Lessons from Tyler Durden: “Working Jobs We Hate to Buy Shit We Don’t Need”

By | November 25, 2011

When I was growing up, one of my favorite movies was the movie Fight Club. This was the type of movie that I could watch over and over, and it came to a point where I watched this movie maybe once a day for a couple of months… Yeah, I know, that’s a lot! It had a big picture message on how to view life. Here are some lessons I have drawn from this movie that I think are well worth sharing:





“We’re the middle children of history”
Scene from the movie

Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering… An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Every person should realize the exact motives for their goals in life. We have to realize why we are doing something before we actually do it. Following the path that the media and advertising places before us is not enough. It is so easy to get caught up on the day-to-day without taking a step back and seeing the whole picture.

If you are tired of running the corporate rat race, why are you working so hard? For what purpose… Things that are easy at first become harder later, and things that are harder get easier as time goes on. One day you may wake up to find yourself 45, in a corporate hamster cage, and asking yourself, “What did I do with my life….Did I really live it?”

Keeping up with the latest fashion styles and leasing a german luxury car every 3 years simply isn’t good enough. Neither is keeping up with the Jones’s. We need to have passion in what we do.. Working hard at work worth doing is a noble purpose.

I often talk about building businesses to generate wealth, but I don’t tell you the other half of the story. Successful businesses will generate value for the customer. For example, a well managed apartment provides affordable, clean, and secure housing for its tenants. The ultimate goal of a successful business is to help people; the more you help people and solve their problems, the richer you get…

In my opinion, rich people are not greedy but generous because they create businesses that help many more people. Think about how many people Steve Jobs has helped through his products at Apple, or Bill Gates. Entrepreneurs help people because they solve people’s problems.

“The Things You Own End Up Owning You”
Scene from the movie
Narrator (Edward Norton): Like so many others I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct…I’d flip through catalogues and wonder, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person.”
Narrator (Edward Norton): I don’t know. It’s just when you buy furniture you tell yourself, “That’s it. That’s the last sofa I’m gonna need. Whatever else happens, I’ve got that sofa problem handled.” I had it all. I had a stereo that was very decent, a wardrobe that was getting very respectable. I was close to being complete.
Tyler Durden: Shit man, now it’s all gone.
Narrator  (Edward Norton): : All gone.
Tyler Durden: All gone…Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator (Edward Norton): A comforter…
Tyler Durden: It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Narrator (Edward Norton): …Consumers?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We’re the byproducts of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.
Narrator (Edward Norton): Martha Stewart.
Tyler Durden: F’ Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So f’ off with your sofa units and String green stripe patterns. I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may. But that’s me, and I could be wrong, maybe it’s a terrible tragedy.
Narrator (Edward Norton): Nah, it’s just stuff…My insurance is probably gonna cover it, so…What?
Tyler Durden: The things you own end up owning you.

Am I defined by the vintage Calvin Klein jeans that I am wearing right now? Does it come from wearing AX ties, italian leather, and driving around in an M3? Don’t become attached to stuff, because in the end…it is just stuff. It is easy to get caught up in a lifestyle obsession, but was in worth it in hindsight? In the end, all of this “stuff” really doesn’t matter. Don’t expect happiness to come from things. That’s not the happiness that lasts.

Know That Someday You’re Gonna Die
Tyler Durden: Stay with the pain, don’t shut this out…Without pain, without sacrifice we would have nothing…Stop it, this is your pain, it’s right here…What you’re feeling is pre-mature enlightenment…This is the greatest moment of your life man and you’re off somewhere missing it…First you have to give up, first you have to know, not fear, know that someday you’re gonna die. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

Time is precious and time on this earth is limited. Do something with your time, something important and purposeful. Life is too short too be miserable. Decide what is most important to you and dedicate your life to it. Stay with reality, don’t avoid it or explain it away. This is it, make the most of the situation you are given. Don’t become attached to it.

If something deep inside of you is telling you to do something, listen to yourself and DO IT. Stop what you are doing and just listen… Know yourself, listen to what your heart is telling you, and move forward. Claim responsibility for your actions, your past successes and past failures. Don’t be a spectator. Claim your life and live it.

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5 thoughts on “Lessons from Tyler Durden: “Working Jobs We Hate to Buy Shit We Don’t Need”

  1. Entrepreneurship is the Way

    I use to own a huge music studio – mixing desks, synthesizers, drum machines, amps, speakers etc – it was a semi professional studio and I loved it. One day however I questioned myself why I am staying in this small town I have seen everything I can here – how can I grow if I stay / how can I be challenged?

    Although I wanted to go on an adventure – I had a ball and chain of all this equipment. That was the first time I realised that possessions own you not the other way around as we all brought upto think.

    Selling all of that equipment was one of the best decisions in my life (blowing it up might of been a bit extreme – other people could get real value from those machines) I went to China shortly after and have lived in different countries every since – this year 6 in total.

    Become a minimalist / create wealth by providing real value as Sam outlines above. Blow that ikea sh1t right out of the window – and begin your journey of living a limitless life.

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  3. Theo

    I very much liked the post you wrote containing themes from one of my favorite authors Chuck Palahniuk. It is true that defining the things you own should not define you. I found that helping others achieve their own personal goals and helping others was my primary motivation in life. In fact, that’s why I started my own search engine marketing company. Thank you for your thoughtful article, and I look forward to reading more.

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