There is a thin veneer over everything. When we are distracted by news streams, overwhelmed by direct messaging and tired from keeping up with the Joneses, it’s easy to create a veneer that allows us to store and process more information without having to delve deeper into what’s actually going on beneath the surface.
It’s here that paradoxes are formed, and we can miss out on value when we aren’t able to dig deeper and find out more. Often, these paradoxes become most apparent in our later years, and we love to wax lyrical about how wisdom is wasted on the old and youth is wasted on the young.
Ultimately – we begin to accept (and awaken to) the opposite of so many things we once believed to be true.
Here are just a few of life’s paradoxes that can help us find more value and fulfilment in life.
Learn More to Know Less
This is also known as the knowledge paradox. That the more we know, the less we can clearly explain. Our inability to explain familiar concepts is a form of cognitive bias wherein experts often overestimate the ability of novices. As Einstein put it – the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.”
This should be empowering, not frightening and should encourage us to embrace lifelong learning. Lifelong learners are built, not born. Choosing to keep learning is something we must actively do – it’s not reserved for some non-existent biologically elite.
Slow Down to Speed Up
Our parents and teachers would often say, “Less haste, more speed!”. Apart from being more mindful and present, slowing down gives us the time to be deliberate with our actions. We can focus, gather energy, and deploy our resources more efficiently. It allows you to focus on leverage and maximising returns.
When it comes to markets and investing, budgeting or risk management – this paradox is intrinsic to the sustainability of our planning.
Sprezzatura (“Simple is not simple.”)
The veneer of social acceptance places high praise on those who have the veneer of “having it all together.” The house, the family, the job, the investment portfolio…
Whilst the veneer may be entirely false, we need to remember that we see the end result, not the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. It takes more effort to make something appear effortless. Effortless, elegant performances are often the result of a large volume of effortful, gritty practice.
Benjamin Franklin once said that when you are finished changing, you are finished. If we want to keep moving forward and thriving in times of hardship, we need to be dynamic and adaptable. Learning to adapt to the opposite of what we once thought true is not easy, but it’s a necessary step to find more value and more meaning in life.