The Copy Paste Blues

If you google this phrase: “100 Ways To Live A Better Life” you will get a lot of results. Around 92.000.000, to be more precise. The first hit would be a link to an article (with the same title) on this very blog. Kinda nice, to be honest.

I was surprised, though, to find a lot of sites or blogs reproducing entirely that post without any link back or any attribution whatsoever. Also, there are a lot of other reproductions of the same text in protected internet properties (like Facebook, which may not be included in Google search).

I wrote that article 3 years ago. It was an instant success and it changed my blogging career significantly. I also wrote an ebook based on it, an ebook which is still selling on Amazon, Kindle and iBookStore.I still get a few hundreds visits for that article each and every day. By and large, this post is very significant for me.

When I first saw it copy pasted in another blog, I was angry. Really angry. Like someone was stealing my work. And, from a certain point of view, that was true. So, I reacted. Hastily and furiously. I got in touch with the owner of the blog and asked him to put a link back. At least that. How can you make traffic based on content that you don’t own? The other blogger responded within a few days and he eventually agreed to put a link back. But then I saw the post copied in another blog. And then in another one. In a few months it became obvious that I won’t be able to cope with this. There was too much time involved and there was too little of a reward.

So, I let it be. But I was still angry.

Let It Be. Like, Really, Let It Be

During the last months something changed, though. I don’t know exactly what and when, but, somehow, I stopped being angry. Just like that. I still care about the whole story, I still see my article copied around the web, I’m just not angry anymore.

For instance, the other day I got an email from a PR agency, inviting me to support one of their campaigns. The message was something like: “I enjoyed your 100 Ways To Live A Better Life so much that I shared it on my Facebook wall. And we had very good responses”. And then she went on with her pitch. When I saw that she reproduced that article on her wall, I felt no anger. Not an inch. Surprisingly enough, I felt a little bit of joy. And a subtle satisfaction.

And then I realized that what really happened was that, from a certain moment on, I stopped caring about me. I only cared about my message. Like in being happy seeing it spreading, just because people enjoy it. And you know what? The simple fact that I made that difference, between me and my message, was kind of a breakthrough.

At the same time, other things started to happen, apparently without any direct connection to my attitude towards this copy paste situation. For instance, I got a call from a PR company in US pitching their book marketing services. I mean, a real phone call, all the way from US to Romania. Long distance and all. Ok, they were selling something to me, but still, I was kinda proud to be this kind of “prey”. A few days ago a guy emailed about a partnership: he will create a unique photo for any of my posts, for free. All I have to do is to put a link back to him. Didn’t happened but you got the point. And I can go on and on with more examples for a long time. Things are coming to me, and not only in the virtual world.

It took me a while to connect the dots. But I eventually did it. Looked like the less was I interested in protecting my own image (or ego) the more nice stuff was coming my way. I’m oversimplifying, of course, for the sake of readability. The entire process is much more complicated and subtle, but that’s the main idea.

The more I was out of myself, the clearer I saw that it wasn’t about me. Yes, the post had a big role in my own life. But that didn’t make it my property. Once I finished and released it to the world, it didn’t belong to me anymore. It wasn’t something that I had to guard against… against what? Against spreading? Come on, that’s the main idea, after all. The fact the it doesn’t have my name next to it it’s just a technicality. But the ego was still expecting to see it there, though, and when I didn’t see it, I was angry.

Ultimately, things we do are not about ourselves. They may have a certain meaning in our own little world, but truth is we live in a meta-world. A multi-dimensional world made by all the personal histories of all the living people. And if we don’t allow our personal history to mix, to interlace, in an ego-free way, with the other personal histories, we’re dying. We’re drying. We’re isolating and cutting short of all the energy sources. We cease to exist.

But if we do allow these free connections, if we can share without expecting nothing in return, just like a child, the results are incredible. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t say that I can master this whole “ego dissolution” thing on all levels. That would be a lie. (Also, I suspect that if I can master this thing correctly I wouldn’t still be here, sharing my journey with you). What I’m saying is I that I was happy enough to glimpse a connection. A real life connection. Something that validated what I knew only at the intellectual level.

All Good Things Come To Those Who Create Them

If you’re a Christian you may think something like: “if you do good deeds, if you don’t sin too much, and if you pray to the Lord, then good things will come to you”. If you’re not Christian and you’re more into this new agey stuff like “the law of attraction”, you may think: “I will keep a positive attitude and all good things will be attracted by this attitude like satellites are attracted to planets”.

Whatever the lens, the things you’re looking at will be the same: doing good without waiting for an immediate, predictable reward of that good.

Many people are trying to find out the “how”. “How this will impact my life if I’ll do just good stuff?”. The answer, fortunately, is “I don’t fucking know”. Why “fortunately”? Because, my friend, it will be utterly boring to know exactly the outcome of our actions. It will mean the Universe is “solved”. It will mean there’s no mystery anymore. No surprise. No unexpected stuff. It will mean that we’re larger than life itself.

Well, we’re not. We’re just pieces of a never ending puzzle. And truth is that we don’t know how these good things will manifest in our lives.

For some of you, getting the good stuff will mean fame, fortune, a new car, a bigger house, more people recognizing your face at the supermarket and spending each weekend in a different 5 stars hotel.

But for some of you, getting the good things will mean that you will not get cancer, that you will wake up each day with the people you love, you’ll spend time doing stuff that you like, raise your children, and, if you’re really, really lucky, raise their children too. And then, one morning, or afternoon, or evening, you get to gently detach, in a natural and painless process, blending your self into the air, floating away like a leaf in the autumn.