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Common: Accepting the beliefs and behaviors embedded in the status quo as accurate “best,” “right,” and unchangeable.

Uncommon: There is immense value in being able to think and act independently in a world of conformity and convention – in fact, all innovation and novelty depend on it. It can be challenging to free ourselves from the explicit and implicit forces that keep our brain in the box, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Not surprisingly though, I am frequently asked, “How do I think and act independently when I am bombarded by constant influences and pressures to conform and/or think in a certain way?” This is an excellent question.

But first, you may be wondering how I view “conformity” in this context. More accurately, I mean social conformity: adhering to a set of very broadly cast beliefs, rules, and habits.  And “convention” follows suit: “a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards and norms.”

Both serve very important roles in society at times, but the danger lies in the uncanny correlation each has with complacency. Nature’s default setting is the path of least resistance, so just like visiting the gym, it takes an ongoing effort to maintain a creative and original edge in life.

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