Principles

En route to New Delhi:

The day before we left, my friend Nick friend asked me something like this: “How will you recognize the success of this trip?” I suppose it’s another version of, “What do you want to get out of this?” I appreciated that this was coming from his perspective, and he’s a goal-oriented guy. It made me think.

First, simply going is the success. Things will happen. We’ll encounter destinations we have hoped to see and a great deal more. There will be plenty of difficulties. It’s India.

So many people have said things like, Why go there? This is followed by the stories they’ve heard about sickness, lack of infrastructure, violence, and poverty. They’re recalled all the ways India’s not to be trusted. By going, we’re further upsetting the status quo. It struck me the other day that leaving our home made us more dependent on friends and emotionally vulnerable. In that state, we’re off to the land where every day provides an assault to the senses and a challenge to the status quo assumptions. We’re probably not really prepared for this.

I went on tell Nick that we hoped to encourage each other, and both together, to live by principles we relearned recently through a TED talk. Opportunity takes shape because we invite it. The speaker called it creating luck. Here are the principles:

  • Entertain (even somewhat crazy) ideas. These are the very definition of things you don’t think, experience you reject.
  • Appreciate what you encounter. We’re taught to critique and evaluate, and these habits seal us in conventional thinking.
  • Take risks. Not necessarily big risks, but consider saying yes.

I can see how trying on a crazy idea and appreciating whatever follows reinforce one another. Taking a risk is just putting the first two into action. But it is hard to get started, right? We all start from habits that reinforce themselves and protect this familiar and satisfied self. It will take conscious effort.

These principles echo my own practice, or at least my good intentions. I am my habits – work, love, ease. They create the world I live in. But what if it is not what I make of it? What if I’m missing a great deal in this creation of mine? What if we are create our own world, moment by moment, dominated by our preferences, past experience, and unconscious biases. If you want to entertain a crazy idea, consider that the world you see is a dream you dream, vivid and textured, but not quite as it is. Appreciate that the feeling that follows – whether anxiety or ease – is the experience of letting go of that privileged point of view. 

I’ll let you know about our experiments in inviting opportunity. Feel free to remind me.

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