Curiosity Over Certainty

It is pretty likely that everyone reading this is human. It is also pretty likely that the majority of creatures that we interact with, love, and hate are also human. So, I think it is very important to try and understand why we humans think the things we do, act the way we do and find ourselves disagreeing so strongly with each other. We are all made up of the same flesh and bones but we come to drastically different conclusions on things. The easy way out is to dehumanize other people, to assume there is something wrong with them, that they are wrong (obviously, because my perspective is so clearly right).

But, when we take the easy way out we do ourselves and our community a disservice. The truth is, I should not be certain I am right because there really is no “right” perspective. All of our points of views and opinions and passions and habits are shaped by a combination of our genetics and environment, and if I had grown up in a different place or time then my views would be different than they are now. I have had your life, then my thoughts would be very similar to yours. If I lived the life my mother did then I would be a conservative Christian who abhors drug use, sexual promiscuity, non-heterosexuality, and non-monogamy. If my mother had grown up with my life then she would be taking Molly, engaging in pleasurable acts with many consenting adults, explore bisexuality, and tend towards polyamory.

Conflict arises when we see our perspective as an absolute truth, which eliminates opportunities for understanding, compromise, and love. As is stated in “Difficult Conversations” by Sheila Heen, Bruce Patton, and Douglas Stone (my current morning read):

There’s only one way to come to understand the other person’s story, and that’s by being curious. Instead of asking yourself, “How can they think that?!” ask yourself, “I wonder what information they have that I don’t?” Instead of asking, “How can they be so irrational?” ask, “How might they see the world such that their view makes sense?” Certainty locks us out of their story. Curiousity lets us in.

So, as I encounter people who make decisions or have points of view that don’t make sense to me I’m going try and be more curious. What information do they have? What have life experiences led them down that path? What would make a reasonable, rational person have that point of view?  Whether they are Trump or Clinton supporters, atheists or evangelicals, straight-edge or drug use advocates, polyamorous or monogamous, vegan or meat-eaters, white nationalists or cultural internationalists, these people I meet all have experiences that differ from mine that has drawn them to their current perspective… and I would gain a lot by being curious, learning their stories, and striving for understanding.

It can gain a lot of understanding and compassion simply by changing, “They are wrong/evil/should be destroyed” to “What would have to happen in my life so that I would agree with what they are saying? What experiences would push me in that direction?”


Quick Day 1 Update of “Operation: Shut Off Facebook and Become Who You Want to Become”

Things went pretty well yesterday. I was (and still am) riding that productivity high that comes from starting a new project. I took yesterday off of work (except for sending out an invoice and a few quick emails), which helped with my overall productivity but I think quitting Facebook has freed up about 1-2 hours of time. My only concern is that I’ll find some other shitty thing to replace it… so I got to stay on top of that.

Yesterday, I fasted and ended up losing about 7 lbs (probably less than 1/2 lb was actual fat and the rest was just water weight, digestive tract, glycogen, etc.). According to my phone, I consumed 550 calories and burnt about 1600 from exercise. I know that counting exercise calories is a really imperfect science and I’m not really aiming for certain numbers (on the scale or otherwise) but keeping count does help motivate me.

Overall:

  • woke up at 6am and did my morning studies
  • ran five miles
  • spent an hour at the gym
  • did 30 minutes of yoga
  • recorded 30 minutes of a podcast
  • finished one book
  • went grocery shopping
  • spent 30 minutes on CodeAcademy
  • wrote a blog post
  • cleaned the house
  • meditated
  • took an ice shower
  • started GRE studying

Today is off to a good start as well and I hope to keep busy. I’ve found that when I give myself too many moments of downtime I ended up procrastinating, so moving quickly from task to task is important for me. I’ve also found that masturbation seems to kill my productivity, so I’m trying to save that for the end of the day (daily orgasms are important for your prostate health… so go do that).

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger 
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger