“On a scale of 1 to 10…”

You’ve probably all heard a question that began that way. Defining the parameters – sort of. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does your arm hurt?” But what does “1” mean? Does 1 mean no pain or the smallest increment of pain I can think of? What is “10?” How can you objectively know?

You can’t. Pretty much all human experience is subjective, and that’s why other people are your best insulation against being trapped, fooled, or lost.

All human experience is subjective, but if you get a sense of what other humans think about, experience, enjoy, dislike, and seek out then you can start to have a sense of where your own thoughts might fall. This isn’t an exercise in conformity – you aren’t learning those scales in order to place yourself in their dead center. But how can you know if the grass is greener or not if you’ve literally never seen a yard that wasn’t your own?

Talk to people. Listen to them when they explain their experiences, and don’t rush to respond with your own. Gather data, and reflect. On a scale from 1 to 10, it’s very very helpful.

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