Friday, October 03, 2008

Two words

Two simple words can end many a pointless argument: "to me". Consider Benjamin Franklin's observation:

Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged: It is so. It is not so. It is so. It is not so.

Imagine it recast with "to me":
It is so, to me. It is not so, to me......okay, let's go have a beer.

In my youth, my well-educated, Catholic family used a lot of Latin in normal conversation. One phrase stuck with me and blossomed much later when I learned more about "to me" and general relativity:
De gustibus non disputandum.

"In matters of taste, we cannot dispute." In other words, if you add "to me", you change from making a statement that others can challenge ("butter is good") to one they cannot challenge ("I consider butter delicious and healthful.") They may NOT consider butter delicious or healthful, but you didn't say THAT, you said YOU CONSIDER it so. To disagree with that, they would have to be inside your head, and they are not. They can only take your word on the validity of the statement--only YOU know if you actually consider butter delicious.

Applying this to your reactions to others offers an equally agreeable respite: if you simply add, out loud or sotto voce, "to you" whenever someone states their opinion as fact, you can simply accept their statement as one about their "state of mind" and moderate your reaction. You may disagree with the view they appear to hold, but you have no reason or motivation to disagree that they hold it. This can greatly reduce stress in otherwise stressful interactions.

Or so it seems, to me. ;-)

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