means:

“That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”

In the words of Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher:

“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.”

What this means is that you should fall in love with every part of your life, not just the great moments – in fact, go so far as to fall in love with your struggle and your pain. This is obviously much harder than (or as hard as) it sounds. But if you consider that your struggle allows you to experience joy, it might be a little easier. It is the contrast of darkness and light that allows there to be light. It is nothingness that allows there to be “something.” In fact, it can be argued that the “nothing” creates and defines the “something.” Our lives go through constant cycles – what goes down must come up, and what comes up must go down, eventually. So instead of simply loving one part of your life and only the happiest moments, try to love the whole. Amor fati encapsulates the philosophy of simply loving what “is.”

Everything in Balance.

Is a Stoic philosophy (or any philosophy of happiness or well being, for that matter) hopelessly optimistic? My opinion? Hopefully not. Not too long ago, I subscribed to the idea that we should only ever pay attention to the bright spots in life, while ignoring the dark. I hoped that in doing this, I would increase my life satisfaction by focusing on and “growing” the good things in my life through visualization and positivity. This practice of relentless positivity improved my outlook, resilience and overall feelings of happiness. Yes, “law of attraction” definitely works, and you can create the things you want (in physical form!) in your life by believing they will happen and by visualizing what you want.

The flip-side? An intolerance for anything other than relentless positivity in both myself and others left me ill-equipped to deal with the truly palpable low points in my life and in this world. We cannot turn a blind eye to suffering, because in doing so, we are in essence denying ourselves of our humanity and a decent portion of our lives. Interestingly, it was my very refusal to accept pain and discomfort that caused me more pain and discomfort than anything. The cognitive dissonance that occurred whenever I felt anything less than positive was immense, and I’d waste hours of my life berating myself for not being “resilient” enough, “positive” enough, or for not being able to pick myself back up.

Balance.

This isn’t to say that we should allow ourselves to sink into despair, or that we shouldn’t be resilient, solutions-oriented people who always believe a brighter day is yet to come. We should continue to do those things, for that is one (very important) side of the coin. The other side, however, can’t be ignored or rejected. We should allow ourselves to be less than perfect, less than positive, and even a little defeated at times. That is as much a part of life and being human as is being resilient and positive.

We should stop kicking ourselves, and sometimes allow ourselves to sink low into the bath, candles burning – to hide from the world for just another day…

…for tomorrow the sun will come up again, like it always does.

Amor fati.

How a Gratitude Practice Can Make You (and Your Brain) Happier

Develop A Gratitude Practice

Did you know that practicing gratitude is the most consistent, scientifically backed way to increase your happiness? In fact, there are 26 studies and counting that show the positive correlation between gratitude and happiness. As someone who has always been interested in the study of positive psychology and happiness, I started a regular gratitude practice a few years ago after a major breakup. Aside from working with self love and learning to talk back to my inner critic, starting a gratitude practice has been the single most positive, life-changing practice I have ever developed.

You see, a gratitude practice trains your brain to look for the good. As you train your mind to look for the bright parts of your day (no matter how bad), your brain actually starts to rewire itself to look for the positive events in your life. Now let’s get nerdy for a moment here. The pre-frontal cortex determines what is important to you based on how much attention you pay to it. The more you pay attention to negativity, the more your brain will strengthen neural passageways and synapses that support negative thought. The more attention you pay to positivity, the more your brain will actually start to re-allocate energy to developing the neural circuits that support that type of thought.

Yes, you can actually train your brain to be happier. It’s much like building muscle at the gym and working out. Whatever muscle you work regularly becomes stronger. The grass is greener where you water it. With limited water, what types of thoughts would you like to feed?

Through a consistent gratitude practice, I was able to watch myself grow into a positive, resilient person who truly considers myself to be my greatest asset. I have experienced more joy than I’ve ever been able to experience in the past, and I can now easily find at least three things to be grateful for each day.  (On certain, more challenging days, one of the things I might be grateful for might be the fact that I did *not* spill coffee on my shirt on the way to work, but – you get the picture.)

So why wait? A gratitude practice is one of the absolute easiest things you can start doing to become happier, and you are scientifically guaranteed to reap huge rewards. It’d be stupid not to.

Here’s my challenge for you.

Each day, think of 3 things you were grateful for that day, and then 1 thing you are looking forward to in the next day.

It doesn’t matter how small the things you’re grateful for are – just find something. In fact, being able to experience joy from the little things in life and being happy with what you have are huge when it comes to happiness. (More on that in a later blog post.)

Want to share the love? Ask your friends what they’re grateful for. Better yet, check in with them weekly.

Their answers just might bring a smile to your face.

The Times We Live In: A Mindful Approach – How to Live with Courage and Love in a Time of Fear and Hatred


It’s a tough time to be alive. We live in a time where hate crimes are a regular occurrence and where random acts of violence appear on the news every other day. We live in a time where normal people are killed mercilessly as they do everyday things like run marathons, attend parades, have a night out or simply walk around the neighborhood. This is a time where it’s much easier to focus on everything that’s going wrong – it’s a time that’s making it much harder for us to see the things that are actually going right.

We post on social media and express our disgust, fear, hatred and sadness about the events going on around us, and we focus on everything that’s bad in this world. In a sense, we rubberneck as the car accident happens, and then we spread and perpetuate the experience of fear and negativity by posting photographs and commentary online. Very few of us are doing anything to solve the problem – we simply point out what is wrong, and then social media allows the fear and hatred to spread like wildfire. The more we focus on the negative, the bigger it seems. The more we focus on the negative, the more it becomes all we see. What we need to recognize is that this world is not “going downhill*” and that the people performing these acts of violence don’t illustrate society as a whole – they illustrate a small, hateful population that is getting a lot of press.

*note: current US election not included in this sweeping generalization about the world not going downhill

I want to challenge us to focus on the good things that are happening in the world. I want to challenge us to focus on the positive events that still exist and have always existed – the positive energy that we’re actually inhibiting by spreading the fear, hatred and negativity. This isn’t to say that we should be ignorant; we should all be aware of the events that are unfolding across the globe. But what we should do instead of throwing more hatred into the mix is to throw more LOVE out into the world every chance we get. We need to break the cycle of negativity by interrupting it with love. What if instead of focusing on the random, unexpected acts of violence, we focused on performing random, unexpected acts of love? Could we cause a domino affect that would break the cycle, setting off a new chain reaction? What we look for in life tends to be what we find. What we focus on changes our experience of what happens. Our thoughts manifest – and this isn’t touchy-feely spiritual nonsense…this is physics.

Negativity is a defense mechanism, and it’s a defense mechanism that is outdated. It stems from survival instinct – we almost use negativity to try to “prevent” bad things from happening to us. In this day and age, we don’t need that – it doesn’t help us. We can’t prevent bad things from happening, and our very focus on them is what gives the fear and hatred fuel to multiply. Negative thoughts create negative actions, which in turn create more negative thoughts, actions and events. We need to develop a new, better defense mechanism – and that defense mechanism is called positivity. If we focus on positive energy and the good things going on in the world, we promote a cycle of love, acceptance and gratitude – and it multiplies.

Here are the things we should be focusing on and the things we should be doing more of – especially in times like these:

  1. Focus on positive energy and events
  2. Focus on the beauty in this world (it’s everywhere!)
  3. Focus on the good people in this world
  4. Focus on the love of our friends and family
  5. Focus on our goals
  6. Focus on giving love to others in spades
  7. Focus on helping others
  8. Focus on our similarities and not our differences
  9. Focus on our humanity
  10. Volunteer time to help others
  11. Promote love
  12. Promote courage
  13. Smile more
  14. Hug more
  15. Show your love more frequently
  16. Spend more time with your loved ones
  17. Focus on the things you want to do, and do them
  18. Make sure every day of your life is happy
  19. Make changes if you’re not happy
  20. Appreciate everything. Little moments, big moments, and everything/everyone you have
  21. Forgive people who have wronged you (let go, for yourself and for them)
  22. Keep looking up
  23. Create beauty wherever you go
  24. Be so, so grateful to be alive.

Why don’t we focus on the great things? Let’s become fountains of love and positivity. Let’s be so, so, so kind to one another that we soften the hardened hearts around us and prove that there is still so much boundless love to be found in this world. Let’s keep looking for the light, always.

The most incredible nothingness.

We are the most incredible nothing, and the most incredible everything.

“If you are aware of a state called is, or reality, or life, this implies another state called isn’t -or illusion, or unreality, or nothingness or death. You can’t know one without the other. And so as to make life poignant, it’s always going to come to an end. That is exactly – don’t you see – what makes it lively. Liveliness is change – it is motion. You see, you are always at the place you always are…and you think “Wowie, we’ll get that thing. I hope we don’t go further down so that we don’t lose what we have.” But that is built into every creature’s situation no matter how high or how low. So is this sense, all places are the same place. And the only time you ever notice any difference is in the moment of transition. When you go up a bit – you gain, when you go down a bit you feel disappointed, gloomy, lost. You can go all the way down to death. Somehow, there seems to be a difficultly in getting all the way up. Death seems so final. Nothing seems so very very irrevocable and permanent. But then if it is, what about the nothingness that was before you started? On the contrary, it takes nothing to have something. Because you wouldn’t know what something was without nothing. The most real state is the state of nothing. See if you think of this idea of nothingness as blankness, you haven’t understood it. Nothingness is really like the nothingness of space, which contains the whole universe. All the sun and the stars and mountains, and rivers, and good men and bad men, and the animals, and insects, and the whole bit – all are contained in void. So out of this void comes everything and you are it. What else could you be? Because you are really nothing. But this is the most incredible nothing.” – Alan Watts

12 Things to Remember After a Breakup

Breakups are hard. That’s probably the understatement of the century. A breakup can leave you reeling – feeling unbalanced, emotionally raw and unstable, unmotivated and generally very lacking in the self esteem department. As someone who has gone through a major breakup of a long term relationship, there are a few lessons I’ve learned that have comforted, motivated and inspired me. Thought I would share.

1. You can only love another person as much as you love yourself. 

“The fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself.” – Sahaj Kohli.

When we’re in relationships, we often use other people as crutches to make up for the weaknesses that we see in ourselves. What we need to realize is that we need to learn to love ourselves first in order to properly love others. After all, it’s impossible to love another in a way beyond the way in which you love yourself. Self-love represents the highest form of love you have to offer – so if you don’t love yourself, you aren’t going to be able to fully love someone else. Focus on building yourself up again and giving yourself the love and validation you’re craving. Take yourself out on dates and spoil yourself a little!

2. You attract what you are.

“My primary relationship is with myself- all others are mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation that I desire from others. If I am committed to myself and to living my truth, I will attract others with equal commitment. My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. As I learn to love myself, I receive the love I desire from others.” – Shakti Gawain

It’s funny how life works sometimes. After a major breakup, I completely threw myself into the things that I loved. I wrote feverishly, played the piano into the wee small hours of the night and began to really nurture my love of the outdoors. When I began dating again, I met another writer, another musician and another lover of nature. None of this was planned – these were all coincidences and things I learned after getting to know each person. When you know who you are, you begin to attract what you are. It’s important to find who you are, to nurture that and to love yourself for it. When you are doing what you love, you will naturally attract and find similar minds who will love you for exactly who you are.

3. You can only forgive others if you learn to forgive yourself first.

Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and recognize that you’re human. Humans make mistakes, and that’s perfectly alright. When you cannot forgive yourself, you’ll find that it’s even harder to find it in yourself to forgive others. Once you learn to forgive yourself, you’ll be able to see the humanity in others as well and let go of things with ease and grace. Holding onto resentment only hurts you more in the long run. Life is short. Forgive quickly, love deeply and focus on happiness.

4. Positive energy attracts positive energy.Negative energy attracts and perpetuates negative energy.

Have you ever noticed the fact that when you’re having a bad day, your day just seems to get worse and worse? In the same vein, when you wake up in a great mood, almost everything seems to go your way. They say that when it rains, it pours, and there’s a reason for that. The energy you put out into the world will be returned to you. Make sure that the energy you’re putting out there is positive, and you’ll see that the positive things in your life will begin to multiply.

5. When your problems seem too big, expand your world. 

This is something I learned from my dad. Your problems will seem a whole lot bigger when the world in which you operate is small. When you’ve got a lot going on in your life and when you have many things to focus on, your problems will automatically become smaller in proportion to your universe. This is something we experience when we stargaze, venture out in nature, travel, or learn more about the world around us. When you realize that there is a great big world out there that is living, breathing and humming with energy, you’ll begin to appreciate the miracle that is life and this beautiful world around us. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, step outside and expand your boundaries. Go somewhere you’ve never been, do something you’ve never done, and try something that scares you. Anything that makes you feel small (in a good way) will make your problems seem smaller as well. Don’t forget to laugh. Life doesn’t always have to be serious, and it’s definitely not a test. Remember – none of us make it out alive anyway.😉

6. Trust the process. Trust the universe. 

A lot of us are so focused on control. We try to control the outcomes of our relationships, the outcomes of our days, the outcomes of our careers and ultimately the outcomes of our lives. What we don’t realize is that everything – literally everything – is outside of our control. Bad things happen to good people sometimes, no matter how hard we try to prevent it. Sometimes it is our very resistance to what is actually happening that prevents us from moving in the right direction. Learn to be fluid and flexible, moving with life as it changes shape and brings us to new places. Trying to force things that aren’t meant to be is discordant in nature, and will create discord in your life as well. Move with life and know that if something is yours to keep, it will be yours in the end. Focus on fluidity, loving yourself, and being a positive ray of light in your own and in other peoples’ lives.

7. Nothing is good or bad. Just alive. 

As humans, we tend to place a value and judgement on everything. This is good – this is bad, this is right and this is wrong. The world we live in is not perfect. Unfortunately, we don’t have a users manual – and no one can tell you the right way to live your life. Sometimes you’ll do the “right” things, and sometimes you’ll do the “wrong” things. Try to take the value and judgement out of your life experiences, and recognize that you’re just a human being – being alive.

8. You must love and accept yourself unconditionally – just the way you are, right now in this moment. 

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

Being focused on self-awareness and self-improvement is a good thing, but you also need to learn to accept that you will always be a work in progress. There isn’t a destination that needs to be reached – you are perfect just as you are, right now, in this very moment. Being a work in progress is a very positive thing. You will always be changing – so love and accept yourself exactly as you are and embrace yourself in your perfect imperfection. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes.

9. Nothing is yours to keep. Enjoy what you are given. 

Nothing is permanent – not even life. Our expectation that certain things in life must have permanence causes us pain. We are just here, passing through and enjoying the beauty that is given to us. So let go of attachment, let go gracefully of what is not yours to keep, and give love freely and unconditionally. Enjoy what you are given and embrace simply what is – and not what is past, what is in the future, or what could be. And when you enjoy what is, you will start to realize that what is becomes all you’ve ever needed. There is something so beautiful about that.

10. Never let your happiness depend on something you may lose. 

Everything in life that is given to you can be lost. The only thing that you’ll always have is yourself. Focus on letting your happiness come from within. Find ways to make yourself happy, and do things that make you feel good about yourself. Make sure that you are providing yourself the happiness you need – because in the end, you really are all you’ve got.

11. Live with intent and practice radical self-love.

It’s easy to go on autopilot and to let life pass you by. Focus on becoming alive and staying close to things that make you excited to be alive. What are the things you’ve always wanted to do? What are the things you’ve always wanted to try? Life is so, so short. Collect experiences and memories – focus on that – and love both yourself and others as best as you can along the way.

12. Let yourself be weak.

Feelings are just visitors. Let them come and go.” – Mooji

Realize that it’s okay to cry, that it’s okay to feel lonely, and that it’s okay to not feel strong all the time. Being strong all the time can be exhausting. Part of being strong is also allowing yourself to be weak and to feel everything that you’re feeling. Relax knowing that it’s perfectly alright and that you’re doing the best that you can. One day at a time. 🙂

Let Love Kill You

I’ve come to realize that in the realm of love, we are all going through battles. You are going through yours, I am going through mine, and everyone around us is going through theirs. Each battle is unique and each person is affected deeply by their own personal experience. For many of us, these experiences and situations (especially when negative) permeate all aspects of our lives. When love goes wrong, it can be paralyzing. When our hearts are breaking, everything else threatens to fall apart.

When you love someone and you let them in, you give them the power to break you. You give them the power to render your world apart. But the truth is, there is no way to experience the amazing level of joy that you can experience in love without giving someone access to that part of you. If we are not vulnerable to feeling pain, we cannot feel that joy in equal measure. Taking that risk, to quote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” is the only chance anyone has at real happiness. But in taking that chance, we also risk the breakdown. The pain that we feel can be immense. It can threaten to take down everything around us. That’s why love can be so scary.

The truth is, love is a gamble. Love can sometimes feel like two imperfect people trying to create perfection in an imperfect world. We cannot expect perfection. When we seek perfection, that very expectation becomes the cause of the eventual breakdown of the relationship. The truth is when you take that risk and you love someone, trying to be perfect will not change the outcome. The most we can do is be the best we can be, and hope for the best. Life and love won’t always be fair. Sometimes it will hurt. You will fall in love, and the person you fall in love with will be far from perfect. Sometimes you will fall in love with someone who will do all the wrong things, and who will hurt you in ways you never knew existed. And you will love them with every fiber of your being – without rhyme or reason. That is the nature of love.

But life is an adventure. Adventures can be dangerous. Life is meant to be lived. Here’s to loving the hell out of everything and getting up – over and over again, no matter how many times we’ve been burned. Here’s to loving until our hearts leak and until we’re pouring so much love out of our veins we’re gasping for breath but in the end, by God, by God, did we love.
“Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all…Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and [fastly], but it is much better to be killed by a lover.” – Charles Bukowski