I know that I am among the luckiest, most blessed human beings to have ever existed on the planet since the dawn of time. I’m not in the 1% or the 0.1%, I’m in the 0.0000000000-well-you-get-the-point-001. That’s not exclusively because of finances (no debt and $26,961.98 in the bank as of tonight) or the era and country into which I was born (though those are huge contributors), but because of how I experience the world.
In my adult life, I haven’t done what I’ve heard so many people describe as “enduring” their lives/jobs/family/friends/situation. To me, the days seem to have very little monotony and an abundance of opportunities to be challenged, to learn, to help others, and to be filled with joy.
Some of that, undoubtedly, is the incredibly lucky situation I’ve come to be in since dropping out of college, digging a struggling consulting business into and then out of debt, and being made CEO of an exciting startup. And a lot of it, assuredly, is the presence of amazing people in my life – the 130 coworkers whose company I like a weird amount given how much time we all get together, and my wife Geraldine (whose blog is basically a testament to these last 3 paragraphs).
But some of it, too, is outlook and perception. It’s how I reflect on what goes on around me in the times when others might experience tedium or frustration or anger. I do get stressed, and I do feel those negative emotions, but if other people’s descriptions are any guide, for me, they’re dulled, like a shrill scream that’s almost too far away to hear.
I watched the video below a few days ago and have been reflecting on it since in the 30 minutes of my walking commute to or from work. It does a wonderful job of capturing one of my favorite lessons of life: “The only thing that’s capital ‘T’ true is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see (the world).“
There’s a principle in psychology called Fundamental Attribution Error. We see the behaviors of others through a lens that doesn’t recognize situational motivation (that driver honked at me because she’s a butt), yet ascribe situational modifiers to explain a massive amount of our own behavior (I honked because I’m in a terrible rush and I worried that other driver wouldn’t see me and I had a really rough day). That capital “T” truth says we don’t have to be blinded by this principle, and can choose how we perceive the world around us.
To quote a famous Englishman: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Perhaps our perceptions about the monotonous, frustrating, angering parts of our days aren’t always the ones we want to have, and perhaps, with a little effort, we can change them.