Five widespread ideas that are at odds with reality
By throwing away ideas that do not work, we open the door to realistic plans, workable solutions, and satisfactory results. Let us review briefly five widespread convictions that are at odds with reality.
1. The idea that the purpose of life is to serve other people
The problem with this belief is that it is partly true. Interacting with other human beings and providing good service to them is highly rewarding. Men and women draw deep satisfaction from the gratitude of customers, patients, or clients.
On the other hand, helping strangers for the sake of achieving ethical perfection should not be taken to such an extreme that it destroys your life. Cost-effective service to customers can only be sustained permanently when it is provided commercially, that is, on a profit-making basis. Service rendered on the basis of personal sacrifice can be viable in some circumstances, but faces major difficulties to remain operational in the long-term.
2. The idea that you need someone else's approval to improve your life
Gregariousness is an essential component of the human psychology; we all love to be appreciated by friends and colleagues; on many occasions, honours and distinctions are as important as monetary rewards; nevertheless, this is not the same as professing that individuals are incapable of affecting their destiny unless they have obtained social approval.
In industrialized societies, personal initiative plays a determinant role in individual happiness. Innovation and change disrupt social structures; any person who deviates from the standard behaviour risks criticism and ostracism; innovators frequently find these psychological obstacles harder to overcome than lack of access to capital.
3. The idea that you have to content yourself with your current situation
Physical resources are indeed limited, but this fact should not prevent you from establishing ambitious goals for yourself. Money and other assets can be borrowed if you demonstrate that you can use them productively.
The global economy is a scenario where resources are continuously shifted from low to high productivity areas. Purpose and initiative play a crucial role in exploiting assets to the maximum; men with visionary business models discover new applications for old technologies and additional customers for existing products. Even if material resources are limited, the only constrain to economic growth is human creativity.
4. The idea that you are too young or too old to improve your life
Such restrictions never hold true overall, although they might apply to specific goals in certain environments; for instance, learning to play the piano at an advanced age can be a lot of fun, but it makes difficult to pursue a career as a pop artist.
Restrictions can often be lifted or circumvented by changing the context; goals can be slightly modified in order to seek better market opportunities; personal limitations can inspire us to figure out more effective approaches to make or sell products; careers can be redefined; professions can be combined in order to serve clients in surprising ways.
5. The idea that you should give up because you really have no chance
Despite the fact that extraordinary achievements are reported daily by newspapers, few people possess the strength of character to encourage friends and neighbours to pursue challenging goals.
Psychologically, watching the outstanding performance of athletes on television is less menacing that seeing a friend start up a business; praising the latest film of our favourite actor feels less threatening than supporting our spouse's dream to become a novelist. We do not mind being surpassed by those we have never met, but we dread the idea that someone close to us might grow faster than ourselves.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
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