Empathize with an Expert

Want to do something? Even something that freaks you out? Find out how freaked the expert was before they were the expert. This is the second in the unofficial #HappinessHabit Series.

Often we place our experts on pedestals. Rarely do we think about an expert as a “real person.”

But today’s Happiness Habit is to do just that – pick an expert in an area you want to improve, and real person-ize them.

I’m currently working on decluttering. My bedroom likes to “grow” piles of clothes. And piles of papers. And piles of… well, piles!

Find your expert.

I looked to my sister as my expert. She always picks up after herself. Like immediately. She never has pile growth. Ever.

I asked her, “How did you create the practice of picking up after yourself?”

“I hate clutter,” she replied.

Well, I hate clutter too. But my piles still show up. What gives?

“What’s in your piles?” she asked.

It’s mostly clothes that aren’t clean or dirty. You know – the ones you’ve worn once. The ones you intend to wear tomorrow. The ones that end up under the next set of “wear tomorrow” clothes.

“There’s your problem,” she said, “those clothes belong in the closet. Not with the clean clothes, but they do need their own place.”


Don’t just ask, empathize!

When you ask an expert how they do something, they may tell you. But dig deeper. Go beyond the “how.”

Were they always that good? How did they learn to do it? Did they struggle?

Experts weren’t born with their expertise. They worked hard and had a lot of struggles to get there.

What you learn might surprise you. I didn’t expect my sister to suggest having a clothes limbo. Or to have created a habit just because she hated the downside of not having it.

And once you get to know experts as people, you’ll be able to see how similar you are to them. And it won’t look so hard to do it yourself.

Empathize with a mathematician.

This is also a math #HappinessHabit. If you don’t have your own personal math learning expert (like a sister), you can look to history.

If you’re struggling to help your child with a particular math topic, google “Who invented …”

You can empathize with the inventing mathematician(s) by reading the story of the invention. There’s a rich (and often scandalous or entertaining) story about the inventors behind the math you’re trying to help with.

And they’re people too.

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