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Podcast 247: Use the Solomon Paradox When Dealing with a Difficult Situation, and How to Persuade a Rebel to Wear His Seatbelt?


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Try This at Home: Use the Solomon Paradox to your advantage.

This idea, though not with this name, was suggested by a listener who is trying to stay positive after being let go from her job.

The “Solomon Paradox” is named for King Solomon, who was famous for his wisdom but made terrible decisions in his own life.

Research shows that when we distance ourselves from the problem at hand—by thinking about it in the context of a different person, not ourselves—we can judge it more clearly. Like King Solomon, we're better at giving advice to others than giving it to ourselves.

In a tough situation, rather than asking yourself “Why am I behaving this way?” ask, “Why is he/she behaving this way? What should he/she do?” Thinking about it in the third person helps you to think more clearly about issues like: do you need more information and context to understand what’s going on? Are you taking others’ perspectives into account? How many different futures can you imagine?

We mention the Try This at Home suggestions to "Treat yourself like a toddler" and "Treat yourself like a dog" or "Think about your future-self." These are ways that we can give more perspective to our lives, by thinking of ourself in the third person.

Happiness Hack: In response to the listener question about keeping in touch with family across the country, many people recommended the free app Marco Polo to keep in touch. It is basically the video version of voice mail.

Know Yourself Better: Would you like to be a twin?

I mention the thought-provoking memoir One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to Be Singular by Abigail Pogrebin.

Listener Question: Rachel asks how she can persuade her Rebel husband to wear his seatbelt.

If you don't know if you're a Rebel, Questioner, Obliger, or Upholder, take the free quiz here.

Gretchen's Demerit: I've been procrastinating about answering tough emails.

Elizabeth's Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to Jack’s chess teacher, who is so enthusiastic about teaching chess to kids. A teacher can transform a child’s whole experience.


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