First of all, let me tell you a short story that will lay the foundation of this video. For a couple of months, our website has been having consistent server overload. This caused a significant drop in traffic and revenue. We’ve engaged our hosting provider, CDN provider, and an IT professional. Their different solutions either worked temporarily or didn’t work at all. Then few day ago, I was looking through a file on the website called .HTACCESS, and noticed a harmless piece of code. Intuitively I decided to delete the line of code… That was the end of the problem. What? You mean this tiny harmless line of code has been the problem all this while. You know what’s even more shocking? Just few days after removing this code, the website traffic almost doubled. We have been losing almost half of our revenue every single day for months because of this simple harmless code.
Thinking about it, you know the way computer works is modeled after the human brain. Our brain works with programmes and scripts creating habits. Sometimes a simple harmless habit may be costing you a lot more than you can imagine. You may try different productivity hacks, listen to speeches and coaches but only get little result. Here are 5 habits that seem harmless but make people mentally weak to take control of their lives. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to After School Africa for more insightful videos like this.
1. 98 percent Commitment
100 percent commitment is easier than 98 percent. As Clayton Christensen puts it, “It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than to hold it 98 percent of the time” This is the 100 percent rule. The reason is because each time we compromise on our principle or commitment a little bit, it becomes harder to uphold, or as Jordan Peterson puts it, “we lose a part of our self esteem”. In one of his lectures, Jordan Peterson talked about the German Nazis and why the students seated in that room had the tendency to be as brutal as the Nazi soldiers. The Nazis were just as human as anyone else. It took one little compromise of principle after another. And soon these ordinary people found themselves doing unimaginable inhuman things.
You can’t break a negative habit like watching pornography, smoking or excessive drinking with 98 percent commitment. You are either fully committed to it or you are not. Likewise, you can’t become successful with average commitment. A little compromise here and there sabotages your effort. It feels harmless to let down your guard, and indulge 2 percent of the time. But this 2 percent could destroy everything else.
2. Playing the Victim
As toddlers we observed that the louder we cried, the more attention we received. The attention was empowering. We wanted the power to make people do what we wanted without being accountable and responsible for our own behavior. And when we didn’t have it our way, we felt offended. We were the victim; the weak, the powerless. Many adults don’t grow past these manipulative tendencies. You know that person who is always compelled to let you know how your struggle is nothing compared to theirs. They are the victim by default. Interestingly, we are gradually and steadily evolving into a victimhood enabling society.
There is no denial that there are oppressors, exploiters and abusers of power among us. But playing the victim is not empowering. Optimism, responsibility, accountability and gratitude are not common words you find in the camp of victims. It is always someone’s fault.
Don’t let anyone convince you that you a perpetual victim. There are things you cannot control. But you can control how you feel about them and what you want to do with your life. As long as you continue to think that someone else is responsible for how you feel and how your life has and will turn out, you are enabling a victim mentality. Playing the victim is easy and harmless but it will cost you everything.
3. Resenting Other People’s Success
It feels harmless and comforting to look at another person’s success and just dismiss it as luck. Because admitting that they earned their success is admitting that you are responsible for your own results. It’s admitting that if you haven’t done well enough for yourself, it’s possibly because there is something you are not doing right or that you need to work smarter. Dismissing other people’s success as luck takes away the guilt and justifies the envy. But you miss the opportunity to learn. If you don’t believe that people can be successful through effort and a learnable process, you are conditioning your mind to believe the same for you. You believe the only way to be financially successful is to be lucky or to take from the rich.
There is no way anyone can be mentally productive with this mindset. Mentally strong people appreciate, celebrate and are challenged by other people’s success. It makes them want to work harder for their own result. When you recognize other people’s success as deserving due to hard work and a learnable process, you condition your mind to believe the same for yourself. That’s a lot more empowering.
4. Trying to Please Everyone
I learned an important lesson from watching a couple of videos of toddlers on YouTube. Who could be offended by a video of harmless little kids? Yet these videos somehow received substantial amount of dislikes. If there are people that are displeased to see babies trying to be babies, then you my friend are not safe from offending people.
Mahatma Gandhi defines happiness to be when “what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”. When you say and do what you think is right, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. In fact these days, people are easily offended with the slightest thing. It may then appear that the best way to get along socially is to try to please everyone. This may seem harmless but it’s depressing. Our souls yearn to express its true self through our works and interaction with other people. It will never be satisfied until we let it roar.
5. Avoiding Pain at all cost
Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. But guess what? Learning to fish or anything important can be a painful activity. That is why there are many people who will rather be fed than taught how to feed themselves. We don’t grow from avoiding the thing we fear. We grow from confronting them.
I find this quote by Sigmund Freud quite descriptive of this. “The goal of analysis was to help the person overcome ‘mental misery’ so they can deal with ‘normal human unhappiness.’” Life is tough, and there is nothing anyone can do about that. What people need is not protection from pain; what people need is to build the mental toughness to deal with the complexities of life. The more we are exposed to challenges the mentally tougher we become.
Always trying to outsmart or shortcut the painful things for easy life today only set people up for a difficult life in future. Some pains are unnecessary. But deliberately avoid pains that are mandatory to grow into more a resourceful human being is potentially self-destructive. The process of growth can be painful. But that’s what makes the destination worth it.
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