How big is your box?

I’ve said this before, but we, as individuals, are almost entirely responsible for building the “boxes” we choose to live in as well as for tying our own strings.

Little by little through life, we often change who we are — or how we act — in order to fit within other people’s expectations of who they think we are and how we think they think we should act.

In short, if you choose to act a certain way to please certain people, you do it at the expense of your true self and your true desires.

Yes, social norms exist for a reason. And there is a time and place for everything. And not all content is suitable for all audiences. And first impressions do matter — and so does being likable…

But you do yourself a disservice if you continually edit or censor yourself out of fear of what you think others will think.

I’ve also said this before, not everyone will like you — and that is perfectly ok!

What’s important is that you like you — and enough other people like you enough to show that you’re not a complete assclown.

Because being yourself is important, but so is not being an assclown.


How big is your box?

The Circle of Like

  • “This was stupid.”
  • “Not at all funny.”
  • “I don’t see what the big deal is.”
  • “I found the language offensive.”
  • “Who actually likes this stuff?”
  • “The worst gift I received this year.”

I’m paraphrasing the above quotes from reviews of one of my favorite books last year. Some of the actual reviews are far more brutal — and there are many more just like this.

I mean some people really hate this book.

And that’s a pretty sure sign that something is wrong. Right?

So what should the author do? Should they take the criticism to heart and curl up in a ball on the floor? Should they give up writing? (Some people have suggested as much).

Maybe they should seek ways to ensure that their next book — if they can muster the motivation to write one — appeals to these “haters” in some way so as to not to attract such harsh criticism?

They could do that.

In fact, it’s not that uncommon for people to not only change their creations to please others, some even go as far as to change the unique things about themselves in order to be more like those that get better “feedback”.

But I think that’s a mistake.

It may surprise you to discover that the book I’m referring to currently has a solid 5 star rating on Amazon. It has also been one of the best-selling books in its genre since it was published.

So — depending on how you look at it — it’s not so bad after all.

But what about these 1 star reviews? Are they invalid?

No. Of course not. Because an opinion is just that, an opinion.

Even if you’re only in the 1% of people who either do or don’t like something, it doesn’t make you “wrong”. It just means that, for whatever reason, you are not among the appreciative audience the something was intended or most suited for.

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” — Dita Von Tease

And while I’m talking about a product and reviews, this also applies to people and criticism about one’s self or one’s creations.

I’ve said it before, some people will like you, some people won’t. That’s life.

The next time you feel rejected, criticized, or cross paths with someone who sees things differently than you do, I encourage you to remind yourself that it is likely impossible to be universally liked. And in order for nearly anything to truly have mass appeal, it must also situate itself within a very narrow spectrum so as not to offend, or bore, or turn off anyone.

And often, the moment something gains mass appeal, people criticize it for exactly that reason.

Even people who donate millions of dollars to charity receive complaints from folks who don’t think it was the right charity, or the right time, or the best use of that person’s money.

It’s very rare that you can ever do what you consider a good thing that everyone who hears about it will appreciate.

Remember this the next time you run across someone who has a different opinion than you do, or who criticizes you or something you produce. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, but it more than likely means they are simply not among the people you or what you produce is most suited for.

What really matters is making — and doing — the things you want to do for those they are intended for and not wasting your time trying to please or appease those who will never get you — or what you have to offer — no matter how hard you try.

What is the book in question? It doesn’t really matter.

Because it could be any book. Or any movie, or song, or literally anything anyone has an opinion about one way or the other.

If you’d like to try an exercise, I suggest going and reading the negative reviews for one of your favorite books or movies. Then, go read the positive reviews for a book or movie you really disliked.

Doing this can help provide added perspective because it reminds us of what it feels like to be at both ends of the spectrum — and neither end is “wrong.”

I think Bill Cosby said it best, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

Sometimes we’re the one’s who are liking or being liked — and sometimes we’re not.

That’s the Circle of Like.



The Circle of Like

A mission of kindness

Your mission today, if you choose to accept it, is to perform a random act of kindness.

Pay for someone’s toll or coffee.Put some change in an expired meter (*Note: may be illegal in some states). Share an artist’s work. Make a donation to a cause or help promote it. Help fund a Kickstarter project. Have flowers delivered to a receptionist. Let the Wookie win.

Or just make a stranger smile.



A mission of kindness

Your mission, if you choose to accept it…

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find an opportunity to give someone *sincere*, positive praise today.

Or tell someone’s boss or manager that the person who helped you (or others) is doing a great job.

Or write a positive review for a product or establishment that you appreciate.

Accentuate the positive.


Your mission, if you choose to accept it...

The right thing to do

Yes, you will sometimes feel like putting in the effort to make a positive difference isn’t necessarily worth it.

And not everyone cares about the things you care about.

And sometimes you will feel like you are the only one that something actually matters to.

But you’re not.

Never let a lack of recognition of your efforts to make a positive difference get in the way of doing what you feel is right.

Because sometimes, the most effective thing you can do is simply set a good example.

The people who make a positive difference in the world are the ones who keep trying to.

Not for fame. Or recognition. Or personal benefit.

But because it’s the right thing to do.




From the comments:

Stephen: Hard not to internalize those with issues who smirk and roll their eyes.

Zero: Agreed. It’s a struggle. Group social dynamics are very powerful.

But I think it’s important to not lose your identity in a crowd — or to the crowd — because you are afraid of standing out.

See also: Why Good People Do Bad Things : Research indicates that being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs.

The right thing to do

Life experience has finished installing important updates…

Life experience has finished installing important updates providing you with the ability to improve your life, but your life will not change without taking action.



Originally published on: Jun 12, 2014 @ 15:26
Republished on: May 23, 2015 @ 13:26

Life experience has finished installing important updates...

Skip and volume control


If you’ve ever listened to a song and turned it up because you enjoyed hearing it so much, know that you essentially have (and use) this ability to the experiences that happen in your life.

Your attention is your “volume control”. Whatever you focus on gets louder.

So when something comes on that you don’t like, do you turn it up? No. You skip it.

And this is what you can do with those tired, old, negative thoughts in your head. You skip them.

And you keep skipping until you can settle on something worth listening to — and hopefully, worth turning up.

Skip and volume control. Use as needed.



Skip and volume control

Lanes Merge Ahead

“Yes, I see the “lanes merge ahead” signs, but I’m really in a hurry today. Besides, I see those other jerks do this all the time.”

“I know the light is turning red, but I have important things to do.”

“I can’t find a trash can and I’m really tired of carrying this bottle, so I’m just going to drop it. Besides, there’s another bottle on the grass over there.”

“I don’t want to have to walk across the parking lot to throw my fast food trash away, so I’m just going to leave it next to my car. People get paid to clean this stuff up, right? I’m not littering, I’m giving someone a job.”

“I’m not walking another 40 feet to put this shopping cart in a rack. I’m just going to leave it in this parking space. Look at all the other carts in the parking lot. I’m sure someone will take care of it.”

“This thing I found doesn’t belong to me, but it’s kind of nice and I don’t want some thief to take it. So I’m going to.”

When you do things that you don’t like others to do — or wouldn’t want someone to do to you — you set an example for even more people to follow.

Always do the things you want to see more of in the world, not less.



Lanes Merge Ahead

Life is not a competition

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” — Earl Nightingale

Never give up on what you desire in life just because someone else appears to have an easier time getting what they desire or is making progress more quickly than you are.

Remind yourself as necessary that life is not a competition and that some people will always make progress more quickly than others. That’s life.

But your life, your circumstances, and your goals are your own. Don’t let the simple fact that others are working on and achieving their goals deter you from working on and achieving your own.

Always remember that every little step you take towards a goal — no matter how small — is progress.




Life is not a competition



I’ve said it before, if all I do is write posts that simply make people nod yes, then I’m not really doing much to make people think or change the way they look at things.

“It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought.” — Aristotle

It is those things that make us pause and evaluate how we feel about them — whether we agree or disagree or just want to think about in more depth over time — that really make a difference in our lives.

If we aren’t challenged by something, we aren’t changed by it.

You can see a million of these motivational quotes and pins go by and quickly think “yup!”, but do they really do anything but reassure you of what you already think, feel, or know about something?

“There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.” — Michel de Montaigne

It’s the posts that make you go, “Wait. I’m not sure I agree.” or “I hadn’t thought about it like that before.” that really help make changes in your life or your way of thinking.

I should also once again point out that we don’t have to agree on something to get along.

And, if done respectfully, I like to be challenged because it helps me see things from another perspective. I may even update something I wrote to reflect new insights.

“I don’t like to talk much with people who always agree with me. It is amusing to coquette with an echo for a little while, but one soon tires of it.” — Thomas Carlyle

What I write doesn’t always apply to every situation or scenario. And it can’t possibly reflect things I haven’t thought about before.

“Things that I felt absolutely sure of but a few years ago, I do not believe now. This thought makes me see more clearly how foolish it would be to expect all men to agree with me.” — Jim Rohn

That’s where being open to other perspective helps.

“One who is too insistent on his own views, finds few to agree with him.” — Lao Tzu

If all you do is surround yourself with people and things that reflect your views 100%, and you have no tolerance for those who think or act differently, it gives you a distorted view of the world.

“If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary” — Winston Churchill

“Minds are like parachutes they only function when open.”

“You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.” — John Steinbeck



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