September 21    

Today's quotation:

The reason why we often get poor advice is that it's hard to find a person who always has our best interest at heart, isn't envious in any way, and at no level thinks he or she knows what's best for you.

David J. Lieberman

Today's Meditation:

I try to give little advice.  When I do, I try to preface it with the statement, "This is simply advice, not me telling you what to do."  I know from experience that advice isn't very often the best thing for anyone-- after all, what worked best for me probably won't work best for you.  You're a different person facing perhaps a similar situation, but not an identical one-- what worked for me may or may not be effective here.  There is advice that is fairly universal (don't text while driving, for example), but much of it is simply someone else telling us what they think is best for us.

Good advice stands out, and we know it when we hear it.  Poor advice is much more common, and we usually know that when we hear it, too.  The problem is that often the good advice is the harder path to follow, so we go with the advice that we want to hear.  We've simply fallen victim to the confirmation bias-- someone else tells us it's good to do what we want to do instead of what's best to do, so we run with that and end up doing something that wasn't best at all.

In many situations I've given up asking for advice at all.  These are the situations in which I know what's right, and even though it's hard, I know what I need to do.  Asking for advice would be more like asking for someone else to justify a way out for me than actually asking for advice, and I know that there really isn't any easy way out.  So I just do what I need to do, and leave others out of it.  (Of course, it's often wise to ask others how to do certain things, especially if they've been through it themselves.)

I would like to think that my advice would be particularly valuable to anyone who receives it, but the truth is that it probably rarely is.  I give it anyway, sparingly, because I do have that urge to spare others unnecessary pain or regret or problems.  I have to keep in mind, though, that there's a chance that my advice may cause more of all of those things, so I need to be careful just how and how often I dispense it.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the values of good advice?

Why do so many people feel that their advice is so valuable?

What's some of the best advice you've ever received?  The worst?

For further thought:

In my experience, most unsolicited advice comes from people who genuinely care.  They want what's best for you, and they think their cautionary tales (even when you know the advice to be misguided) can help you avoid missteps.  Whenever possible, just graciously say "thank you" and move on.  This lets those who care feel like they are participating in your success and helping you on your journey.

Brittany Hodak

more thoughts and ideas on advice



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