The Power of "No"

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Mark Twain left us with these wise words, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. . . . Explore. Dream.''

Every time I hear this quote I can't help but to feel a sense of motivation. But this article caught my attention by posing the idea that failures and other people doubting you may be the driving force behind success as well as motivation. Instead of following our "dreams" maybe we are motivated to prove people wrong. I believe every single one of us relate to this particular sensation.

If anything, we've learned that human beings are complex individuals. It isn't until Chapter 11 that we learn about the theories of emotion and what drives us. Our book talks about defensive pessimism about "looking on the bright side of life" yet even the research suggests that this positive psychology is merely a fad. Moreover, problems of "individual differences" in Chapter 1 remind us to be careful about applying a "one size fits all" approach to human behavior. Also, the broaden and build theory proposes that happiness predisposes us to think more openly. But the article argues that we can derive happiness and success as a result of past failures. There may be a connection between failures and our ability to capitalize and grow from these experiences. Ultimately, this theory contradicts defensive pessimism. Obviously, replicability is not easily achieved because it is difficult to assess a person's life and compare it with another person in terms of how they reacted to failure and doubt.

As for personal insight, I remember my Dad telling me that "there would always be someone faster than me." As an avid running throughout middle and high school, these words haunted me. I set out to prove my dad wrong. Like the article mentions, "many people cherish their motivational insults." It took me a few years, but I managed to start winning races. I placed in the state and regional meets, but I never was the fastest. It seemed my dad was right, there always seemed to be someone better than me. Yet, I'm not mad. If it wasn't for my dad's words, I wouldn't have pushed myself as hard as I did.

Humans are not rational beings, the psychological landscape has debunked this notion. But I ask of you to figure out what motivates you. What "no" do you cling to? Who do you want to prove wrong? I believe Steve Jobs exemplifies these characteristics of adversity - despite dropping out of college and being fired from his own business, he was able to overcome previous failures to create one of the largest companies in the world. I find this element of human behavior to be both inspirational as well as necessary. Imagine if you gave up on something every time if someone doubted you, told you that you couldn't do it or said you weren't smart enough. Don't give up.

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This page contains a single entry by schus193 published on October 23, 2011 10:05 PM.

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