People are peculiar creatures. We’re highly social, but we fight amongst ourselves constantly.
We quarrel with friends and family; we war with neighbouring nations—or those far off, doesn’t really matter.
We like being together in massive, impersonal cities, but we also fancy solitude. Perhaps the old saying, (attributed to Einstein, but never confirmed) is that a human being “wants everything but is satisfied with nothing” has some truth to it.
What do you want? Are you frustrated because you can’t have it? Do you need it or only want it? If it’s peace of mind, I can help you.
My intent above was to demonstrate a few ways people are contradictory. People have to tolerate each other’s differences to make a society. Let’s look a bit deeper. I propose that we’re contradictory, paradoxical as individuals.
Psychology teaches its practitioners that personality is one of the very most stable aspects of a human being across all of the lifespan. However, we’ve all had the experience of doing something contradictory to what we thought were our core values.
People anguish over these actions. Stress? Oh my, yes. Worry, anxiety, and…as I said…anguish. Often there’s a sense of guilt. Now, what actions am I talking about? Bank robbery? Treason?
No. Small, small actions can be the grain of sand in the bed.
The mother of a frequent contributor to this site related an anecdote in which his elderly mother spent weeks worried and generally glum because she was indulging in something she simply didn’t do—or rather, she refrained from doing something she always did.
She decided not put out flowers in her front garden. The summer was already shaping up to be blistering hot, and she simply didn’t want to set out flowers.
She felt tremendous guilt about this after the fact, as if she were somehow letting someone down. You may find that laughable, in a world filled with biological weapons, terrorism, nuclear warheads, Ebola, and a million other ways to pass out of this life fairly hideously.
Nevertheless, worry is real. Regardless of the source, the pain from worry and anxiety is quite real. Whether we feel guilt from overindulging in a fatty desert or abstaining from setting out flowers, guilt powers so much suffering.
Again, I encourage us all to let ourselves be free. If we make a mistake, chances are we can correct it. Many mistakes come with solutions built-in. If you want to do something “out of character,” don’t let fear stop you or aggravate you.
If what you want to do doesn’t involve harm to another person—or harm to yourself (or illegalities), take a chance. Spend some of your mental energy embracing the paradox of yourself, and go have an adventure!
One glorious memory is worth a thousand wasted days.