Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What drives you?

- need? Do you do the things you do because you must in order to survive?
- guilt?
- duty? (you feel like you have to, for one reason or another)
- compulsion/automaticity?
- excitement?
- ... mindfulness?

In case you can't tell, I'm trying to set up a progression or hierarchy, kind of like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. (Maybe this is the same thing.)

At any rate, I've recently gone rather a lot to a compulsion and excitement driven life. I take all the "dumb things I gotta do" and put them in a compulsion queue (like put things on my desk, or messages in my inbox; I'll clean them out eventually because I have a compulsion to clean things), and the rest of the time I spend on exciting things.

It feels like they all have relative values: A need-driven life is probably not great. A guilt-driven life is also terrible. I'm not sure about duty and compulsion. Excitement is pretty good, and whatever drives a monk on a mountain (supreme consciousness?) is probably the best.

I used to live pretty guilt-driven. It was behind a lot of my "environmentalism"; I felt like a Bad Rich White Person for pretty much trashing everything unconsciously, so I'd try to "minimize my footprint" left and right. I don't really get any big kicks out of composting, but it makes me feel less bad.

This is why I'm not sold on environmentalism now: what's behind it? If you really enjoy it, rock on! If it's a negligible cost, well, that's fine. But if you're making your life worse to reduce your waste from 84 units to 82... I kinda think we'd all be better off if you redirected your energy into something positive instead. And I mean "positive" in the sense that the question you're answering should be "how can I make _____ more good?" instead of "how can I make _____ less bad?"

And while I'm prescribing how you should live your life (pff!): quit living so duty-driven. But that's for another post.

Edit: I should say, too, that while this was spurred on by a conversation with Beej and Becky, I don't mean to snipe at them from the internet. I think we had this debate about the value of reducing your footprint and agreed to disagree; I'm posting it to record my thoughts at this point in time, and also to maybe provoke a further conversation if y'all want. (And also to tell everyone on the internet how to live their lives.)

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