Luca Parmitano is an astronaut. He is the youngest astronaut to go to International Space Station. He was given duty to do a spacewalk to repair a few things.
But that was not a normal day. There was something in his space suit. He felt there was liquid in his headpiece; mainly on back of the head. He was not sure what it was; when he reported this to the command in Houston.
He even tasted few drops to make sure if it was water ; it tasted metallic. Then suddenly liquid reached his nostrils and cut his communications from the space station.
With luck he reached the hatch. When he opened his halmet, water flew out. He survived; but it was close.
In his spacewalk one weak earlier; he had noted water droplets in his helmet. He and Crew in Houston had regarded it as a leak in water bottle without digging deep.
But it was due to leakage from fan pump separator. I don’t know what that means but it was part of the spacesuit.
So engineers in the Houston overlooked possible new reasons for a new observation and attributed this to their most visible belief. ( Availability bias)
They didn’t even think for a second that they may not know few of the things and they are not infinite in their intelligence.
Thay failed to rethink.
But there was one physicist who did the opposite. He had his reputation in the line. He was at centre stage of a big event of astronomists. In an important conference.
He was about to share an astounding discovery of a planet around a collapsed star; which is called PULSAR.
His research had shown a planet around a Pulsar; which was never believed earlier by physicists.
But he caught his mistake. In his calculations he had assumed orbit of earth around Sun to be circular in stead of elliptical.
When he corrected himself new planet vanished away.
He didn’t try to act smart or superhuman. He walked on podium and expected his mistake and retreated his paper from conference.
He got standing ovation. For saying that be was wrong thus time. For accepting with humility that he doesn’t know everything and he needed to work more.
We need more of such people.
Professor Andrew Lyne is a genius.
Everytime their is anomaly in observations try to find new insights.
When human beings started as a hunter gatherers, it was relatively easy to be happy. You needed few things to be happy. You needed food, water, warmth, safety and a family and you were okay.
Their were no stocks, bills or quarterly targets.
As time passed, hapiness got increasingly attached to external things. It depended on things you could gather and then feel happy by displaying those things to others. Humans started collecting land, money, metals, fat and servants.
But then things got more complicated. It was still hard to be happy.
They stocked more and more stuff,only to see that it got outdated before they could earn enough to buy its next version.
They needed pills more frequently to be happy and feel meaningful.
As incomes grew; after a particular level of money; hapiness stayed the same.
So, it was probably wrong approach to achieve sustained hapiness free of transient dopamine spikes.
Only when hapiness is detached from the external things, tgen only it can become stable and eternal.
When I read , courage to be disliked, I realised it was the simplest philosophy to be happy. Although it was hard to apply fully in real world; but it provides framework over which sustained hapiness could be developed.
I will share few of these concepts of Alderian psychology in this blog with illustrations.
Here we go.
1. Think in terms of teleology and not in terms of aetiology.
Aetiology is cause of an event. Teleology is purpose behind that event.
For example if somebody is depressed, we may deduce that, he is depressed because of his troubled home environment. ( Aetiological explaination)
In teleolgical terms, person has created depressive symptoms to avoid the effort of sorting out causes of his depression. ( Teleological explaination)
So, if we start seeing things in terms of hidden purpose, in stead of exact cause; it will be easier to start acting for improvement of the condition.
Aetiology provides difficult route to a solution. Teleology makes it a bit simpler. Aetiology gives causes, teleology guides towards possible solutions.
2. Stay away from life lies –
Life lie is lie that we make to avoid change. We shift blame from ourselves to someone else.
Like feeling inferiority to avoid being courageous enough to change your circumstances. It is easy to stay locked in home by constructing life lie of inferiority complex; than going out to face your fears and making best of whatever talent you possess.
3. Once you find purpose behind a particular symptom, you need to accept yourself and move ahead in spite of the fear. You need to have courage.
As all great minds have said, we choose our emotions, our reactions to a particular event and meaning that we provide to a certain event.
If you accept these, you give yourself power to change.
Humans are slow to change. Change needs courage. Change is inconvenient. Change needs sacrifice and pain.
We rather choose to avoid it. We may create symptoms like anger, impulsiveness, depression, irritability, inferiority to avoid the change. Our purpose of all these symptoms may be an effort to avoid process of painful change.
Better thing is to see that you can change situation with hit and trials using courage and assistance from your family, meditation or your doctor.
First you need to know that you have power over your response and thoughts.
“Think I have ability.
4. All problems are interpersonal problems.
All problems can be seen as problems arising out of our relationship with others and situations.
Don’t put your happiness in the hands of external things. Other people or things or situations. This will free you of a lot of burden.
Keep out of useless competition. Don’t get sucked up into useless struggles, to prove your superiority to anyone. Even if you are correct, don’t assert your yourself. If you are right, don’t sweat to prove it.
Don’t fall in trap of reward punishment circuit.
Step back and show no reaction. See problem in the circumstances, not in the particular person.
Life is not a competition. Don’t compare with others, compare with your old self. You should be improving with time.
5. Develop feeling that all people are my comrades. Develop horizontal relationships.
All humans are not same, but all are equal. Consider everyone as your friend or comrade.
It gives you power to think positively and to stay away from negative feelings. This will give you ability to see their perspective. It will solve a lot of problems.
Treat everyone as equal with no bias or hierarchy. It gives community feeling. Know that you are not centre of the universe and don’t expect many things from others. See what you can contribute, in place of what you can get.
6. Seperate tasks –
See clearly which is your task and which is not. If it is not your task, don’t overindulge in its execution. Provide nudge or guidance but don’t do it yourself.
For example, if child is not studying well understand that it is his task. Tell him that studies are necessary for him. Provide for tuition, reading space and help whenever he requires. But don’t force things on the child or punish.
Let him walk his path himself, so that he learns to face life alone.
7. Know that contribution leads to hapiness –
If you contribute to society and other people, your feeling of self-worth and hapiness are exalated. Believe in others. Don’t generalise things.
Few bad events or people don’t make everything bad.
Contribute according to your ability. But still know that person is worthy for being or existing. His contribution increases this worth.
8. Know that life is a journey, not a destination. Life is a series of dots, it is not a straight line.
To summarise everything.
See purpose of an event or action. Seperate tasks. Focus on internal drive for hapiness. Treat everyone as comrade. Solve interpersonal issues. Have courage to change.
Whenever a baby is born, everyone wants this baby to cry. That’s all right. They need to learn to cry, before they can earn their laughs. Who wants to be at a place; where everyday is pelted with difficult negotiations.
Negotiations mean, a mutual discussion in an effort to reach an agreement, which both parties find appropriate.
Humans are partially illogical. You got to negotiate with a lots of them daily.
Every life is a series of negotiations. Every day is string of negotiations to get a better place in resource limited biosphere.
So guys, it is of utmost importance that we know what’s up with this negotiations thing.
Neither you can stand there like a banana tree, nor you can punch people in faces. You got to be diplomatic, when it comes to dealing with breathing people.
So, let’s discuss some basics of negotiations.
Disclaimer – These might not work with your wife, but they may help you to tackle little less complicated situations.
Things to be kept in mind –
1. People are irrational. They work at emotional level, especially in difficult situations.
2. People want to be understood.
3. People want to be in control of the situation.
4. Seperate people from the situation. People are not the problem. Situation is.
5. People want things to be fair according to their own definition.
6. Keep your voice as calm as possible to keep emotions under control, so that brain can work.
Now let’s dig deeper.
Dont shout or exchange names or open your lid, kept on adrenaline and cortisol. Try to control tone of your voice. Take pauses. Be slow. Don’t overexplain. Try to listen.
It can be done, if you seperate yourself and person from the situation and see situation as the problem.
It takes yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Those are difficult things.
Then what is the next thing that you need to do.
Once you control your primal instincts and get hold of your emotions.
Then listen complaints and try to make out meaning of demands.
Then comes your next two big tools.
1. Tactical empathy –
It means understanding their position. Labelling it. Telling in calm voice, whatever you could understand about their situation. Vocalising it. Without judging at this point.
Like saying to an angry customer that,” I understand your discomfort”. “If I was in your situation, I will feel the same.”
It calms the person in front and gives them feeling of control. ( Which they crave for)
2. Open end questions –
Ask a question that leaves opportunity for multiple possible answers from the person in front. Ask it and then throw a pause.
Let the person in front complete it or answer it.
This will give person in front, a feeling of control. It will give them chance to vocalise their concern. And it may bring out facts, which may help you in finding a solution.
Sometimes, even repeating what the person in front has said; followed by a tactical pause, can bring out a lot of facts about the reason why that person is upset.
After you have stopped surge of anger with tactical empathy and found more facts by open ended questions, then keep that voice calm like Morgan freeman and try to reach a solution which is win -win for both parties.
These are time tested skills practised by best real world negotiators. So they are going to be useful in normal life scenarios.
Things that help.
1. Instead of saying No, ask open ended question starting with how.
Like if you don’t want your rent to increase. Ask, “How I am going to afford this increased rent?” Throw a pause and hence make this problem, a problem of the landowner.
He has to tell this solution, how you can afford or tell alternative possible solutions. Saying, ‘No’ would not lead to any such results.
2. Watch your body language. 50% of the message is conveyed by your body language. Show concern about opposite party.
3. Give surprise gifts or non monetary benefits in a business deal.
4. Don’t fear,’ No ‘. No is starting point of a negotiation. Welcome a, ‘No’ from opposite party and start negotiations from new set point.
5. Create deadlines or urgency. Like limited time deals. Limited time offers.
So these are few good things that will always help you in difficult talks.
And don’t mind if you fail sometimes. Afterall failing is all too human.
Inspiration – Never split the difference by Chris Voss Get your copy