Brilliant Miller's Blog

Resist the Urge to Understand

Werner Erhard once said, “In life, understanding is the booby prize.”

Google defines a booby prize as “a prize given as a joke to the last-place finisher in a race or competition.”

Culturally, we strive to understand.

We’re trained to understand, and rewarded for it.

Science breaks systems down into component parts and attempts to make sense of each.

Personally and professionally, we want to use our knowledge, to derive maximum value from it—to earn more money, be healthier, or impress our friends and family.

Yet as the cognitive and computer scientist Marvin Minsky famously said, “Logic doesn’t apply to the real world.”

In other words, all our efforts to rationalize, dissect, analyze and understand will never match the primal emotion that ultimately drives us.

And all the facts and knowledge in the world can never recreate the experience or reality they’re attempting to describe.

Consider Steven Covey’s Fifth Habit® of highly effective people: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

It’s sound advice, and many relationships would probably work better if the people in them practiced that.

But those relationships—and those lives—might work even better still by following the instruction “Be with what is.”

Or more briefly, simply “Be.”

Don’t bother understanding your life.

Experience it.

Live it.

Brilliant Miller

I help achievers learn & grow, connect, contribute and have fun.

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