Saturday, January 14, 2017

Project(s) Update: Learning About Appreciation and Kindness


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I like the idea of a weekly update for my project(s) on The Lextopia.

I put parenthesis around the the ‘s’ because my “bachelor project” has played the part of an organizing principle for my behavior, beliefs, and action in the world. Many in my life probably think that approach to the “bachelor project” doesn’t help me. Not finishing the project gets in the way of me getting my bachelors degree, which gets in the way of my progressing career-wise and in societal symbols of maturity.

To that, I say that I actually have a fair amount of personal growth to do for maturity, which includes learning who I am, the details of my beliefs (I have this ingrained issue with ‘doing good for the sake of doing good’), accepting them, then figuring out how to execute them in the world. I’ll admit, I could choose a more luxurious way to progress through the world. Also, I have a privileged history and background that allows me this approach.

Taking everything into account, though, my current path has more benefit than cost overall. Also, my internal error checker, conscience, ruminating dialogue, obsessive sense of integrity won’t leave me alone about THIS topic and doing so on a level of perfectionism. Adopting verbiage from Design Thinking, I’m accepting that the drive to resolve my project(s) on these terms as fact, not a problem.

Strangely enough, my current branching stream of consciousness and research hopefully has a twin benefit:

  • Providing a major premise for my project, one that has been bothering me for the last 16+ years, as in, I’ve believed it but didn’t know how to discuss it
  • Understanding this premise should me calm down my perfectionist tendencies
Before getting deeper into that, though, quick concrete update (from a Facebook post): 4 months of writing semi-regularly 10-20 minutes before work yields "21" pages of handwritten 4th chapter. Working on 4th 1st draft rewrite [of novel]. Add on for now: I’ve transcribed a couple pages during the same morning 10-20 minutes. Enjoying this re-read. I like handwriting on super rough draft then transcribing onto the computer. It provides an enjoyable experience, allows me to note to self ideas to integrate and take, and gives me the chance to do mini-tweaks as I do a run through.

Also, I’ve re-visited the idea of releasing the novel as some type of income creating serial. I don’t think I have enough confidence in myself to release it in parts, though. I’ve done so many changes based on what to expect down the road after reaching that point, world building could get weird as I change things after learning more about the world, and I’m just uncomfortable setting things into stone earlier in the story then blocking going where I had originally planned later in the story (instead of weighing the issues on both ends).

Another way to put it: I don’t have my techniques and tricks down enough to plan ahead for details. I figure completing a novel or more and getting them published will help me get the down while also building confidence.

And some progress on the essay/intellectual basis of the project on utopianism, which brings us back to my current stream of consciousness and research this week. The last few months, I moved from trying to understand how shame contributes a lot to antisocial behavior to how compassion contributes to pro-social behavior and psychological health. Apparently, per Paul Gilbert Ph.D’s introduction in The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges, researchers often take this path from shame to compassion.

This book has provided me a great resource for both my project and personal development. It has done a lot for helping me understand the phrase “Be kind [or compassionate] to yourself.” I don’t treat myself bad as in insulting myself, saying that I’m worthless, or anything like that. Rather, I’m hard on myself for not accomplishing the things I want to do or feeling satisfied with my “progress” in my life. Seeing the mounds to do on my task lists doesn’t help, either (both personal, household, and professionally). Thrown on knowing that I need connection and a social life, too! And also feeling the compulsion for social and political activism. . .Being a perfectionist is hard and tiring!

Installing ruminations of “Be kind to yourself” into the brain helps. Seeing it bout it out and infect perfectionism has its comedy value, too. Perfectionism goes into so many loops when it tries to perfect taking it easy and chilling out.

Seeing the personal benefits of compassion, both pointed inward and outward, has made me more comfortable with my argument that compassion/kindness should make for an indisputable argument for a rational person. How to properly apply that compassion outwardly, however, tripped me up. Another Facebook post of mine this week sent me down this road:
Couple years ago, read article with gay man saying that he didn't want just tolerance, he wanted [appreciation]. [Inspiring] sentiment.
These words fall into line with a conclusion from one of my project essays that gives me a lot of pride compared to the other essays I’ve written so far. It also falls in with psychological theory from Rollo May and a lot of discussion out there about “hard working rural white voters” and radicalization of people.

The quote and my conclusion in that essay doesn’t feel complete. They feel problematic, actually. For one, the actions taken by radicalized people because they aren’t receiving appreciation goes to far. Then, sourced in my universal acceptance/belief that appreciation is every human’s need, it’s hard to argue against privileged people fighting to keep their privilege and marginalized people fighting to get appreciation, too. Does the drive to receive a pro-social action need to lead to antisocialness, anger, violence, and other horrible things, both for those receiving an abundance of it and those with a dearth of it? Based on that, we’re in a Hobbesian State of Nature.

Then throw on there the sincerity aspect of throwing appreciation and kindness everywhere. I’ve discovered that I have a hangup about receiving personal benefit of showing kindness to the world. I have something of a martyr complex about it. It kind of goes along with the age old criticism I have with believing in God and accepting Jesus because you will go to Heaven. Is someone believing and accepting because they want to get into Heaven or do they REALLY believe and accept God and Jesus because of what they stand for?

So I’m in the middle of the sincerity of appreciation stream of consciousness. Is someone just engaging in appreciating things for their own benefit or because they REALLY appreciate something. Should someone fake until they make it? What if it’s something that really shouldn’t be appreciated, like killing and other horrible things? What if it’s something that doesn’t spark interest? What if someone doesn’t have an interest in appreciating something other than to make the world a better place, whether for themselves or some martyr reason? Can appreciation become disrespectful and fetishizing? What if someone has been taught that a perfectly harmless thing is horrible? Or what if something really does have conflicting good and bad values one way or the other? What if being kind and appreciative sacrifices your identity, integrity, and body? When is that OK? And is it OK to enjoy being kind and appreciative? Can someone lose the privilege of receiving appreciation and kindness or does being a unique combination of space, time, and biology enough to receive kindness and appreciation?

So yeah, that’s where I am with my internal dialogue, views on social justice, and my project(s).

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