The Uncommon Life

Uncommon sense for an unconventional life

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6 ways to be independent-minded in a world of conformity and convention

6 ways to be independent-minded in a world of conformity and convention

Posted by in ALL posts, Education, Lifestyle Design, Practical Philosophy | 8 comments

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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The Real World Myth – Is someone else’s reality holding you back? (Part 2)

The Real World Myth – Is someone else’s reality holding you back? (Part 2)

Posted by in ALL posts, Lifestyle Design, Practical Philosophy | 15 comments

Common: Subscribing to traditional beliefs about a universal reality with predetermined parameters about what is practical and possible.

Uncommon: From a young age we’re told tales of this daunting place called the “real world.”  It’s a place where practicality always trumps imagination and undaunted ambition.  “Better dream now and enjoy it,” we’re implicitly told, “because when you grow up you’ll realize that things don’t work that way in the real world.”

Advice about the “real world” may come with good intentions, but that doesn’t make it accurate.  What someone else finds true need not become your dogma.

With boundless aspirations emerging as a teen, I encountered many people who tired to rein me into their “real world” with the following cautionary counsel:

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