Let’s take this one question at a time…
Who the hell are you and why are you on my screen?
I am a self-help author whose books have sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, been translated into more than 60 languages and have been #1 bestsellers in sixteen different countries. My books have spent a combined 200 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, including over 30 weeks at number one.
But before I was an author, I was a blogger. I started this site in 2010 and within three years it had garnered a readership of millions each month. In 2015, I was one of the first online publishers to switch to a paid membership model that has since been adopted by most of the online publishing industry.
A little about me: I’m 36 years old. I grew up in Austin, Texas, then went to school and lived in Boston. I graduated from Boston University in 2007. A couple years later, I started an online business (and the earliest form of this blog) and traveled and lived all over the world for about seven years. While living abroad, I met my wife in Brazil. I now live in New York City.
How would you summarize your philosophy?
We’re all wrong about everything, some just a little less wrong than others. Everything sucks some of the time, and that’s OK — happiness is learning how to appreciate the struggles in your life. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the planet, you couldn’t be special even if you wanted to be, so stop trying to prove yourself all the time. I believe that trying to prove something to yourself and others is the root of most misery.
Rather than happiness, life is about solving problems. Therefore, learn how to pick good problems. Avoiding problems just makes everything worse.
Human emotions are flawed. Always be skeptical of yourself, no matter what. Let go of your identity, you don’t really know who you are, nor should you. Sex is good. As long as it’s done consciously and for emotionally healthy reasons. So fuck your brains out. Appreciate love, but understand there are things more important than love.
This is a big site, where should I start?
I recommend starting with each of the articles on the Best Articles page.
Why did you start this site?
I started blogging in 2007, just for fun. My roommates at the time were blogging about their lives and they encouraged me do the same. In the beginning, it was mostly about my party life and the girls I was dating. I never imagined it would be read by more than a handful of friends and acquaintances.
Later, it started catching on and I adapted it into a form of marketing for a dating advice business I was building at the time. A few years went by and I discovered that 1) writing was the one thing I seemed to enjoy more than anything else, and 2) it seemed to be the only thing I was kind of good at. So in 2010, I doubled down on writing and started to take this site seriously as a project I wanted to build a career out of. Three years later, I had improved it to the point of not being horrible. Then everyone lived happily ever after.
So how did you learn about all this stuff?
This is a three-part answer:
- While other kids were listening to Backstreet Boys and watching MTV, I was reading Nietzsche. I was a weird kid in that I started reading about philosophy and psychology when I was still in my early teens. When I got to college, I took numerous philosophy classes and got involved with a number of self-help movements of varying levels of sleaze and cheese. The point here is that I’ve spent most of my life reading a lot about these topics. It’s always been a passion and hobby of mine, so when I started writing about them a few years ago, I had half a lifetime of thought to immediately call upon.
- I get bored easily. This gets me into trouble a lot, but it also causes me to live what others would consider a fairly extreme life with a lot of “learning experiences” (i.e., crazy, stupid mistakes). I quit my first day job two months in to start an internet business. I’ve traveled to over 60 countries and speak three languages. I’ve gone broke multiple times and lived on people’s couches. I bring this up only to point out that I think real understanding only comes through living through failures, and I’ve never shied away from failure. After all, failure is never boring.
- Once I started developing a large readership, I realized that I should be aware of the science out there, so I’ve spent a number of years studying the academic research on things such as happiness, passion, goals, relationships and so on. I regularly consult PhDs on topics and have a team of people with graduate degrees in psychology working for me. You can rest assured that most of the advice on this site was not made up in the shower one morning by my dumb ass, it was researched and vetted over the course of years and continues to be revised.
You write things that contradict a lot of the popular life advice and self-help out there. What’s your problem, bro?
Feeling good sells. It’s much easier to sell a book or a course or a seminar if you promise to make people feel good about themselves.
The problem is that feeling good about yourself isn’t the same thing as being good as yourself. In fact, a lot of this feel good stuff (like The Law of Attraction, or “everyone is special and exceptional,” or “just stay positive”) can be damaging in the long-run, as it turns us into a population of self-absorbed, entitled nitwits.
Possibly the most useful trait in life is resilience, and you build resilience through experiencing difficulty and challenges. The same way you must break down your body to build up your muscle and bone, you must experience a healthy amount of adversity to build up your emotional and psychological strength.
Who does the artwork on your site?
The art on the front page was done by a very talented woman named Tony Todorova. She also did the artwork for the articles here, here, and here. The rest of the site is either art/photos licensed from various websites, or done by myself.
What about the audio recordings?
The audio versions of the articles are read either by myself or Nathan Agin.
How can I get notified when you publish more articles?
Or even better, support the site and become a subscriber.
What about social media? Can I stalk you?
Sure, why not? Click the buttons below to follow me:
How did you get so handsome?
Sigh. Everybody asks me this. If I knew, do you really think I’d be blogging?
Do you really eat that many burritos or are you just trying to impress people?
You got me. I’m still trying to prove something.
Hey Mark, my significant other called me X days ago, and then said Y, and when I asked my best friend’s mother for advice, she said that I should do Z, but see my partner is like the love of my life and he/she just keeps fucking everything up in Q way, and…
[6 pages later…]
So what do you think I should do? Should I move to Tahiti to be with him/her? Or should I dump them and join the circus? I’m so confused.
This is getting long. Is this FAQ-like thing almost over?
But seriously, I love/hate you, can I email you?
Yes, you can. Click over to the Contact Page. I’m not able to reply to everyone, but I do read everything.
Do you do interviews or public appearances?
I do! But not as often as I used to. Please read my guidelines on the Contact Page to learn about interviewing me or media appearances.
If you would like to have me speak to your group or company, you can also email me via the Contact Page.
Can I go now?
Yes, you may go.