Because you need to examine it.
Yesterday was active and mindful.
Woke up at five AM, ate breakfast, went grocery shopping for my parents. After a few hours of writing, I picked up my nephews from school and gave them lunch. Next, I drove grandma to physiotherapy, and soon after her session, I hurried across town to close the family shop. In the final hours of the day, I busted my ass at the gym, read my book, and scribbled some notes before going to bed at ten PM. It felt pretty good. The day had given me a lot of time to think about today’s article.
In “This Is Water,” David Foster Wallace says,
learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.
What Wallace is saying here is the recipe for a meaningful life. You can get angry and act like you are at the center of the world, or you can choose to give it meaning by being compassionate and understanding. The choice is up to you.
I spent a big part of yesterday doing the boring tasks of other people’s lives. Grocery shopping, picking up kids from school, waiting, etc. All necessary, yet pretty boring. So, why did it feel so good? Was it because of altruism or strenuous exercise? A little bit. But most of it was because I embraced the dull moments of the day to examine things, kind of like Socrates suggested.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates
So, why not use the boring moments of the day to listen to the man?
A lot of people schedule (boring) activities like meditation and therapy to investigate what's going on. Others, like my friend Guilherme, do their thinking by sea. (not so boring). For you, it might be something completely different. My advice is to embrace every opportunity to search for truth and perspective.
Jordan B. Peterson wrote that “when people think, they simulate the world, and plan how to act in it. If they do a good job of simulating, they can figure out what stupid things they shouldn’t do. Then they can not do them. Then they don’t have to suffer the consequences.” That’s a helluva statement.
Richard Feynman reminds us that, “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” So a generous dose of optimist criticism is paramount to having a meaningful life.
Optimism, according to David Deutch, is “a way of explaining failure, not prophesying success.” And Criticism, according to Brett Hall, “is an explanation of how something is wrong or bad or deficient and why.” Even though criticism doesn’t necessarily mean you will come up with solutions, you should strive to find the truths behind what you’re criticizing. This way you can understand, create meaning, make plans, and feel better.
On a personal note, if you’re just complaining, it’s a good sign that you're fooling yourself with some self-centered belief. Do better. You don’t have to be reactive, zapping from one thing to another. Investigate what’s going on, create meaning and move to something better.
The boring parts of life are your own. So, why not embrace them to examine and feel good?
Hope you enjoyed this and talk to you soon. Lucas Napier