The Big Short

“He had more trouble than most faking interest in other people’s concerns and hobbies…”

Oliver and I are reading the book The Big Short – Inside the Doomsday Machine which details a devastating financial decision made at Morgan Stanley during the boom of subprime mortgage bonds.

Riveting, I know.

The sentence described Michael Burry, one of the sharp investors who had actually predicted the demise of the market.

Aside from the alarming fact that these are the people we put in charge of handling the cash flows of our country’s economy is the alarming fact that this is what we believe healthy people do: pretend to care.

What a laborious, tedious, and unrewarding chore.

We could all sit around and read books and practice pretending to care (a euphemism for manipulate, and not a very good euphemism at that). We could learn cute skills like active listening and read cute books like How to Win Friends and Influence People. We could.

But does that honestly sound like a good time to anyone? Do I see party hats and confetti?

Nah. Far easier and more enjoyable to learn to just actually care.

Our entire lives we’re conditioned to believe that selfishness works. Happiness, we’re taught, is, like the financial market, a zero sum game. You lose, I win. That’s the only reason we’d attempt to manipulate others. We believe that if we don’t greedily gobble up we can grab for ourselves, we will never receive anything.

The truth is that selfishness does work– but incompletely and ineffectively.

Actually caring about other people works WAY better. Counter-intuitively our lives become increasingly filled with blessings the more we freely give. That doesn’t mean that we acquire more in the material sense, but in the sense that really matters. It’s the miracle of love that it flows through us as a force that multiplies so that when we pass it along, rather than losing, we gain.

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