What is “The Red Path”?

“The Red Path” is my own subjective view on what the best path to life should be. The goal is to create a lifestyle that is fulfilling, exciting, pleasurable, yet does not do so at the expense of others. If anything, it increases the chances of others also having better lives.

It’s called the red path because at it’s core it believes that to have a good life, you need to go through a form of suffering. Red to me signifies:

  • pain (it’s the colour of blood)
  • embarrassment (going red in the face)
  • danger

However there is another thing that this life path cannot live without: red is also the colour of the heart. Which some could say represents “love”…but I think that’s a little vague and wishy-washy. To me the heart represents empathy — the ability to think hard about what another persons point of view is. This is crucial to stamp out unnecessary hatred/bullying/shaming towards people, which I believe only occurs because time hasn’t been put towards seeing their point of view.

So the red path combines:

  • Managed suffering: gaining strength and confidence through managed suffering
  • Learning “flow”: learning the ability to get into a state of flow where you can essentially escape your narrow “reality” and see the bigger picture
  • Practicing empathy: practicing empathy by exposing yourself to other peoples point of view (travelling, meeting people from different groups/cultures) or learning how to visualise how you would feel in other people’s position

Managed suffering

While suffering appears bad because it hurts, I think it’s the only way to have a consistently positive life. By suffering I mean things like:

  • doing things that make you nervous (meeting new people, applying for a higher responsibility job position, joining a new club/team/meetup group)
  • doing things that make you fearful/vulnerable (public speaking, facing fears like heights, leadership style positions, dates etc)
  • doing things that hurt physically (gym, running, rowing, cycling)

I can separate these into two things:

  • gut/chest suffering: the horrible feeling in your stomach and chest caused by fear of injury/death to yourself — note this includes looking stupid in front of other people — rejection or potential for rejection from fellow humans in the primal days could mean being booted from the tribe and thus death — so getting on stage in front of other people is no different to seeing a deadly snake or being near a large cliff
  • discipline suffering— forcing yourself to do things for yourself that are boring/difficult right now but likely improve your future self (gym, studying, working on a business)

Luckily, withstanding suffering is like a muscle and the more you do it, the better at it you get. When you get good at withstanding higher levels of suffering suddenly new experiences start opening up to you because you do not fear so many things. Examples:

  • when you know you can suffer being negatively judged by other people you may join new groups like a business meetup group or new sporting team— this in turn exposes you to new people, who open up new opportunities
  • when you can suffer being in a different country and knowing no one suddenly the whole world opens up to you
  • when you can suffer looking like a fool in front of other people you realise you can now be yourself in groups of people and even start doing public speaking — this fearlessness is attractive to other people and suddenly more people want to talk to you

So the red path includes seeking out that yucky feeling in your gut/chest and simply getting through it. When you are experiencing it, just try and observe the feelings. Watch it as though you are separate to your ape body — it’s the ape feeling these things. But key thing is, to feel good knowing it’s there because whenever it’s there it’s like you are doing a workout — you are practising getting used to the experience of suffering.

Learning flow

Flow is doing something where you are so involved, you forget yourself (zero self consciousness). The most common way to experience it is through sport (when you’re in the zone), surfing, meditation, cycling, etc.

It’s basically a new level of consciousness where you forget who/what you are and focus simply on the task at hand. There’s no judgement. No worrying about what you say/do. No thinking about money problems. No worrying about your girlfriend/boyfriend issues. You are simply an entity drifting in a new world.

The goal here is to keep yourself grounded. When you are trying to impress people or climb some hierarchy (improving career, trying to be in the “cool” group at school etc), it’s like you are in a balloon getting further and further from the ground. When you get too high you suddenly have no bearings and lose all sense of where you are and what you are doing. Staying in “flow” every so often, or even just reminding yourself that you’re just an ape on a rock spinning around a ball of fire, will help you stay tethered to the ground. Someone made fun of you and others laughed? Big deal, selfish and insecure apes do this by nature. Worrying about it is like worrying about the clouds releasing rain. Being grounded basically allows you to stay confident and positive through seemingly “tough” times.

Practicing empathy

Becoming strong and confident and grounded is great, but under these rules you could end up a dictator causing genocide. Or you could simply be a bully. We need a 3rd rule to keep us all working together and boosting each other. This comes through empathy, or feeling/imagining other people point of view.

You should often create reverse-scenarios in your head to make sure you are on the right track. Eg:

  • someone says something you don’t agree with and you reply in a sarcastic tone to trivialise them — imagine putting yourself in a position of vulnerability by giving your opinion, only having it ridiculed and belittled
  • getting angry when someone less experienced than you makes a mistake — imagine starting something new, where you are the least experienced, and a more experienced person gets angry when you stuff up
  • telling a friend they are bad at something — imagine a friend examining you and your faults, informing you on where he/she thinks you should improve
  • not welcoming someone new to your established group because they seem different or foreign — imagine you have just joined a new group where everyone is foreign/odd and nobody knows you and your strengths…would you prefer someone there to welcome and get to know you?

By practicing imagining scenarios like this you will become a more well rounded and “wise” person. You will soon work out which behaviours improve you and other people together (should be maximised), and which behaviours come at the cost or expense of others (should be avoided).

Any close family or group do this naturally.