March 16, 2007

strategies for getting going

Today I wrote myself a list of strategies for getting going. They included, more or less:

1) Raise my standards immediately, so I choose to do better things all day.

2) Just make sure to do what will improve my health and energy, such as exercising, and let doing better things follow in a more relaxed way.

3) Set myself free of the fear of criticism for doing too much. - I thought of how I feel afraid inside of potential criticism from family I see sometimes or from strangers for having a plan to do more or for keeping busy. Really, in my experience, when people see you doing something different or keeping busy, they ask why. It often seems to disturb them. If you give an explanation, they may restate or exaggerate the explanation in a silly tone, to mock it as pretentious or stupid. For instance suppose you're drawing. They ask "Why?" You: To learn to draw. I might do something with the skill. They: "Oh, I'm going to be a great artist. Look at me. I'm so great." Even if people don't mock so directly, it takes a thick skin not to read that into what they say, when you know that they mean to tell you not to be proud and not to expect fame or fortune, because that would be a crazy expectation. At least that's how people react in the culture I grew up in. All I could think in response while writing today was the desire to say something hurtful in reaction like, "I know you hate me and you want to criticize anything I do so that I won't do anything and I'll be depressed."

Now that I've explained the situation in enough detail for readers who may have different cultural assumptions, I see that this is an example of a message in a specific culture that is a sickness of culture that people constantly communicate to each other without necessarily realizing they're doing it or necessarily feeling hate or envy for another person's activity. This criticism of activity and putting down others for pride is part of the subculture I grew up in. It's a result of certain strains of Christianity, probably influenced by failure-oriented television, and maybe by lower-middle-class class envy. My finding this phenomenon without looking for it, but incidentally in the process of trying to improve my life and doing self-analysis, tends to verify for me a lot of what Nietzsche wrote about Christianity.

4) Try everything at my place every day, a little sample of every hobby I could do, and see what catches on. (You know, instead of letting it gather dust. A pile of stuff. Who needs it? Use it or lose it.)

5) Act like I'm at camp. (I went to a week long summer camp each summer for a few years when I was growing up. They were Christian camps, so there were daily religious services, but it was a great escape from family where there was playing and a variety of activities all the rest of the time. The sort of religion is negative, and the camps luring parents into giving up their children for a week by enticing children is negative according to the religion, but a double negative makes a positive.)

The last three strategies come under the same general strategy of choosing to do a lot of whatever I think that's reasonable, instead of letting it stop me that others who know me might say it's crazy.

Please don't take professional psychiatry seriously. They would say "trying everything" is definitely manic, and the other strategies are at least hypomanic if actually practiced. It's worse than that: If you can go out every day to do something you choose, and you have any energy left over or are speaking quickly, they'll diagnose you with mania or manic depression (euphemism: bipolar disorder) and prescribe something awful to slow you down, regardless of a lack of any of what they would call "irrational ideas" such as the above strategies. A few years ago, I was complaining quickly in a few minute visit to a psychiatrist that I was busy and having trouble starting college because I was staying up late doing homework and sleeping in, out of habit, and missing classes, so that psychiatrist changed her diagnosis of me from depression to manic depression. That doesn't make any sense, and I haven't trusted psychiatrists since.

There have been some news articles about the opinion in a book by Dr. John Gartner that famous creative individuals and typical successful people are hypomanic. There are some people who make money off gimmicks for treating mental illness who are critical of that perspective because it trivializes more serious diagnoses, e.g. Play Attention. Someone who identifies herself as having "hyperthymia," a replacement term promoted by author Dr. Peter Kramer for normal-range mood between average and hypomania, made a brightly colored webpage: Sharen's Outa-Sight Site

(Writing this is going very slowly, because I'm not energized today, and I like correct details. But I think it's important to keep going because the subject might have something to do with how much one can get done in life.)

Then after writing notes on paper on the above strategies for myself, I also wrote the following, with the intention of posting it on this blog (which makes it an experiment in the style of paper and pencil to Internet writing too):

"I'm already doing the best I can do."­-Everyone does, in a sense, but whenever you choose to do something physically, you're following some of your ideas and not others. How do you know which are "the better angels of your nature"?

If you're doing less than you could because you're afraid of being busy, then you can change that by changing your mind about it. Consider the truth of the following saying:

"If you want something done, give it to a busy person."

If you're avoiding doing more in a day than you're used to doing, because you're superstitiously afraid it will be too much and you won't remember it all, or that it isn't time to make a big change in your life, then you can realize that's a superstitious fear, maybe a fear you're holding onto because at some time in you life doing a lot in a day became associated with causing yourself pain, then you can change your mind about it and decide to do a lot of things you want to do.

I'm not talking about pushing yourself to keep busy with things you don't want to do to keep your mind off your feelings. Follow what you want. Play. Enjoy life.

Then tonight I found that Jack Trace has new posts for March on his blog, after a break since December, and his "12 March 2007"/"Imagine life where you cared not what you did." goes into the subject of fear in more depth of psychology and cultural critique than what I've mentioned here about fear. He subscribes to the Jiddu Krishnamurti (not the same as Krishna from the Bhagavad-Gita) teaching about desire that comfort leads to fear and becoming fearless turns desire into joy.

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