I once read a book by a well-known author, psychologist, and Ted Talk giver. It received rave reviews and was mentioned as one of the top books of the year.
I thought it sucked.
I follow the “50 page rule.” If after 50 pages the book I’m reading doesn’t interest me, I put it down. This was one of the few books I’ve read that forced me to enact the rule. I have nothing against the author or against the people who liked the book. It just wasn’t for me. What’s telling in my actions and the actions of other people who dislike books, or any products for that matter, is what they do afterward.
I moved on.
So what if this book didn’t tickle my fancy? I read to make my life better, so the logical decision for me was to move on to the next thing I could learn. Some people, on the other hand, take to Amazon to express their disgust in the literary quality of the book, insult the author, and find an odd satisfaction in their suspicions being true.
Many times, a one star review on Amazon will include a sentence along the lines of, “I knew this would be another book with no substance.”
Without judgement, I want to beg these questions. What type of state do you have to be in to take the time out of your day to tongue lash someone you’ve never met before? And do it in a way that seems so personal?
What does that say about you and the way you feel about your life? Also, what type of person actively seeks to be right about negative things? It turns out many people act this way.
Do You Want to be Right or Do You Want to be Happy?
The one star review on Amazon phenomenon is just one example of many instance where people feel vindicated in their pessimistic suspicions being validated. They gloat over it. They derive a perverse satisfaction out of complaining.
As a human being, there are instances where I do this.
It feels oddly good to believe the world sucks and continue to find evidence to support that claim. It lets you off the hook. It takes the blame off yourself and puts it onto the world. The little whisper of nervous ambition gets silenced and you can almost bear with the circumstances of reality.
In some shape or form we all use the “I was right about this shitty thing!” idea as a coping mechanism.
The idea that the world is full of opportunity that we fail to seize can be too much to bare.
The notion that turning off your skepticism would leave you naked, yet at the same time open the doors to a life most will never live, can be too much to bear.
The thought that maybe, just maybe, your life sucks because you suck, might be the most unbearable of them all.
Maybe you’re just making excuses for yourself. Maybe self-improvement works. Maybe you should stop crying and start doing.
Or maybe the world just sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it.
In terms of the latter, are you sure you want to be right about that?
What are some roadblocks to happiness you create in order to be right? How are you going to work to overcome them this year?