“What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.”
“If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.”
Confusion is a wakeup call.
Seek engagement, not attention. There are five different power emotions that will help you grab engagement and get things done. These emotions are confusion, appreciation, excitement, frustration, and fun. Too many people walk around in a fog of routine. At best, these people’s days include a handful of numb interactions where everyone involved just goes through the motions. Waking up yourself and others is not easy. Finding ways to enjoy life more can be elusive. The only way to get people to positively engaged in life is to tap into the above emotions. Using power emotions to motivate people is not about getting attention. Attention is promiscuous. It doesn’t stay involved with any one thing for very long. Engagement is the goal. Engagement commits people to the present moment by giving them an active purpose of living.
Intrigue is engaging. When you don’t understand something, your brain will make a series of millisecond decisions that label it as relevant or irrelevant. In Blink, author Malcom Gladwell writes, “there can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.” The point is our brains rely on intuition and snap judgments much more often than we think, and these judgments are much more accurate than we think. The majority of the time you’re awake, your brain is on autopilot, concerning itself only with information that could increase your happiness or help you avoid pain. Once your brain decides that a certain piece of information is relevant, it will engage your mind more actively. Now, you will consciously compare this new information to all of your references, or past experiences and overall knowledgebase. If your conscious mind can articulate and process this new information, it will store it as a new reference. However, if your conscious mind cannot understand this new information, it will hit the confused button. Now, you’re engaged.
Choose To Confuse
Confusion is the starting point of all discovery. Your confusion sweet spot is the subtle area where the cost (time and effort) of learning something new matches the benefit (gaining pleasure and avoiding pain) of learning it. Most people are put off by useful information too quickly. Something confuses them and they immediately label it as irrelevant unless there is an immediate benefit. Other people let useless information confuse them, wasting large amounts of time trying to figure out things that don’t matter. The key is to decide what confuses you. Don’t wait for random things to confuse you. Go out and actively look for ways to get confused in productive areas of your life. Seek out information that will increase your happiness and improve your self esteem long-term. The human brain is a discovery machine. As long as it’s alive, your brain will look for information to consume. Start choosing what it’s consuming.
Confusion brings people to life. Things that don’t make sense at first, but offer the possibility of understanding, draw us in. This is especially true of things that are within our own personal confusion sweet spot. Being confused means that you are about to learn something new. This is exciting. After all, one new piece of information can change your life forever. One new connection could increase your happiness, improve your self esteem, or help you fulfill your purpose in life. Most people go through life waiting for something or someone to wake them up, even for a second. They think to themselves, “show me that this isn’t all there is” or “surprise me with something amazing”. Confusion will help you tap into these desires and reengage people in the present moment. The quickest way to confuse someone (in a positive way) is to introduce a paradox or an element of unpredictability into your interaction. For example, during a conversation, cycle your energy levels up and down, act intensely interested and then mildly disinterested, or share details of a story rapidly and deliver the punchline patiently. This is called pacing people’s attention. Any public speaker will tell you that pacing is crucial to keeping an audience engaged. Unpredictability is enjoyable, as long as it’s gentle. Pacing introduces the possibility of a pleasant surprise. And everyone loves a pleasant surprise.
Confusion is charismatic. This is because charisma is steeped in contrast. Understand: nothing is sexier than a subtle paradox. A paradox is something that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. There’s a reason why caring assholes and crabby beauty queens rarely have trouble finding dates. Ambiguity is alluring. The trick is to create a productive paradox. Anyone can counter one positive personality trait with one negative personality trait. It takes skill and effort to counter a positive trait with another equally positive trait. The effect of the latter will help you increase happiness, generate influence, and improve self confidence. Studies in the book It by Joseph Roach show that charismatic personalities like Oprah Winfrey or Tony Robbins display intense levels of strength and warmth at the same time. Being able to embody two positive, yet seemingly opposing characteristics is intriguing. It invokes feelings of wonder and mild frustration. We want to discover how these people balance themselves so effectively. We want to pin them down and figure them out. In other words, we want to resolve the paradox. In my next post, I will discuss the power of appreciation.