Thoughts on how people feel

blackboard paintWhile looking at my clippings of stuff other people have said, I noticed they were often speculations about what makes people feel the way we do.

I don’t know who said each thing because I only collected what was said, and many times I changed the wording to be more clear, at least to me.

How we feel individually is important, when we feel strongly it impacts how we interact with the world around us.

Data by itself is uninteresting. If that data can be arranged into information it’ll possibly become interesting. But if the information can be formed into a resonanting story, it will be remembered because it evokes a feeling.

These are some ideas about how and why people feel.

– People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Confidence is about yourself, while enthusiasm is about something else. Confidence is impressive, while enthusiasm is infectious. Confidence is serious, while enthusiasm is fun. And fun wins.

– OK, life is doing something here that included me but it doesn’t require me. I don’t know why we long so for permanence or why the fleeting nature of things is so disturbing. We even pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, where ever we look, nature is screaming that nothing lasts, that it’s all passing away. Everything around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and will be gone one day. For example, where’re the one billion people who were living and breathing in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?

– We have a profound civilizational anxiety about being alone. The seed for this is increasingly planted in childhood. Now, play is increasingly equated with screens and interfaces. Being alone with a screen is not quite being alone at all. So the art of taking joy in one’s own company is slipping  further and further out of reach. 

– Families often experience confusion when parents consider a child to be “a failed attempt at being us” when the child wasn’t trying to emulate their parents and merely became  their own self.

– We do what gets rewarded. If you’re unhappy with how institutions or people act, take a look at what they get rewarded for. Until we change the rewards, we’re not going to change the behavior, because people always have a reason. Even if the reason isn’t our reason.

– In striving for something, we get used to linking happiness to growth. Satisfaction becomes dependent on the dynamic change of growth. This may have started when we were kids, growing taller every year. At some point we naturally stop growing in size and, instead, start maturing, replacing size with maturity. We replace quantity with quality, and start consolidating what we have rather than reaching for more and more. This also happens  in our lives when the effort to support more size exceeds the returns. 

– The past always feels better than it was because it isn’t here anymore.

– Not many people display their perversions with the freedom and readiness with which they exhibit their moral prejudices. People don’t suspect that their moral prejudices prove the (repressed) existence within them of their undisplayed perversions. Behavior itself emerges only after an unconscious struggle with these feelings.

– Something new is always used first by people who are willing to look ridiculous, at least for a few minutes. Occasionally, we adopt something because it’s truly a better technology, a new taste sensation, a productivity shortcut that pays for itself regardless of what people think of it. But most of the time, culture moves forward on the basis of a simple question of how we feel: “Do people like me do something like this?” If the answer is ‘no’, most of us wait. And so,”the new” comes from unexpected places, not from the arbiters of what’s correct. People who go first have a different agenda than the standard-setters. The culture changes from the edges, and gradually, we come to answer the question with, yes people like me actually do use something like this.

– People pay extra partly for the privilege of paying extra. As the differences between a product or service get smaller, the purely functional reasons for “premium” fade away, and instead they’re purchased for the reason we’ve always purchased luxury goods: because of how they make us feel, not because of what they actually do. A fur coat isn’t warmer than a  down jacket, it’s merely harder to acquire.