Our Huge Inability To See Underlying Causes Stops Us From Seeing The Best Solutions

by Michael Simmons on Mar 30, 2013

When Halle (4) breaks down crying, it is impossible to explain to her that she might be tired even though it is obvious to us she is.

She always attributes the cause as not getting what she wanted immediately before crying.

It appears that adults are similarly poor at noticing underlying causes. We don’t see the connection between, sleep, health, or personal growth and our behaviors during the day.

The challenge is that our bodies quickly assign causes that we feel are right in our bones. Even knowing this, the only way that I can often short-circuit this tendency is by following a checklist in my head.

Did I sleep last night? Do I need a nap? Have I eaten recently? Did something happen earlier in the day that I haven’t processed yet? Is there an underlying principle that I need to understand?

Even when we do fix the problem by fixing the underlying cause, it is still hard to attribute fixing the underlying issue because it isn’t direct.

If we don’t see these connections on a daily basis with simple things, think about the links we’re missing at a larger level.


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…