E012. Full Transcription - Sensibly Happy Podcast

Hello, everybody! You are listening to the 12th episode of Sensibly Happy podcast. This episode is about how to identify your uniqueness.

You have probably asked yourself: “what makes one person more successful than another?” And this is a really valid question. Because if it’s something which we can control, we can use it in our daily life and be more successful as well. I’m convinced that there are some reusable ingredients of success. In this episode we are asking and answering such questions: How can we identify our uniqueness? How can we use the knowledge of our atomic preferences to find our happy place in life, especially the professional life? How can we stay unique and valuable at the same time?

Today's topic

Hello, everybody! I’m so excited to share with you the today’s topic. Why? Because at this moment, I feel that this is one of my biggest discoveries. I didn’t found that information in any of books or courses. And the only way for me to discover that idea was self-reflection as well as speaking with other mature personalities.

This episode is a sequel to a previous one, where we discussed the idea that we can be unique and valuable at the same time. Episode 11 brought the idea that we should think out of the box, not to use industry standards, but let us be unique. And today, I will share with you my idea of how we can identify ourselves. But what is more important, I will explain an alternative way of how we can treat ourselves as well as others. As you’ve probably noticed, I have a habit to start from a distance, and only after the introductory thoughts, I will share with you the idea itself. So, let’s start!

We are the same. Mostly

We humans are the same. We are born, we eat, study, make for a living, fall in love, grieve, and rejoice. Most of us have the same body features: two legs, two hands, two eyes, nose. Thus, we can see, we can hear, and we can smell. And it’s good, because we can understand others as well as be understood. And we often have similar issues or hard moments. From ancient times we should be a part of a society, we should be similar. Otherwise, we could be exiled from our tribe. And we are similar to each other, we are a part of a society. We are so similar that sometimes we can’t identify ourselves.

We want to be a little bit unique, we want to be valuable, but often society expects from us to be all as one, to be measured by single ruler, to be rewarded with the same price, or to be educated by the same punishment.

We have something special

But let’s be honest with ourselves! We also feel that we have something special, something different in ourselves. Sometimes, we can feel it when we share our ideas or thoughts with others and see their reaction. Or we can identify that we are unique while we are choosing something in a shopping mall. Or we can see that we react differently than others in different situations or events. But what’s the use of it? Is it good to be different and unique in such a way?

What’s the use of being unique?

We are often treated as peculiarities of our character. Sometimes as redundant things, and sometimes as fun add-on. Some of those characteristics we can identify and we know about those, but others are hidden subconscious parts of our personality because we don’t focus on them. Can we convert our personal preferences and features to something useful? I believe that my idea of self-identification will help you to find more or better friends, to find a better job in the future, and to do more pleasant things during the day. The idea is really simple: we are unique. And identifying ourselves lets us use our knowledge as a tool of reaching our goals. Later, I’ll explain how to identify ourselves.

Why are we unique?

But now I want to focus on the reason why we are unique. I’m confident we are unique. Each one of us! Because we grew up in a different environment with different people and different things which influenced us. Every time we interact with something or someone it leaves some trace on us. But when a similar situation happens in childhood, it creates us, it shapes us, it fills up our open in clean mind consciously and subconsciously.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

  1. When I was six or seven years old, I together with my mom was visiting my grand grandmother and my cousin who used to live there and had a tape audio player. I was able to listen to it, but the only tape which was available for me was one album of the “Queen” band. So, I listened to that tape a lot. And now, magically, I’m still listening to “Queen”.
  2. Another example with my mom: til she was nine she lived in a countryside having two aunts there. One aunt tended to do everything by herself. And when my mom tried to help somehow in the kitchen, her initiatives were rejected. But another aren’t spent a lot of efforts explaining my mom what and how she should do, especially in the garden with different plants. And one of the brightest memories in planting was when she learned how to grow garlic. She received a lot of instructions, as well as examples. And after that episode in her life, she was really good in it. Those stories were left in the past, she became older, and one interesting case happened: she didn’t like to cook, but at the same time she became a biologist. And for 12 years she worked specifically with garlic.
  3. Another interesting story happened with one chef. I’m so sorry for not remembering his name. But he told his story when he was five. His grandma spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and he liked to play there. So, he often stayed under the table and he remembers those moments when grandma was kneading the dough and flour from the table was falling into the floor. For him it was some kind of magic. And, magically, he’s become a chef.

I’m not saying and not thinking that it works always like that. We can even hate something from our childhood and that’s okay. But the purpose of those examples was to show you how we can be different and that a lot of things influence us. And there are many other factors. For instance, how our parents interacted with us, was environment in our school hostile or friendly, financial status in a family, some great moments from our past. All those factors made us unique. We can pretend that we are the same as others, but we can’t reject ourselves, or close eyes on who we are. By accepting who we are, we can cure some of our features, or, what is better, develop those. For any of those ways we should know more about the subject, what do we want to cure, or to develop.

The idea of atomic preferences

And now the idea itself, I call it atomic preference. Instead of identifying ourselves using some predefined and given pattern, like profession, or type of personality, we can break down things that surround us into small atomic pieces. Some of those we do like or feel comfortable with, but others we prepare to omit. And by breaking down all that into tiny pieces, let’s say puzzles, we can see that some of those puzzles are from our own picture, and others are borrowed and they’re not a part of us.

In Episode 2 which is called “Who you are and how do you know that?” I’ve explained the idea that we often treat ourselves based on others’ opinions. And those are examples of borrowed puzzles. When we break everything into those tiny puzzles, and not remove ours, we will be able to create a clean picture of ourselves! A clean, unique picture of ourselves which consists of atomic preferences.

Let’s dive deeper to understand what am I talking about. The idea of atomic preferences came to me a year ago, when speaking with my colleague. She changed her profession, and it wasn’t the first time in her life. And I thought to myself, “What is common between me and her that we can’t stop looking for something new, and can’t choose a single profession and stick to it?” And I thought to myself that this was probably because there is no ideal profession for us. And then I started speaking with other people about how satisfied they are with their current sphere. And I realized that they also want to change something, but, probably, for now it is not the best time for such changes in their life. And my conclusion was that almost everyone is looking for some better alternatives. And that means that the process of self-identification with profession at school or university is far away from being ideal. But there should be some alternative to it. And I realized that profession standards play a bad joke on us. It simplifies the process of applying for a position, but it differentiates us from being ourselves.

An example of atomic preferences in photography

I took randomly one of my interests, that was photography, and started analyzing it: what do I like in photography and what I don’t like. And for now for myself it is the best example to explain others what do I mean by the atomic preferences.

Here’s my analysis: “Why do I like photography? Why was I thinking at some period of my life that I should be a photographer?” If to speak on a higher level, I can say, “I like visual art. My father made a lot of photographs when I was a child. And I have some skills that let me make good photos.” But such analysis is not the approach I’m talking about, we should switch to a lower level, to look closely on a process and results, and to analyze what exactly brings us joy in the process. And here it is.

  • First of all, I like photography because of a lot of different buttons and dials on camera body and lenses. I like to study those, I like to play with those to do all those settings automatically without looking on them. But is photography the only place where I enjoy of such process? Definitely not. Because if I’m driving my car with manual transmission, with a lot of buttons on the steering wheel, I’m also enjoying the process of studying that, of playing with that, and achieving ideal movements with my car while operating it with all those controls. This my preference is applicable to other devices as well.
  • The second element that I like in photography is applicable to SLR cameras only. It is when you press shutter and the mirror is lifting inside the body. And you can hear and feel that sound. Here it is [camera shutter sound]. But what is more important, you can feel those vibrations in your hand. That’s why I don’t like to shoot with my smartphone. Because even if it simulates the sound, it doesn’t provide those vibrations in hand. Are such feelings available only in photography? Definitely not! The same thing I like in playing a bass guitar, while playing on strings you have those amazing vibrations spreading across the guitar body.
  • The third thing which I like in photography is the surprise itself. This is mostly about film photography when you have, for instance, 36 frames, and you think before creating each single photo, and then you need to wait for some time till the film is developed. And you can see the results. And before seeing the results, I can dream about some of those shots, and I already know that two or three of them are ideal. So I’m waiting for them. And, of course, surprise is available in different spheres.
  • And also I like photography because I like symmetry. And I can create my own world with my folders where I have balance, where I have symmetry, and I’m enjoying the process of creation and the process of consumption.

By the example of the role of photography in my life, I showed you four different atomic preferences, which could be found in other spheres of my life.

More examples

Another example of atomic preference I found while arguing with my wife. I like culinary and I like to stay in kitchen. And I like to have ideal processes there. That’s why when dirty dishes fill our kitchen sink, I start washing the cleanest ones. Because, for instance, if I take a pan with oil inside first and start washing it, all the dishes inside the sink will be covered in oil. And that brings me more work to do. And that’s why I don’t like to pour out remnants of tea into a sink because it blocks the water drain, and water starts collecting in a sink. And with its growing level and being already dirty from dishes at the bottom, it covers all upper dishes with the same dirt. And I don’t like it so much! And for several times I’ve noticed that my wife collects water in the sink and then she cleans up the drain hole at the bottom and releases all the water. I started arguing with her, “Why are you doing that this way? It’s not logical, you bring yourself more work to do.” And her answer was surprising for me, “I like to see when things get worse and then I can cure it. So, when I’m releasing the drain hole, and all water is pouring out, this is something close to the feeling that I’m saving the world.” The answer was strange and unexpected for me. But this is her atomic preference. And this is a part of her. I like to go a logical and optimal way, while for her it’s more important to have such alternative feelings.

One more example is from the movie “Amelie”. The main character in that movie, called Amelie, showed what she liked doing and what were her thoughts about all that. For instance, she likes to put her hand in a bag filled with beans or peas, or to tear away dry glue from her fingers.

Those are funny examples. But those are real examples. And that we can also treat as atomic preferences.

How to identify atomic preferences?

How can you identify your own atomic preferences? To be honest with you, I don’t have simple and clear ways of how to do that right now. The easiest way, as for me, is to know what you like to do and try to analyze what exactly you like and what you don’t like. Or even better, while doing the things you like to do, you can monitor your feelings. And when you feel that you’re becoming happy, try to understand why exactly.

Also, you can do the same thing with the processes you don’t like to do, but you should do – for instance, your job activities. Because even there you have something that you’re enjoying, so you can monitor yourself and to understand what exactly brings you joy at your working place.

Another approach is to analyze while eating. What do you like the most? During the dinner, for instance. For someone that could be crunchy nuts in the food, but for another person that could be just a good company. And, without having that company, the person can’t enjoy the dinner.

One more idea of recognizing your atomic preferences is to analyze each of five senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. For instance, I like watching different patterns, or I like listening to different combinations of styles in a single composition, and so on.

Creating your own picture from puzzles

But the main idea here is that understanding and exploring yourself is a not a single-day process. You can do it constantly. And if you want to be happy, you should do it constantly. It doesn’t take a lot of your focus or efforts. But it gives you all those puzzles using which you can create a true picture of yourself.

And you shouldn’t worry about creating that picture right away. You can do it throughout years, and every year you will understand yourself better. How much you got to know about yourself for last 10 years? Believe me, if you weren’t in that conscious process of exploring yourself before, then, using my idea, in the next single year you will discover more facts about yourself than in the last 10 years.

Finding a new job with atomic preferences

Let’s speak a little bit about finding ourselves a new job. What should we do for a living? How can we be ourselves and still be valuable? Having knowledge about ourselves, about our atomic preferences, we can use some of those to identify what job could be better for us in comparison to the current one. Or, even if we are applying for a standard position, we can declare what we don’t like to do and what we are obsessed with. And if an employer is open-minded, he or she will accept you for a position based on your real value.

We spoke about that a little bit in the previous episode. Recall the situation when someone is asking you what you like to do? And while answering, we often think in terms of a profession. We can answer that we like the current profession or a desirable one. But it serves us a bad favor because by saying that we deny being unique. For instance, I like to work with people, that’s why I work as a human resource manager. But saying that I like to work with people means that I can work as an HR manager, but also I can work as a cashier or as a tour guide. Because in all those cases communication with the people is a major part of working day. But the thing is that each case is a combination of communication with people and other atomic preferences. And by collecting knowledge about yourself. And by having a better picture of yourself, it would be much easier to understand what part of communication with people suits you best.

There is one more interesting thing, communication with people is a too generic description. For instance, I had a chance to speak with one good psychotherapist, it was some kind of interview when I was able to ask different questions. So I asked him, “Do you like working with all the patients? Or you prefer to work with an exact type of those?” And he answered that he really liked to work with people who have depression, but he didn’t like to work with maniacs. And this was his atomic preference.

After being more specific with your preferences, and understanding yourself better, you can receive unexpected results. There was a real example of a person who had a phobia that someone would rob his home. And, as a result, he created a company which specialized in security systems. And by having that phobia, he has more chances to identify all the vulnerabilities and to guard from them.

In the future, when you provide your CV for a job position, you can mention your preferences and to show yourself as a unique employee. For instance, while applying for one of job positions, I mentioned on the interview that I’d been keeping a home accountancy for four years, and that I was very meticulous in that. The position itself wasn’t about finances, but I showed myself as a very methodical and detailed oriented person.

Shouldn’t we be universal soldiers?

But still, is it possible to be unique and valuable? Shouldn’t we be universal soldiers? I bet we can be unique, and we can bring value by being unique. Do you remember four penguins from the “Madagascar” cartoon? Each penguin played its own unique role, but together they acted as a team. And let’s admit, a good team. It would be so boring to have four identical penguins in this team. And you can be a unique and complementary part of a good team.

Your task for the next week

Please, take an activity that you like participating in and analyze what exactly you like in it and what you don’t like. Please, be as detailed as you can. As a result, you will have the first puzzles of your own true picture.

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