Tejvan Pettinger’s post Things We Hate to Admit outlines some tendencies of human behaviour that make life tougher than it should be. Each offers a lesson in self-awareness but three stand-out to me as things that, if everyone accepted, would make time on this planet a lot more enjoyable and productive:
We are responsible for what happens in our life. Very often people assign blame to those around them without ever thinking “what did I do to make this happen?” Admittedly they are some true victims in the world, random acts of violence for example, but these instances are few and far between. I’d estimate less than 1/10 of the stuff that goes wrong in ones life are these types of things. More often we suffer the consequence of our own decisions and poor choices.
When something bad (or good) happens in our life our first question to ourselves should be “what did I do to make this happen?” If you answer it honestly, 90% of the time you’ll see yourself as the creator of the circumstance that made it all possible. This is good news because 90% of the time you have the choice to change something and avoid the same mistake (or repeat something and enjoy the same outcome). This is a very empowering realization.
We are Drawn to the Negative. The bad stuff pops into our awareness constantly and it should; from an evolutionary psychology perspective seeing the bad is what has allowed our genes to be passed along from generation to generation given that those who could not see the bad would have gotten killed by a predatory when they were very young and never have passed along that trait.
Like many of our genetic traits, this one is outdated for modern societal living as there are very few circumstance in daily life that require this ability to perceive the bad in everything. For example, in the last 10 years there has been one circumstance were my ability to perceived the negative probably saved my life but I was walking home alone one night and that is NEVER a good idea. However, the trait is alive and well in most of us and it’s running at full speed keeping our stress levels high.
We Cannot Change Other People. This is one of the most important lesson in life yet it is not taught in class or by many parents. EVERYONE has their own experience of reality and to them, it is as real as your experience of reality is to you. Unless you have shared many of the same life experiences it is unlikely that you’ll perceive life in the same way as another. It’s also very unlikely that you’ll be able to change them so don’t bother trying.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t engage and education others given that new experience is the only ways to have any influence on one’s behaviour and beliefs. I am suggesting that you empathize with others and accept that they are right too, even when you don’t see eye to eye with them. By removing any resistance to their way of viewing the world you’ll be able to have less dissonant interactions and enjoy more quality time together.