Being Positive or Negative
Over time I began to realise that being overly cynical leads to more of the same. An overly cynical mind is a pretty closed mind and therefore it is very difficult to open to the possibility of a larger and more colourful experience of life. A pinch of cynicism is useful and can keep me grounded but I don't need to throw in a whole God damn bag of it. For a time I experimented with the polar opposite of cynicism by embracing a more positive mind. I must admit that a positive mindset is more productive over the long term and it does bring better results in the form of surroundings and people, however it is my experience that a positive mindset is also held prisoner to the inner critic. If I wasn't feeling so great the inner critic might say something like 'well put on a brave face unless you want to be perceived by other people as a negative person'. Or if I was curious about something and wanted to experiment then the inner critic might say something like 'what would other people think if you did that'.
There is a saying that you must go through the bad times in order to really appreciate the good times and another saying that you can only play with what is put in front of you at any given moment. I have lived, and still live in both of these experiences of life. When I get caught between a rock and a hard place I have to choose one or the other because there are no other feasible options. I inevitably choose one and then the other and then weigh up the pros and cons to both. Nevertheless, if I maintain an open and receptive mind for long enough something magical can happen, I start to see that I can also move upstream or downstream.
Anti-fragility is a term that has entered into my awareness in recent months and it is a term that I find much more pragmatic and useful than the polar opposites of positive and negative. Anti- fragility is a term that was coined by Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile. The basic tenant of anti-fragility is that it describes a positive response to stressors in our environment. Instead of being fragile in the face of all trials and adversity, anti fragility is a proponent of the fact that these same trials and adversities are what make us stronger and allow us to evolve in the long term. It is not too dissimilar to metamorphosis in nature.
With the premise that anti-fragility is a useful concept to live by, I turn my attention to Mark Manson's idea in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. In this book Mark points to numerous underlying truths that he has uncovered throughout his life. In this book he talks about choosing the pain and sacrifice we go through rather than avoiding it. The idea is that in order to become a person of achievement or to do something that is meaningful to you, 'pain' and 'sacrifice' are inevitable. The question then becomes
what is meaningful enough to me that I am willing to put myself through the growing pains to allow it to become my reality?
It's a simple question but it might just help close the gap to where real world results hang out.
Have you heard of the term anti-fragility before today? Do you want to see more of your path? If you have any insights, questions or recommendations feel free to leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.