Notes Philosophy Psychology

Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today (12 Rules For Life)

The Right Pond 

It’s better to be big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. No matter who you are, and what you are doing, there is always someone who is more brilliant than you are. Don’t be too self-critical, this is a reality that each person must contend with. The upside is that there are many different games you can play. You don’t have to keep playing a game that you’re clearly losing.

And don’t make false assumptions about other people. If someone is better than you at something, it is doesn’t mean their lives are better than yours. It doesn’t mean they are happier, or have less regrets. Someone who is better than you at one thing may be failing at another. You don’t know the full story. Your co-worker might be outperforming you at work, but his relationship with his wife is wrecked, while yours is great.

Be Kind to Yourself

The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

Robin Sharma

Don’t be a tyrant to yourself, because you will eventually rebel against your own desires. Instead, be considerate towards your needs. Find out how much leisure you need, what activities you enjoy pursuing, before you demand work from yourself. Don’t treat yourself like a beast of burden, but a human being who deserves to be negotiated with.

You are hardwired to aim at objects and goals. But the mistake you make is aiming too high or too low or not focusing your aim enough. And by not aiming properly, at the right target, you live in constant disappointment. The first step is taking stock of who you are. This involves honestly criticizing your deficiencies and identifying your problems.

“The present is eternally flawed. But where you start might not be as important as the direction you are heading. Perhaps happiness is always to be found in the journey uphill, and not in the fleeting sense of satisfaction awaiting at the next peak. “

Treat yourself as a difficult person to deal with. But by careful negotiation, you can find and fix what needs to be repaired, and you may even take pleasure in doing so. There’s a part of you that is distrustful of who is leading it, because it has been tyrannized in the past. Listen to your internal voice. Be gentle with it, and reward yourself for the good behavior. Careful kindness can go a long way.

Aim Small

Don’t place too heavy a burden on yourself at first. As you constantly repeat a positive pattern of behavior every day, your baseline of comparison increases, and you get a little bit better. Do that for a few years and you will be completely transformed. Your aim will become higher, and more ambitious.

“What you aim at determines what you see.”

Most of your vision is low resolution. Dan Simon’s experiments with the Invisible Gorilla and other experiments showed how limited our capacity for attention is. We can miss major blind spots when we’re focused on something. It might be that what you really need is right in front of you, but that’s being blinded and obscured by your goals.

You have limited resources, so you must carefully choose what you want to pay attention to and make sure it isn’t the wrong thing. Then ignore the rest.

What if it was the case that the world revealed whatever goodness it contains in precise proportion to your desire for the best? You don’t need to know precisely what a better life means. But you must sincerely want it and be willing to sacrifice to get it because avoiding a life of ignorance, deceit, and resentment takes hard work.

Watch What You Do, Not What You Say

You are not an atheist. What you think you believe doesn’t matter. If you follow your arguments to their logical conclusions, you, like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, will realize how little you really know about yourself. You can only learn from yourself through your actions, not your thoughts, and you do not act like an atheist.

Our ancestors tried to transform the embryonic moralistic vision of the Old Testament’s “Thou Shall Not” and Ten Commandments into the positive, articulated vision of the New Testament – which calls for the redemption of the individual.

Keep Aiming Upwards

“Now, your trajectory is heavenward. That makes you hopeful. Even a man on a sinking ship can be happy when he clambers aboard a lifeboat! And who knows where he might go, in the future. To journey happily may well be better than to arrive successfully.…”

Keep aiming up. Do not focus on the actions of other people, but on your own. If you are patient enough, and aim low enough, and properly enough, then your own concerns will keep you busy enough to have no choice but to do so.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Read 12 Rules For Life

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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