3 Life Skills No One Told You About
Sometimes I wish that life had a manual. Do this and this, but not this and you will be golden. Slowly but surely, I have come across many things that would fall into that somewhat hefty book.
Queue "The Book of Love" playing in the background.
But seriously, I think back to things I learn and wonder why THE HELL I wasn't taught this. It's incredibly important to every day life and success. Now, forever and a half years later, it seems implementing them is late...but still worth it. On to the first important life skill:
How to Stop Taking Things Personally
So, we are human. One of the hugest downsides to being human is we are a tad too self-involved. Yes, I am talking about you. We have this slight consciousness residing in our brains that EVERYTHING we experience in our lives involves us somehow. The car in traffic today cut you off. The TV News show last night pissed you off. Your company's massive profit margins this year gave you more money.
Here's the newsflash you should really remember: Just because you experience something...just because something causes you to feel a certain way..doesn't mean it's about you.
Think about it this way, we have all gone to see a movie and subconsciously place ourselves in it. We all do it, it's a very human thing to do. But have you noticed that we always tend to place ourselves as the hero in the film? The whole movie revolves around YOU. Things happen to YOU, and YOU save the world. In actuality you are probably that random guy walking across the street while the camera pans to the life of the protagonist.
This is very hard to remember, I struggle with it a lot. It's not just because we are so embedded in our brains and our own bodies. Making everything about us feels good. It feels good to think that everything that's good that happens in your life happens to you because you are this good, amazing person. But the price you pay for making those good experiences about you is that you must also make the bad experiences about you. You must interpret ALL of the bad things in your life to be about you.
As a result of this, you place yourself onto a self-esteem roller coaster where your self worth bobs up and down experiencing dizzying highs and crashing lows with the merciless tides of whatever crap happens to be going on at the time.
Now that was a sentence.
So when things are good, you are God's gift to the earth, deserving of recognition and applause at every turn. When things are bad, you are the victim who's been wronged and deserves way better.
The main thing that stick out in those two points is the concept of "deserving." It's what turns folks into an emotional vampire consuming the energy and love of everyone around you without giving anything back.
The biggest thing to understand is that when people criticize you or reject you, it likely has way more to do with them (their values, priorities, situation) than it does with you. I am sorry if this is news to you, but other people simply don't think about you that much at all. They are in the same boat you are, believing everything is about them.
Be conscious and aware of yourself, but remember, everyone else is doing the same.
How to Be Persuaded and Change Your Mind
Most people, myself included, hold on to their beliefs or ides with all of their might whenever they are challenged. As if letting go means your imprint on the world is forever gone.
This is because most of the time our beliefs are not simply things that we hold true, but are components of our identity. To question those ideas means to fundamentally question who we are as an individual..which is pretty painful as I am sure you know.
We'd rather put our fingers in out ears, yell "Lalalalalalalalalaaaa" over and over hoping that the evidence that we are wrong magically goes away.
Now, for example, take a person who does not believe in climate change. A lot of them are not stupid, they understand what science say and they understand the arguments. The problem is that somewhere along the way they decided that not only was climate change something they believed wasn't real, but climate change denial also represented who they are as a person. As soon as you go attacking that territory, you're never going to win.
You are going to be wrong a lot in life. In fact, you are going to be wrong pretty much all of the time. In many ways, your ability to succeed and learn over the long-term is directly proportional to your ability to change what you believe in response to your ignorance and mistakes.
Realizing that all of this is in your head is scary. Ask yourself, "What if [thing that is opposite of my assumption] were true? What would that mean?" Your brain will resist it, but like all things it takes a little practice.
Write down ten things that you could potentially be wrong about. ESPECIALLY things you feel about yourself that are true to you. Then, write down what it would mean in your life if you are wrong about that thing. You won't want to question these. It will be tough. But think of it this way, how confident can you be in your own beliefs if you've never challenged them?
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
How to Act Without Knowing the Result
Throughout most of our lives almost everything has a clear result attached to it. In school, you write your paper because that's what your teacher told you to do. At home, you take a shower so you don't smell. At work, you do what your boss says because that gets you paid.
There is no uncertainty. You just act.
Teacher wants a paper, so you write it. Mom wants a clean room, so you clean it. But most of life doesn't actually work this way. When you decide to change careers there isn't anyone telling you which career is right for you. When you decide to commit to someone for life, no one tells you that person is going to make you happy. When you start a business, move across the country, or even eat waffles for breakfast instead of pancakes, there is absolutely no way of knowing if what you are doing is the "correct" move.
Because of that, we tend to avoid it. We don't like making those decision (except maybe waffles because DELICIOUS). We don't like the unknown, it is the scariest thing ever. When we cannot act on what we don't know, our lives become safe and repetitive.
Sometimes you have to do things for no other reason than just to do them. Do them because you can, because they exist. Add some chaos to your life, a certain amount is healthy. It stimulates growth, change, passion, and excitement.
Developing this ability...simply doing things for curiosity, interest, or even boredom... will train you to better make these big ambiguous life decision. It will help you to start on something without knowing where the hell it's going. Now, while this may result in a thousand tiny failures, it will also result in your life's biggest successes.
Start small, go to meetup.com and attend a gathering or a book club. Go to Udemy.com and sign up for a course to learn something completely new. But remember, stop making everything you do about accomplishing some goal. Not a fun way to go about things. So in other words, get better at using time in unexpected ways.
Time is not wasted if you're enjoying wasting it.