in: People, Relationships, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: Just Be Cool

Smiling man in sunglasses leaning against a blue wall with the phrase "Just Be Cool" painted above his head.

What does it mean to be cool? 

Philosophers have long pondered this burning question. 

There are different types of coolness, with some related to affect, style, or talent.

But one type is connected to how we show up in relationships. It’s the type that underlies the feeling expressed when you think to tell someone (or yourself), “Just be cool, man.”

When individuals embody this way of being cool, their relationships, instead of being marked by tension and drama, are filled with a paradoxical combination of easy warmth and abundant chill.

This kind of coolness requires the development of three qualities:

1) The ability to charitably tolerate the weaknesses of others. Everybody’s got their stuff. Everybody’s trying to get their needs met. Everybody’s just trying to make it in the world. The cool individual recognizes that everyone is imperfect, just as he is imperfect. In fact, he recognizes that the flaws in another are usually just the flip sides of their strengths, and he focuses on his gratitude for those strengths, rather than their cost.

2) The ability to diplomatically communicate how others’ weaknesses affect you. Rather than believing that other people should read his mind as to what’s bothering him, the cool individual openly talks about what’s on it. The majority of relationships end because people passively stew on their resentments until they air them at explosive, point-of-no-return levels, or because they walk away having never voiced them at all.

3) The ability to readily acknowledge your own weaknesses. The cool individual is entirely self-aware of his own shortcomings, so that when someone points them out, he’s able to say, “You’re absolutely right! I do do that! I’m sincerely sorry and will keep working on it.”

Tolerance. Openness. Self-awareness. Cultivate these qualities, and you, too, can reach certified cool dude status. Sunglasses recommended, but not required. 

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