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We All Have Different Values

everyone has different values
❝Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.❞ -Lao Tzu

It's the summer of 2004, and I'm trying to find a parking spot. It's hot, and there are people everywhere. This is the first time I've ever visited the Minnesota State Fair, sometimes dubbed the Great Minnesota Get-Together. If you are unfamiliar, the Minnesota State Fair is when over a quarter-million people per day walk around outside in the summer humidity to eat food on a stick.

I've never been here before, and I'd like to think it's because nothing about this appeals to me. First of all, it's hot. Second of all, it's shoulder-to-shoulder busy. Third, everything is expensive; I just paid $5 for one corn dog, and that's after spending $10 for the privilege of attending. I simply don't see the point.

I'm curious about how there can be a situation where I literally don't understand what the point is, yet over two million people every summer look forward to it. So I start to ask people what I'm missing.

The answers are all over the place, but there are generally two main reasons. The most common reason is to try the new (expensive) foods. The second most common reason is people watching.

To those unfamiliar with people-watching, people-watching is an event where you simply watch people and make fun of them. Generally, those who partake in people-watching will make fun of what people wear, what they eat, how slowly they walk, how quickly they walk, how clueless they seem to be, and what they spend their money on.

In essence, people-watching takes advantage of our misguided belief that everybody shares the same values. Indeed, other people's behavior only looks foolish if we view their behavior through the lens of our own values.

While walking around the fair with my corn dog, which I should add does not come with a plate, I accidentally drop it on the ground. Not only is this frustrating, but as I bent down to pick it up, I noticed people pointing and staring at me. I now realize that those who partake in people watching are also the people being watched by others. You are there to judge others while at the same time getting judged yourself.

Understanding that everybody has different values helps you assume positive intent with others, helping you remain calm and peaceful. It also gives you the confidence to live the life that you want to live.