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What would your 50 or 90 year old you advise you to do? Imagine a conversation between your present and your future self and write it down. Who knows, maybe old you already gives good advice 🙂
Thanks to Shay Carl for this cool idea.
If you want to keep doing what you’re doing but you’re hoping for positive change and happiness to arrive any time soon I beg you (and myself) to reconsider. Events cannot make-up for consistently flawed thoughts and actions in the long run. If the process sucks (input, modification, output) sustained long-term success is impossible. Yes even if you win the lottery.
One issue with the internet is that revenue follows number of views or clicks. So in an effort to generate more clicks people produce more and more articles or videos. A side effect is that people feel anxious, because nobody can possibly keep up. Why can people keep up with the Kardashians? They have one episode per week. That is manageable. They allow you to fully keep up with them. If others don’t limit your input for you, by say publishing only one article a day you can keep up with, limit it yourself. That way there is less need for anxiety.
One of the most common phrases I read in book or course reviews is ‘nothing new here’ or ‘I know this already’. If you find yourself saying that the question is this: when are the last three times you applied this knowledge? Assuming that you think the piece of information is correct when did you actually use it? If you don’t remember you might as well stop looking for new information. After all, if you don’t use the information you supposedly ‘know’ then reading it is entertaining yourself not educating yourself. If you feel offended don’t be: this is a reminder for myself as well.
Okay so you want to be non-judgmental. You understand that it’s a tool and it doesn’t mean you can never have an opinion about things ever again. But how does it work?
- Trust that the world can go on without your opinion
- Start small
- Postpone if you struggle
- Enjoy the space and freedom
Awareness: look out for preferences and opinions. While you want to have an opinion about what your toddler is allowed to stick his finger in other things are not important at all.
Remind yourself that you don’t need to let your brain eat up space about things that don’t matter. Alternatively if they matter a great deal remind your brain, that if it waits a bit longer to come to a decision vital information that would otherwise be overlooked can be used.
Start small. Don’t try to be impartial about politics or religion the first time round. Start small with things that really make no difference to your lfie. Gently remind yourself that nothing bad will happen if you don’t make up your mind about this topic.
If you find it hard to stop making judgments simply defer them. Say to yourself: I can make up my mind about this in 20 minutes, tomorrow or next week. However in the remaining time make a commitment to understand something about the issue that you are not seeing right now. Then permit yourself to make up your mind it if the need is still there, but only after the time has passed.
Once we learn about the things we would have missed otherwise or we suddenly start to get the hang of not judging every little thing we can enjoy the fruits of being non-judgmental.
Often we don’t want to have confrontations or face difficult questions. So we ruminate a bit, think about different options and then proceed to do nothing. The unspoken assumption is that things are going to stay the same and since they are tolerable, that is preferable to a fight or a painful realization. But here’s the thing: often every day we wait we limit the options we have while the problem grows bigger. Let’s say you feel a weird pain. You wait until it’s unbearable. However whatever caused the problem is now at a more advanced stage then it was. Often the time to respond is shortened and we might have to make rash decisions. It’s so much better to catch on early, research the best options and then making sure we gather the resources necessary.
If I don’t judge and criticize someone who is doing something wrong doesn’t that mean I condone what they’re doing? Am I not on the side of the bad guy? Don’t the dark forces win? This is an exaggerated but valid claim. The idea that I don’t have to have an opinion about everything was so revolutionary that it took me quite a while to figure out what that even means. In reality most things don’t need our wise counsel: the guy who didn’t hold the door open for you will not magically transform into a gentleman if we curse him inside our head. The same is true for the jackass driver or the lady who is always late. The only thing judging achieves in all of these cases is that you feel bad about something without getting any kind of improvement out of it.
Yes but what if someone really did something wrong? If we look at how people actually change for the better blaming and judgment are somehow never at the beginning of a transformational story. Or have you heard anybody ever say: “I went to this debate and then my opponent pointed out how and why I was not only wrong but being an idiot. I saw the light then and there and have been a member of his party ever since.”
For difficult questions and challenges to be effective we need some social capital, something that holds us together. A judging climate is unable to create that social capital. Compassionate curiosity is.
Yesterday I had this idea in the shower: why don’t I send my friend who was vacationing in Scotland a happy birthday video talking in a Scottish accent and challenging her to make a Scot watch and critique it. Under the shower I have ideas like that and yet in pretty much all cases I let myself think about it long enough to obliterate the impulse. Make haste if the idea is kind, funny (but not mean funny) or both and don’t wait for your inner committee to destroy it.
In times of uncertainty our reflex is to demand stricter rules and controls. Here’s why this principle doesn’t work: there are two kinds of people who enforce controls: those who really understand the process and those who don’t. Those with only superficial understanding cannot effectively enforce rules because they are not aware of details and loopholes. Those who deeply understand the process obviously gained their knowledge from the very source they are supposed to audit, meaning their former buddies and peers.
Secondly no law can foresee every loophole. Guess who has the resources to find loopholes and create processes and vehicles to exploit those loopholes? Powerful people. They are not horrible. If someone said to you from now on you have to pay a fee to use Gmail what would you do? You’d switch to another email provider. That’s the same principle that motivates powerful people to find the loopholes while still remaining within the law.
So what can we do? We can keep playing the rule game: we introduce new laws, new vehicles or approaches are created which then leads to a need to create new laws. That would be great for lawyers.
The harder, less clear and more vulnerable way is to try to understand the mechanisms at play: what kind of incentives exist that we don’t talk about? When do our own beliefs and actions clash and create little problem seeds? Do we take responsibility and eat our humble pie when it’s due?
What we think is true often depends on whether we are backstage or spectators to what’s happening.
Outsider: Coachsurfing is nuts. Have you heard of that guy who was forced to have group sex?
Insider: Coachsurfing has helped me make friends with whom I am still in touch years later. They often are involved in interesting jobs like setting up refugee camps.
Outsider: I am going to the hospital to rest and get better. The advice I get there is beyond question.
Insider: I don’t know anybody who has more dangerous health habits than average medical employees.
Outsider: Fame is luck and luck sometimes favors people with no skills whatsoever.
Insider: Oh man the three AM calls are driving me nuts.
Sometimes it’s better not to know too much. In this case let’s leave some room for our personal misjudgments. And sometimes it’s worth to get the inside view because it is often radically different from what outsiders perceive.
The global world has many advantages: being able to maintain friendships all over the world, eating specialties from places we have never been to or hearing from some of the most impressive feats of humanity withing two days of it happening. Excellence is wonderful but if we let it dampen our enjoyment for the simple or the still impressive but maybe not worldclass-impressive we miss out. Let’s not measure the people and experiences around us on a yardstick of excellence. It’s a bit like drinking the finest coffee in the world and hating everything else. Let’s be happy and impressed and if worldclass anything makes an appearance in our life lets be joyful without putting everything else down.
We know exactly how much energy and money we need to do something right now. So we postpone it. Unless the pain gets worse we forget about it. If it does we carry on this evaluation and postponing mechanism until the day the pain is unbearable. Then we are willing to pay whatever price we have to pay. The earlier we bite the bullet the longer we will benefit from that. The longer we wait the less alternatives we have and the more it costs. Factor in the cost of doing nothing and don’t make the mistake of assuming, that the pain will stay the same. Unaddressed pain increases.
I have noticed that people who are terrified of others judging them often judge both themselves and others equally harshly. If you want more courage to finally do the things you have been holding back on becoming aware and then consciously choosing non-judgmentality might help you.
Usually we let external accountability and sometimes importance determine when during the day we should do a task. If you have some freedom why not try prioritizing with ease? The question you ask here is ‘when is this the easiest to do?’. Sometimes I procrastinate my meditation but when I ask myself ‘when is easiest time to do my meditation?’ it is usually easiest before I have read other things, talked to others or have started working? Why? Because these are all things that could potentially distract me from meditation. By doing it before I have less distractions to deal with. And that is a pretty effective argument when it comes to procrastinating.
It’s easy to go with the flow and judge how your life is going by looking at your peers. Yet I find that isn’t enough to keep me in line with my values. Every once in a while I imagine that I would sit down with my 10-year-old and my 15-year-old self. What would they think of the life I am leading? How much of themselves would they recognize in me? What would delight them and what would be the tough questions? As weird as it sounds, I want those girls to be proud of me.
I’ve been on so many blind dates, I should get a free dog.-Wendy Liebman
I heard about feeling goals in an interview with Jane Sotkin, a financial advisor. The idea is straight-forward and simple yet we often don’t think of things that way. She said that you should aim for feeling goals, such as feeling that you have enough. If you don’t you will always be scared of losing everything as you can never be too safe. Just ask certain millionaires and billionaires who are still mindlessly making money because they fear something could go wrong.
I am not sure how the saying goes exactly but it’s something along the lines of “the easy road gets harder and the hard road gets easier”. Just today I though “oh man, I don’t feel like crossing the bridge I will just run my usual path and hope it works out”. Needless to say, crossing the river would have been much shorter than the detour I had to take due to a construction site. It’s easy in a society so obsessed with speed to seek out what looks like the easiest and most straight-forward path. But quite often it pays to invest upfront in understanding where you’re going, whether that matches your goals in the first place and whether what everyone is doing is really the best way forward.
“The most reassuring thing I can say to anyone about fear is this: All emotions change. You will never stay in a panicky state for the rest of your life. Persevere, and the fear will dissolve.”
Dr. Suma Chand
Using our potential and expressing our creativity is usually not high on daily to-do lists. Everything else just screams so much louder. Yet as Brené Brown, a famous researcher has observed, potential that you don’t use starts eating at you from the inside. Other research points in a similar direction, where it links creativity to depression, not because that’s the horrible fate of the artist, but because there is little overlap between the inner world of a creative person and the priorities societies value at large. The message seems clear to me, although the research might not phrase it urgently just yet: if you let your potential die, you die a little bit more every day.