Why Do People Take Everything Literally

This morning I received a comment about my last article which was entitled “I Hate Winter.” The lady wrote:

“Fred, you sent out an email tonight stating that you hate the Winter season. Wow, that one struck me hard because the use of the word “hate” is very serious, and I couldn’t believe it would come from someone who is supposed to very much deep into nature. What’s going on with this picture? I think you need to apologize to nature and all of your members. I did not appreciate that email and hopefully, in the future you don’t send out an email like that to me anymore. I do not like the use of the word, there is too much animosity there on nature.”

Now, it struck me that this person would actually take everything I write quite literally.

“Apologize to nature” she tells me!

You’ve got to be kidding me!

So let me explain for all of you wannabe Internet Marketers the reason of the use of the word “Hate”.

In case you don’t know, I have two websites, and two separate email newsletters.

One is my www.fredericpatenaude.com website and the topic is health and raw foods.

The other one is www.dowhatyoulove.com, and this is the ezine you’re reading now. The topic is “Making a living doing what you love”.

The emphasis here is really on earning a living with your own business, as in “starting your own website and selling products on the Internet.”

For most people, what I do is a dream job.

I write, I publish ezines, I get to do what I love, I travel around the world and I make a living with my passion.

And I’ve been doing it since 1998.

When I was younger, once people found out what I did for a living they would often ask me in disbelief, “And you’re able to earn a living doing THAT?”

Imagine them saying it with an emphasis with the word “THAT”.

They imagined that kid like me (remember I started when I was 21) couldn’t possibly create a life without a job, traveling the world doing something I loved, and earning a full-time living at that.

Another person asked me “Could you feed a family with what your little business earns?”

I translated that as: “Yeah, you’re young and single and you don’t have kids, sure you can live like a bum on 20K a year but I have a family to feed, so I need my day job to earn more.”

Once I looked older, enough people stopped asking me these questions and since they often met me in exotic tropical places, they figured that what I was doing was probably working! Many became really interested in what I did.

Don’t kid yourself, I’m not a millionaire, but hat’s not my goal.

And I also know that I could be making way more than I currently do if I compromised my values and started selling what people really WANT, as opposed to what they really NEED, such as miracle superfoods and supplements.

But compromising my values is really not my thing.

Bottom line, my business is still relatively simple to manage, allowing me enough freedom to do what I want.

I love what I do, and the reason I’m telling you this is that if you’re subscribed to the “Do What You Love Email Tips“, there’s probably a good reason you would want to try to do the same.

So when that lady wrote (and I often get similar emails) criticizing my use of the word “Hate”, I thought I could write up an article with a quick lesson in Internet Marketing.

I Don’t Literally Hate Anything

When I was sitting down and sending my ezines, at first my subject line for the email was “I Forgot About the Winter”.

Then I thought about it for a moment, and realized that this subject line, which I think of as a headline almost, was not interesting enough, and didn’t catch attention.

I don’t spend as much time as I should on all my email subject lines, but I knew this was a bad one.

So I replaced it with “I Hate Winter.”

I thought it would get a bit more attention.

Here’s a lesson in writing on the Internet:

You Cannot Be Boring!

If I look back at the articles I wrote that got the most comments, the most attention, that were the most forwarded and generated the MOST sales, they were all on topics that didn’t leave anyone indifferent.

For example, I wrote an article last year called “Why I’m MAD at the Raw Food Movement” that got posted all over the Internet, and generated probably 10 times as many sales as my normal ezines.


Because it was controversial. Because I took a strong stand on an issue, even if that didn’t please everybody.

Even then, some people wrote back to me because and were telling me that I shouldn’t be “MAD” at anything, because “anger” wasn’t a good thing!

Why do some people have to take everything SO literally!

Of course, I was not actually “mad” at the raw food movement. I was passionate about the issue, that’s for sure, but there was not a feeling of anger in my heart.

Yet, the title of that article was the best I could have used!

Can you imagine if I had titled my article, “Why The Raw Movement Makes Me Unhappy”…

Same thing for my “I Hate Winter” email.

I don’t actually “hate” winter like I would probably “hate” an enemy that might do something very bad to me.

No, wait a minute… revise that! To tell you the truth, I actually do hate the winter… 🙂

At least, that’s what I thought many times as I was freezing and fighting the elements during the heart of the winter in Canada, when just going outside for 5 minutes was a major endeavor!

But you know what I mean. The actual emotion is more “dislike” but the word “hate” sounds more convincing.

The bottom line is this: if you want to make a living doing what you love on the Internet, and if you want to succeed in this field, you’re going to have to write.

You cannot just write boring little articles and tips.

Sometimes, you have to take a stand on an issue and be willing to speak your mind, even if that makes some people angry.

Remember, like Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in his awesome book “The Four Agreements”.

“Don’t take anything personally. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

Let me tell you, if I actually worried anytime someone disagreed with me on something that I wrote, I wouldn’t have had any time to live my life.

When I get an email like the one I just showed you, I just smile! Or laugh. I certainly don’t take things personally.

I’ve been doing what I do for too long to know that there are always people that take things too literally.

Like the great marketer Dan Kenney once said, “If you haven’t offended anyone by noon, you’re probably not working!”

If you’re telling me that nobody ever disagrees with you and you NEVER get any negative comments anywhere, then I will say, “you’re probably not earning a full-time living doing this.”

The one thing I know for sure that every full-time Internet market has in common is that they get negative comments from people who take things personally.

In fact, get four or five Internet Marketers in the same room and they’ll probably start ranting about the craziest comments they’ve ever received!

In conclusion, I will not apologize to Nature, because I’m sure Nature is pretty indifferent to my little email newsletter.

I’m quite certain that I did not offend “Nature” enough to take its revenge upon me and bring snow and cold all the way down to Costa Rica to punish me!

What do you think?