When I was 11 years old, I changed my handwriting in an effort to be cool. I wanted to be more like my friend. He wrote with far more flair than I did. His pages had words that stood out at you. They were all in in neat rows, but they looked artistic and full of purpose. His paragraphs were all in joined up writing and each word was at an angle. His pages looked like they came from someone interesting. Mine just looked like they came from a bog standard 11 year old kid.
I remember clearly deciding to write an assignment in this new style – with my new found flair. The words were all at a painful angle across the page. It took me ages to finish because I was more interested in how it looked than what was written. I put my name on it and handed it in. I felt satisfied and liberated. My new, cooler, more angular identity was emerging.
When the teacher handed our marked papers back, he stopped when he reached me. I got a poor mark. He was disappointed with me, he said. And what on earth was wrong my handwriting? He could barely read it.
I couldn’t hide my blushes as I mumbled some sort of response. I reverted back to myself the very next class.
Happy Sunday chimps. To thine own self be true!
You need to be careful who you ask. There are all sorts of pitfalls. Some people might not understand the question and give a lazy response to what they thought the question was. Some might get emotional if the question threatens their position. Many people are not used to thinking through their answers.
I believe we humans create easy answers to a lot of the more difficult questions thrown at us, even if they are not true or based on facts. We have to, simply to cope with the harsh reality of life. Placebos can work very well but if someone asks an honest question then you owe them a well thought out answer based on fact, not purely on faith.
Next time someone asks me for advice I will first try and really understand where they are coming from before offering my own point of view on the matter. Then I will try and stick to the facts.
Happy Sunday chimps!
After some valuable consultation with my friends and family, i have realised something: I don’t know much about humans.
Sad, but true. Let me explain, dear reader.
I have been pretty excited lately about my new ‘pivot’ towards highlighting and fixing a problem which I know exists: The Jungle Of Life. All of my posts on chimpwithcans.com are inspired by the jungle of life around me. As I wrote yesterday:
Clearly, not many of us live in a real jungle or rainforest anymore. However, the metaphor of everyday life becoming a tangled jungle works in my head. The writing, podcasts and projects I become involved in will be focused on disciplines that can untangle our personal jungles. Disciplines like Creativity, Design, Psychology, and Negotiation. Also, the image of the “Chimpwithcans” clear of the tangled jungle and free to listen to music resonates with me
I love the above paragraph. It excites me and fills my head with ideas for future projects.
Where I went wrong was to think that this only applies to husbands and fathers. Besides cutting my potential readership and market roughly in half, I was completely missing the point by focusing so tightly on my own experience of “The Jungle”. The encroaching jungle of life is a human problem. We can all, each and every one of us, benefit from the disciplines I mention above.
Maybe this should have been very obvious. But like I said, I don’t know much about humans.
Also, my wise owl of a friend advised me not to add a PROJECTS button if there are no projects to show. So I’ve removed it until the projects take place.
Happy Friday, Chimps.
Daily life can most often be distilled down to a single question: should I keep this alive?
Whether it is a pet fish, a job, a relationship, a website: burn the dead wood.
And possibly the goldfish??
Happy Tuesday chimps.
I can’t concentrate.
Irrational fears and desires are pushing at some primordial nerve. At any given time i want to:
- to sleep
- to play computer games
- to watch movies
- to listen to music
But I also want/need to:
- complete chores
- spend time with my wife and children
How can i get rid of the noise and focus on the right thing at the right time? I have 2 suggestions today.
1 – Understand your personality type. I took a personality questionnaire the other day from understandmyself.com – it delved into my responses to certain questions, assessing me under 5 big personality traits:
- Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness
- Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness
- Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness
- Neuroticism: Withdrawal and Volatility
- Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect
I have extreme elements which make up my personality (as does anyone) and this makes me want certain things, find some things easier than others and generally behave in certain ways. Of note in my assessment – I am non-assertive, withdrawn, extremely open and agreeable by nature – so I have plenty to work on and my fears and desires stem in some way from my innate nature.
2 – Understand our culture of gratification and pleasure at the expense of long term benefits. The lazy, primal part of our brain is being taken advantage of by the tech in our lives. Structure your life around managing this desire (ie. downtime from the tech), and the signal can more easily be heard among the noise.
When you are trying to make a contribution, there is not shortcut – particularly if you are not part of an ‘old boys network’ automatically getting your foot into the door – instead you have to start with becoming skilled. This takes practice and effort. Nothing more, nothing less.
Take the wildlife artist who can show a progression from school day sketches to celebrated conservation art: see link
Or the ESG researcher who has worked their way up to be in charge of a whole department: see link
The question then becomes not “who do you know” but “what can you do”. That is far more fair on all involved.
Drinking is good if you can stop after a couple.
Listening to podcasts is good if you have set a time and a place for regularly listening to them.
Technology is good if you use it, rather than it using you.
Exercise is good if you have had enough sleep and food to carry you through.
Relationships are good if you can look after yourself.
The internet is good if you create as well as consume.
As an experiment, try and find the habits in your daily life that are driven by pleasure – you know the ones i mean – those things you do when you’re a little bit bored which give you that nice little buzz and dopamine hit.
It is difficult. It forces you to reflect on your actions and life, and it eventually forces you to recognise that pleasurable things are not the most fulfilling things, precisely because they are temporary and external. In this way, pleasure is different to happiness.
Pleasure is a momentary feeling that comes from something external — a good meal, a message notification, making love and so on. Pleasurable experiences can give us momentary feelings of satisfaction, but this feeling does not last long because it is dependent upon external events and experiences. Try and locate the pleasurable (not happy, remember) activity in your life and try to stop doing it for a whole day – I’m almost certain you’ll find it hard to do.
But pleasure is not wrong in and of itself – so why stop? Because we need to know how we feel without the constant pleasure seeking. Are we doing all these things because we are sad without them? And if we are in fact sad about something, shouldn’t we find a more permanent solution?
The trouble comes when we ascribe the pleasurable activities in our lives more value and power than we should. A drug addict gives heroine priority over everything else – she sees it as the source of her happiness and of her power in life. Similarly a bulimic ascribes power to food and the control thereof. In actual fact, drugs and throwing up give us but a temporary pleasure – not a true satisfaction. They are not the answer to any sadness that is felt.
Once we see the things we are deriving pleasure from, a useful next step is to reflect on how we feel when we do not have access to these things – are we happy or sad without them? If we are happy without them, then there is no real problem. Carry on living.
If we are sad without them, and furthermore if we rely on the activity more than we should – then something needs to change for the sadness to lift.
A common refrain on many of humanity’s problems is that there are simply too many people. Flora and Fauna will never be prioritized over humans, and with an ever growing pool of humans the pressure on the environment will lead to widespread catastrophe.
In many respects of course this is true and obvious. Forests are shrinking and animal species are going extinct. However, Humans don’t just extract from a fixed set of resources. We can also create new resources through invention. Check this awesome article for more info.
I think the future of wildlife is not so doomed but also not so wild. Unfortunately more like a zoo than a Serengeti, I think we are headed for a strong culture of managing land, technology and investment for flora and fauna to flourish.
Like it or not, We as a species are not going to stop taking over wild lands, but we are also not going to stop innovating.
I am learning how to swim again. I used to swim in teams at school until the age of 13, and then I just stopped. Last year I entered a triathlon and felt like I was nearly drowning on the swim leg so I resorted to breaststroke. Not exactly “captain speedy”. I decided to enlist some help.
My point is that I have to believe I can improve through practice and learning. It was so tempting after that triathlon to say I was just “not a swimmer” and that those who swim fast have the right genes for it. However, from that point of view, it’s a short step to copping out of anything and also to something altogether more sinister such as racism and eugenics.
Ability is inherent, but not so important. Skills are learned, and largely dependent on culture and attitude. I will be a better swimmer if I train.