"This is a time for action -- not for war, but for mobilization of every bit of peace machinery. It is also a time for facing the fact that you cannot use a weapon, even though it is the weapon that gives you greater strength than other nations, if it is so destructive that it practically wipes out large areas of land and great numbers of innocent people. " -- Eleanor Roosevelt (b. 1884-10-11, d. 1962-11-07), My Day (newspaper column) 1954-04-16
By Leo Babauta
There isn’t a person among us who doesn’t procrastinate — put off your work for the day, distract yourself, put off pursuing your dreams, put off putting your work out in the world for fear of being judged.
But here’s the thing: most people think that this procrastination is a problem.
Most people stress out about being a procrastinator, and feel bad about themselves for doing it.
Au contraire (that’s French, don’t bother looking it up, it means you’re way wrong).
Instead, procrastination is the perfect place to practice all the most important life skills.
Our tendency to procrastinate is exactly how we’ll see how our minds work, and learn to be better at all the difficulties of life. Because life will always have these difficulties, no matter how much we’d prefer to avoid them, and how we respond to them will determine everything.
Let’s work on our responses to the hardest things in life.
How We Usually Respond
When we procrastinate, this is the usual process:
- We have something difficult or uncomfortable to do.
- We don’t feel like doing it, because it’s difficult, uncertain, uncomfortable.
- Our minds habitually turn away from this task, and find a more comfortable, certain thing to do, like watching videos or playing games or checking email or social media.
- We run to the easier thing, and then put off even thinking about the other thing.
- We feel bad that this happens, and start to form a negative image of ourselves. We rain harshness and criticism upon our psyche.
This makes us less likely to do better the next time around. It’s a vicious cycle, I tell ya.
We can learn to do better.
Procrastination is an Opportunity, Not a Suckfest
So what should we do instead? Ideally:
- We set a hard task before us.
- We feel the difficulty, but see this as a signpost that we’re pushing into uncertain ground.
- We relish the opportunity to push into uncertain ground, and dive in with gusto. (I love the word “gusto,” btw.)
But that’s not where we are. We have to practice in this way:
- Set a hard task, feel like procrastinating because it’s uncertain and uncomfortable …
- Start to procrastinate by going to something easy.
- Once we’ve switched over and noticed that we’re procrastinating … we pause. This Pause is the key to everything.
- We see this Pause as an opportunity to practice a key life skill, and we light up with joy. And yes, gusto.
- We practice with discomfort and uncertainty. What does it feel like? Is it horrible? Can we work in the midst of it? Can we open up to the discomfort of it all, embrace the uncertainty, and see it as a beautiful part of what we’re doing?
Slowly, through this practice, we can get better at not running, at staying with the discomfort, at embracing it all, at being patient and joyful in the middle of chaos and the unknown.
Commit yourself to this practice. You’ll find it life-changing and gorgeous.
Practicing with Discomfort & Uncertainty
So you are in the Pause. And you see that you have a chance to practice with discomfort and uncertainty.
Here’s what you do.
You turn toward the feeling — the physical feeling in your body, not just a mental idea of it — and see how it feels. Where is it located in your body? How would you describe the sensation? Can you give it an energy, a color, a sound?
You stay with the feeling, with curiosity. You surrender to it, with trust in yourself. You allow it to be there, with acceptance.
Then you go forth and do the work. The hard thing. The thing you’re completely uncertain about. And accept the uncertainty as part of life, as part of the mission you’re on, because no worthy mission will be fully certain. No hero sets out on a journey knowing how it will end. You’re that hero, and yes, you’re completely up to this mission.
You do the work, notice the discomfort, allow it to be there. You notice your urge to turn away and run, and you don’t follow the urge.
You mess up, and start all over again, like the goldarn hero that you are. You fall down a thousand times, get up two thousand. You are courageous, inspirational, and stronger than even you believe.
One step at a time, you’re expanding your comfort zone, your zone of genius, your hero range. And with each step, you’re getting stronger, and inspiring the world to do the same.
In other news, I created a Facebook group for Keith and it should be visible off of Facebook and I need to figure out how to make sure people get notifications of events and such.
It looks like the last couple times he and I didn't connect I was either tired or had a dime cell phone and I'm sad that it had been as long as it was since it looks like we talked.
If you want to send a condolence card to his mom it would be best to send it either to Diana or declined because his mom is not dealing well with getting condolence cards and has requested they come in batches.
I'd be complaining about where has the summer gone except its 87 degrees and I am so sweaty. What show was good last night and better today and I like my outfit. So I guess it was a good choice choice to keep the skirt from the clothing swap that had magen davids in batik all over it
In other news, it was a good choice to get the multipass for fair, because when all this went down on Saturday getting there at 5:15 was perfectly fine.
And I got a crow both Monday and Tuesday and well it's been a wonderful thing I wish I understood why my wrists and hands hurt as much as they do, and I'm really hoping that it doesn't have anything to do with ceasing doxycycline for the Lyme. I consulted with an infectious diseases doc on Friday and I'm relatively sanguine about the amount that I've done . But I do want to email about stuff that's happened in the last week.
I'll admit I haven't been all that politically engaged. There's so much going on it's impossible to keep up and the things good. Those who have the energy and especially those who have Republican Senators might like to spend some time calling said Republican Senators to push back on their final last-ditch kill the ACA legislation that were looking at this week .
All of the above courtesy the somewhat newer phone I have finally changed too, which seems to have fairly awesome speech to text.
Many thanks to free, for giving me the link to the dreamwidth mobile.
Here's the thing: there's a difference between a group of people and a system of people. The difference is that a system of people comprises not only the individuals, but also the social constructs that guide the behavior of those individuals... in other words, the system itself.
For example, a company isn't just a bunch of people who coincidentally happen to work on the same projects in distributed ways. A school system isn't a bunch of teachers and administrators who independently happen to work the same way. A police precinct isn't a bunch of officers who just happen to follow the same rules.
In each of these cases there are policies and guidelines and hierarchies and informal structures and so forth that shape behavior. There's a system.
And when we praise or condemn the public school system, or the police, or Microsoft, or etc. we mostly aren't praising or condemning a whole group because of some good or bad individuals. I mean, sure, those individuals exist, but they aren't the reason. We are praising/condemning a whole group because of the system that organizes it. And the larger the system we're talking about, the more true that is: when we say that democracies are more just than totalitarian states, or that capitalism is more efficient than communism, or that communism is more humane than capitalism, or various other claims along those lines, we're basically not saying anything at all about any individual.
Or at least, that's how it should be. I mean, sure, sometimes we praise or condemn a group of people just because we're applying aggregate-level stereotypes to all the individuals in that group. And in those cases the "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group." narrative makes sense: we really shouldn't! Or at least, we're overwhelmingly likely to be mistaken when we do; we can draw our own ethical conclusions from there.
(I am reminded now of a friendship I broke some time back by expressing both the idea that condemning individuals because of their group affiliations is bad, and the idea that analyzing the common behaviors of individuals is the only way we can identify pathological systems, in ways that struck them as infuriatingly and relationship-endingly hypocritical.)
And sure, sometimes we make analysis errors in this space. Sometimes there's a system operating we're unaware of. Sometimes we infer the presence of systems that don't actually operate, or aren't relevant to what we're talking about. It's easy to talk about the behavior of people while ignoring the systems that shape us, and it's easy to handwave about notional systems without actually making any concrete or testable claims about whether they exist.
I'm not saying I expect us to be perfectly accurate when we describe groups and systems. But I want us to be better about acknowledging that they are two different things.
When someone condemns racism as a systemic attribute of a society, for example, there are folks who reply that no, racism is a property of individuals, end-of-story.
And in principle that can be a legitimate disagreement; if someone wants to argue that there really aren't any social systems underlying/guiding/constraining/
But usually they aren't arguing that; rather, they are simply insisting that we can only talk about individuals, because when we say that racism is also demonstrated through the systems that essentially all white people in this country participate in, we're talking about a whole group, and (all together now) "we shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."
And I don't know how to say all of this, or any of it, in ways that are at all useful within the conversation itself. And I watch other people trying to do it, and not getting very far either.
And I understand that often that's because other people just don't want to hear it, and in general I don't believe that there's a way to say everything that will be accepted by the person I'm talking to and that it's my job to find it. But still, I try to express myself clearly and compellingly.
So, anyway. I am so very tired of the narrative of "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."
"Rosh Hashanah is about relationships. Whether between individuals and the God in whom they believe, communities and the traditions which define them, or simply between individuals, whether any God or tradition is part of their lives, it's all about sustaining relationships which sustain us and help us do the same for others." -- Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
Gregorian: 2017 September 20
Julian: 2017 September 07
Hebrew: 5777 Elul 29 --- sundown will be the start of 5778 Tishrei 01
Islamic: 1438 Dhu I-Hijja 28
Persian: 1396 Shahrivar 29
Indian: 1939 Bhadra 29
Coptic: 1734 Thout 10
[I feel, based on my own reactions each time I think about the loss described here, like I should provide some kind of content-warning to avoid ruining someone's day if this is their nightmare fuel. But I'm really not sure what form this warning should take.]( Linda Ronstadt describes what she can't do. May be upsetting to artists. Many people may just calmly think 'oh, that's sad'. )
I acknowledge, of course, that we are all imperfect humans, and what an individual officer does in a specfic situation is always the result of a million variables that are impossible to predict and often impossible to determine after the fact.
That's why I tend to focus more on training and evaluation protocols than on specific events. It's unjust to expect officers to do X in a sitution if they've been trained to do Y, but it's perfectly reasonable to expect officers to be trained to do X if we prefer that they do X in a situation.
I would prefer that police be trained and evaluated as peacekeepers rather than killers. So I would prefer, for example, they be trained and expected to identify situations that don't require a death, and to act so as to not create a death where none is required.
That said, how police are trained and evaluated is a collective decision, and if we collectively prefer police to choose deaths that aren't required -- for example, if we prefer to train and equip police as military officers who happen to deploy among civilian populations -- then that's how we should train and evaluate them, regardless of my preferences. That's part of the price I pay for living in a collective.
If police _are_ trained to choose unnecessary deaths, we should (individually and collectively) treat calling the police, permitting them into our homes, and otherwise making use of their services as a use of deadly force. Consequently, if we don't individually endorse the use of deadly force in those situations, we should not call the police, any more than we would fire a gun.
Those are individual decisions, not collective ones, and it's perfectly reasonable to hold one another as individuals accountable for them.
I acknowledge that this means that individuals who eschew deadly force in a situation may find themselves in conflict with any police who may arrive. I don't like this, and I don't endorse it, but I acknowledge it.
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2017-03-08:
"I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English." -- Philip Roth, novelist
(submitted to the mailing list by Mike Krawchuk)
"Just because your electronics are better than ours, you aren't necessarily superior in any way. Look, imagine that you humans are a man in LA with a brand-new Trujillo and we are a nuhp in New York with a beat-up old Ford. The two fellows start driving toward St. Louis. Now, the guy in the Trujillo is doing 120 on the interstates, and the guy in the Ford is putting along at 55; but the human in the Trujillo stops in Vegas and puts all of his gas money down the hole of a blackjack table, and the determined little nuhp cruises along for days until at last he reaches his goal. It's all a matter of superior intellect and the will to succeed.
Your people talk a lot about going to the stars, but you just keep putting your money into other projects, like war and popular music and international athletic events and resurrecting the fashions of previous decades. If you wanted to go into space, you would have."
-- George Alec Effinger (not sure which story -- I can find lots of sites repeating that it is from Live! from Planet Earth, but I haven't seen any saying which story in that anthology the quotation is from)
I was just about to leave for Wheaton regional for acro when I got the call, and then the other call. Had over an hour on the phone with the housemate yesterday rapidly coming to an understanding of why she was impossible to live with, so i suppose I should have known better than to admit I already knew, that Diane had already called me. And I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when she started yelling and hung up on me when I told her the Baltimore and DC science fiction people would be available to help sort through his things - I knew there had already been strife over his wishes that his books go to bsfs.
I decided half an hour ago that I'd instedad go to faire at this point. Called gsh and established through tears that he would still be there. Am still messing with the iPad.
I wrote this on Facebook:
Back when social media showed stuff in order and I more consistently posted on a certain other network Keith William Marshall would check on me when I hadn't posted in a day or two. He was willing to spend likely three times as long supporting me in replacing my disposall 'myself' as it would have been to just do it. He made bracelets and fiddle toys the 3D printer and last I saw him he gave me a Magen david. I keep thinking of the anodized titanium bracelet he made and wore. He was kind and matter of fact and knew about so many things and i wish I'd remembered he was still one of the people who chats on the phone. Ive had a candle burning for Keith since last night; Diana called a few minutes ago and it sadly now serves as memorial.
We always think there will be more time. I knew yesterday the situation was bad but was already thinking about how to be future help.
there isn't yet memorial information. Diana may have an informal gathering at her place tomorrow. If you know her or Keith, ping me for phone/address.
I'm hoping that bsfs/wsfa can be involved in sorting through Keith's books and such, because it was important to him they not be trashed. Communication in that area is currently a bit fraught.
Fsck. Just Fsck. Other times friends have died it's been either less of a surprise or farther away
It's surprising and it isn't surprising that I'm crying. We met 20 years ago. He always made me feel cared for and protected. And it was a shock, and I could have spent more time with him. Particularly after he was no longer driving.
I gotta get moving in some direction
"As long as we're valuing capital over labor, we have a future in store that's owned by the 0.0001% where the rest of us get to pay for the privilege of being allowed to breathe their air and live on property they own. Where I get stuck at is how we get out of this bind--with people like the Mercers and the Kochs and the various Putin-orbit oligarchs holding the rights to so much of the world's wealth, how do we devalue, divest, and otherwise claw back those resources to a place where we can use them for the good of society, rather than the plutocrats?" -- Boussinesque, commenter at Balloon Juice [thanks to realinterrobang for quoting this earlier]
By Leo Babauta
The things that stop us from taking action are all-too-familiar:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Not knowing where to start
- A habit of procrastinating and doing easier things
It’s easy to get into a mode of inaction, but building the Action Habit can be a lot more difficult. The reason is that the feedback loops in our lives are set up the wrong way: it’s easier to put things off than to act, it’s easier to seek comfort than to push into discomfort, fear and stress.
So how do we start taking action in our lives: changing fundamental health and productivity habits, getting out and looking for a job, putting our creativity out there in the world, taking steps to finally work on that project you’ve been wanting to start?
The answer lies in a simple method for creating the Action Habit:
- Pick one positive action
- Make it tiny and easy
- Set up positive feedback
- Put everything you have into it
This might sound too simplistic for some people, and you might be tempted to skip this and go read something else. This is a mistake — try this method and see if you can create the Action Habit today.
Pick One Positive Action
Yes, I know that you have a thousand things you want to do, in all areas of your life. But thinking about all the things you need to do can be stressful and overwhelming, and lead to inaction. You can’t do it all right now!
Instead, focus on something you can do right now.
But how do you choose among all the things you want to do? Try this:
- Make a list of the main things you want to do. Feel free to make a second list of the smaller tasks and errands you need to get to as well. Don’t get stuck on this step — if you are overwhelmed by this, just think of the biggest things you need to get done.
- Mark the top 3 things on your list — what feel most important to you right now? If you can’t decide, ask someone else to decide for you.
- Pick the No. 1 thing in your top 3. If it’s too hard to choose, make a random choice — it’s better to make a slightly less-than-optimal choice than to get stuck in indecision.
Once you have your No. 1 thing you want to get done (let’s say, “Write a book” or “Get in shape”), then you need to pick one small action you can get done on this project in the next few minutes.
What about the other projects or tasks on your list? You’ll get to those later, but worrying about everything all at once is counterproductive. Pick one thing on the list, and get moving with it. After that, you can re-evaluate and pick the next thing on your list to get moving on. In this way, you’re getting in the habit of taking action rather than getting stuck.
Make It Tiny & Easy
Now that you have something you want to focus on, ask yourself, “What tiny action can I take right now?”
For “Write a book” it could be as simple as “Open a document and write down a few ideas.” For “Get in shape,” you might choose something like, “Go out for a short walk,” “Do a few pushups,” or “Send an email to my sister to go for a run tomorrow.”
You don’t have to do the whole project right now. Just one tiny step. Once you get into the Action Habit, you’ll be able to do the other steps later. But for now, just focus on one tiny step. This is how you create the habit.
Make it as ridiculously easy as possible, so that you can’t really say no.
Are you tempted to put it off? Then make it even easier — 30 seconds of working out is so easy that anyone can do it.
Thirty seconds of working out is not going to get you in shape, but the Action Habit is about removing barriers and getting moving.
Set Up Positive Feedback
If you get one or two people into an accountability team, you’ll make it much more likely that you’ll succeed. That’s because with accountability, you get negative feedback for not doing the actions (a bit of embarrassment) and positive feedback for doing the actions (a bit of pride in your accomplishment).
- Ask one or two friends to be on your team. This is as easy as sending an email or text message.
- Tell each other what tiny steps you’re going to do today towards important long-term goals.
- Check in at the end of the day, or when you’re done with your three tiny actions.
If you’d rather not have a team, then simply put up a list on your wall (or somewhere very visible) of your three top tiny actions for this morning, and allow yourself to check them off once they’re done. It’s rewarding to be able to check the off.
Positive feedback means you’re going to enjoy taking the tiny actions, rather than seeking comfort in putting them off.
Put Your Entire Being Into It
Once you have your accountability set up, and a tiny action chosen, then it’s time to take action!
Now put your entire self into starting the action.
All you have to do is start.
Act as if your life depends on it.
Act as if nothing were more important than keeping your word to yourself.
Act as if this one tiny action were the entire universe.
All you have to do is get moving — open a document, start an email, write one item on a list, put on your running shoes. Devote yourself single-mindedly to starting this tiny movement.
Repeat, to Create the Habit
Doing your first tiny action is amazing. Now focus your entire being on the next tiny action. This is how you create the Action Habit: by doing it repeatedly.
If you’ve taken a tiny action on an important project, congratulate yourself! Check it off your list, report it to your accountability team, feel gratitude that you got moving. Now ask yourself what is the next small step you can take on this project. Can you take it right now? One small step at a time, you’re getting some momentum on this project.
Or perhaps there’s nothing else you can do right now. Look at your Top 3 list, and see if there’s another project you can take a tiny action on right now.
If not, maybe one of your other important items. Or maybe you take action on your smaller tasks (though don’t let yourself use this as a way to put off the hard stuff). Do the hard stuff first if you can, but you need to get to the small stuff sometimes. The trick is, you’re turning the hard stuff into the small easy stuff.
Just repeat this method, re-evaluating your list once a day or so, taking tiny actions all day long, with breaks in between. This is how you form the Action Habit, and it will be incredible.
A "care and feeding of the [vval]" note: If there is some sort of Activity happening and I'm off to the side alone doing something else, that is very rarely my first choice in how my life is going. There are people who sit and watch at a dance or read a book at a party. That is not me. It may be that I've decided I'm superfluous, or am not sure how to insert myself (this happens at acro jams) but while I /can/ entertain myself on the sidelines that isn't why I showed up. I supposethere's also craft nights where everyone has a project. And it's certainly nice to be out near people while getting stuff done, so maybe that's another counter example....
So the thing is, right now I'm sitting in Meridian Park watching three instructors do acroplay. Thing is, the visiting one had invited me to come join them, and had taken til most of 1 to mention to me that he was arriving at the Park to join with one of the others, and when I finally managed to get here, there were 3. And so I'm superfluous. They're doing stuff that's beyond my comfort level, which is fine, but I'd also expressed last night that I didn't want to get in the way.
So I paid a few bills and am now sitting typing, and I'm not sure whether they think this is what I want to be doing. When I rushed out and changed another potential thing I was doing to be here.
Edit: I just got to try a couple things and spot a couple things, which was helpful
"The ideal government will have the values of the Federation, the business acumen of the Ferengi, the sense of honor of the Klingons, and the subtlety of the Romulans. Our current government has the values of the Romulans, the business acumen of the Federation, the sense of honor of the Ferengi, and the subtlety of the Klingons." -- Harold Feld, 2017-09-12 [Yes, it's intended to be recognizeable as a new take on the old joke about heaven and hell.]
"What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt