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5 Reasons Why It’s Better to Choose Your Passion Over Looking Cool

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Most of us wouldn’t mind being happier, and because of this, we do what we can to achieve this. We work harder, earn more money, and buy fancier possessions. We buy into the belief that this rat race will get us to the state we want. What happens if it doesn’t?

One flaw to this idea is the idea of status. I’ve met people who will do whatever it takes to look “cool” to others, even if it means sacrificing their passion, happiness, or potential. I’ve caught myself doing the same thing. It’s a common problem, yet we need to fix it.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s better to choose yourself over being cool:

1. You Sacrifice Long-Term Enjoyment for Short-Term Pleasure

Would you rather have a lifestyle that everyone thinks is cool but you hate or a lifestyle you love but everyone else thinks is just okay? Screw what other people think. You have the power to live the life of your dreams, and if this life isn’t what other people want, it doesn’t matter.

Unfortunately, many people die settling for the first choice. They would rather take a job that looks glamorous from the outside but is hell on the inside. While others admire how much money some of these professions make, they’re dying every day on the inside because they’re working 90 hours a week and don’t even have time to spend their money.

2. You Live Up To What Sets You On Fire

I was listening to a podcast who featured, Charlie Hoehn, a well-known author in the career development industry. He mentioned how he has a friend who is rich but works as a Walmart greeter for fun because he enjoys talking to people.

Most of the world would look down on that job title because it’s low status, yet this guy doesn’t care. Because he doesn’t care, he’s doing what he enjoys doing most — he’s not letting his fear of judgment hold him back from living the life he’s most excited about.

“Follow your own passion, not your parents’, not your teachers…yours.” – Robert Ballard

3. You Only Attract People That Are Good For you

Imagine what would happen if you pretended to be some rock star or high-status personality you are not. Even if you actually had that lifestyle and appearance, you’d attract people who have the wrong values and interests. Your relationships would be shallow, and they wouldn’t last because you wouldn’t relate.

People fall into this trap because they have a scarcity mentality. They don’t think the world is abundant enough to give people what they want. They don’t think they are good enough. Therefore, they try to change themselves and their interests to what they think will attract who they want.

Ultimately, no healthy person wants that in the long run. If you’re into books, hiking, and anime, why would you want to spend your time with someone who likes drugs and partying all the time?

4. You Become Cool By Doing It Your Way

I get it, if you live in a small town, it’s going to be close to impossible to convince anyone that you’re weird yo-yo hobby is cool. But when you grow up and move to bigger and better places, there are a lot more people and chances to meet someone with similar interests.

Rather than hide what you think is embarrassing or what you think your weaknesses are, embrace them. Stop believing you always have to be someone you are not in order to be loved or appreciated.

I recently went to an old-fashioned Swing dance class. The music they played and the dance moves they taught were old school American. It’s something your grandparents might play on the record. Yet there were over fifty young people my age there who loved it.

I thought the whole thing was a bit lame, and they would’ve been laughed out of my old high school but I couldn’t convince anyone there otherwise. That’s because, in their group, everyone else thought it was super cool and that’s all that mattered. I was in the minority.

On the same theme, by setting boundaries and not over compromising, you don’t become a chameleon by pretending that you’re interested in other people’s interests just to get them to like you.

5. You Live A Healthier, More Pleasurable Life

There are billions of people out there. The more you meet, the more you realize how different each person’s interests can be, thus it’s important to embrace what you like doing and who you are.

Yes, you’ll be whacky. Yes, you’ll find people who make fun of you. No, that doesn’t mean you never change anything about you. However, it does mean being okay with what your unique goals and visions are — not someone else’s.

Too many of us waste our lives living up to our parent’s, friend’s, or society’s expectations, only to hate our lives and feel like we’re dying a little every day. Wouldn’t you rather live a life you love even if it wasn’t “cool” by society’s standards? If you’re living your dream life and making six figures a year shining shoes, who cares if others think it’s low status? You’re making more than them and you live for it.

“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” – Bob Marley

Life is sometimes a balancing act. In this case, you don’t want to be so rigid in your interests that you never try something new or are unable to keep a conversation going. You also don’t want to lie too much by pretending you’re interested in things that bore you.

Similarly, you want to find a healthy balance between something that pays the bills and excites you. Life doesn’t always have to be a compromise. Eventually, you may even find something that is also cool to the people who matter to you.

Let us know in the comments what you think is cool that others may not.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Life

What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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