We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.
Once a week/2 weeks, I write about 7 different things I discovered or learnt during the week, usually copied from my Evernote journal. My sources are primarily from work, books I’m reading, podcasts, blog posts, or my mom. I try my best to make them palatable and short, and provide a quick call to action for each that you can use (or not).
#8 About the truth.
What I wrote down: We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.
What you can do with that: You probably read that again. To word that differently, our perception of something is often shaped by our internal feelings or beliefs at the time of forming an opinion, and more often than not, that “truth” we decide on is often not what something truly is. Here’s an example. Imagine you’re feeling flustered and a bit overwhelmed, you receive a Whatsapp from someone and in your current state you think this person is being antagonistic towards you, and you get more irritated. In reality, the Whatsapp message carried no antagonistic demeanour from the sender — you just, at the time, saw it that way as the truth because your state primed you to see it that way. Probably seems pretty obvious, right? Again, now that you think about it, it is quite, but you probably never thought about how susceptible you are to this as you likely have never really considered it. Neither had I, but I’m practicing being more aware of this when I am either super excited, stressed, or tired.
#9 About reality.
What I wrote down: Practice doomsday scenarios — what is the absolute worst eventuality that can come from this. It’s not that bad, right?
What you can do with that: I’m not saying become a pessimist here, I’m saying when a problem arises in your day to day life, or (optimistically), a great opportunity you might be fearful of pursuing pops up, it can help to quickly create a doomsday scenario. This is when you imagine what the worst possible outcome of that problem, or leaping at that opportunity, can be. A personal example: I used to get overwhelmed by problems that popped up at work, a small hiccup would throw me out. But as I got more used to the fact that 1) problems arise daily, and 2) they usually are sorted out in a day or two and were not nearly as catastrophic as I had imagined, I got more comfortable imagining the worst case scenario, and identifying that that outcome, if it happened, really wouldn’t matter for too long. This really does make accepting and addressing issues much easier.
#10 About personal accountability.
What I wrote down: Externalise as much as you can. Writing goals is externalising, it’s creating accountability beyond your inner voice.
What you can do with that: To keep this shorter than the last two (sorry), the idea here is that most of us aren’t 100% honest with our inner voice. We say we wan’t to exercise more, complete that overdue work task, have more sex, etc etc — but often our ambitions are cunningly persuaded by our friends procrastination, fear and doubt, or worse, sneaky self-justification. That’s to name just a few reasons we fall short of what we say we want. A way to give ourselves a better chance here, is to create external accountability, but with ourselves (I’m not talking about full on third party accountability like friends or family).
You can create external ‘internal’ accountability by writing stuff down physically, creating a mood board (maybe not for the sex though), or anything else that has a tangible, real world presence. Make sure you are able to see this regularly. This is a form of actualisation, and has helped me a lot.
#11 About fear and your state of mind.
What I wrote down: When you are scared, or fear something. Say what it is out loud, and add “and I love it” to change your frame of mind and embrace the fear/challenge.
What you can do with that: This actually links quite nicely back to #1 and #2. It’s about state of mind and perception. Embracing a fear or worry by saying “I’m nervous”, just makes you more anxious about the situation — because it’s a reenforcing statement. You can break that chain of thought, by adding “and I love it!” — like I mean actually saying it allowed, and excitedly! I swear I didn’t believe it, but I’ve tried it once or twice and it actually made me smile and have a laugh at myself. Needless to say, it works. Your pattern of “worry” get’s broken.
#12 About what we think of ourselves.
What I wrote down: Don’t fall victim to the comparison fallacy. You are not other people and other people are not you.
What you can do with that: When I read about the comparison fallacy, this really hit home with me. Wow, I am such a sucker for this, and really need to work on this one. To be honest with you, loyal reader who trust, I find I regularly compare myself to people training in the gym if they are in great physical shape (probably associated to my mild, self diagnosed, case of Body Dysmorphic Disorder ). I also find myself comparing my business/success to that of others doing well, or potentially better than me. This is far from healthy, and has caused me anxiety in the past, or over honed in Self-awareness and criticism. I don’t feel I need to write more on this — other than sizing yourself up to others is not healthy, we are our own people achieving our own things, and that’s good enough. I try remind myself of that when I notice I’m doing it — and I find a useful hack to do is try be inspired by what I’m comparing myself/my business to.
#13 About happiness.
What I wrote down: “If thou want to make a man happy, add not unto his riches, but take away from his desires” — Epicurus
What you can do with that: I don’t quote Epicurus regularly, but when I do, it’s going to be about happiness. Not much needs to go into this. Material things and wealth provide momentary satisfaction, but once obtained it passes, and a man in pursuit of more materials and wealth will always be in pursuit of happiness. The idea here, is the less we desire, the happier we will ultimately be — and the way I interpret that to be true is because desires are never ending and if we associated happiness to getting what’s desired, there is no ceiling. Rather we need to focus on non-material things to make us happy — relationships with friends and family, productivity, self-love and personal growth, etc.
#14 About persuasion.
What I wrote down: Provide a reason why, and you can influence a decision a lot more. The word, “because” is the most persuasive word in the world.
What you can do with that: With great power, comes great responsibility. And the word, “because”, has great power. Us humans are interesting social creatures, and unbeknownst victims to simple behavioural and social persuasions. For example, if we oblige to a request. I’ll use a real life example (without the stats because I don’t really want to Google the exact figure, but trust me) from a social experiment. A man (actor from the experiment) walks up to the front of a q of people waiting at a printer, and says to the person at the front “Please let me in front of you”. Most respondents decline his request.
When the man amends his request to carry persuasion, “Please let me in front of you, because if I wait in line I will miss my hand in” — this caused a massive change in the results. This was even tried with a nonsensical and silly reason, but still with a reason, it carried more persuasion. Alas, I try add more reasons into my requests now.
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This photo is completely uncorrelated to this post. But it just happened and it’s my favorite photo of my co-founder and I. Moments before we got a video interview with Y-Combinator. I’m going to frame it.