Zoe Meditations: On Time, Superiority Bias, & Anger

Before we start with this week’s Zoe Meditations session, I would like to start by announcing that my latest Ebook, The Zoe Challenge is finally out!

This short Ebook was meant to be read weekly and unlike an ordinary book where the sole aim is to read it from end to end, this book requires you to apply the ideas to your life directly.

Here’s a quick look at this beautiful baby…

You can download the Zoe Challenge Ebook for free by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. Simply drop your email in the subscribe box below and check your inbox.

You will find that you will receive two of my signature books: Zoe Life and Zoe Challenge. I hope these two Ebooks will brighten your day in this difficult time.

Enjoy!

Our time is the most precious commodity on earth: Marcus Aurelius in his famous Meditations once said, “Remember… time… how brief and fleeting your allotment of it.”

When you really think about it, you will find that he has spoken a very important truth and thus, it is essential that we learn how to use our limited time well. According to Robin Sharma, the author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, here’s how you do it:

– Focus on your priorities: When you try to do everything, you will end up doing nothing. So try to prioritize your activities and focus on the most important thing. Limit your daily task to a 3×3 post it note, if you have a longer list than that, you are probably overworking yourself. Which brings me to the second tips:

– Simplify your life: Not everything that is urgent is important, reminds self help guru Stephen R. Covey. So, try to focus only on tasks that are relevant to your goals and values, to do that:

a) 80/20 your life. Focus on the 20% of your life that has 80% of the impact. Not all activities are created equal. Some activities (20% of your overall activities) have a higher impact (80% result) on your overall life than others. Your task is to find them and do them well. 

b) Say no to things that don’t add value to your life. 

c) Live like you are going to die tomorrow. 


The superiority bias: As a human being we have this weakness called superiority bias. We don’t just see ourselves as ‘better.’ we also see others as ‘worse’. We like to paint others in a negative light so that we can feel superior by contrast.

We told ourselves, we are different. We are more rational and ethical than others.

It’s the equivalent of an optical illusion- we cannot seem to see our faults and irrationality, only those of others. For example, we are easily convinced that those in the other political party do not come to their opinions based on rational principles, but those on our side have done so.

The truth is, we are all deceiving ourselves. Rationality and ethical qualities must be achieved through awareness and effort and they do not come naturally. They come through a maturation process. So before judging something, labeling a person as good or bad, ask yourself:

“If I was in his/her position would I do the same thing?”

If the answer is yes, you are probably right. We are all humans and as a species, we all shared the same quirks and traits. Humans can’t act out of his or her nature.  


The power of meaning: According to psychiatrist Victor Frankl, “Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning.”

Does this mean that finding our life’s meaning will guarantee happiness?

Not really. In fact, life can become tougher.

As Frankl noted, “Mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being. We should not, then, be hesitant about challenging a man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill. It is only thus that we evoke his will to meaning from its state of latency. I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.

A meaningful life is not an easy life, but it is the only kind of life worth living.


Anger is not the solution: According to stoic author Ryan Holiday, “Are most people doing wrong on purpose or are they like you — in all the times you have been or done wrong in the past — probably (wrongly) convinced that what they’re doing is right?”

The answer is the latter, and this is why anger is not the best response to any situation.

What we need is restraint because let’s face the truth: we can’t do much when we are angry.

We must treat indifference with empathy, cruelty with compassion, anger with patience and love.

Each of us has to work on this, myself included. We cannot let ourselves be rattled by the wrong we see in the world. We must limit our inputs, and cut out toxic provocateurs and manipulative media. We must sit quietly with our own thoughts, and push ourselves to respond to everything we see with kindness and calmness. It’s easy to be clever or cruel. It’s hard to be composed and clear.

“But what about the cases when wrong is being carried out deliberately?”

“What about actual evil — which sadly is all too real?” You ask.

Here, again, anger isn’t the right response either. Because truly diabolical people are far too nefarious and dangerous for us to approach with anything other than our most rational and strategic efforts. 

You cannot change other people. “You love them the way they are or you don’t. You accept them the way they are or you don’t. To try to change them to fit what you want them to be is like trying to change a dog for a cat, or a cat for a horse.” said Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of Mastery of Love. 

The right person for you is the person you love just the way he/she is, the person you don’t have the need to change at all.You can love everyone; but to deal with a person on an everyday basis, you will need someone more closely aligned to you. That person doesn’t need to be exactly like you; the two of you only need to be like a key in the lock.

Perhaps you already have a certain amount of time invested in a relationship. If you choose to keep going, you can still have a new beginning by accepting and loving your partner just as she is. But first you will need to take a step back. You have to accept yourself and love yourself just the way you are. Only by loving and accepting yourself the way you are can you truly be and express what you are. You are what you are, and that is all you are. You don’t need to pretend to be something else. When you pretend to be what you are not, you are always going to fail.

Once you accept yourself just the way you are, the next step is to accept your partner. If you decide to be with a person, don’t try to change anything about her. Just like your dog or your cat, let her be who she is.

Be yourself, find a person who matches you.


Explore then execute: People often assume that minimalists have less options than normal people, but according to Essentialist author Greg McKeown, this assumption was wrong.

Essentialists explore and evaluate a broad set of options before committing to any. While Nonessentialists automatically react to the latest idea, jump on the latest opportunity, or respond to the latest e-mail, Essentialists choose to create the space to explore and ponder.

We know instinctively that we cannot explore every single piece of information we encounter in our lives. Discerning what is essential to explore requires us to be disciplined in how we scan and filter all the competing and conflicting facts, options, and opinions constantly vying for our attention. 

Getting to the essence of a situation takes a deep understanding of the situation, its context, its fit into the bigger picture, and its relationship to different fields.

Greg McKeown recommended us to seek a different perspective on a given situation, one that would shed the light on the topic in a fresh, different or thought-provoking way. One trick he uses is role play: he puts himself in the shoes of all the main players in a story in order to better understand their motives, reasoning, and points of view. Once he struck an anomaly, he noted it as ‘essential information.’

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I'm a happiness blogger who writes about philosophy for living strong, loving unconditionally and laughing more.

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