Clarifying “Uncertainty over Unhappiness”

In my 2010 Stockholm speech I discussed unhappiness and uncertainty, and how I chose uncertainty over unhappiness — when it mattered most, and when I was not getting the details right (when I was screwing stuff up).

I will clarify what I mean by this today — choosing uncertainty over unhappiness.

Clarify because I see it as necessary to get my ultimate point across, because I have come to further understand the gravity of what I was saying … and because I have come to understand that this is one of the greatest gifts my best friend gave me before his death — and that this is an expression of the greatest sensation man can experience.


When James Galt II chose uncertainty over unhappiness (in regards to a work related decision if I’m not mistaken), little did he know, I think, that in the process of choosing “uncertainty”, he was choosing his own certainty.

He chose to stand up for what he knew to be right, in the context of the current sum of his knowledge, understanding, and process of thought.

Instead of simply holding reason as his absolute, he was now gripping the mother f*cker like there was no tomorrow.

He was exercising reason as his absolute, in physical reality.

He was exercising his heroic strength and courage to face reality — a strength we all possess, but rarely choose to manifest.

And was the end external result as he had planned and hoped for?

I have no idea.

Does it matter?


What matters is that James Galt refused to further tolerate unhappiness in a specific area of his life — that he then knew how to overcome.

James’s actions, in choosing “uncertainty” over “unhappiness”, were in fact a process of narrowing down his choices to a black and white that reflects the black and white nature of reality.


Flying to Sweden last year was one of the most terrifying decisions of my life. I knew there was no guarantee I would succeed — or fail.

But I knew calling the whole thing off, was a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Rather than submitting to failure, I chose to rise above.

I chose my own certainty. I placed the weight of the world I had created onto my shoulders, and took full responsibility for that weight.

  • Self-responsibility
  • Self-certainty
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-respect
  • Self-confidence

All of these things are self-reinforcing.

YOU choose to reinforce them, or abandon them.

YOU choose to stick to your guns — or retreat and curl up into a ball in a corner and cry about how “unfair” the world is.

Sticking to your guns does not mean you will win — that you will succeed externally.

But it means you are winning where it matters most, inside.

It means you are actively holding reason as your absolute.

It does not mean you are perfect, and will be infallible.

It means you will be the ideal.

That you will live it, no matter how high the cost, and no matter the outcome.

It is a giant middle finger to everything in the world that does not matter, and the strongest embrace possible of what truly matters.

Of what is right, by the best of your own judgement.

By your best.

By living your ideal in reality.


I’ve had the ground work for this post on my mind for a while (since I saw James comment and realized the topic was worth expanding upon).

Yet, I chose to write and release the post today because I had the rare and unique opportunity to exercise this choice in a new area of my life, that I never have before.

I chose to write it because late last night, I realized my best friend made this decision as well, in perhaps, its highest expression possible.

He made it very near his end.

The outcome was not as he had hoped.

And he died, never having the chance to work towards changing that outcome.


Yes. To the furthest extent possible.

But I know that decision prepared him for the ultimate test of his strength — when it would matter not supremely, but foundationally and finally.

The question of whether or not his life had meaning, that he asked himself on his last conscious breath.

The answer was yes, absolutely.

Most people will die unable to face this question — and therefore unable to provide that answer.

They will die without attributing meaning to their own lives, and the sum of the actions there of.

Not him.

He died knowing his life had meaning.

He did not die perfect or infallible.

He died the ideal man, living his ideal to the end.

A man who absolutely stood up for his convictions, and what he knew to be right.

He was always willing to pay the price for such actions.

And his reward was the answer few ever have the courage to tell themselves.

Yes, my life has meaning, and I have been the one to attribute it.


I got to exercise this choice today, of choosing my own certainty over certain unhappiness.

Like my friend, the short range outcome was not what I had hoped. In fact, perhaps like him, I had plenty of screw ups in the process of making this decision.

But I made it.

I made the difficult choice that most shrug.

I took responsibility for my own happiness.

For my own self.

For what is right by my judgement.

And I have never been happier for making such a decision.

To know that I am right, and to act on it, no matter the immediate, or even long range price.

To observe witness my-self growing in new ways, and in new arenas.

Outcome be damned.

— Anthony Dream Johnson

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

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15 Responses to Clarifying “Uncertainty over Unhappiness”

  1. Leave a Reply March 21, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    This is really, really good. Thanks.

  2. James13onds March 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Beautiful post. This really hit the spot for me. I THINK YOUR amazing btw! im 18 but i feel like im thirty with all the information that i have gained and applied, all from just stumbling across your blog. AMAZING!:D PS. Mind telling us what that decision you made was?

  3. Anthony Dream Johnson March 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Thanks James.

    As for the decision … I think I’m finally learning when discretion is properly applied. This is one instance where it should be, for a number of reasons. And especially, but not only because I know there is a lag time between the decision and my full understanding of the consequences (some of which are long range and have yet to even unfold).

    I’ll say this though — it was very similar to my friends, although, not quite to the same degree of importance.

    Perhaps partly, but not entirely, because I am not on my death bed (which may have helped him mature psychologically, incredibly fast, as you yourself are hinting at in your comment).

    Fast because he saw that development as necessary for his decision, and his happiness.

    I’ll also add that (to a degree) the decision itself is in fact embedded in this post in plain sight. An easter egg for those with a keen eye.

  4. Simon March 22, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Yeah man. I needed that post today. Thanks Anthony.

  5. will March 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Hey Dream,

    I am really looking for a better way to handle my facial care than using a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer combination every single day.

    I know I must be persistent for the things I really want and I hope you can respect that I really want to know exactly what you do in regards to facial care.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson March 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

      Endurance prevails. I’ll do a short blog on it soon.

      • will March 24, 2011 at 11:30 am #

        Thanks Dream I appreciate it A LOT. Hopefully soon means less than a month for you haha.

  6. James13onds March 26, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    Anthony I think this is a story you will like to hear.

    This happened two days ago. Me and one of my good friends (or so i thought) moved to British Columbia with his money that he had inherited from a relative (90 thousand dollars) . As far as i was concerned it was me and him alone in BC. i didn’t know anyone but him.

    At first it was all good we had a great time and we partied it up for the first few days. Then we had to look for a place to live and do some serious things. Shit turned sour and me being the friend who had no power what so ever was in grave danger. He was not the person i thought he was, not even close!. So i sucked it up and took the abuse. I would argue and not go quietly over some of the decisions i didn’t like but in the end he would prevail as he had the final say. In the end of the two weeks that we had stayed in BC i had pure hatred for my friend.

    Being Homeless scared the shit out of me and i wanted to try and survive as long as i could to figure out a plan. I read this post while this was happening during the couple weeks. I just had so much hatred for this person i could not take it anymore.

    I turned to my friend as he asked me why i am being a baby and to speak my mind and say what im crying about. (i was not crying, just ignoring him at that time) At this moment I thought of you Anthony and i thought there is no way i will continue to be a tool to this monster. i refuse to allow him to have power over me and i choose uncertainty! My fear will not control me. I will be a slave no longer and i don’t care what it takes. I need to be free, independent, and happy. and i did what i had been afraid of doing . “FUCK IT” i said in my head. “You know what” i said while standing up, while turning to face him. ” I do not like you at all” ” I really don’t like you” “I cant stand you one bit” In which he replied ” I think you need to leave right now” So i packed my stuff while continuing to say everything i hated about him. I could tell he thought i was joking around and wasn’t serious until i had all my stuff ready to go and was seconds from leaving. Then he said “I was kidding i just wanted you to say what was on your mind” Which is a fucked up thing to do and solidified my decision to leave. I walked out with 100lbs and started my trek not knowing where i was going. I was ready to start out fresh and would do anything it takes to get back on my feet. With no money, no map, no phone and in a completely new place.

    That choice i made was the best thing i have ever done and i am truly happy for that decision.

    This is what happened after i trekked 5 miles on the highway.
    A guy picked me up and drove me to the nearest big city, payed for a motel for me and gave me 50$. With that money i then called my mom , Who told me apparently i have family here in BC who i have met only once or twice at a young age. They are letting me live with them and gave me a job as well. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

    Not sure how my writing is i have not wrote anything like this in a while. I tried to sum it up as best as possible i feel i have got my message across.I hope it is clear.



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