10 to 1: Bedouin Caravans and the Likability Ratio

“The dogs bark; the caravan continues, anyway.”

The above is an old Bedouin expression, and, like many proverbs originating from ancient cultures, it needs little explanation. But humor me anyway.


While talking with a friend the other day, she reminded me that “for every one negative comment or experience, a person needs ten positive experiences to counteract it.”

I suppose that’s why, if you’re like most people, one negative social interaction is enough to cancel out ten positive. And it’s why—despite a hundred people who support you and want to see you succeed—you can immediately recall that one individual (hopefully it’s only one) who would love to see your house burn down, your career fail, your relationships crumble, and your self-respect dashed to pieces.

And it’s that one percent that can really mess with you.

But why? Haven’t we all read about the study that found internet trolls actually “score” higher on the Dark Tetrad of personality traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism)? Don’t we realize that confident, well-adjusted people are too busy living amazing lives to waste time trying to bring other people down?

What it really comes down to is this: healthy people don’t look for reasons to hurt others. Happy people don’t hate.

I’m sure there will be about 100 people that read this post, and of that number, there will be ten people who will hate it—and maybe one who will even talk about how much they hate it. And I’m OK with that—because I don’t really care about the opinions of sickly and unhappy people. I’m also realizing that the vast majority—though perhaps not as vocal—doesn’t really care to hear them either.

In the scenario of the Bedouin traveler mentioned in the expression at the outset—”The dogs bark; the caravan continues, anyway”—I’d rather be the caravan’s brave guide than a noisy animal, standing in piles of its own filth.

Safe travels, friends, and may you leave the slobbering dogs in your dust.

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