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comment by veen
veen  ·  141 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 3, 2018

Instead of creating a separate thingy, I'll use this Pubski as a chance to reflect on 2017.

John Green recently recommended writing two letters to your future self about what to take with you going into 2018, and what to leave in 2017. I think that's a great way to reflect and look forward simultaneously.

---LEAVE IT IN 2017---

The first thing to leave behind is my indecisiveness. If 2017 has taught me anything, it's that I need to make decisions and stick to them, not fret and worry and ponder forever on them if it doesn't make the result any better. At the end of 2016, I read something which took me most of 2017 to internalise: "doubt must come to an end." I haven't been able to find that quote's source ever again. The insight that phases of doubt are just that, phases, has been meaningful to me.

The second thing I want to leave is gliding. In a classic "it's not you, it's me" scenario, I've had a lot of fun gliding, but I don't have the free time to do it properly. Once or twice a month isn't gonna cut it for something as complex as learning to fly. It's been fun, but I gotta close that chapter for now.

I also want to leave calorie logging behind in 2017. I tried picking it up again last year, but it made me feel guilty for eating, which is the exact opposite of what I needed it for. It helped me figure out a healthier diet, which is good. Other than that it's just not for me.

Finally, I want 2017 to be the last year I would describe myself as reticent in unfamiliar social situations. I avoided small talk the first weeks of my internship as I've done many times before. It took a Sherry Turkle book to make me realise how embarrassingly unsocial that is and that it doesn't hurt, you fuckin' hermit, these people are nice if you just let them be nice.

---BRING IT IN 2018---

First some minor things I want to take with me from 2017. It was the year I went out of my comfort zone a bunch of times, which is always insightful. It was the year of less distractions: after reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, I realised I should do with much less distraction in my life. My phone is now almost always on silent and I'm all the happier for it.

2017 was also the year I started meditating. For me, it's valuable as a kind of mental defragmentation: if I have any stress, worry or emotions on my mind I've found meditation to clear that up, or to at least make me more aware of how I'm feeling. I have also noticed that that clarity of mind carries over to the rest of the day. Meditation, for me, is a kind of mental health upkeep I didn't know I needed.

I also started upping my reading game, and it's been one of the best things the year has brought me. A quick back of the envelope calculation puts me at more than 11,000 pages of nonfiction just in 2017, which is more than I have ever read in a single year.

After five years of following my interests and curiosity to the best of my abilities, I finally figured out what I want to do in life. Not in the "I have found my calling" sense, but more in the sense of finally being able to connect the dots:

    Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

That's from Steve Jobs' commencement speech in 2005. I remember watching it ten years ago, and those words have been etched into my soul in the form of hope ever since. The naive and dreamy kind of hope that everything will work out in the end. While I can't say that has happened or will happen, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction with the right tools and people around me, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. 2017 was the year I connected a whole bunch of dots and settled on a direction, and I look forward to see where that will take me.




kleinbl00  ·  141 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The attitude here is inspirational.

    I also want to leave calorie logging behind in 2017. I tried picking it up again last year, but it made me feel guilty for eating, which is the exact opposite of what I needed it for. It helped me figure out a healthier diet, which is good. Other than that it's just not for me.

Oh, god. The guilt. Calorie counting helped me lose 50 lbs but that was, like, 2009. And I've been doing it ever since.

God I don't know if I can do it.

veen  ·  141 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm in the lucky position of losing weight as soon as I do any kind of exercise regularly. Stuffed myself to the brim with food over Christmas and gained less than a kilo. From what you've told you're the polar opposite of that. Maybe you can ask yourself if you really need the guilt of red Myfitnesspal numbers to stay healthy because I realised I didn't.

rezzeJ  ·  141 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    At the end of 2016, I read something which took me most of 2017 to internalise: "doubt must come to an end." I haven't been able to find that quote's source ever again. The insight that phases of doubt are just that, phases, has been meaningful to me.

I think that doubt is a lot like anxiety, in that even though they both present themselves as thoughts, they seem to innately command more attention than a thought such as: "oh, I need to go the shop." As a result, you start to think of them as coming from somewhere other than thought and this separation causes the experience to kind of double down. You get anxious of being anxious (anxiety sensitivity], or subconsciously doubtful about everything.

But they are just thoughts. And if you acknowledge them you can see what's behind them and let it go like you would any other thought or feeling. Often enough, there's nothing behind them at all and, in acknowledging them, they ceases to exist

    Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

This reminded me of a chapter I read entitled "The Possible and the Real" in Henri Bergson's book The Creative Mind .

He states that most humans naturally, and incorrectly, presume that possibility precedes reality. Instead, it is reality that precedes possibility. The present moment is the constant process of chaos forming into an ordered reality. Once this reality has created itself "its image is reflected behind it in the indefinite past; thus it finds it has been, at all times, possible; but just at the very moment where it begins to have always been... The possible is thus the mirage of the present in the past. And as we know that the future will end up becoming the present, as the effect of the mirage continues unabatedly to produce itself, we tell ourselves that in our current present, which will be the past of tomorrow, the image of tomorrow is already contained although we haven't come to grasp it. And precisely there lies the illusion ".

I found the chapter split into 3 parts online if you're interested. Part 3 contains the meat of the idea I mentioned above:

- Part 1

- Part 2

- Part 3

galen  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    But they are just thoughts. And if you acknowledge them you can see what's behind them and let it go like you would any other thought or feeling. Often enough, there's nothing behind them at all and, in acknowledging them, they ceases to exist

I've been thinking about this all day, off and on, and I'm not sure I agree. Maybe it's because I'm stuck in a loop of anxiety sensitivity right now, but it seems to me that both doubt and anxiety are more like thoughts with feelings attached-- in fact, I might argue that they're mostly feelings. And I have never in my life figured out how to kick a feeling that I don't want to feel. Certainly not as easily as by simply acknowledging it.

rezzeJ  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sorry, I was trying to be concise but ended up being a bit reductive.

I agree that both anxiety and doubt are experienced as a mixture of thought and feeling. At the height of my experience with anxiety, it generally arose in one of three ways:

1. I have a thought that makes me feel anxious

2. I consciously sense something (e.g. a chest pain or strange sensation) that leads me to thoughts that make me feel anxious

3. A feeling of anxiety is triggered by some unconscious stimuli, which leads me to thoughts that heighten/prolong the anxiety

The pattern here is that regardless of the anxiety's origin, it is thought that ultimately decides how it's handled. That is what I was trying to get at. Sometimes those thoughts might be subconscious or deeply embedded patterns of thinking, but they are thoughts nonetheless.

It was also a gross oversimplification of me to say that anxiety ceases to exist once acknowledged. What I meant to say was that rather than getting caught up in thinking about or around the anxiety, whether its experienced as a thought or feeling, one should instead non-judgmentally acknowledge what they are experiencing and in that moment let it go. It may come back again and again, sometimes instantly or maybe an hour later, but again acknowledge it and let it go. This can be a very long process, but gradually you train the mind to not instantly react to anxiety. It gives you a space between thought and feeling that allows you to decide how to handle it, rather than letting the mind run away with itself.

With enough patience and introspection you may come to realise what it is that's behind your patterns of thinking. For me it was an innate fear of situations in which I had not planned for. I used to imagine how events in my days were going to go, often even rehearsing conversations I was going to have. This lead to anxiety whenever things went 'off-script'.

I recommend reading this chapter from Jiddu Krishnamurti's book Freedom from the Known, which was a great help to me during my most anxiety filled time. Here is a choice qoute:

    At the actual moment as I am sitting here I am not afraid; I am not afraid in the present, nothing is happening to me, nobody is threatening me or taking anything away from me. But beyond the actual moment there is a deeper layer in the mind which is consciously or unconsciously thinking of what might happen in the future or worrying that something from the past may overtake me. So I am afraid of the past and of the future. I have divided time into the past and the future. Thought steps in, says, `Be careful it does not happen again', or `Be prepared for the future. The future may be dangerous for you. You have got something now but you may lose it. You may die tomorrow, your wife may run away, you may lose your job. You may never become famous. You may be lonely. You want to be quite sure of tomorrow.'

    Now take your own particular form of fear. Look at it. Watch your reactions to it. Can you look at it without any movement of escape, justification, condemnation or suppression? Can you look at that fear without the word which causes the fear? Can you look at death, for instance, without the word which arouses the fear of death? The word itself brings a tremor, doesn't it, as the word love has its own tremor, its own image? Now is the image you have in your mind about death, the memory of so many deaths you have seen and the associating of yourself with those incidents - is it that image which is creating fear? Or are you actually afraid of coming to an end, not of the image creating the end? Is the word death causing you fear or the actual ending? If it is the word or the memory which is causing you fear then it is not fear at all.

I hope this clarifies what I meant.

galen  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is much clearer and I think I can get on board. Thanks :)