The Idea Honeymoon

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“People don’t have a good intuitive sense of how to weigh new information in light of what they already know. They tend to overrate it.”

–Nate Silver

We’ve all experienced it.

A new set of information is learned and  all we viewed as indisputable fact is turned on its head. Our brains feel expanded; our minds enlightened. Suddenly, everything gets molded to fit into our new paradigm.

This is the Idea Honeymoon

I can’t remember where I first heard the term, but I could instantly relate to the phenomenon being described.

When I was 22, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan, The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall over the course of a few months, undoubtedly making me the most self-righteous kid on the block.

Briefly, the basic idea of all four is applying an evolutionary framework to things humans have done for thousands of years (e.g., eating and running), then pin-pointing when society started to do things vastly different (1950s for eating; 1970s for footwear/running). The conclusion of these books and schools of thought is that it’s generally healthier if we do things as we did prior to the last 50-60 years.

I still consider these books to be among the most influential I have ever read. And while I do think more of society’s common maladies are related to poor diet than most might give credit for, eating or exercising ‘improperly’ became the root of all problems in my mind.

Never mind if someone was complaining about a legitimate health issue that was beyond my understanding (or actually did have nothing to do with food), whatever it was I had no doubt it was because they weren’t eating the same way I was. Because if I saw all these benefits from eating this and not that, then these ideas must be universally applicable and give the same exact results to everyone, regardless of their genetics or medical history.

I was on my own personal honeymoon with this new knowledge, and basically a zealot. I spread (or at least attempted to) this new and exciting information to anyone that would listen.

As usually happens, this fire eventually mellowed out. Even though I still apply most of the same basic ideas from those books to my daily eating habits, they’ve become like any other personal belief of mine; something spoken about only when explicitly asked.

Despite being a regular reader and general information junkie, my idea honeymoons are fewer and further in between than they were even a few years ago. I chalk this up to age and (possibly) a maturity thing; observing this phenomenon in others, I see that older people are (generally) able look at new information more objectively and not become blindly consumed by it.

Parallels can be made to the honeymoon period of a new relationship. Everything is exciting and wonderfully anew in the beginning, likely altering or even enhancing how we view the world in certain ways. If the relationship lasts, that flame eventually gives way to something more grounded and solid. This is probably the reason old couples don’t brag about or advertise their relationship the way young ones are prone to do.

The same idea can be said for new passions or ‘kicks’. How many times have you thought you’ve discovered ‘it’; what you were going to devote the rest of your life to doing, only to have your interest wane and fizzle a few months later?

Just in my twenties thus far I have been absolutely convinced that I was put on this earth to become a CrossFit trainer, life coach, sports information director, and brewpub manager, to name a few. I am grateful I went through all of these infatuations, as I have always viewed figuring out what I like most as a process of elimination.

And again, like dating, honeymoon periods are necessary (for many) to find that true, grounded love.

Figuring out what to do for the rest of your life is another post entirely, and probably not something I am even qualified to speak on. But throughout all of those professional interests, my love of writing was the one constant. I think this is how I knew, and how I still know that it’s what I need to pursue most.

But it’s always felt like a different kind of love—whereas the others were hot and all-consuming flames that I think deep down (at least in retrospect) I knew might not go the distance, I knew that writing would always be there in my corner, ready for me whenever I decided to settle down. I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, and it didn’t even mind that I went and played the field for a while.

A life of writing for me has more than lasted the idea honeymoon; you could even say we just had our silver anniversary together.

What have you had (possibly annoying) idea honeymoons with?

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