Category Archives: Choice

The Coming Year is Dedicated To…

Over the last couple of days, I re-read Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

In it, he tells the story of William James, and his year of personal responsibility.

Here’s a blog post from Manson about it: The Prime Belief. Go read that before continuing on – the rest of this post will make a whole lot more sense if you do.

That’s where Imma dedicate most of my available fucks to this year – 100% responsibility for my own life – knowing that how I respond to everything is all Lyman, all the time.

No blame, no fault finding, no thinking that because of my genetics or my upbringing I suck too much to live a useful life.

Blame, fault finding, and woe is me are always options – they are responses that I’ve pulled out of my pocket in the past. Mostly the last one. I was (am? yes, am.) such a special snowflake that everyone but me has this life thing figured out. Poor Lyman, might as well just kill yourself. But wait, even that is asking too much of a scared and weak little piece of shit like you.

This doesn’t come up as much as it used to, but I still do it waaaaaayyyyyy too much more than I want to. Probably even more than I consciously realize.

This is about living the Serenity Prayer, with a focus on courage and wisdom. It seems to me that serenity is actually a by-product of acceptance, and I’m really good at faking that – dying on the inside with a bullshit smile on my face, and hiding from the world if I can’t manage that smile.

I’m going to work on developing:

  • acceptance (for really reals) when it comes to the things I cannot change (for really reals)
  • courage to change the things that I can
  • wisdom to know the difference

I’m not asking a god to grant me anything. I’m asking present Lyman to develop these things, so that future Lyman can live a richer, fuller life.

Just Do It! isn’t going to work here. The only thing to “just do” is point yourself in a direction and move. Here are the tools I plan on using to point myself if the direction of acceptance, courage, and wisdom:

Life gonna test my resolve here – that’s what life does. I’m gonna fail, over and over again. That’s what humans do.

I don’t give a fuck.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

 

Breaking it Down

I posted the following reply to a question in the Happiness Trap Online Interest Group on how to make a big move towards your values, when you can’t break it down into smaller goals:

“Thanks for asking this xxxxxx. I’m no expert in ACT, and not a therapist, just a guy for whom ACT has been a lifesaver (literally), so I should probably keep my mouth shut… but I’m not going to. šŸ™‚ Plus, I have no idea what your situation is, so this is as probably more of a reminder to myself. I’ve never experienced something that couldn’t be broken down. Even when the depression flairs up and one of my values is to get to work, just asking myself “Can I move my right leg” will usually work. If I don’t want to shower, can I get undressed and turn the water on? From a non depression standpoint, if I’m afraid to ask for a raise – can I start walking toward my boss’s office? Again, caveats galore, and I hope I didn’t insult your situation with my petty examples.”

I thought it might help the poster, and it really was a good reminder to myself (I need a lot of reminders.)

It’s not the achieving of the goals that matter – it’s the movement toward them, no matter how small. Jim Rohn said:

“The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” (source)

It’s the movement that makes us who we are. It’s how we vote for the person that we want to be.

 

Karma Is Real – You Were What You Were

You are what you are right now because of your genetics, your environment, and the choices you’ve made. You couldn’t be anything else.

All of those past experiences? The environment you lived in? The momentary expression of those genes? The choices you’ve made?

Gone. Completely, utterly gone.

Their bones are the state of your mind, body, life, and universe right now.

The person you were when you started reading this post? Gone. Replaced by someone with a brain that’s been wired slightly differently, with different cells in their body, different molecules of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gases feeding thoseĀ cells.

The person you were when you started reading that last paragraph?

Gone.

The person you are now (and now and now and now) was and is partly created by that previous person, partly by factors outside of that previous person’s control. The mix will be different depending on a near infinite number of factors. The percentage of that mix that is made up of your own choices is impossible (considering the current capacity of human beings) to calculate accurately.

But it exists – your own choices make up a non-zero percentage of the quality of the lives you will lead as you are reborn and reborn and reborn again. Karma is real – at some level, right-now-you is experiencing the effects of the you from a moment, a minute, an hour, a day, a year, a lifetime ago.

No matter what you’ve chosen in those infinite past lives, you can choose differently now. Or not. It’s up to you. Maybe not in a big way, but there is always some tiny little choice you can make to change the direction in which you are headed.

Don’t get me wrong – this shit ain’t easy. It’s like water dripping on solid rock. Yes, eventually you’ll create the Grand Canyon, but it takes a whole lotta time and a whole lotta water. You might die before you make any visible progress. You’ve been programmed over and over and over again, by both your own actions and the actions of those around you. There’s a lot of momentum to work against here.

But every choice matters. Celebrating or berating yourself for past choices is useless. Learning from them isn’t.

Apply what you’ve learned, and make your next choice with as much wisdom as you can muster.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.