The Deadpool Mindset: you have nothing to lose, everything to gain

(20th Century Fox)
[Editor’s note: By Pop Mythology’s usual standards, this article might be a tad NSFW. But it was Deadpool’s condition in return for writing this guest post. Also, *NO SPOILERS* of the movie for which, btw, you should read Jess Kroll’s fine review of.]

Life is an endless series of train wrecks with only brief commercial-like breaks of happiness. This had been the ultimate commercial break. Which meant it was time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.  –Me (Deadpool, 2016)

I am Deadpool.

Yes, Wade W. Wilson. The Merc With the Mouth. Fondler of Wolverine’s Balls. The hottest thing in cinema since Jean-Claude Van Damme’s ass in Bloodsport.  And in this article I’m going to share some of the secrets of my success with you, the secrets of how I manage to dice people into itty-bitty parts and blow them to smithereens with such stunning success on a regular basis—and how, even though I get the living s**t kicked out of me too on a regular basis, I just keep coming back. And how, even though I’m a deranged lunatic, I somehow manage to even help some people in the process.

As my fans know, my identity is, uh, malleable to say the least. And today there’s a voice in my schizophrenic brain belonging to some dude called the Pop Mythologist, and he’s putting words in my mouth (I oughta stick something in his  mouth).

(‘Dark Reign: Deadpool/Thunderbolts’ / Marvel Comics)

Boys and girls, today I’m not here to make you laugh or gasp in awe at my physical prowess. I’m here to tell you how to be like me in the best way possible, the only real way possible—’cause who doesn’t want to be like me?—and it doesn’t involve killing people in gratuitously gory ways.

It’s like this:

A lot of people have a lot to lose. They spend a whole lot of time working hard to create, build and acquire a lot of things. They have nice, big jobs with nice, big titles; nice, big houses filled with lots of nice, big things; and wives and husbands with nice, big… er, phones. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. You want that, knock yourself out.

But what happens when you have a lot? You’ve also got a lot to lose. There’s still nothing wrong with that, but what happens when you have a lot to lose is that you’ll have a lot of fear and anxiety. With gain comes the fear of loss. And as someone who has lost a lot, trust me, that fear is warranted. The danger of losing things you’ve worked hard to acquire is a very real one. God may giveth but dude’s an Indian giver.

Another mark of those who have a lot is that they never stop wanting more. They always fear not having enough or losing what they’ve gained. Is that a universal rule? No, the only universal rule is how sweet my ass looks in a close-up. Besides, I know a few rich jokers—guys like Professor X and Iron Man—who are all right, I guess, and who use their money to help people and stuff. But as a general principle, for most average people, anxieties don’t go away with the acquirement of status and things. They increase—for the reasons I’ve mentioned and many more.

The results of being filled with this kind of constant anxiety of loss are manifold: poorer decisions; less efficacy in taking action that should be focused and bold; self-centeredness and lack of compassion. I could go into detail about all of these things but just trust me when I say that, in short, the chronic anxiety of loss will make you suck. And if there’s anything that I, Deadpool, do not ever do it is suck. I get sucked but I never suck.

“But Wade,” you say in your most annoying, bratty voice, “you’re a ruthless mercenary. You don’t care about people! You’re motivated by money!”

To which I say, in my decidedly sexy, masculine voice, “Oh, yeah? Well, some fan of me YOU are! I guess you haven’t read Uncanny X-Force #5, have you?”Uncanny_XForce_5_a

(‘Uncanny X-Force’ #5 / Marvel Comics)

Not to mention, have you seen my apartment?! Does this look like the crib of someone motivated by money, of someone who’s obsessed with the never-ending pursuit of… pursuit? Hell, just gimme a plate of tacos and some good porn and I’m a happy camper.

(Activision / High Moon Studios)

So what it really comes down to if you dorks wanna be like me is something I call the Deadpool Mindset.

The Deadpool Mindset is all about having nothing to lose. Now if, like me, you really do have nothing to lose, then congratulations, you’re already there. But if, like most, you’ve got plenty to lose, there’s a way you can still tap into the Deadpool Mindset. Truth be told, even for those of us who feel like we’ve lost everything, there’s always more to lose. For instance, I lost the life I had dreamt of, my beautiful face, my hot girlfriend, but there’s still more I could lose even now—my healing factor, my guns (“from my cold dead hands!”), or this hot ass of mine that makes all the ladies, and a lot of the guys, swoon.

So the Deadpool Mindset is not about literally having nothing to lose so much as it is a mentality. But before I tell you how to adopt this mentality I’m first gonna convince you why it’s desirable to adopt it in the first place from time to time (*yawn*, this motivational stuff is a drag—get out of my head, you Pop Mythologist! Where’s my Thorazine?!).

Fear, at its best, is actually a wonderful evolutionary tool. Our ancestors, when in danger (which was often), needed to be able to run faster, fight harder, and fear was the biochemical process that made this possible. Tapping into the raw fear of survival, therefore, in times of crisis can indeed be a powerful tool (see “How The Dark Knight Rises Can Save Your Life”).

But chronic anxiety, the kind that constantly buzzes underneath your peripheral awareness, the kind that makes you constantly afraid of losing what you have, of not having enough despite already having so much, is the opposite: it is an energy drain. It makes you, in essence, conservative (and I don’t mean politically though that might indeed be the case for some). When you make an effort at something you will hold back, consciously or not, out of fear of losing something. Informed caution is good, but once you decide to go for something you need to go all the way. The anxiety of loss will also make you hoard the tacos you already have and not share them out of the fear that there won’t be enough for you. Both of these things suck.

On the other hand, if you have nothing to lose, the worst that can happen in any endeavor is that you just end up where you were when you started. For me that means sitting right here on my bug-infested couch with my favorite porn and that’s just fine by me. But in my boldness I often end up doing things successfully (which is cool and all but I’d still rather just come home to my porn).

Look, let’s get this straight, goofballs, I’m not endorsing abject poverty or destitution. A man’s gotta eat tacos, and a man’s gotta have his space to store his nudie mags. But once you have those things the real joy in life comes in sharing them, which is the other problem with the anxiety of scarcity and loss: it deprives you of this joy. I once gave some nudie mags to Kid Apocalypse and lemme tell ya: there ain’t nothing like that feeling, not even the feeling of… er, never mind.

Ah, the joys of giving. (‘Uncanny X-Force’ #35 / Marvel Comics)

So the two biggest problems with the anxiety of loss is that, first, it makes you suck at things. If a guy scared of getting his pretty little nose busted goes up against a guy like me with my already f**ked-up face, guess who’s gonna win? That’s right, boyo. And the second problem with the anxiety of loss is it deprives you of life’s greatest joy which is sharing tacos and porn.

All right, then. Here, finally, is how to tap into the Deadpool Mindset:

Learning to embrace the omnipresence of Death like I have will free you to truly live. (Activision / High Moon Studios)

Look at the picture above. This here is my sweetheart Death. Sooner or later she will come and take everything from you. Everything. The career you’ve built, the status you’ve attained, the things you’ve accumulated—even your loved ones and finally yourself. And you won’t be able to take anything with you. Trust me, I know quite a lot about Death because I fell in love with her, after all. And once she takes you it won’t matter for squat how successful you were or how long you lived. What’s the success of even a Steve Jobs in the face of oblivion? What’s 70, 80 or even 90 years of finite life in the face of infinity? Once Death takes you, are you going to remember how successful you were or how long you lived? Is it going to make the experience any different? When you’re in deep sleep do you remember anything about how well your day went or how many burritos you ate? Whether you realize it or not, from the perspective of infinity, or even just the 14 billion years of the universe, in a very real sense you’re already as good as dead.

I want you to really, really think about this and to vividly imagine Death taking your precious things from you one by one, leaving you with nothing and then eventually taking you as well. Well, s**t… that’s just depressing, ain’t it… (where’s my Prozac?!).

Oh, right, but now here’s the thing. You can’t take any of it with you but you can leave something behind: the memory of a life well lived; memories of the goodness you spread through the sharing of pancakes; the mirth of the jokes you told; the smell of the farts you blasted. The more you give, the better the memories of you will be and the longer there will even be a world left to remember you to begin with.

You can’t take anything with you, but you can leave something memorable behind. Get it?! (‘Deadpool’ #60 / Marvel Comics)

In summation, when you abide in a default mental state of already being dead and owning nothing, two things become possible:

  1. You are free to put your everything into whatever you do because there is no fear of failure holding you back. In your mind, you’ve already failed. You do things for the experience itself, for how they build your character, not merely the desired outcome.
  2. You own nothing in spirit, even though you may actually own things physically, and you are not afraid therefore to give and share, thus ensuring that you’ll leave an immortal part of yourself behind despite not being able to take any of it with you.

From within this mindset every success becomes icing on the cake, every chimichanga a bonus moment to savor. And you don’t cling to these moments because Death has already taken them anyway.

Realistically, for most people it’s almost impossible (and just not very practical) to live like this in a permanent state. But there are certain times, certain days, when it may help you get through the chaos and bulls**t of life.

This year I see my movie topping the box office. I see sales of my comics rising. I see armies of geeks dressed as me at comic cons. But I don’t see you actually being like  me in the deepest possible ways. (Will the real Wade Wilson please stand up, please stand up?)

The key to me as a character—since I am in the unique position of realizing my false existence as a fictitious invention—is that I am an embodiment of the Joker/Trickster/Fool archetype. Understanding the fickle, unpredictable tides of fortune and ruin I laugh at both. Both are ephemeral, both mean nothing to me. I am immune to the non-stop battery of insults that existence throws my way. I am here to simply enjoy the demented but also wonderful carnival ride that is life, without dependence on any outcome, and to maybe help out a few of you yahoos along the way.

I am Deadpool. I have nothing to lose. And everything to gain.

About Deadpool

Created in 1991 by Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza, I attained cult status through my own self-titled comic in 1997. After a lame-ass attempt to depict me in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine,' I was finally done justice to thanks to Ryan Reynolds and the 2016 movie. I have since been kidnapped by the Pop Mythologist to serve as his personal mouthpiece and am waiting for my owners to threathen him with a lawsuit unless he takes down this byline. But, really, they should just chill because if anything this will make people buy more Deadpool comics.