Monday, December 11, 2006

Human Nature

As a student of human behavior, and being a human myself, I sometimes ponder the duality of perspective. I've been occupying myself with this phenomenon lately. What I mean by "duality" is, the perspective from which I view others, versus the perspective from which I view myself. It's interesting for me, as it can provide a sobering revelation of my shortcomings. While considering one's own shortcomings isn't the most ego-boosting activity you can undertake, for me it's a necessary step in making improvements in whatever area of my life I'm working on.

I look at what I value in other people, and then look at my own actions to see if the two are consistent. I have to look at my actions, because just studying my intentions tells me nothing. I've always (well, almost always) had good intentions, but my actions didn't necessarily follow my intentions, and I did some really stupid shit. Intentions only count if they match the action.

So what do I value in others, and how am I measuring up?

The first word that comes to mind is "honesty". I don't know if this is the most important value to me, but it is the one that jumped up first. I like honest people and don't care for liars. I consider myself an honest person, and don't make up lies for the hell of it. I can't say I never lie, but I don't ever do it with the purpose of causing harm. I'll tell a lie when honesty could cause a problem. In fact, honesty can be a weapon in the hands of a cruel, curmudeonly person. If a girlfriend asks me, after a visit to the stylist, "Do you like my hair?", I'm not likely to say, "Uh, what did they do? Comb it with a firecracker?"

No, that wouldn't be kind, or wise, even if it looks that way. If I'm thinking on my feet, I'm not even going to say, "Uh, do you?" No, I'll probably just nod my head as I admire it, rub my chin and make a couple of noises that sound interesting and hope she pipes in with something. If not, I'll say something nice. Is it a lie? Of course. But it saves someone's feelings from being hurt, and unless they truly look foolish and should be told so, there's no harm done. So, honesty and tact are characteristics that I value.

Class is another quality that comes to mind. The way I define "class" is probably a little different than other people, but maybe not. I'm not bothering to look up Webster's definition, I'll use my own for this. Class is a quality that pertains to self-awareness. It's being aware of one's self, one's place in the world, and being aware of and understanding the feelings of others, while being under the influence of humility. I admire this quality in others, and there's no mistaking it when you see it. It's hard to fake. Some people that don't have it try to pull it off but only end up looking pretentious or condescending. Do I have it? Sometimes. Sometimes not. When I have it, it's geniune because it stems from humility. Sometimes I'm feeling more humble than others. But when my ego tries to step up and take control, humility is the first casualty. However, if I'm not feeling it, I don't try to fake it. I've got shortcomings in this department, and I've come to understand that this is probably a life-long process. Self-improvement is not an overnight endeavor, unfortunately.

Compassion is another favorite. I admire compassionate people. Compassion is a tough thing, because it's often inconvenient and rarely is it economical. You could make a career out of helping every person you meet who's in need, but most people have to make a living and provide for themselves and their loved ones. I'd love to have the financial horsepower to provide for the helpless, but the reality is, I can only help so much and so often. Compassion isn't just about helping others, but that's a big part of it. I need work in this area, and I am going to make more of an effort in the future. Actions are the only measure in this area.

Humor is right up there with any quality. I love funny people and I like all kinds of humor: sarcasm, irony, smart-ass are among my favorites. Dry wit is great. I love to laugh, and while I'm not a comedian, I have some pretty good moments. Smart-ass is my predominant style. A person that can laugh at themselves is welcome any time, because that is pretty good sign of humility. I could probably use some work in this area, I think I tend to take myself too seriously at times, particularly when my ego is driving.

More on this later, it's time to work on "The Hook" for the crap-o-meter thing on the Miss Snark website. I think I'm going to submit my hook and look for the grinding I'm sure to get, but if I learn something from it, and it improves my query, I'm a better person for it. I only hope I can laugh at myself when the time comes.

Peace and warm Krispy Kreme donuts for the masses...


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