Speaking of training the mind, Sam Harris explains in typically eloquent fashion how mindfulness can benefit us in the present day.
Imagine a list that there was zero pressure to tick items off of. In fact, the more items you added to it and didn’t do, the better you’d feel! Welcome to the to-don’t list.
To-do lists are the human equivalent of a hamster wheel. While they drive productivity and keep us on track, they just never seem to stop. Even as we cross items off, our lists just keep repopulating with more to-dos.
Here’s an idea, little hamster: Take a moment to think of a few things you could cross off your list — forever. Shed the responsibilities, habits and hobbies that use up your time in ways you don’t love. Call it your “to-don’t” list.
I’ve personally found this to be a great way of discovering and eliminating things that take up my time without giving anything in return. Highly recommended.
The previous post left such a bad taste in my mouth that I had to find something to balance the scales. Being reminded that people with different coloured skin and even starkly opposing views can still recognise each other’s humanity feels especially good right now.
David Shor, a white political data analyst was accused of anti-blackness and fired, for tweeting research carried out by a black assistant professor at Princeton. The offending research simply noted that Democratic vote share decreases in counties surrounding violent protests.
If this doesn’t scare you, it should. If this feels like progress, it isn’t.
Sometimes fear is useful. Sometimes it protects us from making mistakes, or hurting ourselves. Sometimes it reminds us to buckle our seatbelt, or to buy insurance.
But sometimes, perhaps more often than we care to admit, fear simply holds us back. It keeps us trapped in situations we don’t want to be in, by telling us that what’s outside is worse. This is where fear-setting comes in:
As soon as I cut through the vague unease and ambiguous anxiety by defining my nightmare, the worst-case scenario, I wasn’t as worried about taking a trip. Suddenly, I started thinking of simple steps I could take to salvage my remaining resources and get back on track if all hell struck at once
Fear thrives because it’s so awful that we’re unwilling to examine it too closely. “My presence is enough,” fear tells us, “don’t bother checking whether what I’m saying is true.”
It’s surprising how quickly fear scurry away under the light of our attention, so if fear is staring you down, try holding its gaze.
Did you ever read something that you feel like you should have known, only it never really clicked for you until it was expressed in that precise way? That’s how I felt when I read this insight into why people raise their voices:
When people have arguments, they raise their voices because they don’t feel heard.
Having felt the need to raise my voice quite recently, I can attest to the accuracy of this, but hopefully it will also act as an alarm bell in my own conversations. If I never get shouted at again I’ll know I’m onto something.
N.B. The article is behind a paywall on WSJ.com but as of this writing it can be read in full in the twitter app…
Andrew Sullivan writing for NYMag on the state of liberal discourse in the 21st Century.
Liberalism is not just a set of rules. There’s a spirit to it. A spirit that believes that there are whole spheres of human life that lie beyond ideology — friendship, art, love, sex, scholarship, family.
A spirit that seeks not to impose orthodoxy but to open up the possibilities of the human mind and soul. A spirit that seeks moral clarity but understands that this is very hard, that life and history are complex, and it is this complexity that a truly liberal society seeks to understand if it wants to advance.
It is a spirit that deals with an argument — and not a person — and that counters that argument with logic, not abuse. It’s a spirit that allows for various ideas to clash and evolve, and treats citizens as equal, regardless of their race, rather than insisting on equity for designated racial groups. It’s a spirit that delights sometimes in being wrong because it offers an opportunity to figure out what’s right.
And it’s generous, humorous, and graceful in its love of argument and debate. It gives you space to think and reflect and deliberate. Twitter, of course, is the antithesis of all this — and its mercy-free, moblike qualities when combined with a moral panic are, quite frankly, terrifying.
I must say though, the whole thing is undercut painfully by the fact that when Wesley Lowery (who was quoted in Andrew’s article) objected to the way his remarks were characterised, Andrew simply responded: “There were no inaccuracies. They are all your own words. And I’m entitled to my opinion”.
Room for debate indeed…