understanding the enemy

Learning New Things Can’t Hurt You

Some people have the misperception that they have to pick one side of an argument, and stick to it.  I’m a Democrat!  I’m a Republican!  I believe in Capitalism! Communism! Totalitarianism! Nihilism! Technology is good! Technology is bad!  And so forth.  But that is limiting, and doesn’t utilize your full potential. The reality is that most things are “grey scales” – combinations of good and bad; it takes some investigation to figure out if you want to embrace something or not.

The secret is, you can learn about other viewpoints and it doesn’t have to change you.  You can still be you. You won’t be suddenly transformed into an evil entity. You get to stay “you”. By learning opposing viewpoints, you can better understand the other side, in order to argue better against them – or, better yet, integrate what they want/need into what you want/need, and come up with a hybrid solution that (surprisingly!) works for everyone involved.

Some High Schools and some Colleges have a “debate team,” which is very useful for people to train their mental mechanism to argue either side of a topic – regardless of which side they believe in.  It’s super powerful and useful to do that, if you have a hard-time listening to an opposing viewpoint.  If you can’t say “I hear you, and here’s what you’re saying, but I don’t believe it myself,” then you could benefit from participating in something like a Debate Team of some sort.  It’s good mental training.  It doesn’t hurt you, you still get to be you, with all your viewpoints and life choices.  People without this training avoid understanding any opposing viewpoint, they don’t want to think about it at all; thus limiting their ability to work with people of opposing viewpoints.  Don’t limit yourself like that.  You deserve better.

Think about it: once upon a time you could not ride a bike. You saw other people riding bikes, though, and wanted to learn how. Someone gave you a bicycle. So you tried to ride it – and you fell down. You might have hurt yourself too! But you got back up and tried again. And failed again. And you were ready to give up, because it’s impossible! Two wheels in-line cannot balance! That’s mathematically crazy!  The physics don’t check out!  Except… everyone around you seems to have conquered it…. So you kept trying.  And eventually, after lots of scrapes and scratches and hurt feelings – and giving up for a few days – eventually you got it!  You can ride a bike now. And, you can ride a bike for the rest of your life.

Once upon a time you could not even WALK.  You had to learn that, from trial and error, trying over and over again, ready to give up, except that everyone around you can seem to walk, so why not keep trying; and eventually you got it.

Once upon a time you could not even TALK….

Your life is filled with examples of learning powerful things that set you up for success for the rest of your life.  And they weren’t easy. Did you learn to chew gum without swallowing it? Did you learn to blow bubbles?  Can you whistle?  Can you snap your fingers?  In each of these things you probably failed a lot before succeeding. And then, after success, you realized you were the SAME PERSON YOU ALWAYS WERE BEFORE, it didn’t change you; just, you could do this new thing, over here.  It’s great.  It’s amazing.

This is true for you right now, going forward.

What is it that you are facing right now, that you need to do but you can’t do?  That you need to learn but you aren’t learning? That you need to see but you can’t see?  What’s frustrating you, now?

Life-long learning – it doesn’t stop when you leave “school”.  School is just a man-made environment to learn a limited set of stuff; you need to learn a LOT more things to succeed in your life.  I know that, and you probably do too.

What exciting things did you learn last year?  You may have learned things that don’t work, in addition to things that do work.  What are they?

What exciting things are you going to learn this year?  You can consciously choose a set of things you want to learn or do, this year, that you’ve never done before.

The benefit of choosing the things you want to learn/do this year, rather than letting life choose them for you, is that you will fight against them less.  Because you chose them. They came from you.

Unbelievably, life will get our of your way if you are learning and working hard and focusing on areas of your life that you are legitimately lacking, things you want to get better at, and you are putting in the work to try to do them.  Life doesn’t care whether you succeed or fail – just that you are trying.  Because from trying comes failure; and from failure comes success.  It’s strange how that works.

Life gets out of your way if you live a consciously driven life.  If you don’t, then life steps in and throws obstacles at you to help you grow and progress in your life.  So, actually, you don’t have a choice about learning new things.  You can live your life either way – your life can be steered by you, or steered by life itself.  It’s up to you.  You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.  Until life makes you deal with things you never expected.

I strongly recommend cooperating with this overarching life system by choosing what you want to do, each month, each year, and consciously working on it.  Your life will be so much happier that way.  Mine is.  Because I choose what hard things I am going to work on each year, my car doesn’t break down very often; my health is pretty good, doesn’t cost a lot of money for medical bills; and my family and friends don’t constantly ask me for money; or if they do, I surprisingly have the extra available and I can sense when it is the right time to help them.

What I’m saying is this:

Life gets the hell out of your way when you are earnestly trying to take charge of your own progress in your life.

Life beats the shit out of you, throwing lots of new obstacles at you, when you are avoiding the challenges that you need to face in your life.

But don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Now, can you think of any good New Years Resolutions?

The choice is yours – choose wisely.