Things I Didn’t Know 20 Years Ago

* That secular people are about as honest and ethical as religious people.
* That Orthodox observance doesn’t usually make Jews more ethical.
* How much value there is in seeing things from different points of view. For example, I find belief in God a tremendous source of power in my life, but at the same time, I recognize the benefits of looking at things, at times, as an atheist.
* You can never expect someone to understand something if their income and prestige depends upon them not understanding it.
* The power of aesthetics in an individual’s choice of politics (i.e., how does this make me look to the people who I most value).
* I didn’t know what I didn’t know (my own lack of power in parts of life), I couldn’t see what I couldn’t see (the effect of my choices on other people and how they responded to me), and the full extent of my role in my own troubles.
* The power of preparation as opposed to winging it.
* Becoming clear about when it is great to only do what I want (Luke time) and when to bend to accommodate others (when I have obligations to do so). For example, I now quickly leave a party, a conversation, and any interaction that bores me. Whenever I give idiots a second chance, I always regret it.
* Flee from disturbing people. Don’t look back.
* Seeing my own importance in interactions and knowing that if I don’t get humiliated, then I’m probably judging this accurately. When I feel betrayal, it’s because I misjudged my relative importance to someone. My tendency is to exaggerate my own importance.
* It’s best to be formal and a tad distant with people unless there’s reason to let them in. Best to err on the side of caution. If in doubt, don’t say something (unless you’re in a safe space).
* If I feel that something is unprecedented, I haven’t read the right book.
* Fans turn into enemies with ease, but enemies once turned to friends are strong for life.
* My appetite for admiration is enormous but if I channel this, it powers me do good things, including volunteering. Narcissism is a temporary look-at-me state. When I can be honest, acknowledge vulnerability, and be comfortable with emotions (mine and others), I’m not disabled by my narcissism.
* Most people don’t like it when I tease them, but some people love it sometimes. To needlessly provoke people (in real life, not by what I write on a blog) is to hurt them.

Friends contribute these observations:

* People are happy to see people do well only up to the point where they are, anything beyond will breed resentment and even malevolence. So our cheering on the success of others, is range bound.

* People who share the same perspectives, attitudes, and activities tend to develop close relationships. The adage “Birds of a feather flock together” has merit. People are attracted to other people who share their interests.

People who share the same principles and beliefs rarely experience dissonance and feel secure in the sameness they share with each other. These individuals tend to experience less conflict because they perceive the world in similar ways. Sameness leads to the perception of greater happiness and a feeling of being understood. When people first meet, even the perception of sameness will increase mutual attraction.

* When assessing someone from a distance, look for potential commonalities. These can be found, for example, in the way people dress. An individual wearing a shirt embossed with a sports team logo suggests that he or she has at least a passing interest in the team. Even if you don’t favor the same team, you can use the information to start a conversation, particularly if you have any interest in sports. What a person is doing can also serve as a basis for establishing common ground. If a person is walking a dog, reading a book, or pushing a baby carriage it provides you with valuable information for identifying potential conversation openers and/or similar interests.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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