Monthly Archives: May 2010

What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?

The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? You may say the wisest thing you can, old man--you who have lived seventy years, not without honor of a kind--I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from all that. One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels.

—Henry David Thoreau. "Economy." Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

Critics, bureaucrats, gatekeepers, form-fillers

If you seek out critics, bureaucrats, gatekeepers, form-fillers, and by-the-book bosses when you're looking for feedback, should you be surprised that you end up doing the things that please them?

They have the attitude that there is an endless line of cogs just like you, and you better fit in, bow down, and do what you're told, or they'll just go to the next person in line.

Without your consent, they can't hold on to the status quo, can't make you miserable, can't maintain their hold on power. It's up to you. You can spend your time on stage pleasing the heckler in the back, or you can devote it to the audience that came to hear you perform.

—Seth Godin. Linchpin.

Enjoy the struggle

This paradox of rising expectations suggests that improving the quality of life might be an insurmountable task. In fact, there is no inherent problem in our desire to escalate our goals, as long as we enjoy the struggle along the way. The problem arises when people are so fixated on what they want to achieve that they cease to derive pleasure from the present. When that happens, they forfeit their chance of contentment.

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.