Napoli – The Case For Best Cases

You aren’t quite sure what this article is about, so why bother reading it? At worst you spend ten minutes of your life reading things that don’t much lighten up your world. But think about the best case for a second. Might this article cause you to instantly change that which you proudly call your reality? Absolutely.

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The self-help literature introduced the concept of “worst-case-thinking” a long time ago. In “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living”, Dale Carnegie tells the story of Earl P. Haney of Winchester who worried so much that he developed severe stomach ulcers. The doctors declared his condition incurable. Twice per day the contents of his stomach had to be pumped out to keep him alive. Having endured this procedure for months and his health still being unstable, he finally decided to travel the world, making the most of the little time that he had before his illness would eventually kill him.

In his hopeless situation – remember that it was 1948 back then – the critical question that Haney asked himself was:

“‘What is the worst that could possibly happen?’ The answer was death.” [1]

Haney figured that if death was his ultimate worst case, then he really hadn’t anything to lose, and he decided to use his remaining time to travel the world.
Based on this story, Carnegie showed us three steps to seize the day even in difficult times: first, consider the worst possible outcome, then accept it, and, finally, “improve on the worst.”

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Since he never went more into detail on how to turn the worst into the best, here are some mighty thoughts for you.

After you’ve followed Carnegie’s advices, immediately ask yourself what your “best-ever-scenario” would be, if you simply start acting on your boldest dreams. Can your (future) marriage become a bond that’s more powerful than the sum of its parts? Can your risky investment come back hundredfold? The point is that

stopping at worst case scenarios creates the habit of thinking only about worst case scenarios.

Furthermore, it is in the nature of human beings to try to avoid worst cases for the sake of survival. But we cannot dislike something without thinking about the thing we dislike. Thus, before you accept or deny an unpleasant outcome, you have to picture it in your mind to label it with your evaluation. To give you a vivid example: Don’t think of a pink elephant!

In short, worst cases are things to move away from while they don’t tell you where to go, whereas best cases give you something to move towards to. Sticking to worst cases literally doesn’t get you anywhere.

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So, here is my advice for you:

From now on, spend more time on best-case-thinking than on worst-case-thinking.

Once you have accepted whatever you believe may ruin your master plan, start acting on your bravest dreams while knowing that if you fall, you will fall safely.

If you can’t go that far yet, maybe you can consider thinking about your most favorable future a little more on every occasion. Maybe, as time goes by, you can become more and more aware of your highest ambitions while you more and more let go of all worst-case-scenarios. And, maybe even you can allow yourself to believe that your entire life is meant to be a best case the universe has imagined.

On a final note, Earl Haney survived his world trip. “When we reached China and India, I realized that the business troubles and cares that I had faced back home were paradise compared to the poverty and hunger in the Orient.” His ulcers disappeared, and he later summarized his life after his return home: “I have never felt better in my life. I went back to business and haven’t been ill a day since.”

Go travel. Your own way.

Jan

P.S.: Check out our route map to see where we are!

 

[1] Carnegie, Dale. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1948.

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