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The Optimist Razor; Newsletter #16

4 Little Wonder Bites 💭

📖 Current Read; How To Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie

Carnegie opens this book up with what he deems to be the 3 fundamental techniques in handling people. He thinks that, if we are to ever get anyone to like us, to win friends or influence others, we must master these 3 principles;

Principle 1. Don’t Criticise, Condemn or Complain

He outlines this principle telling a few stories of the most notorious criminals, such as Two Gun Crowley and Al Capone. Despite committing heinous crimes and landing themselves in jail, none of them criticise themselves. In fact, most of them believe that what they did was right, and that they did it with good in their hearts!

If the worst criminals on the planet do not criticise themselves, it is unlikely that average person will either. We can try to condemn somebody for bad behaviour, we can try and point them in the direction of improvement, but it is unlikely that they will even see anything wrong with their actions. If they don’t see any issues with their actions, they won’t strive for improvement.

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

What type of reaction is elicited when we criticise somebody? An emotional reaction, one that is usually on the defensive side. If we try point out a mistake, that person, rather than taking time to acknowledge our point, will instantly become defensive and try justify their actions. That is seen with the most notorious criminals; rather than taking blame, they try and explain it!

People become defensive because their pride has been wounded, their sense of importance. And that sense of importance, according to many psychologists, is the one driving force within human nature. We all want to feel important. And so, when we criticise, we take that away from somebody. Criticising them puts them down, makes them feel much worse, and people don’t enjoy feeling that way, so their guard goes straight up as to not lose any more importance.

Criticising often has the opposite effect; because we have harmed their ego, it just makes the other person loathe and resent us.

In short, if we want a change, we are not to criticise, condemn or complain. That is futile, it only makes the person justify their mistake, and never brings improvements.

Principle 2. Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

The most efficient way to get somebody to do what you want is to give them what they want. And what do people want?

That sense of importance.

People ache to feel useful, to feel loved, appreciated, recognised, supported. They have such a desire to be important that it is usually the ruling factor in what they do, the actions they take.

If we can play to that desire, by showing appreciation and encouragement, we will be much more well off than if we ignored it and went about things a different way. Under the spirit of criticism, nobody wants to improve. Yet under the spirit of appreciation, of celebration, they want to strive to be better.

How do we begin to truly appreciate somebody? When we stop thinking about ourselves and play to the needs of others.

Always thinking about your own motives, when trying to handle somebody else, is futile. We must extend our hand to them, play to their sense of importance instead of our own. Only focusing on what you want out of a situation does nothing to propel that other person into action.

For example, if we can see that somebody has put a lot of work in, praise them! Show them that you are grateful for their efforts.

In other words, be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise,’

If you show honest and sincere appreciation, the person will cherish your actions and words over a lifetime! It will have given them a sense of importance that they will take with them throughout life, and that type of memory rarely fades. If you were to criticise them, however, they would loathe you and never speak any good of you.

Principle 3. Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want.

As humans, we all have one fairly fatal flaw; being interested in solely what we want. It is infrequent that are actions are actually for the good of others, that we have no ulterior motives. The majority of the actions we take must benefit us in some way, otherwise, why would we do it?

Yet, the fact that we are all like this can be used to our advantage.

To influence people, we are to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. That means, when in conversation, completely disregard your needs. Forgo the attempt to talk about how it would benefit you, simply talk about how it would benefit them.

If they are caught up in their own needs, and they see that the thing you are proposing suits their needs, they will be eager to do it. However, if you were to come to them talking only about your own needs, they would see no gain for them in doing the task and likely turn you down.

If you want somebody to do something in your favour, make them want to do it first. Arouse in them a desire to do that thing, make it seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity.

In the words of Henry Ford:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

🎧 Current Podcast; The Now Habit — What You Will Learn

In this episode by What You Will Learn, they outline the real truth behind why we procrastinate. Rather than it being simply because we are lazy, procrastination can be seen as the expression of a bunch of other issues.

What is the old reason as to why we procrastinate? In short, it’s that we are lazy and that we don’t try hard enough. In past cases, we have likely been criticised for procrastination, be it from ourselves or our boss, and told that we’re just ‘lazy’ and that we ‘need to get a move on’.

This is a stern type of telling that we may be frequently told, yet it doesn’t do anything to help us. This type of criticism does not inspire us to take action, if anything, it just propels us into prolonged procrastination, putting the tasks off even longer.

What is the revisited reason behind why we procrastinate? The hosts outline that procrastination, rather than being the actual problem, it is an attempt to resolve a variety of underlying issues.

The previous angle that we have taken is that procrastination is the issue. The act of putting the tasks off is the only obstacle that we must beat. But, after delving deeper, we are beginning to discover that procrastination itself is not the route cause, its an action we take to avoid confrontation with these other underlying issues. And those issues are the obstacles we must beat.

What do I mean by underlying issues? This refers to a sense of low self esteem, a fear of failure, a fear of success, perfectionism, indecisiveness etc. These are the issues that we must tackle, and they express themselves in the form of procrastination.

Say, for example, we are given a big presentation to do in front of all our classmates or co workers. We know that the presentation is important, and that lots of people will see it. What do we do? We procrastinate. We put it off, not because we are lazy, but because we have a fear of failure. We do not want to mess up, we do not want to be embarrassed, and so we put it off as long as we can. Or we have lack of confidence in our abilities. We don’t believe that we can do it, so we don’t even try.

Procrastination takes us away from the stress, the worry, the hard work that are provoked by the underlying issues. Not planning the presentation takes you away from the thought of actually doing the presentation, and in turn, the fear of failure you have. Yet, this temporary relief only serves to make life harder.

To beat procrastination, it would benefit us to try tackle these underlying issues first! To see that procrastination is just the means, that the real enemy are those issues.

Tweet of the Week ✍🏻

The Optimist Razor.

When choosing who to spend time with, prioritize spending more time with optimists. Pessimists see the doors that are closed. Optimists see the doors that are open — and probably kick down the closed doors.

Remember: Pessimists sound smart, optimists get rich.

This is an idea broached in a Twitter thread by @SahilBloom a short while ago, where he outlines a few key razors that we can use to improve our decision making.

What is the optimist razor? In essence, it means that, in any situation, we should choose to hang around with optimists.

An optimist, by definition, is a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.

They know that the future holds good things, and that, no matter what obstacles may prevail in the current moment, they can overcome them and move onto better things.

These are the people that choose to see the good in situations, that are much more calm and steady. They have a solid head on their shoulders, they do not dwell on negativity. They also recognise that stressing out, worrying, gossiping etc, does absolutely nothing to help us.

They know that if doors are closed, they can find ones that are open, they can even make ones open.

It can seem very cliche, I know, but would you rather hang out with somebody that stresses, overthinks and worries way too much?

It is proven that you can become very similar to the 5 people that are closest to you. If you spend time with people who are scared, tense and angry, you’ll likely develop those traits too. On the flip side, if you spend time with people who are motivational and bright, you, sooner or later, will likely radiate that too. It has been said that ‘happiness is contagious’.

It is always better to be around somebody that sees the best, maybe even makes the best, than somebody who sees the worst.

Idea of the Week 💭

Unhappiness and Purpose

Unhappiness can be seen as wishing that things were another way.

That, when presented with a scenario that you do not like, you hope for alternatives, you try and escape it, you complain about it.

Hoping that you can alter these set in stone events, or that you can avoid them, leads to grave unhappiness.

Purpose, on the other hand, is about finding meaning and making sense of how things are.

Purpose is not avoidance, it is not running away, it is not living in fear.

Purpose, instead, is accepting that things might not be how you want them to be, but finding some sort of positive in that. Recognising that they are not what you wished for, and making the best of it anyway. Even if it looks like the odds are stacked up high against you, you can find the purpose, the good, in the situation.

We may not like the situation, but rather than running from it, we should try and grasp any good that is present. And, in each situation, there will always be good, even if it is the smallest amount.

It’s much better if you can make them become another way, rather than wishing that things were to be another way.

Take that action! Find the purpose.

To end, here’s a question from me! ⚡️

How can you win through your actions and not through your argument?

Many of us spend time saying that we are going to do something. Talking about the new website we will launch, the new course we will take. How many times do we actually go through with it, though?

We spend more time talking, less time doing. When in reality, what we need to do is just take that first step. Give it a try, launch the website, and let others see the truth through your actions.

If you want to prove that you can do something, show people. Without any action, talking becomes exhuastive. So, we should make good on our promise. and show them via our actioms. In that way, you will always win.

Talk less. Do more.

Thanks for reading!

Sam. 😄

Lifestyle, productivity, goals, challenges.

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Sam M

Sam M

happiness in all areas of life. student 👨🏻‍🎓. 2 weekly newsletters + occasional articles and book summaries.

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