Welcome to another Zoe Listicles, where every week, I will summarize a few ideas that will help you live greater, love better and laugh more.
Before we start, let me first congratulate all you single people who have made it out of the Valentine’s day weekend unsacathed. If you don’t, remember that love is nothing but two people obsessed with fantasies they’ve projected onto one another’s external persona…
This week we’ll have more topics to cover, so without further a due, let’s get into it.
- If failure is not an option then neither is success: In one of Seth Godin’s online workshops, he once said something fascinating, “Whatever it is you seek to do, you will fail…”
He later explained that nothing succeeds with everyone. Nothing has a chance of being unanimously accepted. The people who succeed are usually those who are aware of this risk and still try anyway. Through every failure, they learn, they iterate and then they try again.
- Love others as much as you love yourself: My big brother once shared with me a wise remarks regarding this famous verse of the Bible. He said, “The key to understanding this verse is to pay careful attention to the last four words (as you love yourself). We can only love others much, when we know how much we love ourselves.”
This was an idea mirrored by psychologist Kristin Neff who is an expert in the field of Self Compassion. She said, “You have to care about yourself before you can really care about other people. If you are continually judging and criticizing yourself while trying to be kind to others, you are drawing artificial boundaries and distinctions that only lead to feelings of separation and isolation.”
- Take a random weekly evaluation session: In the early chapters of their book, Designing your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans encouraged their readers to evaluate their life in terms of Work (quality of your working life as a whole), Play (activities that bring you joy), Love (quality of our primary relationships) and Health (mind, body, spirit).
To this date, I have incorporated this idea into my life by taking ‘random weekly evaluation sessions.’ Every once in a week, I would take some time to measure my work, play, love and health balance. These sessions have been very helpful in making sure that my ladder of success doesn’t lean on the wrong wall.
I recommend that you try to incorporate this in your life too…
- Situational variables can exert powerful influences over human behavior, more so that we recognize or acknowledge. Just this week, I finished a book on the psychology of evil titled Lucifer Effect by Philip G. Zimbardo. This book outlines the findings of his infamous ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’- where college students were hired to become police officers and prisoners in a fake prison facility.
At the end of the experiment, he finds that “The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces.”
In other words people are not born good or evil; situations- family background, experience, culture- determined good or evil.
Now I understood why in his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius said, “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.”
This was a helpful reminder when we are dealing with difficult people.
- Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. This definition to the meaning of love by psychiatrist Dr. M. Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled suggested that real love is effortful, risky and a form of choice.
Love is not a noun, love is a verb.
- The point of self help books. Two years ago, I realized that I have read self help books wrong.
In his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k Mark Manson wrote, “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
For the past few years my relationship with self help books can be likened to a relationship between a rich old man and a strumpet. In one week, I would read 2 or 3 self help books, trying to make my life more positive; only to realize that my obsession to create a positive life suggest how negative my life actually is.
I realized then that to be effective, self help needs to be complimented with self worthiness. You need to remember that self help will make you a slightly better person, but it will not take-away your imperfections.
- Pause and be grateful. Coronavirus, war and economic crunch… everyday we seemed to be bombarded by more and more bad news from the world.
One of the best ways to remain cheerful in this difficult time is to take some time and thank God/ life/ Universe for what’s right in your world.
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