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Prompted: Expanding Our Realm Of Tolerance
Learning to operate comfortably in situations that don't match our preferences.
Thanks for taking some time to consider the idea and prompts below. This week we’ll be considering our tolerance for imperfection, but before we jump in, I want to provide a quick overview of Prompted’s structure since lots of new folks have recently joined the community 🙂
My goal with Prompted is to deliver insights and prompts that help you become a bit better each day. To do that, I’ve broken up the newsletter into three sections.
Sunday Editions: This is what you’re reading right now. Sunday Editions contain a few thoughts on a new idea and prompts to help you journal, reflect, and apply new ideas to your own life. This section of the newsletter is delivered to all subscribers at 4pm ET every Sunday.
Bite-Sized Prompts: These short ideas and prompts are delivered to premium subscribers every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Bite-Sized Prompts are like a condensed version of Sunday Editions containing one idea and a prompt for quick reflection or journaling during the week.
Diving Deeper: For ideas that require more than a quick prompt or passing reflection, there’s Diving Deeper. These editions of the newsletter are delivered to premium subscribers on the first Wednesday of every month and provide an opportunity for deeper reflection on more complex thoughts and ideas. (You can preview the most recent edition here.)
I hope this provides a better idea of everything that’s encompassed within Prompted. If you have any feedback or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. You can reply directly to this email or reach me at email@example.com.
Now let’s jump into this week’s Sunday Edition. And as always, thanks for reading!
Expanding Our Realm Of Tolerance
The highest result of education is tolerance.
Our lives are a constant battle to change everything to better suit our preferences.
We always want things just the way we like them, and because we're all unique, we all prefer things differently. We agonize over choosing the right job, the perfect partner, our dream home, and much more. Even what type of coffee we prefer, how we brew it, and what mug we drink it out of is peculiarly specific, and if it's not to our liking, we're disappointed or upset.
In every part of our lives, we go out of our way to satisfy our preferences, and these preferences create our realm of tolerance. Within that realm, we operate comfortably, but outside of it, we’re uncomfortable, distracted, and don’t enjoy things much.
We want to optimize every aspect of our life, but almost everything is outside our control. The happiest folks aren't the ones who have learned to control the most parameters in their life; they are the people who have learned to live with things that don't meet their ideal specifications.
We marvel at people who can fall asleep anywhere, work out with no equipment, enjoy any kind of food, get along with all types of people, or live below their means. These folks impress us because they're comfortable and happy when circumstances don't match their preferences.
The more we can tolerate, the more options we have. The best in the world don't force everyone to play by their rules; instead, they learn to be comfortable and excel in any circumstances. The most content people don't endlessly personalize or design every detail of their lives; instead, they learn to be content and grateful under any conditions.
We're limited by our preferences and tolerance for unique circumstances. That's not to say we shouldn't strive to create the perfect set of circumstances and attempt to create a life that matches our preferences. We're all trying to do this, and for most of us, matching our everyday life with these preferences brings lots of joy and happiness.
While we can control many aspects of our lives, we can't ignore the vast majority of circumstances we have no influence on. Even though we strive to align our circumstances with our preferences, there is immense utility in expanding our tolerance and learning to operate in situations that are far from our personal preferences.
It's easy to get swept away in optimization and let our circumstances define how we feel or how we work, but we should simultaneously try to make the most of any situation and expand our realm of tolerance.
How large is your realm of tolerance? Where is it smallest and where is it largest?
When you find yourself outside your sphere of tolerance, what is your immediate reaction? (acceptance, annoyance, avoidance, etc.)
Whose tolerance do you admire? How can you emulate it?
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A quick excerpt on a powerful exercise taken from the philosopher Seneca that can help us see that the state we fear is actually not so bad.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.