The absurdity

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/09/do-you-make-a-moral-issue-out-of-being-inconvenienced/

We usually (though not always) recognize the absurdity in blaming animals, inanimate objects, or the weather for the annoyances they cause us. Shit happens, and most reasonable people can accept that. But somehow, if we can in any way pin the inconveniences in our lives on a failing of another human being, we are quick to do it.

~ David Cain

Replace every instance of we with I in the above quote and it once fit me perfectly. I sometime mention the fundamental attribution error and that is a significant part of what he’s talking about. But there’s more to it than just that error.

This is something I’ve managed to transform into a snide condescnesion; for example, when driving, I often think, “…aaaaaand, cut me off,” just before drivers do so. I recall how I used to get angry in such situations. Really angry. Fortunately, more than a decade ago, after a lot of meditation, I learned to first witness the anger, then to know when to expect it, and finally to not bother creating it.

Current project: Witness the condescention. Learn to expect the condescension.

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How to make life agreeable

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/08/how-to-make-life-agreeable/

You’ll feel much less of a need to control outcomes, which — in a brilliant instance of irony — frees your capacity to control your response, and create an outcome you like. If there is some action you want to take, you can take it with grace and cool-headedness instead of frustration and desperation.

~ David Cain

This reminds me of my thought about enjoying standing in line at the post office.  Not in the sense of, “I’m great, I have this mastered.”  Rather in the sense that I recall what it has felt like and I recall the impatience and urge to get away from situations which I had decided were disagreeable.

Obviously I’ve not mastered this; there are still plenty of instances where I judge a situation unworthy and begin my squirming to escape.  But, I’m making progress.  I’d go so far as to say that I’m getting comfortable sitting in my inability to sit comfortably in situations I’d normally resist.

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Mistakes in thinking about the future

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/07/three-typical-mistakes-in-thinking-about-the-future/

One of the most liberating discoveries I ever had was that thinking has an insidious snowball effect. Thoughts trigger other thoughts, and if your initial thought carries even a hint of insecurity or worry, subsequent thoughts can explore it and magnify it until you’re profoundly agitated. You can end up pulling your hair out and dreading the rest of your life, just from idle thinking.

~ David Cain

The snowball effect is probably my biggest problem. Small things—now that I think about it, it’s always small set-backs—kick off these long trains of thinking.

Have you ever heard a freight train start to move? It’s called “stretching out” because every rail car adds a few inches of slop… space in the couplers, etc. If you’re at the front, you hear the engine throttle up, and this crashing sound starts at the engine and moves away along the train.

If you’re not at the front, if you’re just somewhere randomly along the train, what you hear is this eerie, rolling-crashing invisible monster that comes tearing along at high speed and goes past you, but nothing is moving. Yet.

This reminds me of my trains of thought. They start with the first nudge of negative thought which sets this terrible monster running along the train. At first, nothing appears to be moving. But slowly that nightmare train begins to move, and if it gets up to speed it can take me days to recover from the ensuing disaster.

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The only way out is through

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/05/if-society-is-sick-what-should-we-do-about-it/

But that won’t work. The “sickness” is not that some nasty people have come into power, but that human beings across the board are still working primarily from their stone-age instincts. The detractors of The Establishment are just as consumed by their own needs for personal power, righteousness, security and social dominance as the people they so proudly hate.

~ David Cain

To some extent, this article is cynical. Although, it’s not nearly as cynical as this pull-quote I’ve selected makes it sound.

After reading it, what interests me is the idea that the more difficult path of wading into the society—as opposed to trying to remain “untainted” by it—may be the correct course of action. I like the idea that, yes, there is a great deal wrong with humans, but nothing so wrong that can’t be fixed through the continued application of some compassion, reason, and logic (in no particular order.) I used to think it’d be easy to be happy if I was just in an idyllic environment, but that continuing to strive in a lesser environment was to take the higher road. But in more recent years I’ve been thinking that it may not be possible to be truly happy in an idyllic environment; that having something against which to measure oneself may be a necessary component of happiness.

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Insight

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/04/insight-is-not-enough/

The greatest revelations are not when you discover something new and profound, but when you actually apply something you already “knew.” That is when information becomes real wisdom. Only then is it finally able to change who you are instead of just what you think.

~ David Cain

I’ve been referring often to David Cain’s writing recently. Nothing wrong with that per se; it’s great stuff that makes me think. Anyway, you may wonder why that happens. Why do I seem to run in dashes of particular source material. It has to do with how I queue up reading material. I’ve some interesting hacks that I hope one day to share with the world. I hope.

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Your life’s work

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/03/this-is-your-lifes-work/

I had a wonderful day, thanks in no small part to hearing George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” on the radio while I ate breakfast. I walked into town relishing the sunshine, and enjoyed every minute of today. George moved his last block in 2001.

~ David Cain

This seemed at first a cold way to think of one’s life: The sum total of the changes wrought in reality. On the other hand, there’s a huge amount of strutting and fretting and worrying and machinations and gyrations and chaos in my internal world. I’m sure it will be a good thing if that all evaporated from the world.

On second thought, how great would it be if I could get all that stuff to evaporate before I’m gone.

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No phones allowed

https://www.raptitude.com/2018/11/joy-no-phones/

The no-phones policy illuminated something about smartphone use that’s hard to see when it’s so ubiquitous: our phones drain the life out of a room. They give everyone a push-button way to completely disengage their mind from their surroundings, while their body remains in the room, only minimally aware of itself. Essentially, we all have a risk-free ripcord we can pull at the first pang of boredom or desire for novelty, and of course those pangs occur constantly.

~ David Cain

It has always seemed obvious to me that being focused on a screen, at the expense of the other person, was obviously bad. This used to bother me.

Now, when it happens I check my premises: Am I, right this instant, actually more interesting than the entire world in their hands?

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Working hard

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/02/3-pieces-of-advice-id-give-my-18-year-old-self-if-i-could/

Not that I’m blaming society for my troubles as a young adult, but nobody ever seemed to have a very good explanation for why I actually might want to work hard and challenge myself. Not “have to”, or “need to,” but “want.” The reason was always, “It’s just something you should do,” or “You’ll be glad you did when you’re my age.”

~ David Cain

True story: I once got a job working at a golf course as a grounds keeper. I’d bicycle ~10 miles at first-light and my dad picked me up after work. I’d string trim (the entire golf course — wrap your brain around that), edge sand traps (by hand using a machete to cut the edge of the lawn) and then rake the sand. I chain-sawed trees that fell on the course, and I painted wrought-iron in the blazing sun. Every weekday for an entire summer.

I learned two things:

A deep respect for physical labor.

…and that I wanted to go to college and be a scientist working in a lab, or maybe with computers.

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Forgotten super-powers

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/01/how-to-enjoy-your-forgotten-superpowers/

Today we use tools without even thinking about it. Without a doubt, you are at this moment surrounded by (and draped in) all sorts of tools, equipment and technology. There are probably at least a dozen items in operation right now that are making your moment much better than it would otherwise be: clothing, writing utensils, computers, chairs, clocks, desks and eyeglasses for starters.

~ David Cain

This is definitely an aspect of my Art du Déplacement, and self-improvement journey. I regularly—almost automatically now—run the train of thought he’s describing and it invariably serves me well.

In early 2018 I attended a winter retreat. On one morning, we all went out to hiking trails along a stream and water falls. It was snowy, cold, icy and sunny. I intentionally went in wool socks and my usual, minimalist running sneakers—with the insoles removed so there’s 2mm of rubber and nothing else between my socks and the world. I intentionally set out expecting wet feet (knee-deep snow in places), and my goal was to manage frost-nip and to enjoy the day. Result: Insane amounts of fun; New friends; Lessons learned; No injury; and I experienced a true winter-wonderland in a way I had never before.

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