There come moments in our lives where something just clicks in a different way. It’s as though someone is shifting the camera angle on the world, and we gain another perspective. Here, people share stories of times that left them saying, “Ahh! I never saw it that way.”
Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you would like to read more stories like these, be sure to check out the source link at the end of this article. Comments have been edited for clarity.
Someone once pointed out to me why they thought people so often believe the world is either going to end or be plunged into chaos. It’s because they can’t cope with thinking everyone after them will have it better.
His argument was that, despite the fact life seems to become easier, longer, and less painful as time goes on, people would prefer to believe that they are at the peak. The thought that if they were born just 100 years later they would have fewer worries, more fun, and a better life, actually causes unhappiness. They are envious of the future generations who will experience these things.
The solution? Adopt the belief that things are going to get worse soon. Through warfare, environmental damage, or civil unrest the belief that the end is nigh is actually comforting, as people can then believe that they have it as good as it’s ever going to get. They can feel like they won life’s lottery. That’s why every society has some end of the world story or another, and why a new thing will bring about our destruction every few years.
I don’t know if I agree or not, but it is an interesting idea.
Many of you must have driven in crowded (US) cities like Chicago or New York. I have too. Often, in traffic, people refuse to give way when you want to change lanes to enter into a mall or a freeway entrance. The remedy? Open the window and signal with your hands. I had to do this, too. I used to think that by signalling with my hands, I am asserting myself, forcing the driver behind me to let me change lanes. I felt superior after doing this, until I read a thought on this problem by.
His theory is that by signalling with hands, I let the other car know that I am a human like them, who is driving this car, and I really need to change lanes. A simple signal with your hands is able to bring out emotions like empathy and politeness (his words). I said to myself, I am not really forcing him/her to let me change lanes. Instead, I am coming out of my car” – my machine – to appeal to him/her/them on a personal level. After reading this, I could think of many such scenarios, where we may feel that we forcefully got the job done, asserted our superiority. On the contrary, we connected with him/her/them and the other person allowed us to progress.
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!
We’ve all heard this timeless anti-joke. But someone once explained it to me in a new way that left a deep impression. It’s kind of a macabre interpretation, and it turns the joke into an exercise in philosophy. This interpretation renders the joke forever humorless in my mind; but that’s okay, because it wasn’t really funny to begin with.
Here’s the dark explanation:
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the “other side.” By “other side” here, we mean the afterlife. The street was busy and so it was likely that she would be hit by a car and die, which is why she chose to crossto get to the other side. So the dark interpretation of this joke is that the chicken’s street-crossing escapade was actually her choosing death.
Kind of dark, right?
My biggest example of this “aha” moment led me to write a brief how to guide.
I had a really difficult time getting employers to pick up the phone and call me after I applied and submitted my resume to a job. After researching the recruiting process and thinking critically about how business decisions are made, I realized that I wasnt thinking about things in the right way. Here’s what I learned from my research:
- Recruiters may spend 6 seconds or less reading a single resume.
- Employers receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening.
- Most employers use an applicant tracking system to filter out job applicants whose resumes dont align with the job description.
- Hiring managers need to justify why they hired you.
I began to think of my resume as a business justification rather than a summary of my past experiences and accomplishments. Now, I structure my resume to include:
- An executive summary that summarizes and quantifies my competencies.
- Data that supports the statements in my resume and that is placed in the direct line of sight of the reader when theyre skimming through the resume. Hint: People tend to read in F-shaped patterns, which means that the data needs to be on the left side of the resume in order to stand out to someone skimming through the document.
- Only the information that is relevant to the job. This mitigates bias and ensures the recruiter or hiring manager is basing their decision to call you on the information that pertains to what they are advertising for.
This way of thinking and designing resumes has worked for dozens of friends and acquaintances that I have helped over the years. Regardless of the field or industry in which people work, this style of resume writing has landed phone interviews with a wide variety of companies.
I was in my early twenties, and two very simple notions were introduced to me:
- True love isnt a feeling. Its a constant decision. Every day. Feelings fade, and if love is just a feeling, it will too. But decisions—commitments—are forever.
- Romantic relationships, marriages especially, arent about you.They arent even 5050. You give 100% to your spouse, and they give 100% to you. When working correctly, you dont have to worry about what you are getting out of your relationship, because your spouse is taking care of that for you, and vice-versa.
I had been dating girls for a decade at the point that this revelation was given to me, and very quickly realized that I had always been in the relationships for myself. I was chasing the feeling of being loved, seeking to fill my need for approval, and pursuing the satisfaction of physical intimacy. Sure, I went through all the motions—I was very romantic, in fact—but ultimately, in my heart, even those actions were done for selfish reasons, necessary as they were to perpetuate a relationship that was meeting my needs.
Its no wonder that none of those relationships lasted!
Fast forward another decade, (plus some), and Im happily married with two kids and one on the way, and Ive gained some perspective from marriage conferences and counsellors that has done wonders to help me understand concepts that, while amazingly true, dont seem to be well-known.
Starting with those first two revelations from my twenties, my wife and I have gathered all of these concepts over the years into what we call our marriage toolbox. My father always told me to use the right tool for the job, and Im always thankful that when conflict or difficulty arises in our marriage, my wife and I are able to pull out the right tool to resolve the issue. We often lament that so many marriages have so few tools at their disposal, and we share the tools whenever we can with couples who may need them.
I started taking a look at undocumented Mexicans who had lived in the USA for many years, especially in California or the Southwest. ‘Ship ’em all back,’ was my old mantra. Then one day, I realized something. It was like a book dropped on my head.
I suddenly figured out that a lot of these people were encouraged to come here to pick our crops, and that Americans working with farms were helping bring them over to the US to do so. It was a business for many years, and supported by US farmers themselves. This was going on heavily between the end of World War 2 and right up into the 60’s. Then when the Hispanic populations here began to increase because of this business, that’s when people started reacting to the inflow of illegal aliens.
For all those years, it was mostly Americans who were doing the transporting, too. Paid by the farmers, with the Border Patrol ‘sort of’ allowing it all to happen as long as it didn’t get too wild. Who was going to pick all those crops in California? White, Anglo-Saxon Americans? No. Mexicans. So, we bring them here in droves over a period of decades, and some decide to stay, and they flourish. It came to me that it was America who brought this on themselves. But here we are whining about it now, when for decades we practically waded across the Rio Grande and dragged them here with promises of work.
In a lot of countries, they don’t have illegal immigration backlash. Many of those countries are easy as pie to enter. So what’s the difference between those countries and the good old USA? Simple. In many of those countries, you can’t rent an apartment, get a job, buy a car, obtain government money or medical care, put your kids in school, or even open a bank account without some form of national ID that confirms you ARE a citizen. We have a few laws sort of related to those things, but not really. If you hold out the carrot, the donkey is going to approach it. If there IS no carrot, the donkey will stay where he is. If the US had a national ID system, created by the US Mint that restricted all those things I mentioned to holders of the ID, the illegal immigration problem would vanish almost overnight. Then you set a future date to implement it, and grant blanket amnesty to everyone already here who isn’t a criminal. One in 25 people in the United States are here illegally. That’s roughly 12 million people. Trust me when I say that trying to deport them all just won’t work. And that doesn’t count the folks who are RELATED to those people, but actually ARE legal.
It’s America’s fault for creating this, so we can’t continue to blame it on the people who came here, worked hard, and are now flourishing.
Apparently, this is a common method they used to teach finance. It changed by life to understand it.
I had a late-night conversation with a fraternity brother, who was a finance major, in college, 18 years ago. He was eating a cheeseburger, and stopped to explain the cheeseburger from the perspective of a finance major.
When you think about it, he said. The fact that this cheeseburger costs less than a dollar is a triumph of capitalism and corporations.
Then he explained why.
Every part of that cheeseburger came from a different farm, via a different factory, to the place it was assembled, and then sold to him, all for less than a dollar.
There were easily more than 100 people involved in getting that cheeseburger to him. Farmers, truck drivers, factory workers, cooks, cashiers, etc…
And this cheeseburger cost about 3 minutes worth of wages for him.
Hundreds of people spent hundreds of hours working to provide him that cheeseburger, for less than a dollar. Those people were only employed because hundreds of thousands of other people were also buying cheeseburgers for under one dollar. If people stopped buying those cheap cheeseburgers, hundreds of people would lose their jobs.
That conversation made me look at my role in the capitalist system differently.
Just today, I went to a local grocery store and spent $1.29 on a big jar of mixed fruit. Here in America, the fruit has to be labeled with its country of origin. My jar of mixed fruit originated in China, Thailand, and Romania.
It was shipped to the US on a huge container ship, sent to a factory for processing, cut-up, jarred, and driven to the middle of America, for me to buy for $1.29.
It takes me about two minutes to earn the $1.29 that I spent on that jar of fruit. Two minutes of my labor, exchanged for hours of labor from hundreds of workers all around the world.
Its amazing, when you think about it.
Heads Up, Seven Up is a popular childrens game that has been played in United States elementary school classrooms since the 1950s, but it actually is used by teachers for a sneaky reason.
There are several different ways to play, but the usual method I remember is that first the teacher selects seven students to be pickers. These seven students come to the front of the classroom and stand in a line facing the rest of the class. Then, the students in the remainder of the class are instructed to have their heads down on their desk with their eyes shut and arm(s) outstretched, in some variations with the thumb up. The pickers then move about the room, pick one student by quietly tapping that persons outstretched arm or hand, then return to the front of the room. A student who has been tapped must make some kind of visual indicator, usually putting their thumb down or pulling their arm in, so they are not selected by more than one picker. When all of the pickers are back in place, the teacher announces, Heads up, seven up, and all of the students are now allowed to look up.
The tapped students then stand, and, one at a time, guess who picked them. Each student that guesses their picker correctly is then able to take that persons place as a picker. Usually there would be incentives for the pickers for each round they were able to remain a picker, such as a piece of candy or prizes – so for this reason, it would be to the benefit of the picker to be as stealthy as possible and not be predictable in whom they would pick.
Now, as a student, I was very excited whenever a teacher announced that it was time to play Heads Up, Seven Up, and I wasnt alone; this game seemed to be universally eagerly looked forward to. Something about the suspense of whether or not one of the pickers would tap you and then being able to guess who did it. And if you were a picker, how many rounds you could get away with it without being caught. Traditionally, several rounds of this game would be played at least on the first day of a new school year because it can be used to help the students learn each others names, then as a reward at random times throughout the school year. I still remember this game fondly.
I gained a new appreciation of Heads Up, Seven Up, when I began dating my husband and somehow the topic of this game came up. His mother is an elementary school librarian, so he had some insight into it.
It seems obvious that if a teacher needs a bit of a break at some point during the year, this game would be one relatively quiet way to occupy the students. That was no surprise. But what had not occurred to me was the real reason this is usually played on the first day every year. It is an early way for the teachers to determine which students in their new class will be the cheaters and generally the biggest troublemakers of the class, which is very useful information to have.
It is very tempting to cheat in this game, and, by watching the students carefully from the front of the room, it is very easy to figure out who is cheating within a few rounds of the game. The game also gives some early indicators regarding which students are better at deceiving others, and what the group dynamics of the class will be, since many of the students already know each other. The teachers then file this knowledge away and usually have a seating arrangement the next day that strategically isolates the problem students.
Obviously, its not a perfect system, as it depends upon the trouble-making students really wanting to be a picker, but honestly, my mind was blown when I found out about this because I thought it was so brilliant.
Some of my memories became a little funnier, too, such as those classmates who always seemed to end up assigned to sit in a front corner of the classroom directly in front of the teachers desk and would then loudly whine about it the whole rest of the day after they were assigned to sit there. Ive never been able to look at this game the same way, and Ive wondered about what else the teachers were doing to evaluate us that we werent aware of.
I had an a-ha moment that made me re-think the way I learned my own language!
It happened earlier this week. After work, on Mondays, I volunteer as Spanish teacher for beginners. I love this group. You see, although they are beginners in Spanish, nearly everyone in the class is at least bilingual. A few of them also took some Spanish lessons in high school.
Last Monday, as we were reviewing some vocabulary, I began to explain how to pronounce the letter g. In Spanish, g can be pronounced either with a hard g sound (|| in the international phonetic alphabet, as in gato, golf, gusto) or with a sound that resembles the English aspirated h (|x| in the internationa phonetic alphabet, as in genio, giro). So the way I presented the rule was this:
Me: We use the hard g with a, o, and u. Then I procedeed to give some examples as those mentioned above and went on to say: And we use the h-like sound with e and i. But theres an exception for e and i: when there is an u between g and e or i, we use the hard g instead. For example, guitarra or Miguel.
Student: Well, I dont see any exception there.
Me: Why, what… what do you mean?
Student: I see it this way: in guitarra and Miguel, theres an u following the g. So, as you said, we use the hard g with u.
And this is folks, the story of how I got schooled in my own language. Looking forward to next Monday!
As an only child of my parents and the youngest in the family, I was often pampered a lot. Due to this, I ended up being disrespectful to people while I was angry or just for some random reason.
All this was true during my teenage years. I was even more reckless between the ages 17 and 19/20.
My father often told me(and still tells me) one thing about being respectful, You give respect, You get respect.
As usual, I ignored what he said and carried on with my usual merry.
While I was interning in a multinational company, in India, back in 2015, I got an incredible opportunity to speak to a top executive of the company. Before I tell you about my talk with him, let me give you some background.
During the period of my internship, I tried to speak to as many people as I could because there was a lot to learn from them. Most of them were almost double my age that time. I have often come across employees criticizing their boss or senior.
But, this was NOT the case here. No one, absolutely no one spoke ill about him or said anything negative.
Our department took part in a football fest where I had participated as well. He would always speak to everyone on the pitch with utmost respect and even me, an intern.
Forget about me, even the office assistant who served tea to him every morning was treated with utmost respect.
Moreover, he had reached that position in the company at an age of 42. Which was an achievement of its own. So, I had to speak to him.
Coming back to the point, during the end of my internship, he asked me to drop by in his office to speak to him before the day ended.
The next one hour changed the way I approached life.
I asked him about the respect part. I told him that I did not hear anyone say anything about him and that he was respected everywhere. I also asked him if it was, You give respect, You get respect.
He smiled and said.
Each and every person I know is a part of my success. If it was not for these people I would not have been this successful. If this office assistant, (he said his name but I don’t remember it now), stops cleaning my desk or serving me tea every morning, I would not be able to concentrate on matters at hand. I would have to do it myself and it would give me less time to be productive. It’s because of him that I do not have to worry about these things. In the similar manner, many people around me are helping me in some way or another. Its about how people make your life better.
This changed my thought process about Respect.
At that point I realized, I am because of the people around me. They are making my life easier in some way or the other. They have a part to play in my success.