I had intended to write this post last week, but instead, I got carried away talking about the single most important lesson I learned from Prof. Steve Peter’s ‘Chimp Paradox, a groundbreaking book that has made a huge positive difference to my life.
If you to read that, or my original review of the book, you can do that at the links below:
I spent so long last week talking about the importance of responsibility, and how taking responsibility enables us to change situations for the better, that I simply ran out of time to tell you about all the other awesome insights I gained from reading Prof. Peter’s remarkable strategy for better mind management.
Today, I’ll make up for that by sharing with you four more of the best takeaways from The Chimp Paradox.
The golden rule is that whenever you have feelings, thoughts or behaviours that you do not want or welcome, you are being hijacked by your chimp.
The Chimp Paradox – Page 40
I love this simply because knowing it gives me that chance to change. It may have taken some practice (and I’m still by no means perfect yet), but I’m getting to a point where I find it easier to recognise when The Chimp -the emotionally-driven part of my mind that clamours to meet my basic primitive needs- is actually running the show, or at least trying to.
When I recognise that, I can hit the pause button, and I can make a choice:
Do I continue to let my chimp hijack me? Do I continue to act out, knowing that it doesn’t usually end well for me?
Do I pause, take a deep breath, and manage my chimp? Do I choose to put the logical, rational Human side back in charge of things,?
Again, I’m far from having perfected this, but I tend to find that the more I take the second option, the better things usually work out for me.
Don’t live a lie, it will unsettle you more than anything else.
The Chimp Paradox – Page 85
This is the sort of advice they should be putting on t-shirts and on those cute little quote-pics you find all over social media.
I mean, honestly, is there anything quite as simple and yet powerful as a well-placed reminder to true to yourself?
Personally, I don’t think so.
The fact remains, however, that it’s incredibly easy to dilute the truest version of ourselves in the company of certain people or to agree with things we don’t really believe in just to get along.
It’s easy to get stuck in the wrong job and convince ourselves we’re happy with it even when we secretly hate it.
It’s easy to live a lie in all kinds of ways, and from personal experience, I know that when I’m not living truthfully, I have no chance of being genuinely happy, at peace, or even properly focussed on achieving the goals that really matter to me.
It is always useful to remember that every person is living within his or her own world and at times it may not be a pleasant one. Finding out about the world they live in, or accepting that there may be influences on them that you are not aware of, can help to stop assumptions being made.
– The Chimp Paradox – Page 136
This comes down to the old adage about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. I like to think I’m quite a tolerant person, but there are events that will always trigger a state of frustration, if not outright anger, in me.
The worst one is when I find myself stuck behind someone who is taking forever to pay for their shopping in a store. Don’t ask me why, but that really gets to me until I remember to hit the pause button and try to imagine what kind of a day they’re having.
Maybe it’s not been such a good day, or maybe they’re dealing with something huge that I can’t comprehend. Maybe -and here’s the big one- maybe they’re doing the best they can, and no more want to take a long time paying for their shopping than I want to be standing behind them whilst they do it.
When I do that, I find it’s much easier to just let it go. I have to accept that I don’t know what’s going on in other people.
I have to stop judging people by my standards and my circumstances.
This is reflected in two more key points from The Chimp Paradox.
What you can’t do is to impose your expectations and conditions onto someone and then say that they have a problem.
– The Chimp Paradox – Page 142
Very often we ask people to be something that they cannot be or do something that they cannot do.
– The Chimp Paradox – Page 143
Don’t aim for the moon but for the stars. The ‘moon’ is a goal that you know you can achieve by effort. The ‘stars’ are a goal that you could achieve by great effort and it will feel fantastic to reach this goal.
– The Chimp Paradox – Page 272
Finally, we come to a little gem about setting goals.
Though the whole thing about turning dreams into reality and achieving success isn’t the main focus of The Chimp Paradox, Prof. Peters does include some great advice about how to set those goals and actually focus long enough to see them through.
This is one of my favourite pearls of wisdom from the entire section of the book, reminding me to actually aim high rather than settling for less.
They say that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Let’s just say that before I read this, I was fed up with always getting what I always got, so I started doing things differently.
One of those things was believing just how high I could actually set my goals, and going all out to achieve them,
And to think, that was only one of the many powerful ways that The Chimp Paradox changed my life.