Is it beneficial?

I was in the book club at UU and made a comment about talking with others and one of the guys said it sounded like the Rotary Club 4-way test. It is quite close to my own value system.
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Of the things we think, say or do
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
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I  think it's an excellent way of summarizing how we should deal with each other and a very good model for behavior. I like things like this because they help me to make sense of difficult situations and give me at least one sensible way to quickly deal with those issues when they arise.


(After reading it, I realized had seen this years ago on a fountain in Charleston in Marion Square.)


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In other news, I have been writing a lot in the little moleskine book I purchased the other week. It's been helpful for sorting out my thoughts and has given me a way to record things that I might otherwise forget. As I expected, its also been much less distracting than trying to take notes on my phone (Facebook/texts/email, ect - generally an electronic black hole). Though I have noticed it makes me appear a bit curious to outsiders. Overall, it's been a nice addition. I think I am going to keep using it. It's worth the extra space it takes up in my pocket. 

The most useful aspect has been for recording my failures in human interactions. Given I am able to immediately jot down what I would like to work on, it has served as a faithful aid. I have been able to reflect on those mini-lessons and take down the advice of others. Without this record I, likely would be repeating these same mistakes more frequently.





One of the most curious things that I discovered after using it for the past couple of weeks is that I use different pronouns at times. For some notes, I will say "I" while in others I will say "you." I wonder if I have pinpointed at least a bifurcation in  the different voices I might have internalized over the years. I will try to pay more attention to it in my day-to-day life.

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I have been doing a bit of reading lately (at least more than usual). The most recent book I went through was The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.  I have enjoyed it, but reading has ironically (particularly given the subject matter of this book) made me want interaction with real people less and less (Though this might be because lately I have been in a position of talking through problems others are having rather than seeking guidance on my own). Books have a way of being succinct and dense that often doesn't happen in regular conversation. It seems like a good book will have several compelling ideas on a single page whereas it might take half an hour to glean as many from most conversations. It's also hard to get to a point where ideas are actually flowing back and forth. People are way too guarded. It has also taught me to recognize the importance of "bad company" - to identify "zombies." People whose souls have died but whose mouths still work - people who chatter about banal trivialities (my sense of humor falls into this too - it is often without substance and is something I need to discard in large part). Along those lines it has pushed me to try to really listen in conversation (though this is admittedly VERY tough for me). I am often making more judgments and internal evaluations than anything else. Memorizing what the person says is not listening. Listening is about shutting out my own internal chatter and really being with the person there. It's easy to sound off advice without really believing a word of it. It is an entirely different process to just shut up and really try to empathize with someone else.

The other challenge this book has left me with is to be content while I am alone. The author asserted that the ability to be happy alone is a prerequisite for love. I think there is some truth in this. Particularly since I often view relationships as a way to fulfill my own longings (to varying degrees: intellectual stimulation, acceptance, love, forgiveness, financial security, companionship). I think what Fromm was trying to say was that real love depends not on selflessness and embedded expectations of getting something in return. In any case it's certainly not related to the naive and infectious idea of "courtly love" so often tossed around as the ideal in today - the notion that obsession with some "true love" who will complete you.

I guess this is generally highlighting the start of a recent arch I have made from an obsession with my own destiny (career, education, economic security, personal spiritual development, to something related to, as a good Buddhist would say, reducing suffering in the world. I guess I am ready to start giving back a little (at .
least beyond the immediate circle of friends/family).
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On the job front: I have tried to spend my lunch hour either writing, reading, meditating or exercising. It's a good way to break up the monotony of the day and get away from all the chatter of work (unavoidable if I dine with co-workers. 4 hours in the morning and 4 in the afternoon are pretty easy with that gap. I also should be scheduling more lunches with friends (particularly people I have identified as mentors in my own life).

The job itself is bearable. I am not unhappy there, but neither am I excited to go to work. It pays my bills and is not very stressful. I feel useful which is nice, but there is so much more I could be doing with my time and that always nags at my soul. The people are friendly and my boss has been very kind which is a welcome change (this is also my first female superior). We are quite different, but I appreciate that she looks out after me. It's nice to have that sense of protection rather than fear. I think a good boss is essential to any real career development and long term success at a job. I also try, to make sure I leave work at work at a reasonable hour and not bring it home with me.