You Are the Easiest Person to Fool

Avoid falsehood, especially falseness to yourself.

John Cousins

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Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

When Napoleon’s generals would recommend someone for a promotion, Napoleon would ask one question, is he lucky? Legend has it Napoleon was followed by a lucky star. There are paintings depicting it.

Success can come from luck. With success comes the desire to tell oneself a story that smoothes the edges and ignores the fortunate breaks. Our story becomes mythologized and makes us feel better. We feel like we have more agency. But a tale like this is never honest or helpful.

As Richard Feynman said,

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. “

Do not lie to yourself. A person who lies to themself and listens to their lie comes to a point where they do not discern any truth, either in them or anywhere around them. As a result, they fall into disrespect towards themselves and others.

Avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Be vigilant over your own deceitfulness and look into it every minute. Each moment we are either growing into more or retreating into less.

We always hear “be yourself,” as if it were a simple task. We tell ourselves stories to avoid painful truths. Of course, it’s natural to want to protect ourselves. But the short-term assuagement of confronting painful realities degrades us little by little.

Talking nonsense is the only privilege that distinguishes us from all other organisms. And it moves us away from ourselves. False narratives are how we nurture our psychological problems and neurosis.

Richard Nixon said,

“Don’t try to take on a new personality; it doesn’t work.”

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