Archive for the ‘Philosophising’ Category

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 21, 2019

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

 

(Or, to put it another way, we are who we, and our identity/identities, says we are.  Our views about ourself shapes us fully.  And so actively cultivating an identity that matches our authentic self is therefore very much of prime importance to living a great life…)

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 14, 2019

Often the most frustrating things

About a tragedy –

Whether one unfolding,

One yet to come,

Or one done and gone;

Whether personal,

Or of a nation,

Or of the planet;

Whether solid,

Or existential;

No matter the type –

Are the twin responses

Proffered by many:

 “It doesn’t/won’t make any difference to MY life”

Or

“It had nothing to do with me, it just happened.”

 

Indifference and lack of accountability

Are the two most destructive traits

Of humanity.

 

We have the capacity to care.

Empathy and responsibility

Are two of our most beautiful traits

When we choose to employ them.

 

It can be so easy,

Instinctual even,

To close our eyes and pretend

It’s not our problem,

And that things that affect others

Are somehow beneath our care.

 

Yet, we desire others to be there for us

When tragedy strikes.

Why do we try to have it both ways?

 

We are rapidly running out of time

On so many things.

And, really, little is truly

Independent from us.

It comes around to affect us eventually.

 

Now is the time

To engage our hearts,

Our empathy,

Our compassion,

And unleash our finest traits.

Before we are no more.

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 7, 2019

It is always worth remembering that,

just as cruelty and mistrust can spread,

so too can love and kindness.

 

(adapted from John Green)

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 30, 2019

“Management’s traditional assumption is that employees are recalcitrant and irresponsible. As a result, they design both equipment technologies and organizational technologies to ensure compliance, minimize employees’ scope of discretion, and reduce their reliance on employees’ skills. And management should then not be surprised when employees respond by apathy and antagonism — a result which in turn comforts management in their initial assumption that employees are recalcitrant and irresponsible.”

Paul Simon Adler (emphasis mine)

 

(This is such a great reminder.  When we approach people as jerks (or etc), we very much tend to get jerks back.  We are leaving them no other avenues for expression.  And then when we, surprise surprise, get jerk back we get that little rush because, by gosh we were right, and thus we totally get to justify our initial jerk interaction.

It is well worthy to be mindful of this downward spiral, not only in the field of business* but everywhere else in our lives as well: friends, family members, our children, people on our sports teams, hobby acquaintances, supermarket clerks, people at the DMV… and even beyond to those of differing groups, views, upbringings, social status, origins, life experiences… The list goes forever on.  No matter whom, it remains that when we relate to another or a group of others as a particular way, that’s what tends to come back to us.

Our listening is incredibly powerful.  When we listen to people as small, we get just that.  When we choose to listen to someone from and as an empowering place, the possibilities for great things opens wide.)

 

* The quote itself comes from a research paper looking into the NUMI plant, which was a closed GM plant that was re-opened as a so-called venture with Toyota, although really it more or less was a case of having Toyota run the joint.  Prior to shutdown, the plant had been a poor performer, with lots of employee trouble.  Upon re-opening, nearly all the employees were re-hires.   Under Toyota’s management style (which involved a very different “management vs worker” dynamic), the plant’s productivity, quality, and profit rose tremendously, employee turnover and sick days dropped, and worker satisfaction reached towards the nineties.

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 23, 2019

“It taught me – it gave me greater appreciation and understanding for the present moment. By that, I mean not being lost in thought, not being distracted, not being overwhelmed by difficult emotions but instead learning how to be in the here and now, how to be mindful, how to be present.

I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary. And yet, we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.

“I remember getting told off once at the monastery. So I was a very naughty monk.  I can’t even remember now why. I think I’d read a book or something in the library that I wasn’t supposed to read or something. And I was given a task to do, and it was to cut the grass. And it was to cut the grass with a pair of scissors. Now, at the time when I was doing it, at least for the first kind of hour or two of doing that, in my mind, I was just busy talking to myself. This is ridiculous. This is crazy… So stupid, la-la-la-la…

And really kind of just building up a lot of frustration and anger. It was entirely my own kind of doing, that stuff. And I was kind of creating this tension in the mind and in my body. And at some stage, I think I remember just kind of just laughing to myself at the absurdity of it. But through having let go of that storyline and having let go of that tension, all of a sudden, I was kind of released from that story.

And all of a sudden, it actually became quite a pleasant activity. So it’s a really good example of how, look, the activity is what it was. I got to define the experience of that activity by how I was relating to it with my mind. And so in the monastery, you’re constantly kind of challenged. You know, if you’re sweeping the floor are you sweeping the floor whilst thinking about something else that happened in the past or looking to the future, hoping something will happen in the future? Or are you simply present with the sound and the sensation of the broom?

And it’s such a simple idea. But if it’s done sort of repeatedly over time, then it has a really sort of transformative effect on the mind.”

—-

“And I sometimes think that, in our search for happiness, we make so much noise – if not externally, in our own mind – that actually we miss the very thing that we were looking for and we realized that, oh, actually it was here all along. So I sometimes worry about this kind of search for happiness or trying to be more happy. And that, for me – I can only speak from my own experience – but the framework of meditation was so useful where there isn’t really this idea of trying to be happy. It’s more simply creating a framework where we let go of all the things that bring us unhappiness.”

Andy Puddicombe (emphasis mine)

 

(Lots of great stuff, and I especially like that last bit – searching for happiness or trying to force happiness is often not particularly all that useful or productive.  It’s throwing happiness icing on top of a mud pie.  There’s still so much mud there, that it’s nothing but a fragile veneer (that, probably, creates more mud of resentment that lies on top of the icing).  What mindfulness, being present, and ontological inquiry and discovery allows is to recognize and let go of that which is making the mud within us.  To get rid of the mud.  Clear the plate, and allow the happiness (and joy, fulfilment, etc) to rise up naturally – and authentically – from our own self-expression.

Also, I very much like and it totally deserves being doubly highlighted: “And yet, we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.”)

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 16, 2019

When being present to your Calculating Self, versus that of your Authentic Self, it is important to know and remember one thing:  The calculating self does not care about your happiness.

Not one bit.  It only cares about survival.  Not whether you like it.  Or are happy.  Or fulfilled.  Or energized.   Or empowered.  Doesn’t care.  It only cares about continuation of one thing: its own.  It will fight tooth and nail to stay intact, to keep its world views and patterns unchanged.

It has survived this situation once, why would it do something different?  Just do the same thing again, and you will make it out the other side.  Your experience of life suck?  Your authentic self doesn’t like it?  It doesn’t care!  This is the sure thing.  It knows that you will survive.  So it pushes you to do it again.

Thrive in life?  Feh, it doesn’t care.  Just survive.  Trapped in a rut you don’t want?  Doesn’t care, just survive.  Do things that are unproductive?  Doesn’t care, just do same thing again, it knows the outcome, you will survive.  Want to walk down sunnier roads?  NOPE!  Going to resist, that’s dangerous territory.  Stay the course, you will survive.

The calculating self is great for, well, calculating things.  It can warn us and aid us and oh yes, help us survive.  But it’s one-dimensional.  It doesn’t have a care for the wholistic being we are.  And there are times where it’s directions will not help us get what or where we want.

The more we are present, the more in tune we become with our Central/Authentic selves, and the more we cease to cede complete control to our Calculating selves, the more we gain freedom to walk the paths of our own choosing, paths towards countless new possibilities for both us and all those around us.

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 9, 2019

Let’s talk about shame.

Always a great conversation starter, I know!  But it’s important.  Because I think we’ve been misapplying shame, both towards ourselves and, more critically, towards others.

Firstly, in the collapse between shame and guilt.  For they are not the same.  To use Brené Brown’s succinct description: “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake?” How many of you would be willing to say that? Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake.” *

Quite the difference there.  Guilt is I did something bad.  Shame is I am bad.  And if we are bad, as in intrinsically, inherently, certifiably, bad, then… what else can we expect to do?  Of course we’ll do bad things.  We’re bad.  We have evidence of it.  There’s not even any point in trying to change either, or if we do try, it’s going to be hard because changing who we are is hard, right?

Shame does not make us better.  It may make us reflect, but it gives us no path: “Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders.

[But] Here’s what you even need to know more: Guilt is inversely correlated with those things. The ability to hold something we’ve done, or failed to do, up against who we want to be is incredibly adaptive. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s adaptive.”

Shame drives disconnection.  It only serves to turn us into little bags of bad, trying our best to hide that badness from the world until it becomes to great a burden and we lash out.

Shame drives unproductive behaviours.  We get trapped in our realms of badness and act accordingly.  We know ourselves and the world as a pile of not worthy, and get hijacked by little or large actions trying to regain status, agency, or some sort of high ground.

Shame begets shame.  We harden ourselves and begin to see threats all around.  We are not free to invent or to create as we try to make up for, hide, avoid, or justify that for which we feel shame.  Our minds are not clear, peaceful.

Going back to what Brené asked, “if you did something that was…” and fill in the blank there.  Because we’ve all done hundreds if not thousands of things that, in hindsight, we wouldn’t have wanted to do.  Knew we shouldn’t have done.  That are not the behaviour we want to engage in, not the actions we want to do, not who we – the true, central, authentic self we – want to be.  Be it incidents of major import or small moments of interaction with a stranger, we’ve got them in our past.

And when we can look upon those thousands and bring guilt to the situations, then we gain access to moving forward.  We gain the freedom to make amends, apologize, look deep within, and step into possibilities.  To become who we authentically wish to be.

That’s big for us, as individuals.

The issue is that we peddle in shame.  We weaponize it.  We point it at others and launch it, with “Name and shame” being the tactic of the day.  “Nuke them from orbit… it’s the only way to be sure.”

Besides being a diversion tactic** it is immensely unproductive.  Turning people willy-nilly into bad people does no one any favours.  It elicits defensiveness, fosters rancor, and demeans and devalues. It does nothing but foist onto others the very straitjacket we’ve been talking about above.

If the intent truly is to bring accountability through shaming, it is completely ineffective.

Pointing out bad behaviour through guilt, though, is fine.  It can work.  Guilt is adaptive.  It leaves room for growth.  And as we learn to shift ourselves to bring guilt and ownership into our personal lives we also begin to learn how to bring guilt and accountability towards others.  We learn how to speak to unsavoury, unethical, and unscrupulous actions and behaviours such that guilt, and not shame, is what arises.

And while it may seem strange to try to make people feel guilty, it is a far cry less strange than shame-throwing.  The less we bury ourselves under piles of shame, the less alone we feel, the less hostile things become, and there even grows an invitation to apologize (which is what we all want, really), to transform (which we also all want), to own up and make things right (also something we all want), and ultimately to move forward towards a more perfect future.

 

* She also provides two additional definitions for Embarrassment and Humiliation.  Humiliation is a kind of proto-shame where you don’t feel you deserve the shame/humiliation.  Embarrassment is usually fleeting, and can be funny.  Unlike shame, it is characterized by a feeling of not being alone, and that it doesn’t need to define us.  If you can tell others about it, it’s likely embarrassment.

**  And it very much is used a smokescreen: “If I get everyone else in a shame mode, no one will see my flaws!”   This fear of “being found out” is 100% the definition of having shame.