Making Hypotheses About Others

The way the brain works is this: We make a hypothesis about someone, and then our brain searches for information to verify our hypothesis.

For example, if we decide that someone is untrustworthy, our brain will find information to support that belief. In other words, we actively make our beliefs true.

If instead, we choose to believe that this same person is a flawed but good human being who is simply doing their best, we may find proof to back it up.

Be mindful of the hypotheses you’re making.

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Balance

“Balance is created by equal forces pressing in on an object.”

This is well known in yoga where we practice balancing our bodies.

So what can we learn from our bodies?

Often, we try to find our balance by eliminating the pressures on our life. The demands of work, friendship, and family can all feel so heavy.

But what if all this pressure isn’t what’s throwing us off, but actually what’s holding us steady?

 

When You Start to Feel, Do.

Recently I have been reading, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite passages from her book, ones that I find especially wise and/or inspirational.

The below is paraphrasing but I think her point remains.

“When you start to feel, do… When you start to feel unloved, go find someone to offer love. When you start to feel unappreciated, go find someone to appreciate and acknowledge. When you feel unlucky, make yourself write down two recent blessings.”

The point is, to not let yourself wallow. This strategy of, “When you start to feel, do” is fascinating and new to me. It seems to be based on the underlying premise that we’re all connected, a belief which I hold dear. It makes sense to me as a concrete and tangible way to sidestep wallowing and overthinking ourselves into despair.

When you start to feel, do.

I Don’t Believe in Advice

I don’t believe in advice. So when someone comes to me and says, “I need advice,” what I think they’re really saying is, “I need love.”

And offering love looks a lot like being quiet, listening, empathizing, and letting someone talk long enough until he/she discovers that they already know the answer they’re looking for.

The thing is, we each hold the answers right inside of us. Sometimes, people simply need a safe place and some time to discover what they already know. So I think offering advice is essentially just trying to hold that space and time for folks in need.

Chris Rock Brilliant Humor

Recently, I was watching Chris Rock’s new stand up show on Netflix. It was highly entertaining and I’d definitely recommend it, if you haven’t seen it yet. What makes Chris Rock so good is not necessarily his humor, but his brilliance. He has a way of making the most fascinating points all while clothing them in the name of comedy, thus reaching more people.

One thing that Chris Rock said on his new show which really stuck out to me is, “Why are we lying to our kids? We shouldn’t be telling them, “You can be anything you want to be.” That’s not true! We should tell them the truth! You can be anything you’re good at………if they’re hiring. And even then, it helps to know someone.”

A hilariously true point and definitely worth sharing.

If you want to write, read.

The number one advice I have for other people interested in become better writers, is to read.

I find it fascinating that whenever I’m going through a dry spell in my writing, I’m going through a drought in my reading.

The opposite is also true. As soon as I begin reading a new book, the creative inspiration and ideas begin to consume me in such a way that I have no other choice but to write.

The two activities are directly and positively correlated.

Reading serves as mental stimulation. It provides us with renewed inspiration.

As a general rule, we are readers first. And writers second.

So if you want to write, read.

Letting Go

Letting go of an ambiguous loss is often the most challenging and important task we face.

At some point in our lives, we all experience it. Someone important to us isn’t willing to talk. Maybe we need to talk, but the other person needs not to. The more history involved and the higher our expectations for that relationship, the more painful their silence.

Painful events happen to all us. But our real problems arise when we attach to that pain.

Often we have this fantasy that somehow by holding on to our anger, the other person will magically decide to apologize and/or come back. As long as we hold on to our anger, we hold on to our hope. Or so we think.

But while you’re sitting there ruminating, the person in question may very well be out having a wonderful day at the lake. The simple fact that you’re the only one suffering, should be your own best argument for letting go.

Negative attachment is still attachment.

Anger is often the glue that keeps us stuck, expressed as an ongoing obsession about “why” this person has wronged us. It’s human nature to want to understand behavior. But the fact is, it’s hard enough to understand our own, let alone somebody else’s. And we simply can’t force another person to talk to us or own up to “the truth” as we see it.

Sometimes we just have to let go.

A sad ending doesn’t negate the value of a relationship. And while it takes two people to form an intimate relationship, it only takes one to end it.

We have to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

The Pattern of Personal Growth

Have you ever noticed how your greatest moments of personal growth occur?

There’s a pattern to it, I’m convinced.

First, a challenge. A challenging life circumstance or situation. Something comes at us sideways when we least expect it. A loss. Break up. Health problem. We don’t feel equipped to handle it, yet somehow we do. We’re faced with an obstacle and we pull through.

But we haven’t grown yet.

Next comes vulnerability. We share our experience of this challenge with another person. In all of our raw honesty, we open ourself up to another. We share in our weaknesses and by doing so, we experience vulnerability.

Then we reflect. Only after a difficult challenge and shared vulnerability, can we pause to really reflect about what exactly we’ve just been through. What we’ve grown through. How we’ve grown. And in our reflection, finally, our great moment of personal growth arrives. Clothed in compassion and humility. Void of all judgment. An “Aha” moment.

Challenge. Vulnerability. Reflection. In that order.

I believe that all of our greatest personal growth experiences follow this pattern.

“I Don’t Have Enough Time”

“I don’t have enough time.” Does the phrase sound familiar?

Of course it does! It’s an all too common compliant. We all think we don’t have enough time. It’s our great problem. Time urgency.

Or is it our great excuse?

What if we actually never have had a time problem? What if our real problem is with priorities?

The truth is, at the end of the day, we all do what matters most. PERIOD. 

Often when we feel anxious or in a hurry, it’s simply because we’re not doing the one thing that we should be doing.

So let’s try to help each other. As the year draws to a close, and holiday season makes for busier and busier schedules, let’s map out our priorities. I challenge you to do this and then share your list of priorities with a trusted friend. Ask that person to hold you accountable. Then, watch as your daily tasks unfold with greater ease and your “lack of time” becomes less of an issue.

Cheers to doing better with priorities!

Walnuts and Rice

Here’s a fun exercise to try if you haven’t heard of it before:

walnuts-and-rice

Take a jar, a handful of rice (enough to fill the jar) and a handful of walnuts. If you put the rice in first and then the walnuts, you’ll find that there is not enough room in the jar for both. But if you put the walnuts in the jar first and then the rice, they both fit fine.

What’s the lesson?

The walnuts are our priorities. The things that matter most in life.

The rice is everything else. The small stuff. All of life’s little details.

walnuts-and-rice

When we do what matters most to us first, the rest of life kind of just falls into place. Life always works itself out when we have our priorities in line and we put our walnuts first.