Sunday, June 16, 2013

advice and examples

When it comes to solving personal problems, like low self-esteem and others related to individual psychology, I like to believe that what people really want is not advice, but examples.

Advice is good and there’s plenty of it to be found out there, whether the source be a book or a friend.  Besides, some of us already know the advice we are seeking.  By itself though, advice has limited weight.  For example, someone who tends to experience loneliness may learn – if he does not already know – that he should try engaging more in social interactions to alleviate his problem.  But if this advice comes from a person who he does not perceive as being naturally sociable or determined to become naturally sociable, it becomes easy to neglect the advice.  It’s just not compelling enough.

Better than looking for advice, I think, is looking for examples.  It is easier to relate to the example set forth by someone, and, because of this, an example is generally more inspiring.  An example is like advice personified; a concrete idea of what we want to be that we can see, hear, and point to.  This kind of tangible evidence goes a long way in giving us hope that things are possible and, more importantly, in letting us know we are not alone with the problems we are facing.

Even better than looking for examples, I think, is being the example.  Looking for examples instead of advice is great, but to solve the personal problem, the one that got things started in the first place, the examples – once discovered and deemed valuable – have to be ultimately integrated with one’s own life.  This, to me, is a kind of problem solving that is not only authentic and creative by definition, but that also can serve as an example to others.

I have gotten some advice, I have found some examples, and I will probably keep doing more of both.  More than that though, I am going to serve as an example.  To myself, at least.  It’s just more enjoyable.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

– Mahatma Gandhi

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