it’s all invented

#60 – The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

this is my 50th newsletter for my 2016 book project.

two more to go before it ends.

this book is so good i finished reading it in a bookstore, many years ago. 

from the introduction:

“Our premise is that many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view.”

it is our nature to tell stories, to others and to ourselves.

“she is a nasty person because she has low self-esteem”.

“i’m single because i’m unattractive”.

“i must follow my passion because this was what i was born to do”.

all stories based on assumptions.

according to the writers, these stories are all invented.

It’s All Invented

“We see a map of the world, not the world itself.”

we do not see everything.

you know the nasty colleague with low self-esteem? she treats her team very well, gives generously to charities and is a dog person. is she that nasty?

“Our minds are also designed to string events into story lines, whether or not there is any connection between the parts… we produce reasons for our actions that are rational, plausible, and guided by the logic of cause and effect, whether or not these “reasons” accurately portray any of the real motivational forces at work.”

i hate to answer the question “why”.

i suspect my favourite authors feel the same way.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore:

“Putting it into words will destroy any meaning.”

“Better not to try to explain it, even to yourself.”

Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek:

“The eternal, vain, stupid questions: why? what for? come to poison your heart.”

how do i answer the question “why are you single?”

i could use any of these answers or a combination of them:

i am unattractive, both outwardly and inwardly.

i have not met the right woman.

i hate being encumbered.

i like being single.

women have too many demands.

etc.

what happens if tomorrow i have a one night stand and a relationship begins? then all the answers were wrong.

life is not guided by cause and effect. our answers to questions usually are.

strange, unexplained things have happened and will happen again.

How do you practise “It’s All Invented”?

“A simple way to practice it’s all invented is to ask yourself this question:

What assumption am I making,
That I’m not aware I’m making,
That gives me what I see?

And when you have an answer to that question, ask yourself this one:

What might I now invent,
That I haven’t yet invented,
That would give me other choices?”

i resist telling stories (this itself is a story) so obviously i have failed.

let’s go with the premise that we can’t help but to tell stories.

since all stories are invented and do not tell the whole truth, why don’t we invent better stories that give us more choices?

the old story:

“she is a nasty person because she has low self-esteem”.

the new story:

“i need to find out why she reacts so negatively in meetings. is it because she feels we’re attacking her competency?”

better stories enable us to act.

with the old story, i cannot do anything about her “low self-esteem”. but with the new story, it’s up to me to find out by either speaking to her or colleagues who know her better.

change your stories, change your life.

Why i love this project

my life is full of stories and assumptions. i love this project because reading books from different writers challenge the stories i tell myself and the assumptions i make about the world.

this is of course a story, but a good and useful one.

happy holidays.


Mark Zuckerberg inspired me to start an annual personal project – read a non-fiction book every week and write about it. 

My previous newsletters are here: https://isaiahlim.wordpress.com/category/isaiahlim_newsletter/

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