The Best Advice we are the Worst at Following…


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The best advice we are the worst at following, and why. This doesn’t need a huge preamble…

  • Think before you speak
  • Attachment leads to suffering so do the right thing, and be not attached to the result
  • Do what you love, not what makes you money
  • Forgive but don’t forget-we do either both or neither

Think before you speak: I tend to take it too seriously—to the point that there are sometimes rather long pauses in my speech, which annoys people. People have been hypocritically giving this advice since the inception of speech, maybe even since the dawn of communication (no doubt a derivative of the caveman adage ‘think before you grunt’). As far as advice goes, it holds water, absolutely—words once said cannot be retracted once said and first impressions cannot be rewound, so being choosy with words is paramount, yet we find ourselves vomiting out whatever comes to mind and thinking ourselves clever. Why? Here are my thoughts.

  1. We are so enamored with our own ‘wit’ and have such faith in it to carry us along during a back-and-forth that we mistakenly give it free reign. Those are dangerous grounds, rife with opportunities say something accidently offensive, something we don’t mean, or—at best—appear a little dumb.
  2. It literally burns more calories to spend brain time in your Prefrontal Cortex (the center for higher functioning thought/intention) so it is plausible that we humans—in search of the path of least resistance—allow thought to originate in our Medulla, which governs reflexes and involuntary motor movements. If this is the case, then we must work harder to resist the apathy and begin committing to each and every interaction or we are no better than our animal brains

Forgive but don’t forget: I would argue that we do either both or neither of these, as a rule. There will always be the grudge-holder who won’t let it go, but more common is those of us who intentionally pull the wool over our eyes. In order to forgive it is so much easier to forget as well…to constantly hold on to the kernel of resentment could make the task of forgiving impossible, so people tend to forgive and immediately forget as a way to solidify and justify that forgiveness. I can’t pass judgment on any form of forgiveness but I will caution that forgetting opens us up for repeating mistakes, and no one likes that.

Attachment leads to suffering, do the right thing and be not attached to the result: I believe this is a difficult one for the mentality of our culture, where our pride and honor is weaved intricately into everything we do. The advice is sound, we really should take the better road just because we know it is the right thing and avoid getting hung up on the results but that just isn’t reality. Our culture tends to be found on the side of the argument that believes the things we do are a reflection of our self, which inherently hinders our ability to detach ourselves from attachment, and thus, suffering.

Do what you love, not what makes you money: This one is personal to my heart, a self-convicted practical major and practically boring job, I am such a hypocrite. But because of this it won’t take too much digging to come to the reason why we ignore this pearl: because money makes the world go round. If you like what you do, you will not work a day in your life, but if you make money at what you do you won’t sweat bullets every time rent is due. No brainier. But still, it would be ideal to love what you do.

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