Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From Mick Jagger's Mouth to Your Ears

  Dear readers, usually my QBA essays concern topics that I really think most people haven't thought about or have accepted prematurely or about ideas that I think worth sharing. However, today I want to write about something most people have thought about, and probably have reached the same conclusions as I have, because I think it's something that needs to be written down and said: "You can't always get what you want." This is about what to do when that happens.
  I kind of wanna define an algorithm, or flowchart, if you will. There are three responses to not getting what you want out of life, as I see them. Which you should pursue depends on the situation and your priorities.

  First choice: If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. We must clearly define this choice, however; trying again does not mean doing the same thing over again. Albert Einstein defined insanity thus: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Repeating yourself is actually the third choice, which we will get to in due time. Rather, trying again implies taking things to the next level, trying a new way to reach the same goal, increasing your resolve and resources and trying harder.
  Now, should you try again? That depends on your answers to three questions. Is this worth enough to you to invest more time and energy into it? Is there any higher level at which you can try from your previous attempt? Is it possible that trying again, at a higher level, will produce a different result? If the answers to all three of these are "Yes," then the first choice is for you.
  Let's provide an example, as examples are our friend in sound logical thinking. As always, love is the most accessible field in my mind. So, let's say you ask that girl (or guy) that you really like to prom, and she says no. If you really like her, and you think she kind of likes you too, and maybe if you bring her some flowers this time and ask again she'll say yes, you should try again. (Okay, so it's not the best example. Shush.)

  Second choice: If at first you don't succeed, consider giving up. If you try, and you don't get what you want, and you don't think it's worth trying again, move on. In other words, if your answer to the first of our three guiding questions ("Is this worth enough to you to invest more time and energy into it? Is there any higher level at which you can try from your previous attempt? Is it possible that trying again, at a higher level, will produce a different result?") is "No," then you should move on.
  Given our above example, let's say that after the girl says no, you decide that you don't like her enough to waste more time on trying to convince her instead of finding another date. That's a perfectly serviceable and efficient decision, and at that point you should pursue other options.

  Third choice: If at first you don't succeed, wait it out. A while back, I would have thought that this is really no decision at all. "Choosing not to act? How can that be an action?" But to explain why it is, I shall use economic terms, which is how Jason phrased it.
  In economics, supply and demand curves are defined using ceteris paribus conditions. Basically, supply and demand curves show how much quantity of a product is supplied or demanded based on changes in price. Ceteris paribus translates roughly to "All other things held constant", meaning that every variable except for price and quantity supplied or demanded is held constant. The interesting thing is, however, that if one of those other variables changes, the whole curve shifts, and it completely changes the equilibrium point. In fact, not only that, but in perfectly competitive industries the curve shifts on its own given enough time. This means that, if you can cover at least the cost of the building you're working out of, waiting it out is a perfectly legitimate option in economics.
  In real life as well, waiting it out is waiting for a change in ceteris paribus conditions, which'll change the equilibrium point completely, completely redefine the status quo. This may be the option for you if, given our three guiding questions ("Is this worth enough to you to invest more time and energy into it? Is there any higher level at which you can try from your previous attempt? Is it possible that trying again, at a higher level, will produce a different result?"), you answer yes to the first question but no to either of the other two questions.
  Maybe you're in love with that girl, and you asked her to prom using a personal fireworks and parade show and bankrupted yourself and she still said no. Maybe it's time to wait for her to come to her senses and see things differently, at which point she'll say yes.
  Buyer beware, though, at a certain point, it may be time to move on regardless of whether you want to or not, regardless of how much it sucks. You could go insane otherwise fixating on the same thing forever.

Thanksgiving Holiday Note: This is an essay about not getting what you want, but I'd like to remind everyone to be thankful for the times they do get what they want. It's a miraculous gift from the universe, and you should cherish it. For example, I'm thankful for the fact that a few times a month I get to get on my soapbox and share my thoughts with the world (or at least the Interwebz), and that you people are on the other end to make me not feel insane. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day!
- Adarsh Nednur

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