On Purpose

We like to find meaning in what we’re currently doing. Abdicating the responsibility of determining purpose and intent to the situation we’re in. It’s why some are comfortable to stay in a job they hate for far to long, while others are happily moving from company to company with no particular concern. Both can be carried by inertia, but their intention is different.

In the first example, why would you stay in a job you hate, well that assumes that the purpose of your employment is to enjoy it. If no job would satisfy you and you only work for your life outside of it, then your purpose would be the maintenance of your material needs. The nourishment of your desires is your purpose and as such any job is acceptable so long as it does so. A job that pays you enough and is undemanding enough suits your purpose. That you hate it is irrelevant.

The latter example is a little trickier, why move from a job you love and makes you happy? For so many that seems like a dream but again, if your purpose is to achieve something different, or to have more, or be somewhere else than no matter how happy a job makes you it can’t satisfy you.

Which is where we come to the point of it. Our purpose is to achieve our own satisfaction, to attain happiness. Yet we’re also terribly designed to do so. Happiness is such an undefinable concept, and applies so hap haphazardly across us all that it’s attainment is a chaotic mess. Should we even be so fortunate as to know what we want it isn’t usually a material matter in how to acquire it.

Happiness falls within our own minds, as much as any other emotion, so using it as a meter stick for measuring our external accomplishments is folly. Purpose is derived within our selves, and confusing it with external desires is disruptive to achieving it.

Discerning your intentions and desires, to see what you want and need is good. It can help you uncover why you want what you want and understand the nature of purpose that you are employing. Rather then measuring based on titles, accomplishments, or wealth instead look at how you act and what directions you push yourself into. Often our mind pushes us towards what we need and if we don’t understand that then we’re haplessly following a shrouded path.

It’s not enough to want, want can lead you down dark paths. To bring light you must uncover your purpose, not let it be a by-product of your actions. Understand your desires so that you may fulfill them if they’re healthy, or deal with them if you’re not. Simply believing you can conquer your every whim is impossible, find common ground with your intention and strike purpose into your intent.

On Consideration

I’ve tried to take a more considered approach to life. Not just the visceral brand of introspection I’ve tended to use, but to actually thoughtfully consider things.

There might not be much of a difference between those two statements at first glance, but let’s dig in. Introspection is looking inward to yourself, which, is not a bad practice, but it is centered on the self. I think it’s incredibly important to be thoughtful about your actions, to be honest with yourself about your motivations, and to understand who you are.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the consideration with how that self interacts with an external world. I’ve often thought that deeds and not words are what matters. I’ve come to understand that consideration of words is important as well.

Something with good intentions, said poorly isn’t likely to be received positively. There’s value to how you say something, and not only what you do. I don’t say this as a means of manipulation or to influence. Your deeds must still stand on their own, but the reality is that there is an entire social framework to how information is processed.

There’s multiple layers of bias and belief that follows around your actions. Considering these layers is exhausting, and it shouldn’t be your responsibility, but yet, it’s still there. Ignoring an issue does not remedy it.

Taking time to consider the impact of how you comport yourself, not acquiescing to the masses, but holding your head up as a positive influence to those around you. A good thing said cruelly isn’t good.

On Contentment

What does it mean to be content?

I think contentment often gets muddled in as an off branch of happiness. As maybe a general good feeling. That does contentment a disservice.

Contentment is so much more then just the absence of bad it’s a state that is often strived for but misunderstood. There’s nothing wrong with being happy just as there’s nothing wrong with being sad or angry. All are emotional states and are neither worthy of praise or scorn. Contentment is the same, it embodies a state of acceptance.

Acceptance of your current state and your past and future. There’s a tremendous amount of validation that comes from acceptance. To be accepted is something we strive for, for good or ill. To accept ourselves can be as simple as opening ourselves to the idea or a life’s work.

To accept yourself, truly and unconditionally, can be empowering. To understand yourself truly and accept your flaws alongside your strengths is a dangerous journey but often a worthwhile one.

Contentment isn’t the absence of strong emotion. It’s the fulfilment of your own emotional state. It can be fleeting at times and difficult to hold onto. Yet holding that calm in your mind makes the challenges we face a little bit easier.

On Standards

There’s many ways we are held, and hold ourselves accountable.

Standards are a generally understood way of upholding that accountability, the big question, is how do they get applied.

I could, and probably should talk about my own issues with setting standards for myself, and on the unconscious way I’ve tried to hold others to those standards. The latter generally being a bad idea, and the former generally being poorly executed.

Let’s talk for a second about professional standards, or even more broadly about standards in the workplace.

Any working environment is going to be a hodgepodge of standards to navigate, from basic things like safety and just general social nicety to more complex codes of conducts and professional liability and responsibility.

These aren’t inherently bad things, we all need to work in safe environments, we all need to get along. When accessing professional services we should expect a certain quality of work. Those are end goals and not the application of standards themselves.

Whether it’s rules based on principles based, the application of differing standards provides all kinds of potential for subjectivity. I’ve taken a long way to get here, but lets examine that for a second.

Is someone who is socially unpleasant at times more or less likely to break a safety rule? Not inherently those two things aren’t related. However if we find someone difficult to deal with or unpleasant in some way. We’re far more likely to associate their propensity to break social rules, with other rules. They may not be any more unsafe then the average person in the environment but you’re going to be more likely to notice or react to transgressions.

So, here’s where we get to the crux of the issue, what if, by the very nature of your existence. Considered socially uncomfortable. Even the most progressive minded and well intentioned folks are susceptible to biassed thinking and the isms and phobias.

So how do standards end up going from something that makes sense, a common set of guidelines to ensure professional, safe, effective work gets done. To a tool of oppression?

It goes back to that simple premise that someone who is a member of a social minority has already broken a social rule by existing in a space. Whether it’s a sense of discomfort that then makes you feel uncomfortable and therefore feel like the person has put you out by existing, all the way up to outward hate. Existing as someone who is a visible minority breaks the established rules of a space. Especially in hetero-normative, cis-normative, white-centric, ablest spaces. When the default for social conduct doesn’t include your existence then every further standard is that much more closely monitored.

It’s in part why the tropes around excellence exist, why you have to work x times harder to get y less distance. When you’ve already broken a social convention every other rule, standard, guideline, is that much easier to be considered cross.

The stress created is immense, It’s not enough to exist, because your existence works against you. You must thrive, you must succeed in spite of who you are.

Which is a standard of exhaustion for those on the wrong side of it.

Remembering Without Wallowing Pt. 3

Practicing Gratitude is a phrase that would have made the first two parts of this sound less pretentious. They’re Here and Here if you’d like to get caught up.

Yet the point stands. It’s hard to overcome the negative feelings from your past, while also trying to sort through them. Which brings me to the next scary step I’ve had to reconcile.

How does it feel to be comfortable currently, but also carrying trauma.

I don’t mean completely financial independent or perfect emotional stability or anything crazy like that, but how do you reconcile the negativity in your life when your current world, your day to day living, has dramatically less negativity in it then the previous parts.

I won’t say things are perfect, but I’m in a position where things are far easier then they used to be.

My problems are far more, nuanced and difficult. Less existential or survival based but some are even centered around thriving and healing.

Terrifying stuff.

The position I find myself in now is one where the ongoing trauma generated by my current situation is less then my capacity to handle trauma. Which actually means in net terms, healing. Which has really helped in the practicing gratitude thing.

Being able to appreciate your past and the trials and tribulations that go into it is a complicated question and it strikes into the very core of your being. It’s hard to dislodge the hurt in your heart that comes from a time of utter dependence. Especially as I’ve gotten older and I see kids now and you can see the potential trauma they’re walking either into or already carrying and it’s hard to watch. There’s an inherent lack of responsibility for the trauma we face from our childhoods. It’s not our faults, which makes it all the harder to deal with.

Rather then being a freeing idea I think that shows the roots of it. Begrudging your lost innocence, feeling regret at a life not lived. It’s a theme I’ve talked a lot through these, and having come back and reading through them I’m somewhat shocked but what I’ve said.

Because even now that pain that I was talking about both feels real but removed. Which is a sign that it did start to heal. I’ve had an issue throughout my life where I’ve held those around me to the standards I held myself to. Ones I generally failed at, but was willing to accept my own failure at, but also failed to recognize how ridiculous it was to apply my own standards to other people.

Looking back is about dealing with the negative thoughts you continue to carry as much as finding a home in your psyche for the things that happen to us.

Sometimes things do get better and sometimes those better things start to stack up, when it comes crashing down from time to time it’s hard, but it does happen again. It’s okay to mourn what’s missed but not letting it blind you to the goods around you are more important.

I’ve had many things happen to me but none of the pain was anything that didn’t happen within my mind, and that’s the time and energy that was the worst spent.