Questions about my life-view:


Date: July 20/2003



A young friend of mine from out west began re-thinking his worldview last year, and sent a questionnaire out to some of his adult friends. Here are some of the questions, and my responses...just FYI:


Questions:

  1. What is your constant mindset and philosophy for everyday life? (when not having a bad day)

  2. What is your mood and mindset when performing mundane and/or repetitive everyday tasks?

  3. What goes through your mind when you meet the eyes of someone you don't know? How do you act/react?

  4. What causes you to get out of bed with a "spring in your step"? (when you don't have something special to look forward to)

  5. Are there any people that cause you unease for no apparent offense performed? How do you deal with this?

  6. What goes through your mind and how do you react to a perceived indirect insult during a casual conversation?



……………………………………………………..

One.


What is your constant mindset and philosophy for everyday life? (when not having a bad day)


My mindset during all/most waking moments (and even some dream states, I have found) is conscious awareness of being in the companionship of my God. Invisible, of course, but somehow a non-judgmental observer of my life. No weird 'mystical' aspect to this, generally, but just a quiet understanding of that reality. I am in constant informal 'conversation' with Him, asking for insight, sharing my observations, expressing confusion or disappointment. It is the closest of companionships I could possible imagine.


It is very, very warm and accepting, constructive. I have found Him over the years to be constructive and seeking my growth and development, and never harsh or abusive when I fail, when I am stubborn, or even when I have moments-of-micro-malice. This makes my day-to-day life exceptionally 'safe' and supportive, and a solid launch pad for tackling new challenges and facing new difficulties and opportunities.


I am, accordingly, never alone, but always with a Wise Friend and (true) parent.


My philosophy for everyday life can be expressed to two fashions: (1) a semi-religious expression of it would be that I attempt to honor Him and what He loves/values (as He has honored me with His companionship and a life of significance), to please Him with true growth-of-heart-and-love-and-integrity, and to enjoy Him and all His blessings (and difficulties) that present themselves to me each particular day; (2) a semi-secular expression of it would be that I attempt to add a slice of value to everyone whom I come in contact with that day--wherever feasible--ranging from doing a good job for customers, to encouraging a grocery clerk with a smile and non-demanding behavior, to being empathetic to those in suffering, to being appreciative to those who add some value to MY life that day.


This philosophy affords me the best of two worlds (both important to me): (a) a goal-oriented approach--to maximize the value given and/or received that day; and at the same time (b) a life/warmth-oriented approach--to ensure that my interactions are 'fuzzily human' and not just 'machine-level efficient'. The balance of warmth and efficiency is important to me--I would forever be a machine, if it were only 'goal oriented', and I would be forever miserable if ubiquitous-warmth always precluded tangible/visible achievement.



Two.


What is your mood and mindset when performing mundane and/or repetitive everyday tasks?


My mood varies. At some level I resent having to eat, shower, sleep, use the bathroom, etc., so I have to constantly watch my mood and have to invoke my mindset to interpret these activities 'more favorably'. At default, the mood is that of mild annoyance, at having to divert precious time and (sometimes) thought-cycles, away from the 'fun' stuff in my life--thinking, basically. After I have applied my 'mindset' as a correction (next paragraph), then the mood changes to neutral-plus-five-percent-gratitude-with-trace-levels-of-residual-grudging.


The mindset correction simply places those events into my larger worldview. These events are routines that help me stay healthy (for the fun stuff), they help me stay 'grounded' (too much of my thinking-fun-stuff and I would probably be intellectually 'insane'--I KNOW people like that, actually), they help me stay humble, they actually allow for ideas to percolate and grow in background (which takes time), whereas if I DIDN’T do something mindless, they might not 'grow enough' before I picked them. [I doubt if that is clear, but in other words, some/much of what I 'think up' NEEDS a little extra time to swirl around in my brain, for fermentation or something, before they are REALLY ready to be 'unleashed'. If I don’t wait just a while--and rather write them up and forget about them quickly--sometimes I miss some really important stuff that my subconscious and deep-memory can only bring up while the idea is 'cooking in background'.]


So, I end up trying (in situations where this is feasible, of course) to get to the "okay, Lord--thanks for having me do this…I don’t LIKE IT too much, You know, but I accept the fact that its probably good for me somehow" step.


And THEN, if its something that involves order/value-creation (cooking, cleaning, filing) or value-delivery (helping someone with a "trivial" question, helping mom deliver an occasional flowerpot), I try to invoke the 'excellence' mindset. I try to do a quality piece of goodness-work (not perfection or OCD level, of course), but something that I won't later look back on and say "I wish I would have smiled more and/or grumbled less when I did that". I have a phrase "starting an avalanche of good, one rock at a time"--and I try to use that framework for 'valuing-up' little 'rock-opportunities'. In other words, even the tiny, tiny acts of small-scale creativity and peace-creation contribute to the avalanche of goodness I am trying to create and/or experience in my life. Again, I do 'scope these' correctly--I do NOT go overboard and misallocate larger resources to smaller tasks. But at the same time, I do try to "FUND" these acts at the APPROPRIATE level.


One other comment…Some of the mundane tasks I actually/positively enjoy for closure reasons alone. I LOVE washing dishes, because it is a task that has a concrete closure point. When it is done, it is DONE. The sink is empty. I get a sense of closure in some of these small tasks, that I NEVER CAN GET in the vast majority of my 'main projects' in life. My Tank articles are ALWAYS still 'open', for someone might come up with a pushback that forces me to re-open the project. My tech-trends stuff NEVER finishes because the world changes so fast there (as you well know). Parenting is not done until your kids have raised THEIR kids! I personally LOVE closure, but most of the closure I get to enjoy comes from either small sub-task projects (e.g., getting a proposal done) or from mundane, repetitive tasks (cleaning, sorting, re-organizing my hard drive, etc.)



Three.


What goes through your mind when you meet the eyes of someone you don't know? How do you act/react?


What goes through my mind is different from how I react/act. Let me take these in reverse order.


My emotional reaction to humans can be neatly divided into two categories: (1) 'powerful' people, mostly adults; and (2) everybody else.


I respond emotionally to powerful people (whether actual, perceived, or --in most cases (sigh)--projected) with fear. They have a power to hurt me emotionally, as so many have done, while growing up (mostly unintentionally, I discovered later). They are powerful and therefore UNLIKE ME, who am 'weak', etc. They are 'distant' and 'better', etc. As with many other areas of my life, I have to apply a truth-grid mindset ("what goes through my mind", in the words of this question) to balance this negative, baggage-related, therapy-needing emotional conditioning with positive, freedom-related, value-constructing, and authenticity-producing emotions, flowing from my beautiful and joyous worldview.


Before I describe this mindset, let me describe my default emotional response to (2) everybody else--a feeling of solidarity, of semi-belonging, of companionship. I am 'safe' with kids, I am not 'distant' to a poor person, I am a 'fellow and friend' of a misunderstood teenager, I am a co-griever with a bereaved and broken-hearted parent or spouse. [In case you don’t recognize this, this is what Jesus was like--One among us.] This is my default, pre-cognitive response to these categories of people.


Now, the 'what goes through my mind' when I meet strangers (which, by the way, are INFINITELY EASIER for me to deal with than people I KNOW already and who have formed 'expectations' upon/of me!), or, preferably, BEFORE I MEET strangers (if I have any warning, which is often the case), I have an algorithm (smile) that I UNIFORMLY apply…a very simple 'script':


If (stranger = powerful)
{
Convert2regular-like-me (powerful stranger), returning Stranger-with-needs-and-pains-like-me;
}

For All Strangers-with-needs-and-pains-like-me
{
Do Add.Some.Value.2.them;
}




Since the default 'mindset' for people-with-needs-and-pains-like-me is TO SHARE WARMTH and VALUE with them, I end up helping EVERYBODY, and converting in this process, the 'distant' to the 'less distant' (recognizing that their distance is sometimes simply a defense mechanism INDICATIVE of their needs-like-me).


This algorithm, of course, is a biblical worldview item--God made us all alike in the basic aspects of human-heart experience. It is only unrelieved pain and unmet needs and betrayed trust that cause us to develop into 'arrogants' and 'elites' and 'calloused, powerful monarchs'…





Four:


What causes you to get out of bed with a "spring in your step"? (when you don't have something special to look forward to)


When I thought about this question it dawned on me that my 'outta bed' experience falls into the following categories:


1. 85% of the mornings are 'spring in step' mode--I have some concrete tasks to do, to add value (tank, work, reading)


2. 5% of the mornings are 'dread-right-outta-bed' mode--I have something terrifying to do that day (confrontation, meeting powerful strangers --smile).


3. 10% of the mornings are 'vague anxiety' mode--I DON’T HAVE anything specific to do, and am mildly worried about 'wasting a day' and feeling stupid about it at NIGHT [of course, there ARE days when the goal IS SIMPLY to 'waste the day'--when I am recovering from a binge-writing experience, for example]


Since all of my days are lived in the worldview/mindset described in Question One, there are very few days when I DO NOT have something 'special' planned. Since my life is abnormally focused (I only do 2.5 things: (1) Tank/ministry, (2) Work; (.5) kids--now that they are grown), my life is abnormally replete with significance and value-creation. It's really a kewl life to me, and one I am SO THANKFUL to my Lord for.






Five.


Are there any people that cause you unease for no apparent offense performed? How do you deal with this?


Yeah, I can think of a couple of folks, and the pattern is very, very clear to me: they are 'unpredictable' people, with overly dramatic expressions, very expressive physically, loud, boisterous, often very gifted artistically.


Most of these people I LOVE TO DEATH…they are precious to me, have encouraged me, have ministered to me, are/have been GREAT buddies at email, and bring a smile to my heart upon every memory of them. But the few times I have been in their physical presence, I was generally uncomfortable because of their 'unpredictable' behavior…


How I try to deal with it [I have not been too successful in executing this part in the past] is (a) avoid such 'uncontrolled', non goal-oriented situations wherever possible; and (b) provide myself with a convenient escape 'out' for each encounter. I try to stay with them as much as/as long as I can, but when I have had too much, I have to bow out with some PRE-ANNOUNCED meeting. (i.e., I mention upon first meeting them that I have a hard-stop deadline to leave NO LATER THAN xx minutes or whatever…). As for option (A), I try to set the time parameters (e.g., we've only got 45 minutes to do this, sorry) and goal-parameters (we need to have a written one-page document drafted by the end of our session…how do YOU think we should lay the draft out, O Dramatic One?).


I recognize in ALL CASES that the problem is mostly with ME, not with them. They MIGHT BE inconsiderate of others with their overly dramatic and flamboyant mannerisms (but generally not so, in my opinion), and they might be ab-normal in their direction of flamboyance to the same degree I am ab-normal (statistically speaking, in both cases, of course) toward the reserved, quiet, and non-disclosive. In no cases do I fault them for 'making me uncomfortable', but I recognize it just to be a matter of different styles.


(I also typically make a mental prayer--or at least self-reminder--that I am thankful that all people are NOT like me. I appreciate the diversity of God's creation (consider how many species of 'unnecessarily' beautiful wildflowers there are), and so I can honestly say 'thanks' for diversity--even when I am not comfortable with some of it, due to MY background etc.)


Additionally, I recognize that the more uncomfortable I am around them, the more uncomfortable around ME they probably are. Since its typically a style thing, the door swings both ways. But in all cases, I make a concentrated effort to express verbally my appreciation for them to them, and have even, on occasion, told them that I was a bit 'envious' of their freedom of expression (but only with good, trusted souls, of course).


The above deals with 'no reason' discomfort…there ARE situations in which I am in the presence of an arrogant man, or an angry woman, or a bratty soul, and these cause discomfort as well. But in these cases, they are pathologies, and my approach of recognizing these as symptoms of a need, allows me to toggle into 'helper/friend' mode, intent on befriending and warming and contributing peace, sanity, and honesty to their current attitude. But this is probably different from what you were asking about ('for no reason').




Six.


What goes through your mind and how do you react to a perceived indirect insult during a casual conversation?


If it really looks like an indirect (as in unconscious, unintentional, or subconscious) insult--instead of a carefully-disguised DIRECT and INTENTIONAL insult, then my internal response is fairly benign. I typically 'excuse it' with the internal remark of 'I bet they have NO idea of what they just implied'. I have discovered many, many times that speakers are often/generally VERY UNAWARE of such things--I have learned this by doing this myself…too often I have been talking eagerly about something, and a conversation partner accuses me of 'indirectly insulting them', and I am totally surprised and confused by the accusation. When I ask 'how?", they point to some remark I made, the implications-for-insult of which I have NO CONSCIOUS awareness and can only see their point AFTER they have mentioned it.


Since I have spoken such so many times myself (unintentionally, indirectly), I almost never make the assumption that they were conscious of the slip…and so I let it go by, and stay focused on what they are INTENDING to say/talk about. And, almost every time I have taken offense and ASKED THEM about it, they honestly didn’t mean anything by it…so the statistics/trendlines convince me to not take those implications seriously or as being intentional.


I have made the assumption here, of course, that you meant 'unintentional' when you called it 'indirect'. If , on the other hand, you were speaking about 'indirect' as in "SUBTLE, but still INTENTIONALLY aimed at you", then my response is different.


If I perceive such an insult, my responses are many/quick:


1. I quickly assess to what extent I am actually guilty of such an 'bad thing' (or how might I have come across that way to them--assuming that it might be a communication/presentation problem on MY part and not on THEIRS). Sometimes this is helpful feedback for me--albeit overstated and delivered 'non-constructively';

2. I quickly assess whether this issue might be a 'red herring' tactic, designed to get me OFF THE TRACK of the actual conversation. If I suspect they are trying to change the subject, I completely ignore the insult (in some cases even agreeing with them, with a little chuckle) and DOUBLY FOCUS BACK on the topic of conversation.

3. If I suspect they are trying to hurt or pick a fight, but in such a way as to avoid 'looking like such', I merely probe--innocently--for details, as being confused: "Rob, I am confused about that last statement. Help me understand that: If only people from Idaho have intelligence, what are you implying about your boss, who is from Georgia, or our hostess here, who is from Jersey, or even me, from Mississippi?" In this way, either they (a) EXPLICTLY back down from the insult; or (b) it turns into a direct, EXPLICIT, frontal assault--in front of everyone in the conversation.


There's more to this last case than that; most of the times I just do as Jesus suggested and 'turn the other cheek' and focus on trying to help them in some way. Most intentional-yet-disguised insults are a sign of weakness, pettiness, defensiveness, or insecurity, and I just process them as clues that the 'insulter' is a needy person, and someone MAYBE I can be a friend to…no reason for me to be angry at them, if they have simply toggled into 'toddler temper tantrum and pouting' mode…


And in this respect, I don’t treat complaints about ME any differently than complaints about SOMEONE ELSE…if its whining, it’s a symptom of their problem and has nothing to do with me, actually…(see the attached wav file for a bit of humor on this one…smile).


[That's all it was...Glenn]


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