Sometimes, we all need to shut up (or learn how to speak right)

Being young and brash, I often feel the need to exert my “righteousness” onto people. Whenever I notice something about my friends, I point it out. Not because it had to be said, but because my mouth has the habit of always having an opinion.

 

The Times I Messed Up

One time, I pointed out to a friend of mine that her straps on her backpack looked like seat belt straps. Now, it made a good joke but at the same time, was it important that she now views her once cherished bag as a sack with seat belt straps?

Or the other occasion when I was in a group and a friend of mine told me that a colleague is going to Company A. But I was so sure it was Company B that I mentioned it into submission. (Later I found out it was Company A)

Or this one other time where I was tempted to talk about this one fellow who I greatly admire, but just had to (for no good reason) mention what I think is wrong with him.

Ben, you just had to. Don’t you?
I know I know. I’m a jerk who just can’t shut up most of the time.

 

Getting It Together

Realizing my mistakes lately (always happens this way), I decided to look for answers by reading the classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People and reading articles by my favourite modern writer, especially Ryan Holiday.

His best pieces of advice?

  • Always say less than necessary
    (the more words you say, the higher the chances of saying something wrong)
  • Ask yourself: “Am I saying this because I want to prove how smart I am or am I saying this because it needs to be said?” When you’re just getting started, it’s usually the former.

This was in of itself extremely helpful, but there was a test that was written ages ago by a philosopher named Rumi that is still used today and it goes:

  • Before you speak your mind, let your word pass through the 3 gates:

    At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”
    Is it factually correct? (My error with Company B fits here)

    At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”Are you saying it to prove how smart you are or does it need to be said? (My seat belt observation fits the former)

    At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
    Is it something good and positive? (My for-no-good-reason negative opinion of someone fits here)

 

The Cost of Being Wrong?

Being young and up-and-coming, we all feel the need to prove ourselves or exhibit some form of superiority to show that we got it going on. But at times, this is all merely a facade. Often times, it’s insecurity. But it is alright to be wrong or to keep your mouth shut.

What do you got to lose by being wrong? Nothing much.

What do you got to gain by being right? Nothing much.

How to Think About Choosing Your Spouse

 

The most important decision you can make in life (as agreed with Warren Buffett and Sheryl Sandberg) is marrying the right person.

I have been reading a lot of mental models (learning how to think) and thoughts on decision making.

Warren Buffett has this notion of the “20 Slots”. He says if you were to imagine that we are given just 20 slots on a punchcard in life and no more, you would think very carefully before you punch any of the holes.

And he believes that all you need is less than 5 good decisions to have a great life – financially, emotionally and so forth.

My aim with this post is to give you my thoughts and how I think about making the most important decision in your life.

 

  1. Your worst is your best indicator

Growing up, I was told to do well in school so that I could eventually get a good job and have my life financially settled before dating someone.

There is merit to this argument as it highlights the importance of financial security.

Given the fact that most couples argue about money more than anything else, I can see why this path is often preached by our elders.

But what if the reason people argue about money is because they expect it to always be there?

In other words, the financial security itself is the set-up for setting expectations that money will always be ready and that the worry for money is distant.

We strive so hard to be the best version of ourselves (well off, educated and calm), but we forget that the worst version of ourselves are still within us (irrational, emotional and unstable).

Look for a person who can deal with your worst side, because anyone can deal with you at your best, but not anyone will bother with you at your worst.

Have someone who will love you at your worst, not your best.

 

  1. She will not always love you

Like all things in life, they don’t last forever.

The more poetic way to say this is “This too shall pass.”

I learnt a concept from Seneca on making friends, he contends that one should not make friends so that he will have people be there when he is in trouble, but instead make friends so that he can help them when they are in trouble.

Simple, but profound.

Don’t view marrying someone as a having a lifevest when you are sea, but view it as being the lifevest when they are at sea.

This goes contrary to popular belief, I know. But it is this that brings true joy.

Shakespeare once said that the mother of all disappointment is expectation.

When we put the onus onto us to do what we can do for them, every little act done by them is greatly appreciated on our end and that forms the basis of most relationships – being appreciated for each one’s efforts.

Don’t make friends so that they will be there for you, make friends so that you can be there for them.

 

  1. Good things only come about through compound interest

What does this mean?

It means that little things done everyday add up to something stronger over time.

I can attest to this personally.

I used to hear that marriages are soul-sucking affairs; not to mention all the marriage jokes one hears.

But it does age like wine if you put in effort everyday to make it good.

Little things done daily amount to great things over time.