Get That BUT Out of Here!
In the book A Whole New Mind Daniel Pink explains why right-brainers are taking over the left-brain dominated world. Right-brain people are more creative, English and literature, emotional thinking people. Whereas the left-brain people are more towards the math and science kind of thinking. In Pink’s book are sections dedicated to exercise the right side of the brain. While I consider myself to be a right-brain kind of girl I decided to try out one of these exercises. Specifically in meaning.
Pink believes meaning to be important because it is related to happiness. “I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness…we are seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” This quote from the Dalai Lama is nestled between Pink’s arguments for why we search for meaning. From what I see, finding meaning comes from doing things that make us truly happy and satisfied. However, we all seem to have excuses for why we don’t just go and do the things we love or truly want to do. But Out is an exercise that challenges us to remove the excuses from our lives and start coming up with solutions and plans for doing what we want.
To begin the But Out exercise you first make a list of what you want to do and what is holding you back using the word ‘but’. For instance, I’d like to live in a castle but I don’t have enough money. Then you replace the word ‘but’ for ‘and’ like this, I’d like to live in a castle and I don’t have enough money so I will marry Prince William. For my list I kept my wants pretty realistic here are just a few examples of my wants and their excuses.
I’d like to read more classics but I’m usually too swamped with homework or too tired.
I’d like to exercise everyday but I lose my motivation after a few days.
I’d like to eat healthier but I have a bad sweet tooth and sweets are cheaper than healthy foods.
Simple stuff and a lot of excuses for why I’m not doing them. Whether it be school, money or just plain laziness I’m letting factors in my life that I can change keep me from doing what I want. Now they may not make me happier but I’ll never know if I don’t try them right? So here are the revised sentences with all the “buts” out.
I’d like to read more classics and I’m usually too swamped with homework or too tired. So I’ll try to manage my time better and find a time where I can read in peace.
I’d like to exercise everyday and I lose my motivation after a few days so I’ll try to find inspiration and be more strict with myself.
I’d like to eat healthier and I have a bad sweet tooth and sweets are cheaper than healthy foods. So I’ll instead keep fruits or granola bars around so I can eat that instead of sweets and eat sweets as little as possible.
When I changed the ‘buts’ to ‘ands’ my mind instantly switched problem-solving mode. I was forced to really think through how I could eliminate the things that held me back and replace them with solutions. I think if people really buckle down and try to get rid of all the excuses and start thinking why not? then they’ll start to feel happier. So the next time you feel like you’re being kept from doing what makes you happy stop wasting that energy on why you can’t and start thinking about how you can. You never know you might just find the meaning to life.