Sunday, July 31, 2011


This is the one in my series of ten that I have been most dreading. I have one to come on Beauty that has a similar problem, that is a brand identity problem as an attribute to be attracted to and to cherish. But at least with Beauty the thinking individual can see a vocal body of protesters out there contending the traditional interpretation.

But intelligence? Fewer buck the conventional interpretation of intelligence and many carry around the preconception that if I were to say 'I find intelligence attractive' they would think of being good at maths and debating and school and shit.

Alternatively people would also find this statement the conventional 'lip-service' treatment of intelligence, one of those qualities you miraculously find wherever you happen to want to find it. If the girl is hot, she is suddenly also intelligent, and has a big pair of 'personalities'.

So fuck that, fuck that shit. Under either convention I don't find intelligence attractive (but do find hot girls hot). But rather than say what intelligence isn't let me say what it is with some distinctions and then all these below, what follows I find attractive, if you are capable of putting them in a gift hamper in your mind and calling it intelligence then I guess I would find that attractive.

So firstly, there's the smart kind of dumb and the dumb kind of smart. A lot of people that make me hesitate most when describing intelligence as desirable are the smart kind of dumb. They have extensive vocabularies, are often informed of topical events and capable of useful work. Yet they tend towards having a lot of faith in 'intellectual-constructs' that don't really exist.

The dumb kind of smart for example, take as an article of faith things like 'what's good for business is good for everyone.' and 'these rules were designed to protect us.' and even 'religion does more harm than good.' and 'schools are educational.' that sort of thing. They are often well adapted to their present environment having landed there through near darwinian natural selection, but like a dinosaur, even while being perfectly suited to their current environment have a brain the size of a walnut that is incapable of the ability to imagine an ice age, or adapt to any dramatic changes.

Unattractive, by contrast the smart kind of dumb, the archetype idealised in movies like 'Forrest Gump' don't really need to know anything specific, are not particularly invested in any idea or way of life yet show remarkable wisdom and an ability to surprise that facilitates the much more attractive quality of 'humor'.

One of the most attractive people in the world to me thought that if I left the fan on at night all the oxygen in my room would be eaten and I'd die and that if my fever reached over 100 degrees my sperm would die forever and I'd be unable to have children. The dubious medical knowledge was hilarious and relatively unimportant (neither I nor my future children have died yet) but she is one of the most intelligent people I know, whom I would readily go to for advice on numerous topics.

For one thing, I am attracted to people who posess critical thought and a healthy dose of skepticism, that can entertain the possibility that their knowledge is incomplete, that they are able to be surprised. They need not be obsessively so, like on the point of some mental breakdown wondering how to truly be skepticle about skepticism, it is more the attitude that they operate on assumptions much of the time not real knowledge. They don't get offended when the stark truth of reality crushes some belief of their's underfoot.

The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. ~ Mark Twain

I have been told that I often comport myself with much epistemic arrogance, or at least don't show enough epistemic humility, I blame it as a hangover from debating which teaches you to speak authoritatively on subjects you know nothing about - but this was told to me by people who show a great degree of epistemic humility, and these are people I would describe as the elusive and rare 'smart kind of smart'. This humility as regards ones own knowledge (epistemic is the shmancy greek word for knowledge) is an attractive quality to possess.

Another trait that is intelligent is simple curiosity if for no other reason than curious people tend to find you interesting. Think of the last party you were at where you were talking to somebody with an occupation completely at odds with your own (or perhaps the appropriate term is 'irrelevant'?) that really grilled you on the nature of your profession, what you enjoy, what the challenges are etc. You liked them didn't you. You were flattered by their fascination. You found it easy to suddenly talk about how fascinating it is to try and find an open source program that can be adapted to ship unique warehouse items without RDI tags.

I'm told I am bad at flirtation, largely because my mindset is 'what's the point' I had an incident with Shonesy at a chinese restaurant where a girl I let out from the table our party was blocking was flirting with me and my witty banter. But I was all like 'alright, goodbye' with my back to her. Thinking that was nice, but you never pick up anyone who is leaving the restaurant you are still eating at. (which in the spirit of epistemic humility probably isn't true) And Shona told me off, I was like 'what's the point? I'm not going to pick her up?' and Shona rightly pointed out that that's not the point. If someone is flirting you flirt back, even when nothings going to happen.

Curiously and inconsistently, I am always interested in other people's work, even if it has nothing in common with mine. I love talking with people about their field of expertise. I don't go 'what's the point? I'll never have to weld boilers.' as a devotee of Heiho (the shmancy Japanese word Musashi uses to describe 'the way') my knowledge is largely generalised and analogous and I'm always looking for new ways to connect ideas and convince myself that the premis of heiho: by truly knowing one thing, you know all things, is true or at least plausible.

So curiosity and skepticism I find attractive, even from illiterate and inarticulate people. But there is a third aspect in the tri-force of what I would call 'intelligence' if it were to be interpreted the same way by everyone else that like Link's courage perhaps overcomes the other two -

Reason, and specifically a persons ability to learn. It is the most attractive aspect of intelligence, it's something ideally you would want not just in everyone you've ever met, but everyone you haven't met as well. Reason is attractive because it allows one to adapt their behaviour, it makes a person capable of change, it is the very opposite of the walnut-brained dinosaur. These people are worth giving a second, third, fourth and fifth chance.

People capable of employing reason, to overcome their emotional brain when it is letting them down, these people can entertain hypothesis, project them into the future and learn from the deviations (mistakes) they make. If past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, people who can give over to their rational mind and overcome their fears, addictions, misconceptions, assumptions etc. are the most capable of surprising us and delighting us.

This, this tri-force of skepticism, curiosity and reason - that's what intellgence should mean in your mind but doesn't. We confuse the details with the picture. Intelligence is an approach rather than a body of knowledge, if they have the bookshelf and the means to stack it, I care little about the poxyness of the current collection.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug,—push it a little—crowd it a little—weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand. ~ Mark Twain

To me a persons ability to laugh and make me laugh is so obviously attractive it barely needs to be extrapolated upon.

Did you know children are naturally drawn to adults who will tickle them?

Probably the one great force that threatens us most often throughout our lives, threatening to crush us into our graves is boredom. But when you are in the presence of somebody funny, the most dreary godforsaken shit hole can be fun.

I didn't even know I had a 'type' until I was already 18, that was when I dated the first girl that made me laugh. I fell in love with her so quickly, she called me up to ask me out and then I asked where we should go out to. She said 'The Pancake Parlour?' and that was it.

She called the remote control 'the travolta' and acted if it made sense, and her peadophile name was 'Mrs. Bubbles' which may seem disturbing, but we lived in Ballarat and you never know when you'll need one of these things for a job interview.

Then there's people who just appreciate humour. One girl I loved made me truly laugh only a handful of times in the 3 years we dated. One involved her impersonation of a Cornish woman, you would have had to be there. But still it was good to just sit around in the mornings watching cartoons, and homestar runner and we still share a mutual appreciation of the innocent childish humour that populates the better offerings of TV and the internet.

I don't find myself funny as a general rule. It's impossible like tickling yourself but I have picked up older pieces of my writing and glimpsed what other people seem to see in me - 'a magnificent douchebag' maybe. But being able to make somebody else laugh, I mean we are surrounded by sultry come hither looking models on pages of glossy magazines, it is not the look I enjoy evoking most, it is not the look that I find most attractive. Laughter is.

And having said all that could be said on this topic without going into a very, very white analysis, there is nothing so important to me in seeking a potential partner than their effortless ability to make me laugh.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Perhaps I should have clarified earlier that I don't hold myself up as a paragon of any of these qualities I've been writing about, I do aspire to have them though. For example my views on religion often bring me into the sphere of intolerence, as with my views on economics and finance, my kindness I feel is nurtured rather than my nature and a relatively recent development of the past 5-6 years. But honesty - this I feel I can say is part of my nature and something that I (often painfully) beholden myself too.

And I find it attractive too. I find dishonesty unattractive, confusing and upsetting. I do talk a lot of shit, for example I often grossly misrepresent Ballarat's character as my home town, being a place where white folk marry their cousins, brush their hair with a fork and 'chaw tabacco. Whereas Ballarat in reality is a beautiful mono-cultured town more akin to an Eastern Suburb of Melbourne than a set of Deliverence.

So hypocritically, I tell tall tales all the time. But honesty for me is about maintaining the essential integrity where it counts.

Genetically I owe my very existence to my ancestors and for better or worse every coupling that preceded the birth of my parents created the opportunity for me to be alive, but as it's told my maternal Grandfather when courting my Grandmother promised her diamonds and pearls and all manner of luxuries he could never deliver to win her hand in marriage. Once one he slapped her on his wedding night and told her he was the boss, and thus my mother grew up in a miserable and disfunctional household thanks to a time and place where to accept somebodies misrepresentation of themselves was an intractable error that severely reduced my Grandmothers quality of life for some half a century.

But the genes at least can recover and I grew up in a happy home. But my Grandfather's attempt to make a lie of himself probably still effects me even though he is a distant stranger of time to me and subsequently the one time I proposed to somebody I made sure I fairly represented that I have nothing, and can't guaruntee I'll have any more. (She said no, but probably not because of that and reasons more cultural/geographic in nature her own father was a house husband - that's the life for me, alas).

Similarly looking outwards I was fortunate to be born with a straightforward sexual preference, and given the tragic intolerence of the world was not presented with probably the most justifiable reason for living a lie across the developed world. I used to feel insulted by closeted homosexuals, bisexuals etc. as far as I felt I could know better their sexuality than they did (which sometimes was possibly true) and it was a long overdue lesson that the feelings of a liberal snob like me are insignificant compared with the consequences of staying in the closet or coming out to a person's relationship with their parents.

My personal values, and if I had a personal choice - the threat of disownment that might serve to keep me in the closet would be pointless, if my family couldn't live with me as I was and expect me to live a convenient lie for them, they were disowning me anyway. Of course their are concerns that are practical as well... but any lie is a problem, it needs to be fed in order to be maintained.

This is equally so for lying about your capabilities or qualifications in your job interview, or about your interest in cars for the sake of a friendship, or about taking a sick day. Honesty simultaneously makes life more effortless and harder.

There is something fundamentally courageous about honesty, being willing to lose a job rather than promise something you can't deliver, or lose your parents rather than restrict your social and sexual preferences, or lose a friendship rather than lie about the nature of it. And it's hard, it exacts a toll financially, physically and emotionally.

But the decision making is easy - tell the truth. I asked one of my bisexual friends whether he'd come out to his parents and how they had reacted, and he illustrated the hardships and benefits of honesty beautifully 'I have, and now that's their problem.'

I guess that is one line you need to draw with telling the truth - you are responsible for what you said. If you tell your boyfriend you don't love them anymore, you are responsible for telling them that. How they (and the world) reacts is their responsibility.

But people who show such integrity when it is hard to tell the truth shall ever be cherished by me. Honest people's words have currency - their compliments mean something, their feedback is instructive and their nature cannot be denied. You can lie about a lier, but somebody honest is hard to not accept.

Furthermore people who are honest with themselves carry the hope that they can actually change, people who lie to themselves don't inspire this optimism in me. I take the view that no matter how rosey somebodies life seems, they will have problems and in some way we are all broken by something. We are social animals and the web too intricate for any tragedy to happen in isolation.

The key difference between the friends I cherish and admire and the friends that remain mere aquantences is whether they have acknowledged themselves as broken and are trying to fix it, or whether they think the world is broken and collapsing on them.

Lastly, you can only really appreciate the value of an honest friend when you do not trust yourself.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Okay an easy and thus potentially boring post. Let's be optimistic shall we and spice things up with an ANECDOTE!!!

So once riding shotgun in the car of a friend and boyfriend of a friend I overheard a semi-passive aggressive conversation/makings of an arguement. I being one of those blessed people whom know that people always want me to volunteer my opinion even when unasked for gave my friend (and friend's boyfriend) some advice on picking battles and giving feedback taken from management advice dispensed by manager-tools podcasts.

I recieved several opinions in return and some feedback on how relationships aren't management. To which their are many merits to this point - management is pretty unromantic, unexciting and rote. I would never advocate a relationship be 'managed' per se. Perhaps my mistake was in revealing my sources.

The manager-tools podcasts could be described by a pie-chart I can't be bothered drawing as consisting of 80% feedback the 'breakfast, lunch, dinner of champions' and given so much airplay I can't help but have the feedback model and 'behavioural' approach to relationships dominate my world view.

Why I offered the feedback model up as unsolicited advice was that it describes behaviour, and not attitudes, intentions etc. Thus it neatly removes 'judgement'.

Can you see yet, why I raise an anecdote about confusing management and relationships yet? Particularly in a post on the attractive quality of tolerance.

Early in my working suit days I had the revelation that the real first hurdle of 'management' was whether you could accept the notion that other people think differently than you do. Many are called managers in this sunburt country, few are. Again there's an importance in not confusing behaviour with titles.

And that's the essence of tolerance, it is being able to recognise that other people have different priorities, circumstances, beliefs etc and that its okay. I don't like going negative but it is easier to make a point of how unattractive intolerant people are by contrast though tolerance is a positive quality to be beheld.

One sure fire way to disenchant yourself to me is in how you treat the help, more so than any other situation that arises, when I witness people abusing a waiter (or if you are an intolerant person you may refer to this as making a 'resonable complaint') over some inconvenience I say 'never again' and have generally stuck to it. I am myself fairly non-confrontational in customer service situations, but people who abuse airline clerks, waiters, fast food employees and the like evoke a super un-sexy sense of entitlement and overinflated sense of self worth.

Intolerant people interpret slights against their honor and violations of their rights where there are none, and work up emotions in themselves that are unwarranted, who wants these people around when there is really bad news.

There is a stupidity to intolerance as well, they are the person who bleats out what we are all thinking, not in a courageous manner, but when we are stuck in line for hours feel the need to make a show of saying 'this is ridiculous'.

Enter the hero of this piece, the tolerant person. This person makes an effort to empathise, to understand and does not judge. They don't impose their internal reality on the external one. When the map doesn't match the ground, the map is wrong. These people you can productively have an argument with, because they are willing to accept that they don't know everything.

In practice tolerant people are incredibly hard to have an argument with, because they don't wrap their ego up in their position. They create a space for interpersonal movement, they remove conflict from your environment, it doesn't mean they are a pushover they just create a means by which you can give and recieve kindness.

Tolerant people are the people to go travelling with, they bend like a reed and don't snap like a twig. They can forgive a place for not meeting their expectations and go with it. They will try new dishes, eat with their hands, and take their shoes off in holy places, even if they are vested in not believing.

A tolerant person is an attractive employee, they are the ones who will notice that some folks are listeners and others are readers (think about whether your friends prefer phone calls generally or whether they prefer texts and emails) they will know that some people care about tasks and some people care about people. They will know some are boisterous and outgoing and some are reserved and observant. And they will accomodate all as much as they can.

I mean a relationship is not about 'settling' or compromise, nor should it be based on some kind of give-and-take power struggle. Like tolerance is not about overlooking the things that make somebody unpleasant to deal with. Tolerance needs it's limits, it is not passivity, it is not 'roll-over-and-tickle-my-belly' it is simply an expression of confidence that you don't need to defend and enforce your world view from a hostile world. It is a refusal to be hostile. A tolerant person generally I have observed won't tolerate intolerance. That is one battle they tend to pick.

Perhaps the best way to surmise the admirable and attractive trait of tolerance is to really look hard at the sentance: they have a sense of priorities.

That is tolerant people can sense others priorities. They will understand when somebody is berieved that that is the focus of their world, just as they won't cut in line because they can sense that everyone else has the same priority to get themselves served. Most importantly their sense of your priorities means they don't take things personally, even when they perhaps should.

Furthermore they have a sense of their own priorities. To the intolerant person I suspect their priorities are hard to rank. All priorities are one, a tolerant person can at least differentiate between their wants and needs. 'I would like the last piece of pizza but I don't really need it.'

Tolerance is subsequently easy to understand as an attractive quality in a manager, friend or partner - would you rather choose to spend time with somebody who knows they want you or with somebody who thinks they need you?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


As alluded to in the first post on Kindness, this list of values is not my own, and todays topic - Loyalty is probably one of the more contentious ones yet nevertheless hopefully is therefore ergo vis a vis of some interest to write about.

To me it's contentious because I generally don't advocate loyalty as a life plan - particularly to: organisations, disfunctional families, religious institutions, sporting teams and shitty bands.

My problem with loyalty is that often it is sold as this one way virtue - you should be loyal, a philosophy that permeates Japanese culture, devote yourself to the company/country because that's what good people do and we won't necessarily give you anything in return. It also happens to be this very manifestation of loyalty that is buffetting the countries culture currently with the advent of generational change.

Yet fundamentally loyalty is desirable, security is experience tells me an illusion, yet the optimist in me drives me to seek it somewhat. You want a relationship that is at some fundamental core, reliable and predictable. It's this brand of loyalty that kind of underpins the Classical Economists vs. Keynesian debate.

For example, classical economists being rational morons always expected prices and wages to be flexible, Keynes observed that generally people are reluctant to lower their wages or their prices - that seems a backwards step and they are trying to move forward. The Keynesian promoted reasons as to why prices (& wages) were rigid downwards (that is they can move up easily, but never down) and one of them was the fact that all people need to make some kind of plans for the future.

So rather than renegotiate the terms of our employment day to day, not knowing if we will earn tomorrow what we did today (and thus not being able to form any long term plans) we enter contracts that stipulate our hourly wages, our term of employment how often our wages will be reviewed (implicitly upwards) etc. thus enabling us to take loans, have children and other long term plans that require at least an illusion of security to take those risks.

Sticking with the economics debate analogy for one more paragraph - the Classicists do have a point though, many recessions theoretically would be easier to deal with if prices and wages and everything else were perfectly flexible, that is if we didn't look for loyalty and fairness in our institutions and employers and instead could meekly accept sacrifices for the greater good. Such flexibility is more able to deal with the inevitable change that volatile markets and unpredictable environments bring, the fundamental unpredictability that makes all security an illusion - but to draw the lines for you - just as there will ever be a debate about flexibility and security in how we structure our economy, the debate between being loyal and self-respect (or not being exploited) is an ongoing personal one we all have to answer for ourselves.

But I have to concede there is something magnificent about those who choose to be loyal, security may be an artificial intellectual construct, but we live in another one anyway - society. Both are illusions, but illusions and dreams are where the party is at. Think of people you know that are loyal, there is that lovable stupidity of optimism in loyalty, they assume their loyalty will be rewarded BUT they don't necessarily expect it. And that's courageous, another correlation, the loyal's heart is made for breaking, they trust enough to be dissappointed and exploited.

With a healthy normal level of narcissism, you can't help but love the loyal, and feel guilty at any inability to reciprocate. The people that consistently make an effort to turn up to your crappy parties even though they aren't the person you were really hoping would come. Those that allow your workplace culture to get a foothold and grow into some kind of surrogate family. Those that are simply present.

Loyal people are dear, and precious and rare and should be looked after.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Ooooooooooooooooooooohh tough one. It's easier to launch into a diatribe of wht doesn't constitute courage, which I mean may be valid because I can think of plenty of contexts where courage is overused - say newspapers, sports broadcasts and the military.

A lot of currency has probably gone out of this word as hero status is bequethed on people who undertake the normal risks to be expected of their job. Some jobs contain more risks than others to be sure, but that is not really a quality of character that makes somebody attractive so much as a fetish for somebody in uniform.

So it's voluntary courage, a demonstrable ability for somebody to step out of their comfort zone and do something with no particular compulsion to do so.

Our society cannot ask the person on the street to run into a burning building on the chance somebody might be trapped inside, it can put this down as an obligation in a job description and that is a chief distinction between real courage and a tough job. An extreme distinction to be sure.

I am attracted to people who are courageous in their principals, who apologise when they are not obliged to. Who stand up for people that are unpopular to defend, who risk social scorn and embarassment to do what is right.

A simple but effective model of learning is to draw two concentric circles one within the other, the small inner circle is the comfort zone. The larger outer one is not, we learn by occupying the non-comfort zone until it becomes comfortable and then both circles expand.

And similar to kindness, courage makes life easier. I like people who stick up for themselves almost as much as I like people who stick up for others. There's no time I loath myself more than when my moral courage fails, there's no time I love a girl more than when she is telling me what I did wrong.

Just as everyone wants some kind of shelter to sleep in, somebody with courage breeds courage in me. Courageous people are good to have around, to set examples.

Furthermore like the optimist (and all these traits tend to correlate) they make things possible. No two people on earth would ever get together if one didn't have the courage to approach the other. In that way it is one of the most fundamental qualities of attraction.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I recently wrote about optimism already this month possibly. I don't know. I'm optimistic though I can revisit it again because it's in this series of ten most attractive attributes.

Pessimists are rarely dissappointed and a source of almost constant dissappointment to me. Largely because they pretty much gauruntee failure. My life recently and rapidly progressed from exciting to daunting, and I was going to have micro-meltdown when in a timely and serendipitous matter I had Mark Twain's quote shoved in my ears 'Often I have felt sad at my lack of success, but never have a I felt ashamed of trying.' this is the cold hard beauty of optimism.

Easily dismissed as unrealistic, optimism has as its price dissappointment. The fridge of my soul is stocked to overflowing with the ingredients of dissappointment and heartache, but these are also the same core ingredients of great joy and accomplishment.

It makes sense that our evolutionary history has allowed indivduals to survive that greatly overestimate their odds of success. People who opperate on the assumption that they can and will succeed carry their own kind of exciting energy, momentum that crushes dissappointment under foot.

I used to be obsessed philosophically with 'why?' until one of my more influential mentors pointed out the really exciting concept was 'how?' and my life permanantly shifted for the better in the direction of how. The mentor was Rod the training manager at my former job, and conversations with him were some of the most humbling I ever enjoyed.

That's the audacity of how, the energy that is exciting and enamouring and beautiful to be around. It springs from kindness too, for to suspend your disbelief that something can be done or not and just assume it will is one of the kindest and most reassuring things people can do.

Almost daily I encounter people who hold far more belief in my abilities than I do, and it feeds me. It makes me doubt my doubt, and if you have never had the experience of walking into somebodies office with a seemingly insurmountable problem and just had them launch into a discussion of all the options and possibilities and how to get it done, you have been missing out on the sexiness of optimism.

Then there's the simpler and more pragmatic view of being optimistic about people, it is probably the easiest thing in the world to find fault in others, to do so astutely and expect the worst. It is as such not an admirable skill.

It is more difficult to find reasons to believe in other people, to expect the most and be confident in them. I have friends that reason makes me feel that they will ultimately break my heart. There is no profit though in expecting this, so I hope for the best, I look for the signs that they will in fact turn around. I have one friend I spoke to recently that I could have written off years ago, but those qualities that first drew me to him won out in the long run and now it makes me intensely happy to see what he has done with himself.

Profit = Reward for Risk, and where risks are highest is where the profit lies. The optimist ultimately has a loveable kind of greed, an insatiable appetite for the big profits and thus ignore the collosal risks - except they aren't even.

Optimists don't take the kind of mindless risks that may hurt some body, they are more the people that humbly bet pennies to win dollars. Pessimists fearing the odds of failure tend more to bet their dollars to gain a slow trickle of pennies.

Tomorrow belongs to the dreamers, it always has. Many optimists will enjoy a steady diet of dissappointment, but this is more than counterbalanced by the sheer infectious joy of living in a world of dreams.


In an attempt to gather momentum on writing again, I'm going to write a post about 10 of the most attractive qualities people can have. It isn't my own list, but just my reflections on them.

Starting with kindness. There are many and varied views on kindness, altruism and why as social animals it seems important to us and why those who wax nostalgic about the good old days seem to feel it is short supply. I find the pursuit of genuine 'altruism' the purely selfless act a pursuit not worth bothering with. Just be kind, be kind, make an effort to be kind.

There are two broad views on kindness and generosity. Here they are in summation:

"The only true generosity is that rendered on an ingrate" these words I paraphrase from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, whose book I read recently, not recent enough to remember the exact wording, and I'm too tired to go look it up. But basically this is the view of 'pure' altruism, not giving to recieve. But I have to say when I am kind to an ingrate or in a more long term sense have to dish out tough love, the kind of treatment where you have to refrain from the condescention of 'one day you'll thank me for it' I still get a satisfying sense of bemusement. I think even being nice to somebody rude, reprehensible or worse is not truly a selfless act.

The second type is garden variety altruism, it is where you do a favor to build good will and you can assume, (but not expect as granted) kindness in return.

Overarching this you can take a type of Karmic view that kindness and altruism will be rewarded through a vast web, and not necessarily directly by those aspects where you exerted your good deeds. Thus you be kind to somebody awful who doesn't appreciate it, and be rewarded by somebody else who does, for observing your efforts. Or you can be kind to somebody who does appreciate it, but cannot practically return the favor and be rewarded by somebody else who can.

I probably take the view of all three, just to be safe. But I will refrain from any further talk about being kind, generous, charitable or altruistic for the positive returns it may generate.

Fact is every interaction you have with anybody will leave you feeling either a little better or a little worse. Kindness is the conscious effort to make sure anybody who interacts with you feels better.

Because life is hard, life is fucking hard and brutal and unfair. Life has a way of stressing and burdening people who enjoy abundant material resources, our social dependance and need for interaction means no matter what company we keep we are never in control of all we care about.

But we are in control of ourselves, and we can direct our behaviour to make other people's lives easier. Where and when we find opportunities present themselves.

Take for example a bus ride from a city to a country town. You sit down next to somebody, you can pretend they aren't there, aren't a person, don't exist and absorb yourself in a book, shut out the world with head phones or just gaze out a window at the country side. Or you can acknowledge them. It doesn't require a conversation, nor much energy, nor does it come naturally to all of us. But it can be done. And it is a kindness.

Or I recall Brenton taught me in year 8 or 9, in an enlightening lesson to be kind to employees of a business. I always put my notes and coins down on the counter, the employee of McDonalds or whatever would pick them up, count them out and put them in the register. Brenton one day told me 'pick it up, and hand it to them.' and I have done so ever since. A small kindness.

Shona taught me that people are interesting, and started me on my path to learning how to actually listen (I am still in the steep part of that learning curve), unlike Brenton there was no direct incident. This was the product of years of observing. I could never get why Shona enjoyed socialising so much, always wanted to go to parties. If I suggested we catch up, inevitably it would be seized upon and hijacked into some multiple social engagement rather than one on one, as I intended. Eventually I deduced that while I could stand back and deduce whether I was interested in somebody or not (I don't mean romantically, I mean, interested-period) it was actually far more interesting to ask people what they thought of themselves. There is a disparity between what can be observed and overheard about a person, and who that person thinks they are. And no part alone makes the whole picture. Giving people a chance to speak for themselves and contribute to your impression of them again is a (not so simple) kindness.

Then there are the more obvious forms of kindness: helping somebody move house evidently makes their lives easier, less stressful and more social. Bringing cake to work makes people momentarily happier. Raising money for charity, makes people feel noticed, feel good and helps a charity. Volunteering etc.

But what is the attraction to kindness? 5+ years ago, I thought it was always obvious who I was romantically interested in - they were the only person I was nice to. It was better than being an arsehole to everybody, I guess but insufficient. The attraction to kindness for me, is that it breeds energy, it is easier to interact with somebody kind. Selfishness and other negative traits take energy, defences need to be beaten down. Kind people may be vulnerable to exploitation, but like discovering a really great hole-in-the-wall eatery, inspires in me the kind of energy to protect it from exploitation.

And everything else flows from kindness, the ability to empathise makes argument less frequent but more constructive, it builds friendships that produce diverisity and entertainment to break up the monotony of life, it generates tolerance, and honesty and patience and beauty and humour.

It makes my life easier, the more kindness I recieve. One of my early mentors that I haven't really stayed in touch with made the point 'use your friends because they are your friends. Don't make friends to use them.'

I once said to another mentor after paying for a meal one time, 'You'd be surprised at what a generous act, accepting somebody else's generosity can be.'

So be kind. It's hot.