After two full weeks of P90X I got one of those energy-sapping colds which on the surface was nothing more than easily-manageable congestion, but under the hood a lingering thief who deceitfully robbed me of my ambulatory motivation. I couldn't rustle up the energy to even move. As I am rarely ill, I found this excessively disturbing. To add insult to injury, it even managed to affect my mood. Surprising to be sure, as my mood is nearly unflappable.
Nonetheless, I am back. Me and my swinging terrible swift sword. And I feel magnificent.
I was watching a show the other day and one of the female characters said something along the lines of, "Men say they will change, but they never do." That got me to thinking of context. How do those who make such statements expect to see that change manifest?
Those of us who define ourselves by our role I imagine could fulfill a variety of roles and be the same person. The same can be said for our beliefs; Whether or not I am a Christian or a Buddhist or an atheist, I'm still the same person. So while its possible to change who we are by adapting to cumulative external changes via different ways of thinking as we embrace new roles, what is it other people see us as having changed?
My first thought was behavior.
How we behave in our responsibilities, our beliefs, and our interactions with others. And to a degree, I'll stick with that. But I wonder how much of our behavior is reflected in less concrete definitions, such as character. Foreign sounding words such as integrity or sportsmanship - ideas which transcend our religious-political beliefs or socio-economic status. Deep-rooted traits which, over time, can be seen by those we most interact with. Perhaps that's what truly defines us?
Why then is behavior so important? Take sportsmanship for example. Good and bad behavior both are easy to spot in competitors. How we behave when we've lost is more easily masked than how we may really feel. So while our actions may belie our feelings, its an easy one to manipulate. You may not really be a good sportsman, but if your behavior says otherwise, how will anyone know unless you are caught behaving otherwise?
I suppose then that it comes back to always being mindful. Be aware of your surroundings; your audience. Not to pretend to be something you aren't, but for the purposes of ensuring those around you can perceive who you really are. A very small, easily overlooked, yet wholly important distinction.
Concerning the pursuit of happiness, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said,
The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. *
This is an easily understood assembly of words for a sometimes-difficult concept, and can also be applied to our character. I'm very often accused of being contradictory. That's because I attempt to define nuanced granularity, not broadly stroked ideas. Here's an example: "I don't care what people think of me. I always try to make a good impression." Contradictory or not?
People who say, "I don't care what other people think about me" are generally referring to who they are, what they believe, and how they act. But we absolutely want to be judged on some semblance of who we really are, what we really believe, and how we really act - its a way of enforcing our own belief system - withstanding judgement of it. Of course we don't care what other people think of us if they know nothing about us!
Ergo, I want to be clear in my communication, and make an impression which will allow others to correctly perceive me, so they can judge me properly. If they do not find what I present favorable, I don't care. Not contradictory. Complimentary. In fact believing one without believing the other is where the contradiction lies - within those who make the statement without understanding we alone are solely responsible for emitting a truthful facsimile of ourselves in order to be judged.
We may not always be defined by others using the same measuring stick we use to define ourselves, but self-identity is that which cannot be modified by external circumstances or judgement. Errant behavior may be a mask to hide our flaws, but it is only temporary unless we're using it as a character-building tool which can be used to actually modify our character. In other words, the only way to be acknowledged as an ethical person is not to act ethical, but to actually *be* ethical. So it is with all our character traits.
So today, go out and be excellent to each other, and trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. I certainly plan to!
* - Thanks anakngtinapa!