I’m going to tell you a story about a boy named Nicholas. He was raised on a small farm in the village of Yorkshire Dales in the United Kingdom. He was the only boy his age on the farm. He had a younger brother who was blind. His father was a farmer, and his father and father’s father were also farmers. Nicholas went to a one-room school house only four miles from his home until he was a teenager.
However, Nicholas had ambition.
In his teenage years, he took something called the 11-plus exam. By scoring nearly perfectly on the exam, he was able to go cost-free to an elite boarding school.
Nicholas went on to study Nuclear Physics at Oxford University.
Why was Nicholas (in a long line of ancestral farmers) the first to discover that there was a world waiting outside the farm?
Nicholas (for most of his early life) lived in a world of complete mundanity. Nicholas saw the life he was going to have as a farmer: grow in age, grow a few plants, and become his father – an unfulfilled person. With this fact in mind, Nicholas wanted to make something of his life. He wanted to go somewhere and do things that he had never done before.
This leads us to our hypothesis about human nature:
Stability inhibits instability.
Mundanity inhibits volatility.
Conformity inhibits self-expression.
Psychologically, when someone is put into an environment of extreme stability, mundanity or conformity, they are apt to exhibit the complete opposite qualities of instability, volatility and self-expression.
- Stability/Instability: U.S. kids of the 1970's generation are tired of the their parent’s stable 1950's generation – 30,000 hippies gather in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and utter the famous phrase, “Turn on, tune in, drop out”.
- Mundanity/Volatility: You work a full week at the office without time off – you want to go on vacation.
- Conformity/Self-expression: A teenager’s parents encourage conformity at home – the child wants a tattoo.
So what does this mean? It means that we are both in control and not in control of human behavior.
Think about it… your life has been subconsciously influenced by the Opposite Hypothesis, and you didn’t even realize it.
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