Archive for April, 2012

On being human (or at least some “random” bits thereof)

2012-04-11 07:06:50 PDT

Some fundamental “needs”/desires of humans (… well at least for most, anyway).

Touch / physical contact. For better or worse, something evolved into the nature of being human. Some kind of touch / physical contact, most notably with other human(s), is pretty near to “absolute necessity”. This is probably most demonstrably noted with infants – it takes more than just food, air, right temperature, changing of diapers, etc. – not much of a stretch to say, that without the human contact, infants wither up and die – or certainly at least quite fail to thrive. Well, at least typically, even for adults, I don’t think that general characteristic ever (entirely) goes away. So, … at least some touch/contact is generally good/useful/beneficial, if not downright important or more. That also leaves our Western (so called) “civilization”, with it’s relatively anti-touch nature, seemingly rather mis-fitted to basic human “need”, and generally even more so between adult males, particularly with all the homophobia, etc. E.g., by way of comparison, in some cultures, males who are friends, holding hands would not be at all unusual, but even quite common. Perhaps too, with all the “personal space”, increasingly ((over-?)zealous) anti-harassment (d)evolvement, etc. – and it often going quite beyond deterring/preventing harassment, this only drives things to be increasingly more anti-touch. E.g., it’s rather, if not quite to the point, where the only typically generally acceptable customary touch is the handshake, and with all the anti-germ phobias and over-concerns and hygiene issues etc., maybe even handshakes will fall out-of-favor and all but disappear (perhaps replaced with bow). Even law, e.g. “touching without consent is assault” seems at least a wee bit overly broad and “too” anti-touch. Heh, … and lawyers and law don’t necessarily make things better. E.g. legal and human resources advice, if not outright policies, tend to be “don’t touch” – period – or at least strongly recommending such. What next? Seems if such continues with logical extension and such, wouldn’t it next be, “If at all possible, do not get within 2 meters of any other homo sapien, and only allow such if and when all the relevant approved wavier of consent to less than 2 meters proximity forms have been signed, witness signed, notarized, validated, filed and registered, and only when it includes all the details of allowed and non-allowed behaviors and/or contact within 2 meter proximity, and all the exacting conditions under which each is and isn’t permissible.”. Seems like quite a mess – particularly compared relative to human “need”, and also generally, at least somewhat, trending in the “wrong” direction. Not that there aren’t legitimate problems to “prevent”, solve, address, etc., but … Perhaps what’s needed is much more advanced communication. Much of the “consent” communication, around “personal space”, touch, etc. (what is/isn’t “okay” and consented to, with who, when, where, how, etc.) is largely non-verbal. While fairly effective, that’s an area that typically is fraught with hazards and potential miscommunications/misinterpretations, recanting, etc. Perhaps what would be “ideal” would be a much more effective and unambiguous communication – or stream of communication, about what is or would be “okay” and/or not, and continuous update of same, as relevant, and including preferences, likes, dis-likes, desires, aversions, etc. Maybe we’ll eventually evolve and/or develop that, but at least presently we’re quite a ways from it.

Being understood. Seems quite to me (and probably many others), that a fundamental “need”/desire, is to be understood. Not necessarily by anyone and/or everyone, but at least someone(s). And too, not necessarily “everything”, but at least some, to potentially quite many things, that are important/significant to a person. Perhaps this is typically most acute in/around adolescence and young adulthood, but also remains generally present. In any case, folks want to be understood – by at least someone – or more than one. There tends to be a lot of the “you don’t get me” types of isolation/loneliness/despair, etc. when one feels understood by no one or not (sufficiently) well at all, or by “far too few”. Being listened to, heard, or really heard – mostly also part of same.

Being useful. Folks want to be useful, valued, appreciated. Seems rather yet another fundamental “need”. People tend to quite want to feel that in some, at least small, way, they’re needed, or useful, or somehow positively contributing to something and/or someone(s). By way of example, when someone is laid off / fired / terminated / “made redundant” – tends to generally be a fairly to moderately significant stressor in life. Sure, there are the factors of income and related issues, change in pattern(s)/regularity/routine, etc., but perhaps at least one of the relevant negative important contributing stress factors is the implied “you’re no longer needed or wanted”. “Of course” such applies much more generally than mere context of employment or “work”, per se, but much more generally in doing something useful or of value, being appreciated for such, etc. Rather seems human nature, but folks seem to generally quite desire that. Or maybe it’s quite, or more so, culture? Well, that seems to factor in too, but perhaps likely at least a fair chunk of it is an evolved-in “societal” “need” of being useful, and thus a quite fundamental “need”/desire.

“Need” for touch/contact, being understood, being/feeling useful, etc. So, part of being human. So, … wouldn’t life generally be a fair bit simpler – and quite possibly even better, if those “needs” didn’t exist? Do, or might, they sometimes, or even commonly/often, get in the way of or detract from otherwise doing (whatever) better and/or more important? Or do those “needs” make us better somehow? Or perhaps (most likely?) some of both. Regardless, is what it is, and part of being human.

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(some) “Rules” to Live by (or personal philosophy, or redundant stuff (most) everybody may have already thought of and said/done before)

2012-04-06 05:31:24 PDT

Some stuff I do, and/or at least generally try to do.

Don’t be making rules for, or be telling others, how to run/lead their lives. Exception: rather to quite (explicitly) solicited advice/feedback/opinion – offer suggestions, etc., but stated as personal opinion/perspective, suggestion(s), and not as absolute(s).

Actions speak louder than words. Doing it (generally) counts much more than writing it. Writing it typically counts for more than saying it. If it’s neither done, written, nor said, it generally counts for rather to quite little, or even nothing. Intents matter – but only so much – if/when they matter at all.

Not doing, is a type of doing – always choice(s).

Don’t be afraid to think it out. Sometime (much) better results in doing – or not doing, or how (not) done, are, or may, thus be achieved. But don’t (or try not to) over-think it. There is a point of diminishing returns. Optimal point is short of point of diminishing returns. Don’t be afraid to sometimes (have to) act very fast. Not everything affords time to “think”. Sometimes it must be (not) done “instantly”, or close to it. Can’t always know what’s best first or ahead of time – deal with it, live with it, accept it, accept responsibility for what’s (not) done.

Walk the talk. Be consistent, do what one says and espouses. Do not be a hypocrite! That which is past was not always correct. Accept responsibility. Do not resist change just because it’s how it was done or has always been done or how it was done before. Make it better – at least as reasonably feasible and appropriate.

Most things done, could have been done better. Often useful to review, to learn from such, and improve for present and future. However, can be (rather/quite) counter-productive to (excessively) pick over flaws and flaws past and/or “display” them. It’s (mostly) a matter of what’s approached/examined, how, with what attitude(s), how it’s “displayed” (if at all), etc.

Be relatively humble, and not particularly boastful. Do it well – good, excellent, great, friggin’ fantastic even … but don’t make a big deal of having done it. Set the expectation “it really just ought’a be done that way … or better … always … or at least nearly so”. And just do it, and meet or exceed expectations. “It”, should be shown/demonstrated as the way to do it – by doing it – again, don’t make a big deal of it, just do it and set/raise the expectation in so doing.

Perhaps/rather it’s just/quite me personally, but I’m rather/quite the fan of just doing it (very) well/right, and “the right thing”, no matter how significant, and (often) do it (even very) quietly – even anonymously. Just do it – no one need even know that it was done, or who did it, or there be any recognition or acknowledgement, or even knowledge of the act or that it was done – just simply do it!

“Lead by example” – set/improve standards in setting the example by doing it. Hypocrisy in such areas is particularly deleterious and tends to, e.g., feed cynicism, demotivate and demoralize, etc. There exist many examples of “what” to do, … and likewise what not to do. Some examples of what not to do:


  • Espouse honesty, make it a crime to lie to law enforcement, have law enforcement lie “in the name of catching criminals”.

  • Espouse fiscal responsibility, while being anything but.

  • Espouse fidelity, while philandering

  • much etc.

Nobody’s perfect. Don’t expect too much. Do expect “enough”, or at least that. There are effects, such as (psychological) self-fulfilling prophecy. Folks (also applies to self) tend to do, make, act, etc., into and towards what is expected of them – be it explicit, stated, implied/implicit, and/or even subtly and/or “subconsciously” / non-verbally “communicated” – even if not intentionally. Be aware of expectations set, and communicated or the like – intentionally and even unintentionally so.

Do not try to be perfect! Do not “demand” or expect perfection of or from others. Homo sapiens are not perfect. Expecting/”demanding” perfection, etc., results in repeated, and often significant, disappointment, demotivation, etc., and generally significantly less than otherwise optimally achievable results. Set expectations at/around more achievable targets, and net results will be better than aiming/expecting (far) too high or “perfect”.

Do not think of oneself as “at all” above average. You’re not, really, … at least in most all regards, anyway.

Absolute bare minimum requirement: Be a better (morally/ethically) human than average – compared at any given time, across all of humanity, and not just by a wee bit, but at least a quite significantly and “indisputable”, at least statistically significant, bit. Now, if only all of humanity were to quite do that at the same time always – or at least try very earnestly for that – or at least as close as feasible, humanity would very quickly shape into something a whole lot nicer and better.

Aim fairly high, but not too high. Specifically, work to optimize the most good one can net/feasibly do … with due care and attention and recognition of the constraint that one remains human – and inherently imperfect. As feasible, work in consideration with those flaws, limitations, and uniquely human, and personal, characteristics, etc., rather than against them.

Do not be a doormat, a pushover, a gullible sap, sucker, etc. Being good/nice/helpful etc., is one thing. Being something that effectively “trains” bullies, abusers, scammers, etc. to do more of that is doubly not a good thing, as it both tends to foster/encourage their bad behavior, and it generally tends to tear down and weaken self – which generally then has negative impacts beyond just self. This, however, does not mean one shouldn’t, or should never, go way the friggin’ heck out of one’s way, or really stretch – long, far, hard, perhaps even often to help or render aid, etc. Be useful/helpful, etc. (Try to) Know the difference between being useful – and being used. One may not always know in advance, or even during. Some things may only be known after – or sometimes may not even become known at all. Deal with it.

Try. (Generally) Better to have tried, and failed, than not tried at all.

Fairly useful rule-of-thumb: When unsure or in doubt – think of best possible example of person one can imagine, or similar in one’s place, and think of how they would handle it, react to it, deal with it, what they would/wouldn’t do, etc. That’s typically the right choice. One can figure out why that’s the right choice later … if one’s ever able to figure it out, anyway. Many choices are not clear-cut. Sometime the only choice is among unacceptable options; such sucks, but in such cases, one or more available choices will at least be the least unacceptable … choose it, deal with it, suck it up.

Suck it up, but don’t bottle it up. Mostly bit about being human. Don’t allow (in particular negative) emotions to fester. Work ’em out. Work ’em out in beneficial – or at least non-destructive/non-harmful way(s).

Anger sucks. Don’t do it. Don’t act or act out in anger. Me – at least mostly – quickly convert/dissipate/”use” (but not abuse or act in anger) it, don’t abuse it … any bits of anger, I mostly, highly typically and quickly convert: anger –> frustration –> energy –> do something good/useful with it. Processed it that way, so long, so many years, it’s quite ingrained “habit” … dang near happens “automagically” most all the time without my hardly even giving it a second thought. … “Anger? He doesn’t do anger. What’s he like when he gets angry/mad? Doesn’t happen, … never seen it. I don’t know, why don’t you ask him?”

Perspective. One never really knows/understands the perspective of another. You’re just never there – haven’t been, will not be, etc. Might partially know/understand, but you’re not them and they’re not you, so even if one thinks/believes one’s experienced quite the same, etc., it’s still not the same – as one didn’t experience it as them, and thus can never really know their experience of it. E.g. one has not experienced their full life history, biology, genetics, chemistry, physics, etc., and thus can never truly and completely know their experience of it or how they perceive it. Recognize and be aware of that. A.k.a. I’ve really got no clue what it’s like for them or how they are or have experienced it, even if I think I do … well, okay, maybe a (very) rough approximate idea, at best … but also quite probable I may be off – or way off-base, in my presumptions/guestimations/estimations of how they experience(d) and perceive(d) whatever. Listen. Observe. As feasible, work more so with evidence and fact, less on presumption, speculation, or guesses. Sometimes one will quite have to guess anyway. Try to at least realize how incredibly wrong one’s guesses may be. When one’s not guessing, one may still be (way) off. Accept it, deal with it, work with it, use, but don’t abuse, that knowledge/ambiguity/(un)certainty.

Do not presume. Sure, sometimes one might “need” to guess, but, often one’s presumptions (and guesses) can be way the friggin’ heck off. Know that.

I am not a saint, nor anything particularly close, nor claiming to be such nor even interested in claiming or “pretending” to be such. I am “average”, after all, … or at least pretty darn close to it – not a big deal.

Shouldn’t kids be “taught”, or at least introduced, to pretty much all this, and long before they’re even adults? Maybe. Who knows. Perhaps they already are … at least in some way(s).

Golden Rule – is kind’a sucky and needs appropriate refinement (replacement!). I much prefer it be replaced with the:
Platinum Rule – do unto others as they want to be done unto (and don’t do unto them as they don’t want to be done unto).
Inherently serious flaw in Golden Rule is a presumption that everyone wants/needs, at least approximately, the same thing(s), etc., when that really just isn’t the case, hence Golden Rule is far too simplistic, and thus significantly flawed. “Of course”, full proper version of Platinum Rule would also detail limitations/exceptions, etc. It can’t be usefully and reasonably applied as stated above with zero additional modifications, exceptions, or constraints.

Maybe I “ought” to stick this up somewhere (more) publicly/attributed? … or … not. Maybe even less so? After all, does it really matter who “said”/wrote it? More so, just that it was said. And besides, I’m not (that) “special”. “Average” (at least approximately) after all anyway. And given the billions on the planet, not to mention all those before, it’s probably already been said/written already many times before, perhaps too, even to the point where this really is pretty much to be expected, and absolutely nothing “new”, exciting, unknown, etc., or that hasn’t already been quite (well) covered before elsewhere by (many) others.

Don’t forget to laugh, especially at self – and life, and with others, but not at others.

For lack of better descriptor, could call this “my” personal philosophy … though no reason at all to presume or assume that it is at all uniquely “mine”. Probably (hopefully?) a whole friggin’ lot more highly similar, if not (quite) identical already exists out there. Maybe I simply just redescribed the wheel, and failed to properly credit earlier discoverers of same.

And when all’s said and done, it is.