Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Perfect Paragraph

I've decided to focus on the paragraph. While I truly love the essay, how it forces structure on my internal musings and allows me to thrust them out in a seemingly organized fashion on my readers--imagined though they may be--it has become clear to me that this longer form of exposition, coupled with my obsessive nature, has become a barrier to my writing more regularly. Certainly, having just read that last, one could conclude that I still have much to learn about sentences and, perhaps, even taking on the paragraph is being a bit ambitious. I can't necessarily argue otherwise, but committing oneself to sit down and write a single sentence doesn't really cut it. So, the paragraph it is. I will endeavor to write at least one each day, whether it be here on this (mostly) ignored blog, over on my more popular (but still mostly unread) blog or in my private journal (which, of course, only I read).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tyranny of care

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”–C.S. Lewis

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On Habit

[Re-examined thoughts from an old journal entry]

I've been thinking about habit. How each instance exercising a good habit and makes further positive behavior that much easier to continue. Likewise, each instance of bad habit, or more specifically, each failure to exercise positive action makes it that much more difficult to take the proper action the next time the opportunity arises. This is more than just saying that each instance of positive or negative action adds to create a good or bad habit. There is a sort of multiplicative effect due to the psychological effect of taking a specific type of action.

Undertaking a positive action means working towards completing a task that will have a net-positive impact on your life. But, beyond just the ultimate end-goal (which may not be immediate), a positive action also enables an immediate sense of accomplishment by providing a chance to experience one's own self-efficacy. You feel capable. Not only will you likely want to continue that positive feeling, but the sense of personal competence actually makes it easier to continue taking goal-oriented actions. They seem less a chore and more a simple expression of your self.

Similarly, there is a somewhat insidious force at work on the other side of this equation. Each time you fail to take proper action--either doing something that is not in your best interest or allowing some distraction from one of your long-term goals--not only do you bring yourself no closer to an accomplishment, you also send yourself a subtle message. In essence you are saying that it is too difficult or you aren't capable. Psychologically, you make it easier to avoid taking proper actions in the future. You create a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy in that the positive action actually is more difficult the next time because you now also need to overcome the baggage you carry with you from not doing what you should have the time before.

Thus is the nature of habits and their acceleration both positive and negative. And, since it is always initially easier to not do something that to do it, bad habits are simpler to form than good.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looking at a painting

Stand too close and all you see is patches of color, stand too far back and you can't see the details.


I never wanted to be ordinary. Why would I want to be extra-ordinary?