On splitting

Caution: seemingly disjointed thoughts ahead, followed by unifying insight.

I hope.

I’m pragmatic and rational with the usual dose of emotions thrown in, because, human. I also find that I too often ignore the messaging coming from my body and my brain. I sometimes get into deep work on something technical, and I have trouble knowing when I should stop. (Answer: A few hours in, at a place where I know what I should do next. Never work until stuck; Don’t stop there.) I push everything too far and then crash mentally, or even physically.

I’ve recently found I have Lyme disease. “Boooo!” But the treatment—at least, the initial treatment option—is a simple antibiotic called Doxycycline. “Yay, modern science!” Which I take twice per day on an empty stomache and it makes me pretty nauseous. “Booooo,” (more vociforously.) I usually eat dinner by 6:30pm, and the evening 8:30pm pill isn’t usually bad. But the 8:30am pill on a totally empty stomach is nausea-roulette about 40 minutes later.

Splitting is the name for all-or-nothing thinking: You’re either with me, or against me. This project is suceeding or failing. I am a sucess or a failure. Partly this comes from focusing on outcomes; I set lots of goals, and I set them high on purpose, so usually I don’t reach them. “Booooo,” combined with some splitting leads to, “I suck.”

In Stoic parlance, a “dispreferred indifferent” is something you do not prefer, and over which you have no control and are therefore indifferent to the outcome. (Stoicism crib notes: Almost everything is an “indifferent” since you fully control only your own thoughts.) Vomitting around 9am every day is definitely a DISpreferred indifferent. I can drink plenty of water, I can pay attention to my posture, (unexpectedly it drastically affects my stomach reaction,) I can avoid laying down, I can avoid getting up, etc. …and it’s still nausea-roulette.

I have had a superlatively enjoyable week since starting this medication.

Wait, what?

Seriously. Something about having this [actually quite minor] regular nausea thing seems to be treating my splitting thinking. “Oh, nice it’s time to work on this cool thing I want to see suceed!” “Oh, nice it seems to be time to vomit!” “Oh, nice that was just a wave of nausea!” “It’s really going to be hot outside today, but it’s cool on the patio for now. Nice!” “Oh, are we vomitting now? That’s nice too!” “Oh, I have an idea for something to do this afternoon. Nice!” It seems to have all just run together into this general state of, “nice!”

Ok, yeah, that may be pretty messed up. But, gotta go, it’s 8:30.

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Let the news come

And what better use could you make of that time? A day that could be your last — you want to spend it in worry? In what other area could you make some progress while others might be sitting on the edges of their seat, passively awaiting some fate? Let the news come when it does. Be too busy working to care.

~ Ryan Holiday

Time management

http://www.asianefficiency.com/productivity/coveys-time-management-quadrant/

The caveat is that this quadrant can be mistaken as something that shouldn’t be part of life, but that is not true. It is really important to have a balanced life between work and your personal life. You need downtime to not get burnt out and that is where quadrant four comes into the picture. The challenge is you allocate most of your time to quadrant two, with just enough of time spent in quadrant four to get by.

~ Thanh Pham

I disagree.

Everything in the UN-important half (the lower half in the diagrams) of the quadrant is the Bad Lands to be avoided. There’s no such thing as “work life balance.” I spent decades trying to fiddle with that balance. There is only life. I strive to do only important things. I strive to only do NON-urgent things by paying attention to what I should be doing. I strive for a wide variety of activities which are all necessary, important and not urgent. One might even say: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

I have control over only two things: My thoughts and my actions.

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You begin to see common threads

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/02/what-is-stoicism-and-how-can-it-turn-your-life-to-solid-gold/

The core of the philosophy seems to be this: To have a good and meaningful life, you need to overcome your insatiability. Most people, at best, spend their lives in a long pursuit of happiness. So today’s successful person writes out a list of desires, then starts chasing them down and satisfying the desires. The problem is that each desire, when satisfied, tends to be replaced by a new desire. So the person continues to chase. Yet after a lifetime of pursuit, the person ends up no more satisfied than he was at the beginning. Thus, he may end up wasting his life.

~ Peter Adeney

Mr. Money Mustache is fun and chock-full-of challenges to re-think, and shrug off the western, consumerism mindset. (Which I, at least, have grown up with.) Here he is discovering Stoicism back in 2011. It pleases me greatly when I find common threads appearing in the various people and places that I follow.

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Imposter syndrome… for the win!

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/stoic-advice-impostor-syndrome/

while it is always a good idea to question one’s own work, and to be open to outside criticism, if you are a professional in a given field there probably are good reasons to think you know what you are doing, especially when your work gets repeatedly validated externally.

~ Massimo Pigliucci

One of the things I particularly LIKE is the imposter syndrome aspect of my podcast.

“…wait. wat?”

Yes.

You see, there’s an entire universe of “perform interview” skills that I don’t have, and I’m loving learning something entirely new. It’s also pretty much orthogonal to my previous life experience — “listen,” had to learn that. “empathize,” had to learn that. Even this weird thing you have to do to imagine everyone who is listening and try to read the minds of people you are imagining… it’s bonkers. I love it.

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Your clear conscience

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/seneca-to-lucilius-courage-in-a-threatening-situation/

Your clear conscience gives reason to be confident; still, since many external factors have a bearing on the outcome, hope for the best but prepare yourself for the worst. Remember above all to get rid of the commotion. Observe what each thing has inside, and you will learn: there is nothing to fear in your affairs but fear itself.

~ Seneca

What — exactly, specifically — is under your control?

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Anger is a temporary madness

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/stoicism-and-emotion-v-brutishness-and-insanity/

This includes people who get angry, which is why Seneca calls anger a “temporary madness.” This class of individuals can certainly be held morally responsible for their actions, since they are perfectly capable of reason, they just don’t use it well.

~ Massimo Pigliucci

Once more, louder for those in the back: Stoicism is not about suppressing emotions. It is about [among other things] having appropriate emotional responses.

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Practice. Patiently improving.

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/stoicism-and-emotion-iii-vigor-and-responsibility/

Too often nowadays Stoicism is brandished as a magic wand, as if one decides to “be” a Stoic and this, ipso facto, guarantees immunity from unhealthy emotions. It doesn’t, and Chrysippus, Seneca, and Epictetus would be astounded that anyone would think so. Stoic training is like training for the Olympics (a metaphor often used by Epictetus): you don’t just decide to be an athlete, start running, and win the race. You have to train, patiently, for years, improving gradually, and suffering setbacks. We are talking real life here, not wishful thinking.

~ Massimo Pigliucci

More and more, as the years go by, I have been peering more closely into the dark corners of the basements of my philosophies, and ideologies.

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Prosperity

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/seneca-to-lucilius-on-the-futility-of-half-way-measures/

Notice a subtle point here: Seneca isn’t saying that prosperity is not worth pursuing. It is, after all, a preferred indifferent. But it is preferred only insofar it doesn’t get in the way of conducting a virtuous life, as one gets the sense Lucilius was worrying about insofar his own pursuits were concerned. Which is why his friend reminds him that he is under no obligation at all to live in the fast lane.

~ Massimo Pigliucci

Just yesterday, for the first time ever, I considered removing the rear-view mirror from the Jeep. (Instead, I twisted it upwards to view the roof.) Since the Jeep is slow and old, as am I, there is ALWAYS someone tail-gating me. I’ve narrowly avoided accidents, where watching the tail-gater behind me distracted me from the road ahead. I’m so much in the “slow lane”, I am literally being run over. Where, really, are you going?

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