of the Belief Overview
I will assess the following questions (this section is more detailed in the Belief Experiment #1 write-up):
(1) What perceptual points will best take me back to this belief? (2) What do I take this belief to mean?
To clarify, the first question asks, How can I recreate the perception this belief gives me? I could also state it as, What stands out when I hold this belief?
There are two parts to 2: (a) Where/how this belief logically fits into my current belief system (if it does so), and (b) If and how the belief is important to me: what I have learned from it, how it has led me to behave differently, etc.
I’ll start with (2a), then address (1), and finally (if needed), (2b).
What is the Context for this Belief?
Context for the Belief: Why not? :P
I suppose subjective reality aids this belief, since it entails more power over and a closer connection to my environment than objective reality does.
The Belief: I can always be my best.
What is the Experience of the Belief?
This belief did not meet me with an explosion of newness, though I think the changes it has created are important nevertheless.
In particular, I’ve had a fairly strong and persistent desire to get more organized and set my priorities straight. I want to focus only on things I feel strongly committed to and think I can do an outstanding job at (if not at first, then in time).
I’ve felt more dedicated to the work I do for this website: yesterday I spent a little more time editing the article I wrote than usual, though I still would have liked for it to be better. The balance between speed and quality is still a tad off for me, though I think it’s improving steadily with each article (then again, Finding Balance probably isn’t the point).
Today, however, I felt like I needed a break from my laptop, so I spent the day outside and running errands. Now I am writing this at 9 PM. I’m okay with this, but it doesn’t feel like the best to me. These Belief Overviews are a bit time-sensitive (i.e. better to write at the end of the day), but generally I’d like to make a basic plan for each day, wake up early, tackle the biggest task first, and stop working only when the task is done. This isn’t new for me, but it is unusual (I don’t get like this too often). I even feel compelled to make long term plans, which I haven’t done much of beyond “I want to be awesome someday.”
As long as I don’t waste too much time planning plans and spinning my wheels (i.e. working hard at thigns that doesn’t matter much) I think I would like this to stick around. Well, and as long as I get to enjoy some aimless and unscheduled time, too. If it’s for a sensible purpose I don’t mind being a robot—especially if running around in the woods and going on adventures every now and then will help me to be a better one. J
Explanation for the last sentence: to get the highest quality work out of yourself you probably shouldn’t spend all of your time working. This is especially true if your work depends on you having interesting experiences and directly reflects your state of mind, like mine does. If I tried to spend 75% of my waking hours writing for weeks and months on end I might not get the insights that come from living life. But, hey—I can’t say I’ve tried that. Perhaps that will be the stuff of a future experiment…
In addition to wanting to be a higher quality person, I’ve wanted to have higher quality things. This doesn’t mean I suddenly want all new possessions and hate everything I currently have. But, now when I go to the store, I think, Money is no object, so why waste it on cheap stuff? Insofar as it is practical enough I would rather have a few high quality items than many low quality ones (perhaps you say the same of friends and lovers, though do your actions follow through with your apparent attitude? Hm).
All of the hummus at Price Chopper contained silliness, so instead of settling for that one questionable ingredient I decided to leave with none. None of the sunflower seeds at Hannaford’s were organic, so I didn’t get any. Perhaps this sounds incredibly pretentious, and maybe it is, but why should I settle for what I don’t want if I don’t have to? If I let the attitude of settling for low-quality seep into my health, can I reasonably expect that I’ll treat the rest of my life much better?
I’m definitely not rollin’ in dough, and I don’t buy everything organic (obviously this belief isn’t 100% “on”). But the actions that support good health are getting more consistent, and the attitudes, stronger. I’d like to think I’ll be thankful for this general move toward higher quality down the road—perhaps even very shortly down the road.
I also feel like I’ve been a bit more open and friendly in conversation (socially competent) but it might not be the world’s most massive change—at least, not yet. I’ve felt less of a need to degrade myself when talking to others (e.g. “I’m so stupid!!!”). Usually I do this when I worry that I’ll be too self-glorifying if I say anything else, so this reflects low self-esteem in the moment (which is not attractive. Sorry).
Speaking of being stupid, I’ve decided that, aside from this paragraph and the last, I am not going to use the words stupid or dumb for the next 30 days, because I’ve let them poison my vocabulary. So no more. Now I have four 30 day trials going on at the same time: writing an article everyday, these belief experiments, veganism, and no stupid. Certainly looks like a modest effort at improving myself, eh?
More importantly, I’ve been making more of a conscious effort than usual to clean up my thoughts. I notice negative thoughts more quickly and can deal with them more effectively and efficiently, but there certainly still are plenty I struggle with. The point, though, is that I know I don’t have to waste myself on worry and bitterness, and I am responsible for dealing with these things in myself should they arise.
What does this Belief Mean to Me?
Remember that even if you can’t have all the best stuff you can still try your best to be your best. Become resourceful and see what you can borrow, trade, or accomplish another way. I’m sure there is more of this which is superior to bowing to the supermarket than I think. Stuff does not own you: you own it. Whether you have it or not, don’t let it ruin you. Stuff cannot spring to life and take someone down with jiu-jitsu: only humans can do that (unless there’s some scary grappler-wolf-thing out there…)
I know, it can be hard to define “best.” Maybe the best avocado at Target is not the best avocado to be found anywhere (I guarantee you it isn’t). Maybe the best speech given at an International speech contest is still not the best speech to be heard. Maybe the best you’ve ever done is not the best you ever could do.
The highest hill you can see from where you currently stand is extremely unlikely to be the highest hill in the world. Relative to your current position it is the highest hill, but in absolute terms it isn’t at all. The first hill is something you observe: the second hill is something you think—it is simply an idea that you have agreed with. Each time you climb a hill you will remember that there is a higher one to be found elsewhere.
Is it better to climb the nearest high hill, or venture elsewhere in hopes of finding an even higher one?
Even if it’s only a few feet from where you are now, a higher altitude will provide you with a better view. You’ll be able to see the landscape better than from the bottom of the valley. You might even have a view that spans miles. From the valley it might span inches.
From this hilltop, you’ll be able to do 360 degree turns and look around to see if there are any peaks higher than this one. If there are, then such a peak will become the new relative max, if I may relive calculus for a moment. From the bottom of the hill, this particular peak was incomprehensible and inaccessible to you. There were too many obstacles that blocked your view of it, perhaps such as trees and rolls of fat over your eyes. You could have tried imagining such a peak, but could have really been sure of its existence?
Now, from the hilltop, you can be sure (unless you went without water for days to get here…). Because you have climbed the hill you are on now, you have a better idea of how high up the next one is than if you could see it from the bottom. Experience contributes to that better idea.
Reaching the top of a mountain not only shows you that you just ascended a considerable distance, but it also reveals that there are bigger, badder peaks awaiting you. The top of one mountain may be the bottom of many others.
Thankfully, though, the experience of climbing this mountain will make those bigger ones less bad to you. In short, then, it isn’t always suboptimal to ascend the nearest high hill—even if you’ve heard that there are larger ones elsewhere. The guards may not let you pass to the foot of Mt. Mad Grizzly Bear until you’ve hit the top of Black Bear Peak– and if they do, you might wish they did. Have fun solving integrals before you learn what a variable is.
Sometimes shortcuts help you learn faster and push you farther than you think you can go. My first ultramarathon was 62.1 miles (100K): before that the longest race I ever ran was 9.3. My first 100K might have been faster if I raced 50K first, but as far as I’m concerned I was fine enough (I finished!)—and I certainly am glad to have taken up the challenge. If you want to bypass the guards, just try not to be scared of them: they smell fear, and they might send in helicopters to whisk you off of Big Bad Mountain if they catch you crying halfway up.
Also, if you’ve climbed Bunny Hill 100 times in the past in addition to many a bigger and badder mountain, there’s probably no need to bother with it. Unless you have devolved, there probably isn’t a whole lot left in that experience for you. Just like how guar gum in my hummus is unlikely to help me achieve moksha. ;)
I know I originally said that I would experiment with different perspectives, but right now I like the trend of trying out beliefs I expect to improve my quality of life. I could use some quality, ya know?
The next belief I will try may not be optimally worded, but, well, I’ll figure it out. It sure could do some interesting things for me: courage is my best tool.
Also, if you live in the northeastern U.S. and you go into the big scary woods this Summer, make sure to check all over your body for ticks—even parts of you that your clothes cover. Something may compel them to make the journey up there, but I don’t know what. Thankfully the tick friend I made today did not begin consuming my blood, as far as I can tell (I guess they just hang out for a while once they get on you… Maybe scoping out the scene?). Perhaps he knew it was the blood of the best, and he just wasn’t ready for the best. It was a baby—I’ll give it that much credit.
But unless you’re a supremely-advanced infant you aren’t a baby, so, go be your best! Now! There’s free cake at the end (though pain and pleasure usually aren’t the best motivators, now are they)!