Party Pooper

New Year’s Eve is a time for partying, although this year more people stayed at home with a few friends and family rather than going out. I was one of those people and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

It led me to musing on the nature of parties and how we assess them.

Have you ever been to a party and spent the whole evening locked in stultifying conversation with the most boring person on earth?

Or have you been at a party where you were utterly absorbed by someone beautiful, witty, engaging?

It’s likely that based on your singular experience you formed an opinion about the party. In the first instance, it was the worst party you’d ever been to. In the second case it was the best.

The trouble is that the opinion is based on such limited information that it is actually worthless. For all you know, everyone else had a fantastic time because they had hooked up with all the scintillating people who were there. Or maybe everyone else had an awful time because you managed to commandeer the only interesting person at the party.

So making a judgement about how good the party was or wasn’t isn’t possible. The only judgement you can make is how good or bad the experience was for you.

We are so accustomed to extrapolating universal truths from singular experiences, that we are in danger of losing our grip on reality (whatever that is). We make decisions based on these ‘truths’ that are no more true than Clinton’s public denial of sexual misdemeanor! It might be as simple as refusing to  get involved with anyone called Belinda because you were dumped by a girl called Belinda when you were 15. Or maybe, you tried something once and didn’t like it much so you never try it again. (That was me with tomatoes for a while, but luckily I broke through the barrier and now I can’t get enough of them!)

More worrying is the way we make decisions that have a big impact on others without apprising ourselves of adequate information or perspective. We deny ourselves experiences that could enrich us, and we deny others the opportunities that they deserve or need.

So if your New Year’s Eve was a disappointment this year, don’t assume that this is what you can expect from every New Year. The next one might be better… or worse, but you won’t know unless you give it a chance.

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