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Seeing things differently

Seen in a meme:

“Sometimes I think I’m crazy because I see things differently than everyone else.”

You’re not crazy if you don’t always agree with the crowd. Group dynamics is one of the most powerful forces in human psychology.

The Asch conformity experiments demonstrate that even the most seemingly logical of people can be influenced to make bad decisions due to one’s internal desire to conform to group expectations.

“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people, in which the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints.

The primary socially negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking.” — Wikipedia

Group dynamics can cause people to act irrationally and at their own expense or the expense of others.

Group dynamics can cloud the truth, cause us to desire junk, turn us against people we love, and even follow & support leaders who would do us harm.

Group dynamics is often at the core of prejudice and discrimination.

Independent thinking is far less common than it should be. It should be praised.

It takes an exceptional kind of integrity to stick up for what you believe is right and true when facing a group.

Being able to see things differently is a valuable skill and is often what allows us to make great strides in technologies and processes that benefit all. Due to group dynamics, however, truly new and original ideas are often ridiculed before they are accepted.

“For a work to be truly creative, it has to depart from the status quo at some point. That departure makes many people uncomfortable.” — David Burkus (99u)

The ability to see things differently than the crowd and maintain one’s integrity despite pressure to conform is a gift. Being able to see things differently than other people doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you valuable.

“The person who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.” — *Francis Phillip Wernig

Originally Published on: May 5, 2015 @ 08:41

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Not giving a damn is not the answer

The more I browse social media, the more I see the increasing popularity of the belief that not giving a f*ck is the answer to all of life’s problems…

  • That the answer to caring too much about what people think is to not care
  • That the answer to caring too much about the world’s problems is to not care
  • That the answer to relieving stress in your life is to simply not give a f*ck about anything

And it simply isn’t true. This mode of handling things is just another dysfunctional extreme — the same as caring too much tends to be.

All that “not-giving-a-damn” does is fill the world with more of the types of people no one wants to run into — and as a byproduct, makes the world an even colder and more unfeeling place to be. This, in turn, creates a world of people who don’t care because it’s full of a world of people don’t care — ad infinitum.

The physical equivalent of not giving a damn about anything is putting a blindfold on and sticking your fingers in your ears. It doesn’t make problems go away, it perpetuates them by fooling you into thinking they don’t exist. And it creates a false sense of security and confidence.

The world doesn’t need any more people who don’t care about their fellow human beings (or anything else we share the planet universe with). The world needs more people who know how to effectively channel their energy into strategies that work. Refusing to listen to feedback or care about things is not an effective strategy.

“But I’ve been told not to care what others think or say about me!”, you say.

There is a big difference between not letting what others say about you have control over your sense of self-worth, and simply not caring what people say at all.

And there is a big difference between listening to feedback & compromising yourself to meet other people’s expectations, and listening to feedback, considering it, and moving ahead still confident in who you are and what you believe.

“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.” – Robert Downey Jr.

Listening to and being receptive to feedback is an important life skill and vital to being an effective communicator. (But so is knowing your environment and your audience — ie. youtube, Reddit, Xbox live…)

For example, if all you get is negative feedback about your attitude or behavior, then this may be a sign that there may be room for improvement in some aspect of how you handle things. If you keep finding yourself in similar negative situations with different people, employers, or relationships, then this may be a sign that the problem is not an external one.

This is sometimes evidenced by people who declare that they hate drama — and yet they are responsible for being attracted to or inviting into their lives the drama that they say they hate so much.

Another example, just because you don’t mean to hurt people’s feelings, but you inexplicably find yourself doing it over and over doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. It may be a sign that you are unaware of something you are doing and that you could easily improve upon if you chose to acknowledge it.

We can only experience freedom in direct proportion to the amount of truth that we are willing to accept without running away.” — Robert Anthony

I’m not suggesting you should change for others or try to please everyone. I’m suggesting that if you are consistently causing issues that you don’t intend to, then that may be something worth taking a look at if you truly are open to improving things about yourself.

No one is perfect. We are all works-in-progress. And there is always room for improvement.

Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.” – Joss Whedon

Sometimes we are so blind to our own behaviors — because we judge ourselves based on our intentions, not our actions — that we don’t realize when we suck. That’s when we actually need feedback from people to alert us to the things we are unaware of.

Most of the people who inconvenience others in the world don’t walk around thinking, “Yeah, I’m a sucky person.” On the contrary, they likely don’t realize that they are exactly the type of person they don’t want to be because they’ve learned to not give a damn about anything by ignoring negative feedback and giving positive feedback too much weight.

They’ve also never taken a good long look at themselves or what kind of affect — or inconvenience — they have on those around them. They might disregard feedback they’ve gotten with, “Well, I don’t care if people don’t like me.”

While you should, by no means, try to be liked by everyone, being likable matters in life:

Being likable, connecting with others, and forming relationships — whether it’s with an individual or an audience — is an integral part of being successful in life.

And being liked can have a direct impact on your health, your wealth, your general level of happiness, and how effective you are at achieving goals. (from Likability. Being liked and unliked)

And caring about things matters in life, too. The desire to make the world a better place doesn’t come from apathy. It often comes from discontent and a desire to fill a void or solve a problem.

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress.” — Thomas Edison

It’s not people who don’t care that change the world. It’s people who do. And they care so much about something that their intense focus on whatever is within their power to change results in the whole world being affected.

The answer isn’t to stop giving a damn about everything.

The answer is to stop trying to have control over things you can’t change and to instead focus on those that you can. The answer is to not let the actions or words of others control your emotions. The answer is to develop strength from discomfort. The answer is to believe in yourself.

By all means, care about things, but learn to let go of those things you have no control of (or no desire to).

Did someone cut you off, cut in line in front of you, fail to hold a door for you? By all means, care about these things, but learn an effective way to deal with them and to let go of those that don’t have any solution. Complaining? That’s not a solution.

In the end, regardless of the feedback you get in life, none of it has to bother you unless you choose to let it (See: You are not a book and why that matters). The point is, you should be able to accept feedback without leaving your sense of self-worth and well-being in the hands of others.

Allowing yourself to be open is a sign of confidence, and it’s a strength that will get you much further in life, and provide you with the ability to weather more storms, than simply pretending that storms don’t exist.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” — Kahlil Gibran

Some steps and questions for dealing with what life throws your way:

  1. What can I learn from this?
  2. Can I do anything about this? Is this with my power to change?
  3. Evaluate. If yes, is it something I actually want to change? (If no, then move on).
  4. React (or don’t react) accordingly.
  5. Move on.

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Originally Published on: Nov 11, 2013 @ 13:07

Do more of what makes you healthy

Seen in a meme:

“Do more of what makes you happy.”

While I agree with the sentiment, I would counter this by saying:

“Do more of what makes you healthy.”

Not everything that makes a person “happy” makes a person healthy. Too much of a good thing can have negative consequences.

Never underestimate the brain body connection. Often, when one falls out of balance, the other follows. How one treats their body is how one treats their brain.

Because at least some degree of happiness stems from feeling good about one’s self, it stands to reason that the better one feels about themselves, their decisions, their life, and their health, the greater their sense of well-being.

Happiness is more likely to manifest itself in one’s life as a result of seeking a healthy mind, healthy body, and healthy spirit than it is by seeking the instant gratification of doing only more of what makes them happy.

Do more of what makes you happy healthy (and happiness will follow).

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When life shuts a door…

Seen in a meme:

“When life shuts a door… Open it again. It’s a door. That’s how they work.”

Yes, doors may work that way, but opportunities don’t.

But that doesn’t mean other opportunities don’t exist.

The key to maximizing one’s potential to meet opportunities is to not passively wait for opportunities to land on one’s lap, and instead, continually be on the lookout for new ones.

And if no opportunities appear to exist, take steps to facilitate their existence. Learn new skills, hone existing ones, and try to view the world from a different angle.

Often, a change of perspective is enough to draw one’s attention to opportunities that were cleverly disguised as something else.

Don’t close yourself off to potential opportunities simply because you don’t see them from your current level of awareness.

Keeping an open mind and believing that opportunities exist — despite one’s ability to immediately see them — is often enough to keep them from going unnoticed.

Those who don’t look for opportunities will have to settle for the rare few that land on their lap.

Related:

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Wanting success doesn’t ensure it.

Seen in a meme:

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”

It’s a quote by Eric Thomas from his book, “The Secret to Success”.

To be fair, I’m uncertain of the context of this quote within the book, but as a stand alone saying, it’s incomplete.

Intense desire can provide the motivation to act, but without action, desire — like wishful thinking — does very little.

One can want to succeed as badly as they want to breathe, but without being both willing and able to take the steps and make the sacrifices necessary to meet their goal, one won’t survive the road to success long enough to arrive at their desired destination.

The desire to breathe doesn’t keep people from drowning. Taking the steps necessary to get oxygen and stay afloat does. And this starts with learning how to swim.

An intense desire to be successful does not ensure success. One must be willing and able to learn & commit to the actions necessary to achieve it.

You can read a million motivational sayings to pump yourself up — or echo them to others until you’re blue in the face — but that won’t change anything unless you take action and consistently change your behavior.

Related:

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Stop encouraging mediocrity

Seen in a meme:

  • You’re amazing!
  • You’re beautiful.
  • You’re perfect!
  • You’re awesome.

The mere fact that a person exists does not make them awesome, amazing, or beautiful.

Contributing something positive to people’s lives and adding value to the world does.

Act and encourage accordingly.

Related:

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Strength from struggle

Seen in a meme:

“You can have whatever you are willing to struggle for.”

False.

No one gets everything they desire in life (whether they struggle for it or not).

Having said that…

There are inherent benefits in the act of consistently & persistently putting in the effort necessary to achieve a lofty goal, regardless of whether one is ultimately able to achieve it or not.

For it is from the struggles in life — not the attainment of one’s desires — that a person acquires strength.

Related:

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Happiness is not a choice

Seen in a meme:

“Happiness is a choice.”

No. Happiness is not a choice. Attitude is a choice.

Happiness is not just putting on a fake smile, acting cheerful, and pretending everything is OK.

Sometimes things are not OK. And that’s OK.

That’s life.

Stop for a moment and imagine you’re grieving over having just lost a loved one.

Now imagine someone comes up to you and says, “Happiness is a choice.”

Would you believe it? Would you be able to let go of your grief, shrug your shoulders and say, “Ok, I’ll be happy now” and actually be happy?

Unlikely.

What about depressed people or people who have suffered psychological trauma?

Would you tell a suicidal person that “happiness is a choice” and expect this superficial catchy catchphrase to solve the problem?

Of course not.

Even if attaining a state of happiness was as simple as making a choice, telling someone who isn’t happy that “happiness is a choice” is as about as helpful as teaching someone how to fish by telling them that “there are fish in the sea”.

It isn’t helpful.

Happiness is a byproduct of enjoying the journey of life.

You teach people to achieve happiness by providing them with the tools necessary to deal with life’s challenges in a positive and productive way.

You teach people to achieve happiness by showing them ways to navigate their mental & physical world in such a way that they can enjoy their journey.

And one of the most effective ways to enjoy one’s journey is to adopt a healthy attitude that allows one to appreciate life experiences regardless of one’s circumstances.

Suggesting that being anything but happy all the time isn’t a healthy way to view life.

Making people feel bad about feeling bad isn’t terribly effective at making people happy either.

The fact is, there is nothing inherently wrong with being unhappy.

“The ability to feel a full range of emotions and different states of being is an important part of the human experience.

It’s ok not to be happy. And in many cases, a large part of personal growth is dependent on recognizing when one is not happy and then actively working through it.”

Sometimes that journey will be difficult and life won’t be fair.

Again, that’s life.

It’s ok to have negative emotions. It’s ok to make mistakes. These are an essential part of life and how we learn. But it’s important to not let these things hold us back or lock us into a cycle of self-pity.

Instead, we can use negative emotions and feelings of discontent as the motivation to initiate positive changes in our lives.”

We may not like everything that happens to us in life and we may not always be happy as a result of what happens, but we can always choose our attitude when dealing with it.

A bad attitude inhibits happiness. And when we are happy, a positive attitude accentuates it.

It’s not happiness that’s a choice, it’s attitude.

Related:

“We actually have as little choice about wanting to become happy as the heart does about pumping blood. We’re incapable of wanting not to become happy. The pursuit of happiness isn’t merely an inalienable right with which we’re endowed or an activity we’re capable of choosing; it’s psychological law we must obey. Even people who appear to want nothing to do with happiness, like those so immersed in self-hatred that their principle aim becomes self-sabotage, will say they haven’t lost their desire for happiness so much as ceased to believe they deserve it” — Alex Lickerman, MD (From: The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self)

Not caring what people think is not the answer

[This post is similar to another post I’ve written called: Not giving a damn is not the answer.]

No, you shouldn’t change who you are to be liked by people. And you shouldn’t cave into to peer pressure at the expense of your identity.

But not caring what people think is not the answer.

While you may not agree with what people think or say about you (and some would say it’s none of your business), if you believe in bettering yourself as a person, it’s important to allow yourself to internally acknowledge and be aware of the feedback you get in life.

  • Do you ruffle feathers everywhere you go?
  • Do you get into arguments or make enemies easily?
  • Do you find yourself getting into the same kinds of dysfunctional relationships?
  • Do you act creepy or make people uncomfortable without realizing it?
  • Is your body language saying one thing while you are saying another?

These are important things to be aware of.

Acknowledging what others think (positive or negative) provides us with valuable feedback that allows us to make sure we are acting and communicating in the manner we think we are. And if we are not, it provides the opportunity to make changes to how we do things (if we so choose).

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” — Winston Churchill

There are a lot of people who suck and act badly simply because they refuse to even acknowledge the feedback they get on a consistent basis.

“You think I’m a jackass? Well, I don’t care.”

The fact is, if people are calling you a jackass, it’s a good idea to be open to the idea of exploring *why* they said that and if it has any validity.

And it may not. Just because someone calls you a jackass doesn’t mean you’re a jackass, but something about the circumstances you found yourself in led to negative feedback. And after analyzing the situation, you may discover that you could have done something more effectively in the situation — even if was simply to avoid it altogether.

While I don’t believe in not caring what people think, I do believe in is not fearing it.

And that’s a huge difference.

One approach says, “I’m fearful of accepting or acknowledging negative feedback” and the other says, “I have a strong enough sense of self to not let criticism (or praise) adversely affect my sense of self-worth.”

When you truly know who you are — and who you are in the process of becoming — you will no longer live in fear of what people say or think about you.”

Because you can’t please everyone, sometimes you will act in a fashion that upsets people or makes them uncomfortable. And sometimes it is completely justified — it comes at the cost of expressing yourself in an authentic fashion.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act that way. But it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about the response you get — you simply shouldn’t be afraid of it or let it bother you.

Not letting what other people think bother you is one thing, not caring is another.

I believe the goal should be develop a strong enough sense of self to not let what others say or think about you diminish (or inflate) your sense of self-worth, not to simply “not care”.

Allowing yourself to be open is a sign of confidence, and it’s a strength that will get you much further in life, and provide you with the ability to weather more storms, than simply pretending that storms don’t exist.”

Related:

The process of becoming who we are

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There are some memes making their way across social networks these days claiming that, “People don’t change.”

Obviously, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Every experience we have provides us with information that either reaffirms something we already believe, alters a belief we already have, or creates a completely new one.

Whenever a person’s beliefs change or they acquire new ones, the person changes.

If you’ve ever thought “Well, I’m not going to do that again!” or “Well, that didn’t work. I guess I’ll try it a different way next time”, it’s proof that you’ve grown.

And growth is change.

If you want to expedite the process of personal growth, then give yourself and others the freedom to change.

Be a person who believes in the possibility of positive change because it is often the belief in something that creates the possibility.

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