The more time you spend in your own head, the more important it is you don’t forget your filter when you actually speak.
I spend so much time in my own thoughts and imagination, I’m normalized to so many things others wouldn’t even consider sharing. The response to that sharing is never “wow, how creative!” It’s “what the hell is wrong with you?” Or worse.
It’s a hard truth to swallow, since we often fall in love with our own worlds. That itself is fine - just remember virtually no one else will.
One book I’ve been reading talked about a person’s need to feel important. How it’s so vital to one’s well-being, it’s on the same level of hunger and thirst. The more I considered it, the less absurd I realized it was.
We’ve all seen people take drastic actions when hungry or thirsty: drinking dirty lake water, stealing food from others, or even something as extreme as killing and eating another human. But it’s often a choice between extreme action or death, and death is almost always worse.
Death isn’t on the line for the need to feel important, either to the world, a specific person, or anything in between. But there are plenty of examples of people doing something drastic to satisfy it.
- Chaining themselves to trees to save the environment
- Donating millions of dollars to help fund charities
- Routinely risking their lives as police officers or firefighters to save lives
- Setting themselves on fire to protest Buddhist persecution
- Organizing hunger strikes against unjust and cruel confinement in Guantanamo Bay
That last one strikes me the most. Peoples’ desire to eat (which keeps us alive) was beaten by their desire to be part of something important.
All this isn’t a bad thing since these activities push people to help others while giving people a sense of value and worth.
As long as we’re self-aware enough to manage this urge and feed it in healthy ways. Otherwise, we may do something extreme, like the “need to feel important” equivalent of killing and eating someone.
Sometimes I get way too caught up in managing the little details - building habits, managing money, eating healthy, among others. These are all important, but I can get so wrapped up in them I forget to let myself be happy or do something real. Making myself better is pointless if I’m not doing better things too.
When that happens, I remember this quote a friend shared with me. Reading it helps me snap out of my self-loop and try something different or take a risk.
It’s easy for me to get trapped in my head. For thoughts to wind around my consciousness and pull me down, and I confuse the struggle to get back out as doing something meaningful.
But sometimes the most intelligent thing I can do is something that requires little deep thought. Something like drawing is simple, meditative, and takes a lot of focus but little thinking.
I think of it as a fuel stop. Sometimes one needs to stop and simply experience something to fill up their mental tanks. Then the next time they think, it’s about adding to the world around them. That’s better than down an internal rabbit hole leading nowhere.
Another reason why rest is not laziness.
I realized that my last note of “you can’t have the ‘what’ without the ‘why’” applies to why I write as well.
Do I post here for sincere self-expression? A desire for attention? Importance? Identity?
It’s certainly not for clicks or ad revenue, so I have that going for me.
I am a selfish blogger. But writing anything for simple validation, from tweets to messages, is rooted in insecurity. At least selfish blogging indirectly helps others. If I’m lucky, it helps others more than me.
So this note is a reminder to myself: don’t mix up “selfish blogging” with “insecure blogging.”
Before I do something I want to do, I’m trying to first ask why.
Some are good, like wanting to be a better coder, getting enough sleep, and staying in (what I choose to think of as) decent shape.
Some are bad, like wanting to smoke various things, playing video games until my brain melts, and kicking random people after too much Twitter.
“Want” isn’t enough without the “why.”
A question I constantly struggle with is what gives someone’s life value, and how I can find it for myself.
Does a person’s life have value if the person simply exists selfishly, looking out for their own needs and desire? I’d say no since that life adds no value to the world, since it doesn’t increase happiness or decrease suffering for others.
But devoting one’s life to helping others doesn’t fully solve it for me. It’s nearly impossible to tell when the value one gives the world balances with what one takes to stay alive. Would one need to save one life to justify our own? Would one need to save one high-value life or several lower-value lives? Or give small bits of value and inspiration to lots of different people?
If one brings new life into this world with kids, does it only count if that life also brings value to the world? If someone produces a life that only takes and never gives, does that make one even less worthy of life?
Even doing all that, does helping others simply to help oneself count? They’re using others as excuses or rationalizations to keep living. It’s just become another selfish activity.
It’s a question with no answer that keeps asking for one. I’m again left asking myself, how can we define the value of a life?
A recent article I read on burnout in hourly-wage jobs mentioned how often people overlook chronic stress and fatigue in these jobs. The American ideal of “just work hard” makes many see burnout as the price of a better life.
While true in an ideal world, today there are a few things wrong with that:
- These jobs rarely give employees a career ladder to “climb up.”
- Burnout causes long-term health issues like obesity and heart disease, which hurt workers and society long-term.
- So many workers are so desperate for work and/or to support their families, they’ll put up increasing abuse and can’t just “find another job.”
All that nuance is lost when others can simply chant “just work hard!” It’s today’s version of “four legs good, two legs bad” - oversimplified and now meaningless, but great for drowning out calls to do better.
As much as I try to move away from drawing, it always pulls me back.
My guess is while programming and reading stimulate my left brain, anime and drawing stimulate my right brain. I need something I can throw myself into entirely without worrying about calm puzzle-solving or writing unit tests.
Programming and reading work out my logical brain. Nothing seems to hit my creative brain like drawing. It’s short, intensive, and satisfying, like a round of boxing or an amazing unit test.
If a hobby keeps pulling you back no matter what else you try, it’s a safe bet it’s worth investing in.
The hardest part of living by Essentialism is saying no to something fun to focus on something important.
Especially when I need to say “yes” to cleaning my apartment, and need to say “no” to this game.
This game is so unbelievable, I can't even... 🤣 pic.twitter.com/EKKys3tl0H— Max Antonucci (@Maxwell_Dev) July 14, 2019
Have you ever met someone who was both:
- A good person
- Had to regularly tell others they’re not racist, sexist, or whatever else-ist?
Excitement for new projects is like a whirlpool sometimes. At first, I’m cruising along feeling thrilled. Then I realize you’re in too deep, obstacles are piling up, and it’ll take a lot longer to get back to a stable place than you expected. Plus my lungs may overflow with alcoholic liquid and I drown.
In other words, I get sucked in and am in such a huge rush I either give up or settle for forced, haphazard changes. A few months later I look back, want to fix it all, and the cycle continues.
Not this time, especially since the project in question is revamping this very site!
Patience and incremental changes are the real solutions. What’s most important is not thinking that this project will solve everything. Success isn’t one big step - it’s several everyday steps.
Dating sites need a section for favorite philosophers. Mostly to avoid people who like Immanuel Kant. These people have many beliefs that don’t work in romance:
- If they don’t “intend” to offend others, they get a free pass.
- They’re unwilling to compromise on ANYTHING.
- They won’t lie and say you look good, even if you don’t. Which I personally know is a big red flag.
Always ask on the first date if they like Kant. If they do, just run.
- Good people who feel big try to lift up others, wanting to share the joy.
- Bad people who feel big try to push others down, terrified to lose their spot.
- Good people who feel small try to climb up, helping others when they can.
- Bad people who feel small try to drag others down, finding “joy” in spreading their misery.
We can’t always control how big or small we feel in the world. At least we can choose not to be an asshole about it.