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Living Well is the Best Revenge

How To Deal With The Haters

The hot Orlando sun beats down on the fat, sweating man who’s wheezing, who’s hurting, who’s chugging along another lap on a baking high school track as a bevy of teenagers laugh at his efforts. The fat man is wearing a yellow headband, tiny running shorts, and a white undershirt that’s soaked in sweat. One of the teenagers screams, “Look at those titties bounce!” They erupt in laughter. Another screams, “Last time he ran that fast was when McDonalds added another patty to the Big Mac!” More laughs. The fat man continues his clockwork jog around the track, unfazed or not showing it.

This guy needs to work on it a bit

This guy needs to work on it a bit

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to laugh. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to question why this man would venture out of his house, looking like he did, to run off all that excess weight. I’d be lying because I’d be denying my natural inclination to become a critic of anyone who wants to shake up “the way things are.” As humans, we generally like things to stay the same. So we get defensive when someone wants to change that — even if the person is a complete stranger — and we mask our apprehension with jokes and derision like those surly teenagers. But under the laughs, we’re really fighting against change.

As I watched this scene unfold, I thought about all the guys who have asked me how to deal with haters and critics. It’s no surprise that’s such a common concern for a lot of guys who read TSB.  Whenever anyone actively works toward improving their life — whether it’s their love life, financial success, lifestyle design, or even fitness and health — people will get offended as people often do when they see someone believing they’re “better” than the hand they’ve been dealt. And, like a cruel gift from God, the period of awkward incongruence that’s required for learning any worthwhile skill is a big, fat target for critics and haters to lob their insults on.

Unfortunately, the spiteful pressure is too much to handle for some people, and so they go back to simply accepting the status quo and rationalizing failure with excuses like, “It’s too hard,” “It wasn’t for me,” or “It’s all a scam anyway.” Other people continue on in their pursuit for success, but do so with hate burning in their heart. They fantasize about the day they’ll laugh in the face of the doubters, and then ride off into the sunset with their hard-earned, newly-found success. And then there are other people — a small minority — who are so confident in their values that they remain completely unaffected by criticism, chasing what they want with little regard for what people say or who’s snickering behind their back.

While I’d like to claim I’m in that small minority of unaffected people, I’m really more in that second group — the guy who dreams of “upstaging” his critics one sweet day. Or at least I was that guy, and so that’s why I can relate to anyone struggling with frustration, anger, and self-doubt when faced with haters and critics. I’ve never been one to passively accept mediocrity in any aspect of my life, yet I also wasn’t born naturally gifted in a lot of areas. So I’ve had to work — hard. Since I’ve been 12-years-old I’ve made an active decision to take charge of my life — whether it was my fitness (I was once fat), my writing ability, my intelligence, my love life, or my financial success and lifestyle design, I chose to endure those awkward periods of incongruity to achieve what I want out of life — to achieve what I consider to be success.

The kid's starting already

The kid's starting already

And guess what: since I’ve been 12-years-old I’ve been dealing with people who don’t like me. I’ve had to endure insults, ridicule, and outright hatred. I’ve been the fat butt of so many jokes that I should be in a rap video by now. I can’t say it hasn’t rattled me and I can’t say it hasn’t bothered me and I can’t say it hasn’t made me resentful toward those who tried to reintroduce me to my mediocre roots. Because it did. But, when I was 12-years-old, one phrase changed my entire perspective and gave me the strength to offset the spiteful pressure applied by critics and haters. That phrase was, “Living well is the best revenge.”

Sure, you’ve probably heard it before. But if you really consider it, those six simple words are magic. Like a spell, it can alleviate you of all your doubt, of all your insecurities, and all your insidious hatred toward those criticizing you. I remember I first heard that phrase a summer when I was 40 pounds overweight and constantly laughed at by the “cool kids” of my small Long Island town. I’d sneak out of my house at night to jog — just like that fat guy in Orlando — hoping no one would see me as I tried to shed my excess weight before I started high school. Inevitably, people would spot me and laugh about my bouncing titties, about how I was running to McDonalds.

And guess what: it made me want to give up. It made angry. It made me fantasize about how much I’d laugh at the haters when I was finally thin and fit. I imagined their weight one day ballooning as a thin me laughed in their faces and taunted, “Who’s fat now, bitch? Who’s got the tits now?” But then I’d remember that phrase — living well is the best revenge — and suddenly I was reminded why I was putting myself through the pain in the first place: for me. My success was mine and mine only. I’m not at the mercy of my critics. They’re not my jury nor do their opinions — mean as they mean be — have any influence over how I’m going to live my life.

That summer I was getting in shape for me. I was getting in shape to live well. And that — that! — is the sweetest revenge one can hope to have. That’s something the critics can never take from you: your life. Years later — when college happened and people got fat — the I’d dreamed day about 5 years earlier came one afternoon when I was taking a sip from a water fountain at my town park. I turned around to find one of my nastiest critics looking fat and pathetic.

He was sweating profusely and panting erratically. He looked at me desperately, as if he expected me to smash him with insults. I refrained not because I’m a bigger man or because I have some greater sense of morality, but because I didn’t even care to do it. What satisfaction would I derive from that? What success would that bring to my life? What kind of revenge is that? My revenge was my happiness, my well-being, the way I was living.

And so my greatest moments of revenge are moments known only to me. Those moments were the ones where I was truly happy. Those were the private moments where I felt successful after accomplishing some goal or experiencing some overwhelming sense of happiness and personal satisfaction. Maybe somewhere the haters and critics felt it and maybe it felt like salt in their wounds, burning them in a way they can’t pinpoint but certainly feel. Regardless, it matters little to me, as I’m focused on only one thing: my life. That’s the sweetest revenge one can ever hope to exact.

>>>To Learn More From Rob, Check Out “The 4 Elements of Game” where he breaks down game into four simple adjustments.

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About Rob J. Rob J. is a writer and dating instructor in New York City. Themes that resonate in both his teaching and writing are masculinity, genuineness, rational self-interest, and general awesomeness.

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