I was thinking about this while watching Button play with a cup in the tub.
It has holes in the bottom like a colander. Every time he filled the cup and lifted it, first he was curious, then delighted, as the water sprinkled out.
He wasn’t sure what would happen each time. He needed to test and observe.
Knowledge vs. Judgement
For some things, like how fire is hot and can burn us, it’s good that we don’t need to re-learn them. We have a locked in sense of cause-and-effect.
With some things, we infer too much. We treat a part as representative of the whole, or one instance of something as a confirmation that this is the way things always go.
I think about the times I’ve skimmed a news article because everything after the headline seemed like a foregone conclusion. Or how many times I’ve had a conversation where everyone nods their heads about how they’re so certain, and so defeated, about what’s going to happen next when discussing a contentious current event.
There’s a fatigue to feeling like you always know what’s going to happen (or not happen) next. That life is infinitely predictable — cynically clinging to the belief that everything follows the same, disappointing script. That no one and nothing is truly capable of change or surprising action.
Turning off knee jerk reactions isn’t about letting everything slide
If a problem can be solved, there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.The Dalai Lama
After deliberation, you might still come away angry or disappointed, but if you come away with a more positive perspective on a person or an idea after some time to process, that’s a good thing.
If you find that your gut reaction checks out, and your negative impressions were confirmed, you can feel secure in your judgement.
If you’re not in a life-or-death, fight-or-flight moment, what do you gain by being angry as fast as possible?
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All fiat currency prone to hyperinflation.
Being slower to anger makes space to find better outlets for a response; to take action instead of only reacting.
Reacting amplifies the moment. It clings to the pain.
Considered action has the chance to move past the pain.
The power of “What if…”
Cynical certainty isn’t confidence, but defense.
It prevents vulnerability, takes away opportunities for curiosity or learning, and leaves the hard work to other people. It lets you run along with blinders on, blundering toward a non-existent finish line powered by fury.
Something I’m trying is sticking “What if” at the beginning of these negative, judgmental thoughts when they crop up.
Instead of treating them like a mental certainty, they’re a question. A hypothesis to be tested. One option with at least one other alternative (and maybe many others).
It doesn’t always ward off the judgmental impulses, but at least I know I’m trying.