I’ve chosen a life that few others have chosen.
I’ve chosen a life of social risk-taking.
I’ve chosen a life of risking my reputation to bring joy to others.
I take a lot of risks. It’s my lifestyle.
I take my speaker onto public beaches and invite everyone to pretend their Jedis.
I show up at big events and start parades.
I invite myself to house parties and lead gratitude meditations.
I start ‘pretend’ wrestling arenas in the middle of dance floors.
I wear a festival outfit at corporate conferences.
I ask deep personal questions the first time I meet someone.
I’ve taken many social risks. This is what I’ve learned. The risk is worth it. Every time I hesitate, every time I ask myself “What if they hate what I have to say,” every time I am worried I am intruding, it’s my cue to TAKE THE RISK.
And the risk pays off. Nine times out of ten, this is what happens. The host thanks me. The people participate. Everyone is left with more joy, openness, and vitality. I deepen my connection with everyone and feel so so fulfilled. I elevate the mental health of people I care about.
Whenever I take a social risk, I want people to be left with more vitality and self-belief. I want them to believe that they have joy to share with others. That their presence is a gift.
Rarely, do I fail.
Rarely, do people complain.
And almost never, I get ganged up on. I get slandered. I get misperceived. I get misunderstood.
Today is one of those days.
After leading a 15-minute experience at a 3000-person festival, featuring slow dancing, singing, meditation, and hugging, I’ve become quite controversial.
On one Facebook post, there are 180 comments about me. Some positive. Some negative. Some slander. Some truth. I haven’t read them all, but here’s a short summary.
“He takes over the spotlight.”
“He does it because he’s self-centered.”
“He doesn’t care about consent.”
“He just wants to promote his business.”
I know myself well, so it hasn’t affected me much. I know that people are making assumptions about me. But boy, it’s tough. When your intentions are positive and people assume the opposite, it’s hard. It’s especially hard to resist defending yourself against lies.
But then I remember. I chose this life. I chose to risk my reputation to give humans the greatest antidepressant: joyful human connection.
This situation was inevitable. In fact, it validates that I am truly taking risks. It says something about me. I am willing to put myself out there and risk getting attacked. Risk getting misunderstood.
If you never fail, you’re not taking risks.
If you don’t take the spotlight, no one will criticize you.
If you play it small, you play it safe.
I don’t play it safe.
It still hurts me to be misunderstood. By people who don’t even know me.
Herein lies the lesson. We cannot fully understand someone’s intentions without knowing them. We’re in the dark unless we explore their world.
By assuming and misunderstanding things about this human, we’re toxic.
Let’s take an extreme example. Donald Trump.
You can make assumptions about Donald. But do you know his intentions? Do you know if he is a good person? Do you understand him? No, you don’t. Because you haven’t bothered to try. If you tried to understand someone like Donald, you might like him more.
When we apply effort to understand people, negative feelings subside. The antidote to hatred is understanding.
I am not saying that I like Donald Trump. Hell no. What I am saying is that I would like him more if I explored his world. If I spent some time understanding him, learning about his life experiences, and going deeper.
Back to The Crucifixion Of The Party Scientist.
No one has asked for my story. No one has wondered what my intentions are. It’s hilarious. It’s just a bunch of people criticizing who they ‘think’ I am. It’s not worth participating in, other than writing this reflection.
Social media has enabled mass misunderstanding. It has enabled people to attack others, with the protection of anonymity. It has enabled humans to create false pictures of other humans. That’s how to be toxic.
Do you have a false mental construct of Donald? Yes, you do. You haven’t met the guy. You’ve heard things about him. You don’t know his deeper intentions. You probably haven’t tried to understand him.
Beware of the false mental construct. You don’t know someone until you experience them!
Your ego really wants your false mental construct to be true. Your ego simplifies humans into good or bad. Your ego wants to justify your triggered state: “See! I am right to feel this way. It’s not my fault. It’s theirs! I am justified in being toxic toward them!”
There’s just so much more nuance to human beings. We judge, we assume, we convince ourselves we know the underlying psychology of others. WE DONT.
People assume I take the spotlight because I am self-centered. The truth is, I take the spotlight because I love taking people to places of deeper connection and expression. Often, it doesn’t happen unless I take the spotlight, based on thousands of experiences I’ve led.
People assume I disrespect hosts by taking control of their events. The truth is, I speak to the host, get their permission, and then uplift everyone at their event. In turn, they invite me back. Their guests cheer me on.
Social media creates misrepresentations and delusions. Giving in to these delusions is the shortest path to becoming poison for your relationships.
This situation has been the perfect example. Hundreds of people who haven’t met me, talking about me behind my back, making me feel horrible. No one has asked for my side of the story.
If you want to be deluded, be an active social media user. You’ll be deluded about the ideal lifestyle, who your friends actually are, what success looks like, what bad people are doing in the world, and what beauty looks like.
It’s a net negative for your mental health.
I am grateful for this entire situation. It has shown me how toxic social media is. It amplifies the haters. It’s not natural. It’s also shown me how to be toxic — believe the false mental construct you’ve built about someone and talk behind their back.
Misunderstanding is not only toxic from a distance. It is toxic when face-to-face too. When you assume you know what someone means and you aren’t willing to change your mind, it stresses the social interaction.
Let this be your wake-up call to seek understanding with others. To challenge your preconceptions of someone. Here’s what you can do differently.
- Put your mental construct down.
- Engage with the person with curiosity.
- Ask them what they care about. Ask them why they did what they did.
- Let them speak. Don’t interrupt them or correct them.
- Ask follow-up questions to go deeper. Often, the first answer is when people’s curiosity stops. Keep being curious. Use ‘tell me more.’
- Don’t assume the truth from gossip. People are often gossiping from a place of reactivity.
- Don’t assume the truth from online personas. There’s usually so much more beneath that’s hidden.
The shortest way to make people feel like crap is to misunderstand them and then spread that misunderstanding.
Humans are always more nuanced than hearsay.
Challenge your mental construct of people you dislike.
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Thanks for spreading healthier human connections 🧠 — J