Jessica is my spouse and a lab assistant at the Cleveland Clinic. Here are the top five things I walked away with after our podcast together.
1) Growing in Different Ways Together
I started dating Jessica as a sophomore in college. This was a point in both of our lives where we were not only figuring out each other, but we were figuring out ourselves as individuals.
She didn’t know what she wanted to do for a career and neither did I. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in Ohio and she didn’t know if leaving would be an option. We both were unsure of the future, and it took us awhile to realize that absolute certainty of the future would never come.
Over the years one of the things I’m most proud of is how Jessica and I have both learned to better “dance” with uncertainty. We’ve been able to put one foot in front of the other on a path towards growth, all the while staying together as a couple.
It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t, as we both continue to grow in our unique ways. It is a relief however that we’ve been able to both become more comfortable with uncertainty, in a world where nothing is for certain.
You may be growing in one direction and your partner the other, but when the tension between the two paths become apparent, don’t be so quick to give up because it may just be a part of the process.
2) I’m Obsessed with Ancestry
Jessica called me out on my strange obsession with my ancestors but left out that she bought me a book that’s all about them!
She’s right, as always. I continuously try to find an evolutionary link to the behaviors that are significant in today's world living as a human.
Our ancestors were the strongest, smartest, and most capable humans that have ever lived because if they weren’t, their genetic code would have been removed from history if they died too soon to procreate. We come from an unbroken chain of the best humans who've ever lived, and that’s amazing to think about.
Often when I talk about history, it can come across as nostalgia for the path. Concepts like intermittent fasting during night time, having physical contact with the Earth and knowing exactly where your food comes from seems as if things were better back then than they are now.
Is that the case? I don’t know because I wasn’t there but I do know that I’m living in one of the most comfortable times to be alive as a human and I wouldn’t trade that luxury for anything.
Could you imagine the need to hunt for your food? Or battle with infectious diseases from the smallest of cuts, or the idea that at any time your band of humans could be threatened by an encroaching tribe who wants to take your stuff?
Knowing about our past gives us more context and a better understanding of how we navigate the world today, and because of that, it’s imperative to learn about those who’ve come before us.
3) Finding Your Strengths
I came across this book during my junior year in college.
What resonated with me the most was the idea that it’s better to focus on your strengths than weaknesses because statistics show this method to be more efficient with the resources and energy you have to offer.
Simple on the surface, but for the longest time, I thought I’d be better off working on my weaknesses.
Why? Don’t start somewhere where you’re two steps behind if you’re two steps ahead elsewhere. It’s more natural and efficient.
What I like about the book is that it gives you the chance to identify your top strengths. We all have an idea of what we’re good at, but being able to put it down on paper and look at it in black and white gives a higher level of confidence when we go to practice making our strengths stronger.
Know who you are, what you’re good at, and where others can help fill in your weak spots is what pushes the ball forward for everyone.
4) What Reality Is
I did a horrible job at describing my viewpoint on this, and it’s something that I’ve been combining over in my mind.
There came the point during the podcast where Jessica and I talked about reality, and I mentioned that most of the things we view to be reality are stories that we’ve agreed to be real.
Money is a great example. We have this idea that in reality, money (paper bills, coins, or numbers found on a computer) has value. But what is it’s actual value? What is it’s real value? Well, what can you physically make money? You can burn it or write on it if it’s a paper bill. You can melt a coin and combine it with other coins to have a more substantial piece of metal. And with money online, you can’t do anything physical with it because it physically doesn’t exist.
Money has value because we as a collective group have agreed that it has value. Its value is in the stories that we tell ourselves about it, and these stories are what make “reality.”
The same goes for religion, governments, corporations, and any other story agreed upon by a large number of people.
This is important because confusing objective truths (existing independently of human consciousness) with inter-subjective beliefs (only existing with the subjective consciousness of many individuals) can lead to dangerous misconceptions of reality.
Fire is hot and has been hot forever. It doesn’t matter if a collective group of people get together to decide if fire is hot or not because the fact remains that if I touch a flame, I will get burnt.
Culture is different because it's solely dependent on the collective subjective beliefs that people hold. Ten years ago it was illegal for same-sex marriages to exist and today in 2017 it is legal. The difference between these “realities” are the same as the currency exchange rate between pesos and the US dollar. They are real because we said they are real.
Having this realization is important because it allows us to see inter-subjective beliefs to be dynamic and changeable. Once realized, we have the power to push the culture forward.
Jessica doesn’t have a lot of friends. Well, she doesn’t have a lot of close friends to be specific. She keeps her circle tight because she believes in quality over quantity and would rather have one reliable friend than ten colleagues.
This is important, now more than ever, with technology that enables us to have thousands of “friends” instantaneously.
It’s incredible the way we can connect with people at scale, but how well are we connecting with the people right in front of us?
I’m giving myself a personal rule: People over phones.
There’s no way I can reasonably justify giving attention to a phone over the presence of a living, breathing, human being.
I only have this life to live as do others and we both deserve to enjoy this life together while we are together instead of wandering off into another reality on a screen that takes away our presence from the other person near to us.