102 Be the best version of yourself 18 Dec 2020
It’s time to flesh out the skeleton of this popular topic. It appeared in articles 33 and 34 and was reviewed in article 80 in relation to Dr. Hardy’s book. It is part of healthy self-image and PMA, positive mental attitude. Article 96 connected the idea to our purchases in the busines world: People are paying for better versions of themselves.
I expressed my goal setting method in articles 86 and 100. I take a scientific approach, identifying and alleviating what holds back the better self. Contemporary marketing teaches potential buyers that they have pain which should be cured by use of a product. That sequence is overly simplistic. It does not accord with my use of the word panacea in articles 95 and 100. I require more when I use the word understanding.
As suggested by the four noble truths of Buddhism, I study what is in an imperfect state (suffering) and methodically investigate causes and relationships -with the purpose of changing the conditions for the better - to arrive at a desirable state. Even that expanded sentence is woefully inadequate as a summary, but it gives you an idea how I am approaching an objective. Without belittling anyone, I am awakening a desire for a better version.
The theme of this happiness blog is our creation of a better world. It is not meant as a condemnation. Good things can be made better. Sometimes good is called the enemy of the best because it tempts us to stop halfway.
So naturally, I start with a good and happy world. If that does not describe where you are, you can make it your first goal to join me there. The key to laying our foundation of togetherness is to identify what is a happy world. I ask point blank, “What makes you happy?” Please do not be crushed if I observe that the question often starts a miniature war.
Sadly, we do not all desire alike. Some of us feel greatly blessed and desire to increase that state. Others feel deprived and desire radical change. The idea of desiring at all is associated with upheaval. If I ask, “What do you choose?” dissatisfied others reply, “Nothing you offer!” That is a symptom of frustration expressing itself as anger. In those instances, there is preliminary work to do ahead of overt goal setting.
I begin my discussion by asking what to improve because I am surrounded by the breakdown described in the previous paragraph. Every day my heart breaks over some vision I have of peace and plenty. It would be so readily attained if only everybody would agree to the vision. Instead, much of the world crushes me with expectations that are neither peace nor plenty. People grab what does not satisfy and enact what does not improve. I see why Buddhism associates suffering with craving and desire.
I can’t define my way into somebody’s heart. My quiet, peaceful ways annoy many people who will not be persuaded that I am happier than they are. Those whom I see as contented don’t need my suggestions and those who could most use contentment reject its validity. This shows most in victims of materialism: those suffering from it feverishly pursue it to abate the pain it causes them. Describing the joys of the heart goes over the heads of those whose organ of perception is the pocketbook.
What to do instead? Share my unique wealth! In discontented people there is a suppressed tinge of envy of my peace. My strength is to hold precious peace stronger than they hold their pain. Please refer to article 45 to review relieving of pain by sharing the burden of pain, not the pain itself. One who wants me to be equally miserable has the direction reversed. Instead, I will share the enduring happiness.
This process requires truly even-handed observation, sincere objectivity. I experience subjective happiness while meshing with mixed reality where happiness is not universally defined. Along with Aristotle (article 58), I accept happiness as a life purpose, but my concept thereof will never be universal—even in a future state of godhood. I plead with do-gooders to acknowledge the complexity of happiness. We have something precious to share with appropriate sensitivity.
The above section requires an entire stand-alone course. Here let us posit that we can identify what we really want. With togetherness in that, we are prepared to go there together. Without the panacea of understanding, people fight each other’s progress—over the what and over the how.
I tread gently on what should be common ground. I wish sincerely for all of us to identify Humans’ Needs (FISH, article 27) in common. They are carefully selected, and together contribute to shared happiness. The deeper needs like worth and meaning are not so urgently visible as the need for air, but they are equally important to health.
Let this discussion not become suffocating. From our list of needs, we can settle on finding something in common. That is the important beginning point of helping people to the better versions of themselves. There is certainly no shortage of opportunities. For many, it is as simple as supplying clean water. For others, it is lifelong attention to educational advancement. Whatever we identify, we use our scientific analytical approach to goal setting that opened this article. I have been improving our likelihood of success by encouraging right awareness at the start.
Now we arrive at the easy part. Yes indeed, it is easier to carry out a plan than it is to agree on the plan to be carried out. A favorite quotation comes from Goethe: “Action is easy, thinking is difficult, and acting on the thought is uncomfortable.” (Google translation) If you have genuinely experienced the above thinking for yourself, you are ready for acting on it.
Begin with the analytical self-examination. Does my thinking even apply to this situation? Does it promote my prejudices, or does it blend with a common thread? Is it easy to appreciate? Is it unselfish? Is it understandable? It is normally more important to be understood than to be efficient. People do not respond well to imposed improvement.
From self, proceed to the larger circle. Who in the group has the best overview, is closest to understanding? Who has the needed talent? Who is an effective leader? If I contribute an idea, I might not be the best at communicating it to the volunteers.
There is balancing of outcomes. The study phase produces an amalgam of compatible goals. That allows utilizing workers of different talents. Some will know how to lay the bricks while others know how to serve the cocoa. The work phase reveals who can walk the walk. Done right, it increases the momentum of cooperation. Recall the wisdom of Lao-Tzu that climaxed article 28:
Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say 'We have done this ourselves.’
Today’s article charts a practical path to success. It starts with identifying success and moves toward reaching it. Every stage requires sensitivity and understanding. The outcome depends on people who jointly become the best versions of themselves. This has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with who we are together.
Photo by Rumman Amin on Unsplash
This is a peculiarly Ernstraudian perspective on goal setting. Self-other blending leads to communal goals, especially the ones for a better world which we share. I suggest meeting Humans’ Needs as the common starting point and allow generous room for individual variety. We simultaneously help and tolerate each other.