Think for a second about the symptoms of addiction: rationalization, self-destructiveness, lack of control, and self-loathing. They sound familiar for a reason. It’s called most people. In 12-Step programs they force addicts to submit to a higher power. It has nothing to do with the existence of God.

They ask you to acknowledge something bigger than yourself because it is a necessary weapon in the process of becoming someone different. How much better served would you be if you submitted to learning and reflection? If you stopped acting without asking “Why am I doing this? Does it serve a purpose?”

There is this great line in What Makes Sammy Run where Al realizes that the sudden, poetic vindication he’d hoped for was never going to come. The world wasn’t ever going to rise up and punish Sammy. The process was the punishment. His life was the disease. And my favorite part of the Meditations is where Marcus remembers that the best revenge is to “not be like that. ”

Most people suck. They are horrible. They are stupid and presumptuous – small-minded, opinionated and dishonest. And they’ve decided that keeping others at inaction is easier than acting yourself.

I have tried really hard my whole life to be different. I have all these little rules for myself that that’ll never get paid back for. I don’t recline my seat on airplanes. I switch lanes when people want to pass. I get so despondent and depressed and angry when I have to contribute to something I don’t believe in that people start to worry about my health.

It might be hokey or lame or out of place for me to say, but you can be different too. You don’t have to be the kid who’s email is so profoundly ridiculous that I forward it to all my friends and we laugh at what a colossal douche you are. No one has a gun to your head that says you have to walk around ignorant. Its not in your best interest to be selfish, shameless and awful. You don’t need to be like your parents – perhaps the most embarrassing and underachieving generation ever.

All I know is that I have seen exponential rewards from going my own way. I don’t mean school or Hollywood – I mean being in utter and complete control of the person I’d like to be. And understanding the process it takes to get there. That requires submission – not to the Trinity – but to the idea that kicking and clawing will get you nowhere.

The addictions I mentioned earlier will never leave you. You have to leave them.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.