When you first become interested in learning more about “happiness” or “success,” it’s easy to fall for the whole “follow your passion” mantra that has become so popular these days.
“Discover your passion. Do what you love. Follow your dreams.”
Everyone seems to repeat these clichés in one form or another. We share inspirational quotes on social media like Facebook and Twitter, especially many teenagers and young adults who grow up telling themselves, “I’ll just do what I really want to in my life (and screw everyone else).”
To be honest, these ideas have always resonated with me to some degree. A part of it is my rebellious nature and willingness to break norms in society. Another part of it is I’ve always been interested in “big ideas” and achieving “big things” with my life.
These sentiments have their value. However, over time I’ve become less obsessed with the idea of “following your passion,” and I definitely don’t think it’s something everyone needs to do to be happy or live a satisfying life.
For many, the idea of “following your passion” is just not realistic or practical.
People have jobs, families, and bills to pay – obviously they can’t just drop everything on a whim and follow their newfound interest in fencing, or painting, or coin-collecting, or whatever. As you get older, “follow your passion” becomes less and less useful advice.
Instead of asking, “What’s my passion?” – a much better question to ask yourself is, “What’s my duty?”
Today among colleges and students, there is an increasing demand for “safe spaces.”
“Safe spaces” are essentially a place where anyone can be themselves without being judged or made to feel uncomfortable for it. It’s often associated with groups of like-minded people getting together and talking, commonly on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, cultural background, or political identity.
In concept, I’m not against the idea of “safe spaces” at all. It can be very healthy and relieving to be able to express yourself in a judge-free zone. Often “safe spaces” provide the opportunity to feel understood when that understanding is hard to find in other places.
We all need a type of “safe space” every now and then – a space to freely be ourselves and speak our minds without fear of negative judgment – even if it’s just with close friends or family.
This is especially true when it comes to victims of violence, abuse, trauma, or drug use, where “safe spaces” (or support groups) can often be a necessity when recovering from negative events and growing as a person. These are very legitimate uses of “safe spaces.”
However, there seems to be a craze growing on college campuses right now where students expect to be in a “safe space” all of the time. They don’t want to be exposed to different opinions from other students, teachers, or faculty at all. They want to feel safe and comfortable 100% of the time.
We’ve reached a point where “safe spaces” aren’t just protecting weak and vulnerable people, but creating them and perpetuating them.
Inside Out is one of the best children’s movies of 2015, but it also encompasses a powerful lesson that we can all learn about emotional intelligence.
For those that don’t already know, “Inside Out” is the newest movie by animation superstars Pixar. It follows the life of an 11 year old girl named Riley and the various emotions that live inside her mind.
Each emotion in the movie is wonderfully depicted as its own personality. There’s Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hadar), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).
The main premise is that all of these emotions need to work together to help Riley make important decisions and navigate her everyday life.
After an unexpected move to a new town, Riley struggles with managing her negative emotions and trying to find happiness in her life. She misses her old home, old friends, and her family who are struggling with their own problems as well.
Up until this point in her life, Riley’s “core memories” were all positive, but for the first time she is struggling with negative “core memories,” including an embarrassing moment her first day of school when she bursts into tears in front of the whole class.
In today’s culture, children are often taught that they’re perfect, they’re always winners, and they can never do wrong.
Parents are constantly coddling and protecting their children’s “self-esteem.” They guard their children from any experiences of negativity, hardship, or failure. They teach their children that as long as they “be themselves” then they deserve to be rewarded for it unconditionally.
As a result, we grow up with the belief that “I deserve all the happiness and success in the world exactly as I am. And anyone that denies me this is wrong.” We have become self-centered, egotistical, and entitled. We begin to believe that we deserve everything for nothing, because we’ve never put in work to earn something ourselves.
According to The Road to Character, “self-esteem” isn’t necessarily the best force that drives good character, even though our society tends to highly emphasize it. Instead, what’s most important today is to cultivate humility and modesty.
As painful as it can be, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses and limitations more often. We need to reinstitute the concept of a “flawed self” – a self that is hypocritical, broken, and highly prone to being wrong and making mistakes.
It’s only when we accept this “flawed self,” that we can truly embark on self improvement and the building of good character. But if we always pretend we’re perfect, and we always pretend we can do no wrong, then we will never change or grow as individuals.
Whether it’s a ground-breaking scientific discovery or a glimpse into our own personal beliefs and habits, what leads people to moments of insight?
This is one of the key questions psychologist Gary Klein asks himself in his new book Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insight.
Today, in the field of cognitive psychology, there is a big focus on identifying cognitive biases and reducing errors in our thinking. However, according to Klein, this is only one aspect of becoming a better thinker.
While individuals and organizations like to reduce mistakes in decision-making, another important aspect to cultivate in our thinking is how to increase insight and creativity. However, this question can be a bit trickier and harder to answer.
Gary Klein is a rare type of psychologist because he doesn’t always like to study the mind in controlled experiments and laboratories. Instead, he has pioneered a new field of psychology called “naturalistic decision-making,” where he studies people’s decisions and choices in the real world.
Instead of trying to devise a clever experiment to study insight, he gathered 120 different case studies of people actually making insights in the real world. These case studies included revolutionary thinkers in science, medicine, and technology, as well as everyday people like policemen, firemen, teachers, friends, and family.
In this thought-provoking book, Klein does a great job “digging through the trenches” of different stories describing people’s insights. He then creates a working model of how different insights are created, which he calls the “Triple Path Model of Insight.”