It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself – Epicurus
The other day, I was listening to a Tai Lopez podcast and he was talking about the concept of learned helplessness and he references this study on monkeys in cages in a zoo. Monkeys in the zoo get everything done for them, they sit in the cage all day and get their food slid in through a slot in the door at set times. Now if you took that conditioned monkey into the jungle, it dies because it doesn’t know how to fend for itself. It has learned to be helpless and dependent.
A lot of things in our modern day society conditions us and reinforces certain ideas in the same way. The way we experience education in schools indirectly conditions us to expect to be given knowledge as opposed to encouraging us to go out and seek knowledge. Even religion can cause people to over rely on a higher power as opposed to taking deliberate action towards solutions.
We are not as helpless as we think we are. As much as there are a lot of things that are outside our control, there is still an incredible amount of things that are within our control. If we want things, we can take action to get them. If we want more money, we can create things of value and learn about business or investing. If we want to learn, the entire breadth of world knowledge is quite literally at our fingertips. If we want to be healthier, we can tweak our daily habits, eat cleaner and exercise more.
The attitude of learned helplessness gives us a warm blanket of excuses, we blame the government, we blame our parents, we blame our mistakes, we blame the economy, anything to keep the power away from our hands. We are terrified of responsibility. But living this way not only saps us of our power, it is also a slippery slope into an unfulfilled and unhappy life.
Let the monkey out of the cage, begin to take back more of your personal power and be self-reliant. Take control and take deliberate action. It will not be easy, but it is the better way to live. Do you want to be in the zoo or do you want to be in the jungle?