In recent years, I’ve blogged a lot about how your beliefs define your model of reality, and how your model of reality determines your actions and therefore your results.
Well then: in today’s article I would like to take up this topic again by talking to you about one of the beliefs that has the most impact –and has had– on my way of seeing the world and acting, so that you can adopt it if it seems useful to you.
Is about the belief that the vast majority of people are good.
My experience trusting strangers
In general, when I see or interact with someone I don’t know, I assume they are honest, generous, and with a good heart.
I think that his intention is not to deceive me or take advantage of me, but that he is someone trustworthy, without bad intentions, and that he would help me if I needed it.
For that reason, I have never been afraid of using pages like CouchSurfing to put up strangers in my house, and even leave them a copy of the keys when I went to work… even though I could have been robbed.
I have never had a problem sharing a car in BlaBlaCaror accepting invitations from people I only knew on the Internet or had just met in a bar… even though they could have kidnapped me.
And I also haven’t hesitated to give Isa access from day one to all of my company accounts… even though technically she could have transferred all of the company’s money to an account in the Cayman Islands and been gone forever.
I know that at first glance acting like this may seem crazy or irresponsible, and it is true that it has cost me some unpleasantness.
For example, in South Africa, I asked a guy to take a photo of me and he ran off with the €300 camera that he had just bought me and which also contained all my memories of the last month.
Or a couple of years ago, at the Barcelona airport, an English boy told me that his wallet with all the cards had been stolen and he asked me to lend him €100 so he could go home. I gave them to him, he gave me his mobile number so that I could send him my PayPal account and return the money from England, but although I wrote to him I never heard from him again.
(Ok, maybe I was a nerd here and I should have asked for some more guarantee, but he was a young boy, his story seemed credible to me and I saw myself doing the same thing if I had been robbed abroad, so I decided to help him)
But you know what?
Despite having had the occasional bad experience, I still firmly believe that most people are good.
Why I think people are good (despite everything)
There are two reasons why I still believe this.
The first is that for every time I’ve been robbed or cheated, I’ve had 100 great experiences.
Trusting strangers has allowed me to make great friends. It has given me the opportunity to have incredible adventures that I would otherwise have missed. And most importantly: it has allowed me to live in peace.
The second reason is that, although this belief has a cost, the opposite belief also has a cost, and in my opinion it is a much higher cost.
Because when you think that most people are bad and that they are waiting for an opportunity to play you, all the people around you become enemies:
- Strangers who ask you for help are all liars who just want to scam you and take advantage of you.
- BlaBlaCar drivers, or drivers who might give you a ride if you hitchhiked, are all potential criminals
- Travelers who want to sleep over at your house are all potential thieves who need to be watched closely.
- The employees of your company are all cheeky, the only thing they want is to rob you and work as little as possible
- And, of course, your boss is an exploitative bastard who only wants to get rich at your expense.
Having this model of reality will force you to live defensively, in fear.
You need to protect yourself from everyone, because in your head, everyone wants to hurt you.
And living like this is not only very tiring, but also deprives you of a lot of wonderful experiences and people.
But not only that, but it can also be counterproductive…
Because when you mistrust others, they notice that mistrust and pay you back in kind.
Instead of creating a relationship where both parties want the best for the other, you create a relationship where both parties see the other as an enemy and try to protect themselves from it.
And of course, someone who is your enemy is much more likely to cause you trouble than someone who is your ally.
So, in a way, your belief determines your reality, because whatever you believe, you will always be right:
- If you believe that most people are good, you will have more good experiences that will confirm that belief.
- But if you believe that most people are bad, you will have more bad experiences that will also confirm that belief.
The question is: how do you prefer to live?
A world full of allies or enemies
My goal with this article is to make you reflect on your model of reality.
Are you one of those who believe that most people are good, or are you one of those who believe that most people are bad, and that all they want is to hurt you and take advantage of you?
If you are one of the latter, I would like you to think for a few minutes about the cost that this belief is having for you:
- What are you giving up to see the world this way?
- What things would you like to do that you don’t do out of fear?
- How is your relationship with those people who are part of your life, but whom you distrust?
Next, I want you to imagine what your life would be like if you lived in a different world, full of good people.
A world where others were not enemies, but allies:
- What would you do?
- How would you relate to others?
- How would you feel?
I sincerely believe that this second view of the world is much closer to reality – and much more useful – than the first, and I strongly encourage you to give it a try.
Yes, it is true that evil exists, and that there are people who steal, cheat, or try to take advantage of you.
But realize that mistrusting everyone doesn’t guarantee you’ll be 100% safe either.
No matter how many precautions you take, you may have the misfortune of running into an evil person who causes you trouble without asking for it.
This is so, and always will be.
The good news is that these types of people are only a tiny minority.
Therefore, just as it is worth using the car even if there is a possibility of having an accident, it is also worth treating others as if they were good people instead of dangerous individuals… even if sometimes you do get caught in your fingers.
It’s much easier and more fun to live like this.
And if you don’t believe me, I recommend you listen to the latest episode of the podcast with my friend Patrick, because I think his story and all the adventures he’s been on perfectly show the benefits of seeing the world this way.
Eye! It is important that you understand that trusting others does not mean being an idiot or unconscious.
I am the first to not go to sites that I know are dangerous, to look at the opinions and read a person’s profile before taking them into my house or going with them in the car, and that I insist on putting everything in writing on time to do business so that later there are no misunderstandings, among other things.
And of course, I’m not a masochist, and if someone misbehaves with me or shows me that they don’t deserve my trust, I don’t give it to them.
But in general, if I don’t notice anything unusual, I trust others and assume they mean well.
Because they usually do.
You are free to live from trust or mistrust, but be aware that both options have a cost.
You decide which of the two you prefer to pay.
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