Choosing Our Agreements, Consciously — 4 Quotes

A core tenet of my work is that we unconsciously accept most of the agreements that fundamentally influence our experience and our outcomes, and that it is possible to see these agreements and to consciously choose them.  In my recent readings, I came across some quotes looking at this choice.

Nobel laureate in literature, George Bernard Shaw, in Maxims for Revolutionists, wrote, The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Once British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, in Lothair, wrote, “Action may not always be happiness,..but here is no happiness without action.”  I suggest that choice might not always bring happiness, but there is no resilient capacity for happiness or wellness, however one defines it for oneself, without conscious choice.

Nobel laureate in physics, Richard Feynman, in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, wrote, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool” (p 343).  To be okay with unconsciously accepting the agreements that most influence your experience and outcomes is to give over the power of your will, your future, to someone else.

In his bestselling The 4-Hour Workweek, a manifesto on rethinking our basic agreements about working and living, Timothy Ferriss observes, “If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work” (p 30).  Just because everyone seems to accept a set of agreements, consciously or unconsciously, does not mean that these agreements actually lead to the experience and outcomes they say they do or that these agreements are right for you.  To know that, you have to ask the question.

A hat tip to Timothy Ferriss for these four quotes.

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Seeing Agreements — What Does Wisdom Suggest?

The agreements we make, consciously or unconsciously, greatly influence our experience, as we have explored in previous blog posts.  Agreements based on scarcity lead to the experience of scarcity.  Agreements based on abundance lead to the experience of abundance.  If we experience both, as everyone I have met suggests we do, then it must be a matter of seeing the agreements and choosing the ones we prefer.  Looking to what wisdom says about seeing agreements, I share six quotes.  Please share any you have as comments here.

  • The search for an explanation often begins when we notice that something is different, unusual, or wrong. Usually, it takes an unexpected event to pique our curiosity. Hillel J. Einhorn, Robin M. Hogarth.
  • The brain apparently makes no distinction between the image seen by the eye and the various details it has filled in. We are all unaware of the significant blind spot in our eye at the point where the optical nerve enters. The brain makes a guess at what should be there, fills in the missing gap and it all looks quite consistent.  Yoram (Jerry) Wind, Colin Crook, Robert Gunther.
  • The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw.
  • We don’t have enough time to do it right; just enough time to do it over. Senior Executive of a Global Fortune 1000 company.
  • It is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated, and apparently responsible people rarely pause to contemplate their own behavior. Stratford Sherman, Alyssa Freas.
  • If you want to change how people think, give them a tool the use of which will lead them to think differently. Buckminster Fuller.