Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

Given The Choice, Would You Rather Be A Good Person Or A Dangerous Person?

Given the choice would you rather be a good person or a dangerous person? What an odd question to ask, you may say, of course, I’d rather be a good person! For those of you who know me and have read my work before, you would know that one of my favorite things is to tackle difficult subjects, look under the surface, lift the veil, and shake things up a little. This article definitely falls into this category, it is not for the faint-hearted. What if I tell you, that if I was given the choice to be a good person or a dangerous person, I will choose to be a dangerous person. Before you give up on me and react in shock and disbelief, bear with me a little because my whole thinking on this subject was inspired by Bruce Lee and Jordan Peterson.

“The most dangerous man is the one who observes, listens, thinks.”

Bruce Lee

“A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who voluntarily put this dangerous side of him under control.”

Jordan Peterson

The most dangerous person is the one who observes

The most dangerous person is the one who observes – Photo by user 14901510 Studio via freepik.com

According to the Oxford dictionary, “observation is the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information.” Our observation skills inform us about objects, events, attitudes, and phenomena using one or more senses. Improving your observation skills allows you to “listen” with more than your ears and make better decisions. We all have eyes but a lot of us don’t really use them to observe; we look at think without really observing them. Just looking at something produces nothing.

Observing produces insights. When we observe we are able to take a step back to peer into ourselves and others. Observing ourselves is essential, but observing others provides another angle. When you combine the two, the observation of ourselves and others you get valuable insights that you can use to better connect and communicate with people. Developing our observation skills is critically important.

Get into the habit of observing the world as it is, in all its variety, learning from it, and put what you learned into use in your decision-making process, in improving your intuition, in building your relationships.

The most dangerous person is the one who observes.

The most dangerous person is the one who listens.

The most dangerous person is the one who listens – Photo by kuzmich Studio via freepik.com

“When you talk you are only repeating something you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”

Dalai Lama

Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Before you talk, listen. Listening is the key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

Effective communication also starts with the understanding that people are not mind-readers. Expecting people to guess your wishes and aspirations is only going to bring you frustration and resentment. If you want something from someone, express yourself clearly. If you use the right words, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations in reality. Listening requires more than hearing; it requires focus and concentrated effort. Listening means paying attention not only to the story but how it is told. The use of language, the tone of voice, and how the person uses his or her body. It means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.

Every problem big or small starts with bad communication. Someone is not communicating their message clearly and/or someone is not listening. Did you know that only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is tone and infliction of voice and a staggering 55% is body language? Your facial expression, hand movements, gestures, eye contact, attitude, tone of voice, the way you look, listen, react, speak far more about your feelings than words will ever be able. The way you feel about a particular subject matter will affect your non-verbal expression; if you feel angry, sorrow or fear those feelings will transpire in your facial expression and tone of voice.

This is why listening is an important aspect of communication. Effective listening is not just the understanding of spoken or written information, but also an understanding of how the speaker feels during communication, it is the ability to listen with empathy. Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feeling of another regardless of whether we agree with it or not.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”

Aristotle

The most dangerous person is the one who listens.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks – Photo by Jnemchinova Studio via freepik.com

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Jonny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling”.

Thomas Sowell

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things we have knowledge of. Critical thinking can be understood as a deep activity, one that requires the development of new habits of mind. It is not something that comes to us naturally, it requires extensive study and practice.

When we have our critical thinking hat on, we develop our problem-solving capabilities and our ability to look at the strengths and weaknesses of an argument; the result is that we are more able to see things clearly and this can help us make better decisions. We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled, the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

We live in a world of double standards, flagrant contradictions, and intolerance. It seems that people these days are incapable of having adults’ discussions with someone with who they strongly disagree, and have a civilized exchange based on reason rather than rage. It is a very sorry state of affairs. Preaching intolerance in the name of tolerance is a frightening contradiction that doesn’t seem to faze some people.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks critically.

Coming back to Bruce Lee’s quote “The most dangerous man is the one who observes, listens, thinks” I would like to tweak it a little bit: ‘” The most dangerous person is the one who observes, listens, thinks and then acts accordingly” because knowing without doing is like not knowing at all.

Joanne Reed

And this my dear friend is Your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com

Categories
Self-Help

What if we are being played?

Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, philosopher, politician, historian, and writer who lived during the Renaissance. He is best known for his political treatise The Prince, written in 1513 where he articulated the Divide-and-Conquer policy. Fast forward to the modern era and there is no denying the fact that the world is more divided than ever; everything is politicized and polarized. Sensitivities and emotions are at an all-time high. In this blog article, I am going to ask you to step back a little to look at things from a different angle and to ask yourself the question: what if we are being played?

Machiavelli’s purpose in writing The Prince was twofold: 1) to show a ruler or would-be ruler how best to maintain his political power and influence and 2) to redeem himself in the eyes of the ruler of Florence after his fall from grace, having been imprisoned and banished from the city from the rulers of the time. Reading The Prince will not leave you indifferent, it will no doubt shock you by its bluntness and Machiavellic genius.

Machiavelli argued in this book that a sovereign (who he calls a prince) must from time to time resort to unethical and immoral policies and practices in order to maintain control and maximize their own power and influence. In other words, a ruler should lie, cheat, break promises and so on to strengthen or maintain his control while pretending to promote the welfare of the people. The end justifies the means. Machiavelli formulated his political theory after years of observing corrupt politics close up, having firsthand knowledge of all the dirty tricks and tactics that those rulers were using. This said, he accepts the fact that given the choice it is better to follow established moral and ethical precepts, except that politics is a tainted profession and being moral and ethical in politics can be a tall order.

“Saints passed their lives praying in monasteries or working in leper colonies. City hall was the domain of the devil. To survive in city hall, one had to adopt the tactics of the devil.”

Machiavelli

What if we are being played by a policy of divide and conquer?

What is we are being played? Forget divide and conquer do unite-and-conquer instead.Photo by Copperpie via freepik.com

One of Machiavelli’s key political strategies can be found in the Divide-and-Conquer-Policy. The divide-and-conquer policy allows the leaders to conquer their foes, and reinforce their ability to selfishly keep their positions of power and authority by creating intrigues and conflicts among the people leading them to fight against each other; leaving the ruler sitting comfortably on this throne eating popcorn and enjoying the show.

According to the Collins Dictionary, Divide and Conquer is “a concept that refers to a policy intended to keep someone in a position of power by causing disagreements among people who might otherwise unite against them. Divide and conquer is a strategy that has been used from the beginning of time and is still being used today. Peasants v Aristocrats, Rich v Poor, Black v White, Christian v Muslim, Men v Women, Straight vs Gay, Old v Young, Left v Right, Republicans v Democrats … and you can go on and on and on. Making people fight against each other serves the purpose of the rulers. There is a lot of discontent currently around the world, people are angry. The question is who benefits from it? The world is upside down and a lot of it doesn’t make sense. For more on this, feel free to check out my book “This Is Your Quest”.

The divide-and-conquer policy is widely used but is it really effective? Leaders who seek selfish interest and behave in a divide-and-conquer way, which hinders positive cohesive relationships, may not be rewarded with the respect and trust of their peers as a consequence. People may well realize that they are being played and if they are smart, they may decide to not play this divide-and-conquer game and decide to play unite-and-conquer instead.

What if you are being played and continue to act like two rats in a cage

What if we are being played? Ask yourself where those shocks are coming from. Photo by Ilin Serguey via freepik.com

A fascinating study with rats was conducted in 1966 by Roger Ulrich from the Michigan University in order to figure out if pain could be the cause and trigger of aggressive behavior. In this study, a single rat would be placed in a cage with an electrified metal grid floor. Painful electrical shocks were delivered randomly throughout the floor to the rat’s feet, causing the rat pain and making him utterly miserable. After a while, the experiment showed that the rat would eventually learn to tolerate those shocks, however uncomfortable.

Then the plot thickened, and a second rat was placed into the cage. Now, the 2 rats are being hit with electric shocks at the same time but instead of adjusting and tolerating these shocks, each rat now has a convenient object to blame for their discomfort, i.e. the other rat. The result is that those 2 rats would fight against each other sometimes to the death because of that anger.

This rat experiment can teach us a lot about people’s reactions to what is happening in the world at the moment. The rats fight each other because they can’t comprehend where the shocks are coming from. They don’t understand that there is behind the screen a man in a white lab coat pushing a button triggering those electric shocks. And this is also valid for humans, people fight each other because they are miserable, but more often than not they haven’t taken the time to find out what is really shocking them.

Currently, we are being shocked from all angles, we are shocked every day by the fear of death by a virus. We are shocked by a system that is taking away all our liberties bits by bits. Our ability to move freely to wherever we want is under assault. Our ability to be able to work and earn a living is in jeopardy. Our ability to be able to think the way we think is being questioned. Our ability to be resilient and independent is being hindered. We are shocked every day when we go to the shop and see the prices keep going up. We are shocked every day when our paychecks are being nibbled away by higher and higher taxes. But it is very difficult to understand the why, how, and what on earth of this story. The result is we are suffering from shock-induced aggression that makes us point the finger at someone and direct our anger at that person or group of people.

How about pausing for a minute or two, to look at it from a different angle and take a wider perspective on things and ask ourselves the question: am I being played? Maybe I would be better off being united instead of being divided. How about stopping to participate in the divide-and-conquer game and starting to pay unite-and-conquer instead?

And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

Categories
Self-Help

Essential Life Lessons: Think for Yourself

“Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge”

Carl Jung

Essential life lessons: Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language, reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think, but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline.

Socrates is credited for being the first critical thinker and the Socratic method is one of the earliest critical thinking instructions tools known to man. The Socratic method is described as a form of a cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.

Essential Life lessons: Think for yourself. I think therefore I am – Rene Descartes

Essential Life Lessons. Think for yourself. I think therefore I am . Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things we have knowledge of, and we don’t have the structures in place to think deeply if we haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

Critical thinking can be understood as a deep activity, one that requires the development of new habits of mind. It is not something that comes to us naturally, it requires extensive study and practice. When we have our critical thinking hat on, we develop our problem-solving capabilities and our ability to look at the strengths and weaknesses of an argument; the result is that we are more able to see things clearly and this can help us make better decisions.Critical thinking is a skill; to be good at it, you will have to spend time practicing the art of thinking for yourself.

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling”.

Thomas Sowell

We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled, the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

Skills required to be able to think for yourself.

Essential life lessons. Skills required to think for yourself. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Rationality. We think critically when we rely on reason rather than emotion when we follow the evidence when we are more concerned with finding the best explanation rather than being right, and when we get into a habit of asking questions.

Self-awareness. We think critically when we recognize that we suffer from emotional impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, narrow-minded vision, and other modes of self-deception.

Open-mindedness. We think critically when we evaluate all reasonable inferences, consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives, remain open to alternative interpretations accept the new explanations, models or paradigms, because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies. We cannot reject opinions just because they are unpopular.

Discipline. We think critically when we are precise, meticulous, comprehensive exhaustive, resist manipulation and irrational appeals, and avoid snap judgments.

Judgment. We think critically when we recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives and recognize the extent and weight of evidence. Critical thinkers are skeptical by nature. They are active and not passive. They ask questions and analyze facts and data. They consistently apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure their understanding. Critical thinkers are open to new ideas and perspectives. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence.

By contrast, passive, non-critical thinkers take a simplistic view of the world. They see things in black and white, as either-or, rather than recognizing a variety of possible understandings. They see questions as yes or no with no subtleties. They fail to see linkages and complexities. They fail to recognize related elements. They take their facts as the only relevant ones. They take their perspectives as the only sensible ones. They consider their goal as the only valid one.

Essential life lessons. Learn to navigate your way through misinformation and disinformation.

Essential Life Lessons. Learn to navigate your way through misinformation and disinformation.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact; everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

Marcus Aurelius

We are living in a world of information overload, data about almost everything is available to all who wish to access it at the click of a button. We are constantly bombarded by a steady stream of information (sometimes misinformation, exaggerations, and mischaracterizations) about a whole range of subject matters, making it very difficult to know what and who to believe.

Critical thinking is important because we need this skill in order to navigate our way through all the information, misinformation, and disinformation that is being served to us on a daily basis on all media platforms.Misinformation is false information that is being spread, regardless of intent to mislead. Dis-information on the other hand is false information that is deliberately misleading or biased information, manipulated narrative or facts, or propaganda that is being spread with the intent to hurt or damage a person or organization.

Trying to nail down the authenticity of anything and verify our knowledge about the world is a tall order. We are huge consumers of all types of media, but often lack the tools to think about how and why we are passively consuming what we watch, read, and share. We are inundated with news. How can one discern between real news and fake news? We are often not thinking about how our own biases affect how we think about the world. We are also getting comfortable in our echo chambers, devoid of people and ideas who challenge our own beliefs.

We expect Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Google to filter the truth for us, rather than putting in the hard work to do some thinking for ourselves. Some social media posts go viral in minutes after they are posted whether they carry with them the truth or an exaggeration of the truth or total falsehood. There is always the option of fact-checking some of the information such as Factcheck.org or Snopes website. The problem is that if the counter-information is not shared in the same manner as the viral post the damage from the false post cannot be counteracted. Another problem that happens more and more these days is that you have to fact-check the fact-checkers who may not be as impartial as one may think. Follow the money and see who is financing those fact-checkers.

There is a scientific term for this in psychology, it is called the Illusory Truth Effect also known as the Reiteration Effect, it is the tendency to believe the information to be correct (even if it is not) after repeated exposure to that same information. Repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth. Many studies have been conducted on this, and the conclusion is that familiarity overcomes rationality the truth does not matter. Repetition does!

“The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent. The media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. This is the sort of propaganda tactic that I would call psychological warfare.”

Malcolm X

Essential life lessons: Even experts can be wrong.

The other tendency is to relinquish your power to think critically on someone else and rely on the opinion of the experts instead. Society needs experts because those people know a thing or two about their own area of expertise, they are specialized in their field and are being paid to share their knowledge, wisdom, and experience with the world at large.

This said, whenever you decide to ask an expert for his advice on a particular matter, I suggest you put your critical thinking hat on to ensure that you fully understand the advice you are being given, the scope and limitations of the adviser’s expertise, his or her ability to see the problem in its proper context, the possibility that these experts may be subject to bias and in the worst-case scenario, the possibility that the expert may be wrong.

History is full of anecdotes showing that even the experts can be wrong. In 1968, Time Magazine made the observation that “online shopping while entirely feasible will flop.” In 2019, worldwide online shopping reached nearly 43.7 trillion. In 1876, senior executives at Western Union made the following statement: “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. It is inherently of no value.” In early 2017, Apple announced that it has sold 216 million iPhones.

No one, including experts, really know with absolute certainty what will happen in the future. Every time there is a national disaster, a pandemic, or some dramatic event, we can rely on television news to find an expert to come on TV and generously share his predictions and knowledge on why this happened and what will happen next. The truth of the matter is that sometimes those experts are wrong.

Critical thinking is more than important, it is vital. Without critical thinking, you will be another sheeple lost on the crowd and dutifully following the trend of the moment and absorbing the world’s accepted view. Critical thinking is a skill that should be nurtured and valued.

The world needs critical thinkers more than ever. The ability to think about things in a critical way will make a difference to you and the people around you.

“I think (critically) therefore I am (free).

Knowledge is power and thinking critically is freedom. And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code.