Be an exception, break through expectations

There is something about noticing exceptions.  When you start to notice exceptions to rules suddenly the rules don’t seem so rigid.  I hadn’t noticed this, at least not explicitly or in this context, until now.

I don’t mean laws.  I don’t mean sneaking an extra cookie. (Although this often holds true in these instances too.)  What I am talking about is in regards to outsiders, innovators, stereotype deifiers. 

I am talking about the times I noticed (sometimes subconsciously) someone doing something I wanted to do but didn’t have the courage, or didn’t know I wanted to do.   Like majoring in one thing, but pursuing a career in something [seemingly] not-so-related.  Or climbing a tree in a public(ish) park because you need a new perspective.  Or eating food out of a dumpster. Or making a batch of black bean brownies for dessert.

But once someone else goes first, once that rigid rule get snapped in your mind, possibilities grow from this crack.

The more times you see exceptions to certain rules, the more rules become guidelines, then misconceptions.  The more you notice people bending and breaking rules, the less you feel like you have to follow them.

The more you might pursue your own non-traditional career path, do handstands on a beach, or blend chickpeas with honey and cinnamon for lunch.

So be a role model, break rules proudly and loudly.

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Make Goodness Attractive

This won’t be the last time I tell you, I am blessed to have some of the most incredible and inspiring friends.

Today I was able to connect with two of my best friends who never fail to bring new ideas and a new sense of appreciation into my life.  Maria and Esteban spent all summer in Panama doing good (creating teaching programs with locals, mentoring Kalu Yala interns, and spreading joy) and dreaming of ways to do better (from phone apps to healthy recipe cards these two never stop).

So what are these amazing people up to next?  Their current goal: Make goodness attractive and make making good decisions easier. 

I have spent a lot of time thinking about making decisions, learning why we make certain decisions, and wondering how we can make better decisions.  But their approach provoked me to think of this problem as much more of an opportunity: how can we make making good decisions easier for each other?

In Predictably Irrational, Ariely talks about designing incentives for ourselves to encourage good decision making.  Pair things you have to do with things you want to do.  So if you have to do rehab exercises schedule time every day where you can watch a TED talk or listen to your favorite music while you do them.   Or if you know you indulge in fast food too often buy your favorite dessert and only allow yourself to eat it after you’ve cooked a healthy meal for yourself.

Now lets go social. How can you encourage friends and family to make good decisions?  Research has proven that we are influenced by others around us more than almost anything else.   In what ways do you influence people around you for the better? What about for the worse? Consider this:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

-Jim Rohn

Identify people who make you better. Learn from them. Identify people who you help.  Team them.  Let’s make each other better.   Let’s make making good decisions easier.

Semi-related tangent story: Allison (my roommate) just shared a quote from an article she is reading about sugar, without really thinking I then grabbed a piece of candy next to me.  (bad influence) She then shared a few facts about how much sugar is in coke (10 oreos worth!) reminding me how much sugar can sneak into our diets if we aren’t careful (good influence).