Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain
When engaged in an argument with someone, there are a number of lines of reasoning which I tend to reject out of hand. For example, if someone argues that such and such a policy is virtuous based on the fact that Wall Street has responded positively and stocks have risen, I will call foul. Or, if someone were to give me business advice based on the fact that they have an MBA and therefore know better, I would tell them I could give a hoot about their Master of Business Administration.Advertising
Similarly, the moment someone tells me that such and such a behavior or belief must be correct because it is what the majority of people do or believe, I tune out. It’s usually just not worth continuing the discussion.
Truth be told, Mark Twain’s wise words have gotten me through more than a few dark times in my life. There was that time when the majority of voters in America re-elected a certain president to a second term (I’ll let your imagination run with which one I’m talking about). I consoled myself with the idea that the majority of voters who had re-elected this fellow were likely to be wrong in their judgement, even if they were the majority.Advertising
There was also the time when I decided not to go to a well-regarded Washington D.C. university — where I was set to study international relations and business — and instead to attend an out-of-the-way graduate program in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to study philosophy and the Classics. I bet the majority people would have said I was crazy to give up the chance at such a marketable degree to spend my graduate degree years reading Aristotle and Kant. But I did it anyway.
By now you probably get the picture: I have a certain disdain for the majority opinion.Advertising
There is a fantastic scene in Mad Men where Don Draper voices a similar disdain. His public opinion guru, Dr. Faye Miller, has concluded after focus testing a group of young women that the best way to market a beauty product is to link it to the promise of matrimony. Don had wanted to run a campaign based on the women’s desire to pamper themselves and appear beautiful, but according to the focus group, women just want to get married. “I’m not going to do that,” replies Don, when confronted with the majority opinion.
“I can’t change the truth,” says Dr. Miller.Advertising
“How do you know that’s the truth? A new idea is something they don’t know yet, so of course it’s not going to come up as an option. Put my campaign on TV for a year, then hold your group again, maybe it’ll show up.”
The fact is, there a whole lot of people out there who don’t know what they want until someone tells them. Most people look to their peers to decide what to think and do. It’s a natural way to think, and social norms are an immensely powerful influencing force in our lives — more probably than we care to acknowledge. We look to our peers for guidance on any number of mundane and significant life matters, from what to wear, to what career to pick, to what sort of woman or man to marry.
What Mark Twain knew in his time, as he wrote American classics like Huckleberry Finn (or my personal Twain favorite, The Mysterious Stranger), was that any time you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Think on this the next time you are tempted to enter a market that is already crowded with dozens of startups. Or the next time investors dump a particular stock en masse. Or the next time the NY Times travel page recommends an “off the beaten track” vacation destination. Because trust me, if the NY Times is publishing it in its travel section, it is no longer off the beaten track.
At this point I must note the customary disclaimer that yes, in some instances the majority will indeed be in the right. But that doesn’t mean it’s still not time to pause and reflect.
Last Updated on January 21, 2020
12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life
Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they are feeling lost in life and isolated from everyone else.
While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:
What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?
Here are 12 things to remember:
1. Recognize That It’s Okay!
The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.
However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.
We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.
Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It
2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide
You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”
Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.
3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth
Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.
Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!
4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think
Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.
No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react: How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind
5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer
Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.
Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.
6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now
Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.
Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.
Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable
7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best
Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.
Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.
And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.
8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious
When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.
Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.
9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason
Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.
Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.
Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.
10. Journal During This Time
Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.
This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.
11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way
It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.
The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!
Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.
12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists
The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.
Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.
When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.
Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!
Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.
Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.
More About Finding Yourself
- How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person
- 14 Books That You Should Read When You Feel Lost In Life
- Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again
- How to Be Happy Again: 13 Simple Ways to Shake off Sadness Now
Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com