I'm no longer friends with any people from my first semester at college.
I grew up in a small rural town and had the same video gamer friends since I was five. When I came to college, I had no idea how to form long-term intimate friendships. To train my relationship-building skills, in my first semester, I tried talking with as many people as possible. I talked to random strangers in the Dining Hall, in my classes, and all across campus. I went into the interactions knowing most wouldn't be my friend. While this did help me build my conversational skills, it made many of my initial college relationships shallow and short-lived.
I treated the relationships as finite.
However, now that I'm in my fourth semester of college, I have formed a diverse friend group built on trust and direct communication.
The biggest mindset shift that helped me was seeing my relationships as an infinite rather than finite game.
To understand why I will:
- Explain why competitive self-interest doesn't always benefit the group through Adam Smith's Invisible Hand
- Illuminate the BIG misconception about Darwin's theory of Evolution
- Show an example of self-interest hecking the group in the human realm
- Tie it all back to treating relationships as infinite
Adam's Smiths Invisible Hand
Many people in America have a capitalistic outlook on the world; they believe competitive self-interest leads to the collective good.
This is the central idea of Adam Smith's--the father of capitalism and modern Economics--model in his 1776 Economic treatise, The Wealth of Nations. Competitive self interest is the bedrock modern American Capitalistism. However, we know from many societal examples that individual interests are often not in interest with the group as a whole.
We can see this first in the animal world by illuminating the BIG misconception about Darwin's theory of evolution.
The BIG Misconception About Darwin's Theory of Evolution
Many people at Cornell seem to think that evolution always leads to positive change, but we know that this isn't true!
Once you inject randomness and competition into a system, evolution sometimes leads to negative progress. What seems to be evolution can be a diversion and possibly a regression. This is because competitive self-interest can be bad for the collective.
What's smart for one, can be dumb for all.
For example, antler size in biologically dimorphic species like elk.
Male elks have evolved to have massive 40-pound antlers to battle it out for mates. However, the whole species is made worse off by the fact that they must carry 40-pound antlers when running away from wolves! It's like us running away from a bear carrying two 50-pound weights on our back. However, it's in each individual elks self-interest to grow big antlers to secure good mates. Unfortunately, the individual interest in growing bigger antlers is at odds with the collective interest of being better suited against predators.
Evolution, in this example, has led to negative change.
Self Interest Hecking The Group In The Human Realm
Competitive self-interest hecks up the human realm as well.
For example, a hockey team that is not required to wear helmets. It's in the individual's interest to not wear a helmet so they can hear and see better than the other players. But this incentivizes everyone else in the group to take off their own helmets.
The only thing that keeps them wearing them is the rule to wear their helmets.
What's good for the individual hockey player is at odds with what's good for the team.
How I View Relationships Now
Relationships are one of life's avenues where we can be most self-interested.
We can seek to build relationships only with people that help us pursue our ambitions and goals in life. Or we can build relationships with those that have nothing to give us in return but their time and love. The second isn't technically in our self-interest when speaking purely utility-wise.
But I think we can all agree if everyone operated in their relationships purely out of self-interest, it would make the whole world a worse-off place.
Just like how evolution leaves elk worse off and a hockey team can get caught not wearing their helmets.
I now view relationships as an infinite game.
The reason my first relationships in college didn't work out is that I was mainly acting out of self-interest. I went into the interactions knowing the relationship wouldn't last. Instead, I wanted to build my conversational skills.
I treated my relationships as finite.
Reframing my mindset of relationships as infinite rather than finite has changed everything.
The most valuable thing you can give someone is your time.
I'm willing to sacrifice some short-term benefit inside my relationships because I treat the relationship as infinite. One example is when I have sat down with my brother to help manage his time. Or when I helped a friend talk through a difficult relationship struggle. Did I lose out on time at the moment to do my tasks? Yes. But I'm playing an infinite game here. It doesn't matter if I lose out on some time in the moment.
My college friends and even random acquaintances interact with me differently now. They know the relationships will last a long time. They are willing to invest more time because of it.
Now they're playing the infinite game as well.
Here's what I would like to share this week.
📸News From The Channel!
Yu-Kai Chou: Using The Octalysis Framework To Gamify Life, Learning, and Business: Yu-kai Chou is an Author and International Keynote Speaker on Gamification and Behavioral Design. He is the Founding Partner and Chief Creation Officer of the premium consulting/design firm The Octalysis Group, as well as the Original Creator of the Octalysis Framework, and the author of Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. We talked about why games are often more engaging than real life, The Octalysis Framework-Yu-Kai’s most substantial life work that breaks down all human motivation into eight core drives, why traditional schooling so boring, how to gamify your real life, flow theory as it relates to the Octaylsis, and Octalysis Prime-Yu-Kai’s online gamified learning platform.
💡My Best Insights:
📖Book - The Art and Business of Online Writing: this book showed me how everything I have been doing online writing the last two years is wrong. Nicolas argues that starting a blog is one of the worst things you can do to start as an online writer. It has no reach and you can't get feedback on what readers resonate with. Rather you should start a social blog on a platform like Twitter, Medium, Quora, etc. These platforms can give you the feedback you need to know what your subscribers actually want to read from you.
✍️Blog Post - Writing Is Thinking: Learning to Write With Confidence: writing is an act of thinking. In this article your taken through six steps to writing an entire article incorporating this idea. I have been writing for over two years now every day and I still found some very insightful things from this.
🎙️Podcast - The Ultimate Method to Take Control of Your Life in 2023 - Ryder Carroll: A lot of people are too focused on automating their life. Habituating activities. The issue is this can take intentionality from what you are doing. You lose touch with why you are doing it. You need to have regular reflections where you check back in with what you are doing. This is why journaling is so important.