How I Handle Bad Things From Happening Ep 436

Summary Notes


In this episode, Alex, the founder of, shares his philosophy on reframing life's pressures to make better decisions. He suggests viewing events from a distant future perspective to discern their true significance, thereby reducing anxiety and sadness. Alex illustrates his point with a story about children learning to ascribe meaning to events from adults, emphasizing that our interpretations are not inherent truths. He advocates for using 'time' and 'volume' to adjust our emotional responses to circumstances, likening life's ups and downs to weather patterns that simply exist without inherent good or bad labels. By understanding that nothing ultimately matters on a cosmic scale, Alex argues we can choose how to interpret our experiences, taking control of our emotional responses and making life more manageable.

Summary Notes

Perspective on Decision-Making

  • Speaker A discusses the importance of perspective in relieving pressure and making better decisions.
  • By considering the long-term impact of decisions, Speaker A finds it easier to navigate life.
  • Decisions are contextualized within a broader timeframe to assess their significance.

"For me, I've relieved a lot of the pressure in my life so that I could make better decisions by zooming way out and thinking, 10,000 years from now, will this matter?"

This quote emphasizes the technique of distancing oneself from the immediacy of a situation to evaluate its long-term importance, which aids in reducing stress and improving decision-making.

Business and Wealth Mindset

  • Speaker B introduces the podcast as a documentation of business lessons learned.
  • The goal is to share insights that can help others grow their businesses and potentially collaborate to reach significant financial milestones.
  • Speaker B views business as a game and approaches it with a strategy to build a billion-dollar portfolio.

"The wealthiest people in the world see business as a game. This podcast, the game, is my attempt at documenting the lessons I've learned on my way to building into a billion dollar portfolio."

This quote outlines the podcast's purpose: to share strategic business insights from the host's experience, with the underlying belief that business can be approached as a competitive and strategic game.

Managing Stress and Interpreting Life Events

  • Speaker A talks about how individuals manage stressors in business and life.
  • The interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves, can dictate whether they are perceived as good or bad.
  • Speaker A uses a story to illustrate how interpretations are often taught by adults and then internalized by children.

"Everybody has stuff happen, and then we choose to make it bad or good."

This quote suggests that the subjective interpretation of life events plays a crucial role in whether we perceive them as positive or negative, which in turn affects our stress levels and overall happiness.

The Impact of External Interpretations

  • Speaker A emphasizes the role of external influences in shaping our interpretations of events.
  • The story of two children illustrates how adults can impose meanings that lead to lasting beliefs and interpretations.
  • These inherited interpretations often require later reexamination and unlearning.

"So imagine for a second two children that are playing, and then one child tells the other child, your nose is really big or you're fat... And in a moment, there was something that is now traumatic that otherwise wouldn't have been because the adult tells both of those children that that was bad."

This anecdote demonstrates how external interpretations, particularly from authority figures, can transform neutral events into significant, emotionally charged experiences.

Tools for Reinterpreting Events: Time and Volume

  • Speaker A introduces two tools for reevaluating situations: time and volume.
  • Time involves considering the frequency or duration of an event to reassess its impact.
  • Volume refers to the idea of normalizing an event through repeated exposure, reducing its emotional weight.

"And so the two tools that I use for this are time and volume. And so the volume example is thinking, okay, I'm in traffic. If this happened every day, would I be upset?"

This quote explains how habitual exposure to an event, like daily traffic, can lead to a neutral or non-reactive emotional response, illustrating the tool of volume in reframing experiences.

Expectation vs. Reality

  • Expectations can significantly influence our perception of reality.
  • Adjusting expectations can change our emotional response to circumstances.
  • Positive reframing involves imagining a situation being better than expected, leading to excitement.
  • Negative reframing involves considering how a situation could be worse, which can make the current state seem more favorable.

"And so then our expectation meets reality. Or if you want to make it positive, you say, well, what if? Every time I got in a car, normally it would take an hour, and today it took 30? I'd be pretty excited about it."

This quote illustrates the concept of expectation versus reality and how adjusting our expectations can alter our emotional response to an event. The speaker uses the example of an unexpectedly quick car journey to demonstrate positive reframing.

Circumstances and Weather Analogy

  • Circumstances are likened to weather patterns, with both good and bad days.
  • The labeling of weather (and thus circumstances) as inherently good or bad is challenged.
  • The necessity of contrast in life is emphasized to appreciate positive experiences.
  • The speaker suggests that without contrast, we would not value the 'good' as it would become the norm.

"And so I like to think of circumstances a lot like weather, which is like, you've got sunny days and you've got rainy days. And the problem, in my opinion, is that people, any day that it rains, they say is bad. And any day that's sunny, they say is good, when in reality it just is."

This quote compares circumstances to weather, emphasizing that our labeling of them as good or bad is subjective. The speaker points out that both sunny and rainy days are necessary and that contrast allows us to appreciate them.

Artificially Adjusting Perception

  • By imagining circumstances being worse, we can shift our perception and potentially view our current situation more positively.
  • This mental exercise helps in recalibrating the meaning we ascribe to our experiences.
  • The speaker suggests that by moving the 'middle line' in our minds, we can redefine what is considered good or bad.

"And so if we know that, then what we can do is artificially move the line in our minds by saying, whatever this circumstance is, what would it look like if it were worse?"

The quote describes a strategy for adjusting our perception of circumstances by imagining them being worse, which can make our current situation seem better by comparison.

Time Perspective

  • Using a long-term time perspective can change the perceived significance of current events.
  • The speaker suggests that most things will not matter in the grand scheme of the universe.
  • A historical example is used to illustrate that even great wealth and power can become insignificant over millennia.
  • This perspective can reduce anxiety and sadness by minimizing the importance of current stressors.

"And the easiest story that I saw about this, I can't remember the writer's name, but there's this statue of a head that's in the sands of Egypt, all right? And it's bigger than this whole room and it's just the head and it's worn out."

This quote provides an example that emphasizes the insignificance of human achievements and concerns when viewed over a long time scale. The story of the worn-out statue head serves as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of power and recognition.

Relieving Pressure Through Perspective

  • The speaker has alleviated personal pressure by considering the long-term significance of issues.
  • This approach allows for better decision-making by removing the weight of immediate concerns.
  • The speaker has experienced a decrease in anxiety and sadness through this method.

"And so for me, that helped me decrease anxiety. It helped me decrease sadness around certain circumstances."

This quote summarizes the personal benefits the speaker has experienced by adopting a long-term perspective on life's issues, specifically mentioning reductions in anxiety and sadness.

Perspective on Loss and Gratitude

  • The speaker shares a personal anecdote about their cat, Bill, to illustrate how perspective can transform feelings of loss into gratitude.
  • By considering a hypothetical scenario where cats have a much shorter lifespan, the speaker's sadness turns into appreciation for the time spent with Bill.
  • This shift in perspective highlights the importance of context in shaping our emotional responses to events.

"I had a cat named Bill. Chill, Bill. Rest in peace, homie. Loved the cat, really liked the cat. And he died... Then I thought to myself, what if cats only normally lived six months? How stoked would I be that he lived four times the normal length of a normal cat?... I was so grateful that I got to have him as long as I did."

The quote reflects on the speaker's process of reframing their grief into gratitude by altering the expected lifespan of cats in their mind. This change in perspective allowed them to appreciate the time they had with their pet rather than focusing solely on the loss.

The Art of Reframing Perspective

  • The speaker discusses the concept of playing with time and volume to change one's perspective on a situation.
  • By questioning what is considered normal and imagining worse scenarios, one can view their current situation more positively.
  • The speaker uses this technique to cope with negative events by ascribing different meanings to them.

"When you play with time and you play with volume, how regular is this? Could it be worse? What if worse was normal and this is what today was? Well, then that's the example of the cat or the like. Then all of a sudden you can make your current context much easier to deal with or even positive, even though you thought of it as negative because you ascribed a different meaning to it."

This quote explains how altering one's perception of what is regular or normal can significantly impact how we interpret and emotionally respond to our experiences. By redefining the baseline, we can shift our perspective from negative to positive.

Long-Term Significance and Legacy

  • The speaker contemplates the long-term insignificance of individual actions in the face of cosmic events, such as the eventual expansion of the sun.
  • They highlight how even significant human achievements, like the discovery of fire, lose their personal attribution over time.
  • The naming of towns and counties after individuals is used to illustrate the fleeting nature of personal legacy and the human tendency to overvalue immediate importance.

"And then if we think about this on a very long time horizon, we think that none of it's really going to matter because in 500 million years the sun is going to expand enough and engulf the earth... Now imagine that you invented something that changes humanity... Did it matter for us? Sure. Does it matter that that was his name and he was the guy? Probably not."

This quote provides a stark reminder of the impermanence of individual legacy when viewed against the vast timeline of the universe. It suggests that while achievements may be important for humanity, the personal recognition associated with them is ultimately transient.

Awareness and Manipulation of Meaning

  • The speaker emphasizes the need to be conscious of the "levers of meaning" that influence how we interpret our experiences.
  • By becoming aware of these levers, individuals can adjust their perception to view their circumstances more favorably.
  • The speaker advocates for using different lenses to look at current conditions, which can change the perceived importance of events.

"First off, we have to be aware of the levers of meaning that exist. And then once you're aware of them, you can start moving them in your favor and then looking at your current conditions through different lenses and say,"

This quote encourages an active approach to understanding and altering the factors that contribute to our sense of meaning. By doing so, we can reframe our experiences in ways that benefit our emotional well-being and perspective on life.

Mindset and Perception of Reality

  • Alex discusses the importance of questioning one's emotional reactions to events.
  • He emphasizes the need to assess if one's feelings are based on reality.
  • Alex notes that his view of the world is often perceived as unique, though it feels normal to him.
  • He acknowledges difficulty in articulating his perspective as he assumes others share it.

"They're like, you have a unique view of the world, Alex. And to me, it's weird because it's just how I see the world."

This quote highlights how Alex's perspective is seen as distinctive by others, even though it feels inherent to him.

Creating and Destroying Meaning

  • Alex uses three scenarios to manage meaning in his life.
  • He focuses on reducing stress and emotional reactions to make better decisions.
  • The scenarios help in altering the interpretation of events rather than the events themselves.

"And so this, although short, is my best attempt to give you three different scenarios that I use to create and destroy meaning in my own life that help me decrease my stress, decrease the emotional affect I have to circumstances so that I can make better decisions in my life."

Alex explains that his strategies are designed to change his response to life's events, thereby improving his decision-making process.

Control and Emotional Equations

  • People often try to control the uncontrollable.
  • They link their emotions to reactive circumstances.
  • Life becomes a series of events triggering emotional responses without personal control.

"They try to control the uncontrollable. They ascribe their feelings to things that they are reactive to, which means so they create these equations for themselves."

This quote illustrates the common mistake of attempting to control things beyond one's power and allowing these uncontrollable aspects to dictate emotional responses.

Flipping the Script

  • Alex suggests rewriting the emotional equations we live by.
  • Changing the meaning of events allows for a different emotional response.
  • This shift can lead to a sense of control over one's happiness and fulfillment.

"Whereas if you can flip the script and make it so that you are the one who writes what that equation is, then you can change what the keys mean."

The quote emphasizes the power of redefining our emotional responses to regain control over our feelings and reactions.

Internal vs. External Control of Happiness

  • External circumstances should not dictate one's happiness.
  • Setting up conditions based on external factors can lead to dissatisfaction.
  • Happiness should be derived from circumstances within one's control.

"So, if people have to treat you a certain way for you to be happy, then it means that your happiness is in their hands."

This quote points out the danger of basing one's happiness on external treatment by others, which relinquishes personal control over one's emotional state.

Emotional Autonomy

  • Recognizing that emotions are internally generated can provide greater control.
  • Awareness of this concept doesn't mean perfection but offers more control over life perception.
  • Assigning meaning internally rather than externally can shield one from uncontrollable factors.

"Now, is anyone doing this perfectly? No, but simply being aware of the fact that these piano keys are being played. But we are the ones who get to assign what the sound is internally gives you a lot more control over your own perception of life and the conditions that are presented to you."

Alex acknowledges that while perfection in controlling emotions is unrealistic, awareness and internal assignment of meaning can significantly enhance one's control over their perception of life.

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