— Great comment from an article I’m reluctant to link to, by Kathleen Parker
How true this is. I know exactly why I procrastinate as a writer. It is because I’m simply afraid I won’t do justice to my piece, that I don’t know enough. Procrastinating is one of the most agonizing of processes. Procrastinating, which for me is compulsively reading articles on the internet or shamefully scanning through E! Online’s “celebrities without makeup”—as I was doing yesterday—or doing easier to complete work tasks that are less urgent, makes me feel immensely guilty and anxious, because as I procrastinate, I have less and less time to write the article. And yet the thing that keeps me interested in writing is the not knowing part of it, the getting to learn new facts and ideas and getting to create a story to help other people understand those facts and ideas in a way that is hopefully interesting to me and to them.
But procrastinating is inevitable and it is one of the worst states I find myself in. The less I can do it, the better I feel, which means confronting my lack of knowledge and embracing failure or uncertainty. As a recovering perfectionist, this can be hard to do.
As psychologist Carol Dweck says in this article, paraphrased by McCardle, “the people who dislike challenges think that talent is a fixed thing that you’re either born with or not. The people who relish them think that it’s something you can nourish by doing stuff you’re not good at.”
Even though I’m often scared of challenges, they are the way in which I stay interested, engaged, and alive. So I count myself in the latter camp, as frustrating as it can be sometimes.
— Excerpt from the Wikipedia entry about the show “Fantasy Island”
1. Everyone you know respects you. This disgusts you.
2. The door is white and the day is hot. This pleases you.
3. A Jewish man believes you are his friend. This disgusts you.
The thing that has taken me so long to believe, even though I’ve known it cerebrally for awhile longer, is that you can’t force your values or opinions on anyone in order that they will convert to your position.*
You can argue your case and try to persuade, and you can advance the kind of change that you and like-minded people support, but the only person you can convince of your values and opinions is yourself. And oftentimes, that’s hard enough.
This is surprisingly a liberating realization.
*Unless you try to set up some kind of fascist government—in which case, in addition to the obvious moral problems, no one will actually share your view, they will just pretend to or convince themselves to in order to live.
This is very interesting:
[P]sychiatrist Paul Gilbert of Kingsway Hospital in England and his colleagues found in 2012 that a fear of happiness correlates highly with depression—but that the dread manifests in numerous ways. “Some people experience happiness as being relaxed or even lazy, as if happiness is frivolous and one must always be striving; others feel uncomfortable if they are not always worrying,” Gilbert says. “It is not uncommon for people to fear that if they are happy about something, it will be taken away.
I can certainly relate.
Time Magazine’s cover article is called The Mindful Revolution, and it suggests that a mindfulness approach is now being embraced by parts of corporate America, as well as more and more Americans. One U.S. Congressman has even helped increase research funding that goes toward clinically studying the efficacy of mindfulness, which is focused on “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis” (Ruth Baer). Through this practice, one can become aware and honest with oneself about the various thoughts racing through one’s mind. Rather than react to that thought by labeling it as “bad,” “toxic,” “shameful,” etc, one just accepts that is the thought one is having. Eventually—at least in my experience—I’ve realized that the thought is just a thought and not an all-powerful force that needs to bring me down or dictate my reaction to a situation. It is a great practice and one I’d highly recommend.
In our modern age, in order to be mindful, one must take a different approach to tools like email, social media, and smartphones that can pull our mind in many different directions. Focus on one email at a time, don’t constantly check email, etc. It’s not easy.
The Time article makes it seem as if mindfulness is becoming popular in corporate America, in places like Google and General Mills. And I hope it is. But I think to really work for a lot of people, mindfulness can’t only be a matter of individual change—though I think that’s important—but also culture change. Companies need to change their expectations about when employees respond to email, parents and schools need to make rules against their kids texting constantly, culturally we need to value a social life that is rich not because of the number of friends we have but the quality of our friendships. Etc.
Individual change is one thing, and it’s an important thing, but any revolution requires social change as well.
-TPM on the indictment of former Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen
How does someone justify spending that much on a wedding when they are so deeply in debt, especially if one is a Republican?