Did you take the bait ? This is not my confession. This is a list of your mistakes too. One of the strategies I have adopted after I stopped being a reckless adventure-seeking maniac is to figure out my frequent mistakes. This helps me become a less reckless adventure-seeking maniac.
my ego, my enemy
It took a lot of time for me to recognize that my ego is not always my friend. It is helpful, but not my friend. How does it help me ?
My ego drives me to do great things. My ego makes me feel good ( most of the time). It makes me feel special. The only person who thinks more special about myself is my mother.
not thinking about death
The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.Albert Einstein
First time I saw death closely enough was when I saw my paternal grandmother breathing her last. I was 15 years old, it shook me for sure. It didn’t influence me in any significant way that I can remember. I was not particularly close to my paternal grandmother.
The 2nd time was when a close friend lost her father. The way it affected her shook me to my core. I realized that her religious belief was based on the hope that she will meet her father again in the afterlife.
The third time was when my father expired at the age of 53. It took 3 years for me to come out of that shock. His death gave me a perspective of life that I could never get otherwise. More than 15 years after his death, I know that his death made me a better person. I started caring more about the people around me from that day. Money didn’t look that appealing anymore.
Knowing that you will die, your children will die and in a few centuries, the world will have no evidence that you lived here once keeps your ego in check.
not trusting others as well as myself
You are never smart enough. You are just another chimp with a bit more grey cells. Yeah yeah, I agree we have language, they don’t have. The more important factor is that a single human is a worthless primate.
Someone who doesn’t trust others can’t live even a single day without breaking down. You trust the people who make your tooth paste, it could be poison. You trust the government to give you safe water. You trust the market to give you clean non-poisonous vegetables. You trust the bus driver not to drive you into the cliff. Why can’t you trust a colleague , customer, spouse, relative more than the stranger ?
We are often more afraid of people whom we should trust and unfortunately trust a very few whom we should really fear. How to make the distinction? It’s pretty simple – be more conscious of your decision to trust and distrust, we get better at it. It’s a pleasure to figure out that world is a beautiful place with so many nice people in it.
Very often we do not listen to feedback from people who don’t like us unless they hurt our feelings. Our friends who know our mistakes seldom dare to hurt our feelings. If you are a touchy person, nobody will criticize you. If you take criticism with a sense of humor, your friends will help you become better at work and in your personal life.
not being in control of emotions
We will never be able to control our emotions completely. After all, we are only human. A better understanding of emotions help us get greater control of our emotions.
not looking before the leap
Very often we understand we erred after losing self-control. We often wonder what comes over us after doing something we regret. The most important thing to know is to understand the importance of our decisions and actions. Being spontaneous is effective and necessary in most situations, after all being too cautions can drive us crazy.
An important thing to understand is that our emotions helped our ancestors survive in the African Savannah. Fear kept us safe from predators and enemies. Lust kept our species reproducing. Aggression and lack of temper kept our enemies from taking advantage of us unfairly. In today’s world most of those dangers don’t exist. Hardly anyone dies without bearing an offspring if they don’t choose that. Hardly anybody dies of hunger. Humans are hardly eaten by predators, murders are much rarer today.
Research has shown that lack of impulse control leads to success or failure in modern society. It makes sense to control our emotions.
Most emotions can be broadly classified as agreeable and disagreeable. Agreeable emotions are generated by conditions which are conducive to the preservation, maintenance and reproduction of our bodies so that our genes can continue to live through our children. Disagreeable emotions help us correct our course when our current conditions are unlikely to help the propagation of our genes.
In short, emotions are not for our benefit as much as for the benefits of our genes. The selfish gene theory proposed by Richard Dawkins is clear, your emotions and instincts help the survival and propagation of your genes. They can fool you.
Beautiful flowers, company of friends and family, appreciation from opposite gender are all sources of happiness. Beautiful flowers indicated available food, friends and family indicated a lack of danger. Do I need to explain why the opposite gender make us happy? Why should we be vary of happiness ? Just ask a single mother abandoned by the child’s father. We often make mistakes in judgement when we are extremely happy. We often trust the wrong person when we feel romantic.
Our ancestors were often killed by germs from smelly dirty things. We evolved disgust towards things which don’t kill us today. Selfish people evoke disgust in us when they take our good behavior for granted. As humans evolved as social animals, this feeling helped us cooperate in large groups. If you were naive and consistently exploited, you are unlikely to flourish and leave a large number of children and grandchildren in a very competitive world. We evolved disgust towards other races as they were likely to carry germs we had no defenses against.
Smallpox that killed millions in the Americas originated in Europe due to cohabitation with pigs and cattle. The indigenous people had not evolved any immunity against smallpox as they had no pigs and cattle in that continent. It is recorded history that the south Americans considered the Spanish very smelly (disgusting).
In today’s world such feelings are hardly relevant. However, we are guided by the same emotion towards the other ethnic groups.
Fear of losing our job is perhaps the greatest type of fear these days. We face the same emotions as the ones our ancestors faced in the face of a famine or a predator. We no longer have to fear as much as we do.
Stress from a bad boss can lower your immunity, make you obese, lower your testosterone levels, affect your creativity.
Our ancestors lived in an environment where you could’ve been killed for being too nice. You needed to make sure your neighbor couldn’t take you for granted. Today’s world has large communities, laws, police though not perfect. People do not routinely steal neighbor’s things if he/she is weak. People are rather nice mostly.
If our forefathers didn’t have this emotion, we wouldn’t have been born. Humans don’t need too much help with reproduction now, we are pretty much in control of that process. However, the emotions behind do not go away.
Pain from loss helps us keep store our mistakes in far more detail in our limited brain. This helps us to not repeat. In today’s world, over indulgence of this emotion leads to depression.
Status matters for human beings. Being poor, belonging to a lower social class affect us not only psychologically, but physically. A jealous male lover is unconsciously making sure he doesn’t care for another man’s offspring thereby missing out from future gene pools. A female’s jealousy is to ensure the male’s support in rearing the offspring. In the age of DNA testing and legal marriages, such worries are often misplaced and irrational.
Are we educated ? Yes, we have degrees from respected universities. Why then are the most successful people around us not highly educated? Why do we complain that our ministers are not educated enough?
We simply don’t understand to educate ourselves.
After stepping out of the university, most educated people put a full stop to active learning. However, the people who don’t hold degrees retain the natural curiosity they were gifted as children.
Formal education helps to get jobs. In most cases, it doesn’t teach you to perform well in the job you are hired. High performance requires active learning. If you are an enthusiastic self educator, success will come your way.