Sunday, May 11, 2008

Notes to Myself...

One of my very best friends, Keith, lent me a book a while back named Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather. It's a short book, but an amazing read filled with insightful aphorisms about life and our inner self. As a sincere introvert, I really appreciated the analysis Prather made of himself and others, so I started my own to see if I couldn't learn some things about myself as well. After writing little snippets down for a while, I've decided to post up a few of my favorites to further chronicle my character and the issues I think about up to this point. So here goes:

When you judge people and make misconceptions beforehand, you close yourself off to a relationship with who that person truly is.

Being a truly good listener is much more difficult than I thought. It requires not only hearing what is said but also what is not said. Also, if you listen close enough, many people will tell you what they want you to say.

Is there any other way to deal with a situation that is out of your control besides to worry about it? I believe that what is important to remember is that while a situation may be out of your control, you are never out of control of how you react to that situation. One always has the choice to react positively, or at least appropriately, to any instance you may find yourself in, and that is what makes all the difference.

Never, ever underestimate the power of a few earnest kind words from someone who cares about you.

Truly living requires learning from as many situations as possible. Unless you are learning, you aren't fully living.

I think that if most poeple are honest with themselves, they'll see in their heart of hearts that all we want is to be loved. How can we be loved without first loving others, faults included?

I find there are two ways to listen to people: You can listen focusing on what is said in order to find contradictions, pick out flaws, or just find ways to relate what is being said to yourself and wait to speak. Or, you can listen purely for the sake of hearing what the other person has to say and better understand someone other than yourself. Understanding brings unity, togetherness, and ultimately love. Anything else brings about a division and barrier between people.

More often than not I judge people because I'm sure they're judging me. It's more of a self defense mechanism than an offensive means. I say to myself, "That guy probably thinks X about me. What a mean person," closing myself off to any emotional connection with them.

The other method of judgment I see in myself is another defense mechanism. In order to validate myself, I set up a rule of measurement in which I am the ruler. People are never up to my standard in one way or the other, making me the ultimate being. This is ignorant and ultimately leads to another lack of connection with people.

What does "I" mean? "I" am a scholar, a lover, a friend, an athlete, a son, and a myriad of other titles, but what is my essence? None of my titles or abilities truly defines "me". I am not fully anything, but somehow all of my combined "almosts" makes "me". I'm just not sure what that truly means.

I used to call myself a misanthrope. I get so upset with my race. I don't think I'm misanthropic because I hate mankind, but I'm misanthropic because I love mankind so much. I see us as having limitless potential, yet it is never realized and nobody cares. Seeing our unrealized, complacently forgotten potential is what truly upsets me about mankind.

Sometimes when I see someone like myself, I notice myself wanting to compliment them. It's like validating who I am by validating them. I also notice myself expecting a compliment in return. Why? Why don't I just compliment people for their own sake, not wanting anything in return?

Every time I find myself getting really upset in a conversation, it's usually for one of two reasons:
1) I am upset with myself for not conveying my opinions very well and being misunderstood, or
2) I get defensive for not really being sure of what I feel. When people probe and poke ideas that I'm still developing and am unsure of, it upsets me for some reason.

We talk about "getting through" hard times. Should we? We learn the most about ourselves when life is difficult, so why not "get through" the easy times instead? Or better yet, how about not "getting through" any of life, but instead savoring every second of pleasure and suffering equally? Only then will we be always alive.

So that's me. These are the things I think about on a daily basis when I evaluate myself honestly. I like to try and give other people the benefit of the doubt and humble myself, because honestly I more often than not have a selfish intention lurking behind my actions. Seeking it out, figuring out why it's there, and fixing it is what I hope will ultimately make me the kind of person I'd like to become. Time will tell.

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