Just-world hypothesis

Is the assumption that people basically get what they deserve. That whatever actions we take, the player will get what they have coming to them.

This is a really bad way to view the world.

Outcomes are separate from the decisions we make. Sometimes we make all the right decisions and unfavorable outcomes just happen which is easily understood in a game like Poker. Lots of bad things happen to people all over the world every day and the consequences of one person’s actions can spread across a nation and through multiple generations.

People do this in an attempt to judge someone’s character. We say, “I would never do that.” We do it to rationalize suffering or to reduce the feeling of guilt we have.

Go click one news article about a tragedy with a victim and read the comments. You’ll find somewhere victim shaming. It runs rampant in a world that has become desensitized to how we treat each other. If you believe the world is falling apart, there is plenty of “evidence” to support that narrative.

What’s wrong?

It’s an interesting question. If we are wondering What’s wrong? as in the general concern for someone’s welfare, we have to be brave enough to ask and to hold space for the answer (because we might not like what we hear).

However, if we are asking just to compare ourselves to someone, to poke our nose in someone’s business, that’s clearly a problem.

The act of comparison itself is often an attempt to feel better about the shortcomings we feel in our own day-to-day lives.

People sometimes can’t help but compare to others to better understand their own happiness and shun their insecurity.

Old tapes

“I’m not good enough.”

Or smart enough.

Or rich enough.

Or fit enough.

These are old tapes.

Played in our heads over and over again.

Instead, insert a new tape.

A new dialogue about ourselves in the world.

Try it.

When down on yourself, notice the voice in your head and what it is doing.

Say it out loud to yourself, “Old tape.”

Take a couple breaths and insert a new narrative.


Intuitors can make the mistake of making fun the main priority.

It might supposed to be fun.

Like going to the beach.

But making a film? Or going to the gym? Or running a marathon?

Well, yeah it can be fun but it may also is work too.

If all we emphasize is fun, then when things get hard (and not so fun anymore), people quit.

Be clear.

Work. Work when it gets hard and have fun.

Gold standard

The artist, the impresario, the ruckus maker can make others feel really uncomfortable, especially the critic who wishes they could be in their shoes. Much of that type of criticism is rooted in jealousy or aimed toward the artist rather than the work itself. The person who understands what the artist is trying to do and is offering their perspective is invaluable.

The critic compulsively compares. It is that comparison that kills joy. If you can’t stop comparing the new Batman to the Dark Knight, you probably didn’t enjoy the movie as much as you could. It’s easy to compare to what others see as the gold standard. (Good work often goes unnoticed.) The problem is you will always find someone with more followers or more money or more impact. There is just no need to compare.

If the artist is satisfied with whom they made an impact, there is no need to minimize the work.

Making art makes a difference. No matter how small. It is only small because of the comparison we choose to make. “Oh you got 100 people to like this blog, well the Kardashians get a million.” Good for them. But did it matter? That’s obviously up to debate. Instead of comparing to the gold standard, we can also choose to compare with someone who hasn’t shipped their best work. Or, even better, don’t worry about comparing at all and just get to work. That is what professionals do.

“Leave me alone”

Flowing Data has a great graph showing who we spend our time with as we get older.

As you might guess, we spend more time with our parents in the early years. As we get older, we spend more time with friends in high school and co-workers in the working years.

The part that was shocking to me is the time we spend alone the older we get. Presumably, we have more time and yet we spend it less with others. People are retired, they are not going to the office, there are no bosses or customers, and the kids have moved on–perhaps there is less opportunity.

It says a lot about our culture and how we value our elders.

No one to listen

When a tree falls, it still makes a sound. Even if no one is there to hear it.

And it’s the same with your art. Just because people are not seeing it doesn’t make it any less generous.

No need to give up. You can always try again.

Emphasis on process rather than outcomes

Our culture continues to become more and more complicated each day. Sometimes, the “right” answers are not apparent. And sometimes what we think are the right answers end up failing spectacularly.

It requires patience. The problem is tensions continue to grow in unresolved conflict. Rather than letting the loon noises get away from us, we can instead focus on the process.

While favorable outcomes to adversity are nice, we can’t expect those types of results anytime. When we focus on the process, we are no longer attached to the outcomes. And when we can be at peace with outcomes, we are free to do the work we always wanted to do.