1. By the books you read
You are what you think. You are what you know. The best way to gain knowledge and improve yourself is by reading books. Furthermore, the books you choose to read reflect your values and goals. If someone can tell you every book they’ve ever read you could paint a pretty accurate picture of that person’s mind without knowing anything else about them. When I go into someone else’s house who I barely know the first thing I do is look for their book shelf. If they don’t have one that automatically tells me something about them. If they do have a book shelf then the books they choose to keep in their house will tell me more about them.
2. By the television shows you watch and the music you listen to habitually
In the same way books fill and shape your mind, so does television programs and music. The entertainment you choose to put into your head also reflects your values. However, if you told me one movie you’ve watched or one song you’ve heard I couldn’t discern much about you from just that. There could be any number of factors that led to you absorb that entertainment. However, if you all you watch is mindless sitcoms every single night that will tell me a lot about you, not just by the fact that you enjoy mindless stimulation but that you’re not spending your time doing other more intellectual or humanitarian activities. If you never watch documentaries that will tell me you don’t value seeking out knowledge as much as someone who does. If your entire album collection is rap music I could probably predict that you spent an irresponsible amount of money on your car and shoes. If all you listen to is Christian music then I could predict that you’re a Christian. If all you listen to is country music I could predict that you probably have an oversimplified and codependent view on love. If all you listen to is rock and roll I could predict that you value autonomy but express that value in how much you base your identity to rock and roll culture.
3. How you react to inconveniences
No action is an island. The way you behave in one situation is how you’re likely to behave in similar circumstances. If you freak out when you can’t find your shoe I can accurately predict that you’ll freak out over other meaningless inconveniences, and this is a sign that you have poor conflict management skills. I wouldn’t date you. If you treat your waitress rudely at a restaurant I can bet that you’ wouldn’t take my feelings into consideration in the future. If you gossip to me then I know you would gossip about me. If you fold under pressure like when you’re traveling abroad then I can predict that you would fold under pressure in other extreme situations. Granted, extreme situations are rare in life. So this won’t affect whether or not I’d choose to have you as a friend, I wouldn’t promote you at work if the decision was up to me.
4. By your philosophy on life
If you can tell me your philosophy on life then I don’t need to judge you. You’ll have told me everything I need to know about you in order to understand you. If you don’t have a philosophy then I’ll I know you’re wandering through life aimlessly and are prone to relatively volatile behavior and are swayed by social influence. I can count on one hand how many people I’ve met with a philosophy. If someone tells me their philosophy on life is a one line, vague answer like, “Love everybody.” then I know that not only do they not have a philosophy but they’re deluded. They may tend to think they’re right about things they know nothing about. If they say, “Kant once said…” or “Nietzsche once said…” then I’ll know that they get all their ideas from other people and don’t think for themselves. At least, they don’t think outside the intellectual paradigm they’ve been handed. Furthermore, they’re likely to be so sure of their intellectual supremacy that they’ll refuse to listen to contradicting ideas and will even condemn anyone who does for being intellectually inferior. Is this a brash over-generalization? Probably. Is it accurate more often than not? In my experience, yes.
5. By the questions you ask and the extent that you try to answer them
The amount of answers to life’s questions you understand is directly proportional to the amount of questions you ask. If you never ask questions or devote yourself to answering them then I’ll know you’re an ignorant person who accepts the status quo and will likely defend it. If the only questions you ask are, “What car should I buy?” “What’s on TV?” or “Who’s going to win the World Cup?” then I know that you’re a mindless consumer whore. You might be fun at parties, but your usefulness in life and to other people is on par with the entertaining distractions you can buy at the mall. If you ask questions about politics, psychology, economics and foreign cultures then I can predict that you’ll be an extremely useful and interesting person to have in my life.
6. By what you spend your money on
Money is a metaphor. A thousand dollars represents anything you can buy with a thousand dollars. It also represents the amount of time and work you’ve put into earning those dollars. So when you buy something with money you’re trading time and work for a good or service. You’re literally trading your life away. You’re practically paying with blood. So the things you choose to buy directly and immediately reflect your values. They show what you would trade your life for. If you buy a pointlessly expensive car then I can tell automatically that your life is empty. If you buy books then I know that you value growth. If you buy herbal supplements then I can tell that you value life. If you buy vacations I can tell that you’re adventurous.
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