You may be thinking: “What does a hippopotamus have to do with this?” Well it looks docile right, almost cute, even. The fact is, the hippopotamus is responsible for over 2000 human fatalities per year, that’s over 150 times as many as sharks were responsible for last year. And that’s the problem with these misconceptions you have, they seem harmless enough, but given time, they prove to be a lot more trouble than expected.
While we try to live out or peaceful lives, we often unknowingly carry with us misconceptions about important things in life that can have a large negative impact on us over time. It is easy to accept something as fact with little to no proof when it’s completely unrelated to your master’s paper. You could for example not fully understand:
#1 What Makes You Happy
The thing about happiness is that it is easy to think of it as something intangible, something that can only be reached through achieving your goals. And while reaching goals can certainly contribute, that’s definitely not the whole picture. There are things that are making you happy in your daily life, little things, small parts of your routine that you could increase and benefit from.
The 30 day experiment that Alexander suggests is really an amazing idea… but you can take it a step further. Every time you feel like you are doing something that you not only feel isn’t helping you in any way, but you also don’t find it that enjoyable or entertaining, write it down. As time passes, you find more and more little things that contribute towards your happiness, and a lot more things(usually) that are working against it.
Even if you have a lifelong goal, it is important to enjoy the journey as well. If you are unhappy and over stressed, it is easier to completely give up on the goal and walk away, so remember to take time to shut down and relax, and just worry about enjoying yourself from time time time.
#2 What Makes Your Loved Ones Happy
I’m sure you are familiar with the somewhat cliché concept of a father working 2 or 3 jobs to make sure that his family can stay in a nice neighborhood, and his kids can have whatever they want. Anything, except time with their father.. which is what they want more than any of the above. (This is definitely not an attack on parents who worked hard their entire lives to ensure that their kids had it better, if that’s you I salute you for it.)
But don’t be afraid to challenge your perception.( This is going to become somewhat of a theme on this blog, as it is something I am a huge advocate of.) Sit them down and ask for their honest opinion, what you can do to make them happy, instead of jumping to conclusions that may or not be right.
(Question for the ladies: I am aware of a certain cliché idea that goes something along the lines of “If you need to ask, you can’t make me happy” or something, which I honestly find slightly ridiculous, but anyway, do you think that applies to this as well? While excess asking and prodding is annoying, one serious question about what can be done to increase collective happiness is something I think should be mandatory in any relationship.)
And even if directly asking is out of the question, you can try to truly focus on how they react to certain things. What they appear the most genuinely happy about. Then you can make it your mission to do similar things as often as possible.
#3.What Helps You Relax
Sometimes you just do things out of force of habit. Like watching TV excessively for hours on end every day after you get home from work or school, something I was guilty of for several years. While I agree that a good movie, or a great show, can be a good way to relax in moderate amounts, in excess, a feeling of unease, or unpleasantness starts to build up.
Sometimes it’s not about finding some new magical habit, it’s about finding a balance. While too much of one thing is bad, too much of another thing might also be bad, but if you find a balance, it contributes to your general well being and happiness. You might also have discarded something without ever trying it, for example meditation. I thought meditation was a load of crap, then when I actually tried it, it almost blew me away. A simple breathing technique helped me overcome a sleeping problem I had had for years. Check out what just a deep breath can do.
#4.What You Do That Helps Your Business/Blog/Career The Most
The thing is, this does not only apply to your daily life, and your relationships, it’s also something that is applicable to your business, your blog, or your career. Sometimes you find yourself with dangerous, untested ideas about what is most effective.
These are often the result of having propelled oneself into action without thorough preparation. The dilemma is of course that if you prepare for too long, it is easy to lose sight of the goal, and never even start. Thankfully the answer is quite simply. Start testing wherever possible, and identify which parts of the process are actually responsible for most of the results.
If you are unfamiliar with the 80/20 principle, it is basically an idea that states that 20% of the work you do, is responsible for 80% of the result. So imagine how much you could increase the results if you identify the parts that are truly important, and focus more on them. Ramit Sethi explains it a lot better than I can Apply the 80/20 rule to earn more and work less.
#5.What Your Passion Is
Whether you have a vague idea of what your passion might be, think you have definitely found it already, or maybe you have even concluded that you have no passion. That you have nothing that drives you… testing is in order. Try new things, try writing, painting, go diving or rock climbing, volunteer for the first time.. your passion could even be hidden among things you have already discarded without trying.
My dad took up disc golf at the tender age of 55, and it is something he grows increasingly passionate about every passing year.
#6. What You Can or Cannot Achieve or Become
Okay so while I am an advocate of realism, and doing careful research before setting out on a new project, there is nothing more pointless, than telling yourself you can’t do something before you actually try, or at least really research what you want to tackle. Don’t try to convince yourself that you’re happy where you are, when you are obviously not. Quit focusing on the “why you can’t”, focus on the how, and then start taking action.
I always wanted to become a writer, and I am currently going through the motions. I got my first freelance client a week or so ago, and I am planning on only scaling up from here on out.
#Bonus: What Your Favorite Food/Music/Destination Is
While sticking to your comfort zone helps you avoid risks of disappointment, you face the much greater risk of never discovering your actual favorites. So keep that in mind when you go to that same restaurant, order that same dish, or go to that Spanish resort for the 6th time.
Never Stop Learning, Never Stop Exploring
I am sure you were starting to realize what the pattern was.. but it has to be said. Never stop learning. Never stop exploring. Don’t let your unproven ideas keep you from living the life that you could be living.
Find Your Own Balance
Balance is incredibly important. While some super humans manage to get by with only healthy, productive habits, for us more normal-like creatures, that won’t be sustainable. At least not at first.The same goes for work, money, etc. If you work too much, you get exhausted, if you work too little you can build up stress because of your financial situation. If you are too worried about being frugal, you can end up spending all your time cutting coupons, but if you spend too much money you end up in dept.
So find your own balance, find what works for you.
As someone who really hates misconceptions, this is my task for you. Just be honest. I’m not going to ask you to share my content, or comment, although to be honest I would be tremendously pleased if you do either, just, please don’t be the source of further confusion down the line. There is a time for white lies, but most of the time, frank honesty should be your favorite tool in the toolbox.
What is the most surprising misconception you have debunked?
Picture by: Andy Roberts