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Posted on 2011.01.07 at 08:45
Current Location: 75409
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There are many ways to approach life. Some set goals. Some do not. Some people are aggressive goal-seekers, others take a more lackadaisical approach. Many in my experience wait for life to happen to them. Some even take a more extreme hands-off approach:
I plan for the worst and if something better comes along...
Myself? I obliterate them methodically and systematically without hurry. In recent days I've discovered that many of the judgments I have about things come not from careful analysis and separating fact from feeling, but stem from a default societal view. I therefore react accordingly to new concepts with which I am faced, and would honestly remain so unless challenged. Being able to question yourself and your motives is imperative for an effective exchange of ideas. It was that same blog post in which I later discovered I had to follow my own doled-out advice; advice I had written without a thought to why at the time. So many people think they re-evaluate, but there's always something - one thing they cling to which invalidates all other data they've ever analyzed. I recently ran across some very hard hitting concepts which challenged everything I thought I knew and shook my world-view.

And while the task ahead of me was difficult - I found it fascinating! What a joy to question myself and the source of my opinions.* What a opportunity for personal growth and understanding! And I learned. I discovered. My "opinions" were only societal regurgitation. I had never before actively considered the topic. Wow! And you people think you're smart? I don't even want to hear your weak justifications of why. My life is filled with people exponentially smarter than me. The only thing which separates us is they have stopped thinking. They have stopped challenging themselves. The ones who haven't? I have a wonderful, enriching relationship with.

I run across two types of people, and more recently, the reactions each of these groups have toward each other. The two types of people I run across are those who approach life with structured obstinacy, and those who seek out new concepts in everything they see and do. Interestingly enough, they both consider themselves open-minded. AND THESE TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE VIEW EACH OTHER WITH SUSPICION. That same linked post above is also where I first outlined that "sticking to your principles" is an outmoded, archaic tool of deception which insulates the self-righteous from open-mindedness while simultaneously claiming the opposite. That is likely the most beautifully, well-articulated self-fulfilling flaw I've run across to date. I wish we all had the capacity to govern ourselves so succinctly.

One by-product I've discovered through informal observation is that the close-minded ones aren't happy. Not really. And it may be something only I alone can see. Line them up and I can pick them out of a crowd. I mean, they look normal enough on the outside, just like you or I. But they're not, and they don't know why. I'm not saying that being open-minded makes you happy - it is a real struggle at times when you're wrestling not just with your conscious, but society and upbringing and nature and nurture - everything you are and everything you know. But its not insurmountable, and the resolution of such brings a peace that those of you who haven't experienced it, are not yet equipped to know.

* To this I owe a great debt of gratitude to my hetero-lifemate drax0r who taught me to question everything. Thank you. And to dentin who's analytical approach to things which have none is an unending source of inspiration to me.


michelle1963 at 2011-01-07 16:37 (UTC) (Link)
Intelligence. Really such an ill-defined concept, although we all use it as if there is an agreed definition. Sure we can recognize the periphery, and most people are referring to people who have one or more of the following: the ability to learn new information quickly, retain well the information they do learn, and/or the gift of analysis.

The general concept thrown around so randomly in conversation leaves out so much. First, there is the emotional component. I think we've all met smart people (as defined above) who had the temperament of a five year old. Are they smart? In some ways perhaps. But if they apply their gifts in an emotionally immature way, then they have nothing and offer nothing of any worth.

How many "smart" people lack curiosity? As you touched on, they've simply stopped thinking. Or perhaps they never did, serving only as a vessel to absorb facts and nothing else. Yes, they may set the standard on tests that measure this type of intelligence, but that is all.

A really obscure part of intelligence, is focusing one's energy. What if a person has intelligence, emotional maturity, and curiosity in spades, but can't get it together to focus their gifts?

To challenge one's core beliefs, it is necessary to have all the components--intelligence, emotional maturity, curiosity, and focus.

A rare combination indeed.

dentin at 2011-01-08 18:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Eric. I've got a lot from your posts as well, and if I'm able to duplicate your happiness engine, I will consider myself a very lucky man.

Regarding self analysis of social stricture and default programming, you may wish to browse around http://lesswrong.com. I've learned a lot about my preconceived notions and ineffective ways of thinking from the various posts there.
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