Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

suomalainen wrote:with the proverbial office spouse, why not?
Good point.

Anyways, I would suggest that there is no such thing as time agency. Agency is inherently physical, and it is a very modern hourly-wage/salary-man notion to tie it to a ticking clock, although it is true that terms of indentured servitude were often measured in years.

The average American spends money at a rate equal to the energy/resource requirements of a blue whale. So, if you are FIRE with a passive income of $40,000 which is also equal to your expenses, you actually own/run the equivalent of a blue whale sized assortment of humans equipped with machines. So, you have freed yourself up to engage in nothing but the most intimate of personal care tasks and the most creative of creative work tasks. IOW, you may find that you have given yourself an assignment that is simultaneously too trivial and too challenging. The day before you is a blank sheet in which all you have to do is wipe your own butt and maybe compose a symphony, because your assemblage of energy slaves can readily handle all other tasks for you. That's why I think lowering expenses is ultimately the more interesting challenge.

What most people really don't like is some other human having the right to limit their physical agency (could be boss, could be needful customer, could be creditor, could be spouse, could be bureaucrat.) That's why it's called FU money, and the extent to which any individual needs money to say FU to another human who is telling them how to use or not use their body at any given time is directly correlated to awkwardness or lack of skill outside of the context of their current servitude.

Of course, there are also situations in which we are (literally!) open to receiving direction or instruction from other humans, because our strong willfulness is mitigated by the desire to learn, shared purpose or love.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

I also read your post in the mini-retirement thread, and I think I largely agree with your thought processes there about barriers to agency and above. Above all, I think this is most correct:
That's why it's called FU money, and the extent to which any individual needs money to say FU to another human who is telling them how to use or not use their body at any given time is directly correlated to awkwardness or lack of skill outside of the context of their current servitude.
Or the "money is a substitute for confidence" point someone else made (or maybe it was you) and that MMM posted about. One is always free to say FU if one is prepared to deal with the fallout.

Fish
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Fish »

That got me thinking, that FU is not really about having $ but merely an agreeable (not necessarily perfect) alternative to your current situation.

1. If your BATNA to current job is draining your bank acct at a rate of 100k/year, it will take a lot of $ (or an extremely unpleasant situation at work) to claim that FU.

2. OTOH, if your family spends 40k/year then you can make ends meet with any median job presuming employability and being ok with working. In this case you are FU with a zero NW.

3. If due to personality you are driven to do unproductive thing X for 16h/day, and on top of that you hate any form of work, you cannot claim FU without a pile of $. The lower your discount rate (on the disutility of working in the future), the higher the $ requirement becomes until it approaches FI.

I used to be in situation #1 (high income in specialist job, high expenses, no skills) while thinking that there was a better life of leisure just waiting to be claimed due to reading 4HWW (situation#3). It made me very unhappy since I did not have the requisite $. While using frugality 101 to validate the feasibility of #2 (while remaining in specialist job), I also freed myself of the liability of having to do thing X and in the process claimed an even more powerful FU.

I admire those who are driven by the need to live a purposeful life, but from a financial perspective it is a weakness.

Add: note that FU is independent of whether one likes the current situation or not. It is about having options.

Add2: suppose one is a lawyer, does not mind it and is employable elsewhere as such. This person is FU even at a SR of 0%. However, if tired of lawyering, then FU is a function of whether any agreeable alternative income could cover expenses (possibly with savings to cover the difference).

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

@fish - that's sort of my point. There is only one kind of freedom. You choose what you do. You can't choose what you like to do. You can't choose the consequences of your choices. You can't choose the costs of your choices. Everyone, everywhere, at all time is free to FU. The conflation is that people tend to think "freedom" or "FU" means "free" as in "low cost" (or "having options", as you put it). The highest cost, of course, is death or torture if you choose open-rebellion-FU while stuck in a Nazi death camp, and people tend to only feel their freedom when the present-cost is low. I understand that psychology, but have been trying on this tangent to draw a connection between the present-cost of FIRE for the future-low-cost of low-cost- or low-hassle-FU. TANSTAAFL. You can't get around the cost of FU, it's just time- and/or place-shifted.

The alternative to FIRE is what I think @jacob is probably really getting at, what the "renaissance ideal" or "antifragile" or "web of goals" is designed to do. It reduces the friction, the opportunity cost, the present-cost of FU, so that if you decide "hey, you know what, I want to exercise a 'freedom from' or 'i want to increase the size of my Time Agency Bucket'," then you feel more "free" to do so. Because you feel safer, you feel less fragile, because you can cash in on your social- or skill-capital. Financial capital is for lazy people like me who lack the imagination to develop the social skills and physical skills needed to thrive in life.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

If freedom from is really only freedom to choose freedom from, then I believe we are really just dealing with semantics. As long as the point is made that working to remove something that is a known negative in life is better than working to add something we "think" will be a potential positive in the future.

Time agency. I still think we are world apart here. You are looking at time as something you purchase in increments. Like it is something to be scheduled in a calendar. This is not agency over time, this is wealth to purchase some of your time back after you gave up agency to someone else. Here's my example:

Person A: Wants one hour a day for the next year to learn Japanese. Since that is all he needa to become conversational in the language. Person B: Has the same goal, but agency over his time

Person A Takes his lunch hour on the first day to bike to the library and see what is available for Japanese educational programs. He finds some software, checks out and heads back to work. On day 2 through day 90 works through the first several levels. He is excited to learn Japanese!

Person B is also excited about Japanese, no more so than Person A, but person B is able to dive in hard. In the first 2 weeks he spends almost 100 hours on the project and is already completed the software. The educational software suggests conversational Japanese as the next step and for only $500 has a program via skype for this purpose. This seems silly to person B, who instead looks for local meetups for the same purpose. He finds three a week, Tuesdays at 11AM, Thursdays at 9PM and Saturdays at 3PM.

Personal A, after finally catching up to person B on day 90 ,remains excited and has all the same ideas as person B. However, person A just can't get way to make the local meetups, so chooses to purchase the conversational time for $500.

Meanwhile Person B has made great conversational gains. One of his friends at the meetup suggested full immersion in the language to increase his skills. He has Family in Kyoto who would be happy to take in a traveler for a couple months over the summer. Since person "B" is free to travel on an open ended time frame, he finds rounds trip airfare for only $500. The trip was extremely satisfying, he is now conversationally fluent in Japanese, plus learned much about the culture. His desire to continue learning Japanese has diminished, but while in Japan he became fascinated with the popularity of robotics in the culture. Now he's off to the library because all he can think about is building robots.

Person A Completes the conversational package he purchased. He is doing well with conversational Japanese, but feels he probably wont show more improvements without the recommended immersion. Since he can only take two weeks off he looks for affordable airfare and hotel and really does't find anything. Hence his interest in learning the language diminishes and he moves on the the next project.

The same goal, achieved in two different ways, with equal money, one had agency over his time, the other had purchased some free time back. The entire experience is different in kind.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:59 am
Anyways, I would suggest that there is no such thing as time agency. Agency is inherently physical, and it is a very modern hourly-wage/salary-man notion to tie it to a ticking clock, although it is true that terms of indentured servitude were often measured in years.
It is not inherently physical. Even if I "owe" someone 7 Years, 40 hours a week of my physical labor, If I get to chose when I provide that labor, then I still have agency of time.

EDIT: As shown above this can completely alter the the task at hand. One hour a day doing physical labor may be really good for me. Now what initially sounds like a prison sentence becomes a healthy daily exercise routine for 40 years.

If I need 5-10K year of money to survive throughout a lifetime, that does not mean I lose agency of my time. As long as I can choose when to do the activities needed for survival. Modern society has granted us additional freedoms. We now have the opportunity to choose how, and related, how much, time I need to surrender for survival activities.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I think that differences in life experiences, current situation, inherent temperament and druthers are leading to different perspectives and even definitions here.

@Fish:

I know this likely isn't speaking directly to what you wrote, but not all options are created equal. For instance, even if the only tool I have is a microwave oven, and the only cooking skill I have is knowing how to punch numbers into it, then if I have $5 in my pocket, I can still walk into any supermarket and choose from hundreds of frozen dinners. But if I also have the skills necessary to forage my next meal and make a fire on which to cook it, even if all I can acquire that day is carp and blackberries, it is not the case that my options equal 100 frozen meal possibilities + 1 foraged meal possibility = 101 options.

IOW, I think what I am trying to convey is that because money is the universal lubricant, it is also the universal eraser of dependency trail.



@classical_Liberal:

Oh my gawd. You really are an ENTJ bulldozer type :lol: . I need to take a nap just reading your post. As somebody who has allowed herself a great deal of time agency or freedom to make her own schedule throughout the course of her life, I have almost never chosen to use that agency in order to power through tasks or towards goals in the manner you suggested. I use it so that I can do a little bit of this or that and take the side path if I like.

classical_Liberal wrote:It is not inherently physical. Even if I "owe" someone 7 Years, 40 hours a week of my physical labor, If I get to chose when I provide that labor, then I still have agency of time.
True, but this is exactly why it is quite difficult to get a loan without having to pay interest. If you provide the labor later rather than sooner, future you loses even more agency.
If I need 5-10K year of money to survive throughout a lifetime, that does not mean I lose agency of my time. As long as I can choose when to do the activities needed for survival. Modern society has granted us additional freedoms. We now have the opportunity to choose how, and related, how much, time I need to surrender for survival activities.
Most activities needed for survival (maintenance of physiological integrity) actually do require cyclical cognition with environment. For instance, you can't save up your need to breath for more than a few minutes, and you can't save up your need to eat for more than maybe 30 days. In modern context, first thing to notice is that most people who have a lot of money don't really have a lot of money. What they really have is a collection of more or less easily converted to money assets, often abstracted and located at some distance from their person. It is less time consuming to order a delivery pizza on your credit card than it is to make one from near scratch with garden ingredients, but you still have to make use of all sorts of complex pathways every day in order to feed yourself. It's just that much more of the complexity is hidden from you when you make use of more money in the process.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:06 pm
Time agency. I still think we are world apart here.
Ummm. I agree with your example 100000%. Worlds apart?!??

One thing tho:
classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:06 pm
The same goal, achieved in two different ways, with equal money, one had agency over his time, the other had purchased some free time back. The entire experience is different in kind.
There wasn’t equal money in your example. Assume Person A and Person B have the japanese learning idea on the same day, same job, and same starting net worth of zero. How does Person B get to what is your starting line for him of jumping in 50 hours a week? He has no time for a job and no assets. How does he live?

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

1000000%?! OK then, we are thought brothers again!
suomalainen wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:06 pm
There wasn’t equal money in your example.
You are operating under the wrong assumption. It's entirely possible for person "B" to live life that way (at ERE consumption levels) without Salaryman employment. It could easily be accomplished from any of the other three quadrants while maintaining virtual complete agency over time.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

@7WB5
Right about the interest, so pay as you go! I agree that not everything can be saved, as part of that assumption money can't buy everything.

I completely grok (first time I have ever used that word, does that mean I'm officially part of the group :?: ) what you are saying about the complexity. Still, as long as the system is in place, and it reduces total effort required to provide for oneself in a wealthy industrialized country, it seems rather foolish to not take advantage of the system. I'd rather learn to adapt to work within any system that actually exists vs trying to operate much less efficiently in a system I "wish" or" believe someday may" exist. Work with what you've got.

suomalainen
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Re: Reading Recommendations

Post by suomalainen »

TheProcess wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:09 pm
Would you consider posting some reading recommendations? I could use a little of that nirvana.
Relevant books from my reading list as I've grappled with psychological issues / unhappiness / whatever since 2012, with some sort of descriptor from my reading journal (some are more helpful than others), presented in the order in which I read them.

1) Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert - You're terrible at knowing what you want and even more terrible at knowing what you'll want years from now. Good luck and don't worry about it.

2) The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman - I've read this at least three times. A bit of a survey of other ways of thinking, as opposed to the "positive thinking" self-help group.

3) Siddhartha, Herman Hesse - One of my favorite books of all time. Story of a man seeking enlightenment and his path through life - a German's interpretation of Buddhism.

4) White Fang, Jack London - Classic Alaskan wilderness book. "This was living, though he did not know it. He was realizing his own meaning in the world he was doing that for which he was made ... for life achieves its summit when it does to the uttermost that which it was equipped to do." "Life is always happy when it is expressing itself." "Life is movement". I think about this whenever I get out of the habit of getting outside amongst the trees. I am ALWAYS happiest when I'm consistently outside and moving.

5) Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand - Don't laugh, but I read this for the first time not as an angsty teenager, but as an angsty 30-something. The one real takeaway for me, given my upbringing was the idea of "the sanction of the victim" - that a person cannot shame you unless you accept their moral code/judgment. It helped me reject an oppressive external moral code that did not align with my values, the juxtaposition of which had caused me many years of grief as I struggled with being "wrong". I went from judging myself "wrong" to judging myself "ok" in the relative blink of an eye. One of the major bricks in my road away from organized religion.

6) East of Eden, John Steinbeck - Possibly my favorite book of all time. I guess the thing I'd highlight here is the idea considered across the book about responsibility and blame for one's choices. Part of being an adult is to have the courage to make difficult choices without full information and to be willing to accept the responsibility and blame for the consequences of those choices.

7) The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan Watts - Perhaps a good quote to summarize the direction of the book would be: "Because consciousness must involve both pleasure and pain, to strive for pleasure to the exclusion of pain is, in effect, to strive for the loss of consciousness. Because such a loss is in principle the same as death, this means that the more we struggle for life (as pleasure), the more we are actually killing what we love." Also "[life] all exists for this moment. It is a dance, and when you are dancing you are not intent on getting somewhere."

8) The Big Picture, Sean Carroll - Part of my Buddhistic journey has been a grappling with theism vs atheism or meaning vs nihilism or however you want to frame it. My reading journal notes were previously printed here (scroll to bottom): viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5671&p=179384&hilit ... sm#p179384 the most relevant bit being: "The mistake we make in putting emphasis on happiness is to forget that life is a process, defined by activity and motion, and to search instead for the one perfect state of being. There can be no such state, since change is the essence of life."

9) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Mark Haddon - Delightful book about an (autistic?) kid who goes about trying to solve a dog’s murder and finds out (spoiler alert) about his mother’s infidelity, etc. The most impactful part of the book for me was the idea of this autistic kid needing to find his own space and block out all stimuli to calm himself down. It somehow really made the concept of needing that kind of thing really accessible.

10) Breaking the Spell, Dan Dennett - again along the lines of helping me "get free from the oppression of organized religion." The idea of religion being a meme that itself survives via natural selection. The ideas best adapted to humans are the ones that stick around the longest.

11) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson - a really, really accessible book, possibly the one I would recommend the most as a first read. The main point of which is basically "don't hope for a life without problems. There's no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems." In other words, pick which shit sandwich you will enjoy eating the most.

12) Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl - I don’t agree with everything, but I do agree with the idea that of all things, man is free to decide what he thinks and how he orients himself to his situation.

13) Beyond Hope, Derrick Jensen - an article on Orion Magazine that is an environmentalism-related article, but this paragraph was something I found to be of more general application: "A WONDERFUL THING happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems — you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself — and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself." To me, it correlates with this Buddhist / psychological idea of not living in past memories or future fantasies, but to do what is needed right now.

14) Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel - a story about a hermit who lived in the woods in Maine for many years and survived by breaking into lakeside cabins and stealing food. The guy lived totally alone with basically nothing and survived the Maine winters. Stories like this just helped put my social anxieties or my need for introversion into an "ok" space. It helped remove judgment similar to my experience reading Atlas Shrugged and Curious Incident.

15) Why Buddhism is True, Robert Wright - A full review here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5671&p=179384&hilit ... ue#p179384 but as I recall the gist is "why meditation is good for you" and it has an extensive bibliography if you want to follow up on any particulars. This would probably be the second or third book I would recommend, after reading Subtle Art.

16) Mindfulness - An Eight-week plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Mark Williams and Danny Penman - This ... is a very dense and excellent book. It was written by a couple of psychologists and they have a therapy based around mindfulness meditation. There are 8 meditations and each chapter goes into some depth about why that particular meditation would be good. There is just way too much to synthesize. Definitely recommend reading this one. Maybe I'll just post my unabridged reading notes. [edit:posted]

17) 10% Happier, Dan Harris - I'm still reading this one, but it's a story of Dan's journey from panic attack on TV to ... I guess being 10% happier. I'm about half-way through, but this is like a selective autobiography rather than a book about meditation, so it's a pretty quick and easy read with a few good insights so far. Maybe this would be a good book to read after Subtle Art and before Why Buddhism is True.

Update: paragraph on 10% Happier from my reading journal: The big takeaway from this book is this idea that meditation or mindfulness doesn’t make you into a permanently happy lump simply passively watching life pass you by. You can be annoyed; you can see problems. What mindfulness allows you to do is to pause between seeing the problem and responding to the problem so that you don’t simply react to the problem. Once you decide how you want to respond to the problem, planning for it is totally fine, but there comes a point when you must ask yourself “is this [continuing to plan] useful?” Once planning no longer is useful, return to the present moment, rather than continuing to uselessly worry about the future result of this plan you have made. Another way to think about it is that you can be attached to the things that you control - your effort in your plan, but it is useless to be attached to the result that you want, since much of the result is out of your control. The attachment to this future thing outside of your control contributes nothing to you but suffering.

edits: typos and stuff. And can I just say -- deciding to start a reading journal is possibly one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. Sad, but true.
edit 3: added update paragraph
Last edited by suomalainen on Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.

jacob
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jacob »

Cool list. I've read about 1/3 of those. I'll add some more from your list. (I'm surprised that Harry Browne's How I found freedom ... isn't in there.)

suomalainen
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Book Review: Mindfuless - An Eight-Week Plan

Post by suomalainen »

I'm sorry, this is just suuuuuuper long, but I just can't say enough about how good this book is. I don't know if it would be a good book if you haven't been exposed to therapy and meditation previously. I just found it so freaking dense, so here are my notes - unabridged, in all their glory.

Mindfulness - An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Mark Williams and Danny Penman.

The eight week plan included the following meditations: 1) focus on breathing, 2) body scan, 3) mindful movement (stretching hands together in a circle, hands one at a time “picking fruit”, side bends, shoulder rolls), 4) sounds and thoughts, 5) connecting bodily states to emotional states, 6) loving kindness, 7) meditate then do something beneficial, 8) continual practice.

“Focusing on each breath … allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realize that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.

Mindfulness is about observations without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hovers overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.

Over time, mindfulness brings about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and well-being. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness not only prevents depression, but that it also positively affects the brain patterns underlying day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability so that when they arise, they dissolve away again more easily.” Pg 5.

This next passage really strikes a chord as it overlays perfectly with the idea of rumination: “the effort of trying to free yourself from a bad mood or bout of unhappiness - of working out why you’re unhappy and what you can do about it - often makes things worse. It’s like being trapped in quicksand - the more you struggle to be free, the deeper you sink … When you begin to feel a little unhappy, it’s natural to try and think your way out of the problem of being unhappy. You try to establish what is making you unhappy and then find a solution. In the process, you can easily dredge up past regrets and conjure up future worries. This further lowers your mood. It doesn’t take long before you start to feel bad for failing to discover a way of cheering yourself up … [This happens] because our state of mind is intimately connected with memory. The mind is constantly trawling through memories to find those that echo our current emotional state...It happens in an instant before you’re even aware of it. It’s a basic survival skill honed by millions of years of evolution. It’s incredibly powerful and almost impossible to stop.” Pg 8-9. Rather than struggling to understand the difficult feeling - ruminating - the idea is to observe it compassionately and without judgment and by letting it go like watching a cloud float from one horizon across the face of the sun until it disappears beyond the other horizon.

Quoting Oliver Burkeman (of Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking fame): “I think of myself as generally happy, but every so often I’m struck by a fleeting mood of unhappiness or anxiety that quickly escalates. On a really bad day, I may spend hours stuck in angst-ridden maunderings, wondering if I need to make major changes in my life. It’s usually then that I realize I’ve forgotten to eat lunch. One tuna sandwich later, the mood is gone. And yet, ‘Am I hungry?’ is never my first response to feeling bad: my brain, apparently, would prefer to distress itself with reflections on the ultimate meaninglessness of human existence than to direct my body to a nearby branch of Pret A Manger.” Pg 23.

“When we’re unhappy, for example, it’s natural to try to figure out why we’re feeling this way and to find a way of solving the problem of unhappiness. But tension, unhappiness or exhaustion aren’t “problems” that can be solved. They are emotions. They reflect states of mind and body. As such, they cannot be solved - only felt. Once you’ve felt them - that is, acknowledged their existence - and let go of the tendency to explain or get rid of them, they are much more likely to vanish naturally.” Pg 28. “The evidence is clear: brooding is the problem, not the solution.” Pg 30. “Doing mode [the part of you that wants to solve problems and plan and get stuff done] only becomes a “problem” when it volunteers for a task that it cannot do, such as “solving” a troubling emotion. When this happens, it pays to “shift gear” into “Being” mode. That is what mindfulness gives us: the ability to shift gears as we need to, rather than being permanently stuck in the same one.” Pg 36.

When we get busy with demanding life like work and childcare, “it’s tempting to focus on them to the exclusion of everything else, including your own health and well-being. At first, you might tell yourself that such busyness is temporary and you are, therefore, quite willing to forego the hobbies and pastimes that nourish your soul. But giving these things up can gradually deplete your inner resources and, eventually, leave you feeling drained, listless and exhausted.” Pg 43.

“it’s difficult to be curious and unhappy at the same time. Reigniting your innate human curiosity [in the day to day things we do that we typically just do on autopilot] is a wonderful way of dealing skillfully with the frantic world in which we so often live. You’ll soon discover that although you feel time-poor, you are actually moment-rich.” Pg 61.

When meditating and you “fail” to stay focused on your breath, but rather your mind jumps around constantly, “The act of ‘seeing’ that your mind has racd off, or that you are restless or drowsy, is a moment of great learning. You are coming to understand a profound truth: that your mind has a mind of its own and that a body has needs that many of us ignore for too long. You will gradually come to learn that your thoughts are not you - you do not have to take them so personally. You can simply watch these states of mind as they arise, stay a while, and then dissolve. It’s tremendously liberating to realize that your thoughts are not ‘real’ or ‘reality’. They are simply mental events. They are not ‘you’.” Pg 64.

Why focus on breath during mediation? “Secondly, there is an important way in which the breath does not need us to make it happen. The breath breathes itself. If it was up to us to remember to breathe, we’d have forgotten long ago. So tuning into the breath can be an important antidote to the natural tendency toward believing that we have to be in control. Attending to the breath reminds us that at the core of our being, something is happening that depends very little on who we are or what we want to achieve.” Pg 80.

“None of us can control what thoughts rampage through our minds, or the ‘weather’ they can create. But we do have some control over how we relate to it … Many [thoughts] will seem utterly random. It’s almost as if your mind is digging around in the back room, offering up possibilities to gauge if you - your conscious awareness - like them or find them useful or interesting in some way. It’s like a child holding up its toys to an approving adult. This is what your mind does - it offers up possibilities. You can then choose whether to accept these thoughts or not. But all too often we forget this. We confuse the mind’s thoughts with reality and we identify ourselves far too closely with our minds.” Pg 87.

We often think that our minds are the things that think things, but studies show how movements of our bodies can impact our thoughts. “It’s clear - far more so than any of us would like to admit - that the judgments we make from moment to moment can be significantly affected by the state of our bodies at the time that we make them.” Pg 92. It goes on to discuss how tense thoughts can create tension in our bodies and our tension in our bodies can result in tense thoughts in a wonderful shitshow of a negative feedback loop.

Talking about a study where participants were given an “avoidance-oriented” or “approach-oriented” puzzle and the avoidance-oriented folks did worse on a subsequent test. “It turned out that avoidance ‘closed down’ options in the students’ minds. It triggered their minds’ ‘aversion’ pathways, leaving them with a lingering sense of fear and an enhanced sense of vigilance and caution. This state of mind both weakened their creativity and reduced their flexibility.” Pg 113. This showed that “The spirit in which you do something is often as important as the act itself. Think about the significance of this for a moment. If you do something in a negative or critical way, if you overthink or worry or carry out a task through gritted teeth, then you will activate your mind’s aversion system. This will narrow the focus of your life. You will become … more anxious, less flexible, less creative. If, however, you do exactly the same thing in an open-hearted, welcoming manner, you thereby activate the mind’s ‘approach’ system: your life has a chance to become richer, warmer, more flexible and more creative.

“And nothing activates the mind’s avoidance system (and depresses the approach system) quite like the feeling of being trapped. This sense of being trapped is also central to extreme feelings of exhaustion and helplessness. Many people who work too hard, or for too long, end up being trapped by their own perfectionism and sense of responsibility - they feel, deep down, that there is ‘no escape’. It might be that, some time in the past, they had to prove something to themselves or to others because they felt bullied into it at home or at school, but over the years this has turned into a script that keeps them locked into old habits. This bullying script may once have helped them get what they wanted in life, but now it simply exhausts them. In this way, it’s all too easy to cede all the power to the ‘self-attacking’ aspect of yourself, and over time, you can come to feel, deep down, that the only possible response is to submit to the pressure. Trapped, your world seems to present fewer and fewer alternatives for action, whatever the reality. The result is long-term ‘demobilization’. Your playfulness becomes paved over with concrete.

“Feelings of exhaustion ensure that you stop taking risks - you want to hide away in the corner, you want the world to go away and leave you alone, or at least stop noticing you. These behavior patterns are common to all animals, not just humans, but they can inflict an intolerable psychological burden on people. They drive depression, chronic stress and exhaustion, especially in those who are conscientious. And if the very effort of trying to free yourself from these patterns backfires, leading to her greater anxiety, stress and fatigue, this then brings its own sense of defeat - a sense of being trapped in your own burnout, and your malaise is soon all-pervading.

“Although these negative spirals are incredibly powerful, you can begin to dissipate them just by becoming aware of them. The simple act of turning toward and observing them helps to dissolve such patterns because they are maintained by the mind’s Doing mode (which has volunteered to to help, even though it’s precisely the wrong tool for the job.) The Doing mode entangles you even more in your own ideas of freedom adding a sense of deep aversion and the demand that things should be different from how they are. So you become caught in a fantasy of freedom and miss the actuality of freedom available to you.” Pgs 114-115 (bolding mine).

“The way we interpret the world makes a huge difference to how we react. This is sometimes called the ABC model of emotions. The ‘A’ represents the situation itself - what a video camera would record. The ‘B’ is the interpretation given to the scene; the running story we create out of the situation, which often flows just beneath the surface of awareness but is taken as fact. The ‘C’ is our reactions: our emotions, body sensations and our impulses to act in various ways.

“Often, we see the ‘A’ and ‘C’ quite clearly, but we are not aware of the ‘B’. We think that the situation itself aroused our feelings and emotions when, in fact, it was our interpretation of the scene that did this. It’s as if the world were a silent film on which we write our own commentary. But the commentary, with its explanations of what is going on, happens so fast that we take it to be part of the film. It can become progressively more difficult to separate the ‘real’ facts of a situation from its interpretation. And once such a propaganda stream has begun, it can be more and more difficult to argue against it. All future events will be interpreted to support the status quo; competing information is ignored and supporting facts wholeheartedly embraced.” Pgs 137-138.

Discussing how emotion is so much more powerful than logic when trying to confront how one’s interpretation of the world could be off, “Instead of confronting the mind’s rumor mill with logic and ‘positive thinking’, it makes far more sense to step outside the endless cycle and just watch the thoughts unfold in all their fevered beauty.” Pg 140. I like that - the “fevered beauty” of the mind. It’s like a fucking train wreck, so rubber neck the shit out of it.

Chapter 9 was about meditating when you have difficult emotions and you pay attention to how your body is reacting, so you notice your heart rate, breathing rate, tension, etc.

Chapter 10 talks about being stuck in the past and not being able to recall specifics of past events, but rather we tend to remember the past in “overgeneralizations”, which tends to give the past more permanence than it deserves (i.e., that this past event or series of events has permanently affected me and cannot be reversed). The meditation for this week is a loving-kindness meditation that you (and others) may be free from suffering; be happy and health; have ease of being.

Also mentions the aversion vs approach pathways; need to refresh memory what this was. “By spending a little time cultivating friendship toward yourself, you are gradually dissolving the negative forces of fear and guilt within. This reduces your adhesive preoccupation with your own mental landscape.” Pg 205.

This sentence helped me connect the aversion/approach language with the fixed/growth mindset language they sometimes talk about at work. Rather than being fearful of change, accept that everything is change. Do not cling to a fixed mental landscape or have an aversion to things changing; rather, approach changing life circumstances with curiosity - be curious, rather than afraid, of how things will turn out. This also applies to how I view my life - like I’m trapped in a box of being at work and then being at home. Some of this is related to not wanting wife to feel like I am checking out or abandoning her, but I think it’s a bit of an overreaction for me to feel like I have to always be on or that I have to always try to make things easy for her. If I have free time where I’m not at work, I need to learn to be better about feeling “approaching” rather than “aversion” during those times. It doesn’t mean I have to always be going out and doing things, but to truly consider my feelings and see what I want for that time and to use it rather than to default into a “sit trapped in the living room just being there while others are doing their homework, playing video games or watching TV around me”.

Chapter 11 mentions the Exhaustion Funnel: “The funnel is created as you narrow the circle of your life to focus on solving your immediate problems. As you spiral down the funnel, you progressively give up more and more of the enjoyable things in life (which you come to see as optional) to make way for the more ‘important’ things such as work. As you slide ever further down, you give up even more of the things that nourish you, leaving yourself increasingly exhausted indecisive and unhappy. You are eventually spat out at the bottom, a shadow of your former self." Pg 214. You can’t cut out activities that nourish you to make more time for activities that deplete you (like work). You can also be more mindful when at work to turn annoyances into non-annoyances. For example, if you’re annoyed at having to wait for something, instead, take the time to do a mini-meditation and see it as an opportunity to steal a minute or two from your employer for yourself.

Typically, motivation precedes action - you want to do something and then you do it. However, “when mood is low, we have to do something before the motivation comes. Motivation follows action, rather than the other way around.” Pg 229. In those instances, it helps to do one of three things: do something pleasurable; do something that enhances your feeling of mastery or control (i.e., do a small amount of something productive); do something mindful. Pg. 230.

Interesting concept from chapter 12: “If you can practice cultivating a sense of completeness - even a glimmer, right now, in this moment with the little things of life - there is a chance that you would be better able to cope with those aspects of mind that keep telling you that you are not there yet; not yet happy, not yet fulfilled. You might learn that you are complete, whole, just as you are.” Pg 240. “Well, here it is: now is the future that you promised yourself last year, last month, last week. Now is the only moment you’ll ever really have. Mindfulness is about waking up to this. It’s about becoming fully aware of the life you’ve already got, rather than the life you wish you had.” Pg 242. “Mindfulness doesn’t directly ‘treat’ our difficulties, but instead reveals and brings a penetrating yet kindly awareness to their underlying driving forces. It deals with the subliminal themes of all our lives. And when these are held up to the light of awareness, something remarkable happens: the negative themes gradually start dissolving of their own accord. Our endless striving, tunnel vision and brooding, our tendency to get lost in our own thoughts, to be driven by the autopilot, to become consumed by negativity and abandon the things that nourish our souls - these all represent the Doing mind working as hard as it can. When we let go of seeing this as an enemy to be overcome, all of these tendencies are able to melt away in the light of openhearted awareness.” Pg 243.

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jennypenny
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny »

The stage production of The Curious Incident of the Dog is pretty good if you haven't seen it.

Do you listen to Dan Harris's podcast? I think some of his guests would appeal to you. If nothing else, it's good for discovering new reading material related to meditation and mindfulness.

suomalainen
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Book Review: 10% Happier

Post by suomalainen »

@jacob I bought the book but either never read it or started and then stopped. I can't remember why. There it is over on the shelf. Maybe I'll get to it.

@GT Thank you for mentioning your experience. It is always a nice surprise when someone gets something from these pseudonymous blatherings. Unless you're a bot, in which case, well played.

@jp I did see the stage production and really enjoyed it. It might be the one event at the theatre that I dragged my wife to rather than the other way around. I'm not much of a podcast person, but maybe I'll take a listen.

****
Book Review: 10% Happier

This is mentioned above, and I updated the post above with this paragraph, but to avoid having to scroll, I'll copy/paste here. After my summary paragraph, I'll also copy/paste the quotes/thoughts I wrote from my reading journal in case the raw material is more interesting/useful for some.

Update: paragraph on 10% Happier from my reading journal: The big takeaway from this book is this idea that meditation or mindfulness doesn’t make you into a permanently happy lump simply passively watching life pass you by. You can be annoyed; you can see problems. What mindfulness allows you to do is to pause between seeing the problem and responding to the problem so that you don’t simply react to the problem. Once you decide how you want to respond to the problem, planning for it is totally fine, but there comes a point when you must ask yourself “is this [continuing to plan] useful?” [Note: this cutting question captures my relationship to FIRE]. Once planning no longer is useful, return to the present moment, rather than continuing to uselessly worry about the future result of this plan you have made. Another way to think about it is that you can be attached to the things that you control - your effort in your plan, but it is useless to be attached to the result that you want, since much of the result is out of your control. The attachment to this future thing outside of your control contributes nothing to you but suffering.

*

10% Happier. Dan Harris.

“Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem, largely because its most prominent proponents talk as if they have a perpetual pan flute accompaniment. If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain. It’s a proven technique for preventing the voice in your head from leading you around by the nose … Many of us labor under the delusion that we’re permanently stuck with all of the difficult part of our personalities … We now know that many of the attributes we value most are, in fact, skills, which can be trained the same way you build your body in the gym.” Pgs xiv - xv.

“In my views, the balance between stress and contentment was life’s biggest riddle. On the one hand, I was utterly convinced that the continuation of any success I had achieved was contingent upon persistent hyper-vigilance. I figured this kind of behavior must be adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint - cavemen who worried about possible threats, real or imagined, probably survived longer. On the other hand, I was keenly aware that while this kind of insecurity might prolong life, it also made it less enjoyable.” Pgs 8-9.

“In his books, [Eckhart] Tolle repeatedly denigrated the habit of worrying, which he characterized as a useless process of projecting fearfully in an imaginary future. ‘There is no way that you can cope with such a situation, because it doesn’t exist. It’s a mental phantom,’ he wrote. But, while I understood the benefit of being in the Now, the future was coming. Didn’t I have to prepare for it? … And yet, and yet … I was aware, of course, that my chattering mind was not entirely working in my favor … I used to think pressing the bruise kept me on my toes. Now I realized those moments mostly just made me unhappy.” Pg 63.

In an interview with Tolle, Tolle says this about thinking and meta-thinking: “‘Yes, as you rightly put it, that’s another layer of thinking - and that layer of thinking says, ‘You see, it doesn’t work. I can’t be free of thinking.’ Which is more thinking,’ he said, laughing gently. ‘So how do you break out of that?’ ‘You simply observe that it’s another thought. And by knowing that it’s another thought, you’re not totally identified with the thought.” Pg 66. Continuing the interview, Harris asks about whether being at peace makes you apathetic to change and Tolle replies “‘And then do what you need to do … Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy. Because many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment. And imagine living your whole life like that, where always this moment is never quite right, not good enough because you need to get to the next one. That is continuous stress.’” Pg 67. In a later interview with Deepak Chopra, Chopra says this: “If you stay in the moment, you’ll have what is called spontaneous right action, which is intuitive, which is creative, which is visionary, which eavesdrops on the mind of the universe.” Pg 73. I like that phrase “eavesdrops on the mind of the universe.” Not because I think the inherent mysticism is somehow true or whatever, but because it’s a beautiful turn of phrase to describe unencumbered creativity.

“As best I could understand it, the Buddha’s main thesis was that in a world where everything is constantly changing, we suffer because we cling to things that won’t last. A central theme of the Buddha’s ‘dharma’ (which roughly translates to ‘teaching’) revolved around … ‘impermanence.’ The Buddha embraced an often overlooked truism: nothing lasts - including us.” Pgs 89-90. Compare this to the thought process you’ve had around the lack of meaning or whether anything “matters”. Many of those thoughts have centered around the idea that anything you achieve will be forgotten within 2 generations, so there is an implicit assumption that something has meaning or something matters only if it lasts. But nothing lasts. It appears Buddhism’s answer to this is: so? Let go of wanting the impermanent to have permanence and enjoy it for what it is without overthinking it. It appears Christianity’s answer to this is: no, actually, it (you) will last; just trust me on this.

Writing about a book (title not given): “The doctor’s theory was that, in modern life, our ancient fight-or-flight mechanism was being triggered too frequently - in traffic jams, meetings with our bosses, etc. - and that this was contributing to the epidemic of heart disease. Even if the confrontations were themselves minor, our bodies didn’t know that; they reacted as if they were in kill-or-be-killed scenarios, releasing toxic stress chemicals into the bloodstream. The doctor had done studies showing that meditation could reverse the effects of stress and lower blood pressure.” Pg 99.

After starting consistently meditating, “I started to see life’s in-between moments - sitting at a red light, waiting for my crew to get set up for an interview - as a chance to focus on my breath, or just take in my surroundings. As soon as I began playing this game, I really noticed how much sleepwalking I did, how powerfully my mind propelled me forward or backward. Mostly, I saw the world through a scrim of skittering thoughts, which created a kind of buffer between me and reality. As one Buddhist author put it, the ‘craving to be otherwise, to be elsewhere’ permeated my whole life.” Pg 103. “The idea is that, once you’ve master things like [noting] itches [that arise as you meditate], eventually you’ll be able to apply mindfulness to thoughts and emotions. This nonjudgmental noting - Oh, that’s a blast of self-pity … Oh, that’s me ruminating about work - is supposed to sap much of the power, the emotional charge, out of the contents of consciousness.” Pg 104.

Discussing the benefit of mindfulness - that we’re able to see clearly what is happening so that we’re able to respond rather than react or “as one Buddhist writer put it, ‘drifting unaware on a surge of habitual impulses.’ … Mindfulness represented an alternative to living reactively.” Pg 105. And then, discussing a Buddhism conference he attended, he noted that a speaker invited people to use RAIN when confronting an acute situation: Recognize your feelings; Allow the feelings to be; Investigate the feelings and their physical manifestations (heart rate, tension, etc.); and Non-identify with the feelings. These feelings are not you and they will pass. As an example, he cites a disagreement and “instead of mindlessly criticizing her, though, he calmly and tactfully disagreed. Seeing a problem clearly does not prevent you from taking action, he explained. Acceptance is not passivity. Sometimes we are justifiably displeased. What mindfulness does is create some space in your head so you can, as the Buddhists say, ‘respond’ rather than simply ‘react’. In the Buddhist view, you can’t control what comes up in your head; it all arises out of a mysterious void. We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it.” Pg 115.

Discussing some scientific research into meditation’s effects on the brain, “Another study, out of Yale, looked at the part of the brain known as the default mode network (MDN), which is active when we’re lost in thought - ruminating about the past, projecting into the future, obsessing about ourselves. The researches found meditators were not only deactivating this region while they were practicing, but also when they were not meditating. In other words, meditation created a new default mode.” Pg 169. “The old conventional wisdom was that once we reached adulthood, our brain stopped changing. This orthodoxy was now replaced with a new paradigm, called neuroplasticity. The brain, it turns out, is constantly changing tin response to experience.” Pg 169. “What the science was showing was that our levels of well-being, resilience, and impulse control were not simply God-given traits, our portion of which we had to accept as a fait accompli. The brain, the organ of experience, through which are entire lives are led, can be trained. Happiness is a skill.” Pg 170.

Speaking with a meditation mentor after his career had become stagnant, for which he at least partially blamed compassion / meditation, “I had fallen, he said, into several classic ‘pitfalls of the path.’ People often misinterpreted the dharma to mean they had to adopt a sort of meekness. Some of Mark’s patients even stopped using the word ‘I,’ or disavowed the need to have orgasms during sex. He recalled scenes from his youth when he and meditation buddies would have group dinners at restaurants and no one would have the gumption to place an order. They didn’t want to express a personal preference as if doing so was insufficiently Buddhist. Another pitfall was detachment. I thought I was being mindful of my distress when I was left out of the big stories [i.e., his career stagnation], but really I was just building a wall to keep out the things that made me angry or fearful The final pitfall to which I’d succumbed was nihilism: an occasional sense of, “Whatever, man, everything’s impermanent.” Pg 201.

“I found that rather than rendering me boringly problem-free, mindfulness made me, as an eminent spiritual teacher once said, ‘a connoisseur of my neuroses.” Pg 210.

*

This last quote I find quite amusing. This whole journal is evidence of my connoisseurship of my own neuroses. Perhaps, however, a true connoisseur does not obsess (ruminate) over the object of his affection - or at least, not a non-attached connoisseur.

edit: typos. it's 10%, not 20% :roll:
Last edited by suomalainen on Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

TheProcess
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Re: Reading Recommendations

Post by TheProcess »

suomalainen wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:15 pm
Relevant books from my reading list as I've grappled with psychological issues / unhappiness / whatever since 2012, with some sort of descriptor from my reading journal (some are more helpful than others), presented in the order in which I read them.
Quite a list! Thank you so much. Enjoy these parts of your journal.

suomalainen
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Little Gidding

Post by suomalainen »

T.S. Eliot wrote a poem named Little Gidding available at http://www.columbia.edu/itc/history/win ... dding.html , one of the lines of which echoed in my mind as I returned home from a spring break trip with my kids to a place I'd always wanted to go (national parks in southern UT) and which was also a bit of a return to a piece of my past that turned out to be a defining moment of my life (ending up in UT for a spell after I became a mormon). The line is this:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
As I reflected on my mixed emotions during the trip* on our drive home from JFK, I realized, more poignantly than before, that scarcity of experience of Thing A is the very thing that makes Thing A special. For years, decades really, I have chased a vision of a life that would be right, magical, perfect for me - surely I was meant to be a ski/bike/rock climbing bum, surely I was meant to be free. I wanted to be able to do "all these things" - to have a richness of experience unmatched by a normal American life, without the burdens of a normal American life - family, job, money, responsibilities. It would only be with such freedom that I would be able to truly explore life and arrive at my right, magical, perfect life. Instead, I ended up married with children and a job and a white picket fence on a quarter-acre in the suburbs. As a(n over)reaction, I did my exploration in my mind, straining for ways to live a life different from the one (I chose) that I found myself living, and I drove myself crazy thinking that such a right, magical, perfect life had been available to me, only I had done it wrong.

But as I drove home from our explorations of deep, wondrous canyons, the lines echoed in my mind: "we shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." In other words,
suomalainen wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:39 pm
[embedded quote]
Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.” In my 50s, thinking back, his words strike me as exactly right. To no one’s surprise as much as my own, I have begun to feel again the sense of adventure that I recall from my 20s and 30s. I wake up thinking about the day ahead rather than the five decades past. Gratitude has returned.
This, I think, is what Little Gidding is really about - we spend our youth running around like chickens with our heads cut off, not knowing what we truly want because we lack the breadth of experience and perspective required to know what we want (as against the breadth of available choices). It is only with ceaseless exploration that we gain the breadth of experience and perspective needed to finally able to return to where we started and to see it with fresh eyes, to say "actually, this is pretty good". **

There is no right, magical, perfect thing. Such things exist only in our minds. And such things can ONLY exist in our minds when we do not know them well enough. Because if we did know them well enough...

This is an argument for letting magical moments be just that - moments. Magical moments should not, indeed cannot, be extrapolated into continuous lives.

* for my own benefit: some memories reflecting what I know now was culture shock: signing up for a bank account at zions bank, living at the foot of desert mountains, subjecting myself to the authority of the mormon church, the stake leader at stake conference telling congregants to stop going to the canyons and lakes on sundays to have fun since sunday is a holy day, utah boogers.

** and, frankly, to know that it's all pretty much the same.

Smashter
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter »

Dang, that was so well said.

I remember a while back you saying something akin to 'some people, such as myself, are not meant for fatherhood.'

As you go through this transformation, do you still have those feelings?

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

Excellent thoughts!

There will be times in the river of life where this contentment you describe becomes very self evident. A person will be happy... except for a few minor things. Our thought processes will begin to focus on those things, and we will be tempted to make changes to fulfill our magical thought of perfection. WRONG! When relatively content do not make any radical changes. Rather live those times for what they are, a great period of life. Otherwise we risk throwing off this amazing balance that decisions and circumstances has to provided us. Sit back and enjoy, smell the flowers if you will, and realize it is probably temporary. I've made this mistake several times and shortened what would have been natural, longer term periods of contentment. IMO, the time for great internal or external attempts at change is when life is at it's most disquieting. These times will come on their own, there is no need to create them.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

@smashter yes, but perhaps I might suggest that I am a bit more empathetic to myself than I have been previously. My struggles with fatherhood were more ... disconcerting before, as I felt like I "shouldn't" be feeling the way I was feeling. But now, when I struggle with it, I can take a step back and say, "gee, S, looks like you're really having a hard time with this. That's ok. Feel the difficulty fully for a few minutes and then it's ok to let it go." More generally, the sense that I'm "not meant for fatherhood" is about my feelings about my feelings rather than my feelings about my actual performance. I try. I don't always do it well, but I try, so, by some measure, that means I'm a good dad (or as good as is possible for me). And anyway, I wouldn't want my kids to not have things to discuss with their shrinks. Don't want them to be the one weird kid that DIDN'T come from a dysfunctional family.

@cL yes absolutely agreed that premature agitation shortens the joy of life much like another premature -tion, but I think it's not only about smelling the roses when you have them. It's also tempering one's expectations when one is searching for roses (whether smartly leaving from a current shit-pit or prematurely agitating for leaving a current rose-field). It seems humans NEED to actually live certain experiences in order to learn the related lessons; some things just can't be learned vicariously, or at least it doesn't stick. To paraphrase a nifty line I read once, of far more profit is a hard-earned lesson than a spoon-fed lesson - the impression on the mind lasts longer. As a result, Eliot's explorations should be seen as a normal, necessary part of life (and not as immature folly), but I think it would be wise for a person (especially a young person) to intellectually know as they embark and to keep in the back of their minds that at the end of their explorations, they will most likely end up very near to where they started - just older and a little bit wiser. Such is the path of a human life.

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