One of the ways we can take the pressure off ourselves is by giving up trying to figure out other people.
We can be curious and compassionate and make a concerted effort to acknowledge and appreciate people’s many motivations.
But while human beings are predictable in the extreme, on an individual day to day basis, most people are incomprehensible cosmic anomalies.
And that’s okay. It’s actually quite entertaining. Liberating, in fact. It’s like the mathematician confronting the equation that has no solution. He steps back from the board, sets down his chalk, surrenders to the mystery and moves on with his life.
Debotton, my favorite modern philosopher, writes:
However much people appear to understand us, large tracts of our psyche will always remain incomprehensible to them, to us, and to everyone else. But we shouldn’t accuse them of dereliction of duty if they fail to grasp our internal workings. They are not tragically inept, they simply can’t understand who we are and what we need, which is wholly normal. Nobody properly understands, or can therefore fully sympathize with, anyone else.
Hollywood is to blame for this. Every movie that comes out has that obligatory third act reveal. The great epiphany, eureka moment, lightning bolt of clarity, where the audience finally sees the characters for who they really are.
All of the person’s strange behaviors are neatly summarized like the abstract of a scholarly paper. And by the ninety minute mark, everything gets tied up in a nice little bow, and the credits start to roll.
It would be lovely if human beings were that simple.
But since that’s never going to happen, we may as well surrender to the mystery in the meantime.
It might actually free up some time in our schedule.
Just imagine how many of our own personal goals we could pursue if we gave up watchdogging everyone else.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What person are you still obsessing over trying to figure out?