THESE 15 PARADOXES WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
This is a transcript from something I heard Mark Manson talk about and I think its so damn true and useful that I had to get it on my website.
Some of the most mind-blowing truths in life are paradoxes. Stick around and I'll share 15 of my favourite ones with you. So, what the hell is a paradox? A paradox is something that is seemingly contradictory on the surface but turns out to be true or valid when investigated more closely. Paradoxes have this really satisfying effect on our minds where they twist it in a pretzel and turn it into like a figure eight or something, like it's a chicken and the egg type thing going on. I'm going to share 15 of the most profound paradoxes that I've come across.
1) The more you try to make people like you, the less they probably will. One really interesting thing about human psychology is that most communication that happens between us is not what we're actually saying, it is the subtext of what we're saying. It's not what I tell you, it's why I told it to you. Curiously, if I'm always telling you things because I think it will make you like me, that will cause you, that subtext will cause you to distrust what I'm saying. Now we've all had that experience where we've had somebody follow us around and just agree with everything we say, and it is fucking annoying. So please have an individual thought. There's something about human relationships, we need a little bit of friction in them for us to trust that the person is being authentic and real towards us. Because that's what creates a real relationship. That's what makes people actually like each other authenticity.
2) The more you fail the more likely you are to succeed. It's incredible how many examples there are of this in the world that are... I'm not even going to go into them. I mean, it's logical, right? The way you get good at something is by learning to do it better. And the way you learn to do it better, is by doing it wrong. So many people get so obsessed about avoiding failure and being successful by not failing, whereas it's quite the opposite. The way you become successful is by failing early, failing often and failing forward. And whatever fucking cliche about failure there is out there.
3) The more something scares you, the more you should probably consider doing it. Now, obviously this doesn't apply to like jumping out of a moving vehicle or getting in a wrestling match with a grizzly bear or handing a handgun to a small child. I don't recommend those things just because they're scary. But interestingly, the most important things we have to do in our lives, tend to scare the shit out of us. And why is that? Well, it's because the most important things in our lives, have the greatest effect on our identity and our perception of our own self-worth. And so, the stakes are high, and whenever the stakes are high, we tend to get nervous about it. And so if you find that there's an area in your life that... Or there's something in your life that you are consistently scared to do, even though you know it's good for you, probably means you should do it.
4) The more you hate a trait in other people, the more likely it is that you're avoiding that trait in yourself. Carl Jung called this the shadow. And it's basically this idea that, the things that irritate us about other people are often the things that we don't like to admit about ourselves. So, if you're consistently annoyed at people who are indecisive, it's a good chance that you don't like to admit that you're indecisive yourself. Or if you're always frustrated and feel as though people are disrespecting you, could easily be that you're disrespecting of other people. There's this interesting mirror aspect of our psychology in that we tend to project the uncomfortable things about ourselves onto the world around us, as a way of avoiding dealing with our own shit.
5) The more connected we become with the world, the more isolated we seem to feel. Now, this is a fascinating paradox, because with the glories of the internet and the YouTubes, we can get in touch and be in touch with literally thousands or millions of people. That's an incredible feat of technology. But what we don't think about, is that as soon as you are part of a group of thousands or millions of people, the more insignificant any of your individual actions feel. I mean, it used to be back in grandpa's day. Like you knew the people down the street, maybe you read the local paper about the mayor or the city council, and it felt like you could do something about it. It's like you could March down the town hall and be like, "I demand more parking spaces." And actually, have an effect on your life. But today, we're aware of problems that affect the entire planet. There are literally thousands of people talking about any given topic online at any given moment. So it creates the sense of, "Well, what the fuck can I do about it?" And we feel like we can do nothing.
6) You can only have a happy relationship if you are happy being by yourself. If you have some hole in yourself, some deep-seated insecurity or piece of trauma that you're trying to cover up with love and affection from somebody else, that is going to create the basis of a toxic relationship. You are going to become emotionally dependent on that other person. And because you're emotionally dependent on them, you're not going to have a good time. It's going to be ugly. It's going to be like a fucking rollercoaster, high-highs, low-lows, and it's going to go, "Ooh" And you're going to puke everywhere. And then your partner's going to get mad at you because you puked on their new shoes, and you're going to feel awful because you depend on your partner for happiness. And so, you buy him new shoes, but you don't have enough money and so you have to buy it on credit. And then your partner starts cheating on you because you don't have any money. And then you puke again. And it's bad. Just be happy alone.
7) The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know shit. I heard a really cool analogy about this one. So, it was like... It's called the Knowledge Circle. The smaller your circle of knowledge is, the smaller the border is with all the things that you don't know. And so, when our knowledge is very small, we think like, "Oh, well, there's like two or three things "that I don't understand, but I get the basics." But as you learn more in that knowledge circle expands, the border of that circle with the unknown expands as well. And so, once you become an expert in your field, you realize that there are like 250 things that you don't understand, and tons of open questions and tons of inconsistencies, and tons of shit that people have gotten wrong. And so, you get this paradoxical fact where, the more you know about a subject, the more you struggle to talk about it, because you realize all of the things you don't know. And this relates deeply with paradox number eight.
8) The more a person is convinced they are right, the more likely they are wrong. There's a thing in psychology called the Dunning-Kruger effect. And it basically says that the less experience or expertise somebody has in a field, the more confident they will be in their beliefs. The Philosopher Bertrand Russell wants sum this up quite eloquently when said that the problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves and intelligent people so full of doubts.
9) The more honest you are about your faults; the more people will think you're perfect. There's a funny thing about vulnerability, and that, even though it scares the living shit out of you, it makes everybody think you're courageous and powerful. So, it's like standing up in front of a bunch of people and being like, "Yeah, I'm actually pretty fucked up. "I drink too much and puked on my partner's shoes, and they broke up with me and slept with the mailman." Everybody's just like, "Oh my God, so brave, I love this guy. "I wanna hang out with him, I wanna be friends with him, "I wanna have babies with him." It's this beautiful paradox of vulnerability, that it's, the more we expose our flaws, the more we're comfortable with our shortcomings, the more people revere us and respect us.
10) The paradox of choice, which is, the more options you have, the less satisfied you will be with each one. So basically, it's like, if you sit down at a restaurant and they have four options, you'll pick one of the four options and you'll probably be pretty satisfied with it. But if the menu is like the fucking cheesecake factory, and there's like 45 pages of options, you will spend the next 30 minutes of your life agonizing. Well, you'll agonize why the fuck you're at the cheesecake factory, but before that, you will agonize whether you made the right decision or not. In the psychological literature, this is called the paradox of choice. The more options you give people, the less satisfied they are with whatever they pick. And in economics is just known as Goodwill opportunity cost. When you've only got four options, you're only giving up three potential choices. Whereas if you have 400 options, now you're giving up 399 potential choices. And that hurts a little bit.
11) The more you force a relationship, the more likely you are to break up with a person. This is a something that I feel like everybody has to learn in the hard way. I certainly did when I was young and stupid. You cannot force feelings. In fact, what you will find is that the more you try to force feelings, the more you will create the opposite feeling. This applies to everything. The more you try to not feel anxious the more anxious you feel. The more you try to not be angry, the angrier you feel. The more you try to not feel guilty, you start feeling guilty that the fact that you feel guilty. And so, emotions have this kind of self-perpetuating aspect about them. And so, if you try to force yourself to love somebody, it's just going to make you love them less. If you try to force yourself to trust somebody, you're just reinforcing the fact that you don't trust them in the first place. When it comes to emotions, you have to surrender to the emotions. You have to do the opposite of forcing them. And in relationships, this often scares the living out of us, because we're like, "Well, if I don't try to control the relationship, "maybe they'll go away." And yeah, maybe they will. But if they don't, that's what makes the relationship meaningful.
12) The more you're able to love yourself, the more you'll be able to love others. The less you're able to love yourself, the less you'll be able to love others. Generally speaking, the emotional health of your relationships is going to reflect your emotional health within yourself. If you're able to be compassionate with yourself, forgiving of mistakes, grateful for successes, then that is going to be reflected in your ability to be compassionate and grateful and forgiving of others. If you're not able to do that with yourself, then you're not going to be able to do that with others either. Generally speaking, we tend to treat ourselves the way we treat others and vice versa. And so, if our relationships are deeply fucked up and incredibly judgmental, and highly controlling and constantly anxious and insecure, that's probably how we are on our own as well.
13) The less afraid you are of death, the less afraid you are to live. Life itself requires risk. If you're going to do anything meaningful or worthwhile, you need to risk something. Maybe not risk your death, but at least risk something, risk money, risk reputation, risk your emotions, risk your dreams and goals or whatever. If you're not willing to risk things, then you're not going to be willing to do things. So, the more comfortable you become with risking loss, actually risking the ultimate loss, which is the loss of your life, the freer you are to actually live.
14) The only certainty is uncertainty. That is, the only truth is our complete lack of knowledge of truth.
15) The only constant is change. The world is always in flux. It's always moving, it's always changing. Anything that is true today is going to be uncertain tomorrow as we continue to grow, expand, and evolve. And so, learn to be comfortable in that uncertainty. Or should I say, learn to be comfortable in that discomfort.