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On measuring

How do we measure ourselves? What do we use to tell whether or not we're "successful" or "doing well"?

For some people, it's money, or financial comfort - if I can just afford *that* house, or *that* car... (or, so long as I can afford the next house, and the next car, I know I'm on the right track). At a certain point, I think, one's wealth exceeds a certain limit and becomes just an indicator of power - for the fabulously wealthy in the business world, it's about power. For the rock stars and movie stars, it's fame - you are who knows you.

That's not how I measure my life (for a change, I don't think I'll talk about just what I think I am using), nor, I suspect, is that how most of the people on my flist examine the worth of their lives. Do we use progress along an imagined path? Perceived closeness to enlightenment or actualization? A qualitative analysis of the degree of happiness? Is there a "right" way to tell if one is "on the right track" with one's life? Perhaps more importantly, is there a wrong way? Is it getting what you want, wanting what you get, or something else?

I have been thinking, today, about what the things I want in my life are - not necessarily the big, long term things, but more the little, day to day things, the ephemeral, nonmaterial things. Things I want in the general sense, and how that ties in to the specific things I catch myself looking for. Am I looking for the right things, to determine if I'm getting what I want, or if I am going to? Are my goals (selected by my unconscious) attainable? Are they healthy?

I have answers for some of these, but not for others. There is more thinking to be done, but perhaps it should be done after sleeping.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2005 01:54 pm (UTC)
As long as I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, family that loves me, and some reason worth getting up each day, I'm happy. I'm not successful yet (that will be after I do something of worth like raise a child properly or help someone who can't help themselves) but I am fulfilled.
Nov. 10th, 2005 02:04 pm (UTC)
So you measure your worth based on what you do for others, then? This is, in itself, neither good not bad. Just interesting to think about. :)
Nov. 10th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
I've always wanted to help people. Alot of the time it's mostly selfish(if I help them they're less stressed and less likely to take out their anger on me... there's an interesting statement in itself lol) but I feel that to be successful in this life time I have to do at least one BIG thing for someone just because they need it and without any personal return for me other than the satisfaction of doing good.
Nov. 11th, 2005 12:04 pm (UTC)
Why then wont you HELP me? All I have ever asked for is for you to talk to me. You know better than any one that I'm generally a very nice guy. Right now I need your help more than anyone,,,but your choosing to ignore me!!!
Nov. 11th, 2005 11:59 am (UTC)
You can never be successful in life by IGNORING people that want and need your help from time to time.
Nov. 10th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
Right now I feel like I'm "doing well" despite the stress and work. It's kind of a nebulous feeling, but I feel like I'm doing the right thing for me at this time and place. (Or the next thing, if I'm feeling Spider Robinson-ish).

The last four years, I wasn't doing well, because I felt that I was wasting my time doing what I was doing. I didn't sleep well, I fretted all the time.

I'm perhaps busier and doing more stressful things now, but I sleep better and wake up wanting to do what I do. Before I organized banal things for students, now I mark their efforts, which is more important to them, but oddly enough, I was less stressed this morning listening to students complain about their grades on the midterm than I had been dealing with ordering lunches and organizing rooms for them.

My dad said something I consider very wise at one point. He said that it's not about doing what you love, it's about finding the thing you can't not do. I can't not do this. I'm just so glad I can do it fulltime.
Nov. 10th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
Right now I feel very worthless because I am in a bad environment. I'm doing things because they feel like they are the right thing to do at this time. I'm taking use of opportunities available for me even though I don't see what my ultimate outcome will be.

But I feel really good when I help other people (either coworkers with computer issues or professors with class duties), when I get respect from my boss, or in my personal life when I achieve a goal or finish a project I care about, etc.

I wish I could entirely put my finger on what is so toxic about this environment, because it would help whoever takes over after me.

The problem is that I truly do not care about the job I am doing here about 75-90% of the time. That and the stuff I do like doing is always low priority.

Nov. 11th, 2005 01:55 am (UTC)
Striving to better myself. Though I try to go easy on the striving.

Better one beer at a time, kinda thing ;)
Nov. 11th, 2005 04:35 am (UTC)
My rule of thumb is that I'm doing well when I have something to be enthusiastic about. Any of my goals that don't inspire entusiasm usually have to undergo serious re-examination.
Nov. 11th, 2005 04:58 pm (UTC)
I don't think we can accurately come up with any one measurable to life, or even a consistant set. For one thing, measurements are inherently linear (and usually scalar), and just about everything worth doing is much more complicated than that.

I would also consider that the struggle to judge one's past and future takes one out of the present, which is the best place to be most of the time.

Having said that, it always helps to have goals. When you walk a balance beam, you do best when your eyes are on the horizon.

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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