Self Improvement is Masturbation: Tyler Durden’s 3 Rules for an Exciting Life

by Joe Barnes


Mind Set


Date: Oct 28, 2013

Self Improvement is Masturbation: Tyler Durden’s 3 Rules for an Exciting Life

Is your life dull?

Are you weighed down by the day to day stresses of paying the bills, commuting to work and dealing with people you dislike? 

Do you sometimes wish you could be another person? 

If your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ then we’ve got the solution for you.

Or more accurately, Tyler Durden does. His ingenious life philosophy is the antidote to modern living. In fact, the whole movie could be viewed as a treatise on escaping a meaningless life and discovering what it means to be truly alive. With Tyler as the mentor, and Jack as the student, we’re treated to 2 hours of radical insights on how to transform yourself from a disillusioned, aimless consumer into a charismatic, purposeful leader.

In this post, we’ve isolated 3 of these lessons so that you can accelerate your transformation and begin living a more exciting life.


Rule n#1: Stop trying to control your life

“I say never be complete. I say stop trying to be perfect. I say let’s evolve and let the chips fall where they may”  – Tyler Durden

The most important lesson that Tyler teaches Jack is about letting go.

You see, Jack, like most people, has a big issue with control. He foolishly believes that he can micro manage every area of his life. 

This should be no surprise, though; as it’s an approach we’re all familiar with. Ever since school we’ve been taught to control our behaviour, control our creative ideas, control our true opinions and even control our feelings. The system breeds generation after generation of buttoned up, tightly controlled individuals who believe the only way to get what they want from life is to force, strain and exert the maximum amount of influence over any given situation.

Tyler teaches us that there is another way. He wants us to know about the power of letting go. Far from resulting in a loss of productivity, this approach allows the puzzle to be revealed to you piece by piece as you’re opened to the flow of the universe. This jumping from answer to answer, in a never ending learning experience, permits the flexibility and creativity that are so essential to living an exciting life. 

So the next time you find yourself trying to control your outcomes, remember Tyler word’s.

Then throw yourself headlong into your dream and be open to making mistakes. A path will emerge but you have to let it lead you.


Rule n#2: Stop caring about what other people think

“You’re not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank, you’re not the car you drive” – Tyler Durden

So many people define themselves by the image they create. Sometimes this can go so far that the puppet ends up pulling the strings.

But why do we lie, bullshit and exaggerate about ourselves?

The answer to this question can be found in the huge amount of value we place in what other people think. Evolutionary psychology suggests this has something to do with our unevolved instincts seeking to protect us from group rejection. Back then, being shunned by your tribe would have equated to death. However, now, this outdated safety mechanism actually chains us to a life of repressed mediocrity.

Tyler knew this and that’s why he was at pains to get Jack to leave his image at the door. Constantly feeling that you have to project an aura of success, toughness or confidence actually restricts your life. As Lao Tzu said, ‘Care about what other people think and you will always be a prisoner.’ Your fear of embarrassment, or being seen to fail, will prevent you from experimenting with new ideas or pursuing a goal that lies beyond the narrow parameters of what the system defines as normal. 

Life lies outside these parameters. Remember that the next time the fear of what other people think keeps you in your box.

Rule n#3: Do whatever it takes to feel ALIVE

“God damn man!! We just had a near life experience” – Tyler Durden

Bare knuckle fighting, car crashes and corporate sabotage were just some of Tyler’s methods for awakening Jack.

To some, this was too extreme.

They missed the point.

Fight Club wasn’t about mindless violence, it was about feeling ALIVE. If anything is to be condemned, it is the system these men (and we) occupy. It is so mind numbingly dull that Jack needs extreme measures to resurrect his spirit. As Tyler said, ‘Our great depression is our lives.’

The implications of Rule n#3 are life changing. When we say, ‘do whatever it takes to feel alive’ we really mean it. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!

  • Quit your boring job
  • Pursue your dream
  • End your passionless relationship
  • Get physical – whether this be through sports, sex, getting in touch with nature, creating something with your hands or martial arts  
  • Change your diet
  • Meditate  


This comes above and beyond making money. If there’s a decision you have to take that makes financial sense but will lead to a duller life then DON’T DO IT. The energy you live with is worth way more than any amount of money in the bank.

And Finally . . .

What’s the pay off? Why should you follow this unconventional advice?

This is best answered by Tyler himself when he explains to Jack the dramatic plot twist which turns the film on its head,

“All the ways you wish you could be me, that’s me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable and most importantly, I’m free in all the ways that you are not.”

In short, you get to unleash the Tyler in you. What could be cooler! 

Get your FREE Course 

If you want to discover a passion you can make a living from and overcome the fears that are holding you back, check out my free course 30 Days to Escape The System. Click here to get the course right now! (You’ll find the tips on developing belief and self-confidence fascinating!) 

Did we miss anything?

Please leave a comment below if you think there are any rules we overlooked.

(Image taken from G Crackle Photostream

(Image taken from Diana Hidalga photostream