Vandriel: The “Just Do It” Philosophy

Caroline Vandriel’s monthly book review

A few months ago, I reviewed Jen Sincero’s earlier work, “You Are a Badass”, and while I found her tone of writing irreverent and refreshing, the content of the book made me cringe a bit. Essentially, you, the reader, are awesome and must embrace the awesomeness that you are, and the universe will respond by making you even more awesome. Recently I picked up her new book, “You Are a Badass at Making Money”. This time around, Sincerno advocates opening yourself up to the universe, taking leaps based on instinct and intuition, and you will be rewarded with more money.

I confess that I didn’t finish reading it because it felt so much like her first book. The universe is out there waiting and wanting to bless you. Follow it blindly, put your heart and soul into it, and you will succeed. Just Do It! I decided to move on.

I came across and older book (2002) by Steven Pressfield entitled “The War of Art” (a play on the title of the 6th century B.C. work entitled “The Art of War”). I was looking for how to stimulate creativity, but Pressfield was demonizing Resistance – the force that interferes with work, and proclaiming that the gods whisper ideas into our heads, because we would not be able to create without that divine intervention.

Despite being philosophical, the book is fairly easy to read. It’s divided into three sections: Resistance: defining the enemy; Combating Resistance: turning pro; and Beyond Resistance: the higher realm. I enjoyed section one as it zipped along describing various things in life that prevent us from our higher calling (distractions, people, sex, self-dramatization, etc.). Once we recognize the enemy and move beyond them, we can then start the work to becoming and producing as we were meant to.

The second section is a contrast between and amateur and a pro. A pro continues to work, despite what is happening around him/her. An amateur takes the easy way out. So how does one become this creative pro? Pressfield claims, “It’s a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it” (101). Just do it. This section bugged me as Pressfield clearly identifies himself as a pro, belittles amateurs, and then says that pros were humble. His tone really does not say “humble” to me.

The third section began to be reminiscent of Sincero’s philosophy. Open yourself up to the muse/God/angels/energy of the universe and you will be rewarded with inspiration. His manner of opening up is simple: Just do it. If you’re a writer, keep writing every day, and if the universe has predestined you to be a writer, eventually you will succeed and leave something of lasting importance for all eternity.

I can buy the “Just do it” philosophy. Things don’t get done if you don’t do them. Effort is required. Sitting down to the task is necessary if you want to achieve. I’m not, however, sold on the whiperings of the universe leading to producing great things and that man is incapable of being creative on his own. I agree with the hard work principle (brought up as Dutch-Calvinist how could I have turned out otherwise?), but feel that there are too many people out there who do the work and don’t achieve greatness on an universal scale. Maybe I just need to work harder at understanding philosophy in relation to daily life.