The Human Condition

Here are a few things that interest me about being human. Just some thoughts that have grown over many years that I wanted to get down in writing. I’m just going to throw this out there.

Snippets

Concepts I found significant or interesting.

humans in motion
  • Thinking something is true isn’t proof that it actually is true. Take care to verify that each of the foundational reasons that support your conclusion are correct. Realistically that means taking into account all the reasons that contradict your preferred result without succumbing to your bias.
  • Everyone is different, so don’t expect anyone to be like you, have the same sense of morality, risk tolerance, sensitivity or anything else.  Each person has unique physiology and brain, driven by chemistry, DNA and circumstance. The ability to consider things requires memory, but the way memories are formed is filtered and coloured by experience.
  • Everyone sees the same thing differently, so don’t expect anyone to agree with you. It’s probably more accurate to consider that no-one agrees with you 100%. People are hard-wired differently.
  • No-one likes any form of criticism so if you give any out deliberately or inadvertently you will get a bad reaction of some kind, even if it isn’t apparent to you. Criticism comes in many guises, for example, giving help that hasn’t been asked for can be read as criticism. Even saying give it like what you have or are doing can potentially be read as a not liking what another person has or does. People who are insensitive to the feelings of others are often very sensitive to criticism that might include them.
  • Small talk has its place. It doesn’t mean the other person is a boring dimwit. One of the purposes of small talk is to establish a conversational safe zone to mediate trust. If trust can be established then it can be gradually expanded.
  • People usually do what they want anyway. Often, people will make reasons to support their decisions rather than make decisions based on their reasoning. Whilst it’s worth making your point for your own mental health, it’s not worth putting significant effort into it without having a good reason.
  • You can’t easily change someone’s mind. They think the way they do because they are a certain type of person with particular experience and circumstance accumulated over time. If any change occurs it is more likely to be incremental than sudden.
  • You don’t need to change someone’s mind unless you are negotiating a joint venture.
  • Life isn’t fair. A lot of what happens is due to chance. Bullies can do better than fair people. Don’t let it get you down, keep following your own path.
  • When in doubt, do nothing. This advice has saved me from many bad choices. If you have a decision to make, but you aren’t sure what the answer is, put off making the decision until you are sure.
  • You will do better at things that interest you.
  • Sometimes things don’t work out for a good reason. It’s possible that the outcome you seek cannot be supported in the long run. Fix the underlying problem and try again or else find another goal.

Self Help

Self-Esteem as a Shield

Good self-esteem is an essential shield that you will need in order to defend your psyche from harm. Good self-esteem is built from self-knowledge, good actions and good intentions. You have to do things that you approve of, and cut out the things that you don’t approve of, one by one.

Each action you take contributes to a pool of well-being or contributes to a lessening of self-respect. If you do not respect yourself, that will also experience sadness and unease.

If you don’t know how to fix this situation, a simple way to do it is to pick one or more heroic figures that you yourself respect and ask yourself what you expect these people would have done if they were in your position.

Making Decisions

When it comes to making a decision that you aren’t entirely comfortable with, its best turn it over to your subconscious. Whilst it’s important to be clear on the logic of whatever you are attempting to do, it’s your emotional self that will gain and lose by the fallout from a goal.

I’m a big fan of considering the goal for a fairly long period of time while doing research. The advantage of doing this is to let the idea settle and grow. It’s not a good idea to jump into a goal quickly since you won’t be fully prepared to put the work needed.

The things to consider are:

  • Who will be affected by it?
  • Is this goal necessary?
  • How much work will it take?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is the financial cost?
  • What will I gain in general?
  • What will I lose in general?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What problems will it cause?

Bearing all of the above questions in mind, you will have to decide if the goal is worthwhile.

The best decisions I’ve made have formed naturally as a consequence of leaving the component parts available for all kinds of considerations, often prompted by daydreaming rather than applying a logic filter and moving on.

Eventually, the most important features will move to the foreground and others recede. Somewhere along the way, the decision will have been quietly made and you will then become bored with the process. That’s how you will know you have finished deciding.

Looking After Yourself

  • Avoid unkind people
  • Avoid bad places
  • Declutter to cut down on financial and emotional drag.
  • Don’t share things you care about with people who don’t

Finding Authenticity

Wishing gets a bad wrap (so I’ve pushed this idea lower in the list!). With patience, you can pick apart impossible wishes and find a real-world solution for at least partially converting them into some kind of reality. Any progress is better than no progress.

Note: it’s important that the wish/goal doesn’t have any negative outcomes.

  1. Wishing can reveal your true needs and/or desires which may not have been fully realised before. You may suddenly find that your current goals may not be targeted correctly.
  2. Considering an authentic wish creates the means to cultivate solutions to support the wish. Wishing will open up the problem space for discovery. If you consider an ideal solution you can break a problem into its component parts. Upon reflection, you may find that some of those components might be simpler to achieve than you first thought.
  3. Wishing can create a temporary bridge to a better idea that wasn’t accessible using realistic thinking. Realistic thinking will destroy an idea before it has had time to become fully formed.
  4. Wishes can have the effect of creating, removing and prioritising your current goals.

Once you’ve nailed a wish you can convert it into a goal. I’ve written an article about that >> here <<

Being a Better Person

Managing yourself is like managing money – if you are not actively looking for improvement then you are probably losing money. Similarly, it’s helpful to practice self-improvement even if you’re already amazing as far as you’re concerned. That way, you can keep on track.

However, with all of these snippets, be sure to looking after yourself kindly like you are your own best friend. In other words, don’t do the following things at too great a cost to yourself:

  • Leave things better than when you found them.
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Be kind to others
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Don’t blame others.
  • Change your mind if necessary.
  • Don’t be dogmatic.

Sciency Thoughts

People as Engines

It’s my view that people are intermediaries for their DNA. Everything a person does is answering a need that is encoded in the DNA, no matter how sophisticated the behaviour. Therefore everything you are thinking fits into categories that are shaped by the interplay of your chemistry, hormones and genes.

Loneliness

It seems that loneliness has been deliberately built into humans as the downside of the desire to work together. It’s interesting that nature has cultivated an emotional response that can be a real pain in the neck for so many people.

Creativity

I have a love-hate relationship with creativity. A lot of creative pursuits have a process that is only properly resolved by the presence of an audience. This is where the good things you can get from being creative can unravel. Here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If you want to earn money, do something that people want, i.e. something of value they can’t or don’t want to do themselves.
  • If you are going to do what you want, make sure it really is what you want or else you might be wasting your time.
  • In all likelihood, the amount of interest that others will have in your chosen interest will be very low compared to yours, no matter what.

If given all you know, you are still driven to carry on you may end up in an alternating cycle of highs and lows. That pretty much nails where I am most of the time. The logical solution is to reduce or eliminate your dependence on the audience (easier said than done).

Here are some more observations I have gathered in the wake of that:

  • You can’t change the essence of what you are, or what other people are, although you can alter your method and beliefs.
  • It makes sense to practice the skills that emanate from being what you are since those are the things you are able to contribute to the world. In so doing the world becomes a better place, even if no-one tells you so.
  • Your biology will only reward you with satisfaction by meeting its demands and part of that is projected into your skills (however abstract an idea that may seem).

Do It Anyway

The Paradoxical Commandments were written by Kent M. Keith in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.