Do you ever get confused when you read articles or books? One person says you should do X, and the other person says you should avoid doing X. Instead, you should do Y! A lot of advice contradicts each other.
It’s no wonder a lot of my readers and people I work with are often confused when they read a lot. One reader recently emailed me this:
“I have searched on the internet but many articles contradict each other. Some articles consider using a mobile phone as healthy because it is good for the brain. While others consider it as unhealthy because of the radiation coming out of it.”
You will find thousands of these types of contradictions if you’ll look for them. But often, certain things have nothing to do with each other. The above example is like that too.
Someone might say that smartphones make you smarter. Is that true? Sure. There are many ways you can use a smartphone to train your brain and learn new skills.
But does that mean the device itself is good? That’s not what the person said. In fact, a smartphone can be very distracting, if not unhealthy. It all depends on how you use the thing.
Life is complicated and there are very few things that are straightforward. In fact, there’s a lot of contradicting advice. You must be able to look at things objectively. And to take it one step further, I also believe in being skeptical.
Don’t believe what you read, hear, and see
I’m a highly skeptical person. People are simply not always genuine. Nor do people have all the answers. There are many examples of that. I recently read about a German/Dutch guy who inspired others to overcome depression.
He once tried to commit suicide and in his attempt, he lost his legs. After that, he saw the light, wrote two books about how he “overcame” depression and started preaching the gospel.
Last month, he killed himself.
It’s sad. And I’m not questioning his legacy. Maybe he truly helped others. But we have to be honest here, the guy who talked others out of suicide, took his own life.
That’s why we should NEVER idolize people. Putting people on a pedestal means you don’t respect yourself. Here’s the thing: no matter what your background, race, or gender—no one is better than you.
Also, you’re not better than others. That’s how I look at life. And that’s also why I don’t believe what I see. People lie all the time to show they are better than others.
How to view advice in general
Whether people like to admit this or not; most advice, research, and theories are merely opinions. Friedrich Nietzsche famously said:
“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
There are very few true facts in life. One irrefutable fact is that we all die. Another one is that we have to deal with the laws of physics. If I jump out of a car that goes 90 miles an hour, I won’t survive. It’s difficult to debate that.
But when it comes to building a career, staying happy, improving yourself, running a business, and everything else that you can debate, it’s all an opinion by an individual or a group.
I always keep that in mind when I read articles like this one, read non-fiction books, listen to podcasts, and have conversations with other people. They are just like us—they don’t have all the answers. They are figuring things out.
Even if they think they know it all, they don’t.
Bottom line, if you want to stay sane and do the right thing, don’t blindly believe what you see. Look at your own situation and find what works for you. Apart from the hard facts in life, most things are subjective.
There’s no straightforward answer to dealing with this challenge and contradicting advice is not necessarily bad. Translating advice to the real world is actually why my blog exists. I simply share how I do things. Readers tell me that helps them to figure out how they should do it for themselves.
The key is to cut through the noise and see the bigger picture. That’s actually the main thing I learned from getting an academic degree. I can’t remember anything from the advice they gave me. I only remember to look at every problem from different perspectives and to test everything.
And even if we do all of that, we can never know we’re 100% correct. But as long as we stay open to new theories and perspectives, we will keep learning. That does not only make us less wrong, it will also make life more fun.