December 20, 2020

Too Good to be True?

The phrase 'that's too good to be true' has been on my mind lately.

In many cases, it's a rational analysis of what's likely to be unlikely.

In other cases, it's a means to let ourselves off the hook -  a defence mechanism.

If somebody told you that they spent their lives doing what they loved, worked when they wanted to and made a living from doing so, would your first instinct be to believe them?

Well, your reaction would lie somewhere on the pessimist - optimist spectrum.

The pessimists would say that it sounds "too good to be true". They'd probably say that earning a living takes hard work and sacrifice, performing regular obligations and doing things we don't want to do. They'd claim that it sounds unrealistic and the person is surely bending the truth.

An optimist might say, "Wow, I didn't know that was possible, could you explain further?" Through entertaining the possibility of it being true, and in some cases believing it outright from the get-go, they explore further. When they explore further, they expand their worldview, learn lessons through failure and maybe come to realise that the claims were indeed true, eventually following in their footsteps and reaping the same rewards.

All from entertaining a single thought - 'That could work".

The phrase 'that's too good to be true' is a product of social programming. We're told what's good for us and anything better is a fairytale. There are strong socioeconomic forces that work very hard to keep you saying "that's too good to be true" because it cuts off the opportunity for change. Change disrupts status quo and for those who profit from stability, change is bad.

'That's too good to be true' is an excuse not to try. It's an excuse for not having to waste mental energy on entertaining something that might actually be true. It's an excuse to let ourselves off the hook because if it were true, it would mean that we missed out on doing it earlier, and that might make us feel regret, shame and frustration. But on the other side of those temporary emotions might be a more permanent, better way of doing things.

Because for the very few who say "that could work", it often does.

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Every week, I write about philosophy, self-fulfilment and creativity.
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