Its a fine day. You and your spouse decide to go to that small quaint coffee-shop on the hilltop just outside the city. Every-time you have been there, the 30 mins journey just for a cup of coffee, has been totally worth the time and effort. As you reach the coffee-shop, the closed door of the shop stares you in the face. How easy or difficult will it be for you to maintain your cool, not have ill feelings for the owner and find a spot of green grass and sit down and still enjoy the weather, which has in-fact, just got better?

*****

Its the day that IIT JEE results are to be announced. It’s a culmination of almost two years of hard work. And the results are disappointing. Your dream of doing engineering from one of the premier IITs has just come crashing down. How easy or difficult it is to be positive  at that moment – it means you are destined for  something different. After-all, Ritesh Agarwal from Oyo, a deca-corn, did not even bother completing his IIT Delhi engineering course to start his company. So there is no reason you cannot succeed by studying in a non-IIT Institute.

*****

You are so looking forward to the evening party. Your new dress, that you had specifically got made for this party,  is to be delivered by the tailor in the afternoon. You get a call from the tailor, apologising that he has had a family exigency and he will not be able to deliver the dress. How easy or difficult it is for you  to be relaxed, find another dress to wear and still go to the party like normal? After all, being at the party is far more important than the dress you wear to it.

*****

You have had a good six year run in the company. Two promotions in those six years is a testament of the fact that the company also sees you as a valued resource. Having lead the sales team in several successful bids for important contracts, you had earned a reputation in the company. Within five minutes of the impromptu meeting called by the boss, you are fighting hard to stem the sweat on your forehead. It’s going to be your last day at work. You are requested to submit your resignation, submit the laptop and company ID and pack your personal stuff in a box within the hour. How easy or difficult will it be for you to see the brighter side: Your spouse has been nagging you for a long vacation for three years, Your kids have been hoping to play with you for months, with little success. The market is saturated with little room for product innovation and growth. The three months severance will give you enough time to make many things right. A stellar career record will be valued by other employers.

*****

Four different use cases, four different characters, four different scenarios, one common ask : Can you have the contrarian view? Can you THINK differently? Can you ditch your expectations  and be willing to accept and still see the silver lining?

Its all about having a sense of maturity. The golden mantra is – count till 10. The 10 seconds of quiet will help you hold back your emotions and the natural stream of thoughts will get interrupted. As per Daniel Kahneman’s legendary book, Thinking Fast And Slow, he has talked about the two types of thinking:

System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations.

The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.

So if someone asks you: Would you like a cup of tea? and we immediately say “Yes” or “No” – is system 1 level of thinking.

If we take time to think, realise that we just had a cup of tea 15 mins back or because we would rather have it after some time, then we are initiating the System 2 level of thinking.

In Summary, our approach to any situation can vary drastically, if we decide to give time to what has happened. And these few moments of silence and thought can not only help us face the situation much better, it can give us a better way to react, better to the extent that we might actually find an unfortunate development, as something hugely positive as well. 

Do share some of your own experiences, where you took the contrarian view, and came out stronger.

 

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Hetal Sonpal

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