Monday, January 07, 2013

We Are What We Do

Poeple also need to look at the way they are living with an eye to change. We are always talking about what we want, what we intend. These are dreams and wishes and are of little value in changing our mood. We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do. Conversely, in judging other people we need to pay attention not to what they promise but how they behave.
An excerpt from one of three books I read last year, 'Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart' that as a self help book I'm taking a risk on drawing quotes from it for my forthcoming action comic. I don't know if the two will go together, but hey. hmmm...

Bodhidharma sits down with some important Chinese prince or emperor or whatever, and the important dude asks Bodhidharma 'what's the secret to life?' or something and Bodhidharma says 'Don't do evil, do good.' and the important guy get's all eyebrow condescending and is like 'even a child knows that!' and Bodhidharma says 'then why can't you do it?'


Ideals are great, and self-examination and self contemplation are important developmental pursuits in the pursuit of happiness, just as strategising sessions are important to an organisation in a competitive world where resources are scarce. But strategy is the fun part, just as self-contemplation is. What get's rewarded in life are those that can actually implement a strategy, and those that upon contemplating their ideals translate it into effective behaviour.

But most can't even see the disconnect between who they think they are and who they are. Less so now that I work with young vibrant people, but when I had a more diverse workplace age wise there was plenty of misery to be observed in people that felt underappreciated and kicked in the teeth by life because who they thought they were and who they were didn't line up.

An obvious disconnect is between people who think they work hard but don't. This can be quite objective. Somebody has a job description, with quite measurable outputs, and much as they think they work hard (perhaps because their life is hard and they don't enjoy what they do) they don't actually produce much. It's incredibly common.

And these people feel under-appreciated when they don't get a bump in the pay packet from the boss. And appreciation is another more generally applicable example of the disconnect between who we think we are and what we do - aka who we are.

Is there somebody you truly appreciate? Now think of the last time you felt truly appreciated. Is there a difference in the effort exerted to make you feel appreciated and the effort you exert when you feel you appreciate somebody?

When you look out at all the people you know and count the ones that truly appreciate you, it will generally be based on some evidence, some behaviour that drew you to the conclusion. And yet, having access to your own internal thoughts, you probably feel like you appreciate some proportion of your friends approachng 100%. But if people don't feel appreciated can they reasonably conclude that they aren't?

I say yes. That's my verdict.

Think now, if you feel you love somebody, then intentionally hurt them (cheating, physical abuse, emotional abuse, economic deprevation... etc) do you love them? I would hope that question is rhetorical - the answer if you are struggling is 'no'.

No you don't, despite the long standing tradition of spousal abuse, domestic abuse and talking about your mother to your psychologist. The societal norm is what leads us to advise people 'if he really loved you he wouldn't have cheated on you.' etc.

And if you were really an artist you would produce art. And if you were really a writer you would write. And of course the first step is providing evidence to yourself, and in the case of a visual artist this might take a month to finish a piece, in the case of a writer it may take decades to finish a manuscript, but at some point you then have to go providing evidence to other people - they need some evidence to conclude you are an artist/writer/architect/investor/kind person or whatever else you claim to be or are convinced you are.

Thats all.

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