Russian nesting dolls are so…Russian. We saw rows and rows of them in both cheap market stalls and high end shops during our time in Russia, and most of the travelers we met bought a set.
These brightly colored dolls are almost a mascot for Russia and its folk art.
We imagined the ancient Russian craftspeople – already famous for making religious icons – also carving and painting these brightly colored dolls. We were also curious to find out why they were made. What purpose did they serve in a time when nothing was really “extra” in a home?
Imagine our surprise to find out these dolls were actually created a mere 100 years ago. In fact, they were inspired by a doll from Japan!
Now we still think these dolls are great, but we no longer inject them with this heavy historical and cultural meaning. We can simply enjoy them as recent additions to Russia’s rich folk art heritage.
Challenging Your Assumptions
The same holds true in your life for a multitude of things. You “think” this event, fact, or condition is of much greater importance than it actually is simply because you’ve never examined your assumption. In the case of the Russian dolls, it is fairly harmless, but in your real life this knowledge can mean the difference between:
- Comfort and Discomfort
- Freedom and Constraint
- Joy and Melancholy
What kind of negative assumptions and roadblocks are you throwing at your dreams and goals? Are they legitimate, or are you just copping out from fear or uncertainty?
There are a few good ways to tell:
- Go through the 5 Whys exercise to get to the heart of the matter. Pretend you are a 5-year-old and keep asking until you hit the final answer.
- Ask yourself if someone else you know would be capable of doing it. If yes, why them and not you?
- Some excuses are valid, and some are complete bullshit. Your bullshit detector is here.
The next time you tell yourself not to do something because of X, or to accept something because of Y, stop and consider whether this “fact” is really true or a wildly overblown assumption.
You don’t have to believe everything you’re told, especially when the person talking is you.
Pick a day this week to question everything, from whether you really need sugar in your coffee in the morning to how often you need to check your email at work to why you require 2 pillows to get to sleep at night. You can give it 5 seconds of additional thought as events happen or make a deeper exercise out of it with a notebook and some focused contemplation.
The idea is not to get you to change your mind about any one thing but to develop your “questioning” muscles to use on the more important areas of your life.