3 Ideas that Changed My Outlook

Written by Dan Vogt

In my last semester in college I have felt both nervous and lost.  Nothing has changed, yet that inevitable start to real life is right around the corner. It’s like the speech or the job interview that I have been waiting and preparing to do for 22 years is finally here.  I know that once I get through it and make the leap into “the real world” everything will be alright.  However, the mind is a tricky beast and sometimes the calm is more difficult than the storm.
As every good lost person does, I have begun to search high and low for answers and reassurance that everything will be alright.  That the world after college isn’t as scary of a place as everyone says.  A hint that maybe the common conception, that the best years of your life are in college, is not prescribed to everyone (preferably myself included).
I decided to spend what little free time that I had looking for new ideas and concepts to break me out of my worry.  With little time left after the juggling act of work, school, and my internships; I decided that podcast were my best bet.  I am truly interested in business, so I began listening to the investors podcast; specifically, their segment titled ‘We Study Billionaires’.  I also filled any free time that I would normally spend scrolling through Facebook with anything that I could find to be business oriented.
With this new addition to my life I have found a lot more purpose. This time that I spend is not calculated by a boss or a teacher, it is my own to explore.  I don’t have a set of questions to answer or a deadline to keep up with.  I just have ideas and concepts to play around with in my head.  This has given me a peace that is unlike any I could have hoped for.  I want to share these with you and hopefully you can positively shift your outlook too.


  1. “Nothing is as important as you think it is”- Daniel Kahneman

This basically boils down to the idea that as soon as you begin thinking about something, things that are related to that are more important to you.  The best example used in the podcast was a study conducted on shoppers.  A mattress company created two separate landing pages for their website.  One had clouds on it and the other had change(money) symbols on it.  The customers who went to the landing page with clouds on it stated that the number one attribute that they were looking for in a new mattress was comfort.  While the customers who visited the landing page with change (money) stated that the number one concern was cost.  None of the participants in this study felt that they had been influenced in any way by outside forces.  However, these tiny symbols worked on them subconsciously and altered their entire shopping behavior.
I used this concept to better understand my own mental state more clearly.  I realized that I had to let go of the idea of being in control in all times, because there are always forces at work that can be subtly affecting my subconscious.  It also helped me to look at my current fears about the future, and suddenly they became a lot more realistic and manageable.


  1. “Be Lucky”- Tony Hsieh

This concept may seem daunting to those of us who do not feel lucky, but it shouldn’t be.  It is meant to form your mental state so that you recognize that your successes can be attributed to some degree of luck in life.  This makes us more open to new opportunities and more creative with the ones we already possess.  “Are you lucky?” is one of the core questions Zappos asks candidates in job interviews.  Tony Hsieh and the people at Zappos believe that it is a core characteristic to look for in a new hire.  “We think it is because they approach the world with an open and optimistic mind that enables them to see unexpected opportunity more readily.”
I really enjoyed this view of the world, because it helped me recognize the times when I have been lucky in life, and I may have attributed this to my own control.  I am trying to move forward by shaping my perception of myself as lucky, which I hope will bring forth new directions in life for me to freely and innovatively explore.


  1. “It’s all about Your Cage”- Johann Hari


The last idea I want to look at was presented in the TED talk “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong”.  Originally, this concept is meant to address the nature of addictive behavior. This idea comes from a scientific study done on rats that has transformed the way we look at addiction.  Initially, rats were placed in a cage and given the option to choose between a normal bottle of water and one that was laced with heroin.  These rats consistently chose the heroin laced water and drank it until they killed themselves.  This experiment shaped popular belief on addiction for many decades, and lead to a line of thinking that created the heavily flawed “War on Drugs”.  Later, a scientist decided to conduct a second experiment to test the validity of the first.  In this one, they placed rats in a cage filled with everything that rats love; from exercises and cheese to other rats to play and mate with.  Like the first experiment, they placed two waters; one normal and one laced with heroin.  In this cage, something remarkable happened.  The rats did try the heroin laced water, however they consistently chose the normal water because they got enough enjoyment from the world around them.  This experiment lead to the conclusion that addiction is not based upon the drug itself, but rather on the ‘cage’ that we are placed in life.  It is not about the chemical hooks in the drugs, but instead on how bonded we feel with the world and those around us.


I used this in my own life to try to make my ‘cage’ better so I would want to be present for every moment and opportunity.  Addiction does not have to be related to drugs specifically, it can be anything from constantly checking your phone to watching too much TV.  Addiction of any sort is caused by a feeling of not being able to bare being present in your own life.  So, for myself, I decided to view this as a concept toward finding happiness.  I realized I needed to keep myself occupied with things that kept me present in my life and surround myself with people who did the same.   I want to tighten my bonds with the people around me so that every moment of my life is one where I want to be completely present.




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Dan Vogt

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