how to contribute to the worth economy

upon reflection during this post, it turns out there was a reason I have always eaten the cupcake first
~ photo by Chanhee Lee on Unsplash ~

I’ve been prioritising what I call “happiness habits” lately and it’s doing me well. I have a routine of rituals I do each morning, and a few other must-do’s each day, but otherwise I’m trying to refrain from having expectations other than this in my day. The situation with our co-tenant persists, which makes it hard to do much each day. Sometimes if all I can manage to maintain is my meditation practice I am happy.

I was talking to Nikki the other day about how much a regular practice of compassion meditation is helping me cope with our situation, and we talked about how such foundations must be built before anything else, and I really appreciate that.

I’m proud of having got myself to a place where I’m actually feeling pretty good among the pretty shitty situation we’re in with our co-tenant. I made the affirmation this morning that

I will keep up with observing the basics and not have majorly high expectations of myself to do a lot more

because I understand that’s where we start to go wrong in our culture: we try to achieve all this stuff because we think we need to prove ourselves, but in doing so we neglect the practices of being that would have us feeling worth without having to prove ourselves;

all motivation/intention must come from a place where we already recognise our inherent worth, otherwise that motivation will become tainted by the wish to be validated by others and we’ll be chasing this forever without satisfaction because no amount of external validation can fill the void where our self-worth should be;

anything we achieve to supplement our self-worth is going to suck worth out of the worth-economy, whereas anything we achieve from a sense of inherent self-worth is going to contribute worth.

I wrote about something similar recently, in a post called “on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …” where I mentioned how societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth.

I didn’t go into how we might cultivate that sense of inherent self-worth, but I’d like to drop a few thoughts here because a big part of the narrative shift I’m contributing to with Kokoro 心 Heart is about internal self-talk, which is where our sense of worth (or lack thereof) begins.

I believe the path to a sustainable and harmonious future on this planet is paved by creating a culture of individuals who are internally sustainable and harmonious. Because individuals create culture as much, if not more, than they are influenced by culture. We are culture, and the future is determined by the state of our present.

One way we can begin to create that culture of internally healthy individuals is by looking at our own self-talk. For me, there are some essential meditation and contemplation practices that are indispensable in healing my negative self-talk, and they are:

  • mindfulness
  • (self-)compassion
  • (self-)forgiveness
  • gratitude

I spend some time each day reflecting on and practising these, and sometimes I find it hard to justify the time because I feel like I should be achieving something else … anything else, just not wellbeing.

But that’s absurd, and there’s a logic to be understood here: no amount of external achievement can satisfactorily supplement the sense of worth that comes from laying the foundation of these practices first; so the foundational practices need to come first, and are justified on these grounds.

Anything extra I can do, after I have done these exercises, is just the cream on top. If I have a really productive day, that’s just a cherry on top of the cream. Please excuse the shonky metaphor, but without that foundational cupcake we’re left with just a handful of whipped cream and a slimy glacé cherry.

The understanding we live by is arse-about in Western culture: we live for the external, and neglect the internal. But the internal is all that exists. This is a fundamental aspect of the narratives we need to change in ourselves and thereby our culture.

Does this make sense?

What does this mean for you?

on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …

… rather than achievement as a prerequisite for self-esteem

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

I’ve been taking stock today — taking it slow and allowing myself to get back in the groove of being a bit more organised than I have been lately. I’ve been posting a lot more here recently, but a few other things like life-admin and chores have gone by the wayside a bit.

This is okay — I’ve been riding the enthusiasm I feel for this blog and the community we can build here. It’s been making me happy. I will find the balance between running this blog and running the rest of my life, as the pendulum swings to and fro.

When I’m taking stock I like to go through my various browsers, closing tabs I’ve had open for yonks. It helps me feel a bit more organised by cutting out some of the mental noise I feel at some kind of subconscious level when I know I’ve been opening tabs like they’re going out of fashion.

Something I stopped on today was this article about how some overachievers turn to drugs for escape because no achievement is ever sufficiently satisfying. It’s published by an addiction-recovery and mental-health clinic, and covers a lot of ground (in three short sections) about how societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth.

I understand this compulsion intimately, though I’m not sure I had quite made the connection between the constant need for achievement and the temptation of drugs that promise a reprieve from this pressure.

I am pleased to be able to say, though, that since I’ve been working more full-time on Kokoro 心 Heart and the business around it, I can relate more to this statement from the article:

Our attempts to achieve and succeed should have their roots in a healthy, already-existent sense of self-esteem, rather than being motivated by its absence.

I can honestly say that I wake up each morning feeling committed to doing this work that fulfils my purpose. Not because I need to supplement a low self-esteem, but because doing this work feels as natural and necessary as breathing, or making nutritious food, or walking in the bush. It’s an act of self-care, this work, and feels like something I am just meant to do — no one else expects me to do it.

I value the work I am doing here, and I do it because I believe it has worth — I wouldn’t be able to do that without others’ expectations if I didn’t have a higher sense of self-esteem than I had previously recognised.

So that’s a nice thing to have realised, and was well worth taking stock for. I am grateful, and very fortunate.

Check out the article, and let me know what you think. I think it’s essential we question the narratives telling us we need to achieve more — always more, never enough.

What is your enough?

If societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth, but also no achievement is ever sufficiently satisfying, what to do?

books made of human skin

Books made of human skin, Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester selling for US$30,802,500, and Fran Lebowitz being outraged at someone putting a cup down on a book …

The Booksellers, a charming documentary about the endearingly whacko people who trade in rare and iconic books.

We watched it the other night and it was lovely to just wander through these people’s lives, through their enthusiasm for hunting and protecting these books for posterity.

If you’re looking for a light documentary about the simple cultural pleasure of physical books, check out The Booksellers by D W Young.*

*That’s an affiliate link, so if you buy something through that link I’ll get some money for a coffee, at no extra cost to you.

my review of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

I’ve published my review of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar.

I’m a huge fan of this book and I recommend it to anyone looking for a literary novel that’s easy to read, but illuminating and enjoyable. It is one of those rare books that yields high value and meaning without being too much like hard work.

The reader can expect a magic-realist dirge about injustice, grief, repressed spirituality, the futility of revenge, and the importance of survivors’ struggle to move forward into life, after death – an engaging contribution to the humanisation of the victims of
large-scale fundamentalist violence.

reaching out ~ what to do with a truant teen

Zane buggered off again today ~ skipped school and bailed on meeting us to drop his uniform to him. We found him, but boy has it brought up a lot of stuff!

My conditioning dictates that I should be angry, but I’m trying to be positive and bring a compassionate perspective.

This is all in the context of me trying to rediscover my place in the dynamics of the family, so I’m feeling very unsure about what my part should be in responding to this truancy again.

I’m a step-dad who has minimal-to-no relationship with Zane, and therefore limited agency for either discipline or influence. The only part I know is supporting Nikki, but she insisted I stay at the library while she drove around looking for him.

At least if I’m not there for the potential confrontation when Zane decides to show up and face the consequences of breaking our trust again, maybe I’ll have the chance to calm down a bit and play the part of compassionate supporter ~ I do want to understand why he’s making these decisions, but in which parallel universe is a 13-year-old boy going to share this with his step-dad?

In which parallel universe does a 13-year-old boy know himself why he behaves one way or another?

We need the skills of introspection and emotional intelligence to know the nuances of our internal motivations ~ skills that are not taught in our sausage-factory schools.

This gap in our education culture is a huge part of why I’m doing Kokoro 心 Heart: we need to learn how to manage our own psychospiritual wellbeing enough to stop perpetuating a culture that results in 13-year-old kids wagging class to smoke bongs down the creek. (That’s just one specific symptom of the cultural malaise I hope to address in the posts here and in the work I’m doing in the business around Kokoro 心 Heart.)

I spent my whole high-school career smoking bongs down the creek, and my decades-long drug and alcohol dependency left me in my late 20s with the emotional development of the teenager I was when I started using drugs, because I didn’t have the mentors to help me learn how to deal with my emotions any other way.

We are letting down our children and our future by allowing these gaps to remain in the upbringing of the emerging generations.

Nikki and I are doing all that we can to access services that will make up for the deficits in our own and Zane’s development.

If you’re going through or have been through this, let me know in the comments. We need all the guidance we can get, lest our son become like Trent from Punchy.

~ ~ ~

For more post updates, find me on Twitter, on WordPress at the follow link below, or sign up for my little mailing-list newsletter here. I’m also on LinkedIn and Unifyd.

update: meditation and employment

I’ve restarted my formal meditation practice today. It was nice to sit still on the cushion and give some time to just enjoying the breath and allowing thought to fall away before it takes hold.

I’ve been taking a break from maintaining all such habits since I quit my job a while back. I let myself go a bit because I just wanted to relax and go easy on myself with the routine and discipline. I’d been planning to get back to a more regular practice a few weeks ago, but then things blew up with our housemate and that destabilised us for a while.

That’s okay.

It’s all okay.

It has to be, or else despair sets in and there’s nothing more paralysing for me than despair. It’s worse than fear for me, which at least has a kind of energising power.

The work I’m doing now, since I quit my complicity in traditional exploitative employment, is here on this blog and internal, intrapersonal, work. I’m fortunate to live in a country that has welfare benefits, and I’m choosing to redirect that benefit to the investigation of our culture and the internal environment that creates that culture. I consider it a form of tithing.

What better service can I offer the community than investigating the true nature of reality? By sharing any insights I come across I hope to contribute to the work of changing the narrative around what we consider valuable at the heart of our culture: the acquisition and hoarding of material wealth, which divides us into haves and havenots, creates discord and harms the habitat of our planet; or the realisation of wisdom that unites us in the common journey toward equality, harmony and sustainability.

Of course we all need a degree of material wealth to survive long enough to conduct these investigations, and we can’t all depend on the welfare system forever. To that end, I am beginning to monetise this blog a bit, with affiliate links to things like books I can wholeheartedly recommend. Here’s one, in the spirit of trying this on for size — a fiction-ish memoir account of the ancient search for what the author calls Quality: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

I’ve always felt a bit suss about marketing and advertising, but I’ll try to make sure the way I do it here is not grubby. All recommendations will be as much on theme as possible, and nothing I wouldn’t buy myself. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a classic of philosophical ficto-memoir that has inspired my own metaphysical adventures endlessly, and is one of the few books I’ve read more than once.

I’ve got other income streams in mind, such as meme-coasters and other “merch”, as well as social enterprise ideas that will take a bit more time to materialise. I also want to produce a little chapbook of my published and unpublished writing, so stay tuned.

If this sounds like something you’d like to follow and get involved with and support, there are some links below.

Meanwhile, may your psychospiritual wellness be complete and your contribution valued. I’m looking forward to a bright future, and I’m excited and happy to be stepping into my purpose of compassionate communication about metaphysical adventure.

Nikki put this on the stereo as I was finishing the draft of this post (it’s Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands”, in case the embed doesn’t work):

Very appropriate, and from an album I can highly recommend: Diamonds on the Inside by Ben Harper [link].

~ ~ ~

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to comment here or wherever you found the link, and share if you think others will be interested. I write here for love and sanity (and coffee money!), any engagement from readers such as your fine self is immensely encouraging.

For more post updates, find me on Twitter, on WordPress at the follow link below, or sign up for my little mailing-list newsletter here. I’m also on LinkedIn and Unifyd.

a question about inflation, wages and the cost of living

I have a question about inflation, wages and the cost of living. If this is your area, please comment below or drop some links to research and resources I can look at for this essay I’m developing about employment culture.

It’s pretty simple really, once I put it on paper, but I need some help understanding whether I’m on the right track here.

So, if wages were to keep up with inflation, wouldn’t the cost of living just continue to sky-rocket?

Increased remuneration for those who make the things we need for living means those things would be more expensive to cover the cost of increased wages.

Does this mean we’re in a proper actual bind? Because I mean, a lot of us need just a little bit more to make ends meet, but that little bit more for each adds up to a lot over-all. How do we increase wages to meet the real costs of living without increasing the cost of living by doing so?

Are we in this bind because we’re actually running out of resources and therefore the cost of things needs to be increasingly high, or because those resources are being shored up by those who already have the power to with-hold and create a false sense of scarcity?

Are the 1% profiting from this scheme we call an economy, or is there just a major systemic problem in the coding of our economic ideology?

So, many, questions. But the main one is this:

If wages were to keep up with inflation, wouldn’t the cost of living just continue to sky-rocket?

through which the motes fleet

(The title of this post should be sung to the tune of “For Whom The Bell Tolls” while imagining James Hetfield doing the splits.)

We’ve got a situation here. This last week our domestic environment exploded in fits of verbal violence that leave my family and I mostly displaced from the dwelling that was intended as a shared home. We’ve been spending the days in our car or with family, coming back to sleep fitfully at night. Our son has thankfully avoided a lot of the fallout, though not for any positive reason – his friend is missing, so Zane and his mates have been roaming Brisbane to find him. Things are calming down now – the main aggressor is talking about moving out, which is a huge relief.

These events are the symptoms of a maligned culture in demise – they are the cracks that result from collective ways of being that are unsuitable for our nature. I say this not to exonerate myself from my part in the verbal violence – I made the mistake of retaliating, yelling, have accepted my responsibility for the maladaptive reaction I contributed to the escalation of a situation that could have been avoided if I and others had been more skillful, and I resolve to learn from this how to do differently next time. There’s more of that at the end of this draft.

Continue reading “through which the motes fleet”