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You Don't Know What You Want

https://medium.com/@krisgage/you-have-no-idea-what-you-want-757567375d31

medium.com

You Don't Know What You Want
Most negative emotions are caused by our demand for life to have meaning. And moreover, that it be subjectively meaningful - i.e., meaning we choose. The problem is that the human brain is a "meaning machine," and it will make sense out of literally anything put it front of it.

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Petter Johansson

“A lot of what we call self-knowledge is actually self-interpretation. So I see myself make a choice, and then when I’m asked why, I just try to make as much sense of it as possible when I make an explanation. But we do this so quickly and with such ease that we think we actually know the answer.”

Petter Johansson

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The meaning machine

The human brain is a “meaning machine,” and it will make sense out of literally anything put in front of it.

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Figuring out what we want

Confirmation bias plays a big role in this process: once we make a selection, we’ll do almost anything to rationalize it.

Which is why action will always trump analysis.

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Abstract expectations

They are the opposite of the real and actual here-and-now. The problem with them is that when we fail to reach the future we had pictured in our heads, we face feelings of disappointment, inadequacy, and anger.

And then we start to look for help from others on how to asses our lives (mostly from self-help gurus and writers).

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Happiness isn’t in achieving fantasies

What will bring us the satisfaction and satiation we crave is, rather, abandoning our fantasies and misconceptions of what will bring us happiness.

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“Work and rest are actually partners. They are like different parts of a wave. You can’t have the high without the lo..."

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Why we don't take time off

  • We think more work should equal more output: we see productivity not as doing more with less. But simply doing more.
  • We’re afraid of being “left behind”:  not only could we miss out on some important conversation, but we worry that we’ll be left behind.
  • Work has become a larger part of our identity: we feel personally connected to the work we do. Taking time away opens up all sorts of questions that can be hard to face. 

Deliberate rest

It is a play on the term “deliberate practice” and it means engaging with restful activities that are often vigorous and mentally engaging.

It is not a continuation of work, but a way to find activities that let you recharge from your workday, while still being mentally productive.

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Worrying about what others think

We all worry, in our own ways, about how we’re being perceived.

The fact that we’re being judged matters much more than whether those judgments seem fair or well-informed. We also don’t tend...

Being "fairly" judged

It’s impossible to be fairly judged. Nobody will ever understand you perfectly. You will continually be both underestimated and overestimated.

Your own assessment of yourself is hardly the “right” one. We tend to either obsess over our faults or overlook them completely.  And with strangers, there’s no hope of anything approaching a fair assessment. They have zero context for what they see in you. 

How we judge strangers

Become aware of your own judgments. You’ll discover that they’re almost always categorical (good person or bad person), that they’re provoked by a single behavior, and that you rarely second-guess these judgments.

Notice what it feels like to judge a person, how absolute and uncomplicated it seems, then remember that you’re seeing this person through the keyhole of a single moment in their lives.

You are not your thoughts

Most of us will do anything not to feel worried or dissatisfied and will try and find ways to soothe ourselves or find ways out of our problems.

However, the key to healing and understanding ...

Separate thoughts from the act of thinking

We usually buy into what our feelings tell us and allow them to overly direct our actions and choices. 

Instead, notice the act of thinking without getting tangled in your thoughts. See your thoughts as ongoing attempts to make meaning of the world — give them power only to the degree that they help you. 

Disobey yourself on purpose

The mind's power over you is an illusion. For instance, say one thing while doing the opposite. You will find that it is possible to do the opposite of what you are thinking. (For example, type, I cannot type this sentence, while you are typing the sentence.) Regularly doing this exercise can give you more freedom to do hard things.