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Att luta sig mot smärtan

I somras skrev Aaron Swartz en serie artiklar under rubriken “Raw Nerve“, där han formulerade en slags egen livsfilosofi. Det är naturligtvis sorgligt att läsa med tanke på att han gick bort innan han hann praktisera den, och omformulera den, under en längre livsperiod. Tillräckligt mycket har skrivits och sagts om Swartz, så jag vill egentligen bara lyfta fram den här passagen från artikeln “Lean into the pain“:

I’d learned not to shrink from hard truths, so I’d literally have this conversation with myself: “Yes, I know: if I got better at selling things to people [or whatever it was], I’d be much better off. But look at how painful I find selling: just thinking about it makes me want to run and hide! Sure, it’d be great if I could do it, but is it really worth all that pain?”

Now I realize this is a bogus argument: it’s not that the pain is so bad that it makes me flee, it’s that the importance of the topic triggers a fight-or-flight reaction deep in my reptile brain. If instead of thinking of it as a scary subject to avoid, I think of it as an exciting opportunity to get better, then it’s no longer a cost-benefit tradeoff at all: both sides are a benefit — I get the benefits of being good at selling and the fun of getting better at something.

Do this enough times and your whole outlook on life begins to change. It’s no longer a scary world, hemming you in, but an exciting one full of exciting adventures to pursue.

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