As human beings, we tend to hold on to irrational ideas and fight against the inevitable. Based on Eran Dror's new book, here are 10 difficult truths we all must recognize and then take steps to get over. Warning: some of this might be hard to hear and even harder to digest.
You are going to die
Acknowledging life’s limited duration is good for us. It helps us focus on what matters and forget petty things. It can motivate us to make decisions and take calculated risks. It can make us better people: more self-aware and less self-involved. Cope better by asking yourself: what would I do differently if I only had a year to live? A month? A day?
Nothing is permanent
We are constantly looking for “happily ever after,” a contentment so stable that nothing could ever shake it. And then a friend moves away or our company closes its gates. What if we could accept that everything is subject to change and that both pleasant and unpleasant experiences will pass in time. Ask: do I tend to suffer in moments of great change? How can I find peace instead of desperation?
The future is uncertain
We agonize over a hoped-for promotion or the success of a business venture. But the future cannot be directly observed and is therefore impossible to predict. Focus on what you do know and what you can do, and leave yourself open to adventure and discovery. Ask: have I ever experienced uncertainty as exciting or even beautiful?
The present is all you have
We obsess about the past and worry about the future and often forget to appreciate what’s right in front of us. But our whole lives are nothing but a string of present moments, so you must stop and pay attention. Ask: do I miss out on wonderful experiences in my life because I am too preoccupied with what’s already happened or what hasn’t yet happened?
You can’t do it all
We are beings of finite time, limited attention, and constrained resources. Accepting that you must be highly selective will teach you a lot about yourself and liberate you to focus on what you care about most. You simply can’t sample everything in the buffet of life, so take pride in saying no. Ask: do I feel overwhelmed by all of the commitments in my life?
There’s lots you don’t know
We cling to our ideas about the world, feeling insecure without them. We pretend we’re certain when we’re not, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Our society is enormously complex and offers limited information, and when we accept our present ignorance, we become more curious, creative, and rational. Ask: is there anything I wish I knew much more about?
You’ll never find yourself
We tend to think of ourselves as having fixed qualities and mistake those traits for who we are. But you are not an object, you’re a process. Negative traits can disappear and positive ones can unfold. Habits can be re-written, beliefs can be re-examined, and emotions can mature. Ask: am I always trying to become something other than what I am?
You’re not the best
We were trained to base our self-worth on comparisons with others. Life is not a competition and all that matters is your experience. Learn to evaluate yourself by a personally relevant standard: you should want to get better rather than get better THAN. Ask: do I feel badly when I don’t measure up to or surpass others?
You’re not special
It can be hard to accept that others don’t see or care about us with the same urgency as we do. They have their own priorities that must be taken into account in any negotiation. Understanding this will help you establish more meaningful connections with others instead of trying to manipulate them. Ask: do I find myself longing for more satisfying relationships?
Failure is an option
We lay down plans and come to depend on their successful execution. But when our neat plans clash with messy, complicated reality, guess what wins? People who achieve great things know that failure is the only way to learn many skills and solve most problems. You can’t make your life failure-proof, but you can learn from it and keep going. Ask: am I ever paralyzed by a fear of failure?
Which of these have you had the most trouble with? What have you done to overcome it?