Destructive feedback loops

It is said that Darius the Great charged one of his servants to repeat to him multiple times a day, “Master, remember the Athenians.”

A constant reminder of his enemies.

I’m afraid social media gives us the same reminders.

Categories within categories

We use big, broad strokes to put people, ideas and things into categories.

Black/white, gay/straight, rich/poor, disabled/able-bodied.

Yet, any category can be broken down further.

Immigrant, cisgender, bankrupt.

Keep going…

60% African/40% European, celibate, parapelgic, diabetic, IQ of 145.

Every label is used to define what we think is “normal.” Except there is no normal. Attributes are relative and not absolute.

By “normalizing” everything and everyone, we avoid using brainpower to evaluate. Instead, we make snap judgments of how we interpret the world around us.

Indeed, labels influence our judgment and how we decide who gets the benefit of the doubt. Inevitably fueling context. Our culture for too long has thrown people into categories and has treated them less than equal. Perhaps, it’s possible then, with enough attention, we can zero in these categories further and we will no longer overgeneralize large segments of the population based on what we see.

To label is to distinguish it from something else. Think about it.

Becoming

All that it takes to become a guitarist is to start making music.

It’s the same in every category.

Start doing the work and you are now that thing you want to be.

Do it every day and you are on your way to mastering your tools of choice.

Limits are exaggerated

Perhaps the greatest trap we fall into with the categories we create is the lack of resources.

Ironic if you think about it.

We are so rigid in creating so few categories of how we make sense of the world that we are then surprised when we lump everything into them then look around and see so few options left.

The world has so many possibilities. Unlimited. Our brains work overtime to simplify it.

Guitar playing

I’ve started playing guitar again. It’s been ten years.

No dreams of being a rock star or making money with it.

I’m playing for the joy of it.

We do all sorts of things for joy. But somehow as we get older we quit doing new things because of all the time spent failing at the beginning.

Don’t rush the journey

I watch one sports team–the Phoenix Suns. I’ve been watching for as long as I can remember. They also have never won a championship. Last season they came within two games of winning it all.

Here’s the thing: You can’t rush the experience. I didn’t sign up to watch a team that has a long history of winning titles. I signed up for a novel, not a short story.

There’s a metaphor here:

Are you rushing to get things done or are you trying to get to the good part?

Are you trying to ease the tension or increase it?

Moral high ground

In our highly charged and highly political world, it is easy to tell ourselves a story where the end justifies the means for a virtuous cause.

However…

Right is as extreme of view as wrong is. It blinds us from the wisdom of seeing the world as it really is.

There is no ground to stand on.

There is more than one answer when we come in with an open mind

Two people looking at the same problem can come up with different solutions.

Take for example someone trying to hang a picture:

One might think that the answer is a quarter-inch hole and someone else may see an opportunity to make their home more inviting.

There is only one solution to drilling a hole into the wall–buy a drill. By contrast, there are lots of ways to turn a house into a home and to create a feeling.

Obviously, I’m not just talking about hanging a picture on the wall.

Confusing

We often get so comfortable about the system we live in we begin to position it in our minds as the only one that can be imagined.

How can anyone else do things so differently?

Even worse is when we think that the status quo is the best it can be.