0501 – regularly revise your personal narrative and self-concept

There’s a lot of sciencing that I can still do to improve the quality of my life. One of the slightly frustrating things– which is just another way of saying “challenge that I haven’t quite been able to solve yet”– is that a lot of the things are interrelated. Sleep, work, diet, stress, fitness, health. I’m fairly lucky that I haven’t fallen too ill recently. But beyond that, I haven’t been sleeping as well as I’d like to, and I’ve been taking longer than I should on certain work tasks. Not going to beat myself up about that, that is simply what it is and I am going to change what it is by deconstructing it and then taking action.

It seems weird at first to think that… after over 2 years of work, almost 3, I still haven’t developed a fundamental routine that maximizes my output. And I don’t mean “maximize” in an absolute, crazy sort of way. I mean just past a reasonable threshold that I know within myself that I am capable of doing, day after day. Let’s call it the 10 pushup threshold. Any reasonably fit individual should be able to do 10 pushups. It doesn’t require some insane force of will, it doesn’t require anything magical. Or let’s say, a 5km walk. Any reasonably healthy person should be able to walk 5km and still go about their day without much fuss.

So those are some minimum thresholds that anybody should be able to cross. Similarly I think there are some minimum work thresholds that I still haven’t entirely internalized. I still approach my work in a sort of messy, piecemeal way, constantly reinventing everything all over again, over and over. Why do I do this? It doesn’t make much sense.

I’ve managed to solve this with my word vomits. Yeah, sometimes there are things that I want to write outside of my vomits, and sometimes I forget to do my vomits, or I feel too tired or whatever, but otherwise I generally get around to doing the vomits, and I’ve been making progress, slowly and steadily.

I suppose with reading, movies and fitness, and meeting friends… those are things that I want to do, but I do them in fits and starts. Sometimes I get a lot of that stuff done, sometimes I don’t really feel like doing it (often an indicator of something else– like falling back on work).

I still need to keep learning to listen to myself better. That’s one of the big lessons of the past couple of years. There’s a certain internal wisdom about the body and the subconscious mind that should be attended to. I have a bit of an ache in my shoulders that I almost seem to have “caught” from my wife. It’s a funny thought. I should rest, nap, meditate more. I’ll do that when I get home.

What of my books? What’s the plan for reading them? Well, there’s no point making grand plans. I was halfway through reading TechGnosis, and maybe I’ll continue on that. Or maybe I’ll set aside an hour with some coffee to just keep going through books at random, as per my curiosity.

I think the big thing is… I need to learn to see work as play. I need to learn to see it as fun. I remember having a conversation about it with my boss several months ago, and he said something along the lines of, “Dude, I would be disturbed if you found every single thing about work fun. There’s a reason why work is work– some significant proportion of it is difficult, tedious, uncomfortable, annoying, and you’re going to have to learn to deal with that.”

But… I don’t know. I think this is one of those things where it’s all about how you define it, how you frame it, what it means to you. Ultimately it doesn’t matter as long as the work gets done. Oh wow, we’re back to maybe a couple of hundred vomits ago… where I was thinking and talking about the role of narratives. Well, let’s start over. What do I know?

  1. I know that I have had a lifelong unhealthy narrative around obligations, responsibilities, work and so on. This has made it harder for me to do the work that I want to do.
  2. I sometimes doubt myself and my motivations and the sincerity of my intentions. This gets bad/worse when I’m tired, depressed, stressed, upset and so on. If I haven’t been sleeping well, haven’t been making much progress, I start questioning myself and wonder if I’m a bad person. At the time of this writing, it’s clear to me that this isn’t
  3. I believe strongly that it typically takes a narrative to displace another narrative. I suppose there might be exceptions to this rule, or maybe the thing that displaces a narrative is a very different sort of narrative… Framed another way, it takes a new self-concept to replace an old self-concept, and while it’s intellectually possible to appreciate that the self is ultimately an illusion and doesn’t exist, it doesn’t change the fact that we spend our days living in the illusion most of the time.

So– and I’ve acknowledged this before, and have made some small attempts in the past, but haven’t entirely resolved it– I need to revise my personal narrative and/or self-concept, especially when it comes to my attitude towards obligations, work, and so on. This will probably seem needlessly strange, byzantine, complex, overwrought, tedious to anybody who didn’t have over a decade of shitty experiences re: school. And actually I should probably read more about the successful people who struggled with school, and how exactly they ultimately overcame that. I feel like I’m more than halfway through, but it still weighs me down to some amount, and I’d like to resolve that stuff and cut it out.

I’ve spent an entire vomit basically restating the premise, which is fine. So in my next vomit I should explore what happens next.

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