A Nice Cup of Tea (p.990)
When it comes to understanding ourselves, I strongly defer to looking at the habits we partake, our associations and dissocations (us-them distinctions), and the language and nuances we use. Each of these things is an excellent indicator of what we think, believe and value--not because I say so--but because they are real-time demonstrations of these things.
This is why I am more of a proponent of demonstration-based paradigms of understanding and defining yourself. Anyone can write up who and what they want to be on paper, but our actions, nuances, and short- and long-term goals truly demonstrate who we are. And the great thing about this? We can change our demonstration(s) at our will. Our willed actions are much more realistic compasses of ourselves than our ideals or fantasies of ourselves, because the will by default engages us with reality, and our fantasies are escapist. Ultimately this is great, because if there is anything humans can do, it is produce willed action, both outward and inward.
I am not going to claim to have compiled an comprehensive list of the markers of understanding the self. If anything, the more markers that intellectuals continually identify, the better chance we each have of being more centered (acting and choosing based on our natural inclinations, and goals), and more balanced in our relationships because we will not be searching for ourselves through other people. We will let people be themselves, because identity-confusion/torture will not cataract our ability to see others truly empathically.
I stumbled across the ideal of additives lately, which I will be adding to my above list of markers used to understand the self. Not just any additives, life additives : what we think and believe we need to add to our lives to improve them. Now, although I am not a big fan of belief because it is by definition a statement without evidence, a belief however can be an excellent springboard, because a process of evidence can follow. We add things to our lives all the time without even reflecting we actually made a choice; identifying these things objectively can help us see ourselves more clearly. Thus, investigating and exposing our life additives through our intellect can help expose them, because they often hide in the recesses of emotional affirmation. I am not just talking about the high-ended, existential stuff, I am actually focusing right now on the more domestic sphere. The little things we do day-in and and day-out nearly thoughtlessly because they are either a part of our routine, or things we posit at beneficial to our self-interest.
Pausing and reflecting for just one moment on the life additives we are enlisting right now, and just enlisted a few seconds, minutes, etc., ago, can buck our impulses and compulsions and potentially provide a real-time gauge of who we are through who we act, or in other words, the selves we actively demonstrate. This puts us in a position of making an informed--or more objective--choice of whether these additives are helping us draw closer to our short- and long-term goals, or unknowingly draw us further away.
Thus, implementing thought-based additives in place of belief-based additives allows us to forecast our own lives, rather than react to them.
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