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2 Things You Must Let Go to Find Happiness and Satisfaction

2 Things You Must Let Go to Find Happiness and Satisfaction
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Have you ever wondered, what would your life be like if you wouldn’t be able to judge your environment, the world that you live in? I know for a fact that some of the greatest things that have happened to me, such as becoming a vegetarian or starting my own blog, happened only because I was able to silence my pride and prejudice for a while. I allowed myself to close my eyes, and I refused to listen. My imagination began to go wild, and I finally said to myself “why not?” 

The desire to learn

Now, where am I going with this? Well, I want to continue by saying that some of the most successful people out there have at least one thing in common – the desire to learn. A person cannot progress and be successful if they are closed to experiencing and learning something new. Their ability to refrain from saying – “I know that” – allows them to expand in their development beyond what most people are capable of.

You have probably have heard of some people saying that they are wiser because they are older. While that may be true sometimes, I have seen cases where people in their 40’s definitely have misused that argument. By saying something like that, they automatically close themselves from understanding and learning something new about this world. Do you think that a 20-year old cannot be wiser than a 40-year old? Of course, they can be!

When I was a little younger, my family used to own budgies. You know, those little blue, green and yellow parrots that you see in pet shops. These birds are small in size, and are not extraordinarily smart. However, there was not a day that I didn’t learn something new about them, and something new from them. I remember being amazed by how much these birds can do, while being that small. I looked and I stared, and I never thought of them as being stupid or anything even remotely close to that.

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Again, where am I going with this?

If we are able to learn so much from small birds living in our house, how much can we learn from other people? How much can we learn just by observing the world around us?

Our progress slows as our egos expand

Unfortunately, as we grow older, our ego expands with us. As we see ourselves becoming intellectually savvy, our importance begins to play a major role in our life. The three words “I know that” becomes quite common in our vocabulary. We get accustomed to looking down at some people, and disliking others. Our progress in this world slows down.

Coming back to the topic of pride and prejudice, do you think that these two concepts are taking over your life? I personally have come across many situations where I knew that if I would have given the other person a chance, I could have learned something new and probably benefited from it. But I let my own pride and prejudice regarding that other person take this experience away from me. I simply made the decision not listen to them, because I mistakenly thought that I knew better.

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Living in a world of duality

We live in a world of duality, where we choose to see things as up or down, black or white, sadness or happiness, good or bad…the list goes on and on. Although we say that we should not judge a book by its cover, we keep doing it every day of our life. We are able to predict an outcome of something before it has even happened, simply because we have already formed an opinion regarding it. When we see a person walk by us, we instantly give them a label based on the shoes that they wear, or the haircut that they have. It just seems so natural to do this. I, however, ask all of us to change these habits.

There are moments in life when I practice full awareness, and one part that I really love about it is when I am able not to judge others based on their looks or the way they speak, for a long period of time. It is an amazing feeling. Somebody that you wouldn’t otherwise consider talking to, becomes suddenly such a nice person. Being able to see beyond the form is truly a gift.

Another example of where pride and prejudice impact us a lot is in education. I remember coming to class during my university years, and trying to listen to some of the professors. Sometimes, when I already knew something that they were explaining, I felt that I had no reason to keep listening. I closed myself from all of the information that was offered to me. On other occasions, I didn’t like how the teacher taught, and so I convinced myself into believing that the teacher is not capable of teaching me. Instead of focusing on what I could learn, I focused on how “bad” the professor was at teaching. Now when I think of it, if only I wasn’t so quick to judge, I could have learnt so much more.

Today vs before

Living in today’s society has become incredibly easy. In the past decades and centuries, interactions between a teacher and a student were quite different. Information was given, and when the students refused to behave, they could have been spanked, or even struck with a wooden stick. School corporal punishment was a common practice.

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In those times it was probably difficult to complain about the form that was used to teach. Instead, the meaning, the essence of what the teacher was trying to tell them was given the priority.

Today, the world in that context has become a much better place. People are generally polite to each other, avoid conflicts, and violence is prohibited in schools. All of this has given us the freedom to choose who we want to learn from. We now have more space to focus on the form, on the how of what is being taught to us, instead of focusing on the what. 

Pride and prejudice, if not tamed, can be our worst enemies, that prevent us from developing ourselves further. I ask you to be more aware of not only how people talk to you, but more of what they say. If you neglect this, you may be missing out on a lot.

I began this post saying that by silencing my pride and prejudice for a while, I allowed myself to see vegetarianism as something so powerful, instead of “stupid”. I also allowed myself to see blog-writing, as something so interesting and fascinating, instead of something that will kill my free time and simply take me nowhere. Both of these things make me extremely happy and satisfied. Is happiness or satisfaction not worth leaving pride and prejudice outside of your life?

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Here I talk about the topic only from one of the million angles. You can expand on it and see for yourself where either pride or prejudice has prevented you from something great. In any case, the main thing that I wish you to realise is the importance of seeing and hearing beyond your own reactions to what is being shown or said to you.

Thank you.

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Victor Stepanchikov

Software Engineer, Blogger, Personal Development Freak

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly
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Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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