Links to Expand the Mind
1. It Never Occurred to Us. For most, but not all people, it never occurred to them that a global pandemic could occur in 2020. The psychological shock of living through a pandemic that was never expected will leave a significant rift in our minds. We are a part of history and the second and third order effects will force us to think and react in new ways. History is no time to idle through.
2. Don't Believe in Him, Become Him. The institutions will garner whatever favor they can to serve as your idol of worship. People are drawn to institutional worship because it allows them to hide from themselves and cast blame when things go wrong. It is not enough to worship, we must become. We must accept responsibility for our lives and remember the power of the individual.
Passing Thoughts & Ideas
A catalog of my ideas can now be found at intellectoptional.com
1. If you’ve rejected all the normative categories of society only to swap them for different or anti-categories, you’re still doing a disservice to yourself. You may be out of “their” game, but you still have yourself a rulebook. Limits are drawn when you define what you are.
2. Communication Breakdown
Most of what I write explores ideas that I don't have concretely in my mind. I write to understand them better. This one is different. One area where I excel is diagnosing communication the same way a doctor would diagnose a disease.
I can listen to a conversation and hear the positioning, the guards, the reservations, the charismatic manipulations, the coercions, the egos, the insults, the vulnerabilities, the slights, the projections, the biases, and blindspots.
I admit, my ability to hear these things when I am a participant is not as keen as when I am a third party observer, but I can play the conversation back in my head, noting all my missteps along the way.
Every conversation starts on neutral ground. The participants can remain there if they choose, but only if they remain tethered to honesty in their sentiment and trust for one another. It takes strong communicative skill to remain on the neutral ground.
The most "real" conversations you will have remain connected to the foundation of trust and honesty. When either party breaks from these the conversation turns adversarial. Each party will mount defenses because they cannot fully trust what the other is saying to be honest.
Communication breaks down the moment a vulnerability is attacked instead of mutually addressed. The instant you move against someone and not with them, the communication is soured and the tether to a foundation in trust and honesty is severed.
To move an adversarial conversation back into the landscape where some type of resolution can occur, at least one party must remain focused on harmonizing with the truth instead of "winning" the conversation.
Everything I listed above from manipulations to projections are tools that weak communicators use to "win". These tools are attempts to distract the communication away from the truth and away from a harmonious resolution.
Weak communicators avoid the truth because it reveals their vulnerabilities, leaving them open to "losing" the conversation. The ironic thing is that strong communicators never view their conversations through the lens of winners and losers.
Strong communicators want the truth to be revealed. They've put ego and personal preference aside, advocating for the truth to arise in whatever form it takes. They trust that the truth underlying the communication will always lead to the best outcomes.
Dishonest, broken communication is a weight I see hanging around so many necks. People bear this burden because they fear the pain of having their vulnerabilities and insecurities revealed.
Jordan Peterson has said that we should pick up something heavy and carry it. Well, this is something I'm willing to carry. I will aim to be the one who focuses on harmonizing with the truth instead of "winning".
Here are my guidelines for proper communication.
1. I don't care for winning, I want harmony.
2. I don't aim for power, I want respect & understanding.
3. I'm not interested in coercion, I want mutually confident agreement.
4. If it can't stand on truth or trust, then it shouldn't stand. Be willing to walk away.
It's innately human to listen and be heard. I believe our ability to understand each other is one of the greatest opportunities for greater alignment.
My message is this: Good or bad we must face the truth, and if you and I have mutual trust, I will walk down the path along side of you.
3. Reactions to politicized commentary are a drag on our energy. Unless our livelihood is intertwined with what is said, avoid giving attention away. Engaging to prove a point that has little meaning for your own life is a usurpation of your self-generated ability to be powerful.
It’s a sleight of hand, a shortcut dealt by the ego to feel smart, ahead of the herd. Do not be led astray by the slow, cunning drip of political morphine.
4. The Great Depression ruined the average American diet for the better part of a century. Real food got expensive. Processed, low quality, cheap alternatives became popular to stretch dollars.
The industrialized food industry grew thru the 40s & 50s, scaling the low quality food that people became accustomed to during the Depression. The food in the center of the grocery store was designed with a Depression mentality, but the marketing changed. It's still pauper food.
5. Movement of the body should regularly provide new stimulus that increases mobility, strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Inadequate movement leads to poor health no matter the age.
Exercise is meant to ride the edge of where your body can and cannot match what the mind is asking of it. I mean this across the physical variants listed above. Not just lifting more weight or running longer distance, but also on a more local scale like controlling scapular position, holding your breath, or balancing on a narrow edge.
Physical exercise builds the connection between what the mind commands and the performance of the body. My own connection between these things does not meet my ideal, but I believe this is the proper way to frame what exercise is and gives me a heading to move towards.
6. Profit Motive
I believe that the economic and financial realities of life strip away much of the artistry, beauty, and soulfulness of our experience. I hold this belief with a degree of skepticism because it may exist as a mask I wear over my own incongruences with our system.
I've always felt a sharp divide between the more beautiful aspects of life and the financial realities, not having been able to bridge the two. The incentive of financial gain doesn't hold high resonance when I compare it with other ideals.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am motivated by financial gain, as most people are. I also don't think there is anything intrinsically bad, wrong, or dirty about financial motivations. It may also be one of the best things that bind us on a collective scale.
People from diverse backgrounds can agree about the story of money. I am not attempting to dissuade anyone from financial motivations. I am making the point that in my n=1 circumstance, financial motivation is subservient to other ideals.
For that reason (among others I'm sure), I find that I don't always vibrate on the same frequency as the "successful" people in business. My ultimate drive, professionally, is to get things done in a way that leads to the most harmonious outcomes.
Confrontation and blame should be foreseen and prevented in every way possible. (I concede this is not always attainable) Good, harmonious outcomes are a first priority and exchange of money is a stipulation to keep the system working benevolently.
My internal incongruence with putting financial motivation at the top of the value hierarchy has put me in contention with the system at times. I avoid the competitive framework that many businesses abide by because it doesn't suit my perspective.
There have been times where I've been blasted with anxiety and frustration when I've had to adopt actions that are motivated by things that don't align with my own motivations. The compromise of my values has led me to leave jobs in the past.
An internal schism becomes apparent when what I feel is right and what is asked to be done do not align in the slightest. I've watch others easily brush this off, but that doesn't come easily to me.
Again, somewhere near the top of my hierarchy of values is harmony. Conflict, both internal and external, that leads to greater harmony is not something I mind. But conflict that leads to greater disharmony sticks in my side like a thorn.
I find myself asking the question, is the incongruence that I feel an inadequacy of my development or an immovable strength? Am I getting in my own way or giving myself a signal? It's not an easy answer to determine, because it might be both.
Harmony is an ideal that I haven't been able to shake off of the pedestal it sits atop in my mind. My actions and sentiments feel connected to this ideal. The feeling of dis-ease that I get from violating this ideal weighs greater than societally imposed ideals, such as financial gain.
What it means is that I have to build something that allows me to remain connected to the ideals that ground me while using the advantages that society has granted. I like to use the analogy of a tree growing along side a river:
The river represents society and the tree represents the grounding ideals of the individual. My purpose is to build a system that allows the roots of the tree to stay watered by the river without the riverbank eroding away and consuming the tree.
1. "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." — Marcel Proust
2. "We are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds." — Hermann Hesse
3. "In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive." — Jordan Peterson
4. “Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages.” — Jed McKenna
Questions that Liberate
Everyone is trying to learn how to be content doing less at home. How are you using this time to do more?