Expectation, Faith, Gratitude, Happiness, Life, Love, Purpose, Uncategorized

DESIDERATA…🕊

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Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

❤️ E.Lyn

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Life, Purpose, Travel

“Who Am I?” – Choice vs Trait

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“It is the intentions, the capacities for choice rather than the total configuration of traits which defines a person.”

And the search for that core person is not a matter of curiosity; it is a search for the principles by which choices are to be made.  One of these principles is the notion of property, which determines the rights and agency of persons, thus transforming them into selves and conferring upon them the status of souls and minds.

The two strands that were fused in the concept of person diverge again:

When we focus on persons as sources of decisions, the ultimate locus of responsibility, the unity of thought and action, we must come to think of them as souls and minds.

When we think of them as possessors of rights and powers, we come to think of them as selves. It is not until each of these has been transformed into the concept of individuality that the two strands are woven together again.

When a society has changed so that individuals acquire their rights by virtue of their powers, rather than having their powers defined by their rights, the concept of person has been transformed to a concept of self…

The quality of an individual self is determined by his qualities: they are his capital, to invest well or foolishly.

Because persons are primary agents of principle, their integrity requires freedom; because they are judged liable, their powers must be autonomous.

But when this criterion for personhood is carried to its logical extreme, the scope of agency moves inward, away from social dramas, to the choices of the soul, or to the operations of the mind.

From character as structured dispositions, we come to soul as pure agency, unfathomable, inexpressible.

Echoing philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s ideas on the relationship between property-ownership, agency, and victimhood, we could consider the role of property in the conception of the self and its identity-crises in the face of alienation:

Judgments of persons are moral; judgments of souls are theological; judgments of selves are economic and political.

Societies of persons are constructed to assure the rights of choice and action; they emerge from a contract of agents; societies of selves are also formed to protect and guarantee the rights of their members.

But when the members of a society achieve their rights by virtue of their possessions, the protection of rights requires the protection of property, even though in principle everyone is equally entitled to the fruits of his labors and protection under law.

The concerns of selves are their interests; their obligations are the duties with which they are taxed or charged. The grammar and the semantics of selfhood reveal the possessive forms.

Whatever will come to be regarded as crucial property, or the means to it, will be regarded as the focus of rights; the alienation of property becomes an attack on the integrity if not actually the preservation of the self.

 Alongside property, the other essential component of the self is the faculty of memory, which, is the seedbed of what makes us who we are to ourselves.
The conscious possession of experiences is the final criterion of identity. The continuity of the self is established by memory; disputes about the validity of memory reports will hang on whether the claimant had as hers the original experience.

Puzzles about identity will be described as puzzles about whether it is possible to transfer, or to alienate memory (that is, the retention of one’s own experience) without destroying the self.

Today, two generations later, this puzzle is all the more puzzling, for it illuminates the central paradox of the singularity movement and its escapist fantasy of somehow decentralizing, downloading, and transferring the self across different corporeal and temporal hosts.

There is difficulty in describing the core possessor, the owner of experiences who is not herself any set of them.

One can speak of characters as sets of traits without looking for a center; but it is more difficult to think of bundles of properties without an owner, especially when the older idea of the person as an agent and decision-maker is still implicit.

It is presumed that the self as an owner is also endowed with capabilities to choose and to act.

Out of this necessity to reconcile the ownership of experience with the capacity for choice arises the level of the individual.

From the tensions in the definition of the alienable properties of selves, and from the corruptions in societies of selves — the divergence of practice from ideological commitments — comes the invention of individuality. It begins with conscience and ends with consciousness.

Unlike characters and figures, individuals actively resist typing: they represent the universal mind of rational beings, or the unique private voice.

Individuals are indivisible entities…

Invented as a preserve of integrity, an autonomous ens, an individual transcends and resists what is binding and oppressive in society and does so from an original natural position.

Although in its inception, individuality revives the idea of person, the rights of persons are formulated in society, while the rights of individuals are demanded of society.

The contrast between the inner and outer person becomes the contrast between the individual and the social mask, between nature and culture.

A society of individuals is quite different from one composed of selves. Individuals contract to assure the basic rights to the development of moral and intellectual gifts, as well as legal protection of self and property.

Because a society of individuals is composed of indivisible autonomous units, from whose natures — their minds and conscience — come the principles of justice, their rights are not property; they cannot be exchanged, bartered.

Their rights and their qualities are their very essence, inalienable.  The integrity of our identity requires a locus of agency that is honored by the collective but cultivated in solitude. 

Being an individual requires having a room of one’s own, not because it is one’s possession, but because only there, in solitude, away from the pressure of others, can one develop the features and styles that differentiate one’s own being from others.

Integrity comes to be associated with difference; this idea, always implicit in individuality, of preserving one’s right against the encroachment of others within one’s own society, emerges as dominant…

And yet there is a level of personhood that exists even above the individual — one that represents our highest mode of being, beyond the ego’s ambitions and preoccupations — the level of presence:
Presences [are] the return of the unchartable soul… They are a mode of attending, being present to [one’s] experiences, without dominating or controlling them.

Understanding other conceptions of persons puts one on the way of being them; but understanding presences — if indeed there is understanding of them to be had — does not put one any closer to being one.

It cannot be achieved by imitation, willing, practice, or a good education.

It is a mode of identity invented precisely to go beyond of achievement and willfulness…❤️E.Lyn.

 

 

Happiness, Life, Love, Purpose

The ‘Business’ of Busy-ness….

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People who often say they’re “too busy” or “crazy busy” sound like buzzing busy signals.
And when one starts sounding like an appliance, it makes it hard to connect with him/her.

My reaction to busy signals is much like that of Mindy Kaling, who sees stress as non-conversation:

No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out.
Going on and on in detail about how stressed out one is, isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere — except making your conversation partner bored, or worse, peeved.

No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad.
I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.”

People who act super busy send the same message, making time spent with them never feel quite whole.

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Interestingly, I find that most people who are legitimately occupied,
with their work, family, art or what-have-you, rarely play the “too busy” card, or go out of their way to make time for meaningful connection exactly because they’ve been busy.

The Meaning Behind “Busy”

When one goes on to other people,
or to oneself, about being so busy,
he/she is often engaging in doublespeak.

Let’s dig a little deeper to translate what one actually means when one is in the habit of saying or acting like he/she is too busy:

I matter.
Being busy means I’m needed and significant in this great big universe. Though going around literally telling people, “I matter!” and expecting some sort of substantive conversation to result would be really weird, I’ll just say “I’m busy!” instead.

I am super-important.
Doling out complaints and explanations about being too busy is the express line to a mini-ego trip.
It’s going beyond “I matter” to “I matter … more than you” despite the fact that nobody ever wants to hear this.

I’m giving you an easy excuse.
This is one of the easiest outs for stuff I don’t want to do.
Alternatively, I’ve spent a lot of time being distracted or stuck, but this excuse allows me to feel okay with it.

I’m afraid.
I keep relentlessly busy because I suffer from FOMO, or fear of missing out. I’m scared that I don’t matter,
that I’m not important, that I’m not needed, so I’m going to spend my time on distracting stuff that doesn’t really matter, that’s not all that important, where I’m not actually needed.

I feel guilty.
There’s fulfilling, meaningful stuff that I actually do want to do but I can rationalize it away instead of confronting challenges or changing direction.

Alternatively, I think being busy is such a valuable quality that I’ll overbook myself to the point where I feel guilty for not getting to everything or for spending time on anything that doesn’t fit into a limited definition of “productive.”

The worship of busy-ness as such a virtue is where the trouble begins, providing the foundation to its indiscriminate use as a front or an excuse.

It’s easy, even enticing, to neglect the importance of filling our time with meaning, thinking instead that we’ll be content with merely filling our time.

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We self-impose these measures of self-worth by looking at quantity instead of quality of activity.

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In the children’s book (that every adult should read), The Phantom Tollbooth, the protagonist Milo comes across the frightening, faceless Terrible Trivium, a “demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.”

Milo and his friends fall under his spell, agreeing to perform busy-work like moving a huge pile of sand from one place to another, grain by grain, using a tweezer.
The Terrible Trivium’s explanation for this terrible fate?

If I only do the easy and useless jobs, i’ll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. I just won’t have the time.

For there’s always something to do to keep me from what i really should be doing….

What a scary thought!

So if I find myself feeling frazzled, habitually explaining away things with a busy status, it’s probably time to slow down and pay attention to the important, difficult stuff.

I’ll examine what is keeping me so busy compared to what I really should and want to be doing.

Here are a couple ways I could start:

Track myself.
In the quest to better connect my attention and action, i do an attention audit.

Track my time using a tool like Harvest or a time log spreadsheet. Break down how I spend time on the computer with RescueTime.
Or see how i answer the questions of “What did you get done today?” and “What did you pay attention to today?” over time using iDoneThis.

Change my language.
I like this tip from Laura Vanderkam. Instead of putting things in terms of time and activity, frame them in terms of priority:

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.

Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation.
I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to.
But other things are harder.

Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.”
“I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.”

If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point.

Changing my language reminds me that time is a choice.
If i don’t like how I’m spending an hour, i can choose differently.

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Another thing I could do is to have a clearer handle of my priorities and how i want to spend my energy, changing my definition of “productivity” to encompass those things.

Press pause.
Not only does one need rest and renew, we also have to slow down and pause to acknowledge our feelings, celebrate our accomplishments, and gain some insight.

Brené Brown explains how people stay busy out of habit and fear.
She recommends letting go of “exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth” and allowing us to explore what matters:

When we make the transition from crazy-busy to rest, we have to find out what comforts us, what really refuels us, and do that.

We deserve to not just put work away and be in service of someone else.

What’s really meaningful for us?
What do we want to be doing?

Do less and feel more joy.

The opposite of the fear of missing out, as Anil Dash so beautifully wrote, is the joy of missing out.

Pay attention to what’s in front of us and we’ll gain control and find joy.

Being the one in control of what moves me, what I feel obligated by, and what attachments I have to fleeting experiences is not an authority that I’m willing to concede to the arbitrary whims of an app on my mobile phone.

Feel more joy.
Learning how to do less.
Stop spreading myself so thin by saying “no” more, by saying “no” to being busy, and by meaning “yes” more fully… ❤️E.Lyn.

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Expectation, Happiness, Life, Purpose

“Hope & Cynicism…”

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To live with sincerity in our culture of cynicism is a difficult dance — one that comes easily only to the very young and the very old.
The rest of us are left to tussle with two polarizing forces ripping the psyche asunder by beckoning to it from opposite directions — critical thinking and hope.

Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.

Finding fault and feeling hopeless about improving the situation produces resignation — cynicism is both resignation’s symptom and a futile self-protection mechanism against it.

Blindly believing that everything will work out just fine also produces resignation, for we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better.

But in order to survive — both as individuals and as a civilization — and especially in order to thrive, we need the right balance of critical thinking and hope.

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A plant needs water in order to survive, and needs the right amount of water in order to thrive.

Overwater it and it rots with excess. Underwater it and it dries up inside.

I thought about this recently in observing my unease — my seething cauldron of deep disappointment — with an opinion piece commenting on Arianna Huffington’s decision to continue publishing necessary reporting on “what’s not working — political dysfunction, corruption, wrongdoing, etc.” but to begin giving more light to stories that embody the “perseverance, creativity, and grace” of which we humans are capable.

The writer criticizing Huffington’s decision asserted, with ample indignation, that “to privilege happy stories over ‘unhappy’ ones is to present a false view of the world.”

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Let’s consider for a moment the notion of an un-false view of the world — the journalistic ideal of capital-T truth.
Let’s, too, put aside for now Hunter S. Thompson’s rather accurate assertion that the possibility of objectivity is a myth to begin with.

Since the golden age of newspapers in the early 1900s, we’ve endured a century of rampant distortion toward the other extreme — a consistent and systematic privileging of harrowing and heartbreaking “news” as the raw material of the media establishment.

The complaint which a newspaper editor issued in 1923, lamenting the fact that commercial interest rather than journalistic integrity determines what is published as the “news,” could well have been issued today — if anything, the internet has only exacerbated the problem.

As for Huffington, while we can only ever speculate about another person’s motives — for who can peer into the psyche of another and truly see into that person’s private truth? — this I continue to believe: The assumptions people make about the motives of others always reveal a great deal more about the assumers than the assumed-about.

This particular brand of cynicism is especially pronounced when the assumed-about have reached a certain level of success or public recognition.

Take, for instance, an entity like TED — something that began as a small, semi-secret groundswell that was met with only warmth and love in its first few years of opening up to the larger world. And then, as it reached a tipping point of recognition, TED became the target of rather petty and cynical criticism.

Here is an entity that has done nothing more nor less than to insist, over and over, that despite our many imperfections, we are inherently kind and capable and full of goodness — and yet even this isn’t safe from cynicism.

Let’s return, then, to the question of what is true and what is false, and what bearing this question has — if any — on what we call reality.

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The stories that we tell ourselves, whether they be false or true, are always real.
We act out of those stories, reacting to their realness.
William James knew this when he observed: “My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”

What storytellers do — and this includes journalists and TED and everyone in between who has a point of view and an audience, whatever its size — is help shape our stories of how the world works; at their very best, they can empower our moral imagination to envision how the world could work better.

In other words, they help us mediate between the ideal and the real by cultivating the right balance of critical thinking and hope.

Truth and falsehood belong to this mediation, but it is guided primarily by what we are made to believe is real.

What we need, then, are writers like William Faulkner, who came of age in a brothel, saw humanity at its most depraved, and yet managed to maintain his faith in the human spirit.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he asserted that the writer’s duty is “to help man endure by lifting his heart.”
In contemporary commercial media, driven by private interest, this responsibility to work in the public interest and for the public good recedes into the background.

And yet I continue to stand with E.B. White, who so memorably asserted that “writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life”; that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down.”

Yes, people sometimes do horrible things, and we can speculate about why they do them until we run out of words and sanity.

But evil only prevails when we mistake it for the norm.

There is so much goodness in the world — all we have to do is remind one another of it, show up for it, and refuse to leave… ❤️E.Lyn

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Expectation, Faith, Life, Love, Purpose

Embracing Brokeness & Hiding our Souls Not…

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“Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” – Parker Palmer

“Do not despise your inner world,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum admonished in her reflection on what it takes to live a full life.

“Real self-esteem is an integration of an inner value with things in the world around you,” Anna Deavere Smith wrote in her spectacular letters of advice to young artists.

And yet in a culture where we’re devouring one another’s outward selves with accelerating “aesthetic consumerism” as we scroll through social media feeds, we’re increasingly bedeviled by the rift between private person and public persona, inner world and outward projection.

Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other.
In the process, we become separated from our own souls.

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We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the “integrity that comes from being what you are.”

Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.

Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness — mine, yours, ours — need not be a utopian dream,
if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.

As teenagers and young adults,
we learned that self-knowledge counts for little on the road to workplace success.

What counts is the “objective” knowledge that empowers us to manipulate the world.
Ethics, taught in this context, becomes one more arm’s-length study of great thinkers and their thoughts, one more exercise in data collection that fails to inform our hearts.

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I value ethical standards, of course.
But in a culture like ours — which devalues or dismisses the reality and power of the inner life — ethics too often becomes an external code of conduct, an objective set of rules we are told to follow, a moral exoskeleton we put on hoping to prop ourselves up.

The problem with exoskeletons is simple: we can slip them off as easily as we can don them.

When we understand integrity for what it is, we stop obsessing over codes of conduct and embark on the more demanding journey toward being whole.

Not knowing who or what we are dealing with and feeling unsafe, we hunker down in a psychological foxhole and withhold the investment of our energy, commitment, and gifts…
The perceived incongruity of inner and outer-the inauthenticity that we sense in others, or they in us-constantly undermines our morale, our relationships, and our capacity for good work.

We are cursed with the blessing of consciousness and choice, a two-edged sword that both divides us and can help us become whole.

The divided life may be endemic, but wholeness is always a choice.

What we name it matters little to me, since the origins, nature, and destiny of call-it-what-you-will are forever hidden from us, and no one can credibly claim to know its true name. But that we name it matters a great deal.

For “it” is the objective, ontological reality of selfhood that keeps us from reducing ourselves, or each other, to biological mechanisms, psychological projections, sociological constructs, or raw material to be manufactured into whatever society needs — diminishments of our humanity that constantly threaten the quality of our lives.

Here is the ultimate irony of the divided life: live behind a wall long enough, and the true self you tried to hide from the world disappears from your own view…

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The wall itself and the world outside it become all that you know .

Eventually, you even forget that the wall is there — and that hidden behind it is someone called “you.”

If we want to create spaces that are safe for the soul, we need to understand why the soul so rarely shows up in everyday life.

Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self.

It is not about the absence of other people-it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.

Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other.

It is not about the presence of other people-
it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.

❤️E.Lyn

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Happiness, Purpose

The Power Of Purpose …✨

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He who has a Why to live can bear any How… – Friedrich Nietzsche –

An excerpt from a fable I once read…

A king once gave his wise men a challenge.

“Create a ring that will make me happy when I am sad.”

The wise men succeeded.
It was a plain ring with an inscription etched into the metal… It read,
“This too shall pass.”

During times of hardship,
the king would notice the inscription.
It would remind him that hardships always pass, even when things seem hopeless.
He would stop worrying and appreciate life rather than spending all his energy trying to fix problems.

But of course, the ring had an opposing effect as well…

Whenever he felt jubilant,
the ring reminded him that joyful circumstances change as well.

“Nothing lasts forever…”

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One may ask then…
“Wouldn’t persevering & hard work be pointless if nothing lasts forever?”

While there’s truth to the etching on the king’s ring, perhaps there is more to be said…

“While circumstances always pass,
the strength of our will & purpose can endure.
When we choose a purpose for our lives, our steadfast pursuit of that purpose can remain a source of joy in both good times and bad.”

Striving to make life about something worthwhile has done me much good.

Choosing to do so has given me an anchor of strength and joy.

Well, we could even pledge allegiance to a cause that will persist beyond our lives.
Achieving some end is not the goal!

Living life in full pursuit of what I believe in has been my goal.

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For instance, when I have a disagreement with someone who matters in my life, I feel disconnected, hurt, frustrated…
And oftentimes such feelings are disconcerting.

Withal, instead of getting unduly depressed because of the “disconnection” I feel, I keep in mind the words etched on the king’s ring… “This too shall pass.”

“When we choose to love,
it is an act of our will.
Love is an active choice, not just a feeling…

It is something inside of us.
Love is a part of who we are.”

Relationships with family & friends will inevitably have their ups and downs.

During unpleasant times like these,
I would work on my relationship with them instead of letting circumstances of the moment define my happiness.

Focusing on purpose instead of brooding or crying over spilt milk has made me a stronger person…

Being human, naturally I feel hurt of course…
But the power of purpose has made it easier to let go of pain & frustrations…

Forgive… forget… And smile again! 😊

Hugz …❤️E.Lyn

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