I think one of the main mistakes I’ve made in the past is discounting the role of people in how much I will enjoy an experience. Whether I was trying a new activity, thinking about work I wanted to do, or pondering which topic I should study, I would focus on the thing itself, and less on the conditions surrounding it. In particular, I would make my choices purely by if I was going to get anything out of the activity.
During my Master’s degree at Perimeter Institute, I changed my thinking for the better. Instead of focusing only on if an activity interested me, I started asking a new question: Who will I meet and interact with?
This question changed how I viewed life. It helped highlight how much potential enjoyment I was missing out on by not factoring in the interactions I would have with others.
For example, because I pushed myself to spend time with the others in my Master’s program, I developed friendships that I will have for the rest of my life. In the moment, I may have thought that going out with friends was pulling me away from the “real” reason I was in this program (to learn theoretical physics). However, I see now that the friendships I formed during the program were the point. They are more valuable than the physics I learned. This might not be true for every student, but it was for me.
I notice this now in my life quite a bit. As an introvert, I often discount or neglect the value of interacting with other people. I may instinctively only question if the activity is enjoyable. But once I remember the value of friendships and human interaction, I find myself saying yes to a lot more activities.
The friends you make and the people you meet, they are worth so much that it’s probably worth having a bias towards doing activities (particularly new ones) just to kickstart friend formation.