Why did a cell phone with reduced features sell out faster than the latest iPhone?
This phone wasn’t created by a well-known manufacturer. The business that sold it didn’t have a big marketing budget. It wasn’t even promoted by a celebrity.
So what made it sell out so quickly?
Surprisingly, it was the fact that this phone could do only two things that gave it such appeal — call and text. Nothing else. This device is called the Light Phone and it was sold as the phone that won’t distract you from life.
This cell phone sold so quickly because some people do feel a bit controlled by their mobile devices. They want freedom from distractions. And reducing a phone’s features gives them that freedom. Similarly, we gain freedom from inner distractions when we learn a key distinction — universal uncertainty.
What is universal uncertainty?
It is the realization that often when you don’t know something, it is not because you are personally ignorant. It is because no one knows.
For example, when people want to make a big decision like which of several houses to buy, they often struggle and strain to make the “right” decision. They are assuming that there is one choice that is right and that it’s possible to know it. When you accept universal uncertainty, you know that nobody knows which choice you would be happiest with … and it’s likely that they cannot know.
So at some point, you just have to choose and you don’t have to convince yourself that you made the right choice. Instead, you can say “No one knows what is best here, however, I did my best thinking in making this choice and that’s good enough.”
You’re then more open to learning from that choice which can help you make better decisions in the future without having to beat yourself up for not getting it “right” the first time.
When you know that no one knows, you gain a kind of superpower
You feel confident even when you don’t know have all the answers but you’re not overconfident. Overconfidence comes from thinking you know when you really don’t. Instead, you’re centered when facing uncertainty because you know that you can only make choices with your current knowledge and don’t have to have “the” answer.
How do we cultivate universal uncertainty?
To do so, you develop the skill of creating alternative interpretations. This is easiest to practice when an event happens about which you don’t feel good. Later, you can apply it to decisions.
Here are the steps:
1) Describe the event.
2) Notice the meaning your mind has given to an event.
3) Come up with 3-4 alternative meanings
4) Notice that the original meaning is “a” truth about the events, not “the” truth
5) Realize that the meaning was in the mind. That no one knows anything for sure based on what happened
Here’s an example. Joanna’s boss calls her into the office for a meeting. He seemed a bit gruff that morning. Joanna is worried. She decides to take herself through the five steps.
1) Describe the event without judgment: He asked me to go into an office for a meeting.
2) Notice the meaning: He’s mad at me. I must have screwed something up.
3) Alternative meanings: He’s gruff this morning about something else. He calls me into meetings all the time and it’s usually nothing bad. He’s typically not happy in the mornings but cheers up later. Even if he’s unhappy and says it’s about something him that doesn’t mean that’s the truth of the matter.
4) “A” truth: Joanna realized the meaning “I must have screwed something up” is just one meaning for the events, not the truth.
5) In the mind: She realizes the meaning is in the mind and she doesn’t know for sure what is going on.
She felt relieved after this exercise but more importantly, she reinforced the idea of universal uncertainty. She cannot know until she knows. And sometimes we may never know and that’s OK.
But I hate feeling uncertain
Yes, it can feel bad to be uncertain. And what causes that feeling? It comes from the meanings we give to uncertainty. That it’s bad. That we should know. That others know and we don’t. That not knowing the answer means we’ll make a bad decision.
Each of these beliefs can be eliminated one-at-a-time so that you find it’s OK to not know. It’s OK to be uncertain. It’s OK to realize some questions may never be fully answered. Once those beliefs are gone, not knowing becomes an acceptable fact of life.
- Universal uncertainty is realizing that no one knows the answer to certain questions, not just you
- It’s useful because having this kind of uncertainty allows you to feel confident even when you don’t know everything
- You can develop universal uncertainty by coming up with alternative ways of viewing events
- If you feel bad about being uncertain, that feeling is caused by beliefs that you can eliminate
There is great freedom in realizing that some questions can never be answered definitively. That you don’t know and no one knows. It frees us from the futile quest for answers that we may never find. And frees us from attachment to ideas that may never help. Once you are OK with not knowing, you gain peace of mind.
How to gain the power of a quiet mind in 10 weeks
The mind can be as noisy as a city during rush hour traffic. When the mind is filled with chatter we tend to have more anxieties and annoyances. But what if we could be a bit more like the monk who carries peace within no matter what is happening in the outside world?
We would have a quiet mind, an inner repose no matter what happens outside us
This is the promise of the Occurring Course (formerly the Lefkoe Freedom Course). In this course, you learn how to dissolve meanings your mind gives to events so you are a bit unflappable. Few things will bother you. And those that do bother you will wash away in moments.
This happens because you cultivate universal uncertainty. You realize you don’t know what events “mean” and no longer need to know.
If you’re interested you can get a few goodies that help you understand how to get to this quiet place within. To get them, you can click the link to join the waiting list for the Occurring Course. Registration will open in August.