Fools rush in

Often I play the fool when I rush in to help. My bias to action, combines with my curiosity-driven desire to resolve problems—or at least understand what went wrong—and in I rush. “Don’t just stand there. Do something!” If unchecked, I’ll be found, still lecturing on obscure tech and sharing crazy stories, and hour later.

I’m always trying to rein in that behavior. “Don’t just do something! Stand there.”

What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? Is a solution actually being asked for, or am I simply imagining I could be useful?

There are endless problems I will never even know about. What, actually, is wrong with leaving alone a few problems I do know about?

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Stand up straight

How to act: Never under compulsion, out of selfishness, without forethought, with misgivings. Don’t gussy up your thoughts. No surplus words or unnecessary actions. Let the spirit in you represent a man, an adult, a citizen, a Roman, a ruler. Taking up his post like a soldier and patiently awaiting his recall from life. Needing no oath or witness. Cheerfulness. Without requiring other people’s help. Or serenity supplied by others. To standup straight—not straightened.

~ Marcus Aurelius, med 3.5

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Accountability

Starting on January 3rd, 2022, I’m hosting an accountability session.

https://forum.moversmindset.com/pub/accountability

It’s free. There are no tricks, no gimmicks, and there’s no “upsell” at the end. It’s simply an opportunity to synchronize with others who want to make progress toward some goal of their own choosing.

This session is for kind and generous people who want to get something, (something of their own choosing,) done. But, who feel they need some others to kindly and gently hold them accountable to doing the work. In the session, you’ll be part of a group of people working together.

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Deluded

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.

~ David Foster Wallace, from https://fs.blog/2017/01/most-respectful-interpretation/

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As usual, therein lies a collection of thoughts nicely arranged into a constellation. I sometimes repeat the phrase, “assume positive intent,” to myself and to others as a caution against defaulting without thinking. It seems a base part of our nature—although the ancient benefits seem obvious it’s still only anecdotal evidence—that I default to defense. “Dead last” seems aptly named from the historical perspective, and “first” feels like we’re missing a catchy adjective. (“first fatality” maybe?) What might be called “herd middle” simply feels like the right choice most often. But that’s still defensive; Don’t stand out means blend in means wait and see means be cautious means they’re out to get me.

Boundaries? Yes, please. Rights and safety? Yes, and yes. But if the vast majority of us are really just like me… how great would it be if we assumed positive intent? …or, well, maybe we could do that at least half the time?

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Be your own prosecutor

You must catch yourself. Some people boast of their failings; Do you suppose a man who counts his vices as virtues can take thought for remedying them? So far as you can, then, be your own prosecutor, investigate yourself, function first as accuser, then as judge, and only in the end as advocate. And sometimes you must overrule the advocate.

~ Seneca

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Facing two ways

Choose, then, which you prefer, to be loved as you used to be by those who loved you formerly by remaining like your former self, or to be better and not meet with that same affection. For if this latter course is preferable, direct yourself at once to that, and do not let the other considerations draw you away from it; for no one can make progress while facing two ways.

~ Epictetus

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Attitude and assessment

It seems likely that Jack Sparrow’s admonishment about attitude is an echo of Aurelius’s reminder to himself two thousand years earlier. This idea that the attitude and assessment is most important has really helped me relax. Things will never be done, and I create all of my problems. I’ve come to understand that concrete goals and clear progress are detrimental to my health. They’re necessary, yes, but detrimental. The more goals I set, the more clear progress I can measure, the worse off I become; Mentally and physically those things grind me down.

Since they’re necessary—without them, it seems I’d simply devolve to being a blob on a sofa—I must have something in my life which counters the damage so that I can continue setting some sane number of goals and measuring some concrete progress. One of those things is practicing my attitude and assessment. I set aside time for this each morning. It’s not meant to take long. 15 minutes is really long enough. I read through a prompt from a set that I’ve created for myself. I read through a selection from some key books. I write in my journal, usually copying a single new quote from my collection as the beginning of the journal entry. I write some thoughts. I write some observations from the previous day.

Unfortunately, just about every morning, my urge—affliction? addiction?—to measure and create goals creeps into my morning reflection. Why am I taking all this time? (I’m up to something like 4,000 hand-written pages of journals!) Am I getting benefit from all this reflection? What’s the optimum “dosage” of reflection which yields the most benefit? How do I even measure the benefit? Is that page—that one I just wrote, an instant before these questions pop into my mind—worth writing? If I read that page in a year, will it in any way help me? Is the entry for today long enough? Should it have more “here’s what I did yesterday,” type stuff, or less? Maybe I should be also making a small note on my mood, or how I feel physically? Maybe I should… Oh, crap.

Close the journal, and go on with today!

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Unchangeable

As if all was safe and well with you, you have dwelt upon the final area of study, which has to do with unchangeability, so that you can make yourself unchageable—in what? Your cowardice, means-spiritedness, admiration for the rich, your failure to achieve what you desire, and your lack of success in avoiding what you want to avoid. These are the things that you have been laboring to secure.

~ Epictetus

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Modulation

Diet modulates weight. Nutrition quality will improve how fast you lose or gain weight. Exercise modulates body composition. Exercise intensity will improve how fast your body composition changes.

~ Steven Low, modified from, http://stevenlow.org/the-relationship-between-diet-and-exercise/

Frankly, diet and exercise are topics that require a lifetime of study. The four sentences above—which I’ve reordered, but not otherwise edited—are as simple as I’d be willing to go in a description of “diet and exercise.” Fortunately, Low goes on. Much farther on.

I’ve tried a lot of things, and I’m confident that while several of them were turning points for me, not a single one of them is a panacea. In a very real sense, this meat-bag is nothing more than a moderately complex, space ship for my consciousness. It’s dented, sure, but it has a lot of good miles left on it.

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