I was listening to a song the other day that was saying “Love is a mystery.”
Out of nowhere, I channelled my third year economic lecturer. “There are no mysteries. Only poorly defined problems.”
There’s a school of thought I really like that says science is not about answers, but about questions. And you don’t win a Nobel prize for the answer you came up with, but for the question you decided to ask – a question that was the right question for the time, and a question no one had ever asked before.
And for my economics lecturer, that meant there was nothing mysterious about existence. Just questions we haven’t learnt how to ask.
And that meant that once we figured out how to ask the right question, the answer would fall out automatically. From that point on, it was just a technical problem.
So take a question like, ‘Where is the universe?’ That question boggles the mind but that might only be because it’s the wrong question. And who knows what the right question is. Maybe it’s ‘What sort of cheese is the universe?’ That might yield some interesting insights.
I find the same thing is true with property investing to a degree. Sometimes you’re stuck thinking, how can I add another bedroom, when really the question you should be asking is how can I add another bathroom (and a dividing wall and create a separate income stream.)
The right questions get you a long way.
And so listening to that husky young man complain that love is a mystery – that love was something innately unfathomable, my first thought was that, young man, have you correctly specified the problem?
And more than anything else in life, love suffers from mis-specification.
I mean, are there any words in the English language that have to convey so many meanings?
(Leaving aside swear words, which has been well documented.)
I love my kids. I love my husband. I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I feel the love of universe working through me on my best days.
The verb is the same. The meanings couldn’t be further apart.
(Unless you think the push for marriage equality was about the right to marry our lunches, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.)
Even the love I feel for my kids and the love I feel for my hubby are pretty different things. Sure, I can trace it back to the heart, but I’m talking about different ways of relating.
And even if we know what class of love we’re talking about, what does it really mean? For some people, falling in love with someone means that you can’t breathe if breathing is without you. For others, it means wanting whatever is best for their lover, even if that means breathing in different time zones.
Love means different things to different people, and depending on the context.
And so if love is so poorly defined, is it any wonder that it’s a mystery?
And that would all be fine – it’d just be an intellectual exercise if it weren’t for the fact that love is one of our primary motivations.
When we dig down, we find that love is often our foundational need.
e.g I need to make a million bucks, but that’s because I want to prove to my graduating class that I’ve made it, which itself is because I want to feel loved.
As much as possible we need to connect with our foundational needs. When we do that we come into our power – we have the ability to speak clearly and directly to what we really need, and make it manifest.
But what happens when our material need is vague and poorly defined?
Keep digging. Keep going until you find exactly what it is that’s driving you?
Is it the desire for a romantic partner? Is it the esteem of others? Is it self-acceptance? Is it healing within your own family?
So when it comes to goal-setting, don’t settle for love. It’s too ‘mysterious’. It’s poorly defined.
Get specific. Tap exactly what it is that you’re talking about, and then set your sights on that.
It’s great questions that win Nobel prizes. It’s great questions that make for a wonderful life.