Seeing is believing. That’s what we’re supposed to believe right?
Look again. Or should I say think again?
Dan Ariely – one of my favourite behavioral scientists – shows that our belief in “seeing is believing” is fundamentally flawed. It is so flawed that it raises questions about that inner eye of ours which oversees our decisions. How much of what we think we judge as our own decision is actually a decision of our own?
If you’re interested in more stories like these: check Dan Ariely’s blog: Predictably Irrational or read his book Predictably Irrational.
Now what does this tell us about being superbly human?
“The map is not the territory”. This is a quote by A. Korzybski (wikipedia). What you believe you see is never what you get. It is however how you work with what you think you have. And that’s great as long as you believe that the real destination of your journey is the journey itself.
So how about your map? Whose map is it anyway?
In other words do you do what you do because you want it or do you do it because somebody else has drawn a map (and path) for you?
Quick example: as a kid, your mother has bought you three pairs of trousers: blue, black and red. Every morning before you get dressed, you open your closet and you can choose between blue, black and red. On the Trousers-Crossroad there are only 4 options: no trousers, blue, black and red. That’s the map. Is it the territory? Not likely.
Now look at your life. You get up in the morning, what do you do?
Do you still feel like the world is limited to the three pairs of trousers your mother has bought you?
This limited set of options can however be easy and helpful sometimes (we do need these patterns because we would die if we would have to weigh every possible option), but does it still work for you? If it doesn’t then stop staring at your map. Now.
Start exploring, start drawing.
What would happen if you ‘invented’ an option, add an extra pair to the set? Chances are you can do that. Chances are it will make you more satisfied than you are now.
The map you use to make your way in your life wasn’t drawn by fate. It is drawn by lots of people, also by you. And sometimes it’s helpful, but when you get stuck, it means you’ve discovered something new. It means you’ve presented yourself with an exquisite opportunity to redraw your map and discover a new area of the underlying territory.
Make no mistake. Drawing a whole new map out of nothing is not what I’m aiming at. What I’m talking about are small changes. Take one step at the time. Explore boundaries, learn how to deal with setbacks, grow confidence.
Are you willing to change your map and explore? Are you willing to decide for yourself, one step at the time?
If it helps, I’m redrawing my map as I’m writing right now. I just lost my job and I’m going to explore where starting my own business is going to take me.