Saturday, February 9, 2019

Don't Judge Others

If you see someone living their life differently than yours don't judge them. You might see a young lady take frequent lavish trips to Europe on first class flights and wonder if she has any savings. You might see couples decided not to have kids. You might see people taking the "standard" route with a house and two kids and two cars and two jobs. You might even spot a millennial on her way to early retirement at 35.

Rather than judging, make an effort to have empathy. Remember that George Carlin bit where he says everyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac? Think back to that quote when people are doing something different than you. It points out how egocentric we are; everything is relative to us.

But when we employ empathy, we can understand that those people are different than us and are driven by different values. I personally wouldn't buy an expensive luxury car because I rather use that money for more freedom and travel. But I can put myself into that family-from-povery-first-to-graduate-from-college's mind and realize that the car is much more meaningful to that person than just transportation. It represents success and new beginnings of happiness for him and his family and he draws much more happiness from it that I could have.

Not to mention that we often are only working with partial information. Maybe that young lady is not being reckless with her money because she's been saving earlier in her life. We don't know what her financial portfolio looks like. We don't know exactly what her values are either. Maybe she's made a conscious decision to have fun the earlier part of her life and does understand that she will work harder later to make it up. Or maybe she even has a terminal disease so she is living it up while she can. We don't know.

It reminds me of something Derek Sivers said: we might initially think that a serial entrepreneur was super successful. But what if that person had really wanted to not work as much and settle down in a peaceful quiet life but couldn't because of the entrepreneur addiction. In that case, I wouldn't call him a success.

Through practicing empathy, I've learned to appreciate others' decisions. At the same time I realize that sometimes others will judge me and my decisions but I can accept (and ignore) that because I understand that they are seeing things from their lens. Its my dream not theirs.