Most of us (me) fail because we believed a story and it didn’t work out for us.
Here’s what happened, and it’s a good thing: in order for you and I to cooperate, even if we are total strangers, we need to believe in a story together.
Our brains tell us we can both trust each other, for instance, if we believe in the Bible, even if we are strangers and speak different languages.
In the history of the world, for three billion years, this has only happened ONCE: with the human species and only over the past 40,000 or so years.
That’s how we went from the middle of the food chain to the top. That’s how we went from nomadic tribes without the ability to tell stories, to global civilizations.
But because storytelling is only the latest programming inside of our DNA there are many “bugs” or fatal flaws.
We’re not so good at it yet, so when stories like “nationalism” or “ideologies” or “religions” break down we end up with wars and death and despair.
That is how our DNA weeds out the bad storytellers from the good storytellers. The DNA doesn’t care who lives and who dies.
But you and I care.
The good news is this: if you can become aware of the myths that people hold and the way they manipulate societies and cultures, you can write your own rules and create abundance for yourself.
I saw this not in a “self help” sort of way. Only because, for once, I’m not going to write about how I ended up crying on the floor, desperate and broke.
This is not about happiness either. I don’t know if I’m happy or not. But I’m pretty calm. I like being calm.
Every single myth listed below costs people millions or makes them millions.
Tell me if you like this idea: I’m thinking of doing a special newsletter outside of my blog to really dig deep on the life myths that we hold dear and how to break them apart to make the most out of them. (whatever “make” means. It doesn’t have to be a money thing).
Here are some myths. If you think of ones I’ve missed, please add them in the comments. Each one of these myths can lead to entire businesses, can lead to happiness if you are aware of them, can lead to less stress if you understand how the myth manipulates its way through our society.
Ok, for once I didn’t end up crying on the floor putting ads on Craigslist pretending to be a psychic or trying to meet girls in a homeless shelter. Here it is:
- Owning a home will give us “roots”
- Owning a home is better than “flushing money down the toilet with rent”
- Going to college is a pretty safe guarantee of a job
- Going to college leads to more money and happiness than if you don’t go to college.
- Marriage means you won’t be alone
- Having kids is the purpose of life
- Having a purpose in life is important to having a fulfilling life
- My family is my “family”.
- You have to be dishonest to be successful.
- Giving to a “a charity” is the same as being charitable
- Voting is important if you want to change the world.
- Procrastination is bad
- Needing little sleep is good and allows for greater productivity
- There is no connection between the mind and the body.
- One religion is correct
- One diet will lead to health
- Everyone should either be pro-choice or pro-life. (and for many “issues” like this, there is no in-between)
- You can change the world without first changing yourself
- The US is capitalist and China is communist
- It’s important to be informed with the news
- If you work hard, you can succeed
- Success has something to do with money
- I’ll never die (didn’t learn that was wrong until my 30s actually)
- When you have a problem with someone close to you, best to talk it out
- I can do X later. Where “X” is the thing you love doing the most.
- I can’t “X”. 1% of the time this is true. But 99% of the time it’s false. But 99% of the time people believe it.
- Stop signs save lives. Not only this is a myth for “stop signs” but all times when people say “stop”.
- You need to know what you are going to do with your life by age X. Where “X” is some arbitrary age. Usually people think it’s in their 20s.
- Self-interest is the opposite of being and doing good in the world.
- Humans are smarter now than they were 40,000 years ago.
- Sometimes wars can be justified
- Happiness is better than tranquility
- If you “be yourself” people might not like you.
- Coffee gives you energy, low calories keep you thin, whole wheat is “wheat”.
- A job brings stability or wealth
- Love is when two people make each other feel better a lot of the time.
- Money solves all of your money problems
- In any situation there is a “right” way of doing things
The one thing that is not a myth: nothing is as it seems.