“I don’t mean to” be Happy

When someone apologizes and says, "I don't mean to;" typically that is exactly what they mean to do. This week, after interrupting three times, an individual said, "Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt." and then proceeded to interrupt for a fourth time; in a span of less than 10 minutes. Perhaps four interruptions is their obliviousness threshold. I wonder what their threshold is for taking responsibility? I wonder what the number is that would push them into synergistic awareness? And if they ever reach that number? Or is it more likely that once they become tangentially aware of their discourtesy, they temporarily retreat and permanently forget, thus not advancing the number to a point where it might benefit future awareness.

We all do this. With some it is, "I don't mean to argue (divisively as opposed to constructively)." With others it is, I don't mean to be critical." With still others it is, "I don't mean to rain on your parade." And with some it is, "I don't mean to belittle." With me it is, "I don't mean to lecture" AND "I don't mean to be difficult" AND (on occasion) "I don't mean to be smart (i.e. sarcastic)." And in each example, there is a degree of arrogance at play. So, I don't mean to pick on this one individual... but now that I am past bullying, my intent is to better understand synergistic awareness.

The concept of synergistic awareness applies to those, (I hope, the majority), who do acknowledge their arrogance by (at the least) "not meaning to." For those who obliviously interrupt, argue, criticize, belittle, etc., with no conscious acknowledgement, synergistic awareness will likely be interpreted as narcissistic affirmation and reflected as obliviousness. And just as one's Humanity demands occasional unintentional arrogance, it also demands varying levels of narcissistic obliviousness; which means I am guilty of both.

Simply knowing this should nudge me toward synergistic awareness. And having come to this point, I can see this thought reinforcing previous thought (from 7/6/13, 8/24/13, and 9/17/16) in which I stated that, "no single individual, that has lived in the past, is living in this moment, or will live in the future, is any more or less necessary than any other single individual." This specific thought has evolved into what I perceived as a fairly thorough analysis of why I believe this. Perhaps I need to work toward a (previously unthought) complementary and/or deeper understanding...

I believe synergistic awareness reinforces this idea of any two individuals being as necessary because it is plainly demonstrated within the practice of synergistic awareness. If synergistic awareness begins with courtesy, it probably moves from there to varying magnitudes of respect combined with sincerity, and upon reaching a symbiotic state of sincere respect, synergistic awareness approaches a perfect balance of necessity. Maximum synergistic awareness is a team sport, requiring a minimum of two players. The fact that it is not maximally acheivable by one individual, makes it a nice vehicle for illustrating mutual necessity.

Perhaps this extends previous thought by identifying a starting point for mutual necessity. By paying attention to immediate external happenings and circumstance, one is confirming the impartial nature of reality, and by paying attention to another's reactions, one is gauging the appropriateness of their own actions. I strongly suspect though, that once an individual begins this practice of diligent attention, even if able to occasionally reach a symbiotic state of sincere respect, we would find that it is not the finish line; rather a new starting point.

So after widening one's circle to work toward maximum synergistic awareness becomes an ongoing habit, I believe there will be a natural progression to other beneficial practices including willing service, persistence, patience, compassion, and altruism. But I must remember that synergistic awareness can be practiced by me alone, but can only be maximized when it is mutual; and (obviously) only positively supports mutual necessity when it is mutual. So, is there a way to encourage shared synergistic awareness?? Or is it a concept that must develop from within the individual?

I am afraid that if I encouraged, it may come across as, "I don't mean to lecture, but..." I will work hard to lead by example, and I will occasionally lead by failed example, and I will forever be a student, but to compel adult learning will always be less successful than to mutually aid another, as both teacher and student. And the only way this will be accomplished is on common ground.

I am frustrated by this week's effort to come to a deeper understanding. The only addition to learning I see, is the identification of synergistic awareness as a starting point for illustrating the value of mutual necessity. The rest is redundant. But it is Friday night, and lacking a significant epiphany I may have to settle.

Which actually, may be a new thought. Perhaps my new learning for this week is to settle for personal improvement, when I determine that results are greater. In math terms, if there are 7,574,118,038 individuals each designated by a different number, and if my goal is advancement, and if improvement1 = individual1 movement + individual1 learning, and advancement = improvement1 + improvement2, and in scenario 1 I put forth x number of units of work toward improvement1 (where 1 is me) and 0 units of work toward improvement2 (where 2 is another) and in scenario 2 I put the same x number of units of work toward improvement2 and 0 units of work toward improvement1, and when I solve for advancement and find that advancement is greater in scenario 1 than in scenario 2, I am not settling for improvement1, I am choosing the most beneficial option.

So how do I determine when (or if) advancement will be greater by putting forth work units toward improvement2? I believe, when I put forth any work toward improvement2, the initial work is an olive branch to gauge willingness to learn. And I believe that when the olive branch is accepted, learning becomes mutual. An olive branch is an expenditure of effort, but it can be (and should be) minimal; as minimal as an invitation to communicate face-to-face. So if (as previously stated, where 1 is still me) improvement1 = individual1 movement + individual1 learning, and if my olive branch has been accepted, then my units of effort are doing double duty by increasing both improvement1 and improvement2, (i.e. mutual learning), thus resulting in a greater increase in advancement.

So perhaps "I don't mean to lecture" because I did not first extend an olive branch; I did not first reach out to determine potential for productive communication. And when I do not extend an olive branch, effort is more likely to become an inordinate number of units of work toward improvement2, to find that improvement2 = 0. I am better spending that effort on improvement1. But when I am able to establish productive communication, advancement has the potential to grow exponentially.

Epiphany: Offer an olive branch.
Epiphany: I must solve for Advancement.

With effort, there is always a greater depth of learning.

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Happiness: not in my life

I am energized because I am disappointed; and as a result, I am seeking validation. I would like to be more high-minded than this, but there it is; validation. Is validation just "purpose" or "direction" viewed from the inside out? "A Calling" certainly sounds more principled and noble than reassurance, but from where does the primary motivating factor originate? Could it be even more base? Am I perhaps working to justify my existence in order to explain my instinctive need to survive? Is it a path from instinct to desire to intrigue to acceptance to recognition to affirmation to direction to meaning? Or is it a single point with many names? I am sure this is not a new question. Perhaps I should research...

...After a tiny, tiny, tiny, infinitesimally tiny amount of research, I am going to take as a given that my instinct for survival has influence, and I am going to follow the path from there through the selfishness of validation in search of the virtue of purpose; assuming... hoping... that there is some unselfish goodness to be found.

I have addressed purpose in previous written thought, relating it to futility:

"...Futile is a very strong word; and in the narrow context of self-centered individual purpose, it is exactly the right word. If I work to save myself, I will ultimately disregard the world, and this effort will in no way significantly-delay or prevent the inevitable end of my earthly days; therefore I cannot work to save myself. But if I work to save the world, (the world that has an opportunity to continue beyond me), I believe that there is a chance that I might (perhaps accidentally) save myself along the way. Of course it is pretentious and preposterous for me to think that I may save the world---but it gives me purpose."

In this post I define validation as follows:

"Equitably serious, voluntary acknowledgement and consideration followed by a mutually volitional desire for rational argument and debate. (Validation is NOT flattery, praise, compliments, or having one's ego stroked. Validation is not agreement.)"

After reviewing this previous thought, though I have dignified validation, I still maintain its selfish nature because it clearly reflects an internal desire to relieve a degree of insecurity. And though I have simultaneously elevated and humbled purpose, I still believe it reflects a (sometimes slanted) desire to improve (sometimes specific) external circumstance and contribute to the well-being of (sometimes specific) other individuals.

Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why."

I realize there is only one day on which I was born, but I have to ask, how many (second) days have I lived believing I have found my true purpose in life? I'm not sure I can count them all.

I believe each one of us becomes somewhat jaded with life experience, but perhaps I am moreso because, for the past two years, I have spent my days reading applications for admission into a Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. In part, it is important for a candidate to feel compelled to serve as a medical professional. And in a large majority of the applications, I read a version of Mark Twain's second day in which an individual discovers their calling. This week I read from the hand of one such candidate, confident and ebullient, certain they had found their future; but with a GPA of less than 2.80 and fewer than 750 hours of actual patient care experience, I feel a prescient pain reminiscent of multiple personal disappointments strewn in my wake. This is Life, and as stated in the first sentence above, I have learned to cull energy from disappointment. Learning from the past, I say that I eagerly anticipate disappointment, but I am still, (more often than not), blindsided. Learning from the past, I am sorry for those individuals who have only one "Day Two" and few life-altering disappointments, and quickly and efficiently move to their chosen vocation. Do these "Only-One-Day-Two" folks ever have second thoughts? (If so, they probably only have them one time.) Attempt at humor aside, I can't imagine them not suffering some twitches and pangs of uncertainty; though I can imagine them burying these tics beneath confident smiles and entitled artifice.

So perhaps I have established that most individuals adjust their aim throughout Life, but the question remains, is Purpose basically selfish or is there genuine goodness to be found? We are running alongside the concept of good intentions and we must acknowledge the potential for delusional sincerity. So if purpose will forever be entangled with selfishness, perhaps the question should become, will I find a validating circumstance in which I can truthfully share my essence?

I have to study this question for a moment. "Will I find a validating circumstance in which I can truthfully share my essence?"

Perhaps in recent years, I have accidentally created such an opportunity. By writing essentially uncensored weekly thought, I have the opportunity to share. The question now becomes, does anyone care enough to work at interpreting my meandering? I can truthfully say that this effort has evolved into a sincere desire to help all of Humanity. So perhaps by working to save the world, I have created an opportunity to save myself. But by doing so, I have also created a circumstance in which I am much more likely to be disappointed, because I am not asking another to simply flatter me or agree with me. I am asking another to truly KNOW me.

And I realize, that is asking a lot.

And I realize, it is even a bit terrifying.

Perhaps this is why many thinkers are not discovered until after their death.

And that thought actually validates my efforts. Because if I can be so BOLD as to work toward saving the world, I must be so BOLD as to think I may actually one day do so; even if not in my Life.

...Even if not in my Life.

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Swimming in Happiness

This week I learned that "[Puerto Rico] is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water."

Now that we have defined "island" and disparagingly identified the specific size and body type of water surrounding Puerto Rico, perhaps we can move on to how and/or why the islanders allowed themselves to be surrounded by fatty brine. It sounds like my heart. And I can say from experience that my heart was ambushed. I thought it was surrounded by light and filled with goodness, but No! Unbeknownst to me, this sneaky fat crept up in the night, and under the cover of fried chicken and gravy marshaled resources until... BOOM! A surprise attack.

I should have known better. Puerto Ricans should have known better. Perhaps we can just transport them all here to our country based on our goodness and light. But No! Our goodness and light has been overtaken by fried chicken and gravy.

Speaking for myself, I have drastically reduced the fatty intake and I am working diligently on bringing back the goodness and light. It may take many, many years to recover from previous excess, but my odds are right now very good that I will have many, many years to recover my former self.

As for our country...
...well
...we like fried chicken and gravy.

And as for Puerto Rico...
...well
..."This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water."

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Incomplete Happiness

Lightning strikes! A branch severed. Suddenly, dramatically, what appeared to be whole, is not. Yet I still see a tree, and a branch. Is it the suddenness that detracts from its essence? Or is its essence truly and irretrievably lost? The tree is still a tree; the branch a branch. Yes, the branch will decay and eventually, seemingly disappear. But despite the loss, the tree can heal, and from there continue to grow.

I am the tree and I am the branch. I have felt whole and I have felt lightning. I have continued to grow and I have (on momentary occasion) felt complete. I have been cut off and I have disappeared. In a few extreme moments, I have been the healing power and, sadly, I have also been the lightning. One day I will begin to decay.

Yes, it is the shock of feeling torn apart, or the savagery of tearing apart, or the utter dismay in witnessing a dramatic dispossession, that creates (what I believe is) an illusion of irretrievable loss. In most cases, this illusion passes. It passes because I am eventually able to acknowledge that though circumstance has changed and though I have changed, (even as lightning) I am not less human for it. And I am able to acknowledge a Humanity with healing power, and my continued potential for growth. This sounds obvious; but it is good to hear.

Lightning scars. Tears of anger are a reminder of loneliness; and loneliness demands inaction-that-leads-to-isolation. Tears of anger are in fact tears of submissive resignation.

Sadness heals. Tears of sorrow are a reminder of possibility; and possibility demands action-that-leads-to-joy. Tears of sorrow are in fact tears of simmering joy.

I believe a tree, despite catastrophic loss, maintains its essence. Beyond separation, a connection will continue.

I believe a severed branch maintains its essence. Beyond decay, a resonance will continue.

Any branch, once attached to a tree, will enduringly reverberate from the deepest roots to the newest, tiniest outstretched buds. A harmonic oscillation that will play on the senses. Perhaps ascribed and powerful. Perhaps subtle and gentle. Nonetheless, forever.

On occasion, I am the lightning.

Through sadness, I strive to be the healer.

Once and always, I am the tree...
...and I am the branch.

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Happiness: What Then?

With the tangible resources and the abstraction of wealth currently available in this world, when I see someone in trouble, my first question should be, "How can I help?" If the answer I receive is within my means, my second question should be, "And if I help, what then?" If the "what then" requires additional assistance that is also within my means, I should ask the second question multiple times; and if each successive "what then" is within my means or requires no additional assistance, I should perform a compassionate cost-benefit analysis and act upon it. If any "what then" requires additional assistance outside of my means, I should verbally note this inability, and together we should explore alternatives (for both assistance and options), and then continue asking, "What then?"

This process sounds complex; and it can be. For many, this process sounds unrealistic; but that should be determined by the "within my means" qualifier, and not automatically assumed. For many, it is easier to let another individual, (or the system), take care of the problem, believing "it is not my place;" and in some circumstance, this may be valid, but should be argued. For most, this process is intimidating because it requires sincerity without destructive emotion; and it is difficult to face this fear with reasoned composure.

Considering all these factors, I believe the list below is a fair representation of my options for responding, (whether they ask or not), to someone who is in trouble:

  • I can choose to be oblivious to all or selected difficulties and/or individuals; especially those that do not noticeably impact me in this moment.
  • I can acknowledge selected difficulties and/or individuals, and do nothing. After all, "What can I do?"
  • I can judge, blaming the individual for the difficulty, and do nothing. "It's their problem."
  • I can blame bad luck, circumstance, and/or the system for the difficulty, and do nothing.
  • I can judge, blame, and exert control, thus keeping the individual in their place.
  • (As much as it is within my means), I can throw money (or minimally invasive effort) at the difficulty (and/or the individual), and hope that it (and/or they) will go away.
  • I can ask the individual, "How can I help?" and if it is within my means, comply.
  • I can empathize and exert control, thus kindly keeping the individual in their place.
  • I can prioritize individuals and ask "how can I help?" and follow up with "what then" until...
  • I can focus on larger-scale circumstance and system, asking myself and others, "What must we do?" and follow up with political and ethical ("what then") discourse that may result in progress or may result in divisiveness, and may or may not reach a cost-benefit analysis followed (or not) by action and short-term progress.
  • I can continue to individually work within the system, by asking myself "how can I help?" and "what then?" and follow up with analyses of costs and benefits, leading to productive action and short-term progress, and repeat until... well... Forever.*

As a community, or society, or nation, we typically choose a response that involves control and divisiveness. The same is frequently true for an employer, often true for a parent, and almost always true for an involved ego with power / money.

(If I substitute "another individual" or "other individuals" for "the individual" in the bullets above), these options for response also apply to mutual problems.

In my mind, this creates a sameness between another individual in trouble and mutual difficulty.

Even if you disagree that another individual's problem is your problem, consider what might happen if you treated it as such.

I understand that I cannot be all things to all people, but I can strive to be (conditional upon personal means), and continuously work to improve on prioritization. By doing so, most importantly, I will move away from judgement, blame, and ego, and move toward empathy, compassion, and resolution.

When I make a mistake or find myself in trouble, I most definitely have empathy and compassion, and I typically, immediately, start working toward resolution. The only difference between my trouble and your trouble is, you're not me; but from your perspective of your trouble, you are me. This should not be difficult to understand.

In my mind, this creates a sameness between your sense of me and my sense of me.

In my mind, this creates a sameness between your trouble and my trouble.

In my mind, this creates a sameness between you and me.

With the tangible resources and the abstraction of wealth currently available in this world, when I see someone in trouble, my first question should be, "How can I help?"... ...

*(NOTE ON FOREVER: In this world, I believe my Forever is finite; and on our current trajectory, I also believe Humanity's Forever is finite. We may extend Forever if or when those with wealth and power recognize that survival is contingent upon a drastic deconstruction and reconstruction of our system. [See this suggestion.] If this epiphany does not come soon, we may discover that Forever has become Too Late.)

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