I thought we might spend this episode having some fun. Sometimes we hear things from famous people that sound like something useful and maybe even important. When we do, we might do well to ask whether what is said is actually valid or if we just think it is reasonable because someone famous said it. Perhaps even famous people are as capable of silly talk as the rest of us. Let’s consider a few examples, knowing that what we say is as likely to be silly talk as it would were we famous.
I have included a few notions that I think are interesting if not actually exciting. Perhaps you will agree. Give it a try and see what you think. Either way, I’m sure you will enjoy the tune from Kevin.
I suspect most if not all of us know about the notion that we tend to see what we expect to see, hear what we expect to hear and so on. The idea is that we tend to reframe our experiences to fit with our expectations. We may think that we are always objective but we aren’t.
For example, this is in part why two people can hear the same politician speak and go away with quite different impressions. One of us may think that the politician is a great person who speaks the truth and the other thinks he or she is corrupt and can’t be trusted. The tendency to see the world as conforming to our preconceptions is called “Confirmation Bias.” Let’s shorten that to “CB.”
CB reaches out in other ways when we aren’t expecting it. If we go out for the evening for an expensive meal at a fancy restaurant, we are likely to judge the food to be better than the fair at the corner diner, even if that is not objectively true as judged by experienced food critics. If we buy an expensive watch, we tend to think that it keeps better time than the clock on our microwave, despite that it isn’t true.
If our friends or reviewers tell us that a movie is not very good, we are apt to rate it lower than we rate it when no one has influenced us ahead of time. We tend to rate most anything higher when we experience the brand-name version compared to when we are given a generic or off-brand version.
Here is the point. Quite often and frequently unconsciously, our opinions, judgements and perspectives are shaped by other people, circumstances and past experiences and expectations that we are not aware of. CB is real and influences all of us at times. If you are feeling skeptical, consider star ratings that we see for products and experiences such as movies and restaurants. You know about star ratings such as 1 star up to 5 stars. The reality is that they are objectively not very reliable and are easily manipulated by groups and individuals who benefit from high or sometimes from low ratings. We know that they are at best just opinions and at worst statistical garbage. Even so, we still look at them and at least partially make our purchase decisions based on them. What you may not know is that we also base our satisfaction with the product, service or experience to some extent on those star ratings.
Are you old enough to remember Ozzy and Harriet? If so, you will recall that only the children argued and then only in the most considerate and polite way. Everyone was thoughtful and, well, nice.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just think about how well you think other families get along with each other when they get together for a summer barbecue or a winter holiday. If you think they get along great or at least better than your family does, you have bought into what we might call the Ozzy and Harriet syndrome.
If that doesn’t work for you, take your imagination along with you to work. Picture a workplace where everyone is positive and in an up mood all the time. You and your coworkers are always thoughtful, considerate and, well, nice. It’s always a pleasure to go to work and a joy to spend time with your coworkers.
If you are still struggling to get up to speed with all of this, focus on your relationship with your parents, your significant other, your children, your friends or maybe even your neighbors. It’s an Ozzy and Harriet world. Everyone gets along just fine with everyone else and that is especially true for you. You are always easy to get along with and are a joy to be around. Ozzy and Harriet could have picked up some being nice pointers from you.
I send this Special Valentine along to you with my appreciation for the time you spend listening and with my best wishes for you and yours. If this Valentine touches a tender spot in you, please pass it along to someone who matters to you.
May be you are totally cool with your lease on life and have zero interest in renegotiating your lease. If so, right on. You are definitely one of the lucky ones. It’s also possible that you think you own your life and are not reduced to leasing or even worse, certainly not to being just a renter. I suspect you also have the perfect answer when asked how many of you it would take to put in a lightbulb. You know don’t you? Sure you do. It would only take one of you. You could just hold the lightbulb and the world would revolve around you.
I’m sorry. I know that’s not you. I just tossed that in there to put off any of those high-and-mighty types who might have unintentionally pressed play and started listening in on our conversation. They think they are above the rest of us. You know the type. They aren’t above anyone but sure think they are. They also think they are entitled and don’t know that they are only leasing the space they have among us and can have their lease canceled without notice at any time. But we know, we totally get it. So let’s talk about our leases.
What are the terms of our lease on life? Yes, there are always terms. The space each of us occupies is by contract only and it’s important for us to know the terms of our lease, terms of our contract, for if we don’t hold up our end of the contract, we will sooner or later get evicted – an unfortunate outcome indeed. Let’s give some thought to just what the terms of our contract to get to live among the rest of us actually are.
Our lease on life has both basic and premium provisions. Here is the catch. The basic provisions apply to each of us and are not negotiable. They spell out what is expected of us. Failure to comply gets us evicted from our place and usually gets us downgraded. Conversely, the premium provisions are the benefits we get from our place in the scheme of things and are usually at least somewhat negotiable but can be changed or taken away without notice or negotiation. We are held firmly to the basic provisions and have to comply. We have some choice about the premium provisions but have to cope with the reality that our lease on life comes with no guarantee whatsoever.
What comes to mind for you when I mention “cooperative?” Now consider what comes to mind when I mention “not cooperative.” For me, the only notion that comes to mind is “Uncooperative.
Let’s try the same exercise with ”relaxed.” For me, several emotions come to mind such as up-tight, anxious, agitated, upset, restless, and so on. Even so, I divide the emotional state into “relaxed” and “not relaxed.”
The point is that I divide emotional states into two states that I can characterize as “X” and “not X.” Try it for yourself. For example, What is the alternative to being “affectionate,” to being “supportive,” to being “trusting?” You likely come up with a few words to describe each, but those words are just ways of being more specific about “not affectionate,” “not supportive,” and “not trusting.”
If we were to stop here, the conclusion would be pretty simple. The target emotion is either present or not present. What’s more, We also divide emotions into two more groups: good and not good. Being cooperative is good and being uncooperative is bad. The same good or bad dichotomy holds for relaxed and not relaxed, affectionate and not affectionate, supportive and not supportive, trusting and not trusting. Sure, there are people and situations where good and bad get reversed, for example, where trusting is a bad idea and not trusting is the better part of good judgment. Nonetheless, good and bad are still in play.
In less personal relationships and situations, we may want to replace “affectionate” with “warm” to avoid any issue with meaning, but the present versus not present, good versus bad division still applies. What is the alternative to warm? Terms like cold and aloof come to mind. “Warm” is good and “aloof” is bad.
Do you aspire to be a super hero? If so, this is a tale for you. If not, you may want to listen anyway since sometimes we may have super powers that have escaped our attention. Your best bet is to press Play and have a listen.