Game theory is a fascinating field. If you have not delved into it yet – I suggest you get your shit together and dip your nose in it a bit for starters. I just finished reading “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life” by Len Fisher recently – nothing special about the book, but I did come across a very interesting word: “Mamihlapinatapai “ – it’s actually from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego and considered to be the “most succinct word” by The Guinness Book of World Records and get this — it refers to:
“..A look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves..”
How fucking crazy is that? I found it absolutely fascinating that such an eloquent moment could be expressed in a word.
I can relate to that quite a bit actually. Everyday, I see at least half a dozen people that pique my curiosity – just based on appearance and overall demeanor. I actually would not mind having a quick chat with these folks. Generally, when everything is said and done – the moment passes by quick…real quick. Before you know it, you are back to the good old, boring – standard routine.
All of us encounter hoards of people everyday that seem to have laser focus on some mundane task while walking with seemingly definite purpose. Just like you, these well-meaning folks are admittedly equally clueless and isolated in their own little world – walking from one location to the next doing another repetitive task. The whole point of this post is to break out of this habit and become an initiator instead of being reactive and meandering within the current. No one really takes a moment to even say “HI” these days and the irony is that the majority of the people you initiate conversations with will actually appreciate you making the first move.
Don’t underestimate the difficulty of this seemingly trivial task though. I won’t go into all the negative conditioning you have gone through or the psychological implications in this post, but the gist of it can be boiled down to laments terms fairly quickly.
In essence: You are scared shitless.
I don’t blame you – although, if you are an adult, you should certainly spend some time on getting a handle on your emotions. It will certainly help you become less reactive to external stimuli.
Theoretically, it may sound easy to start a conversation with a complete stranger, but there are much more complex emotional circuitry that’s at play here. Not to mention, it is much easier to carry on with whatever bullshit you are doing on a daily basis than to take the risk of initiating a conversation with another human being – who (god forbid) could potentially have a significant impact on your own life.
Nah. I’ll pass. I’d rather go to the grocery store like I planned and head home to catch Oprah re-runs while I stuff my face with a plate full of cheesy nachos.
This is something I experience everyday (no–not the cheesy nachos) – yet it’s easily one of the most difficult things to do on a consistent basis. It requires mastery of ones emotions and being able to detach yourself from the outcome to successfully execute such feat – yet, once mastered – like anything, it only becomes easier and the reward is worth the pain.
Next time you are out and about – pay close attention to the people around you. Notice how isolating their body language is and how disconnected they are from everyone else. This is actually a mirror image of how you are projecting yourself to the world – no one likes to think of themselves this way, but it is indeed the reality. The goal is to do the opposite by being open, cheery and being the first to initiate conversations with anyone and everyone. On a logical level all this stuff makes perfect sense and is crystal clear – but when you are in that moment trying to overcome centuries of complex emotional circuitry, the deep sense of fear and the possibility of rejection, it’s a whole different ball game. If you could overcome this however, the world can be yours.