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negative consequences of risk aversion and honesty

27/12/2019 - Posted in philosophy , private , society Posted by:

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reading time: 2 minutes

Here are some thoughts on the negative consequences of risk aversion and honesty. This is going to be a short one but given that what I want to write about is explained easily. I guess the major part of this post should happen on the readers side; reflecting on your own circumstances.

This week I have read the transcript of Naval Ravikant’s and Babak Nivi’s conversation about the “How to Get Richt (without getting lucky)” tweetstorm of Naval. The tweets on his timeline are highly compressed and expanding them over the course of the podcast gives more insight in how they might be interpreted. It also makes for quite a long, albeit interesting, read.

Two bird figures sitting in an illuminated Christmas tree as a symbol of friendship.
Friends — treasured forever

For the longest time I have struggled with honesty in my life. Not because I am dishonest, mind you, but because I believe in absolute honesty. You see, other people do not. This has lead to some discomforting situations in my life where my honesty has blown up in my face. Because as humans, we all are averse to risk and as such we tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. While pondering my belief in telling the absolute uncompromising truth, my belief started to crumble because I was focused on the downsides. Despite the downsides, there is a very important upside that I overlooked. In Naval and Nivi’s conversation you can find the following paragraph:

Also, by being honest you’re rejecting people who only want to hear pretty lies. You force those people out of your network. Sometimes it’s painful, especially with friends and family. But over the long-term you create room for the people who like you exactly the way that you are. That is a selfish reason to be honest.

Naval Ravikant

This little piece of text opened my eyes about what I have been missing over the course of my inner struggle. There is an upside to the negative consequences of honesty. Over the long run, the people you surround yourself with will change, leading you to have better relationships. There is nothing inherently wrong with friendships that dissolve over time, but we tend to prevent this from happening because our inner instincts are trimmed towards avoiding (psychological) harm. Growing apart is associated with negative emotions. Additionally, our minds are not optimized for long-term thinking, and therefore, we have difficulties to judge the long-term benefits compared to short term unpleasantries.

I absolutely fell into this trap. As such my conviction to provide the people around me with nothing but the truth was wavering. It helps to remind ourselves from time to time that what might feel bad right now, is not bad for us in the long term. On the contrary, we all know that growth happens when we are engaged in something that does not feel particularly good. Nonetheless, this tenet might be too abstract and we tend to forget to apply it to our concrete problems in life. Let this be a reminder (mostly for myself I suppose) that the truth will not only prevail, it will also be beneficial for ourselves.

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