I set out this week to write a piece on happiness. More specifically on what I believe is an issue in our society with coveting happiness far too much and how that has driven in part our mental health issues, but I have sat here until Monday and written mostly garbage. I understand what I want to put out in my head but I cannot seem to translate it through my fingers. This has led to a lot of what some might call unhappiness and theoretically they may be write. I am not sure why I can’t get it out of my head but I assume it is because it is a subject I care deeply about and it’s quite controversial when it comes right down to it. And so for now I shall pivot. I am sure that one day (hopefully soon) I will have whatever it is I am missing to write the piece in a way that I want to but for now you will just have to settle for my thoughts on our narratives and the way things actually are.
Now I am not going to go down the rabbit hole of assuming I am 100% right. After all I am the guy that talks a lot about the changes I have made over the last few years and have gone from someone who was considered a logic bully always proving why I was right, to someone who self-purports to be focused on being less wrong and no longer caring about being right. Am I a hypocrite some of the time. For sure I am. Does that stop me from being able to weigh in on the subject, I don’t think so.
So hear me out, in life we often attach our identity to what we know and when new information is presented to us it can be incredibly hard to adjust. This has nothing to do with the information being wrong as there truly isn’t a right and wrong in the black and white sense we so often try to sell it as. Just look at history. How fucking often have eggs flip flopped from good for you, to a killer and back again? More times than I can count. Hell at one point cigarettes were literally prescribed by doctors for irritated throats and cocaine was used as a local anaesthetic. So not that I needed to but I believe we have established that there is a good chance that we are often not right. Yet most just assume that if we are not right we have to be wrong. Just like most things in life there is nuance to almost every situation and there are varying degrees of “right” almost everywhere around us. Are eggs good for you? Based on current science it sure seems like they are but if you have high cholesterol they may be a poor choice. Did cigarettes help an irritated throat? Apparently so but the long term ramifications are well documented and are definitely not worth the risk. Is cocaine a great local anaesthetic? Absolutely in the strictest sense of the word but it comes with so many other complications that we could probably find other more viable solutions. Now I know these examples are facetious but I do believe they solidify my argument. None of these things in recent memory have anyone equivocally attached to the latter arguments. We all generally believe and understand the studies and tests that have proven over time the argument for or against them to be accurate. I am specifically using things that are not in current debate as the debate is not the issue at hand. The fact that either side of any situation right now is more focused on proving the other side wrong by any means necessary is the issue. We have so attached our identity to what we believe that we cannot open our eyes to the possibility that we could be wrong. And just to clarify this wholly, that goes for all parties involved at the moment so please don’t waste anyone’s time with comments as to why you are more right in any current debates. Now back to the point of the whole thing.
Here is the kicker to this whole argument. We can all see that there would have been people attached to either side of said arguments above. Just like there is now in our current situation. I am not here to posit what and who is right or wrong. I am here to ask you to understand the narrative you have chosen to follow. To realize that there is probably a group of people, a belief system or some other thing that you have attached your identity too. From there we then attach our identity to whatever side of the story our group chooses to be on. Even when the likelihood of either side being 100% right is probably a big fat ZERO. And once our identity is attached to it, well then it becomes incredibly hard to be open minded or put the effort in to see all sides of the situation because in order to do that we would have to question our very identity and one thing we have proven as a species is we aren’t so great at that. We love our ego’s and they serve a purpose but when they are attached to our decision making process it can spell almost certain failure. We become so closed minded we often cannot when we are hurting ourselves never mind others.
So what can we do about this, about the dissension we create every time we idealize a decision we make and attach our identity to it? Well the first step is probably being aware that none of us are anywhere close to perfect and we all have the capacity to not be right which should leave us with the freedom to detach our personal meaning from the things we believe and start to question them.
I urge you to start in your own life and to look at the narratives you have about yourself. This is something I have done and have proven myself a complete liar in so many ways. It has been incredibly freeing and uplifting! This is the most light hearted example but it is an example none the less. For years I told anyone that would listen that I was just barrel chested and didn’t have the build to be able to have a six pack and that physique was hereditary. At the time this was my truth. I was in lets call it mediocre shape. I needed to make a change and set out to do so, never with the intention of having abs (because I genuinely believed that was not a possibility). Well over the last 3 years I have focused on my training and decided I wanted to set an example as a middle aged dad for those around me. I have trained for endurance sports, basketball and obstacle course racing and here I sit as a complete hypocrite. I have a six pack. All of my beliefs around body composition hit the floor around me. Am I upset to have proven myself wrong, not one bit. But I do hope this shows that with some work you can adjust your own thinking of yourself which should lighten the load and allow you to start to see things for just what they are rather than what you perceive them to be and to determine what is important. We are far too often trapped by our narrative and assume that the other side is truly bad. This is rarely if ever the case. I just wish we would spend more time questioning our own narrative versus attempting to tell the other side why they were wrong. If we could do this and attempt to be less wrong rather than all right while working to understand the other sides narrative we would probably all live a deeper more fulfilling life.
So try it, on yourself or in whatever situation you choose but realize that people are what matter and none of us are so different if you scratch the surface of the narrative you follow. It be a huge help to me if you shared a place in your life this may help you or a spot you have utilized this. Thanks for reading!