The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.

Hoffman & Casnocha. Warren Buffett agrees:

Hang around people who are better than you all the time. You do pick up the behavior of people who are around you. It will make you a better person. Marry upward. That is the person who is going to have the biggest effect on you. A relationship like that over the decades will do nothing but good.

If I can stretch this a bit, they don’t even have to be alive! See Austin Kleon:

The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can’t refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them. They left their lesson plans in their work.

If you look inward and concentrate only on your own desires all the time, you end up having fun some of the time, but a large amount of the time you’re miserable and another portion of the time you’re bored. I’d rather be attentive and curious all the time so I just keep my eyes and ears open to the world beyond myself.

John Cage, in People magazine of all places. 1979. (via Alex Ross)

Amy Rebecca Klein: The Last Thing I’ll Ever Write About Lana Del Rey

When the world decided that Lana totally bombed on Saturday Night Life, we could see Lana telling us nothing other than what we already tell ourselves about women in music. We already assume that the feminine is inauthentic. So, I mean, why does everyone care so much if she has had plastic surgery, or if her management company created an image for her? What’s the big deal with being deceived? Some of our most respected musical icons (Bob Dylan, anyone?) used music to continually invent and re-invent possible selves.

See also Nitsuh Abebe:

Making pop music— more than almost any other art— sits right at the intersection between being yourself and finding something better than yourself to be. This, in the end, is what we’re looking for: Someone who can devise some fantastically compelling version of herself to act out, while still seeming as if she’s… being herself. Musicians are expected to write a great part and convincingly act the role at the same time. And even after that, we’re not really judging them on how compelling the identity they’re offering us is— we judge them based on which types of identities we personally need or aspire to at the moment. There is no identity politics quite as nuanced or complicated as people arguing about music.

Amy Rebecca Klein: The Last Thing I’ll Ever Write About Lana Del Rey

Only part of us is sane: only part of us loves pleasure and the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties and die in peace, in a house that we built that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad. It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable, loves pain and its darker night despair, and wants to die in a catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations.

Whatever moral rules you have deliberately proposed to yourself, abide by them as they were laws, and as if you would be guilty of impiety by violating any of them. Don’t regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours. How long, then, will you put off thinking yourself worthy of the highest improvements and follow the distinctions of reason? You have received the philosophical theorems, with which you ought to be familiar, and you have been familiar with them. What other master, then, do you wait for, to throw upon that the delay of reforming yourself?

Epictetus in The Enchiridion. Cf. Mike Tyson.

I was on the streets for more than half of my life from the time I was thirteen years old. People sometimes say that now I’m so far away from that life–now that I’ve got businesses and Grammys and magazine covers–that I have no right to rap about it. But how distant is the story of your own life ever going to be?

Self-Direction «

Think about how easy it has to have one more—to go beyond what you allowed yourself and have one more piece, one more glass, one more handful. And yet, think about how much harder it is to do one more—one more lap, one more page, one more hour, one more rep than you intended. There’s always rationalization on hand for the one and an convenient excuse ready for the other.

This is timely.

Self-Direction «

People just wait for you to grow up and do the right thing. They’re just waiting for you to participate in the improvement of your life as a human being. When are you going to do it?

Mike Tyson. (via) And also: “I’ve learned to live a boring life and love it.” (via)

Black Swan And Bathrooms – Mirror: Motion Picture Commentary

Interesting essay on self and Black Swan. (via)

Solitude welcomes a self or selves that does not, cannot, appear when in the company of others. Private selves refuse to manifest in public because other personas are at the front lines. Like mother Elephants circling their calves, our public selves form ranks. Each is a layer of armor, tweaking our interactions in the unconscious name of self defense.

Black Swan And Bathrooms – Mirror: Motion Picture Commentary