From an evolutionary perspective, we’re wired to care deeply about what others think of us. This was a valid concern thousands of years ago when reputations among our group impacted our livelihood, and often our very lives.
But we’ve outgrown parts of evolution. We can worry about what ‘they’ think, or ask why we care in the first place.
If you realized how little they actually do think of you, you would worry less about it, and just get on with being you.
Our education system has us focus on what will be on the test. When we later extend that to our work, we find ourselves in a lifelong cycle of catering to a boss, or the few people who most influence our work lives.
We can choose to ask better questions than “what will be on the test?” and “what’s the least I have to do to pass?” How about:
- What work can I do work that matters?
- What unique mix of skills, interests and capabilities allow me to make the most impact?
For the few skills at which I excel, I noticed that I never viewed the intense hours I devoted as “practice”. I obsessed over the activities themselves and became interested in the challenge. There’s a reason you don’t hear: “Gimme a minute mom, I’m working on video game skill acquisition!”
The quality of hours spent mastering a skill is influenced by what we believe we’re doing during those hours. It’s all practice of course, but doesn’t “playing” and “doing” feel like something we’ll continue long-term?
You will persevere and excel if what you’re doing is an enjoyable challenge and not an obligation.
Your operating system reinforces your belief (bias) that the Universe conspires for you or against you. That people are trustworthy or they’re not. That you are lucky or unlucky.
Your standards and your quality of life improve with a bit of self-reflection, and an effort to upgrade your self-talk (e.g. “things always work out for me”).
The placebo effect is strong, and doesn’t only apply to medicine.
A leaking bathtub isn’t a problem for a while, until it overflows. Five daily minutes spent acquiring a worthwhile skill or habit doesn’t seem beneficial, until you realize that 5 minutes a day adds up to 30 dedicated hours per year, and the results are life-changing.
Our culture celebrates that captivating moment when you “made it”. Drip-by-drip, incremental change is less glamorous, and rarely highlighted. Yet it’s the cause of every (seemingly) overnight success story.
It’s not in the CEO’s job description to comfort an employee who’s going through a difficult time. It’s not your legal obligation as a citizen to pick up litter, hold the door, lend a friend money, help a pregnant woman load her groceries, give helpful advice, connect people, forgive the person who wronged you, or even be nice.
Human progress however, relies on thoughtful people acting out of kindness, and an intent to improve the well-being of any of our seven billion neighbors…despite the fact that it’s “not their job.”
The R.A.S. is a bundle of nerves in your brain that makes you aware of all the red cars on the road the moment you consider buying one.
Beliefs are lenses through which we view the movie of our lives. Think you’re lucky? You’ll notice the tiny things that go your way. Do you believe you’re intelligent? Watch how efficiently you problem-solve.
Confirmation bias can work in your favor. Monitor your beliefs. And maybe try, if for just a few days, to view the Universe as though it’s conspiring on your behalf, that you are fortunate, and worthy.