I believe we construct so many detrimental stories about others and how they treat us. We assume they are trying to leave us out, trying to make us feel bad, or trying to ignore us. But what if we change that and instead assume they are oblivious, self-focused, or are struggling with their own issues? While this does not change the actions of others, it can help us feel better about the intention, about the why we so often struggle with.
When we frame others as humans who only want belonging and happiness, the negative assumptions we make often melt away. I don’t want to seem naive; sure, there are always those malicious people who are actively trying to hurt us, but they are far less common than we think. I know I would rather feel naive than bitter.
This way of thinking is self-protective and inherently positive; leaving the space for us to give others the benefit of the doubt where we often fill in the blanks with malintent.
I think of all the times someone made an off-hand comment or forgot to thank me when I assumed it must have been a purposeful, spiteful choice. In my experience, spite is the exception, not the rule. While it is not easy to cultivate a positive outlook on others, it can be easy to begin questioning assumptions–and even asking the person directly in some instances.
What if that guy who cut you off in the parking lot just lost his job or is worried about his ailing mother? Would you feel differently about how he stole your spot? Maybe you wouldn’t cuss him out or send over a death glare. Maybe you would instead feel compassion for him and his situation. I know feeling compassion always leaves me feeling happier and healthier than an expression of rage or frustration in moments like these.
Most of the Ted Talks I post are about fifteen minutes long, but here is a shorter talk that still packs quite the punch. David Brooks gives a great five minute talk on two types of virtues; the dichotomy he describes between Adam I and Adam II really rang true for me. I constantly catch myself caught up in my Adam I virtues–striving to get into this or that program or wanting to get a certain grade. While Adam I certainly has a role in our lives, it is important to respect and nurture the virtues of Adam II in order to live a truly rich, fulfilling life. I plan to do a more in-depth post on this in the future, but for now…here is the amazing 5 minute Ted Talk!
Can you think of moments where one Adam takes over in your life? How do you handle those moments?
I think grit is what differentiates people who excel versus individuals who do well and “make it by.” Everyone I know who has achieved amazing things has an immense amount of grit. While hard work is not always everything–I don’t think that people who struggle simply aren’t trying–grit is the key to accomplishing many tasks. You’ll notice that this talk ties in very well with last week’s Ted Talk on growth mindset with Dr. Carol Dweck. Grit is so important, especially for people who don’t feel particularly gifted with one skill or “special” talent. Being smart, funny, or gifted is not everything…it’s about putting in the work.
Do you feel like you have grit? Where did you learn it?
Adam Grant is an amazing researcher and writer; I loved his book “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success”. The book is basically an extended version of his talk that I’ve posted here today. This is a great introduction into the world of behavioral economics. Grant does a great job of sharing the basic types of people and explaining altruism, and how you can use the information to your advantage in the workplace or in everyday life. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!
Do you think you are a giver, a taker, or a matcher? Why?
This might be my favorite Ted Talk of all time. When I watched this talk, it literally brought tears to my eyes. I think the concept of self-compassion is not always taken seriously–people think it is a light hearted idea not based in science. Self-compassion is so much deeper than being easy on yourself; it is a mindset of forgiveness and self-love. It is completely life-changing. It has really changed the way I treat myself in times of stress or failure. If you like this talk, I highly recommend you read Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself to learn more.
“The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff
Do you practice self-compassion? Do you treat yourself like you would treat a close friend?