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The Fulfilled Life

Posted on 2012.12.10 at 00:00
Current Location: 67235
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I celebrate criticism, I do. I look forward to being told I'm wrong, or that I'm looking at something the wrong way, or that my failure was due to some defect in my cognitive process. Why? Because it allows me to learn; to grow beyond my programming. Alternately, it gives me an opportunity to re-verify my intent, motivation, and procedure through rebuttal. Perhaps once I explain why I think why I do, the other person can either learn something themselves, or better focus on whatever issue I may be experiencing.

Some people, however, seemingly tie criticism to their ego. You criticize some decision they've made, or question their motivation and you're attacking them personally, so they respond by being defensive. I ran across a wonderful, wonderful essay which outlined step-by-step how egocentric people view - and react - to criticism, by someone who was endeavoring to overcome it. Bravo, I say. How many times have I heard that overcoming some personal shortcoming is, "too hard?" What then? Once the author of the above essay was able to overcome his admittedly irrational defensiveness he said, "The positive changes in my life after reversing this habit have been huge."

What's baffling to me are those who want "huge positive changes" without having to work at them. Children, for example generally behave this way, but as they mature, understand the nature of the rewards of effort. I would love to go through life with impunity, but that's not how life works. Even a child can understand cause and effect, and our society is built upon these self-perpetuating principles.

Another essay starts, "Criticism is crucial for personal improvement." Given that personal improvement is essential for fulfillment - the underpinnings of a happy life, I question those who eschew it while maintaining that they're happy. I won't go so far to say its impossible, what with all the different permutations of personality, but it seems very unlikely. Or at least unsustainable.

The first essay discussed how important it was to take personal responsibility for his behavior, the second essay chose to view it as externalizing the criticism in order to "supercharge" growth. Once again, I don't personally care how you strive to not be defensive about everything, only that you do. Strive therefore for continuous improvement - no matter how difficult it may seem - for only then will we be fulfilled, and truly happy. Attitude is everything.


michelle1963 at 2012-12-10 14:39 (UTC) (Link)
I looked up the definition of criticism (actually criticizing). The first is "to find fault with," and the second means to "judge, analyze."

Granted, we have all known someone who enjoyed finding fault with others for the mere sake of making their target feel small so s/he himself could feel bigger. While I totally acknowledge that these people do exist, they are far in the minority and easy to spot. Everyone else I have ever dealt with, whether they were tactful in their delivery or not, has been trying to alert me to something I did not know. They are trying to help me. I would have lost so much valuable information if I had blown them off in the same vein as I do the first example.

And even when they were "finding fault" (you would be more successful if you tried this....), how could I deny the truth of their words?

If I had failed to learn from all of "criticism" I had received over the years, I shudder to think what an ignorant fool I would be. In one of the essays you cited, the author stated that it is human nature not to want to be criticized. I agree that it is human nature not to want to be attacked without provocation. But somewhere along the line we are embedding the idea that it is never okay not to know something, be the best at something, or make a mistake. What the hell? This is an impossibility. And it is in these instances where most "criticism" (or more accurately corrective action) comes in - and should!
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