Change Yourself to Change Your Circumstances:


Chapter 3 of The Modern Prince states that you must change yourself if you want to change your life for the better. “Easier said than done,” you might be thinking. I cannot agree more. Yet, those who crave a different kind of life with more satisfaction and less frustration must confront this issue head on. To accomplish everything you desire, you must change yourself into the person who can rule the Domain you have chosen for yourself.

Changing yourself means changing your behavior, replacing a behavior which is not functional with another behavior that is functional. It also means building a set of thoughts and feelings that support your new behavior. Your goal is to become supple and changeable, so you can alter your behavior when it is prudent to do so. Here is one example of a person who made a dramatic attempt to change himself and his life.

Steve Vaught - "The Fat Man Walking"

“I am Steve Vaught, otherwise known as TheFatManWalking, last year I walked across the United Stated to lose weight and regain my life. Having successfully completed the walk, losing considerable weight and gaining friends around the world I returned home with much more than I ever expected. Once back I had to face an entirely different world and was not prepared for it.”


Steve’s method of self-improvement was dramatic and captured the attention of the nation. While you may think that his walk was a stunt for the grandstand, you should think about whether you would be willing to walk across America in the hope that the experience would change your thoughts and your behaviors for the better. Our great grandfathers, many of them, walked beside a wagon driven by our great grandmothers across many states - and not on a paved roadway either. If they could do it, surely you could to it too. On his web site, Steve talks about movie deals and book deals that are in progress. We hope to see Steve convert himself from an overweight tow-truck driver into a successful author, father, and whatever-else-he-wants-to-be. Steve is a work-in-progress, as we all should be. Good Luck to all of us.


Will Power?


Changing yourself is just a matter of “will power,” right?


Actually, “will power” is a fantasy. People attribute things that are easy - to them - to their will power. They don’t talk about things that are hard - for them - as a failure of will power. We all know of: From Alice In Wonderland

  • Alcoholics who berate fat people for their lack of will power yet they still drink
  • Fat people who ridicule cocaine users for their lack of will power yet they still eat too much
  • Compulsive shoppers who ridicule alcoholics for lack of will power yet they still spend, spend, spend.
  • Et cetera. The circle never ends.

Changing a habit of behavior can be very difficult. For example, changing what you eat or how much you eat can be very difficult for some people, easy for others.

  • For one person, eating is a nuisance and is relatively unimportant. His mother was a terrible cook and his parents often lectured them at the table. On more than one day, he has simply forgotten to eat. He is one of those people who has relatively few taste buds on his tongue (about 25% of the population) and would be classified as a “non-taster.” If he notices that his slacks are not fitting quite right, he simply eats less for a few days.
  • Another person might have learned to enjoy shopping for food, preparing food, trying new recipes, socializing over the table for an hour or two, celebrating with food, eating in response to depression, reading gourmet magazines, planning parties, hosting big family feasts, eating while watching sports on TV, and filling hours every day with food related activity. If this person decides to go on a diet, he will subscribe to diet magazines and purchase lots of expensive gourmet diet foods. He is eager to lose weight so he can go back to eating a lot after he is slender again.

Who has the most will power? The compulsive spender or the compulsive eater?  Does the first person have “will power” while the second lacks it? I think it more likely that the first person (1) has different body chemistry and physiology than the second one and that (2) the first person grew up in a family that used food in a very different way than the second person’s family. In early life, we often acquire bad habits of thought and behavior that are consistent with our body chemistries and that we observe in others. We do this when we are children, who cannot evaluate the long-term consequences selecting this behavior or that one from the cultural buffet. Later, as adults, we become aware of other more suitable choices available to us on the cultural buffet. This happens only after we have committed millions of brain cells to support bad behavior, and we struggle to change with mixed success at best.


 The Machiavellian is always a work in progress. He is always learning new facts and new skills. He fills his day with productive and satisfying behavior. He works toward his current goals. He consciously replaces dysfunctional behaviors (those that do not advance him toward his goals) with functional ones (that will). When you finally grow up, it is appropriate to inventory your habits and attitudes. You will realize that some of them need to be replaced with better ones. Note the wording of that last sentence. You don’t give up bad habits. Bad habits perform a function in your life, so you will need to find a substitute or alternate habit. If you have bad eating habits, you replace them with good eating habits. Some good habits are easy to acquire, like flossing your teeth every day. Others are more difficult. If you weigh 260 pounds and your doctor says you should weigh 170, then you need to replace your habit of eating like a 260 pound person with the habit of eating like a 170 pound person. Dieting often doesn’t work because a diet is temporary. You have to give up your bad habits forever, not just for a time.

 Inventory your bad habits and replace them, one by one, with good ones. Will this become easy because you are reading a book on Machiavellianism? No. It will become easier with practice, but remember that bad habits are our favorite habits. They don’t die easily. Consider the alternative. You could simply keep your bad habits. The choices are yours.


Get drunk often versus stop getting drunk

Keep missing deadlines versus don’t miss deadlines

Remaining fat, developing health problems, and dying young versus losing the fat, being healthier, and living longer

Continue to feel sorry for yourself versus stop feeling sorry for yourself

Waste time doing things that don’t matter versus don’t waste the precious seconds of your life

Don’t achieve your goals and die filled with regret versus achieving your goals and dying (involuntarily) without regret


Now, get to work. You have no time to waste. Select a good habit and incorporate it into your life. Every new good habit will replace a bad habit. After that, select another good habit ...


On This Page

Changing your World starts with changing your self. We start with the obvious: it is easier said than done.

Will Power? Who needs it?


Chapter 3



Download or read online: Machiavelli’s Prince in English translation by W. K. Rowling


Read a brief summary of Machiavelli’s life and works,

written by W. K. Rowling as the Introduction to his translation of The Prince


A readable summary of Machiavelli’s Prince can be found at





The Modern Prince:

Better Living Through Machiavellianism


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